(Note from Tasi: Unexpressed Anger is the second in a series of articles by Terri Lee Ryan on divorce and the Cross-dresser. Read the intro article here)
Many cross-dressers on their journey to getting in touch with their femme side don’t fully acknowledge their need to dress, until many years into their marriage. They were attracted to their mothers or sisters clothing when they were 5 or 6 years old, act out on it at 9 and continue to do so until their teens when they become more interested in dating. As one of my cross-dresser friends says, “I became more interested in getting into my girlfriend’s bra, rather then wearing one!”
While in their teens, they act out in puberty like any other boy looking for sex. The need to cross-dress becomes less important as their lives are filled with finishing high school and college, dating and figuring out what career they are going to take on to support themselves. Some feel that they have outgrown this desire.
Some occasionally dress into their 20’s, still not sure why they feel compelled to do so. Many seek help from a therapist to get answers as to why they dress. A majority of them are told that there is nothing wrong with them that they are just a cross-dresser. “Now what?” They say.
Afraid to reveal this femme side of themselves to their girlfriend, they often purge thinking that they don’t need to dress. They continue working on their career, get married and have children. They provide for their families while keeping their cross-dressing past a secret, vowing never to tell their wife and family about their femme side.
Years go on and one day they are traveling for work. They are all alone in a city far from their family in a hotel room and the thought of dressing becomes an obsession. Their need to let the she out in them arises and they buy woman’s clothing to take with them on their business trips. They look forward to this time alone in a safe environment, where they can not get caught. Many times they even venture out to a bar dressed as their femme self, enjoying every second of it.
The more they do it, the more they have to do it. Waiting for the next business trip or when their family is out of town is not enough for them. The obsession to dress begins to wear on them as their woman’s wardrobe expands. They are living a secret life, a lonely existence, since no one they love is with them to share with.
Perhaps, their children are grown and away at college. They are empty nesters with only their wife at home. They finally decide to tell their wife or let their wife find out which is more common than actually coming out to tell her that they are a cross-dresser and their femme name is Samantha. Often, the way they introduce their wife to their cross-dressing is shocking for their wives, who never anticipated that the man they married 20 years ago is a cross-dresser with an alter-ego woman named Samantha!
The wife is in shock and doesn’t know how to deal with their husband’s cross-dressing. She doesn’t have experience to draw from even to acknowledge it. She is fearful, saddened and angry all at the same time. Her husband just wants to be accepted by the person he loves the most, his wife. His wife just wants to run out of the house and pretend this never happened, hoping it will go away.
This is the scenario for many cross-dressers who have come out to their wife after many years of marriage. It is more common for most of them to reveal their femme side later in their marriage, rather than prior to the union because of the initial fear of rejection and the lack of understanding on their part of how important their femme side is to them and the need to let her out.
Just imagine how you as a cross-dresser would feel if the tables were turned and your wife one day showed up with a butch haircut, wearing construction boots and a bra to minimize her breasts. You would be in shock and wonder just who you were married to! Perhaps, men are more logical and can be more accepting of this sudden change, but most women are not.
Wives are the keeper of the family unit. They are usually the ones who hold the family together, often making sacrifices. When a wife sees her husband dressed as a woman and acting like one, she is frightened. This fear leads to anger. Initially, she may accept her changed husband (to her it’s change, to you it’s who you are) but over time, she becomes resentful of the dynamics of her marriage being altered, so late in the game.
You may make a deal with her of when your dressing is appropriate for both of you, yet as time goes on, she may not be able to fully embrace you, both of you. It’s like dating, again, for her with a new person, someone else has to get to know and may or may not like. But, she is already in a marriage with you and doesn’t want to end the marriage, yet she is very angry.
Many cross-dressers I know are going through this scenario with their wives. They are struggling in their marriage now that they have introduced their wives to their femme side. Both parties are both caught up in their emotions and offer little support to one another which makes their lives unhappy. Some wives just try to ignore the cross-dressing by practicing the “out of sight, out of mind approach”, yet at constantly afraid that the children, friends or other family members will find out about it. Embarrassed by their cross-dressing husband, they offer little or no support to them, causing more angst for their husband who just wants to be accepted for who they are.
I recommend a good counselor to help both parties work through this change in their marriage. It is a necessary first-step to help flush out the anger from a wife, so she can begin to understand who her husband is and determine if they can work out their marriage. Understanding and knowledge is essential for both parties. Clear the anger away and you may not stay married, but may remain friends with your spouse and a new respect for who you are as a cross-dresser. After all, you are just being who you were intended to be, of which for many is worth the reveal.
(Tasi’s note: Recommendations for Counselors are available on request)