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.