Author Topic: Advice from a wife on how to not blow up your marriage  (Read 19594 times)

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Offline Cailan Jerika

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Advice from a wife on how to not blow up your marriage
« on: February 17, 2017, 04:40:16 pm »
Hi. My husband (he is still going by he) came out to me as MtF 18 years ago, went back in the closet, and in December he came out to me as being ready for the first steps of whatever his transition is going to be. It was rough at first, both when he came out to me and his new announcement, but over the past months we've learned a lot about how to navigate our new relationship. In the midst of the whole thing we figured out I'm also trans; bi-gender M/F. Which takes nothing away from the issues of our marriage and my mostly cis type reaction to his news. I'm still wrapping my head around my gender issues - which play into some complications for our own relationship, but I won't include those here. Only the point of view and experiences I see over and over among SOs, many of which match my own experiences and feelings to a T.

I have been fortunate enough that my husband has the better habits as far as what we need to do to keep our marriage together, and is also incredibly supportive of my own gender issues.

I am a member of some very private groups for wives of MtF transgender individuals, and between our own experiences and the many, many women whom I have talked to in these "safe places" I have learned a lot about how trans marriages work, and what blows them up. I hear the happy stories of those whose marriage is better today than before transition, and the stories of destroyed relationships, torn apart families, and the ugliest stories of all - suicide of the cis partner.

One of the shocking things I've learned is the high rate of suicide among wives of transwomen. Yes, because of their partners' transitions! In one group our moderator recently died by her own hand when she couldn't handle it anymore. In the wake of her death, four other members admitted they had attempted suicide in the past also because of their spouse's transition. So when you insist that you have to do this for your mental health, remember, you're blowing up her life and she has mental health to maintain too. Don't assume you're the only one in severe and serious mental pain! For many wives, especially in long marriages, their entire life and identity is wrapped up in their marriage. If they have no clue there's a problem in their marriage before the big annoucement it is quite literally the end of their world, especially if they're not mentally equipped to handle marriage to a transwoman.

If your wife happens to be bisexual and/or pansexual and is open minded about sex and relationships, you probably have it made. For some women it doesn't matter. You are you. If you're one of these lucky individuals, then you have a much better chance of making it work than the average.

If your wife is straight and traditional, even if she's somewhat open-minded, this may take a LOT of work from both of you to really keep a good marriage.

*Talk to your wife as early as possible. Putting off the inevitable isn't going to help anything. It only makes the blowup bigger than it may need to be. Also be aware of the timing of when you come out to her. If she's going thorough pregnancy and her own hormone issues, bad idea. Or freshly given birth/breastfeeding. More hormones. Don't do it around a holiday (particularly Valentine's Day, her birthday or your anniversary!), or a special day for her. If her grandma is dying, just, no. Use common sense.

*Don't expect her to take it well. Expect a few days to a week or longer while the news settles in and the shock wears off. Don't assume her first week's reaction is her permanent reaction. I was on divorce websites within hours, convinced my marriage and my life were over. I cried a lot. And I had 18 years warning! I knew he was trans, I knew it never goes away. Yet it was still like he had set off dynamite in my life. She may cry, for days. She may scream and rail at the world. She may simply go into shutdown mode. She WILL need time to get past the initial shock. And it may change from one thing to another before it's over.

*Get both of you into therapy immediately. Like, if you can pre-schedule it for a week after you come out, do it. Take her to your own gender therapist for her own personal counseling sessions and and couples counseling together. Having two messages - one from your therapist and one from hers - sometimes has you working at cross purposes. If your gender therapist doesn't take couples or the cis spouse, make absolutely certain the therapist she goes to is a therapist who is at least strongly familiar with gender issues and is in at least some contact with your gender therapist, so they can make sure you're on the same page. Regular therapists usually don't understand much about the trans world and challenges, and sometimes end up giving poor advice, working counter to what you both need in order to come together.

*Offer to take her with you to your medical appointments. Don't force her, but do encourage her. Not just to drive, but to ask her own questions, make suggestions, and hear it all for herself. To hold your hand. For you to hold her hand. If you plan to make your marriage work, include her in the process as much as possible. You are not going through this alone. You are going through this as a COUPLE.

*If you can safely (mentally) do it, slow your transition down so she can come to terms with each step. Don't stop it for her, but give her adjustment time. Ask she if she's ready for X. Talk her through it, both your emotional and mental need for it, and the actual medical stuff when applicable. As I said before, take her with you to talk to the doctor so she completely understands. Have your therapist explain if necessary. Are there any other options for your treatment that would take care of the problem? Consider them. I'm not saying she has veto power, but keep her in the loop for medical decisions. She's not only your partner in life, she's the one who will be physically caring for you while you recover from surgery and can't walk for several days. She's the one who will be dealing with a 13-year-old hormonal girl in a grown male body. It's not a walk in the park.

