I can’t hold it back anymore… Alicia is bursting at the seams to come out! But I can use advice; I can’t expect my wife to support me coming out as Alicia, but how can I at least help her COPE with it! We’ve talked about it for a while and I know it wouldn’t traumatize her … I just want her to know that I am… And will always be… Her husband, no matter what. Any advice?
I’ve been getting a ton of emails lately about communication and marriage, so let’s chat about your question and about crossdressing and marriage in general. Pull up a chair, get some coffee and let’s talk about this.
I have written a lot about this before, so please read previous Ask Hannah questions for more on this, but there’s nothing you can do, nothing you can say to “get” your wife to “let” you crossdress. There’s really nothing you can do or say that will assure her that you will always be her husband even if you have a side of yourself that wants and needs to be beautiful. This comes from you showing her. So how do you show her?
First of all, she has to give you the chance to show her. This starts with the talk. I believe marriage is about compromise but oddly enough, I completely understand when a spouse is not willing to compromise on crossdressing. This can be traumatizing. Some people don’t want to see their man in lipstick. So, how do you talk to her? Well, how do you talk to your wife about anything difficult? There are challenging moments in marriages. Loss of a job, financial difficulties, health concerns, family problems all lead to a big talk. You know your wife better than anyone else will, so how do you talk to her about the hard stuff?
Be prepared for the questions. She will likely ask you if you’re gay, or if you want to be with men, if you want to leave the house dressed up, where will this lead, do you want to transition, how long has this been going on, why haven’t you told me before, have you ever lied about this and a million other questions. Be prepared with answers. I would recommend being able to answer every single question here (plus more) before talking to her. The last thing your wife wants to hear if she asks if you want to transition is “I don’t know”. If you don’t have the answers to these questions, I encourage you to seek out a therapist or even better, a counselor that specializes in gender.
If she’s willing to let you dress, she will likely want to establish some boundaries. She may ask for you to not leave the house, to not let the kids (or neighbors) see, she may not want to see you dressed, she may not want to see your clothes in the closet or in the laundry, she may ask you to not post pictures of yourself online. If there’s anything you take away from this post, it’s that you should NOT violate her trust by breaking these boundaries. As soon as you do, she will (naturally) wonder what else you’ve lied to her about.
If she’s willing to let you dress, even with restrictions, be mindful you don’t let the pink fog overwhelm you and control you. When we are given permission to dress, it’s so easy to go a little crazy and spend money that we shouldn’t on clothes and shoes. Keep this under control. Try to keep your lives BCD (Before Crossdressing) and ACD (After Crossdressing) as similar as possible. Years ago when my wife were working hard to see if crossdressing and our marriage could work we communicated constantly. I screwed up a lot. I spent money I shouldn’t have. From my wife’s perspective, there were a lot of differences BCD compared to ACD. I wasn’t the same person in some regards. She wondered at times who I really was. This is similar to you wanting to reassure your wife that you would still be her husband. I let the pink fog overwhelm me in the early days and I got a little out of control. It tested her patience, it frustrated her, it angered her and it depressed her. I didn’t know a lot of this because I was so lost in the fog that I wasn’t paying attention to her. From her perspective, and I totally understand this, I was choosing Hannah over her.
How do you think she felt? How would your wife feel? How would you feel?
I am ashamed at how I behaved in the early days. The only redeemable thing is that I never stepped over the boundaries she set, and still don’t. She had a lot of concerns about crossdressing in our marriage but it took months and years to show her that I was still who I was and that I wasn’t going to transition. Sure, I told her I didn’t want to all those years ago, but when you have a lingerie drawer that is bursting with panties and a closet packed with dresses, it can be hard to believe that. It took a while for me to calm down, for me to find that balance and for her to be assured. I am thankful every day she was patient enough to let me discover who I am.
I have a wonderful wife for many reasons, but I need you to know this: If your wife is not open to you crossdressing, it does NOT make her a bad person. She is not a bad wife, she still loves you. Bringing crossdressing into a marriage is one of the hardest things any couple can do. It takes a ton of work in most cases. If she’s not comfortable with you dressing, don’t push her. If she lets you wear panties but you want to wear a bra, don’t push her. If she lets you dress to the nines but doesn’t want you to leave the house, don’t push her.
Oh, another thing if you’re not married: TELL HER BEFORE YOU GET MARRIED FOR GOD’S SAKE.
I hope this helps and please read up on previous entries about what happens when you and your spouse disagree on crossdressing, not letting your femme said dominate a relationship and the early days of my marriage and crossdressing.
So, long story short. I don’t know how to help your wife cope. I don’t know her. You do. You’re her husband. How does she cope with something that is difficult? How does she cope with trauma? You have to accept that she may not ever accept this side of you. I know that’s not want any of us want to hear, but that’s the truth.
I don’t know if this helps, I doubt this makes you feel better, but too many of us disregard our wives’ feelings when it comes to crossdressing so you need to know how hard this is for our wives.
Love (and I mean that),