Why Can't You Accept Your Spouse or Significant Other?
Many times over the years, I have heard other wives and sometimes husbands say, "She/he just doesn't understand." Perhaps that is true, but often it is because we do not understand ourselves, let alone the other person in our life. Or we are too afraid to step out of the box and try something we never tried before: communicating. I don't mean restating what you have said before and parroting what others have said; then politely listening and going your own way while maintaining your views without regard for your partner's concerns. Often this can be such a reflex response to anything that strays from the perceived norm that you may not even be totally aware of what you are doing.
I have been fortunate that Don/Lucy and I have a good understanding of each other. Oh sure, you say. Well it has taken our lifetime together to get to the point that we feel we really do. There are still occasional surprises, but we have learned to discuss them and take action. I first had to learn about myself and become comfortable within me. Don/Lucy also had to do the same. We helped each other along the way. It has taken years -- not just a few days or months.
I get very impatient when I hear a wife complain that she doesn't want her husband to cross-dress because he is not being a man. Or on the other side of the coin, "I won't tell my wife because she won't understand." In each case, it seems to me that both are injecting their own lack of awareness of themselves. If you are secure in yourself, it seems to me that you should be able to accept your partner. That is not to say that you blindly accept everything your partner does, but instead, take time to truly communicate with your partner and learn what makes your partner tick. In the process, you may also find out a whole lot more about yourself.
However, before it is possible to effectively communicate with your partner and understand his/her viewpoint, you must first be aware of the reasons why you accept some things and reject others. Just to say no with out understanding why is wrong. Think about it. How would you feel if the shoe were on the other foot? Would you want your partner to accept you, or withhold something from you because he/she had decided that you wouldn't understand? Would you like to discuss the issue openly and without anger? Wouldn't you want help from your partner?
Understanding only comes as we learn and grow within ourselves as well as help our partners grow. Between two people, it often takes communication, communication, and more communication to reach agreement on difficult issues. It is not fair to draw arbitrary lines or make conclusions about your partner until you have been able to sit down and discuss openly your feelings and truly listen and try to understand those of your partner. I can't begin to count the many hours, days, months, and years of talking, listening and trying ideas before Don (Lucy) and I were comfortable with his cross dressing as well as other aspects of our lives. We grew up in an era when "A man was a man and a woman was a woman." The only problem with that was that neither of us fit the stereotypes planted in our minds by the media and those around us. We each had to learn to accept ourselves and then to accept each other. How wonderful it was to discover that the whole world was not going to cave in on us because neither of us tightly fit the mold.
I think because of the level of comfort we have achieved with each other, many people who know us today assume it was easy for us, but it took a lot of hard work to get here. Not all of the issues that we have had to resolve over the years had to do with cross-dressing. In fact, becoming comfortable with cross-dressing was only a small piece of what we had to discover and learn about together. It has been quite an adventure.
I became comfortable with Lucy long before Lucy became comfortable with herself. I had no trouble dealing with the persona because it was still Don. The only difference is that instead of being dressed in male attire, he is dressed female. No big deal? Well yes and no. I do like Lucy and enjoy being with that side of him, but there are times when I just want Don, such as when we are at a play or concert, so I can reach over and hold his hand. Or on somedays, that are even inexplicable, even to me, I just want Don.
The process of communication appears to be beyond the reach some people we know. Perhaps it is because they have not learned how, nor do they seem interested in learning how to discuss their needs or feelings with their partner. Or perhaps, it is because each of them is afraid of their own feelings. Whatever the reason, it is much easier to blame the other guy for our own shortcomings. Another block to effective communication can be the tendency to assume what your partner is thinking instead of asking. Asking and listening, and achieving understanding takes time and patience, it becomes impossible if we lack the will to do it, and we close our ears. Sometimes this results from a fear that our feelings will get hurt, and he/she doesn't understand or care. Usually that is not the case, if we know ourselves well enough to be able to express our thoughts and feelings with kindness and understanding and not anger and resentment. We also must allow time for our partners to express themselves and not become impatient when we don't understand.
