To The Wife Of A Crossdresser

A lady over on Experience Project asked
A couple of months ago my husband came out to me as a cross dresser. However, the more time passes when his en-famine I get more and more angry and almost resent her because I didn’t marry her I married my husband.
As it turns out, my answer is so long I ran out of room before I was halfway finished. So I thought I would post the complete answer here, and I can direct other upset wives to this answer in the future.

I’ll tell you the same thing I tell men who struggle with if (and how) to tell their wives: You have to work out what you can and can’t live with, and find some common ground in between.

From your point of view, it would also help to understand what your husband does and why he does it. There are no universal answers; only he can tell you that (and for some of us, just understanding for ourselves why we do it takes half a lifetime!)

I can tell you with certainty that it’s not something he can just turn off like a light switch. It’s an overwhelming compulsion, stronger and more compelling for some than for others. Trying to give it up is like trying to get used to writing with your opposite hand, or walking backwards everywhere you go. You can eventually manage it, but it will never be as comfortable or pleasant or fulfilling as doing things the way you were born.

And yes, I’m not exaggerating. We don’t just spontaneously start wearing dresses in our mid-30s or decide to on a whim. The urge calls to us long before puberty — for most of us it starts around 10 or 12, and I have read of others who can remember wanting to wear girls’ clothes from age 3 or 4. So please understand, he’s NOT doing this to hurt you; he can’t help the way he is and he can’t control it.

I can also tell you with some degree of certainty that he’s probably not gay; most crossdressers identify as straight (roughly in the same proportions as the general population, which is to say 3-4 percent identify as gay).

So with that in mind, you have to ask yourself if the crossdressing bothers you so much that it cancels out all the ways he behaves that made you love him in the first place. If the idea in any form, in any quantity, for any reason, at any time is so abhorrent to you that you can’t see the possibility of finding a way to accomodate him without making yourself miserable, then your marriage is in trouble. I do strongly urge you to see a counselor together who might help bridge the communication gap.

But now that I’ve (hopefully) helped put it in perspective and given you some things to think about, it’s time to get down to details. For that you’ll need to know more about what drives him, what fulfills him. Does he just like the feel of the clothes? Does it provide a sexual pleasure for him, or just make him more comfortable? Does he consider himself truly female in the wrong body, or does he just like to play at pretending to be female for a while because it makes him feel more complete? How does it make him feel to be dressed, and how does it make him feel when he has to do without the dressing?

That will give you some idea of what it would take for him to be content. Suppose you know that if he doesn’t go the whole way — makeup, heels, lingerie, dress, wig, bra, — at least once a week, he sinks into depression. Would you be willing to give him some time once a week to get this out of his system, provided he is all man the rest of the week? Would you be willing to let him indulge at home as long as he doesn’t go out in public or let the neighbors/kids/dogs see?

That’s just one example. For other couples, the limits may be more about how far rather than how often — the dresses are OK, but the makeup and wig is out. Or dressing during the day is OK, but I want my man with me in bed. I don’t care how you dress, but I’m not going to call you Alice.

You see where I’m going with this? You have a voice too, and your feelings are just as important as his. If he’s not willing to give in and meet you halfway, I’m totally on your side — and I say this as a married man sitting at my computer in a fluffy satin gown. I always tell married crossdressers, your wife is the center of your world and don’t you ever let her forget it or you’ll end up spending your life as pretty as you want and completely alone. His job is to make sure you DO always have the man you married, to make sure things that comfort and entertain and please YOU get as much or more attention as the dressing does for him.

I hope that helps, and I hope you are able to understand each other’s needs in a way that you can both be happy and stay together.

About Ralph

Male. Straight. Married.
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4 Responses to To The Wife Of A Crossdresser

  1. MAMalo says:

    Ralph –

    I agree with you…. I first noticed this interest before I was going to school, when I was playing with my female cousin. A few years later, I had access (for a short term) to a friend’s sister’s closet – and went wild…. And my late wife knew of this part of me. So it ain’t going away after 55 years of being me.

    My big question is: I’ve been seeing a gal for the better part of a year, with an important (non argumentative, initiated by her) break in the relationship towards the middle of that year. Well, we’ve finally had the conversation of “where are we heading” (which I never thought I’d have with this lady) and am wondering how to break this information to her before things go too much further. Any ideas?


  2. Ralph says:

    Well, I can only draw on my experience; obviously the circumstances surrounding our talk and the way my wife responded won’t necessarily be anything like yours.

