The Relationship Scale

Pandora-looking leftA new relationship is created when men crossdress in their marriage. There are women who seem to have no problem with being told that their husband or SO is a crossdresser, and for some in this minority group, that is truly how they feel.*   For most women, though, even if they seem to take the news well and put up a good front, the news is a definite negative in how they see both their husband and their marriage.

Man on bridgecropMost male crossdressers know that telling their wife or SO about that other side of them is like crossing a wobbly bridge and heading into unknown territory.   In fact, most would probably rather cross a literal bridge swinging deep in the Amazon than the figurative one of opening such a scary and personal discussion with the woman in his life.  Sure, there are articles that offer help with how to broach the subject and how to best explain your lifestyle, but unless your wife or SO is so “cooperative” as to mimic the responses that the article imagines, the man quickly finds himself instead dealing with shock, anger, and tears.  And believe me, the more you talk, the more your wife/SO may also feel that she would prefer that bridge swinging hundreds of feet high over an abyss to what she’s hearing at the moment.

Now, even at the best of times most men aren’t very good at decoding their wives emotions, and since telling her about crossdressing will most definitely not be on her list of “best of times,”  her reaction may be even harder to understand.   Why is something they might even offer to do totally out of sight or only on occasion so traumatic for the woman they love?

It is this seeming inability of their wives to “adjust” that I will try to explain a bit more in this article.   In reality, it is a huge topic and I will return to it fairly regularly in this column, but for today I will limit myself to one small area — the concept of balance.

The single biggest division we make in the human species is the male-female one.   Everyone reading this already knows that it is not always that straight forward, but the division remains nevertheless.   It’s the first question asked about a baby:  “Is it a boy or a girl?”  Not “What color are the eyes?” or “Does he have any hair?”   No, the very first piece of information we usually get about a human being is its gender as commonly defined.

Fast forwarding to the time in your past when you first met your SO,  that gender information was probably the first thing that registered.    I’ve never heard a young girl say, “Wow, look at that great-looking person!  I wonder if it’s a guy?”   Believe me, when she first decided you were of interest to her, she knew that you were male, and that piece of information was so taken for granted that when she and her best friend later spent hours dissecting every element of the new situation, never once was the statement made, “He’s male.”   That was the sine qua non of her interest.

Male Female Balance and relationshipsThink of a scale such as we see in judicial images, with a large arm across the top and a pan hanging off either end.   A traditional relationship would put a female figure in one pan and a male one in the other, and it is exactly this image that your SO has in her mind if you and she entered your relationship based on “traditional” roles.   I’m not talking about who earns more or who does the dishes, since I’m going to assume that in today’s world most readers will not put an overly rigid interpretation on such matters.  For most couples, though, who is the male and who is the female remains a fixed part of the relationship, and using the scale analogy, it’s what makes it “hang right”.  It balances.

Now, let’s imagine that you’re playing with a scale model and you take the male figure from its pan and instead put it into the pan with the female one.   Obviously the balance disappears as the over-weighted side crashes downwards and the now-empty side rushes upwards.  Even a young child knows that the scale “works better” if he divides up the figures, and, not surprisingly, most women feel the same way.

Unbalanced Teeter tottercropI know that sounds hugely simplistic, but very often our gut feelings are simplistic.  We can be socially- and politically correct all we want, but in our heart of hearts we all carry stone-age-level wiring that often fights with what we’re “supposed to” think.  From the time women are little girls, they dream romantically of balancing their female with a male – the Prince Charming who we realize as we grow up will not always look like Prince Charming, but we never doubt that he will still be in the prince camp and not the princess one.  His tummy may spread a bit and his hair may thin, but he can still be our prince who goes to check out the noise at night or who takes our car to the shop for us.  .

men-wearing-wedding-dressescrop2 effect relationshipsWhen we look over and see the empty pan swinging in the air, we feel bereft.  It’s not about love, it’s about leaving an empty space where there’s not supposed to be one.  It’s about being asked to walk on a path where the male who we always imagined “had our back” suddenly wants to learn how to use an eyelash curler and wear bras that may well be lacier than our own.  We may still love the big hunk, but that doesn’t mean we’re not sad or angry by the loss of that male image who was balancing us from across the scale – not some or even most of the time, but all the time.  Our universe itself is out of balance.