Remember that talking and listening without understanding is not communicating. We can almost all talk, but do we stop to listen to ourselves? Sometimes we think we are saying something, but to the other person it does not make sense. Listen not only to your partner, but also to yourself. How do you sound? Is your tone of voice expressing what you really feel? When your partner is talking are you really listening or are you already assuming what he/she is going to say? Are you already planning ahead what you are going to say? If so you are not really listening. Both partners must take the time to listen and discuss rationally every problem. Only then can a solution that satisfies both persons be reached. Accepting the first words out of a person's mouth without taking the time to make certain you know they are trying to convey can lead to anger and resentment. Words mean so many different things to different people. Even to this day one word can lead Don and me down the road of misunderstanding. When this happens, it can take a lot of work to make things right again.
If you and your partner are having trouble communicating on a particular issue, seek professional help. It is out there, and I feel it is no different than going to your physician to get help when you are physically ill. Sometimes, everyone just needs a disinterested person to help put his/her own thoughts and feelings in focus to facilitate communication. Once you begin to truly communicate with your significant other, you will feel better about yourself.
Work hard everyday to communicate with your mate in order to make your lives together something better than you ever dreamed possible. Reach for your dream and work with love and understanding to get there. It is well worth the effort.
Communicating or Just Talking?
How often have you said something like,"Wouldn't it be nice to go to a movie this weekend? " The response,"Sure." But then the weekend comes and goes and the movie was not seen or even mentioned again. And there was a sense of time lost. This type of thing happens to everyone in many different situations during our marriages. You have both talked, but not always listened. If the question had been asked and both parties had stopped what they were doing and decided what movie, what day, what time and who was going to make the arrangements. That would have been communication.
The same goes for cross dressing. CD says, "I'd like to dress on Saturday." Wife either says nothing or maybe even an okay, but neither one has really thought about what they are going to when he does dress. Talking .not listening , not communicating. It would have been much better if the dialog went something like this.
"I'd like to dress on Saturday."
"What are your plans?"
"I'd like to and go see blah blah movie."
"If we do which theatre should we attend because many of our friends are planning on seeing this movie."
You are beginning to communicate. And doing some prior planning for a activity that just happens to include cross dressing. And maybe after it is all discussed the conclusion might even be that this time and place is not for cross dressing. And the together you must decide if the movie is more important or another activity that works better this time with cross dressing.
Talking is easy. Listening and planning are much more difficult. We all like to talk and most of us listen, but we don't always hear what the other is saying. And it seems trying to communicate our feelings, wants and needs about cross dressing is one of the most difficult things we find our selves trying to do. Sometimes your CD will say something and your feelings will be hurt, but upon futhure discussion you discover he took a short cut and just assumed you were taking the same path. It also works in reverse. You not only have to listen, but to make certain you are hearing correctly. This goes both ways.
Our CD's are very special people. We married them because something in us needed this very special person who is sesetive, kind and gentle. Maybe we didn't know he was a cross dresser until later. That can come as a shock. But remember this is still the same person you married whether he is in a dress or a suit. It just seems strange to this man in a dress, high heels, wig and makeup. It does take some getting used to. But with care and understanding on both sides it is well worth the effort. You must remember he has had enough faith and love for you to show you this side of him. It has taken a lot of courage on his part to show you a side that he has to keep hidden from the world because of so called society rules.
Again you must communicate your feelings. He must communicate his. A lot of talking listening, tears, shouting and emotions rule on both sides. But you can come through together if you are considerate of each other's feelings and honestly discuss how you feel. It can't be settled in one session or in months of talking and sharing. It takes years of communicating, because we all grow and change. And it can turn out to be a wonderful experience once you have learned to deal with this special situtation. It can have the same frustrations and joy as any hobby, such as golf, if one partner doesn't play. It is the give and take on both sides through love and understanding, not extracting a price in equal time or monotary gains.
It is not wrong that sometimes when a wife has had a frustrating or tiring day that she wants her man to lean on and not his alter ego. Nor is it wrong for him to have the same frustrations as you and want to escape into his alter ego. It is important that you discuss this and try to understand what each of you is feeling. It is a time to understand that sometimes it can be fatigue talking or distractions from something else going on at the moment. Feelings get hurt and the battle is on. But you must watch out for these pit falls as they happen in all kinds of ways and situtations. Be vigiliant in your care of each other and don't let a moments unguarded emotion turn a nothing into a big ugly misunderstanding.
