Author Topic: I don't know if it's time to stop trying...  (Read 1534 times)

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Offline AislinnH

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I don't know if it's time to stop trying...
« on: November 24, 2015, 03:10:29 am »
Hello everyone. I'm new to the forum, and I'm hoping for some support and advice on an issue that my husband and I are seriously struggling with. Thank you in advance for reading, this might get a bit long and I apologize for that.

So, my husband is pre-op FTM, we met as lesbians a little over four years ago and were married this year in June. Because of his personal background, he has always had some very serious emotional and sexual issues that affected our relationship from the very start. We went through a very hellish few years trying to piece together our intimacy issues, and in the long run, it was me who figured out that he was trans to begin with, which went a long way in helping us solve some of those problems. With a lot of time and energy and some VERY ugly moments, we finally started making progress, and we've both done a lot of healing, but there is a but....

For his part, my husband is an incredible person. He's caring, compassionate, selfless, always concerned about my welfare, and we love each other very much. He does still struggle with anxiety, which is compounding a larger issue we're having. Sexually speaking, I've found myself struggling with the idea that I may want a cis man. To expound on that, I have to explain that my husband's being transgender is my first experience being heterosexual, aside from a boyfriend in high school, but before I met him, I was beginning to have some (drunken) experiences with men and while I wasn't convinced I was straight, I was on my way, and I didn't really realize it. Because I suffered sexual abuse very young, and ended up working as an exotic dancer fairly young as well, I ended up being extremely intimidated by men, and just couldn't bring myself to admit that I might be attracted to them. The idea was just scary and wholly untouchable and I wouldn't allow myself to even think about it.

Fast forward to our relationship, and now that I have the freedom and ability to express myself and feel at peace (and safe) about being heterosexual, I feel incredibly confused and guilty that I could possibly be unfulfilled because my husband doesn't have the parts to make him a complete man. His dysphoria is bad enough that we go without sex for weeks at a time, which was something we struggled with before he was trans, because he thought he might be asexual. Being an extremely sexual person, and having had past wonderful experiences, this was very, very hard to handle. He has not had very many partners, and I have been essentially his first encounter with a full sexual relationship. He's had to learn from scratch how to be not only a sexual partner, but a man on top of it. And, because I just never thought I'd end up with an inexperienced partner, I was a very unwilling and grudging teacher, which did nothing but exacerbate my issues with finally needing and wanting a man to care for and support my physical and emotional needs.  Now, after lots of struggling and hard work, when we do have sex, sometimes its fantastic, and we both feel confident and connected. But more often than not, we feel awkward, it doesn't feel natural or passionate, we both struggle with using toys and apparatus to make it feel complete. A lot of times, he's in the moment and acting as if we're going to do it, and then it doesn't happen. He's fallen asleep on me countless times. He also has a tendency, when he's not feeling particularly masculine, to go into this very childlike state, where he forgets that we're supposed to be having adult time, and instead he'll start snuggling me and speaking very sentimentally, which ends up killing the entire vibe. A lot of our attempts at sexual intimacy have ended up in frustration and sometimes even arguments (which is a long way from the ugliness that was our fights before this year).

To be fair, there are other issues that contribute to this and we have tried so hard to work through them. His anxiety/depression is a major point of contention, because for the duration of our relationship, I have pushed myself PAST the limits of exhaustion being his emotional backbone. Because I understand why he is the way he is, I've been very committed to helping him solve his issues. We've been through an incredible amount together, we've worked through things that with other people, I would've run for the hills without looking back. Being with him has been a lesson in patience and communication and seeing insane, ugly parts of myself I didn't know I possessed, and still coming through on the other side, strong and willing to fight on with him. But still, none of this changes the toll this has taken on us. I'll be the first to admit that this put me in a terrible place emotionally, and I ended up dealing with a long, awful bout of OCD and compulsive self harming behavior, resulting from the fact that I was in no way equipped to be the sole supporter and caretaker of his problems, and he could not be for me what I needed. I should not have even attempted to care for him during those first stages of self discovery, and I should not have expected, or asked of him, to be something he could not be for me. The fact that I dealt with both of our problems left me with some residual feelings of disenchantment and apathy.  He has actually expressed that he knows he needs room to keep growing, because he is a lovely guy and he doesn't expect me to keep suffering through the fallout of his emotional and sexual problems. But he also doesn't want me to physically leave. He wants emotional space, not physical space, and I suspect it's because we have literally been everything for each other and we really have never spent any time apart since we've been together.

