martin, you have posted on my threads before and it has ALWAYS helped. those posts are emotional, which to me says that you are capable of being quite emotional within comfortable contexts. close relationships aren't quite there yet.
first off, i don't know about the rest of the populace, but what you say about feeling on the outside, by not understanding the inner lives of your wife and daughter, feeling like you don't connect....it's not unusual. i go to step 12 meetings and i hear it constantly. everyone in there feels that way. then we embarked on addictions because it helped us ignore that feeling.
i've approached my own struggle with those feelings from this perspective "i want to know how to really live and to really live i need to learn from a community." i spent a lot of years trying to simply survive.
now in recovery, i want quality of life. that's a big leap. not an easy one.
i'm glad you found gottman. we have the collected works of:)
my husband and i are just starting to come out of a difficult time. for us, it's a matter of being reminded of things we already know, tools we already have. we both chronically forget.
i worked with children on the autism spectrum disorder for a long time and i don't want to be insulting, but that background helps with my husband. my husband isn't autistic, but the legacy of prolonged trauma has left this trail of disorders that resemble learning disorders, attention disorders, autism spectrum disorders....luckily my husband can joke about it and luckily, i have experience.
so! where i'm going with this is that i no longer ASSUME that my husband knows much about "living indoors with people." he tells me was essentially raised by wolves and while it seems extreme, it's a good starting point.
i have to lay out what i want ALL THE TIME: this is what i want my birthday to look like, this is what i want christmas to be like, this is what i want the weekend to look like, this is how i like being touched, this is how we do the dishes, this is how we discipline the kids, this is how i want a date to go.
then i say "your turn, tell me what you want it all to look like."
then we have to let go of those expectations and try and meet in the middle.
mostly, it goes astray:)
but when i'm at my best and he's at his best, we have resilience for trying over and over again. we can laugh and go "well, that didn't go like either of us wanted." we can laugh when we don't get what we want.
at our worst, we act like children who also don't get what they want. we throw tantrums, in different more adult ways.
our counselor has mandated very specific guidelines for living indoors together. we have to touch each other for 15 minutes a day. we have to ask each other specific questions about the day and our thoughts and our worries.
honestly, i get sick of it. i forget how long i spent in survival mode. i forget that while i know how to do dishes and raise children, i don't have instincts for trusting other people.
when i don't take care of myself, i get sick of having to lay it all out. at my worst, i get mad at him for not having these tools, for not having taught himself much earlier in his life. at my worst, i'll think that he is being this way on purpose, that he is self-centered. at my worst, i'll resent him for creating "all this emotional work" for me.
i'm deeply flawed. and as it is with life, if i don't own up to these flaws myself and apologize to him, a situation will arise that will completely level my pride in front of him.
so martin, that's how it is from my perspective. i don't know if it will help you any. but to me, it seems like you are on a good path. it seems like you love your wife and daughter. it seems like you want recovery and relationships. it's a good place to be in: leveled and humbled, wanting more, and pursuing it, even if it feels painful and full of fumbling.
a lady in my AA group calls these situations "another fucking growth opportunity." hilarious!