*Don't forget she's still a woman with a woman's needs. You may be feeling the need to be treated like a woman, but, SO DOES SHE. Don't ask her to take the role that was yours. She is not going to be comfortable with suddenly becoming the man in the relationship. Remember, she's probably a cis female. She's not going to transition to male just because you're transitioning to female!  She needs flowers sometimes, and to be the submissive in bed, or the dominant, whatever you were before. She's still a lady. You may have to rework YOUR position and role in the relationship in the household, but DO NOT TRY TO TAKE HERS. Otherwise I guarantee it's going to go badly.

*Talk to her! She's not psychic. Don't expect her to know what you're thinking. Don't expect her to know what causes you pain, either mental or physical. Don't expect her to know what you prefer in sex, or what you really want to never do in bed again. Tell her. And be open to what she needs too. Ask her point blank. Don't beat around the bush or hint. Just plain ask what she's needing from you. And be ready to provide as much of it as you can. There will be times when you're strong and she's weak. And there will be times when she's strong and you're weak.

*Don't mistake honesty for an attack on you. If she can't speak her mind honestly about how she is feeling about your transitioning without you turning on her, then she's going to shut down and it's over. Will it trigger dysphoria for you? Maybe. Even likely. But listen to her. Her feelings and pain are just as real as yours. Your pain does not invalidate hers.

*If you have children, don't get so wrapped up in your transition that you forget you're also a parent. Being transgender isn't a free pass to get out of parenting and doing half the work of raising the kids.

*Don't abandon her for a newly discovered trans social life. If you have kids, get a babysitter and bring your wife with you to dinners and gatherings. If she was a part of your whole life before, she should be a part of your whole life after. Don't start going off on "trips" with another transwoman for bonding and friendship. Your wife should still be your best friend. Sure, it's okay to have trans friends with whom you can share your experiences and such, but if you didn't go off and do stuff with your friends before, doing it now will only send your wife the message that she isn't enough for you. She is inadequate. And it hurts.

*Go shopping with her! You may both find awesome outfits, cool new makeup colors and she may have some great tips on women's clothing. Make it a bonding experience together.

*Take her to a trans conference or local/regional gatherings. They almost always have sessions for spouses, where spouses can meet with others who have been through what they're going through now. Being able to talk to someone directly, face to face, to cry on each others' shoulders, is worth more than all the internet groups in the world. Also, being exposed to other trans individuals who are farther in the transition process than you are will help her get an idea of what her future may be like.

Thank you for considering my advice. It may not be right for every situation, but please, keep this in mind.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2017, 08:00:22 pm by Cailan Jade »
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Offline HappyMoni

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Re: Advice from a wife on how to not blow up your marriage
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2017, 06:25:48 pm »
In my opinion, I cannot overstate how important this post is. There is so much insight given here. I would like to express my gratitude for you taking the time to present it. As a (married) trans person, I know how easy it is to become self absorbed with transition. It is maybe to be expected considering  how long we must hide. The thing is, we have no excuse to ignore the feelings of those around us when coming out. (Obviously all bets are off when the reaction is hostile/ violent.) We should be respected for how traumatic it is for us, but we in turn should respect how traumatic it is for a spouse or child. Thank you for making this specific and practical, Cailan.
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Offline kathb31

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Re: Advice from a wife on how to not blow up your marriage
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2017, 06:52:11 pm »
Cailan,

This is a special post with some very good advice.
I had my wife read it and she very much appreciated what you
had written. I know that I made mistakes when coming out
to my her and in the months that followed. I tended to be
secretive about my plans, my treatments, my counseling ..
part of this was shame (fortunately I'm past the embarrassment now)
and part of it was not knowing how she would react. She called
me on it several times about not communicating and things got
much better after that. It's a difficult journey but I know I must
always remember how it affects the people around me.

Kath

Offline Kylo

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Re: Advice from a wife on how to not blow up your marriage
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2017, 07:17:28 pm »
Good thing I didn't get married. My love life is a disaster area.
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Offline jgravitt01

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Re: Advice from a wife on how to not blow up your marriage
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2017, 11:30:33 pm »
Hi. My husband (he is still going by he) came out to me as MtF 18 years ago, went back in the closet, and in December he came out to me as being ready for the first steps of whatever his transition is going to be. It was rough at first, both when he came out to me and his new announcement, but over the past months we've learned a lot about how to navigate our new relationship. In the midst of the whole thing we figured out I'm also trans; bi-gender M/F. Which takes nothing away from the issues of our marriage and my mostly cis type reaction to his news. I'm still wrapping my head around my gender issues - which play into some complications for our own relationship, but I won't include those here. Only the point of view and experiences I see over and over among SOs, many of which match my own experiences and feelings to a T.