I hope I have given you something to consider. In my own bungling way I have tried to give you some thoughts on dealing with these wonderful cross dressers and their equaly special sweethearts. It has taken me forty plus years to figure all this out ,and I hope this little article can give you a way to get a move on in the right direction and not be so long in getting there.
As a wife belonging to a Tri Ess Chapter, the one thing I hear over and over from cross-dressers who have recently confided in their wives is "My wife/SO knows, and she is okay with it." Is she? Ask some of the wives and S/Os and quite often you get a different answer. Obviously, there has been a breakdown in their communication with each other. This is not surprising considering the difficulty most people have with this topic.
Too often the cross- dresser forgets that while he has had many years to deal with his cross-dressing, his wife has had a much shorter time to try to cope with it. When he finally has accepted this side of himself enough to tell her, he may consider anything short of outright rejection by his wife as meaning she does not have a problem. However, too frequently the following situation seems to occur. She has just been told, and may at first be so relieved to know what has been bugging him, that she fails to consider any reservations she has. Then reality sets in; more questions come to mind and possible implications of his cross-dressing start to bother her. She may wonder where it is going to lead. She may feel that she is inadequate, that he has invaded her space, or that she has never really known him. If her husband continues to be insensitive to her concerns and wrongly assumes that she accepts it or will become more comfortable when she gets used to it, their marriage could be headed for difficult times.
For a marriage to escape any permanent damage, both partners must be able to communicate their needs and desires to each other. Typically, neither partner says exactly what they mean and both may be interpreting what is said in terms of what they want to hear. Patience is something we sometimes lack, and I find when it comes to discussing and understanding cross-dressing, it too often is lacking. The cross-dresser wants to start dressing immediately, and just go for it. While the wife is saying, wait a minute, I want my husband. Sometimes it is difficult for the wife/SO to understand that her cross-dressed husband is still the same person, even when dressed in feminine clothing. And on the other side, it is equally difficult for the cross dresser to understand that his wife just can't see it.
My advice to both the CD and the affected spouse is to assume nothing about each other. Start by discussing the issues and concerns that bother each of you. Putting everything on the table is essential to developing a consensus with which both of you will be reasonably comfortable. You probably will not find a solution that is perfect for both of you, and it may take you a long time to reach it. Throughout this process, patience and the desire to understand each other's needs and concerns is essential, especially when little progress is being made.
For some couples, substantial progress can be made in a few months, for others the process may take a much longer time. Patience is something both partners must cultivate and use. Impatience just muddies the water. It can cause considerable delays in reaching a point where meaningful discussions can occur and it sometimes results in irreparable damage to the marriage.
If you really love each other and want to be together, you should be able to overcome your differences with a lot of hard work, patience and understanding. One word of caution, never assume that your first agreement is final because the assumptions you make initially, will probably change as both of you work through any fears and misconceptions you have. This approach is actually no different than the process that you both probably use in other areas of your life as you adapt to changing circumstances. What makes it seem more difficult is that cross-dressing is such an emotional issue.
One Wife's Perspective on Cross-Dressing
One Wife's Views on S.P.I.C.E. 2000
S.P.I.C.E. was a bit different than I had thought it would be. I thought
it would be more along the lines of rather boring lecture-type of sessions.
So I was delighted to find that it was participation all the way,
and nothing was at all boring . In fact all the sessions had something
to offer,depending on individual needs, some more than others. But
never the less each one held my interest, and I was delighted to see so many
of the couples begin reaching out and actually starting to communicate with
each other.There were hand outs from many of the sessions to take home for
continued help. It turned out to be a wonderful experience for us.
Getting couples to come together to learn and understand how to communicate was especially valuable. Each evening, Don and I discussed the reactions of various couples. I saw the women and Don saw the men struggling over many of the same issues, but often they had no idea as how to go about discussing the issue with each other. It would appear that, before coming to S.P.I.C.E., the couples having problems had been talking at each other while neither was really listening. So it was great to learn, each morning, that many of them had spent much of the night talking and were beginning to communicate with each other. Of course few problems are resolved that quickly, but it would appear that most couples made a good start.
