Hmmm, she's got you well and truly on the hamsterwheel, doesn't she? Run, run, run little man. You'll never get to your destination (3rd base) never mind
how hard you run.
I know it well, I've been there in two relationships, I'm not just taking the piss out of you.
I'll try to address a few suggestions by others. I think Dan is spot on about your cheating fantasy. I'd like to add that it's not about scoring points, not
really, that won't help. I think "she broke her vows by fucking some other guy" is no better and no worse than "she broke the covenant by taking payment and
not keeping her side of the deal". You paid for a car and you're not even getting a bicycle in exchange. A rusty roller-skate by the sounds of it.
I think your wife asking for "quality time" is a particularly insiduous manipulative con-job. You can do what you bloody like, she can always call "not quality enough".
While I have always been a proponent of the theory that counter-refusal is not productive, I am VERY much in favour of not doing things for an unresponsive partner any more. By that I mean: I clean the kitchen because I like a clean kitchen. I do the laundry because I want a clean overall. I do what I do around the place not because I hope that it will curry favour, but because I want to do it for ME.
If she's not delivering, she can go jump in the river.
Seriously, that makes a big difference to your emotional state, even if nothing actually changes about what you appear to be doing.
Make the kids' lunch as an expression of your caring for the kid, not to take a load of the refusing wife.
It picked me right up when things were an emotional shithole around here.
What Greatcoastal said about acts of service becoming mundane CAN be true. It will become true once you get taken for granted, once the acts get taken for granted.
I made up my own marriage vows, in a civil ceremony. I promised my wife I'd always do my best to respect her, and to never take her for granted. I think she's learned something about the latter. It's 18 years for us now. It's rare that I get up before her, because I'm a nightowl and she's an early bird, but when I get
up first, I take her a cup of coffee to the bed, and she lights up. Vice versa, when she brings a cup to my desk, which happens maybe every other month, I light up.
But the first thing about that is: it only works when everybody is on board with this. I don't think Mrs. Winterfell would notice, in her snow-queen heart. At least not at this point in time.
I landed in the experienceproject back in '09. I was as miserable as I can be. I thought I was going nuts, because my wife was constantly accusing me of abusing her emotionally and bullying her and not paying her heed. Whereas I was running in the hamsterwheel trying to make her happy, which she always
managed to deflect in one way or another. the quality time was always not quality enough. The presents were wrong. The dishes weren't washed right. you know ....
After gathering some comparative data in EP, I started talking to our friends to get feedback: was I losing my mind and turning into an abuser? They didn't think so, they thought she was being hyper-sensitive to even innocuous remarks by me.
It was her power play.
So one day I sat her down, I told her that I was indescribably sad, because none of my needs were being met in this relationship. I was getting no affection, I was not being heard, no little pats in passing, no loving selfless acts of service that can lubricate a relationship, no sex, and I added in that I was sick and tired of the passive aggressive psycho games.
She was most unhappy - but in a good way. For once she did not get defensive or passive aggressive (i.e. counter-attack -- because I had been very very careful to word everything in a way that it could not be construed as criticism or attack, I just pointed out all the stuff I was missing in my life and how it was making me very very sad -- no YOU DID, no YOU NEVER DO, no YOU ALWAYS) - and then I had to explain to her what passive aggressive is. Running away for days and shutting me out if something bothered her. Withdrawing ... (I left out the counter attacks at perceived criticism).
Well, she has really engaged with me - but I realize that I am very lucky in that, because she just didn't see what she was doing, I expect she was following the model of relationship that she had picked up from her parents. So all that stuff works much, much better now, although she honestly said she's not interested in sex any more, and, well, I am not interested in dead fish (duty)sex, so that's just not happening.
I'd like to add what no doubt others have said already: chasing the 'why' is fruitless. And I'd like to add also that hope is your enemy. Hoping that she will change, hoping that things will get better at some future time if only you carry on as you have been doing, that's just going to have you get deeper into the quicksand/quagmire.
You need to 1) assess if you really want to try to get this fixed - if not, stick a fork in it and get on with getting a better life for yourself, never mind what 'they' might think about it. If 'they' are worth having as friends and family they will stand by you, whether they agree with you or not.
If you do want to go on, then you have to get active 2) doing things in a way that they look after number one - and that is YOU, make sure of your own happiness since she is obviously not interested in doing that at the moment, and 3) laying out things clearly for her, so she can make a decision of how she wants to go on. If she doesn't want to engage in that process, then you basically have to realize that that is an answer too, and reassess point one.
That's how it's gone for me. Marriage one failed at the first hurdle (when she totalled my car in a head-on, I found I wished she'd actually gone and killed herself in the process, that was a bit of a wake up call, but essentially no different from your wish for a cheating wife -- the easy way 'out'). The final straw came not long after.
This time round, it worked out differently. Oh, we still have the odd painful moment, but generally I have a good friend and partner living with me, albeit not a lover. It was my decision to keep the friend I have. I will have to take my passion elsewhere.