I have been fortunate enough that my husband has the better habits as far as what we need to do to keep our marriage together, and is also incredibly supportive of my own gender issues.

I am a member of some very private groups for wives of MtF transgender individuals, and between our own experiences and the many, many women whom I have talked to in these "safe places" I have learned a lot about how trans marriages work, and what blows them up. I hear the happy stories of those whose marriage is better today than before transition, and the stories of destroyed relationships, torn apart families, and the ugliest stories of all - suicide of the cis partner.

One of the shocking things I've learned is the high rate of suicide among wives of transwomen. Yes, because of their partners' transitions! In one group our moderator recently died by her own hand when she couldn't handle it anymore. In the wake of her death, four other members admitted they had attempted suicide in the past also because of their spouse's transition. So when you insist that you have to do this for your mental health, remember, you're blowing up her life and she has mental health to maintain too. Don't assume you're the only one in severe and serious mental pain! For many wives, especially in long marriages, their entire life and identity is wrapped up in their marriage. If they have no clue there's a problem in their marriage before the big annoucement it is quite literally the end of their world, especially if they're not mentally equipped to handle marriage to a transwoman.

If your wife happens to be bisexual and/or pansexual and is open minded about sex and relationships, you probably have it made. For some women it doesn't matter. You are you. If you're one of these lucky individuals, then you have a much better chance of making it work than the average.

If your wife is straight and traditional, even if she's somewhat open-minded, this may take a LOT of work from both of you to really keep a good marriage.

*Talk to your wife as early as possible. Putting off the inevitable isn't going to help anything. It only makes the blowup bigger than it may need to be. Also be aware of the timing of when you come out to her. If she's going thorough pregnancy and her own hormone issues, bad idea. Or freshly given birth/breastfeeding. More hormones. Don't do it around a holiday (particularly Valentine's Day, her birthday or your anniversary!), or a special day for her. If her grandma is dying, just, no. Use common sense.

*Don't expect her to take it well. Expect a few days to a week or longer while the news settles in and the shock wears off. Don't assume her first week's reaction is her permanent reaction. I was on divorce websites within hours, convinced my marriage and my life were over. I cried a lot. And I had 18 years warning! I knew he was trans, I knew it never goes away. Yet it was still like he had set off dynamite in my life. She may cry, for days. She may scream and rail at the world. She may simply go into shutdown mode. She WILL need time to get past the initial shock. And it may change from one thing to another before it's over.

*Get both of you into therapy immediately. Like, if you can pre-schedule it for a week after you come out, do it. Take her to your own gender therapist for her own personal counseling sessions and and couples counseling together. Having two messages - one from your therapist and one from hers - sometimes has you working at cross purposes. If your gender therapist doesn't take couples or the cis spouse, make absolutely certain the therapist she goes to is a therapist who is at least strongly familiar with gender issues and is in at least some contact with your gender therapist, so they can make sure you're on the same page. Regular therapists usually don't understand much about the trans world and challenges, and sometimes end up giving poor advice, working counter to what you both need in order to come together.

*Offer to take her with you to your medical appointments. Don't force her, but do encourage her. Not just to drive, but to ask her own questions, make suggestions, and hear it all for herself. To hold your hand. For you to hold her hand. If you plan to make your marriage work, include her in the process as much as possible. You are not going through this alone. You are going through this as a COUPLE.

*If you can safely (mentally) do it, slow your transition down so she can come to terms with each step. Don't stop it for her, but give her adjustment time. Ask she if she's ready for X. Talk her through it, both your emotional and mental need for it, and the actual medical stuff when applicable. As I said before, take her with you to talk to the doctor so she completely understands. Have your therapist explain if necessary. Are there any other options for your treatment that would take care of the problem? Consider them. I'm not saying she has veto power, but keep her in the loop for medical decisions. She's not only your partner in life, she's the one who will be physically caring for you while you recover from surgery and can't walk for several days. She's the one who will be dealing with a 13-year-old hormonal girl in a grown male body. It's not a walk in the park.

