Love is Love

As I write this, I am the recently outed wife of a crossdressing husband by that I mean I accidentally outed him, and in doing so outed myself, during a pretty mundane Saturday at home.

Our online shop was about to arrive, and as I am unable to pick up bags of any weight larger than a bag of sugar, I popped to let him know. As I approached him from behind, I caught sight of images he was viewing on his mobile phone, that I could just about make out. To say I was confused, shocked and a bit annoyed is probably an understatement. It certainly wasn’t the casual tick tock videos I expected to see!

That one moment, in which he told me he liked to wear women’s clothes, dominated the next few weeks, and has probably reshaped our relationship forever. The conversations we had over the following days were certainly not what I anticipated after nearly 16 years of marriage, and nearly 19 years into our relationship.

My immediate feelings were anger, confusion, I felt betrayed and overwhelmingly I felt sad, deep sadness that I couldn’t make any sense of.

But was I surprised? I suppose I was, but on reflection perhaps I shouldn’t have been, the clues were there:

  • He is the only man who has ever bought me underwear as a gift. It is always pretty, always in colours and material I would like and most importantly always in my size.
  • He is quite comfortable to go to a cosmetics counter when travelling and buy me a particular product that I wanted.
  • He knows what sort of dresses I like; what materials I will choose and has comfortably brought home clothes he has seen that he thought I would like.
  • He has always been quite happy to browse women’s departments, shops, makeup counters and perfume counters, taking a keen interest in what I was purchasing.
  • He tends to choose brightly coloured floral-patterned shirts, to the extent that people will comment how comfortable and confident he is.
  • He actively encourages our granddaughters love of nail painting and volunteers himself as a model, even when her skills as a budding nail technician still need some development!

Given my surprise, like many women who have gone before me, I had a lot of questions, and I mean a lot. He had to take a day off work just so we could set time aside to talk, explore our feelings, well mainly mine. I quickly decided that I wanted to make sense of our situation and understand what it means for us. The questions are predictable but included.

  • Are you gay, do you find men attractive?
  • Are you transgender?
  • Have you communicated online with other cross dressers?
  • Have you left the house dressed?
  • When do you do this?
  • Have you always done it?
  • When did you first do it?

Reassuringly he has told me he is definitely heterosexual, likes all his ‘man bits’, has no desire to change his gender, had not spoken to people on line, but has taken the opportunity when working away from home to dress and drive to remote locations, have a cigarette and return to the hotel.

It became clear that he had been taking the opportunity to wear women’s clothing for several years prior to our relationship, and has continued to do so since we met, when the opportunity arose.

Occasionally purging, throwing items away, thinking he wouldn’t do it again, only for the urge to return at some point.

The more we talked, and the more I found out my initial anger and sense of disappointment was replaced with a feeling of deep sadness that was hard for me to understand at first. It took a while to understand that my sadness was for him, that he had only been able to do this in grabbed moments of privacy for many years.

Finding time when I was visiting family or when he or I was working away for a night. I wondered how he had managed to continue his interest and enjoy it fully when he was compelled to keep it a secret from me. At the same time though I felt cross with him, that he hadn’t been able to tell me, my feeling was that perhaps he didn’t trust me enough or thought I would reject him. I spent a few days, processing the new information, trying to make sense of it in the context of everything I knew about him.

During those first days we talked, a lot, I asked stupid questions and sometimes unintentionally said what I now regard as silly or insensitive things, such as the time I offered him makeup I was no longer using, why would anyone want someone’s old cast offs!? What was I thinking of?

I decided I had two courses of action, the first to be miserable for a few weeks, make him suffer (which I am capable of) and then accept his interest or, secondly just accept it, tell him I love him unconditionally and try and find a way to support him. I went with the second.

One of the fist problems is that finding information about cross dressing is not that easy and some of it is quite confronting, being honest. Without advice and a template to follow, I decided I would just have to do this my own way, our own way, together.

In order to demonstrate my acceptance, I went shopping and decided to buy him some gifts, as a tangible sign of my support, without making choices on his behalf that might be important for him. I came home with a voucher for makeup, makeup bags, makeup brushes, some heavy-duty makeup remover, plumping lip balm and blending sponges. I presented him with his pretty shop wrapped, tissue paper filled bags. I can’t now remember exactly what he said, I think we were still at that slightly awkward stage of trying to find our joint pathway through this new phase of our relationship.

I do know he was a little surprised and appeared happy with the purchases. I then offered him the opportunity to go shopping together the following weekend and buy him some nice items he would like to wear, makeup and under wear, an offer he accepted with some obvious excitement.

Before we went shopping, I wanted to deal with one item. He had disclosed (because I asked), that he had a small stash of items in a bag in our garage.

The idea that he was keeping his precious few items in our garage, to retrieve on odd nights he could enjoy them filled me with a sense of deep sorrow being honest, to the extent it still makes me emotional to think about it. Unkindly, but also with a sense of good humour I coined a name for the bag as his ‘bag of shame’.

