By Lisa P.
It’s complicated. That one phrase neatly describes the relationship those of us who are married usually have with our spouse. If we have a difficult time figuring ourselves out (read almost all my prior posts, for examples of someone trying to do that!), we should expect it to be doubly difficult to understand from the outside. Learning is best done though doing, not watching; we are learning all the time, while our spouses are generally stuck where they started, or managing to take baby steps in our direction.
My wife has been taking baby steps, but boy is it hard for her to accept this girl! One of her joys in life has been to “dress her man”. When she is out shopping, she will head to the men’s department and pick up a shirt or slacks that she thinks would look good on me. She is so proud to present to me just the article of clothing that she thinks will look good on me. Inevitably, she is disappointed by my reaction. But, in my defense, who can get excited by men’s clothes? It is like the stage manager who comes up and tells you that you will now be wearing a different outfit for the next scene. OK, you change into it, but what is there to be excited about? She knows very well that I would jump for joy if she found a blouse or skirt that she thought I might like. I would smile broadly, even if the blouse or skirt wasn’t to die for. Has she ever done that? Nope – those types of purchases don’t fit within the baby steps category.
What has she bought me so far? A thin silver bangle bracelet, an inlaid multi-colored bracelet from Africa, a gold cross on a delicate chain, a tie-dye nightshirt and a feather-light robe to go over my nightshirt. Believe me, I am not complaining about these gifts. In fact, the cross necklace is my absolute favorite personal possession other than my wedding ring.
Of course, each gift was asked for and given rather sheepishly, as if there were something naughty about asking for or receiving such gifts by someone assigned male at birth. We also have had a few “misses” in the asking and receiving department.
For example, when I asked for a nightshirt I told her I wanted something that is lightweight, has a V neck, hits mid-thigh, and is in a soft fabric. Clearly, you can only buy such a nightshirt in the women’s department. But, she spent a month trying to find one in the men’s department, then bought a heavy, V-necked, long cotton male nightshirt on the internet and said, “this is the best I could do.” The poor nightshirt is still sitting forlornly in the drawer, awaiting donation. But, then a few months after that debacle a miracle happened. She presented me one evening with the tie-dyed nightshirt from the women’s department that fits the description to the “T” and that I now wear happily.
A similar misstep has been in the summer pajamas department. I asked her if she could find some shorts and a top in soft material that she wouldn’t mind me wearing. Now, this is a woman who buys half her clothes at TJ Maxx and Kohls and and their equivalents (I married a very sensible lady) to save money, and I had been to just such a store and seen many perfectly good examples. But, once again she searched high and low to find a pair of women’s pajama shorts that were not the shorty-shorts that she likes, but instead go down as far as a pair of culottes (i.e. almost to the knees). It was as if she thought they would be less feminine if they were that long. She also managed to find a pair that was solid gray, so the only distinguishing feminine characteristic was the feel of the fabric (admittedly very soft) and the nice bow you can tie at the front. I did keep them, but I also let her know that they were not what I was talking about. But, I want you to know that I am not making fun of her or looking a gift horse in the mouth. Personally, I am just pleased that she has moved from 100% “see no ‘evil’” to “it’s Ok, as long as it isn’t too obvious and isn’t around anyone else”…one must give credit where credit is due.
See what I mean? It’s complicated!
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Let me just say when it comes to the ladies and spouses in our lives if they come from a time when men just did not do such things unless it was for laughs they will likely never get this part of us.
My now ex tried her best and as it came closer to us ending things the change in her was I want to make him happy. So we went to Vegas and she saw how much I loved being feminine and dressed but for her it began the ending of our marriage.
It’s not what she thought of for her.
She married a man, or so she thought, not a trans person who very much enjoyed their gender fluid side.
So my advice for those who still have a somewhat good marriage, tread lightly and if it’s too much for you to hold back then make sure your willing to accept whatever comes with that
I like your advice to “tread lightly,” as I think it is imperative for us to know what we need/value most in our lives, and to act accordingly. The answer is highly personal, and I do not want to devalue anyone else’s lived experience. Yet, I also want (for me and for others) to make the right decisions. Each day at the end of the day I say a prayer of thanks for a beautiful wife—that counts far more than the complicated nature of our relationship,
Thank you for your thoughtful and personal comment.
some years ago I had to terminate a 10 year old relationship because I couldn’t stand being closeted all the time, she knew but didn’t want to see me in women’s clothing. I had told her on one of the first dates we had and she accepted it but then after mowing in with me she could not take it so in the end I had had enough of being closeted all the time even in the house. I then made a new relationship with the woman I live with now and she is very supportive and buy me things like jewelry, clothes and makeup, when we are out together she comes with suggestions for clothing that she thinks will look good on me and sometimesI even has to ask her to relax when people are around us in shops as I don’t want to be outed by accident in a shop. My female wardrobe has expanded tremendously in the last couple of years from almost nothing to about 30 skirts and the same number og dresses and blouses, not to mention the underwear and a lot of shoes. Strangely enough she do not like me to put on makeup and whig which she tells me is just to much for her and she feels that she cannot rekocnice me when I do the full transformation and she feels uncomfortable. All the clothing she really likes to see me in but not the makeup and whigs.
Clarissa, it is good to hear that you have someone with whom you can share this part of yourself. Who knows where it will take you next!