When Communication Isn't Enough
A War with No Words
By Carol Leigh
I grew up as a product of the "Cold War." Born during World War II, I learned that with the atomic bomb, "modern war" between countries took on a new life. My concept of world political affairs was one of icy silence. Each side secretly plotting. Each was laying traps of political maneuverings. The Berlin Wall was not only a physical manifestation, but a symbol of the line drawn in the sand that separated the warring factions. Upon rare occasions leaders met and claimed world headlines. Accusations were made. Fingers pointed. And even shoes furiously pounded on the political desk. And then both sides went back to their figuratively respective corners, to continue with the proverbial "cat and mouse" approach of the Cold War.
If your wife has recently become aware of your crossdressing, either by admission or discovery, you are probably living life in the "Cold War." And at least one of you is unhappy about the degree of communication going on between the two of you. And not always is that the same party. In the couples I see, nearly half of them claim that "he" does not communicate adequately. In the other half, "she" is the silent one. And the result is a literal Cold War of intrigue, manipulation, and ambush.
If you are reading this, very likely you are the one that is unhappy about the level of communication in your household. Likely you had ambitions that, once the cat was out of the bag, your beloved would embrace you and all your desires as avidly as you yourself do. Rarely does that happen. More than likely, she now has the tools to know just exactly what to avoid in your feeble attempts at communicating the depth of your Trans nature, and you are feeling even more frustrated with the situation than before she even knew. Back then, you had the advantage of "stealth" on your side. Today you are under scrutiny for every little hint of your desire to incorporate the feminine side of your psyche.
First, recognize that all of us are much easier able to deal with challenges to our personal comfort zones from a distance. What we profess to "accept" in society, or our neighbors, is not necessarily what we could accept in our own homes, families, and marriages. As long as this Cold War exists between the two of you, the closet door will be the modern equivalent of the Berlin Wall. Your strength in negotiating this situation is to take it out of the "personal" face-to-face confrontation, and deal with it from a more global perspective.
One way of doing this, is to expose her to the concept that ALL of us have aspects of both femininity and masculinity in ourselves. Perhaps you have a neighbor where traditional roles are skirted, (no pun intended) and the father is the epitome caregiver of the "stay at home Dad." The little dynamo down the street that hauled all the rocks to build her own rock garden. The girl at the oil change garage who not only manages all the males, but actually knows the distributor from the oil filter. The husband that is famous to his wife's colleagues as the best cheesecake baker in town. Use these examples from the "outside" world to reinforce that we ALL have aspects of both the feminine and the masculine in who we are. Point out the mother teaching her son how to play baseball, or the father nurturing his daughter's stuffed rabbit. Discuss the fact that as "modern" parents/grandparents, it is our job to raise sons and daughters who know no limit on what they can strive for and attain in life. And it isn't limited by sex OR gender. While "sex" if fixed, gender is very fluid in each of us, and a valuable component to our talents.
If there is a fetishistic aspect to your dressing, know that this will further exacerbate the cold war. Likely she will see this as competition for your affections, and no one likes "sleeping with the enemy." It is wise to limit your feminine forays, should you be lucky enough to gain that, to activities that still leave HER the lone object of your sexual needs and desires. Remember, the hardest challenges to overcome are the ones that come closest to the heart. And a woman's need to be the only object of desire for her husband, is a land mine best avoided at all costs until she progresses further in her acceptance. Know, also, that might not ever happen.
If you are successful, and the conversation does open up, be prepared. Knowledge is power. Be prepared to successfully explain some of the medical theories that cause or contribute to being transgender, and do so in an atmosphere of political détente.
Know the theory that we are a product of our physical sexual characteristics, our mating preferences, and our personal gender perception and that all three develop at different times. Have the basis for the hormone wash theory. Explain the latest research on gender specific genetic factors inherited at conception. Admit there are no "absolutes" in these theories, but that science is significantly positive they exist to continue the research. While these don't provide answers, it's hard to argue with a theory.
One of my favorite sayings, is that a rubber band never stretched, never grows. In this instance, you are going to have to be the stretcher of the rubber band for it to grow. If you are a member of Tri-Ess, you receive a tool four times a year. While she may object to you leaving the Mirror out where "snooping eyes" can find it, offer to let her read "your" magazine. Be open and forthwith as to where you are keeping it. She will likely shun your offer, but a woman is much like a cat. Her curiosity will likely drive her to "investigating" when you are not present. Once she sees that you...and likewise, she...are not the only "real people" who crossdress, you may be one step closer. This is different from leaving material of your choosing for her to read as a directive. It, instead, is the epitome of trust in telling her where YOUR material is. It sounds like a minor point, but to a wife, it is vital to your relationship.
And, you might even ask..."Honey, did you read that article in the Mirror about other wives?" or any article you think might be appropriate. Follow through that Tri-Ess does have an on-line forum where both accepting and non-accepting wives chat. She doesn't have to encourage, accept, or even tolerate your crossdressing in order to join. She doesn't have to join the discussions, if she would just like to "listen" to what other women have to say. I personally found that my own level of comfort with my crossdressing husband soared when I truly met, and learned to respect another wife who was able to tell me that "I am not alone and there are others 'just like me'."
Politically, the Cold War did end. The Berlin Wall came tumbling down. And adversaries became partners. It took time, work, and dedication. If you expect her to make all the concessions, you are beating your shoe on the political desk of Nikita Kruschev, and will find the same non-response. For yours is a partnership, and compromises must come both ways.