Sorry, realitycheque. No matter how many rationalizations or mental leaps you want to make around it -- it's a very damaging scenario that's described. I don't think it's funny.
EDIT: I absolutely do not think it's appropriate to imply that Gretchen might be "in a fog"; trying to read his mind or whatever and might benefit from CBT "we all do that" , etc. That all of us introverts sometimes give blank stares, etc. etc... (i.e. don't worry about it; maybe it's you in a fog trying to read his mind...etc.) No. I'm afraid not. This is a classic situation of a non partner experiencing stress; physical illness and going to their partner for support. And the OCPDr being incapable of providing it -- and shutting down; and freezing their partner out. That very action is damaging to the non. To imply that somehow the issue is with the Non's thinking about it is absolutely ludicrous. I would also like to draw attention to the way Gretchen diminishes her health issue "a nagging health issue for over a year as "nothing serious", and "nothing to do with him"....etc.
I don't believe you recognize the "FOG" reference. And you apparently do not understand CBT if you are under the impression that it involves reading other's minds (that's actually one of the types of twisted thinking).
Here's the FOG website and pieces of its introductory section:
Out of the FOG is an information site and support group offering help to family members and loved-ones of people who suffer from personality disorders. Out of the FOG was written and developed by people who have experienced a relationship with a family member, spouse or partner who suffers from a personality disorder.
Personality disorders negatively affect the quality of life, not only of the people who suffer from them, but also their family members, spouses, partners, friends, colleagues and acquaintances. We often think of people in simple terms such as good and bad, friends and enemies, loving and hateful. Personality disorders are not so simple and people who suffer from them may exhibit behaviors which are sometimes constructive and other times destructive. Over time, this can generate feelings of Fear, Obligation and Guilt (or FOG) in those who come into contact with them.
It is our goal to inform and support family members, spouses, partners, friends and caregivers as they try to work their way out of the confusion, out of the chaos and out of the FOG. It is our goal to inform and support family members, spouses, partners, friends and caregivers as they try to work their way out of the confusion, out of the chaos and out of the FOG.
Here's a link to David Burns's CBT techniques, and a preceding statement explaining what I'm talking about. PDers are under the Cognitive Distortions more often, but we Nons sometimes get the "fleas":
If you've been living for a long time with a person who suffers from a personality disorder, like many of us, you may have developed a very negative or pessimistic outlook on life. You may have developed a habit of interpreting problems as failures. Dr. David Burns calls this kind of negativity "Stinkin' Thinkin'."
Mushroom, I've provided a perspective for possibly moving forward based on personal experience of having gone through the same process, erroneously heightening my expectations and utter disbelief that a spouse cannot even give a warm embrace, hitting the bottom and the reality of "the issue", enduring the "damage" when a close family member died, and finding that even after emotional support is clearly conveyed as being needed, the resulting inauthentic action from a disordered person doesn't satisfy that need. The empathy often just isn't there, and usually it turns into how the OCPDer feels, so sometimes it's actually worse than the blank stare. So I know well where you're coming from -- I just don't see where you're trying to go with your posting. It seems like you're wanting to escalate Gretchen's frustration, which she seems to be handling very well given her (IMO healthy) demeanor throughout her 20+ posts, to a higher level of emotionalism, rather than help her "get past the blank stare." Adjusting expectations to the reality is important to a Non's sanity, and refusing to do so based on what a PDer "should" do is not going to help. Reducing expectations will allow the presence of mind and patience to try and teach a spouse what behaviors make you feel better (as Francie alluded to).