Together we went through the bag, he talked about where, when, how and why he had purchased the items. I instinctively knew there was very little in the few items that he would like to any great extent, they represented hurriedly purchased items that in the main where just good enough, rather than well liked, carefully chosen pieces. The one mascara and lip stick being testament to his desperate need to extend his makeup supplies. I encouraged him to put items he liked in his drawers and wardrobe, and to throw away items he really didn’t like. I reassured him we would go shopping, and he could buy things he really wanted and liked.

Two days later, exactly one week after his need to disclose to me we headed to the local shopping centre together. I am unsure how he felt, possibly a mixture of excitement and perhaps nervousness? I know that I was quite nervous, I wasn’t sure how to play this and didn’t know whether this would be fun or confronting for me. What I did know was that I love him and that sometimes we have to just put our big girls’ pants on and give things a go for people we love.

The first thing we tackled on the list of things he would like was to buy him a nice dress. We walked into a few shops before finding a dress that he liked but wasn’t sure of. Even though the dress wasn’t the sort of thing I would ever choose to wear and was probably not the most flattering on me I offered to try it on so he could at least see how it looked.

I walked from the changing room, and he nodded and smiled very broadly, it was a yes. In that moment I saw something in him I hadn’t observed previously, and it continued as we browsed the underwear, makeup, soft material and fragrances, he was more animated than I had seen him before and somehow, he was just relaxed and appeared nervously happy.

My initial fears for the shopping trip were taken over by a strange sense of self-confidence in my own ability to help him and guide him and to be part of his exploration of these new opportunities.

We came home with quite the haul, and I helped him to put his makeup on, and he tripped out of the bedroom in his new clothes, trying them on one by one and appreciating the soft material and colours.

That day, being honest I had a sense of overwhelming love and appreciation for my husband, I probably felt more emotionally connected to him than I had done for some time. I admit I found the experience awkward at times, I was very aware of other people and wondering if they knew what we were doing, which of course they didn’t, but I was somewhat nervous.

Initially my husband had a giddy spell where he talked about us being ‘girls together’ and having ‘fun outings’ which I have to say was quite confronting, and made me feel unsettled, after all he is and will always be my husband, a man.

I am not ready or able to refer to him or call him by any other name than his male name, though I know he harbours a desire to be known by a female name when dressed, I can’t see a time when I will be comfortable with that. We talked about developing some rules and establishing how things work for us now, it may change in the future but for now we are clear that:

  • He is a man and I will always call him by his name, whether he is ‘dressed’ or not. He fancies being called by a particular lady’s name, but I am not willing or able to do that.
  • He is free when we are home together and expect to be alone, to dress how he chooses, at any time. It is his house, and he should be comfortable to make that choice.
  • He can dress in female underwear when we are out and about together doing basic chores, visiting the pub or having a couple’s day.
  • When at work he will always dress as a man, totally.
  • When we have family functions or are with friends he will always dress as a man totally.
  • I am not ready to face the world and while he expresses ideas of going out, of ‘passing’ I don’t think I can manage what that may entail.

In the days that followed his disclosure I started to experience intense isolation, I couldn’t talk to anyone other than my husband about our situation and the impact on me, on my sense of security and that fact that what I had always felt to be true was somehow not now true, I had been ignorant of this ‘other’ in our relationship.

It somewhat feels like I now have a before the disclosure and after, two relationships in time. I exhausted the internet in my quest for answers and possible support, I found barriers and information that didn’t quite answer my questions or provide me with any sense of normality (in some instances the information was erroneous or just offensive).

I looked to find the help of someone who did know and after many hours of research found Paul Parkin, a counsellor who specialises in cross dressing and has been by our joint side since that time.

What have I learned? I have learned that I love my husband unconditionally and will continue to do so. I have learned that even those of us who believe we are very accepting of a world of differences can have them playing out under our very nose and be blind to them.

I don’t think the world is such an accepting place as I probably once thought, we are both too scared to share this information with anyone other than Paul and possibly one close relative, although we have not gone there yet. I think being gay is more acceptable to people than cross dressing.

I have learned I have an amazing husband, who is prepared to be vulnerable and express himself in a way many people would shy from, I am proud of him.

We are still very much at the start of this journey together, not even 6 months in as yet.

As I write this I am working away from home, in fact on the opposite side of the world and I miss him. We have spoken each night, and he has mostly been dressed and made up when we have chatted.

I believe we have deepened our understanding of each other, and I have a sincere wish to continue to explore this journey together with the aim of increasing our deep emotional attachment to one another.

I am not entirely oblivious to the fact that there will be difficult periods ahead for us, I know with some degree of certainty there will be times when we have to dig deep and find a compromise that works for both of us. However, what I do know is that his cross dressing is part of who he is, it’s not separate or a hobby, it is essentially part of how he identifies, and I love him and plan to support him to be who he wants to be, all of the alternatives are just not worth considering for me.

If you are reading this as someone who loves a cross dresser, I hope reading this helps.

You will find your own way to acknowledge who they are and love them, it will likely be different to me, we are all different but please know that there are other people like you both out there. You are not alone, even if right now that is how you feel.’

May 2024.