I sincerely hope that, in the future, S.P.I.C.E. will continue to encourage couples to attend. I think it is very important that both husbands and wives learn communication skills. One alone cannot take back to the other all the lessons learned, especially when their basic problem often may be the inability to communicate with each other.
There were group sessions for women alone as well as for the men. Then we came together for other sessions.
Celebration of Friendship, where each woman was encouraged to put into her own words how we felt about our husbands and their cross dressing.
Building Self Esteem, where each woman took an inventory of her self-esteem (for her eyes only) and we did a self acceptance exercise. Then there was discussion, and sharing, but no finger pointing.
Men and Women Spiritually was a wonderful talk. The speaker, did a great job of getting the problem of spiritually defined and he put forth some thought provoking ideas and solutions.
Communication Skills and Application Skills for Men and Women. This was done by a couple who did one super job of showing us a lot about communicating with each other. Everyone would benefit from their wonderful presentation.
We had a small group discussion session on Friday afternoon. This was voluntary for anyone wanting to just talk with a few people on a more individual bases and it seemed to go very well. Both the couple and single attendees seemed to be appreciative of the help they received. We spoke with each during the evening, and they expressed their gratitude for the help given.
Crossdressing and committed relationships was fantastic. The leader did a wonderful job of getting everyone to express their thoughts and ideas. Some good ideas and possible solutions for how to handle the crossdressing came from this session.
There was one afternoon when there was a Smorgasbord of sessions. Different groups with special interests. I can't personally comment on these as I spent the afternoon chatting with others who did not have an interest in any of the sessions. It was a great time for discussing how the conference had helped each of us.
The last group session was handled by a wonderful speaker who did a fantastic job of putting the final touches on the whole conference. His talk was to the point and he had a great way of getting people on their feet and expressing themselves.
Over all I think this was a wonderful conference, and I am happy that it is an annual event. I wish more chapters would do a better job of promoting S.P.I.C.E. At least one couple or individual from each chapter should attend so they can report back to their chapter. I wonder how many members of Tri-Ess really understand what this is all about and how much help it can be to everyone. The web pages are great, but it seems to me that nothing is as helpful as firsthand feedback. Don and I, along with another couple from our chapter, Rob and Linda, who also attended, will provide feedback to our chapter (Rho Tau) meeting on August 19. And we are going to work very hard to get more participation in this program from both our single members as well as our couples. There is something for everyone at S.P.I.C.E. And I hope to see you all next year in Cleveland, Ohio.
BE CAREFUL FOR WHAT YOU WISH
You might get it and more
If you are a CD who can pass as a woman, be wary of where you choose to do this. On a recent two-week cruise to the southern Caribbean, my CD, Lucy, and I had a wonderful time. As far as we know, we were the only CD and wife on the ship. Each evening after dinner, we enjoyed relaxing by the dance floor while listening to the orchestra. My only regret was we were not able to take advantage of the excellent dance music that was being played. However, one of the hosts, who the cruise line had hired to dance with the unescorted ladies, took a liking to Lucy. Several evenings, he asked Lucy to dance, but each time, she very sweetly declined.
One Saturday afternoon, dance music was being played on the pool deck while we were sitting nearby, visiting with another lady. We were not paying much attention to the dancing or who was dancing. So it was a surprise when the host who had been asking Lucy to dance in the evenings appeared at our table. He took Lucys hand and said, Please dance with me. Lucy again graciously declined. But the lady sitting with us said, Go ahead and dance with him. He is an excellent dancer. I couldnt help myself; I too encouraged Lucy to dance.
I only wish I had a camera with me. The dance was a rumba, which Lucy does not know how to do, nor had she ever wanted to dance with a man. So I will leave it to your imagination as to the scene on the dance floor. I am still shaking with laughter every time I think about it. It was my small revenge for not being able to dance during the cruise, because I could not dance with my husband, and none of the hosts ever asked me to dance!
Im certain that Lucy in her wildest imagination never envisioned having to ward off the attentions of a man. So be careful for what you wish, or you too might encounter situations you would rather not experience.
