You know, I'm not sure what to make of the posts from @farsidejunky
, @Faithful Wife
, and @Personal
. I think I will leave it to them to make the point(s) they are trying to make.
What I recognize is two things happening simultaneously...and one does not exclude the other:
1) Your wife had a trauma of some sort 40+ years ago. Since that time, she has blocked all memory of it and she numbed herself emotionally. Speaking as a survivor of trauma myself, I know the difference between the "black and white" emotional numbness prior to dealing with the trauma--and the "living color" of emotional awareness after dealing with the trauma. I think, in essence, your hope is that if she deals with the trauma now, with a safe counselor at a safe time in her life, that her ability to be emotionally available will be improved.
2) At the same time, all these hopes and dreams you have for your wife to face her trauma and become emotionally available are all rooted in YOU and your reasons. That is to say, this all started with YOU being unsatisfied, and YOU being uncomfortable, and YOU wanting more and YOU ... You ... you. Get it? It wasn't her saying to herself "Hey you know what? I am uncomfortable being the woman I am"[and note to self, that is how my own personal transformation started. I did not like who I was and wanted to be different--thus my motivation was internal and self-propelling.] Her "motivation" (if you will) is probably partially fear ... fear of losing you, fear of losing her lifestyle, fear of losing security, fear of getting older alone--you name it. But the idea is that the catalyst of all this change is YOU wanting to change HER.
Now, I'm not going to even speak to HER. I believe she is in the competent hands of a good IC, a good MC, and a good psychologist, and she may or may not have her own motivations for doing what she's doing. She's not here. So let's not even look at her side of the street right now.
You ARE here. So yeah--let's do look at you. Do you have ulterior motives? Are you trying to control her or your relationship? Are you pushing and insisting that she do things your way or the highway? These are reasonable and valuable questions to ask yourself. Part of HER growth will definitely be YOU growing and changing too, because if she does have an emotional awakening and become emotionally and mentally healthy, she will require an equally emotionally healthy PARTNER.
Thus, rather than focusing on her, and what she needs to do, and where she needs to grow (note to self...see how I said "needs" there a couple times? That's an indication of control. It's like "should." Those are words that are like hints that you are putting your rules onto someone else) how about if we use this space for YOU and how You are doing and ways that You are growing to be a better person and partner?
In conclusion, I do understand that you two are on a schedule for intimacy and that the schedule is working for you both (for the most part). I also understand that you do not desire to "rock the boat" since it is going well right now. Yet when I suggested that you ask her for what you need, I was not suggesting that you say "Hey I'd like sex please" after a trip, nor that you change up your schedule and thus throw a monkey wrench into a good thing. Rather, what I was suggesting was that you be emotionally open with her. If you came home and you were feeling vulnerable and thinking "I could use a little support and reassurance", it's easy to do one of two things: HINT and hope she catches the hint, and when she doesn't, get all pouty about it... or talk, maybe even state or complain, and then give her no idea how to make it better. Neither way will feel like a "win" for her and you will still feel crummy. So instead of hinting or giving her no solution, I recommend a method to folks "When you... I think...I feel... So..." It goes like this: "When you..."
= identify the behavior that starts or ignites the thoughts and feelings in you. This is not a blame time ("When you act like an idiot" or "When you are all cold and emotionless" would be blaming) but rather IDENTIFYING the events that occur that start this situation. A good example from this specific instance might be "When I am away on a business trip and I come home..."
See how that is just identifying when this situation occurs? "I think..."
= say right out loud the thoughts that run through your head. Now, if you are anything like me, my thoughts can be fairly unfiltered. I would not recommend using expletives (even if your thoughts include them...and mine do!) nor using You Statements, but rather this is an opportunity to share what you honestly think. I try to be rawly honest and open, but at the same time kind. Make sense? An example from this specific instance might be "...I think about whether I'll come home to a safe haven or a fight..." "I feel..."
= sharing your feelings. Now I happen to be a Myers Briggs Feeler, so for me, finding feeling words is super easy and I am very aware of my feelings. For some, they may FEEL...but finding the word for that feeling is hard. So again, don't blame or try to make the other person responsible for your feelings...just share as honestly as you can. Again, I filter only for some degree of kindness whilst making sure I'm being transparent and letting my real feelings be known. An example from this specific instance might be "...I feel afraid of what might face me and I feel like I could use some reassurance that we are heading in the right direction and I'm okay..." "So..."
= here is where you make a request about what the other person could do about your thoughts and feelings. Here's the thing--so many times we'll say what we think or feel and just leave the other person hanging with no clue what we need or what would make it better! It's like all we want to do is complain and give them no chance to figure us out or fix it! And to be honest, for me I can identify my thoughts and feelings pretty well...fairly easily...but the request is always harder because sometimes I feel the swirl of the thoughts and feelings and have no clue MYSELF what would make it better! So having to think about it and figure out "XYZ would be helpful" actually is helpful, and no matter who is using this technique it kind of gives that person a chance to think "Well...what do I want exactly? What would make a difference? Is that realistic?" etc. Anyway, an example from this specific instance might be something like: "...So I'd like to ask if you'd be willing to cuddle for a bit on the couch, tell me some of the ways we're heading in a good direction with all this counseling, and maybe say right out loud that we are okay and offer some reassuring support. Would you be willing to do that?"
Put it all together: "When I am away on a business trip and I come home...I think about whether I'll come home to a safe haven or a fight...I feel afraid of what might face me and I feel like I could use some reassurance that we are heading in the right direction and I'm okay...So I'd like to ask if you'd be willing to cuddle for a bit on the couch, tell me some of the ways we're heading in a good direction with all this counseling, and maybe say right out loud that we are okay and offer some reassuring support. Would you be willing to do that?"
Now the rule about the request is just that--it is a REQUEST and not a demand. A demand means that the person can't say "no"...a request means that they are free to say "no" with no punishment. BUT ... if the person says "no" then they come back with what they ARE willing to do. For example, if she was afraid the cuddling on the couch would be pushed for sex, she could say "I am really not comfortable cuddling because I'm afraid you'll push for sex. But I am willing to sit right beside you, hold hands, and stroke your arm. Would that work?"
The reason I recommend that you ask for what you need is that a) if you don't you are hiding your True Self from your spouse, b) if you don't, she may or may not have any idea that you need "that", c) if she doesn't have a clue, she may unwittingly not give you what you need when she has good intent in her heart, d) it is a good way for her to begin to learn YOU if you share your thoughts, feelings, and REQUESTS. I state again, be sure they are REQUESTS to which she is free to say "no" without reprisal...and not demands. Requests are respectful...demands are controlling.