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Ask Jane, Column 17

Regrets
Dear Jane,

I'm a glaring example of why it may be better not to tell your wife. Two weeks ago I went to another city to be with my friends from URNA for their monthly gathering. Sunday afternoon when I got home I thought my excuse was going to fall apart so rather than wait for the explosion I told my wife where I had been.

It crushed her world.

My wife grew up in a very conventional (sheltered?) world in which she's experienced a great deal of loss. Her dad died when she was in high school; her brother a few years later; her first husband died of cancer, and her brother-in-law in an accident. Now she has me in her life and she is crushed to find out that my alter ego femme self is a part of my world. In fact, my femme self is the part of my world that can feel and relate to others. The male "me" would be just as happy to ignore the rest of the world, read a book, or build something.

She has been on a roller coaster since she found out but so far she isn't willing to talk to talk to anyone about it. She doesn't want to talk to her friends for fear of them finding out and she is reluctant to talk to other couples who have CD or TS mates.

This will work itself out as God put us together and He will have to keep us together. But wives fear a CD or TS husband because in some cases it can be looked at as the ultimate form of an affair or even abandonment. I think this is their worst fear. I know it is in my wife's case.

Enjoy the articles and hearing of your adventures, Jane. Anything you can tell me would be appreciated.

xo

Good morning. Thanks for writing. I'm so very sorry to hear about your wife's reaction to your revelation. I can imagine the atmosphere at home is terribly tense at the moment.

Acceptance is a process, not an event. So please keep the faith. It's only been two weeks since her lifetime of beliefs and truths have been challenged. If you fear she'll leave, ask if she'll agree to a moratorium on taking extreme action such as separating for a set period of time (six months or a year, for instance). She needs time to see you as a whole being again and stop focusing solely on this one new-to-her foreign dimension of who you are.

Consider where she's coming from, love. Of course your wife feels "abandoned" for "another woman." From her point of view, that's truth. Nothing in our society prepares a woman for the news that her husband is a cross-dresser. Women can't imagine that the man they thought they knew -- their otherwise conventional husbands -- are like Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon or Milton Berle or other ridiculous images our culture associates with cross-dressers.

I know that you want acceptance; of course you do. Ideally, even understanding. These may come, with time. I hope they do. In the meantime, besides the moratorium, have books available to her (but don't push them on her). Recommendations: Understanding Cross-dressing by Virginia Prince (look for used copies); Coping With Cross-dressing by Joann Roberts; My Husband Wears My Clothes and Cross-dressers: And Those Who Share Their Lives , both by Peggy Rudd; Head Over Heels by Virginia Erhardt; Alice in Genderland by Richard Novic, M.D.; and Helen Boyd's books, My Husband Betty and She's Not the Man I Married. Be open to answering any questions she has as she reads and be patient with her process and emotional outbursts. I know a great deal about cross-dressing and have to admit to still having an emotional reaction with my own partner while reading Alice in Genderland. Remember: patience!

Don't push explanations onto her or beg forgiveness (you have nothing to apologize for). If she's closed to talking during this very sensitive time, write her a letter from your heart telling her the love you have for her. Apologize for not telling her before marriage but please don't grovel. And tell her that you'll answer any and all questions honestly. You've been married long enough to know that marriage is about working things out. Respect her boundaries about your cross-dressing but don't capitulate to demands that you stop or anything else that's unrealistic.

I was referred to the following sites by a member of URNA when I was researching wives' fears about their cross-dressing husbands. They are outstanding, if your wife is open to viewing them. Sage, wife of CD Rena, wrote:
It's All In The Smile

Jan Brown is the founder of a transgender support group in NY. Here, Helen Boyd interviews her:
(EN)GENDER

And, finally, this beautifully penned account of a CD's journey toward self-acceptance and finding a place of peace in her marriage:
Tina's Views: My Road to Acceptance - Part 2

All best wishes to you, sweet girl.

Jane

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