Well, first of all, I'm really sorry to read this story; it must be really hard to figure out what is going on from hour to hour! Goodness.
Also it was interesting to hear the other side; in my experience it's been the woman posting because her man has that particular repertoire of patterns and personal customs.
About whether you are asking too much... If you were to keep changing the bar all the time, sure; like if you want the kitchen floor perfect when you come home one night and everything hot on the stove the next and she has to be decked out like a swan diva the next, then that would be hard.
But in general you sound like an observant person who wants to understand things.
Are there any little lines you can draw that are modest but very consistent? Like "Gosh, that tone of voice doesn't seem to be enlisting my cooperation. Would you care to try another?"
By the way I know an immensely happy couple who correct each other all day long, about quotes and proverbs and pronunciation of fancy words and what year did we buy that car? and did you wear your gray jacket to that party? and Is that when the Cincinnati RedLegs got the pennant? And they both equally love threshin' it out with lots of steam. Just hearing them makes me want to crawl up the wall with my fingernails. But anyway...
Is it all from abuse? Sure possible, but it's also hard to draw that direct connection. There's oodles of us abuse survivors around, but we all react differently. Some of us are so bland and sweet you could tell us we're Romulans and we'll say Ok Sir whatever you want I'll believe you. Or scared to spend a dollar, or scrubbing the front steps with a Brillo pad to keep the neighbors happy.
But maybe it really is memories lurking around. That's enough to make anybody jumpy. Also, if it's memories it can take a long time to iron out even when the person is totally committed to getting lots of help and processing things. So sure, recovery can cause stress on people, no question.
Here are some thoughts that floated to mind while reading all this. This is totally random and I've had a fever for 3 days so you might consider the source (Oh great, he might say, a delirious person is posting me! And he'd be right, too.). But I don't know, you're totally free to brush it off, you're a real insightful guy already even without me and my temp of 100 or whatever it is.
What I wonder is this, and there might be no immediate answer.
With whom is she really happy and comfy?
Old gal friends from school? Pet parrot? Zen meditation group?
Where does she get to really lose herself in something beautiful and enjoyable in the sense of communion? Watching sea waves or playing the tuba or whatever. Some place where she can just create or commune with something good.
Who are the people in her life who really know her well AND have her best interests at heart? Meeting those people and watching them together might be an interesting thing. Now some of our oldest friends & family are people we act a role with, so this doesn't always work, but... where is she happy?
What are her life dreams? What thing does she want to do in this world that nobody else can do as well? Sometimes working on that can really help, even if it is a little kitchen garden or volunteering with girls' softball. Sometimes those things are easy to overlook but important.
Then, what are those connection things or activities for you? You deserve to take really good care of yourself too, in the sense of uplifting spiritual activities or jogging at 5 am or whatever helps you keep your equanimity and perspective.
The vacations and all sound lovely, but one really nice thing for a couple is to go do something regular and ordinary that really brightens even a very small piece of the world. Every Thursday night or whatever. Or for you to do it alone and have fun with it and she has an open invitation to join in. I read somewhere that this is ideally creating or accomplishing something good, not just eating out or being a spectator or talking or snuggling, but actually doing something.
So as a couple, what is your mission that no other couple has, and that together you can do better than alone?
Anyway, just a person feeling overwarm and kinda light-headed who saw your post and was struck by it,
Let us know how you're doing,