We had an intense MC session, but we both got a lot of our feelings off our chest. I went over the various recent issues and we discussed our different view points on them. The MC was again fairly hard on my WW for her interpretations of events and my behavior--not being dismissive of her, but just asking her to try harder to see my perspective. Ultimately, the MC felt that while my wife can't be expected to be perfect, she was doing a lot of harm in rebuilding trust and that is hurting any future marriage.
I gave my temporary solution, which was to separate from engaging with my wife's emotional issues/spirals--I explained that my engagement wasn't helping her and it was hurting me. I recognized I can't fix her or even help her and I need to step back for my own sake. My bottom-line was that I needed my wife to focus on her IC sessions and bring her issues there instead of to me. The MC agreed.
For my WW, she viewed my decision to detach on her issues as a lack of compassion from me, so I explained very clearly why it was so important to me and that I would be rooting hard for her to make progress on her issues with her IC from the sidelines--that I couldn't be the one to help her right now. My WW came around to understanding (I think).
I also expressed that I often felt uncomfortable in situations with my wife outside of our house (our vacations, dinners and certainly school events). I made it clear that I needed to at least temporarily cut back on those and instead do some of those things without her (like the concert last night). Both the MC and my WW understood and agreed. I understand we will still be in already committed situations together, but it's important for me to feel like my WW won't be punitive or passive aggressive if her instinct is that I'm slighting her.
I need to be able to disengage entirely from her deep-seated emotional issues and have freedom to live my life without her in social situations at times--and that she should feel comfortable exploring her own self and hobbies, etc.
I felt like it was an important session and the MC had some good feedback for my WW. I left a little concerned because I wasn't sure how my WW would react--there were times when it was clear the MC heard both our sides and turned her critical attention to my WW. That happens almost exclusively, and I know my wife can sometimes feel judged and attacked, so I was worried the session was less productive than I thought. As my wife admits, I'm better at verbalizing my thoughts and constructing arguments than she is, so I know at times she feels overwhelmed going head-to-head with me in disagreements--so sometimes when we leave a session she'll think I "won" because of the gap in our communication skills, not based on the merit of what actually happened.
But we talked on the car ride home a bit and I was pleasantly surprised at my wife's framing. She told me that she needed to stop trying to control the outcome (I'm getting so sick of hearing that phrase lol). She is so fearful that I'm going to leave her that her anxiety is overwhelming her often. She recognizes that she needs to let go and understand she has no control of that--and she wants to do that. She wants to find her own identity so she can feel comfortable with her life regardless of if I leave or try to R.
She also wants to stop relying on me to help her deal with emotions she keeps digging up. She wants to use her IC and her mom and sister as sounding boards. We discussed that a bit and she agreed she'd be careful in what she shares with her family to ensure she protects our relationship.
I thought those were all positive things to hear. I don't think she understands the road she has in front of her, but I can't say that's unwilling to walk it. She's doing therapy 3x a week and as the MC said to her: "It's clear to me that you want to change and are just struggling with how to do it."
Overall, I feel good right now. I'm hopeful we can carry these good vibes through the weekend and into her work trip next week where we'll get some built-in space from each other.
Lastly, I'm starting to see what I'm going to need to do differently in any future relationship with her, should we manage to try to R. I feel like the last three months have given me a blue print to the way her brain works. I don't know that my actions were wrong before, but I certainly didn't do myself any favors. With her self-esteem clearly so low, there are so many more easy ways to help make her feel comfortable and appreciated. I know I can do better at providing her with the validation she was looking for outside the marriage. And even if we don't work out, that's an obvious learning moment for me in any future relationship I have.