Early on in this blog I wrote a post addressed to a crossdresser’s wife, explaining a bit about what we do and why we do it, and how it can affect their marriage. This month I have received a few questions from crossdressers’ wives at their wit’s end trying to come to grips with this discovery about their men, so rather than hunt down for an old post I thought I’d write up a new response that specifically focuses on their concerns. So if you are here because of my comments on Quora, welcome!
First, the comments:
I am struggling I feel like there is another more important woman in my marriage. I know he cannot help it, but he is not attractive as a woman— it creeps me out. He is now collecting very supportive younger women as fb friends on his alternate profile. Not sure we will survive as a couple. I liked it better when he would dress alone… not share pics, chat with girlfriends online or go out dressed. Sigh…
I just caught my husband cross dressing, and he admitted to me that he has being cross dressing for a long time. I was shocked. I asked him if this meant he was gay, he said No. It bothers me a bit, I prefer he not do this around me. It makes me uncomfortable. I have to admit in truth that I do not want to see my husband dressed as a female. I married a man, not a woman. What do I do??? Leave him? For now I prefer he does not do this around me.
I feel your pain. When I first started joining trans/crossdresser communities to find more people like me, I was horrified at what I found. One man expressed relief that his wife had passed away, as it gave him ample opportunities to dress the way he liked without criticism. Massive discussions devoted to the best way to hide your activity so the wife never finds out. On and on and on. I had to stop and wonder: Is that what I’m really like too? And I made a vow never to be that person who puts his fetish above the people in his life.
I’ve written volumes about how a crossdresser can make a marriage works, but here are the main points (mostly addressed at the man). Some of them are addressed in my original comment, about giving the wife equal time to meet her emotional needs on her terms, so you both get some of what you need to be happy. Also, to expand on that…
- NEVER make your wife take second place behind your dressing, or yourself. Show her, through your actions rather than just empty words, that her happiness is your top priority. Do things she enjoys, and if she’d like some time with her man, do them in your male clothes.
- NEVER lie. If you got married without her knowing, own up to it as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more it will hurt when – not if – she finds out, and the hurt will be more from the lying than the shock of what you do. You’d better have a good reason ready for her when she asks why you didn’t tell her sooner.
- When you agree on limits, keep to that agreement. That means not cheating if you think you won’t get caught (“I told her I wouldn’t wear her things, but if I wash it right away and hang it back up she’ll never know!”) Remember, integrity is what you do when nobody is watching.
Please understand that this is a tremendous compulsion that causes us some amount of distress if we don’t give in once in a while. Even if you find it unpleasant, at least try to find a way he can have his “girl time” in a way that won’t upset you. You could have a night on the town with friends once a week so he can have the house to himself, or he could plan a day trip out of town where nobody knows him and you don’t have to see him.
But you are NOT obligated to take it further than you are comfortable with. You’re OK with what he wears as long as it’s not in bed with you? Tell him. You refuse to call him by his “femme” name? Understandable. You would rather not see him when he’s dressed? See above about arranging times when you aren’t together so he can get it out of his system and “man up” for you before you get back together again.
Whatever your boundaries, you need to communicate them. Tell him how horrible it makes you feel that he seeks validation from others! Tell him you wish he put as much effort into making you feel worthwhile as he does for himself. Likewise, find out what specifically makes him feel fulfilled. How far does he have to take it for it to feel right? How often? How much is he able to cut back, do without, and not experience distress/withdrawal/whatever?
When you find out how much he needs and how much you are willing to tolerate, you can find middle ground. There’s always room for compromise, if you both recognize and work towards what makes the other person happy. If all else fails and you just can’t find any way to live with someone who behaves that way, at least agree to see a counselor together before you do anything irrevocable.