When we read and reread Cinderella, we never knew that one night Prince Charming would change the dialog and instead ask, “Can I try on some of your dresses?”                                                                                                                                  

There are many possible reasons for the welcome but relatively uncommon attitude of acceptance that I will talk about in other columns.

Note from Tasi:  Pandora is a friend of many years who has the knack of asking probing questions – questions that have not always been easy or comfortable to answer and that have at times even annoyed or frustrated me.  I realized long ago, though, that her sometimes unwelcome viewpoints had always required me to more thoroughly think through my own positions and beliefs.

 I have asked her to contribute periodic columns in the hope that, in her own inimitable way, she will instigate the kind of lively conversation that leads us in the end to a deeper understanding of ourselves


4 thoughts on “The Relationship Scale

  1. My understanding of women has been transformed drastically just by reading Pandora’s articles. Women have always given little bits of information that I could never piece together but I was always expected to figure out. So many things and situations make so much sense now. I’d love to hear what else she has to say and I will take care with the knowledge I have gained within the past 10 minutes.

  2. The balance point and the concept of male/female expections was well stated. I am married over 40 years and my sense is that I am still coming out as a CD. I was first dressed with my wife back when Gerry Ford was President. I had to bury things because it made her uncomfortable and my love for her included a desire not to cause her grief or stress.
    We raised our children and are now empty nesters and I feel I can continue the process of coming out. Even when dressed around the house I am her husband and I have not even introduced my femme name, ‘Pat’.
    I look forward to reading your future writings.

  3. I am getting divorced after 38 years of marriage and the imbalance you speak to is at the core of that divorce. I am not in the strictest sense a cross dresser. I am dual or bi gendered but I think many cross dressers are as well but just don’t use the term either because they are uncomfortable with it or don’t know it exists. It denotes a degree of gender fluidity and assumes that there is both a female and male gender identity coexisting in me at the same time and how I chose to express one gender or the other is situational and fluid. But like all cross dressers when Molly is front and center, it means presenting as a female in whatever is appropriate for what I’m doing.

    Anyhow, when I came out my wife 10+ years ago she thought she could silo my male and female gender aspects and only deal with my male side. And I tried very hard to accommodate her by not dressing at home and only going out as Molly. Basically she got all male all the time. However, the reality is that my male and female identities are inextricably intertwined and I am one person, so trying to put one significant part of me in her silo didn’t work very well for either of us.

    Once my wife realized she couldn’t do the silo thing she quickly move to the conclusion I was (at the age of 66) no longer the man she married and she had to leave me. I was no longer an acceptable husband because I could not conform to her view of what a male husband should be. She tried hard, I tried hard, neither of us were happy with the outcomes so we did have an irreconcilable difference over my gender identity. But it is sad never the less. So even at our age (we are both 66) and after 38 years of marriage and knowing my wife for over 40 years, the gender binary won out. It is a strong perception that hopefully will weaken in younger generations who seem to be more tolerant of gender variant behavior. Molly

  4. I told my wife after 10 yrs of marriage. She had found a card with a woman’s name and phone# in my wallet, (she was getting $ for the paperboy). That night in bed I told her that it wasn’t what she thought and told her that I was a cross dresser. Fast forward 32 yrs, We are still married with 5 kids and a number of grandkids. I get out as my femme side on the average of 1x a month. I hang some of my femme clothes in our closet. There have been some rough times in our marriage, but we stayed together. My wife wants no part of my femme side. I have accepted that. It would have been different if i had told her before we married. My key word is Balance. Like you said our whole universe is out of balance. Maintaining that balance is difficult, but not impossible.

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