*Don't forget she's still a woman with a woman's needs. You may be feeling the need to be treated like a woman, but, SO DOES SHE. Don't ask her to take the role that was yours. She is not going to be comfortable with suddenly becoming the man in the relationship. Remember, she's probably a cis female. She's not going to transition to male just because you're transitioning to female!  She needs flowers sometimes, and to be the submissive in bed, or the dominant, whatever you were before. She's still a lady. You may have to rework YOUR position and role in the relationship in the household, but DO NOT TRY TO TAKE HERS. Otherwise I guarantee it's going to go badly.

*Talk to her! She's not psychic. Don't expect her to know what you're thinking. Don't expect her to know what causes you pain, either mental or physical. Don't expect her to know what you prefer in sex, or what you really want to never do in bed again. Tell her. And be open to what she needs too. Ask her point blank. Don't beat around the bush or hint. Just plain ask what she's needing from you. And be ready to provide as much of it as you can. There will be times when you're strong and she's weak. And there will be times when she's strong and you're weak.

*Don't mistake honesty for an attack on you. If she can't speak her mind honestly about how she is feeling about your transitioning without you turning on her, then she's going to shut down and it's over. Will it trigger dysphoria for you? Maybe. Even likely. But listen to her. Her feelings and pain are just as real as yours. Your pain does not invalidate hers.

*If you have children, don't get so wrapped up in your transition that you forget you're also a parent. Being transgender isn't a free pass to get out of parenting and doing half the work of raising the kids.

*Don't abandon her for a newly discovered trans social life. If you have kids, get a babysitter and bring your wife with you to dinners and gatherings. If she was a part of your whole life before, she should be a part of your whole life after. Don't start going off on "trips" with another transwoman for bonding and friendship. Your wife should still be your best friend. Sure, it's okay to have trans friends with whom you can share your experiences and such, but if you didn't go off and do stuff with your friends before, doing it now will only send your wife the message that she isn't enough for you. She is inadequate. And it hurts.

*Go shopping with her! You may both find awesome outfits, cool new makeup colors and she may have some great tips on women's clothing. Make it a bonding experience together.

*Take her to a trans conference or local/regional gatherings. They almost always have sessions for spouses, where spouses can meet with others who have been through what they're going through now. Being able to talk to someone directly, face to face, to cry on each others' shoulders, is worth more than all the internet groups in the world. Also, being exposed to other trans individuals who are farther in the transition process than you are will help her get an idea of what her future may be like.

Thank you for considering my advice. It may not be right for every situation, but please, keep this in mind.
I so needed this about a month and a half ago, then maybe I wouldnt have dropped a bombshell 3 weeks before Valentines Day and our Anniversary.
Good advice...should be mandatory reading.

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Offline Sarah.VanDistel

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Re: Advice from a wife on how to not blow up your marriage
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2017, 05:41:54 am »
Thank you so much for this post, Cailan! As someone married and who have just started the difficult MtF path, I really appreciate your words. I deeply love my wife and not only because we share the creation of two beautiful children, not only because of all our past history, but because she's truly my best friend, the first person I came out to, the only close person who supports me. One thing that I vividly noticed is that dialogue is key. At the very beginning of my coming out, I was very secretive about my plans, my intentions... I feared her reactions, her attitudes. And that fear, in turn, prevented me of being sure of what I had to do. "Should I just endure the growing dysphoria for the rest of my (probably short) remaining life?" "Should I transition?" "Should I just suppress by crossdressing (however aware I was that this was no longer enough)?" Millions of doubts in my head, that I didn't dare to answer because I was too afraid that the answer would hurt her. But then I took a decisive step. I reckon that this step wouldn't apply to everyone, but for me it was an important moment. At her request, I accepted to come out to my parents. I wrote a very extensive email to my parents, telling them almost everything and then, before sending it, I asked my wife to read it. She felt very much valued and empowered that I submit the letter to her before sending it... She cried a little when she read it. She told me that it was well written, honest and encouraged me to send it. Which I promptly did. That happened a few days ago. Today, without me asking, she told me that the fact that I sent that letter was determinant for her. From that moment on, she knew that I was serious about this problem and that I really needed to transition. And then she told something incredible: "I will never, ever leave you. I love you too much for that. And I now know that you still love me too... I'm almost sure that the kids will accept you as you are, because they too love you, unconditionally." I almost cried... So yes, at least in our case, honesty, communication, some degree of compromise and lots of mutual love and respect were determinant. This is just the beginning of our journey. Of our transition. I don't know how the future will be, but with patience, dialogue and plenty of respectful openmindedness, there's no fundamental reason for it not to work.
Again, thank you for your words and I wish the very best for you two!
Hugs and respect,
Sarah

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Offline laurenb

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Re: Advice from a wife on how to not blow up your marriage
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2017, 06:41:47 am »
This thread should be pinned I think. It's that important. Thanks, Cailan, for posting this. I can't stress how much the advice to slow things down has helped us. -hugs
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Offline josie76

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Re: Advice from a wife on how to not blow up your marriage
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2017, 07:00:49 am »
It is very good advice in many ways. It does infer a few things.