 And for my part, I have come to a place where I have accepted that my mental health and happiness can't be contingent upon his emotional state. I've really distanced myself emotionally, many times including now, for his sake and my sanity. Between that and the dysphoria we're both dealing with, I'm not sure if I can deal with his being trans in a physical sense anymore. When he does want physical intimacy, I clam up because I'm tired of all the intricacies of not being able to touch him, not being able to see him, knowing that when I touch him down there, it's not really real. I don't initiate anymore because of it, and because I'm never sure if it will even result in anything (because literally, I used to do it all the time, and he was entirely unresponsive). We do still try, but there's always a cloud hanging over it for some reason or other and it's frustrating. Not to mention that he's still learning and working on what kind of man he wants to be, and I just really want and need him to be all there, if that makes any sense. When he's not fully confident and in a good mental space he becomes neutral or childish, and it always causes a strain on us. But I do love him. And that's where it all falls apart in my mind. We've talked so much about the possibility of breaking up, its gotten old. I know so many people say, you married the person, not their gender, and I know that isn't necessarily true for me, because it's clearly wrapped up in both a physical and emotional element, and I don't know how, or if, I can jump that hurdle.  And to be perfectly honest, I'm afraid of leaving him. I haven't known anything else for four years and I've grown comfortable in our security together, despite the burden it can be. I feel insanely guilty. I can't express how much. I hate so much that he has to live this way, that this is his experience, and how much we've both hurt to deal with it. I hate that I have these feelings, because I know I'm all he's got, we have a bond of deep trust, and I want to be there for him. No matter what I do, he'll still have to bear the burden of being trans and I feel like a completely terrible excuse for a human being for thinking I could leave him to deal with it on his own. It seems so unfair to him. We've discussed various aspects of this, including that we really just might not be sexually compatible (he doesn't agree; I clearly have doubts).  We've cried oceans over this, and I've told him I wish we'd grown to resent each other, because this is so much worse. Even before we were married, we struggled with this, which I guess is obvious, but he wanted us to do it so he could financially protect me. I feel like any decision I make will bring the world crashing down around me, sooner or later. Despite everything, he's the best person I've ever met and my best friend. Though it should make things easier, he has been nothing but supportive and understanding and he doesn't want anything but my happiness, even if leaving is the final resolution. I find myself afraid to make a choice, and have thought myself into a vicious cycle of fear and uncertainty and I just need help.



Offline idahogirl

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Re: I don't know if it's time to stop trying...
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2015, 03:38:21 pm »
I wish I had something to tell you because then I might be able to answer some similar questions for myself.  My spouse and I were incredibly close for the better part of 10 years.  For various reasons (I've posted about this before) we are struggling in our relationship. 

In our case, we are going to couple's counseling.  I sometimes think it helps.  At least it has allowed us to have difficult conversations in a calm manner.  Sometimes I think I should go, sometimes I think I should stay.  For a while I have been leaning more towards 'go,' but I feel like a bad person for considering it.  In our case I stayed after my partner came out as MTF, and originally I thought there was no way I would leave because our sex life had become complicated/nonexistent.  It seemed shallow to leave.  But with the emergence of other, unrelated relationship issues, I have begun to question the sacrifices I have made in our sex life.  That 'cloud' you talk about is intangible, but it is definitely there.  Even when my partner and I try to reconnect I feel a distance between us.  I know that there isn't anybody who I can go to for the answer to my stay-or-go question, because there is no 'wrong' or 'right' decision.  But I find myself asking the question anyway -- mostly in forums like this one where I can remain anonymous.  I ask my questions and, like you, I find myself revisiting the pros and cons of each decision over and over.

Maybe the truth is as simple as: No matter what you do, there are going to be negative consequences.  That sounds dumb and obvious as I write it out, but maybe part of the problem is that I don't want to embrace that reality.  Whatever the difference in our situations, I can empathize with you as you face this choice.  If you haven't done it, I would suggest couples' counseling.  It isn't a solution and I hate to end my response with the suggestion to talk to somebody else, but despite my initial reservations about it, I do feel better after my spouse and I have a session together to talk things out.

Offline Dena

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Re: I don't know if it's time to stop trying...
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2015, 04:24:06 pm »
As a virgin I may not be the obvious person to have part of the answer but the reason I am still a virgin is part of the answer. I think your partner is asexual and combined with dysphoria, you partner has a real problem sex. Asexual doesn't mean a person isn't sexual. It mean that establishing a sexual relationship will be much harder. There are several from of Asexuality and they vary from no sexual drive to normal sexual interest in the right relationship. I have pasted a link into the bottom of the post to give you some idea what your are dealing with. Your partners need to determine the type of asexual he is. This will determine if a sexual relationship is possible. If it is possible, then elimination of the dysphoria, possibly with some therapy may eliminate the issues between you. I am a Demisexual and I am aware of a sexual side but for several reasons, I haven't found that life partner that will unlock the sexual side of me. I wish you luck in you search and feel free to ask me any questions you might have.

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Offline AislinnH

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Re: I don't know if it's time to stop trying...
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2015, 02:39:02 pm »
As a virgin I may not be the obvious person to have part of the answer but the reason I am still a virgin is part of the answer. I think your partner is asexual and combined with dysphoria, you partner has a real problem sex. Asexual doesn't mean a person isn't sexual. It mean that establishing a sexual relationship will be much harder. There are several from of Asexuality and they vary from no sexual drive to normal sexual interest in the right relationship. I have pasted a link into the bottom of the post to give you some idea what your are dealing with. Your partners need to determine the type of asexual he is. This will determine if a sexual relationship is possible. If it is possible, then elimination of the dysphoria, possibly with some therapy may eliminate the issues between you. I am a Demisexual and I am aware of a sexual side but for several reasons, I haven't found that life partner that will unlock the sexual side of me. I wish you luck in you search and feel free to ask me any questions you might have.

This is something that we have already discussed and determined isn't the case, though I do feel that, in the sense of his dysphoria and anxiety issues, he could be considered to have low to no libido. When our relationship was lesbian, he was comfortable with sex, and it wasn't until his mental health began to decline that this became an issue, and I won't go into a full account, but he's well aware of why he has low sex drive, and he's not happy with it or comfortable with it. His depression is a major factor but he feels very abnormal and disgusting having to endure sex in the wrong body so he essentially avoids it. In any case, I'll revisit the topic with him, just because we haven't discussed it in awhile, and maybe he feels differently and hasn't told me about it.