A Wife's Suggestion to Crossdressers
A new year is upon us. What are you going to do to improve your second self? Are your goals for 2000, a new wig, new make up, new fashions? Whatever they are now is the time to plan and start looking around you. Do you know what the most popular new color is this year? Will it look good on you? Books, magazines and just plain observation of others can give you some great ideas.
Then it becomes time for trying out these new ideas. Purchase a new skirt and try it with an unusual blouse or sweater that you may already have hanging in your closet. Or if you are fortunate enough to be able to exchange articles with your wife, ask her to let you try one of those items you have been looking at, but didn't think it would look good on you. You just might be surprised.
If you are going for a new look, how about taking your wife or SO along and both of you get into looking at something new and different. Makeovers can do wonders for both of your outlooks. It doesn't have to be expensive or total. Thrift shops have a wealth of clothing ideas without a great deal of cost. Wig shops are fun places to try on all kinds of styles and colors without having to decide right that minute on the one you want.
Any one of these adventures can be done at minimum cost, but with a lot of
fun, especially if you have someone with which to share the fun. So relax
and go have some fun while shopping for that new look. And just maybe you
will discover you already have the best for yourself. Who knows until you
try something different!
GOING OUT CROSS-DRESSED? PLAN AHEAD!
During a recent Rho Tau Chapter Meeting, we held a discussion on concerns about going out crossed dressed. As a concerned wife who has accompanied her CD many times, I thought it might be useful for me to share my thoughts and suggestions on this subject with other CDs.
Lucy and I have been going places for over twenty years, but we are always on the lookout for ways to make our outings more carefree and enjoyable. For example, last year we were fortunate enough to hear a Virginia State trooper when he gave a talk to Chi Epsilon Sigma during their March 1999 weekend meeting in Williamsburg. His list of precautions for CDs to consider before going forth in public contained a few points that were new to us. They made sense to us, and we have incorporated them into the list of things we consider before Lucy and I go out. Additional considerations surfaced at Rho Taus recent discussion of concerns, and we have further modified our list of things to consider before we leave home.Based on our list, I have created the following simple checklist, which I believe would be useful for every CD to ask herself each time before she goes out.
Have you considered taking your identification, your medical insurance card, and your automobile insurance card?
Keeping in mind that dressed as a woman you are much more vulnerable, have you planned your route for coming and going?
Have you an alternate in case your primary route is unavailable for some reason? Do you know your state and local laws on using the ladies or men's restroom?
If you plan to shop for clothes, do you know your local and state laws about trying on clothing in womens dressing rooms?
You will need identification if a policeman stops you while you are driving your car, or you are hurt and your spouse needs to be notified.
Your medical ID might also be useful in the same emergency if you need medical care, and you will need your auto insurance card if you are ever involved in an automobile accident.
If a policeman stops you, be sure you tell him your true identity. The trooper, who addressed us, said it is especially important to tell him your true identity and that you are cross-dressed because it is your personal preference. He said you shouldnt be harassed, but he couldnt guarantee that you wouldnt be. If you should be so unfortunate to get an unsympathetic cop, remain passive until the incident is over.
Planning your route in advance saves unnecessary loss of time and keeps you from appearing lost so you become more vulnerable. Both coming and going should be as efficiently planned and executed as possible. Planned alternate routes are a must in case of road closure or other unexpected emergency. Planning means you know where the local police station or fire station or other source of help is available in case you are being followed or harassed. Remember, when dressed as a woman, you must take the same defensive measures any woman would take.
Knowing your state and local laws concerning the use of rest rooms and dressing rooms makes good sense so you are neither embarrassed nor arrested in case you don't pass. If you are traveling remember the law varies from state to state. Whenever you are going out cross-dressed, it always pays to plan ahead so you don't find yourself in a difficult situation where you could be embarrassed or worse. If you have a supporting wife or SO, taking her along often permits a more relaxed atmosphere and keeps away unwanted attention. And always have a plan as to where you will meet your wife or SO in case you should get separated. If that should happen, both of you can then go to the prearranged meeting place. It keeps you both much safer than you would be running around in a panic looking for each other.