First that the relationship was good in almost every way to begin with. Some issues in a relationship will make a number of points less valid. Every situation and relationship is different.

Second while obviously written from the wife's point of view, it infers that the trans woman should continue to be less than truthful in their life to lessen the situation for the cis wife. It does in fact in many ways require the trans wife to continue filling the male role. In some situations the cis wife may not realize or have been oblivious to just how much the trans wife has sacrificed her very soul to try her best to fill the needs of the cis wife. If honesty is important then it is nessecary for both parties to be their real selves, otherwise the relationship is just being rebuilt on more lies and deception of who the parties really are.

A balance must be struck between the needs of both, with true honesty not partial honesty to make things easier for one over the other.
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Offline JoanneB

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Re: Advice from a wife on how to not blow up your marriage
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2017, 08:46:36 am »
A most excellent post

My wife knew of my gender issues from day 1, some 40 years ago. She also has her own set of gender issues (MTF post-op nearly 30 years). Dealing with me dropping the T-Bomb a few years back has been a challenge. A challenge still. Perhaps a loosing battle as she is dealing with a failing body and in no small part my fault, no future happiness. Almost 20 years living with worsening chronic pain, a runaway guberment that thinks it knows how to be doctors, her visions of a future absolutely BTS has led to chronic depression and suicidal wishes. TBH, if she was my pet dog of 40 years the humane thing to do would be to put her down.
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Offline Cailan Jerika

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Re: Advice from a wife on how to not blow up your marriage
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2017, 12:43:47 pm »
Second while obviously written from the wife's point of view, it infers that the trans woman should continue to be less than truthful in their life to lessen the situation for the cis wife. It does in fact in many ways require the trans wife to continue filling the male role. In some situations the cis wife may not realize or have been oblivious to just how much the trans wife has sacrificed her very soul to try her best to fill the needs of the cis wife. If honesty is important then it is nessecary for both parties to be their real selves, otherwise the relationship is just being rebuilt on more lies and deception of who the parties really are.

A balance must be struck between the needs of both, with true honesty not partial honesty to make things easier for one over the other.

I think I know what you're referring to, but I also think you're misinterpreting what I said. I didn't say the trans person has to continue filling the male role. Only that the trans person needs to find a new role that fits, but not take the wife's already existing role. It doesn't have to be the male role. Just a female role in a different way than the one your wife fills hers. It's about finding a new balance that serves the needs of both partners. While you want to be treated like a woman, so does she. There are ways a woman can treat another woman like a woman. Many lesbians manage it quite nicely, and no, lesbians don't necessarily pair off in butch-femme partnerships. I have several lesbian friends who are in long-term relationships. They give each other flowers and stuff like that. Both are in the femme role, and both treat the other like the femme they are. But each still has a defined role in the relationship and they don't poach on the other's ground.
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Offline Amanda_Combs

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Re: Advice from a wife on how to not blow up your marriage
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2017, 01:19:00 pm »
In your opinion, is there any possibility of managing to not hurt a straight, cis spouse at all while remaining a couple?

To my ears, that sounds like too tall of an order.  But my wife is so sensitive, so fragile, and so reliant on me, that the idea of asking her to endure this would be abusive to her.  I genuinely think that my repressing my feelings totally for the remainder of my life would be less painful than her attempting to adjust.  I worry that I will never live authentically for that reason.  I'm just feeling so lost and hopeless right now!  Does anyone know of ways that a person has been successful in trying to soothe dysphoria without transitioning?


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Offline Sarah.VanDistel

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Re: Advice from a wife on how to not blow up your marriage
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2017, 02:19:55 pm »
In your opinion, is there any possibility of managing to not hurt a straight, cis spouse at all while remaining a couple?

To my ears, that sounds like too tall of an order.  But my wife is so sensitive, so fragile, and so reliant on me, that the idea of asking her to endure this would be abusive to her.  I genuinely think that my repressing my feelings totally for the remainder of my life would be less painful than her attempting to adjust.  I worry that I will never live authentically for that reason.  I'm just feeling so lost and hopeless right now!  Does anyone know of ways that a person has been successful in trying to soothe dysphoria without transitioning?