    We had already started to talk marriage before I brought it up. My thinking was, (1) I didn’t want to derail the courtship with a potentially disastrous emotional crisis while we were still kicking the tires and (2) If things went sour, I didn’t want to end up with an angry ex who could use my secrets against me. So the trust levels had to be established first, as well as the understanding that we both liked a lot of stuff about each other — enough to want to spend our lives liking that stuff.

    So one evening we were cuddling in post-coital romance and I decided we were both in a mellow enough mood that I could safely bring it up. I had a foot in the door in that I had attended a Halloween party in drag (and I’m deliberately using the sloppy term, because I made *no* effort to look female then, just as I do not now). I opened with something like “Before we go any further with this, there’s one more thing you need to know about me…”

    She told me later that I nearly gave her a heart attack. What, was I gay? Already married? She KNEW it was too good to be true! But I went on to explain that the character I dressed up as for Halloween wasn’t just a one-time fling for a joke but a part of me that I had been doing since childhood, and from my own attempts to stop doing it I knew that it was going to remain a part of me whether I liked it or not.

    She was so relieved that her first two fears were unfounded, she said “Is that all???” It didn’t faze her a bit.

    Now having said that I’ve learned over the years she doesn’t particularly care for it. She has never made comments one way or the other and has never bought me stuff or participated in the dressing process. But she also doesn’t complain or criticize. In her words, on the one time I deliberately raised the subject by way of an email to a friend in which I said it was a compulsion, she said it’s just something she puts up with in the same way she knows I put up with things she does that I don’t like.

    Of course you realize there’s a very real possibility she will walk out on the spot, but that’s why we do it before making a commitment. Better to find out now when you can both find a more compatible mate, than after the paperwork becomes messy (or worse, if kids and custody are involved).

    Assuming you make it past the revelatory part without her walking out, next step is to address her fears. Assuming it’s true, of course, make sure she understands you’re not gay, you do not have any desire to become a woman, and she is still and always will be the most important part of your life. And of course you’ll never lie to her or deceive her about yourself, because your life belongs to her.

    Once you’re past that hurdle, it’s her turn. Ask her how she feels, if she has any questions. Make sure she understands that you want to take her feelings into consideration too, so if she’s not prepared to deal with your dressing you can find a compromise where you are able to feed the beast without pushing her past what she can endure.

    And when THAT is sorted, this is the time to tell her how much you love her. You can’t go wrong repeating that over and over and showing it in whatever way you know she especially likes πŸ™‚

    Good luck!


  3. Riestaine says:

    Love your posts:)
    i am new in all my husbands disire to look like woman. Because in the beggining of our relationship i thought that he asks me to braid his long hair because of the feeling, which relaxes him. Or asked me to paint his nail because cmon rock guys do paint them nails too ( he is in to music). I have never thought that he want to look not in the man way..or i didnt wanted to see that, because he sometimes borrowed my earings, and bought pink hair die so we both died a lil bit of our hair in pink. And then that one day ( at that time we had our firat son and i was pregnant with second child) he asked me to do his make up and then my world crushed….i understood everything….and all little details came in the right place – who he is? Gay? Trasvestite, trangenger? Then i googled…ohhh crossdresser!
    I just have one long question. Can be there crossdressers to whom is enough just to do stuff with nails and hair? No make up or no dressing? Can he live fullfilling life to be not full in to crossdressing? I know that i should ask this questions my husband but i onow he will say what i want to hear….i am not ok with full glam, and my husband told that he wont do anything that i am not ok with. But on the other hand it hurts that i cant accept him fully, because he said he has never tried to dressup, he said he is trying new stuff because i support him. but if i would support him fully i am sure he would try to do full make over…and its tabu for me.i am afraid that i am not enough fot him. That he will never be fully happy in his life because i am not ok with him looking fully like woman. I feel broken. Because its sad that he dont like his “manly” look. Because he is soooo goergeos man, with man bun and beard….
    We are together 6 years, we have 2 boys under three years old. . He is asamed of his disire. He do not want kids to see when they will be older that he is wearing hight ponytale or painted nails.
    Thanks πŸ™‚
    P.s i am just lost….i do not want to loose my husband “manly” look…but on the other hand i dont wanna make him missrable.

  4. Ralph says:

    First, let me remind you that I am not a counsellor or a psychologist. I’m just a man with a lifetime of experience muddling through my understanding of where I fit in the gender puzzle, and a long-suffering wife who has helped me with my journey.

    Now that’s sorted, I’ll throw out a few random thoughts to see if any of this helps.

    NEVER feel guilty for your preferences. You married him based on how he presented himself at the time. It would have been better if he had confided in you about his deep dark secrets before you got married, but I also understand the fear that men like us have of revealing this part of us to others.

