We have been married for 15 years without big issues, but lately things have started to change. I'm not good with interpersonal relationships (sometimes too cold. I'm aware that I lack empathy), while my wife is the opposite, she is very emotional and super empathetic (something I like from her).
I think this problem started after her grandfather died two years ago (she was very attached to him). My wife entered a period of depression that lasted for several months. I tried to support her as I understood it was hard for her. But on one occasion she told me that she was depressed and I did not support her, I did nothing (I think because she was also affecting me). I really don't know for sure why I didn't help her that time. I still regret it. If I could go back in time, I would change it. We had several discussions about it and little by little things improved for a while.
A few months passed and we went to dinner with some friends who introduced us to another couple, let's call them Alice and Bob.
Some time after that, I was with my wife, when Alice called me on the phone (she was crying) because she was in another country and had fought with Bob and wanted to know if he was okay (because he wouldn't return her calls or texts). She asked me if I could text him to see if he was okay, so I did (he was fine). Then she told me about the problems she had with Bob and asked for my advice about it. I thought to send her some links that could be useful for her situation. My wife did not want me to help her.
At first I thought that my wife was jealous, because I thought that there was no reason not to help her (I was not planning to meet with Alice in any way, or even talk to her on the phone, I was just going to send her those links, that was all). Later my wife spoke to another friend who knew Alice and asked her about her. Apparently Alice is a conflicting woman. So I followed my wife's advice and no longer helped her. However, what hurt my wife the most is my intention to help Alice and that when she felt bad, I did not help her (this has been the main cause of some recent problems). She told me she won't trust on me again because of that.
I recognized that trying to help Alice was wrong, so I have apologized about it several times. We talked about it many times and I thought that the doubts had been clarified and that we were fine.
Later last year, there was a tragedy in my wife's family and since then my wife has had a lot of stress, depression, among other things. She has been in therapy and has been improving, this time I have tried to be as supportive as possible.
2 weeks ago, I saw a friend of mine who I had not seen for more than a year (because of Covid). My wife is not totally fond of him because he just doesn't know what he wants in his life (a little bit of a messy life recently). He told me that he felt very lonely lately as he no longer sees anyone and partially because of his reckless behavior. He asked me if my wife knew of someone who could introduce to him just to chat (not romantic), as my wife has many friends. I told him I would ask her, so I did.
My wife got upset for the same reason as before: because I wanted to help him, but when she asked me for help, I didn't help her, so she brought back Alice's issue. After that, we talked again and things improved until yesterday.
Since the Alice issue, these are some of the things I have tried to improve her trust:
- Tried to make her feel better by planning romantic dinners, taking her breakfast in bed, tried to be better at listening and other small details.
- We read a book about empathy and how to improve it (I haven't had too many situations to practice it). (Book by Karla McLaren)
- I have read some articles here and there about rebuilding trust (although many of the articles focuses mainly in rebuilding trust after cheating), still I have tried to apply some of their recommendations (for a short period of time).
- I read an article about what one should never do with a woman that is not your wife, which made me understand what I did wrong.
How can I improve her trust? (references welcome)