My husband told me he liked to wear women’s clothes before we were married 16 years ago. I felt honored that he trusted me enough to tell me; I was the only one he’d told. Of course, I was also full of questions and worries: was he gay? did he want a sex change? what is my role? etc… I did some online research and joined the group CDSO (CrossDresser Supportive Others), at that time the wives’ part of the Tri-Ess (Google it!) group. I learned that I was not alone – which was a big help to me! I also learned that some CDers (CrossDressers) liked to wear full makeup, wig, breast forms, etc., and go out in public. I asked my DH (Dear Husband) if he wanted to do that sort of thing and he said no, not at all. He just liked the feeling of the women’s clothing. At that point I was willing to have him dress around me and he seemed content. However, for a year or so, the dressing always ended up with sex, and we basically had no sex life apart from that involving CDing. I began to feel like an object and decided that I did not want to participate in the CDing until the time when we were able to have a fulfilling sex life together without CDing involved. DH was free to CD, but not around me.
DH went through ups and downs in his CDing. For periods of time he would dress (clothing only) when I was away. Then he’d have times where he seemed to have no interest in CDing for maybe years at a time. I was comfortable with the arrangement and DH never told me he had any problems with it. However, our sex life did not improve at all.
Over time, my DH began to resent me. He never indicated that was because I wasn’t more open to CDing, but he said I was basically, in his way of thinking, emotionally abusive to him. He felt demeaned in our relationship and as if he had no say about things in general. NEVER was this related to cross dressing. I do have a quick temper and tend to argue my way through any disagreement – and generally I don’t give up until I win. I am from a family that debated everything, and I just feel like when I am challenged about something, my job is to defend my point of view. To DH, that meant I was denying him his opinions. He was and is correct – I seem to have a need to control and I have trouble saying I am sorry. We began counseling several years ago to work on this issue, as well as DH’s tendency to keep everything inside until he explodes. I feel like I’m working hard to listen better to DH, and he says that is true. I chose the counselor we are still seeing. She was an acquaintance of mine from school days. DH was comfortable with her. After learning she is somewhat of an expert in gender issues in our area, DH and I chose to tell her about the CDing. After discussion, she assured us that DH is a straight heterosexual man who prefers to present in female clothing at times. She offered her “clothing cupboard” of items DH might like to try if he wanted to go further than only wearing women’s clothing. She was very supportive and invited DH to attend her support groups for TG (TransGendered) folks as she did not have any groups just for CDers. Soon DH was wearing full makeup, breast forms, wig, etc. He began going to counseling alone (and we continued as a couple as well), and attending a twice-monthly TG group meeting fully dressed. At first he was frightened and had the counselor meet him at his vehicle and escort him into the building, but in time he became more comfortable. I asked to see him dressed once; he looked almost passable, but I didn’t feel comfortable having the image of my husband as a woman so I asked him to communicate with me about it, but not dress around me. Our kids are gone and our house is large enough that he can dress up without me seeing him if he chooses.
About the same time he radically increased his CD behavior, DH decided he was going to change his life schedule. By this I mean that, as a midnight shift worker for many years who switched to day schedule on his days off, he decided that he would keep the midnight routine every day, whether or not it was a work day. What this meant to me was that he no longer slept with me at night. I didn’t realize until recently, after this had gone on for more than a year, during his middle-of-the- night awake times on his nights off work DH was going out in public fully dressed. After some time of doing this, he mentioned he’d gone shopping at Walmart occasionally, and so on. I was concerned about him being outed by someone he knew, especially worried about a co-worker seeing him. He would not be able to continue the work he does if it was known that he was a CDer. The biggest problem I had was that DH seemed so preoccupied. There was no time in his life for me or for our relationship. I talked often at counseling about how I felt isolated from him, how I had a strong need for us to have time together, and how I still hoped that we could improve our sex life. We tried various exercises and plans to increase our time and intimacy together, but they never lasted. When we’d have arguments, I was always to blame for “not allowing him to express his opinions,” and for “being too negative.” I just felt like he was pulling further and further away from our marriage.
DH seems to generally tell me about his increase in CD activity after the fact, which makes me feel I’ve been lied to. In time, several months ago, he told me he’d made some new friends at a local store during his night-time outings. He felt accepted by them as a man dressed as a woman. These new friends included a young gay man who loves to dress in drag, and a couple of women who work at the store. Apparently DH stopped in to visit with them every time he went out dressed at night, which was usually a couple times a week. DH had taken up sewing as a creative outlet (and mostly to make his own femme clothing) more than a year ago, and had (I learned later) made a skirt for a lady who works there. This lady also – again, as I learned later – helped him think of his femme name. I learned these things in a counseling appointment. I was shocked that he was so close to these folks. I was especially hurt that he shared with another woman something so special as choosing his feminine name. I was just beginning to realize what a major part of his life this “new” version of CDing had become.
