It is hard to answer your question Love... He doesn't talk about these things in a clear literal sense most of the time. He just tends to react and then I get glimpses of these things when I press him to talk after the reaction so I can gain some insight. He is triggered a lot by anything that may be mistakened for a criticism. He can take a question like, "are you going to do such and such..." and react to it like someone has just said "why haven't you done this and you should have done this by now and you are a jerk for not having done this by now!" This is his guilt and shame surfacing and has nothing to do with me. I have to just steal myself away when this happens and continue on in a neutral way like he has not reacted at all. I have to just carry on without being drawn in by his reaction, without acknowledging or engaging his defensiveness... But it is really hard and I screw up a lot.

He has never wavered in his statements of love to me, he just doesn't always walk the walk so to speak. He can spend weeks being distant, not noticing what is going on around him with our family and emotionally withdrawn, but when discussed, he is surprised that I might question his love for me. He just doesn't show it in the same way and has very little self awareness yet when he withdraws. This was his normal for almost forty years, so he is often not aware when he turns off. He just fades to grey and then it is extremely hard to get any reaction from him at all for a while. I am learning to handle it by trying to focus my reaction, interpretation or reception of his love. I am trying to learn how to nurture myself and simply feel loved without his validation or affirmations.

My father also suffered trauma when his parents and 7 siblings died in a house fire, so I was raised by a man who loved his family feircly, but was emotionally distant, never showed emotion, rarely said "I love you", even to his kids, and suffered bouts of depression where he seemed to just go into his head for months... sometimes years. I did not possess the ability as a child to understand his trauma, so I became co-dependent and tended to think that I was at fault for his distance and lack of displays of love and affection. All I knew is that I felt invisible to him sometimes. This is what I am learning to gain independence from now. My husband has never acted out in hurtful ways like cheating or been verbally or emotionally hurtful to me, he just turns off and or becomes angry. He just withdraws and seems to be sleepwalking through his entire life sometimes and reacts with irritation and anger at anything or anyone who inadvertently draws him out of hiding. As he is now seeking therapy, I am trying hard to focus on my co-dependence and emotional independence. I am trying to learn to get on with my life with the hope that he will join in, but not the need that he do so. This gives me the confidence and patience to bear witness to his journey without feeling responsible for, hurt, unloved, or negatively impacted by the results of his trauma. Sometimes, I feel I have been self-centered in owning his reactions. His reactions and responses are about him and his pain, not about me. I am trying to learn not to be so affected so I am free to just love him for all that he is right now and all that he may or may not be tomorrow without requiring him to grow at any particular pace or in any particular direction for my happiness. This isn't easy for me and I stumble a lot.

I'm not sure that answers your question well, but this is what I am doing to try to help myself and deal.
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I am not your rolling wheels, I am the highway
I am not your carpet ride, I am the sky
- Audioslave