A Significant Other View
by Julie Freeman
This article is reprinted here with permission from DEVIL WOMAN, the Diablo Valley Girls newsletter. Ms Freeman is the wife of a crossdresser. She can be reached at Julie39@comcast.net
One of the buzz words we hear all the time these days is "co-dependent" closely following the heels of those other catchy phrases "enablers" or "dysfunctional." It is no wonder that psychiatrists' phones are ringing off the hook and chat rooms are bursting at the seams as individuals worry that they may be "enablers" or "co-dependents" in their relationships with others.
This worry has certainly not escaped the world of the significant other fearful that by maintaining a relationship with a crossdresser she is either "enabling" his behavior or is a "co-dependent" by remaining in a relationship with him. This reminds me of a book written in 1976 by Deborah Feinbloom, TRANSSEXUALS AND TRANSVESTITES, who theorized that women who remained in relationships with T's were either lesbians or had such low self-esteem that remaining in such a relationship was better than not having a relationship at all. Although her book was relative positive about the T community, her comments regarding women were offensive and misleading.
Most significant others I know do not have low self-esteem nor are they "co-dependents" or "enablers" which seems to be the updated version of Feinbloom's theories.
We have to be careful when we throw around such terms. Just because a wife chooses to accept crossdressing and remain with her husband because she loves him and wants to make their relationship work does not mean she is "co-dependent." Co-dependency is defined in specific terms and we need to look at these.
Following is a partial list of commonly used characteristics of co-dependency:
My good feelings about who I am stem from being liked by you
My good feelings about who I am stem from receiving approval from you
Your struggle affects my serenity. My mental attention focuses on solving your problems and relieving your pain.
My mental attention is focused on you.
My mental attention is focused on protecting you.
My self-esteem is bolstered by solving your problems.
My own hobbies/interests are put to one side. My time is spent sharing your hobbies/interests.
I am not aware of how I feel. I am aware of how you feel.
The dreams I have for my future are linked to you.
The quality of my life is in relation to the quality of yours.
Ok. You get the idea. Very few women I know meet any of these characteristics let alone the entire list. So we need not be hasty in condemning wives and partners who choose to stay supportive of their husbands regardless of where they venture on the gender spectrum because we fear we are "enabling" such behavior.
It would be such a tragedy to see marriages disintegrate because of needless fears and doubts.