I have spent many years after my divorce from my cross-dressing husband trying to understand why his cross-dressing was so devastating to our relationship. Arguably, as I have said many times before, our marriage had many more issues then him being a cross-dresser, yet it was the final blow to our marriage as we never were able to sort it out. Years of soul-searching on this topic finally gave me an answer to why I had such a difficult time accepting his femme side. It was because I had to share my life with the “other woman!”
What cross-dressers often fail to recognize is how powerful their femme side is. Often held back for decades, once the woman is out, there’s no turning back for her; her “voice” needs to be heard. For an unsuspecting wife, the acceptance of this other woman living in her husband’s body creates anger, fear and mostly confusion on a deeply emotional level that feels like a divorce.
When a wife is finally introduced to her cross-dressing husband’s femme side, the husband she once knew will never be the same for her, for now her marriage is about three people with the introduction of a very powerful and demanding woman entering the scene—who thinks mostly of herself—her needs and her call for attention. This woman really does take over once unleashed and a wife is just expected to accept her. A wife wonders, where is my husband in all of this? And who is this woman, where did she come from?
Of course, the woman in her husband has always been there, as she is part of him. And, after all, her cross-dressing husband is finally being honest with his wife, of which she should embrace him, right? Well, not so much. Rather than celebrating her husbands “coming out”, she is grieving, wishing on some level that she never caught or saw her husband dressed as woman, wishing she had her husband back, not the woman standing before her. She will have to adapt to being in a three-some, something she never expected.
Three-some’s rarely work as someone is always left out. Being married to a cross-dresser means a wife is sharing her time with another woman. And, there is always one party left out. When a wife is with her husband in his male role, the woman in him is left out. When her husband is as his femme self, his wife is left out because she doesn’t want to be married to a woman—her husband is gone.
The fact is cross-dressers, for the most part, are a selfish group as they become so obsessively immersed with their femme self and how they present, they forget about the needs of those around them. It is somewhat understandable that they behave this way because of being suppressed for decades. They are bursting with the need to be their authentic self. Yet, unfortunately the person closest to him, his wife, takes the brunt of his newfound freedom and is expected to adapt to him, immediately. One harsh word about her husband’s cross-dressing and he becomes hurt and angry and says, “So I won’t do it anymore” and then pouts.
Is cross-dressing a total game-changer in marriage? It absolutely is and to deny it is a self-fulfilling fantasy for cross-dressers. The femme side always wins and unless a wife is bi-sexual or favors women, she is going to be unhappy in her marriage, unless there is open communication and an agreement can be worked out between them that allows for them to both grow together.
Many wives due to financial constraints and age factor don’t get divorced rather they choose to stay in the marriage, hoping some day they will be able to accept their cross-dressing husband’s femme side. They feel there is no alternative. They live with anger that often leads to depression as they miss the life they had before their husband “came out.” This is why so many cross-dressers don’t share their secret with their wives, knowing they may not be accepted. Instead they continue to live dual lives being out as a woman outside of their marriage, until they are discovered or the need to tell their wife is overwhelming.
So what is the solution? There is hope for these marriages. One couple I know has come to an agreement where her cross-dressing husband has his own “doll house” away from the main house where he has his female items. They have agreed he can go out with his cross-dressing friends one day a week. His wife is fine with this as long as she doesn’t see him dressed as a woman. They have been married for 35-years and neither of them wants a divorce, so this works for both of them.
Is having a separate life for a husband’s femme side the answer to a healthy marriage? It may be a good choice for those long-term marriages where cross-dressing was introduced later in their relationship. The reality is some wives will never fully accept their husband’s femme side, yet she still loves her husband. She just doesn’t want to be married to the “other woman.”
Due to the often obsessive nature of cross-dressing, for a marriage to be balanced both parties need to feel good about themselves. There needs to be respect, honesty and boundaries drawn that works for both the husband and the wife to support a healthy and fulfilling marriage. A cross-dressing husband must be faithful to his wife, consider her feelings and not force her to accept his femme self. Perhaps, one day she will want to know more about this part of her husband, but on her terms when she has the capacity to deal with it.
There are success stories of cross-dressers who go out shopping for woman’s clothing with their husband while he is in his femme mode, yet this is not the norm now. As more cross-dressers let their future wife in on their secret before their marriage, I believe this will be much more commonplace and cross-dressing will finally have a greater acceptance both on a personal level and in our society.
For the wives who find out much later in their relationship, there needs to be compassion and understanding on both sides. A wife needs to know she counts and is more important than the other woman in their lives. An agreement between her husband and his wife needs to be made and to be upheld.