A Significant Other View
By Julie Freeman
June 8, 2009
Editor's Note: Ms Freeman is the long time wife of a crossdresser. Her column "A Significant Other View" appears regularly in Devil Woman. She has given permission to reprint what follows.
When significant others first join on-line support groups, it is very common to hear from them concern and anger that they were not told about the crossdressing at the beginning of their relationship. Below is a quote from an email I recently received.
The part that is just killing me these past two days is that I feel betrayed. That he lied to me and has been living another life. "
Tied to their resentment and anger at feeling betrayed is the whole issue of trust. Why did he not trust me enough to tell me? What else has he not told me? How can I ever trust him again! The list goes on and on.
And so it becomes part of every support group's routine to help these new SO's learn why their partners "lied" and to help them come to a better understanding of their partners' fears and anxieties regarding the issue of "when to tell." And to remind them, as well, that almost everyone, not just crossdressers, has "secrets."
Now some wives do not have a problem with trust or feeling betrayed. They understand why they were not told about their husband's crossdressing: the worry of being rejected, the belief it would go away, the fear of society's reaction, etc. And they even understand, especially those wives who are older, that many crossdressers, not understanding the phenomenon themselves, believed the less said the better. They were just doing what they thought best for their relationship and family.
Other wives, however, have much more difficulty trying to understand why they were not told prior to the relationship becoming serious. Being able to trust their partners is very important to them, and they wonder if there are other issues, totally unrelated to crossdressing even, that they are unaware of.
Some wives, unfortunately, use the betrayal issue as THE reason to exit the relationship. More than likely these wives found the crossdressing too difficult to accept and blaming the breakup on feeling betrayed became an easy way out.
There seems to be no easy answer as to how to help both the crossdresser and his significant other resolve the issues of trust and betrayal. The crossdresser has to convince his partner that there was a reason for his being secretive, that this does not mean he is incapable of being trusted in the future. The significant other needs to try to understand why her partner was reticent and allow him the opportunity of proving he can be trusted again.
Most crossdressers I have met are upstanding members of society. Many hold excellent jobs and provide well for their families. Such individuals certainly are trustworthy, not the opposite. To help demonstrate their trustworthiness, crossdressers should keep the lines of communication open. Borrowing clothes or make-up without the partner's knowledge or buying clothes on the "QT" are not exactly inspiring modes of behavior. Certainly a crossdresser starting electrolysis or hormones without his partner's knowledge is going to drive a wedge between them that may be impossible to dislodge.
As difficult as it may be for the crossdresser, particularly one who has just come out of the closet and is experiencing a normal "high" as he realizes he is not alone, he may need to bend over backwards in meeting his partner's needs while she learns about crossdressing and put his own needs on the back burner for awhile. Giving her books and other materials about gender issues is a positive step. Participating in activities for couples may help her learn and understand that crossdressing need not be a negative in her life.
Progress at her rate and keep the lines of communication open. This may mean reducing the crossdressing activity for awhile because that is what she wants. But if it helps her to gain confidence again in the relationship and helps her to accept crossdressing, then by all means do it! Regaining her trust is what it is all about!