I am not trying to discourage anyone from going out and having a good time crossed-dressed. I am only suggesting that you take time and plan your outings in advance so you can relax and enjoy them. My special CD and I always take the time to plan, and we usually have a great time. We are free from worrying about what would happen if, because we have prepared in advance, as much as possible, for unforeseen events. To paraphrase the Virginia State trooper, you are doing nothing illegal in most jurisdictions when you cross-dress. So cross-dress and go out as often as you like, but plan ahead and be careful.
Are you a CD who is fairly comfortable with yourself, and have you developed your cross-dressed presentation so you "pass" or at least "blend in"? Do you go out cross-dressed when you get the opportunity? If your answer to both questions is yes, you probably have gotten help along the way from someone else. Why don't you consider how you can help someone? Who do you know that is still having a problem becoming comfortable with her feminine persona or is afraid to leave home dressed? Have you considered how you might help such a person?
The first step is to offer to help. If she is having problems with her makeup, perhaps you could help her learn to apply make up better. If she is concerned about finding a flattering wig, perhaps you could take her to your favorite wig store where she can try on different styles and hair colors in a safe and comfortable environment. If she is having a problem with her wardrobe, perhaps you could give her the benefit of what you have learned during the process of acquiring your wardrobe.
What I am suggesting is that you seriously consider becoming a big sister, and most importantly a good friend. Women help each other to learn. Why not CD's? A person does not have to be heavy handed to help another person obtain a better appearance. Suggestions made with kindness and consideration go a long way toward helping someone else gain confidence in their appearance and demeanor.
So what do you do if your work schedule is such that you don't have the time available to mentor a struggling sister, or you feel this is something you really can't do? You can still give others the benefit of your experience by writing articles for your local chapter newsletter. Let others know about your road of discovery, and the lessons that you have learned along the way. Writing can be good therapy, and it is a great way to gain more insight into oneself.
In addition to reaching out to others like yourself, you might want to consider reaching out to others outside of the community. For example, gender therapists are often looking for people to accompany them to medical schools, psychology and sociology classes, and other discussion groups. They usually are looking for CDs to come forth and discuss how you managed to get to your own comfort zone. It is surprising how much you can learn from others on these panels as well the insight you can gain from having to form your own answers to questions you may not have previously considered.
Perhaps you have another idea for reaching out either within or beyond the transgender community. Take action, reach out to help.
One Mystical Magic Morning
One Saturday morning in mid June, Lucy and I decided to go out for breakfast. It was cool and rainy with low clouds, and everything had a misty look. After a nice hearty breakfast we decided to take a walk and headed for the Duke of Glouster Street in Colonial Williamsburg.
The rain was just heavy enough to require umbrellas and at first we wished we had brought light jackets. However, as we walked we warmed up nicely. There were not many people out walking and we saw only the security patrol and an occasional maintenance truck. As we headed toward the capitol building, we spoke to each of the few walkers we met. It was very quiet and the heavy clouds muffled the traffic sound from the side street. An occasional jogger ran past and one person on a bicycle rode by.
When the street ended at the capitol building on the top of the hill, we circled around to come back toward Market Square, and at this moment, it appeared that there was no one else on the street. It felt as if we were the only people here. At this moment the town began to awake. A few doors from us a man in colonial dress came out of one of the occupied homes and stepped onto the sidewalk to retrieve his newspaper. When we got near the courthouse we began seeing the costumed interpreters arriving to open the houses and getting ready for their day. They we in typical dress of the period. The gentlemen in their brocade jackets with walking sticks in hand and the salesmen and waiters for the taverns in their white shirts and dark trousers. The ladies in their long skirts and aprons with their shopping baskets over their arms heading into the homes or stores along the street. It was as if we had stepped back in time and were watching the village awaken as it must have every morning in revolutionary times.
Further down the street, we began seeing a mixture of 21st century and 17th century clothing as folks walked toward the capitol. In the shopping area at the foot of Duke of Glouster Street a farmers market was opening with all the fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers and bakery goods for sale. The only part of the scene that was different from what we had been experiencing was seeing motor cars and trucks and people dressed 21st century style. It was so special in the atmosphere of the 17th century and with the mist giving it an ethereal feeling. It was hard to return to our own time period. It was a truly unique and special morning in Colonial Williamsburg.