Oy! He’s still emotionally a teenager. His world mainly revolves around him and he struggles to remember that his actions affect others, not just the other way around.
In the early years, I often had to talk my husband through his uncomfortable feelings. Part of him knew that he had made the bed he was lying in, but another part couldn’t stop resenting it.
I explained that I “got it” (and in a weird way I did). I understood how hard it must be to be 100% transparent when you never had to before and it feels scary and vulnerable, how hard it must be to feel that your intentions and actions are regularly questioned, etc.
And that if he found it too difficult I understood, but that for me, that would mean that we needed to part ways. I had no desire to force him to be “a certain way” (and I meant it) but I was also 100% clear on what I needed from anyone after this experience to entrust my heart again. If our wants/needs didn’t match, I understood but I’d rather be happy apart then unhappy together. So if he couldn’t give me what I needed, no harm, no foul - but I needed to move on. If he wanted to be with me though, this was the way it had to be. Not an ultimatum, just a clear explanation of who I am and what I needed.
It took explaining this (calmly and clearly) multiple times before he 100% “got” it. But each time it seemed he figured it out more. He would end up realizing my actions had nothing to do with controlling him and everything to do with providing a safe environment for me - with or without him.
Once he REALLY got that, he stopped rebelling against it and saw it as a gift he could give me. A way of showing me how truly committed he was to being a good husband and partner. And that is when we started to blossom.
He stopped seeing me as His “mother” controlling his thoughts, movements and whereabouts. Instead he began to see me as his loving wife who wished for him to be happy with or without her - but loved herself enough to have strong, clear boundaries that she wasn’t going to bend - not for him or anyone.
It leveled the playing field in our marriage. He knew that I loved him and would grieve the loss of our relationship, he also knew I could and would walk away if it wasn’t working for me. No one was holding all the cards and we had equal power. That is important in any relationship.
After he gained his new perspective, I could see the change in him, which allowed me to open up more. He in turn saw that as validation that his efforts were working and well received, and he had the motivation to be more honest, open and vulnerable. It became a cycle in the right direction - rather than the wrong one that we had found ourselves in years before.
It is my hope that if you can keep working with your husband to find these new perspectives, he will follow a similar path. Obviously he has to be willing to hear it, but I have found that sometimes these emotionally stunted people need a lot of help to see what is right in front of their face. They are still operating as a toddler (emotionally) and we are frustrated with them because we are trying to explain something from a mature emotional understanding. Dumb it down for him, help guide him into your shoes. Ask him to play role reversal and really paint the picture of what it would feel like for HIM to have to be in your shoes.
He can join you in the grown up emotional world if he really wants to - but it does take time and you are under NO obligation to be the one to teach him.