    It sounds like he is respectful of your boundaries. You’re off to a good start! So the next step is to establish those boundaries. Before you talk about it, spend some time figuring out what you can and cannot tolerate. And remember, none of it is permanent. “Sometimes” is a terrific word to use when agreeing to a compromise. Just a few examples from my own marriage and from others I have talked to over the years:
    My wife does not mind the dresses, but she has an absolute rule of never wearing feminine things when we are being romantic together.
    She also has a firm rule against ever appearing in feminine clothing in front of our child (even though she is now an adult on her own)
    I don’t know how she feels about makeup, false breasts, wigs and the like because I do not care for those either, nor do I wish to go out in public in my dresses.
    Other men have reported that their wives never wish to see them in any form of female appearance, but allow them some “girl time”. She might go on the town for dinner, the cinema, shopping, etc. and expect him to be a man when she gets home. Or he might spend a weekend each month on holiday, going to a distant city where he would not be recognised and she does not have to see his transformation. Still others have wives who are okay with partial crossdressing – the clothes, maybe a little makeup, maybe jewelry, maybe (or maybe not) wig, false breasts, etc. Or they don’t mind the appearance, but they refuse to call their husband by a female name.

    Do you get the idea? With a little work on understanding what’s important to you and what’s important to him, you can hopefully come up with a compromise that allows him to sometimes, just a little bit, explore his feminine side while you still have a firm hold on the man you fell in love with. Just to get you started, here are some things you can consider whether you can or cannot put up with them – ever, or sometimes, or only when you are not around, etc.
    Androgynous slightly female outer clothing (female-styled trousers, t-shirts, etc.)
    Very obviously female outer clothing (skirts, dresses, frilly blouses, high heels)
    Female under clothing (any or all of knickers, bra, stockings, tights, camisole)
    Very subtle light makeup (blush, clear lip gloss, clear or natural-coloured nail polish)
    Overtly feminine makeup (the above only in brighter, more visible colours)
    Shaving legs
    False breasts
    Having you help him choose female clothing
    Having you help him get dressed and/or makeup
    Being explicitly referred to as a woman, using a “femme” name, etc.
    Going out in public as a male but with some subtle feminine appearance
    Going out in public as a male but with overtly feminine clothes, makeup, etc.
    Going out in public fully appearing and acting as a woman
    Meeting friends in partial or full female appearance
    Being around children or close family in partial or full female appearance
    Going on a date with you as “girlfriends”

    Where do you draw the line? How much is too much? What would you be OK with him doing when you are not around, and what do you find so upsetting that you would rather he never do it at all, even when you are not with him? Be ready with those answers when the two of you talk.

    Meanwhile, he also has some self-examination to do. All of us men who are a little different from the rest of the world have our own psychological needs. I thought about going all the way to part-time (or even full-time) womanhood before I more fully understood myself, but I found it’s just too much work. I love the clothes and spend as much time as possible in dresses or at least skirts; I love ballet slippers and nylon stockings and billowy nightgowns… but that’s really all I need to be happy. I can put the clothes on when I come home, take them off when I go out in public (or wear something soft under my rough denim trousers), and be all man when my wife wants me to be.

    But your man may have different needs. If he wishes to explore his feminine side a bit more, he might want to groom himself in a more feminine manner, perhaps include some makeup or jewelry or nail polish. Or he might have a deeper craving to experience what it is like to look and feel entirely like a woman for a brief period of time, before putting “her” back in the closet. So he has to come to terms with what exactly he needs to be happy. Again, none of this is a permanent change. I’m not asking how he wants to be forever, I’m only asking him to consider what he sometimes needs to “scratch that psychological itch” as I like to put it. The desire builds up and builds up to the point we need to relieve that stress, then we get it over with and we’re fine for a while again.

    Then, and only then, can the two of you get together and compare your limits and his needs. Don’t cheat and let him see your list before he makes his own list, or look at his list before you finish yours. Otherwise, as you said, he will only say what he thinks you want to hear. He says “I need such and so to really feel myself.” You say “I would vomit if I saw you like that. Could you limit yourself to once a month doing that when I’m not around?” He says “How about once a week?” You say “How about once every two weeks?” And Bob’s your uncle, you have a compromise.

    Or you might say “Go ahead and wear that around me if you like, it’s not too bad but sometimes I want you to be all man for me, is that fair?” Make sure that once in a while, it’s all about you – going to your favourite restaurant or watching a show that he doesn’t care for, things like that to remind both of you that you deserve to be happy too.

    No matter where the two of you meet in the middle, there’s never any reason for either of you to be miserable.

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