Our reader was 27 when she married her 22 year old husband; they separated after two and a half years. During that time, amongst the many issues a marriage can bring, she had to cope with her new husband’s cross-dressing proclivity. In the following interview, our reader talks frankly about her experience of this very challenging topic:
- Can you describe your situation when you met… how you met / your previous experiences of relationship?
We met on the internet... through someone I got to know online, who was his friend and we did hit it off immediately... we used to talk for hours at a time over a period of months, before he declared his feelings. As far as I know, I was his first sexual relationship. Although I’d had brief relationships before, he was my first long-term boyfriend. Sure, I was 5 years older but I was hardly the most experienced person out there…
- What were your expectations of marriage?
I walked down that aisle firmly believing that we would be together forever; I had no doubts that it was what he wanted too. It was all quite exciting considering I had left my country to come here for him. I admit, I was a hopeless romantic and he was very sweet indeed.... all cuddles and flowers…
- Had you talked about children?
We hadn’t talked much about children, we knew there was no rush because we were both still quite young. I think we knew it would happen but was not in the foreseeable future. I thought one thing would follow from the other, you know, get married, think about buying a house... the next logical step for me would have been to have kids. We rented our home throughout our marriage but, 3 months before we separated, we bought a place in my home country. We had been saving hard for our own home. Then the marriage begins...
- How would you rate your general levels of communication? How open were you with each other?
Communication wasn’t too bad. I have to say that he was a bit hard headed… stubborn, but we were open with each other. Obviously there were things that at the point of marriage I didn’t know about…
- So you had no reason not to trust him to be honest with you?
No, not really.
- When did you first suspect a problem?
It’s hard to say. People with such issues can be very secretive… I know of people who have been married decades without the other half knowing anything. So, I did not really suspect anything until he told me, a couple of months after the wedding. He said that sometimes he gets the urge to dress up as a woman.
- Can you talk me through your reactions?
Well, I went through being shocked...disbelief...then angry... then, after a good few tears, it was like... well what are my options? I calmed down and thought a bit rationally about it all. Still trying to be realistic with him in my future. The way I saw it was that he was my husband... I loved him... I married him and took some serious vows; we had to deal with it.
- How long did it take you from being shocked, to get to rationalising?
Knowing me, probably a couple of days. That’s how I dealt with things... throw a tantrum and then calm down and sort it out. We talked and talked about it and he explained a lot of things about it: how he felt, when it started, what that meant for him growing up. … and what did he want from the marriage? I know for sure that all he ever wanted was to be married to me and us having our future together. I guess we all try our best to achieve "normality" whatever that means. Then we had to figure out how we were going to deal with it.
- At that point, what did you consider you were dealing with?
Well, I didn’t consider him a transvestite and he didn’t consider that himself. He always said he was a cross dresser and he was happy just being able to dress up every so often. Over the next couple of years we worked hard... saved hard... we had our other issues and arguments like everyone else.
- When he was cross-dressing, did you always know about it?
Oh yes, that was the basic rule: this was our issue, not his issue...
- How did you deal with it?
The truth is that it was hard; it took a lot of adjustment. He only did it indoors, he had a few outfits already and over the couple of years we had bought him more stuff. So he would just put on what he fancied... Admittedly, there were restrictions with underwear!
- How did you feel as a woman when he wore women's clothes?
It was not easy at all... and yes, it did impact greatly on my own self esteem. He is quite thin... he would put on clothes that I knew I would never be able to wear. I have no problem saying... he looked damn good in them! I didn’t feel rejection from him in any way... but I guess the thoughts in my mind took the better of me.
- Can you explain that?
Well, I had my own insecurities - being well, shall we put it... quite a curvy person! I was quite unhappy as it was with myself; my self-confidence in general was very low, but it made him feel good.
- In what sense did it make him feel good and where does he think it comes from?
I would know when he would wake up with the urge... I could see it in his eyes. Believe me, I have seen how tormented he used to be. Then when he would dress up you could see the relief on his face. The way I always saw it, based on what he told me, was that he was bullied when he was quite young. Somehow that was a way he could escape from it all. I have to say though, I think bullying was totally unrelated to it. I think his torment came from the fact he wanted so desperately to be what society claims to be normal. Many times he told me that if he could find a way to get rid of it, he would… without a shadow of a doubt.
- How did he view his own need to cross-dress?
I suppose he carried a degree of guilt and even shame from me... because for him it was difficult. I don’t believe that it was sexual, he just needed to do it every so often… and it only happened once every month or so. It wasn’t so much a regular thing.
- Touching on the need... why does he think it took the form of cross-dressing, rather than a different outlet for example?
I’m not sure I can answer that... I suppose it was always in his nature. I guess in marriage, he saw an opportunity where that part of his nature could come out.
- How did the marriage end?
I knew there was something not quite right for about 3 months before we actually separated... call it a woman's sixth sense or something. We’d had a few major arguments... the kind where I was left thinking, ‘where is this all coming from?’ I thought it was probably stress from having just moved into another rented accommodation plus also having just bought a house abroad. It turned out to be that he had been having feelings and thoughts that he could not talk to me about... relating to his cross dressing and where it should go. Thoughts that he maybe should explore it further... see where it would lead him... thoughts that he maybe wanted more than just dressing up a few times. Although his cross dressing was the main reason we separated... looking back, there were other things that were not quite right. I don’t blame the breakdown of the marriage just on him or his cross dressing.
- Did you talk about what more he might want… about where he considered it might take him?
Yes, maybe him wanting to actually be a woman… I think it was mainly to finally try to find out who he really was... and own up to it... and stop the struggle that he had for years inside of him. He just wanted peace.
- Did he consider what he might want out of marriage as a woman? Or was this just about his own identity – as a separate thing from the marriage altogether?
He didn’t expect us to be married… if he went off to explore it.
- You said earlier that it was in no way sexual... what makes you so certain?
I have seen him with tears in his eyes telling me that I should go and find someone who will be a proper husband to me... and I know that it hurt him very much, letting me go, but I could not be married to him knowing what he wanted to do. After all, I married a man and I wanted a man by my side.
- How is he now?
As far as I know he is going all the way… he’s leading his life mostly as a woman now. We don’t really have any contact anymore so I can’t be sure.
- How do you feel now it's over?
I loved him a lot... I’m sorry it ended the way it did, but I came to realise that the divorce was the natural way our marriage could end and I made my peace with that.
- What have you learned from it all?
Oh wow... lots! Through the hurt and the pain, I discovered the person that maybe I should have been all along. I got help via counselling and it was the best thing I did.
- Who is the person you should have been?
A self confident, strong person; someone who values themselves.
- What advice would you offer to someone in your previous position?
Woman to woman… I guess, how to survive it. I say: don’t be afraid to go through it. You need to go through it to get to the other side. Sometimes all you need is to stick with the pain and the hurt. Know that whatever happens you are ok, just the way you are. Love yourself… you will smile again... you will be happy again… you will love and be loved. I’ve stopped crying about it and now I can be more objective about it. That's when you know you have come out the other side?
Amen to that sister! I would like to thank our reader for her honesty and candour in sharing her story with Wikizine.