1. I can be an ass & generally want things my way.
2. We are having a difficult time financially as I change careers.
3. My wife hasn't & doesn't work.
4. My wife LOVES animals, I do not. She has brought home a cat, then a dog & finally bought a horse for our daughter without discussing it with me...she knows I'd say no.
5. I have gotten fat & lost a lot of respect for myself. I used to have a bodybuilder physique, now, not so much.
6. My wife is a major socialite, but only with other animal lovers. I have nothing in common with most of these people. Half don’t or won’t work.
7. My wife CONSTANTLY says that I think she's just a useless, housewife. I vehemently deny it as it isn't true…or is it? Maybe I deny it so that I don’t look shallow?
I'll respond to your list as follows:
1. Okay, you can be an ass. I can be an ass. All God's children can be asses. However, I'm getting the drift that you become an ass when you don't get things your way. In the hopes of not being redundant, all God's children want things their way ... at least some of the time. And a lot of people? They want things their way most of the time. Regardless, you are seeing, upfront and personal, that things ain't going your way in your marriage. Being an ass will not bring about the changes or circumstances you desire. (As I believe you are realizing; thus, your post.)
2. Financial problems are stressful. These are stressful times. You need to set a budget, sit down with your wife, and plan how to allocate money. At least getting a handle on one's finances alleviates some stress. Everyone has to keep receipts on what they spend and where they spend it. I keep a running spreadsheet. It sucks. It is tedious to do. But it keeps me reality-based in what I can and cannot afford. Be thankful you have a job in this economy. Reallly.
3. Here is where I started picking up a vibe in your post. Your wife hasn't and doesn't work. Do you have less respect for her because she isn't making a financial contribution? Being a SAHM is a difficult job, but your kids are old enough that your wife could be working, even if it was only part-time. Do you have an issue with her not working?
4. As an animal lover, I can still respect that some people just don't like animals. My mother didn't like them. They didn't like her either. So you have one dog and one cat. That's not exactly a menagerie. I have two cats, but when I lived with my husband we had a rather large crew of pets. The horse issue is another matter. Horses are expensive to feed, board, and maintain. I'd let the dog and cat thing go, but the horse is an issue.
5. If you are fat, you can do something about it. That issue you own. Get off your backside and hit the gym again. Eat healthy. Lose weight. You'll be doing your health a huge favor, not to mention your self-esteem.
6. The "animal lover" group don't or won't work. Somehow I'm getting the vibe again that you feel these people are dead beats who just hang out trying to save the seals or something. I have worked in animal rescue, so I gravitate towards people who are of like mind. Some are retired. Some can't find work, so in the interim, they are volunteering. Hey, they could work in a homeless shelter or soup kitchen ... but they prefer helping four-legged creatures.
7. I'm afraid I've gotta lean towards your wife on this one, based on what you have written. However, I doubt you "constantly" tell her she is worthless. Body language and an attitude CAN go a long way in conveying, non-verbally, that you feel she is wasting time, spending your money, and not holding down a 9-5.