After this past weekend, we've had some conversations. Part of the upshot for me was that, in a few things that were important to me, his way of responding seemed to me to be back to our old ways, not the ways we had been learning and getting better at. Part of it for me, unfortunately, is my assumptions. I assume he knows how I feel about things, how I respond, what has what kind of effect on me; never mind the fact that I haven't actually told him most of these things. I also, I think, fall into the trap of having an idea of how things "should work", something I create in my imagination, fueled by too much reading and too much imagining.
But the slide into our previous patterns led me to think that perhaps he either didn't really want to be involved in any sort of power exchange/dominant/submissive/ttwd relationship at all. [Yes, in spite of being typically nearly perfect, every once in awhile I have a bout of overly dramatic self doubt and insecurity] Specifically, I wondered if he was uncomfortable with thinking of me as "submissive." The word doesn't have the most positive connotations in the more general, everyday sense. Did it make him think I am not the person he has known, that I am or want to be less - less intelligent, less useful, less engaged, less thoughtful, less strong?
His response,after a good deal of thought, was that he doesn't want any part of something in which he (or any one else) diminishes in their respect for me. That he knows there are some areas I am more suited for than he - and it is silly for him to take over those things. And that he doesn't feel any compulsion to lessen me, that what he really feels compelled to do is to take care of me.
I know it doesn't have to be these things. First of all, it wouldn't work for us that way - we just couldn't, so it won't happen, whether anyone would argue it should or not. I also believe that we can use the advantages the dynamic has to offer, expand and nurture some aspects to my personality that I had never realized, and, I think, utilize his strengths more fully - all while being true to ourselves.
So I am trying to explain myself to him. This is very hard because I am learning myself all over again. There is a lot about myself that I don't understand. A lot of reactions, responses, thoughts, feelings, obsessions, and changes in personality that take me by complete surprise. It sounds incredibly simplistic to say "subs are this way; it's best to do x,y,and z, with them; they will respond to...." But instinct tells me that, as much as I am an individual, and we are certainly uniquely us, there are probably some common traits, patterns, ways of thinking maybe that might be helpful to be aware of.
Someone has suggested to me that it would be good for my husband to read about or discuss with others how submissives are, so that he will know what to expect, how I will respond, what I need, etc... I agree, and I don't. I do think it would make it easier for him (and me) for some of my strange reactions and behaviours to be less shocking to him, for him to have ideas about how to help me realize things, to maybe avoid some the misunderstanding. Ideas or inspiration are good, not re-creating the wheel is good, learning from others' mistakes is good. On the other hand, I know he doesn't want to be or follow anyone else, and I don't want to be anyone but what he wants. I think that, somehow between the two, there must be a balance point.
In the mean time - I will keep trying to explain myself to him.