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Hi Amanda! As I said previously on this thread, I'm just at the very beginning of transition. When I married, my wife knew about my crossdressing. I thought that it was some fetish, but in retrospective it was just a way to "soothe the dysphoria". The problem is, somewhat like sleeping pills, these strategies become less and effective over time... At the very beginning, I just wore feminine underwear, then I began with skirts, then dresses, then shoes, then I tried to modify my body with nail polish, shaving my legs, shaving my entire body... I even tried automedicating with anti-androgens and estrogens (please, don't do this!!!). It was if everything worked, just temporarily. The dysphoria always resurfaced, usually more intense. So any "soothing" will probably be just temporary... (I know that some docs prescribe low doses of estrogens to reduce the dysphoria, but even on low doses, given enough time, there will be some physical changes.)

As I saw it, the only permanent solution was transitioning (the alternative being a spiral of depression ending prematurely with suicide). I also saw my wife as someone very fragile. But she surprised me so much the last few weeks. I do not have magical solutions, but I think communication is key. Talk to her. If you're like me, she's probably your best friend and I am sure she would love to know that you value her opinion and feelings... Really. Talk to her. Do not bluntly impose your wishes. It's sometimes surprising how much you can accomplish with love and a bit of negociation. Not all couples are made to last, but in my case I would have regretted it for the rest of my life if I hadn't tried.

Finally, if possible, talk to an experienced therapist.

I wish the very best for both of you! Don't give up on happiness!

Hugs, Sarah

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Offline Cailan Jerika

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Re: Advice from a wife on how to not blow up your marriage
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2017, 02:27:54 pm »
In your opinion, is there any possibility of managing to not hurt a straight, cis spouse at all while remaining a couple?

To my ears, that sounds like too tall of an order.  But my wife is so sensitive, so fragile, and so reliant on me, that the idea of asking her to endure this would be abusive to her.  I genuinely think that my repressing my feelings totally for the remainder of my life would be less painful than her attempting to adjust.  I worry that I will never live authentically for that reason.  I'm just feeling so lost and hopeless right now!  Does anyone know of ways that a person has been successful in trying to soothe dysphoria without transitioning?

You know your wife better than I do. If you think she's too fragile, she might be. Some people just can't handle any bumps in the road. She might surprise you, but it sounds like you know her very well. But not hurting a sensitive, fragile, straight, cis spouse at all? I seriously doubt it's possible. Staying together involves a lot of work from both partners.

This is where you need a therapist to help you figure out if there's a way to do this. I'm guessing a combination of lots of therapy for her *before* you come out, and a very slow desensitization process leading up to it might minimize the damage.

But yeah, you're in a rough spot.
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Offline Sophia Sage

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Re: Advice from a wife on how to not blow up your marriage
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2017, 03:07:19 pm »
I think I know what you're referring to, but I also think you're misinterpreting what I said. I didn't say the trans person has to continue filling the male role. Only that the trans person needs to find a new role that fits, but not take the wife's already existing role. It doesn't have to be the male role. Just a female role in a different way than the one your wife fills hers.

It's about finding a new balance that serves the needs of both partners. While you want to be treated like a woman, so does she. There are ways a woman can treat another woman like a woman. Many lesbians manage it quite nicely, and no, lesbians don't necessarily pair off in butch-femme partnerships. I have several lesbian friends who are in long-term relationships. They give each other flowers and stuff like that. Both are in the femme role, and both treat the other like the femme they are. But each still has a defined role in the relationship and they don't poach on the other's ground.

This is such a difficult balance to find.  I'm not sure it helps to say that one person or the other gets to "claim territory" in a relationship, especially one that was originally predicated on a hetero dynamic.  If she's like, "You don't get to make dinner, that's my job," for example (not a very good one), that's denying someone else an experience that might well be essential to her own self-development.  And likewise, asking for a more equitable arrangement of other roles that have gendered implications isn't unreasonable.  Because if the previously established gendered pattern of a relationship continues, it can very well become a source of dysphoria, and that's not going to help in the long term.

So it depends.  Giving each other flowers, for example, is a nice way of striving for that balance; each person is on the giving and receiving end of the dynamic, but the dynamic itself can be executed in unique personal ways that don't have unpleasantly gendered connotations one way or the other.  So yeah, it can be done.

But in the aforementioned lesbian relationship, that's a relationship that was (hopefully) established with everyone really knowing who they were.  That's usually not the case where someone comes out as differently gendered well into a marriage.  At that point, I think the relationship is really beginning anew, and at some point it makes sense to me to honestly renegotiate everything.  That's when it will become apparent whether the relationship can go forward or not.

Or maybe I'm not understanding what you mean by someone's "defined role" in a relationship?
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Offline Cailan Jerika

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Re: Advice from a wife on how to not blow up your marriage
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2017, 04:25:26 pm »


Or maybe I'm not understanding what you mean by someone's "defined role" in a relationship?

