I will never forget our wedding day. What should have been a long-forgotten comment would haunt me for years later. I woke that morning and called my groom. I informed him I was off to my bridal brunch and would see him at the church that evening. I joked, “Is there anything you need to tell me before we do this?” He paused, I reprimanded him for teasing me. Then he said, “No, nothing. I am just playing”.
Soon after I was married, odd things happened such as finding my bra was packed in with my husband’s luggage on a business trip. I found pictures of unattractive women in lingerie on our computer. There was always an explanation and sometimes it was even my fault according to him. My husband insisted he needed to shave his legs. He had what he thought was a good reason to do so. I informed him this would be such a turn off that I would have to sleep in the spare bedroom.
Our sex life was not my idea of normal. He bought a book with a different role play fantasies. Most of the scenarios things I felt uneasy about doing. One scenario, which was not in the book but he suggested, was for us to each dress up as sexy women and pretend we are lesbians.
At this point I was done with any attempt to play along with these fantasies as I felt he was getting carried away with it all. He often acted submissive in the bedroom which was a turnoff. He often wanted to be tied up and that became just too much of a hang up so refused to do it.
One day, I came back early from shopping to find he had applied a few fake fingernails and hopped into the tub to shave his legs, where I found him in a state of arousal. At this point his “cross-dressing” was emerging from the closet. He said doing these things made him feel relaxed and he blamed me as a source of the stress and loneliness. I thought we had a great relationship, but that this secret was what was stealing away intimacy and our friendship.
I was just graduating from university and had a job offer in another city. I shared with my family that I planned to leave and divorce. The family didn’t understand because I had not shared any of these issues with them until this time. They weren’t convinced he was a cross-dresser and neither was I really. I believed my husband when he promised not to do it again.
Soon my husband insisted we start a family. Our first child was born and within months there was an instance of me discovering evidence of cross-dressing that caused us to have conflict. Some weeks later our baby ended up hospitalized with a severe illness. While I was at the hospital with our baby my husband chose to reveal that he had been cross-dressing since he was a teenager. He again blamed stress and loneliness and agreed to see a therapist. My husband promised to never cross-dress again.
We began to see the counsellor which he had found for us. This counsellor advocated for “girl’s nights out” for my husband with a group of cross-dressed men in addition to his many other hobbies which pulled him away from me and our baby. She said he could better relate to me because he has a feminine side and we could do girlfriend things together. I disagreed with this and for this she told me I was very close-minded.
She said I was a lesbian because I had fallen in love with a man with an inner feminine side. The counsellor had said my husband would not know if he was male or female for three months. This was a shock to me and I asked my husband about this and he said she was putting words in his mouth. We agreed to no longer see this counsellor as it was not helpful for our marriage. He promised to never cross-dress again.
I became a pro at ignoring the giant pink elephant in our house. During my third pregnancy my husband wanted to experience what I felt like. He fashioned a pregnancy belly with boobs. He wore it around the house doing chores so he could feel what I feel. I began to sense this was about him more than me. Our son was so disturbed by it that he took scissors to it one day while his dad was at work. My husband tried to convince me that he could breastfeed our baby so that I could rest. He even went as far as to send articles to back this up after I rejected the idea. I became a pro at dismissing my concerns and my gut and focused on entirely on our children. When I did find he had cross-dressed on occasions he would promise to never do it again. I would believe him.
Rinse, wash, repeat. Eleven years later and several instances of finding his fake nails and other evidence of cross-dressing, there were now three children and my husband met someone online who shared his cross-dressing fantasies and convinced him to pursue a sex change. I found all of their sexually explicit messages. He described being married to me as torture. All these years I thought I was the one being tortured. They even discussed murdering me.
I filed for divorce, but he would convince me he wanted to be the man he promised to be when we married and all of that fantasy was behind him. Again, I chose to believe his words even though my eyes saw breast development, outgrown hair, pierced ears and longer fingernails.
In the final year of our marriage I learned many of his secrets. I learned he hid female clothes in our attic, in his tool box, at his mother’s house. I learned he would buy clothes and throw them away so I would not find them. I learned he had borrowed my clothes. I had sensed that and had a methodical way of organizing my drawers but I would still find my panties or boots stretched. I learned clothes he bought for me were really items he wished to wear.
I also discovered that he had been seeing the same therapist that we agreed not to see all those years ago. She had written him a letter to begin transition and he had been taking hormones since the birth of our first child. Those prepubescent bumps on his chest that he always hid with a t-shirt at the pool were on purpose. They were such a turnoff but as his wife I felt sorry for him and I felt responsible because he had said the bumps were from OCD medication which he took at my urging to stop the cross-dressing.
I learned that the lack of sex in our marriage was not because of the way I treated him or my lack of desire for him which was often blamed, but that he had no libido due to the hormones he was taking.
I found out that the ugly women in lingerie I had seen on our home computer when we were newlyweds weren’t women at all, they were men he was looking at cross-dressed in lingerie. He admitted he was going to tell me on our wedding day that he had struggled with cross-dressing when I had asked him if there was something he needed to tell me before we tied the knot.
After I left him, I felt like myself for the first time in many years. I had been lost to policing his cross-dressing and not triggering him to cross-dress. I was finally able wear clothes I liked without worrying that he may be triggered. The children had to grieve the loss of a father, no longer allowed to call him “Dad”, the saddest factor of all. It was all very traumatic for me, but it has been far harder for the children.