In an attempt to get more involved with my DH’s “new” life, I told him I’d like him to start dressing around me, and I would like to go out in public with him sometimes. We began doing so and, although we were both a bit uncomfortable at first, it seemed to go well. DH was still going out on his own as well. After working a bit in counseling on our feelings about the whole situation, I decided I needed to set some boundaries that I felt comfortable with. I had problems with DH’s public outings. For one thing, he goes to local stores where people he knows (especially people from his job) could see him. I am also very uncomfortable with him “hanging out” at the nearby store with his new friends – it seems a little odd – maybe even dangerous, to hang out at a business in the middle of the night, but most of all, I am hurt and jealous of the closeness he’s developed with the one lady who works there. I feel like he cheated on me emotionally. Besides the public outings, I am generally unhappy with the focus DH has put on his CDing; it feels like it is the only thing that matters to him. He starts planning his next outing as soon as he finishes one, and seems to kind of “get through” his work nights until it is a night he can go out again. There seems to be no interest in our relationship.
So, I began thinking about setting boundaries. One thing that is important to say is that DH takes the summer off from CDing. He says it is because it is too hot to wear a wig, he wants to be able to wear shorts which means letting his leg hair grow out, and (I feel like he throws this one in to placate me) he wants me to have a break from his CDing. He did this (took a summer break from CDing) last year following his first year of going out in public, and has decided to do the same this year. So, I told DH I was thinking about what boundaries I was going to set, and that I would make some decisions when fall comes and he is ready to start CDing in public again. Meanwhile, I told him I hope that we can really focus on growing our marriage relationship, as where we are at as a couple will have an impact on what I am able to accept of his CDing. Well, just knowing that I was considering boundaries put DH in a serious depression. Finally, I decided to just state my boundaries now rather than waiting for fall. I told him I did not want him going out dressed up without me, and we could only go in more distant places where there was less chance of meeting someone we know. I told him that if he couldn’t agree to this, I would need to leave the marriage because I could not live as we had been living together. In the end, after some discussion and back-and-forth, he decided he was not willing to give up his private, local public crossdressing, and if I needed to leave that was my decision. So, for a few days we lived with the understanding that our marriage was over and we needed to begin to make plans to split up. We both knew that we dearly loved each other, and we were both sooo sad! After spending a couple of days away from DH, I emailed him asking if there wasn’t more we might try, maybe a different counselor, maybe more discussion, maybe trying to find a compromise we could both live with… Once I got home we talked; he suggested a compromise of only going out dressed together and in more distant places (as I had asked) with the addition that he could go to local “safe” groups dressed: his TG group, his church he’d recently switched to – where they make a point of welcoming TG folks, etc. I asked that it be specifically clarified as far as where he would go locally and without me if he chose to, to avoid misunderstandings. I thought we had an agreement.
At our next (most recent) counseling appointment we shared what all had happened over the previous 2 weeks. He decided he had not definitely agreed to the compromise we’d discussed; he thought we were just tossing out ideas. So, once again we are sort of in limbo. We HAVE, though, been working really hard on spending time together and improving the intimacy in our relationship. He is making it a point to sleep with me on his nights off work, and we are being very kind to each other. He agrees that he had not been open with me in the past and he plans to try to be better about that. So here we are for now…
2 years later…
I no longer see the same counselor that I was going to with my DH, although he continues there. I spent a year getting wonderful counseling from a Christian therapist, and I’ve worked hard to decide how I can spend my own life in a fulfilling way despite how my husband chooses to live his life.
After one season of going out with DH while he was crossdressed, I realized I was miserable with that arrangement…I was very uncomfortable. I agreed that, in keeping with the compromise we’d finally agreed to, he would go out publicly no more than once a week to places where he’d be unlikely to be seen by co-workers and acquaintances. He’d go without me, and I would put my trust in his honesty as far as avoiding developing close relationships with strangers while crossdressed. Last year this seemed to go fairly well; it seems like something we can each live with. However, I am not happy or even accepting of DH’s crossdressing. I basically hate it. I married a man, not a man who pretends to be a woman at times. I married a man who claimed to love me above all others, but who now is committed to his feminine self above even me – though he does seem devoted to me when not crossdressing. Always, in the background (even during his “off-season” from CD’ing) I know he is thinking about it. He is looking online at women’s clothing, receives wig catalogs in the mail, and loves to shop for jewelry. It is just a huge part of his life that I cannot agree with nor be comfortable with.
I do not feel that this is cause for divorce, though. I married him for life, in sickness and in health, and I feel strongly that God intends for me to remain a loving wife to my husband. I do believe that if he neglects his commitment to me as my husband, if his CD’ing overtakes our married life, I have Biblical grounds to leave him as he would be cheating on me with his personal (self) “other woman.” At this point, though, DH has been making a concerted effort to have regular dates with ME, and with lots of work our sex life has improved greatly. I am sad that I don’t feel strongly that I can trust him, but I’m not sure this is any different than a wife who deals with a spouse who is any other sort of addict. I see my husband as a person with an addiction, an illness, and my role is to love him as well as I can. I pray always that DH will be so strongly drawn to Jesus that he will want to live his life as God would have him. More important to me than his overcoming crossdressing, is my husband’s spiritual condition. I know he’s prayed for salvation and I saw him be baptized, but he has fallen so far away from God. I am believing that he will be called to Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, and will THEN – because of his desire to live for the Lord and because of God’s leading – be healed of his addiction to crossdressing. I appreciate all who read this who will join me in asking our God to draw my husband to Himself. I love and appreciate my Heavenly Father who guides me and carries me through these often difficult times, and I am excited for the future. I’ve seen signs of improvement as I’ve asked God to bless our sexual relationship, and I look forward to the day when my husband is living his life for God…oh, what a glorious time that will be!