When I say "defined role" I mean the role she takes according to her personality. It's usually not a conscious thing.  She has her ways and ideas of who she is and how she needs to live her life. I'm not referring to cultural roles or physical tasks around the house. I'm talking about the relationship roles we simply take because of who we are inside, how communication happens, stuff like that. It's fine to drop the more masculine/aggressive "male" role. I'm just saying that there are other femme roles that you can take without insisting on duplicating the areas of life where she feels the most comfort and value.
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Offline josie76

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Re: Advice from a wife on how to not blow up your marriage
« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2017, 05:24:35 pm »
I don't think I misunderstood the idea you were trying to convey.

I think the biggest problem that a cis wife has is first and foremost understanding that the trans wife is not looking to "be treated like a woman" but is looking to be recognized as her true inner being. So in this way many instances of taking things slow will in fact be the trans wife continuing to fill the old role expected by the cis wife.

Unfortunately this is just where our experiences are from the opposite ends of the situation. To say we are looking to be treated as a woman is illustrating the ideation that we are not true women. I realize it's hard to see us as such even for a very open minded person. My wife has been incredibly open minded and supportive in our relationship during this time, but as an example when I told her I talked with the lady that facilitates the local group meetings, more than once she used the "he" word. It was not on purpose. Not a conscious statement but just my wife's knowledge that the lady is trans caused her to slip and say "he".

This is hard for everyone. My wife and I are learning and putting together the history of my own behavior and reactions over our relationship and quite honestly my entire life. It's very eye opening to see how so much of our issues have come from expectations verses reality of us as individuals. We have our troubles with this transition just like everyone here does, but in searching our past we both have begun to understand how our past interactions now make sense as we both begin to put a reference frame around those instances with me being female. Suddenly things neither of us could find sense in now makes perfect sense. Both her and my reactions to each other now make sense. She had expectations of how she thought a man would act. I only ever acted as I saw men act. In the most personal ways I did not have manly examples so my true inner self showed. To her these reactions were baffling. We both ended up with self esteem issues and feeling like we failed the other in so many ways. These experiences put into context of my female wired brain, and walla, suddenly the pieces of the puzzle fall into place.

What she expected in the past has been based on her experiences with cis men. I have finally figured out after years of thinking I was just a outcast man with this girl in my head, that I do not understand how men think or act because my brain was never male to begin with. My behavior is female as is my reactions to life's stimuli. I never matched her expectations of a man because it was impossible for me to do so. To finally see that is a relief for both of us. However early in my coming out she also wanted things to go slow. She wanted to put me back in the male role she thought I should fit in. At first she suggested that cross dressing should be enough. Then that if I felt like I wanted full surgical transition, that would be too much. So at first I lied to both myself and her saying I didn't mind keeping the things. Then I admitted wanting to remove the testicles since I was 11. She took some time to say she was ok with that. Until she read bad things about impotence ect. Finally in a much heated moment she asked if it were just for me would I go all the way. My answer was a very solid yes. Only after moments of me breaking down did she finally begin to understand me mentally, emotionally. She now mostly sees me as I truely am now. If we make it as a married couple only time will tell. We are both working on it. What I do know is only by breaking down all of the gender role barriers and exposing my real self fully coul we begin to heal in any real way.

04/26/2018 bi-lateral orchiectomy

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Offline LizK

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Re: Advice from a wife on how to not blow up your marriage
« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2017, 05:57:59 pm »
I don't think I misunderstood the idea you were trying to convey.

I think the biggest problem that a cis wife has is first and foremost understanding that the trans wife is not looking to "be treated like a woman" but is looking to be recognized as her true inner being. So in this way many instances of taking things slow will in fact be the trans wife continuing to fill the old role expected by the cis wife.

Unfortunately this is just where our experiences are from the opposite ends of the situation. To say we are looking to be treated as a woman is illustrating the ideation that we are not true women. I realize it's hard to see us as such even for a very open minded person. My wife has been incredibly open minded and supportive in our relationship during this time, but as an example when I told her I talked with the lady that facilitates the local group meetings, more than once she used the "he" word. It was not on purpose. Not a conscious statement but just my wife's knowledge that the lady is trans caused her to slip and say "he".

