Thank you for the replies to the questions and the added information. It helps a lot in understanding what the situation is.
I can imagine how frustrating this situation must be for you. You recognize that you are both not verbal communicators and that this is causing problems for the two of you. You are clearly more adept, though, than he is in being sensitive to the other person's needs and wants and trying to communicate with him. That's a plus, but it's also been extra frustration for you.
This is because he is so self contained that he lets sensitivity just pass by him. You are more attuned to the nuances of needs and wants, or at least you act on them more, you are not so self contained it seems.
This issue of his being so closed up in his own self is not going to change quickly, and he's not attempting to change it actively. So this is the situation you have to accept in the relationship. Communication certainly is what is needed, but this is easier communicated to you by your therapist than for you and he to communicate together (I hope that made you smile).
You will lead much of the time, like in the hand holding. I'm sure you get tired of being the initiator, but this is the man you want to be with and this is what he's like. You see, verbal communication is not the only communicating he's not so adept at. Physical communication is also communication and he doesn't use it to come out of his self, his self containment. He can be brought out, but he doesn't use communication to bring himself out.
You are able to use touch and physical closeness as a communication. And so you will have to become comfortable with being the initiator. This is not a bad thing. It's a matter of you feeling okay with it, of you not feeling it's wrong. Because it isn't wrong. From what you've written to me, it's the best thing you two have going.
It helps him and it helps you. The fact that it is based in you helping him is not a bad thing. As long as it doesn't make you feel he's less masculine because you're initiating, it can be fine.
My recommendation, then, is for you not to try to turn him into who he isn't too fast. It will be very slow, very, very slow for him to become someone who feels comfortable initiating any communication, including hugs, etc. So don't require it.
If you can be okay with this leading role, then I see the verbal communication being made easier. The method? You need to recognize that both of you are much more comfortable using words in meaningful exchanges when you're physically soothed. This is okay. When you're soothed, each of you is more relaxed and then words can be more effective or even more reachable. You each can get to words without being too anxious and defensive.
So use your strength, your touch and hugs and stroking his arm, whatever you can to first get yourselves ready for a discussion, then talk seriously. Connect with each other first. You won't be able to do this every time, but the more you do this, the less frequent the arguments and blowups will happen and the dance will indeed change.
And this is actually the key to my answer to you that you need to consider and think about.
Okay, I wish you the very best!
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