The initial shock of finding out that your husband is a cross-dresser is a life-changing event for their marriage that could lead to divorce. Whether a wife is introduced to it when she finds very large shoes in the bedroom closet or a photo on his I-pad of him dressed in woman’s clothing, carefully left out on the kitchen table ( a popular way cross-dressers have let their mates find out), it is something that rocks a marriage to its core.
Many cross-dressers have not come out to their wives opting to either purge, just to have their desire to dress return. The need becomes an obsession which eventually starts eroding their ability to function as they have in the past, forcing them to finally come clean with their mate. This fem side of them doesn’t go away with marriage, it just remains dormant. The need to dress is ever-apparent and a cross-dressing husband takes the chance by telling his wife about his cross-dressing.
Many times his secret doesn’t come out until many years of dating and marriage. This is a side of him his mate has never seen or even suspected from him. It is not something that she most likely knows much about or understands. So when he does tell or show his wife his cross-dressing, she really doesn’t know just how to respond! Many women are just in shock to see their husband dressed as a woman. And most cross-dressers I have known are in male dominated industries as in construction, real estate, law, and corporate managers. There would be no reason to suspect that their husband is a cross-dresser.
Because of this, women genuinely do not take the news well. They are confused, feel betrayed, angry and frightened by the man standing in front of them who they thought they knew all these years and now appears to be someone they never met. This is understandable, yet many cross-dressers who are also dealing with their own fear of being rejected by their wife, neglect to support her when they come out. Immersed in their own emotion and guilt, the cross-dressing husband is looking for his own support that often their mate can not give.
Yet, through counseling, willingness by a wife to come to terms with her husbands’ cross-dressing and a commitment to learn about his fem side, many couples stay together and attempt to work it out. They often establish ground rules for cross-dressing, of when and where, it is acceptable for both of them. They work through the process for a period of time, hoping they can deal with the change in their marriage. Sadly, many marriages ultimately don’t survive.
Here are the reasons why:
1.) Unexpressed anger – After a period of time goes by when a cross-dressing husband feels as if he is being accepted by his wife and relieved that he can keep his marriage and family intact, his wife increasingly become less tolerant of his dressing. The reality is though she tried to accept both his male and fem side, she can’t. Her anger is deeply-held that her once husband is no longer the man she thought she married.
2.) Sexuality – We as human being we are visual people. We are sexuality attracted on an instinctive level to our mates. A heterosexual woman is attracted to a man, not a woman and when she sees her husband dressed as a woman, she is turned off because of this. She can’t see her husband through the dress. Also, often a cross-dresser in his fem role acts like a woman. Most straight women do not want to make love with a woman. The sex life of cross-dressers and their wife suffers.
3.) Lack of Identity in the Marriage – When a cross-dresser reveals his fem side, he is now competing with his wife for attention. It takes an exceptionally confident woman with a strong identity as a woman to not look at her husband as competition. She starts to wonder what her role is in all of this.
4.) Not Getting Attention as a Woman – This is a notable issue with cross-dressers who become so obsessed with their fem role that they forget about giving their wife the attention they deserve and need. Often, they are so wrapped up in their new freedom of dressing, they ignore their wife. She needs to feel like a woman and to be treated as such.
5.) Morality Issue – Most of us were raised in religious households. Even though, we may not be actively practicing our religion, the messages we learned early on run deep. This built-in prejudice is difficult to ignore, even with the best intentions. Many wives can not get past the fact that a man dressing as a woman is wrong, even if it is not.
6.) Lack of Trust – This is a big issue for most wives. A secret as big as their husband being a cross-dresser being kept for so long makes them feel duped. It causes them to them wonder what else their husband has kept from them all these years. Once trust is violated in any marriage, it is almost impossible to get it back. This is why I am such an advocate of telling a potential spouse before marriage.
7.) Peer Pressure – Cross-dressers after hiding their true selves for years want to be able to go out and experiment with their cross-dressing. They want mostly to be accepted for who they are. This often involves family and friends that are part of their wives life. This is threatening to many women as they are impressionable and concerned that their husband’s cross-dressing will reflect on them in a negative way.
8.) Not Wanting Another Woman in Their Marriage – Having a cross-dresser in a marriage is inviting “another woman.” The fem side to cross-dressers is very strong and takes on its own identity. A wife now finds that there is another woman in their marriage that she has to compete with. This is a threat to her.
9.) Fear That Their Husband Is a Transsexual – Once a woman sees how much her cross-dressing husband enjoys dressing and living out his fem side, she becomes concerned that he may want to dress full time or to transition. For most cross-dressers, this is not the case. But, try to convince your wife that.
10.) It’s Just Too Complicated – Marriages are challenge to begin with. Especially long-term ones, where both parties have changed over the years, raised a family and have grown apart. Introducing cross-dressing into a marriage that is already tenuous is just too much for a wife to want to deal with. It takes much more effort than she is prepared to do at this stage in her life.
This list is meant to help cross-dressers better understand what a wife or significant other is going through. From my personal experience, I have witnessed all of the above. My marriage wasn’t on solid ground. The cross-dressing component was one of the many reasons we didn’t work out as a couple. Many times the cross-dressing is used as the reason for a divorce when in fact there may be many more issues that are apparent in the marriage that cause a divorce. Sometimes, two people are just not meant to be together and it’s better to move on and find someone who is a better fit.
You’ll want to also read Terri’s most recent article on How To Save Your Marriage When You Dress In Public.
Tasi’s note: Be sure to also read Pandora’s articles on How Your Crossdressing Changes Your Wife’s Opinion Of You. and Further Thougths on Male Image. Terri also plans additional articles to flesh out each of these ten reasons, so please leave your comments below.
Terri Lee Ryan is an author, blogger and a TV producer. Her documentary, “I Married a Cross-dresser” was aired on Sky TV in the UK as part of the Forbidden Love series. Terri writes the blog, Shades of Gender, for the Chicago Tribune ChicagoNow site where she focuses on the ever-changing cross-dressing and transgender community. Her ex-husband and business partner was a cross-dresser.