This is hard for everyone. My wife and I are learning and putting together the history of my own behavior and reactions over our relationship and quite honestly my entire life. It's very eye opening to see how so much of our issues have come from expectations verses reality of us as individuals. We have our troubles with this transition just like everyone here does, but in searching our past we both have begun to understand how our past interactions now make sense as we both begin to put a reference frame around those instances with me being female. Suddenly things neither of us could find sense in now makes perfect sense. Both her and my reactions to each other now make sense. She had expectations of how she thought a man would act. I only ever acted as I saw men act. In the most personal ways I did not have manly examples so my true inner self showed. To her these reactions were baffling. We both ended up with self esteem issues and feeling like we failed the other in so many ways. These experiences put into context of my female wired brain, and walla, suddenly the pieces of the puzzle fall into place.

What she expected in the past has been based on her experiences with cis men. I have finally figured out after years of thinking I was just a outcast man with this girl in my head, that I do not understand how men think or act because my brain was never male to begin with. My behavior is female as is my reactions to life's stimuli. I never matched her expectations of a man because it was impossible for me to do so. To finally see that is a relief for both of us. However early in my coming out she also wanted things to go slow. She wanted to put me back in the male role she thought I should fit in. At first she suggested that cross dressing should be enough. Then that if I felt like I wanted full surgical transition, that would be too much. So at first I lied to both myself and her saying I didn't mind keeping the things. Then I admitted wanting to remove the testicles since I was 11. She took some time to say she was ok with that. Until she read bad things about impotence ect. Finally in a much heated moment she asked if it were just for me would I go all the way. My answer was a very solid yes. Only after moments of me breaking down did she finally begin to understand me mentally, emotionally. She now mostly sees me as I truely am now. If we make it as a married couple only time will tell. We are both working on it. What I do know is only by breaking down all of the gender role barriers and exposing my real self fully coul we begin to heal in any real way.

I have been trying to sum up my feelings on this post without being negative  and I think Josie has done a marvellous job of it. I think one of the most crucial things that spouses have huge difficulty with is that we are women MTF or  Men FTM and always have been. My wife understands, accepts this, knows without a doubt I am a woman and always have been.

Liz
HRT since 17 May 2016, Fulltime from 8 March 2017, GCS Scheduled November 28 2018, Transition Begun 25 September 2015 

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Offline JMJW

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Re: Advice from a wife on how to not blow up your marriage
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2017, 06:39:00 pm »
Never been married, but it seems reasonable for transwomen to make these allowances, especially while the partner is grieving the loss of the former identity. Ultimately you have to meet people where they're at. It's not a battle to point out who has it worse from their end.

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Re: Advice from a wife on how to not blow up your marriage
« Reply #18 on: February 18, 2017, 06:59:20 pm »
I see the domestic roles as separate from gender identity.  My wife's and my roles in the household are fairly conventional, just because that's the way it worked out years ago.  While I wish to be seen as a woman, I am still going to do the "guy stuff", because I am good at it, because I always have, and because there's no need to disrupt our lives any more than my transition already is. 

Our lesbian neighbours also divide up their domestic roles along traditional guy/girl lines and no one questions their identity as women.

I don't think that "wanting to be seen as a woman" in any way invalidates my identity as a woman.  That is just a trick of semantics.  It is shorthand for "wanting to be seen as the woman I have always been." 

Roles aside, my wife does treat me as a woman, to the extent that is reasonable in my current part-time presentation.  No doubt, that will be a shifting target.  We go clothes shopping together now, and have a lot of fun doing it.
2015-07-04 Awakening; 2015-11-15 Out to self; 2016-06-22 Out to wife; 2016-10-27 First time presenting in public; 2017-01-20 Started HRT!!; 2017-04-20 Out publicly, beginning full-time; 2017-07-10 Legal name change

Offline Sophia Sage

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Re: Advice from a wife on how to not blow up your marriage
« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2017, 09:07:39 pm »
When I say "defined role" I mean the role she takes according to her personality. It's usually not a conscious thing.  She has her ways and ideas of who she is and how she needs to live her life. I'm not referring to cultural roles or physical tasks around the house. I'm talking about the relationship roles we simply take because of who we are inside, how communication happens, stuff like that. It's fine to drop the more masculine/aggressive "male" role. I'm just saying that there are other femme roles that you can take without insisting on duplicating the areas of life where she feels the most comfort and value.

Oh dear, I think I'm even more confused than I was before.

Relationship roles, like how communication happens -- what do you mean?  Like, for example... she wants to sit down after work and talk about her day, not to solve any problems but simply to share as a way of maintaining intimacy, and this could be about interactions with other people, or a project she's working on, what have you... and this daily conversation is how she gets to be seen and heard -- how she gets to be witnessed -- and as such it provides tremendous comfort and value to her... and you're saying that, as such, her wife shouldn't talk in the same manner and with the same expectations?
What you look forward to has already come, but you do not recognize it.