Thanks Ellie and Twinkies for the insight.
We've talked a bit about the list and what it actually means. His main underlying want is for me to be a companion to him and share his interests. When we were dating, I jumped into his hobbies and interests fully. It was great- learning new skills and sharing good experiences together and seeing him enjoy my company and the activity and having him enjoy teaching me new stuff. It was great.
What fell down though, were my interests. What I liked, he did not share a liking for and was unwilling to learn to like for my sake (as I did for his- I actually enjoyed learning shooting and hunting pheasants. Can't stand deer hunting- can't sit that long with my ADHD ). I liked to play board games with my goofy friends, go to concerts and take camping trips and explore new places and swing dance. I gave up my friends (he was uncomfortable around them), going to concerts was seen as too expensive and a waste of money (and I didn't save for them on my own), camping trips were too uncomfortable for him (didn't like tents and shared bathhouses) and swing dancing he didn't want to learn.
All that was a source of resentment in me. My friends were goofy slightly wacky people with off beat senses of humor, and all around loyal and good people. It hurt to give them up. It hurt not to go to concerts and have my love of live music and sharing experiences with a wider crowd of people seen as a waste of money. It hurt that he didn't want to laugh together as we learned (awkwardly) to swing dance together. I understood the camping- and tried to take less expensive trips to out of the way places by finding little b&b's and small motels (the UP has a lot of cute mom'n'pops). The hotels weren't nice enough for him (he's used to 4* accomodations from living in Europe on his dad's foreign assignment) and it was seen as a waste of money.
The thing that hurt me the most was his lack of desire to enter MY world and want to understand it and become part of it as I did for him. It felt like a rejection (which it was) and it made me so sad because there were all these opportunities for us to bond over these experiences. As the years went by, even if I wanted to do something, I kept it to myself to avoid the rejection I would feel as he would say it was either a waste of money or not something he wanted to do. It still makes me want to cry thinking about it.
When kids came along, I wanted to go out for regular date nights. Nothing special, but going to a book store, going to Chili's, that kind of thing. Money was tight and he was ashamed to ask his folks to baby sit on top of their helping watch the kids when we worked (in their preschool years). He felt he would be using them like his sister did. We would go out maybe once every 2 months. I wanted it to be at least every 2 weeks. We'd have friends over for dinner, but that's not the same as spending time out of the house and away from the stresses and messes just being us together. I ached for this time together. I felt alone and denied and rejected. When we did go out, it was something HE wanted to do and somewhere HE wanted to go.
I think this is what is creating a block in me wanting to be a companion to him. All the years of rejection, lost friends, lost interests... I stopped making me a priority, made work, kids and BH a priority, and I was drained. Aside from taking runs and working out, I didn't have an outlet. I lost a sense of who I was and what made that good and interesting to be with.
I gave up on having many outside female friends and doing things just with them. It made BH uncomfortable as he didn't like to be left alone with the kids after his stressful work day and week. He also wasn't (and still isn't) comfortable with my having emotional intimacy with other people not himself. He had his reasons, as at this point in our marriage, I was complaining about him to all my friends I did have (in our prayer group) and really, my picker for BF's was broken. My BF from highschool that I did hang with during my PPD SAHM days was, well, unhealthy (narcissistic and had BAD experience w/ an ex that made her sour on all men). So yeah, I could see his point. Still, it was isolating, lonely and draining.
Moving forward, I do want to provide closeness and companionship to him. He is becoming more open to exploring dance lessons at home (online- there's a "Show Her Off" program that looks fun that I'm going to do for a Vday surprise (and a nice bracelet he's been eyeing :)). That's healing for me. He did go camping with me right after DDay. It was very healing for me. I opened up about my grief over the vasectomy and all the years of my loneliness and cried and cried at the fire. We did cry together. It was a beautiful trip and the kids were happy and enjoyed it, all of us being together. It was his first time to Sleeping Bear Dunes, and if anyone is EVER in Michigan, go there- don't bother w/ Detroit or Grand Rapids or anything else (except maybe Pictured Rocks in the UP). We took another trip that fall exploring the Petoskey area and that was beautiful too. He is making changes and I do see his determination.
Keeping that in mind is helpful to me too- I've been making changes too. Dressing with him in mind, doing my hair more to his liking, cooking nice dinners for the 2 of us, massage nights. It's improving between the trigger times. We walk the dog through the woods w/ the kids now to a golf course behind our house and take the kids sledding there. All this is improving our companionship. I'm hoping that I can do more for him and build up a positive base for our relationship to heal between these difficult trigger weeks.
His triggered anger really is difficult for me to bear up under and does destroy my sense of emotional safety around him. The yelling and sheer intensity and ferociousness of it (the tone- aside from the occasional "you fucked another guy!!" it's kept clean, but still demeaning). It's so hard to recover. He did do something nice that prompted our making-up. I was getting ready to sleep on the couch and he came down and asked me to come up. Said it was the right thing to do. It sucks for him that he made the first move. I was trying to honor his earlier request not to sleep together and prepare for an IHS.
The back and forth is so hard.
I can only imagine how hard it must be for him.