How to save your marriage when you dress in public is an increasingly new phenomena in the crossdressing community. As more cross-dressers are coming out of the shadows and dressing in public, their marriages are becoming increasingly more stressful. The media has introduced and exposed the transgender population, leading to new challenges for them and their spouses who have supported them.
Previously, most cross-dressers have only shared their secret with their wives and have not largely gone public with their femme side. The woman within them has been tempered and in many cases a deal has been made in their marriage to keep it intact.
Each relationship is unique, yet for many the femme side of their husband has been banned from the bedroom and “out of sight” from their wives as they then don’t have to deal with the issue as “out of sight, out of mind.” This has worked for many long married couples.
With the revolution of the transgender movement the rules of the game are changing as more cross-dressers are feeling compelled to come out and connect with their femme side and allow “her” to express herself in a more accepting environment. For cross-dressers, the trans community has, indeed, freed them from years of repression that has made them feel guilty, deviant and unsatisfied with their lives.
Yet, for the wives this presents a problem as the rules are changing. Her husband’s feelings cannot be ignored or trivialized. It is a fact that their cross-dressing husband is in a “state of rebellion” as they are getting more acceptance from society, at large. With more of the Baby Boom generation retiring from the workplace there is less worry of being seen or the fear of losing their job. It’s becoming a time for them to be who they are. Retirement is not just about playing golf or traveling; it’s about exploring their femme side before they die.
The exploration of their femme self becomes an obsession as they now have the time and desire to present as a woman out in public and to be seen and accepted as a woman, not as their male self. After many years of repression and the loneliness of dressing, they finally have the time and a more accepting society to come out to. Many more cross-dressers are out and enjoying their lives.
The person most impacted by this trend of going public is the wife, who after many year of marriage with their husband in his male role now has to deal with a “female adolescent”, of which many cross-dressers appear to act when they finally get out in public. You can’t blame them for this. Imagine hiding an important part of yourself for decades. Since many cross-dressers start thinking of dressing as a young child, it is a lifetime of suppression. Of course, the excitement for them when they finally come out is overwhelming.
So how does a wife deal with her newfound “teenage girl” standing beside her?
Here are some tips for both parties:
- Open lines of communication with one another. Some couples are better than others in expressing their feelings. If you aren’t, then you need to hire a professional to help you get tools for better communication. Contact a respected social worker that has worked with the transgender/cross-dressing community.
- Be Fair. Don’t bring any other topics into your cross-dressing conversation. If your husband had an affair over 20 years ago and you never got over the indiscretion, don’t take out your anger on him and blame it on his cross-dressing. Be fair and attempt to separate the issues.
- Cross-dressers need to acknowledge that their freedom to explore their femme side affects their wife the most. It changes her prospective of you as her husband and though you may be giddy with being out, your wife is struggling to accept the woman in you being out in public. So make sure to be patient with your wife.
- Set up dates together in a place comfortable for both of you. I would suggest going out to a LGBT bar together at first to allow your wife to get comfortable being out with you dressed as a female. Cross-dressing support groups should also be a place to go to with your wife as she will meet other wives who are also dealing with the situation and it will help normalize the behavior for her.
- Allow your wife her husband. Unless you have a compelling need to present full time or are committed to transitioning, which would change your relationship with your wife greatly, you need to make sure you don’t lose your male self. It is important for your wife to still know that the man she married is still with her.
- If you need more girl time, join a cross-dressing group and go shopping or lunch with the “girls.” It’s healthy for a marriage when you have separate interests and friends.
- Keep your femme clothing in a separate place from your wives. Your wife needs to have her femme space, don’t crowd her.
- Never forget that your wife is the woman in your marriage. She married you as a male, so if you want your marriage to survive you never want to lose sight of the fact that your wife is the woman in your relationship, you are not.
- Don’t’ socialize with your mutual friends as your femme self until you and your wife are comfortable with one another with you presenting as a woman.
- Control the conversation “with your children by telling them about your cross-dressing before you start presenting as a woman in public. Don’t let others define you to your children.
I have much hope many couples will make it in their marriage if they follow these steps and keep an open line of communication. It is a major life change for a couple when her cross-dressing husband comes out in public. Some marriages will fail, but the marriages that do make it will become stronger with a new respect for one another and in the end both parties will be free to be who they are.
From Tasi. Terri was also the executive producer of this most excellent British Video about three married crossdressers in the UK which touches on many of the issues we face in our marriages. These are heterosexual men with families and wives that have accepted their husbands need to cross-dress but with a candid and realistic view of the conflicts that it causes. Perhaps you will see yourself in these scenarios and perhaps the experience of others will lead to balance in your own marriage.