So, Whose Fault is it?
Even as close as we are, we have times when we have difficulty communicating. Simple words and ideas to one of us can seem like something from outer space to the other. It is not easy to exchange ideas when each of us attribute different meanings to key words or ideas. When this happens, time, effort, understanding, honesty, love and yes, even a sense of humor are needed to communicate.
It is common place for both men and women to complain about trying to understand and communicate with members of the opposite sex. In fact, sometimes both men and women are certain that members of the opposite sex must come from a different planet. How unfortunate it is that we often have the most difficulty communicating with the one person with whom we have chosen to live our lives and parent children. So, whose fault is it?
We don't believe that it is the fault of either partner. Rather it is the result of a culture that assigns the sex of each of us at birth based on the way we are plumbed. Then begins immediately a program of behavioral reinforcement, which is initiated by color coding each of us with either pink or blue blankets and booties. From the very start boys and girls are treated and dressed differently, and appropriate behavior for each sex is dictated. Each of us is constantly urged to try to become the popular stereotype for our assigned sex. For example, boys are supposed to be stoic while girls are supposed to be sensitive. To the extent that our mental conditioning reinforced by hormones succeed in pushing us toward the appropriate popular sex stereotype, each of us become conditioned to have interests and goals different from our partners and all other members of the opposite sex. Is it any wonder, we have difficulty communicating?
Consider the way we are conditioned from birth, and the added confusion, guilt and sense of inadequacy that result from feelings or physical characteristics that are at odds with society's view of the ideal characteristics for our sex. Further, consider the hormones that condition our bodies for our respective roles in propagation of our species and the roles we play as fathers and mothers that cause us to approach life somewhat differently. Is it not a wonder we can communicate with our partner at all?
Under the best of circumstances, men and women have cultural barriers to overcome if they are to communicate effectively, but what happens when the guilt from not meeting the expectation for the appropriate sexual stereotype is intensified by the desire of one partner, more frequently the husband to dress in the clothing reserved for the other partner's sex. Then, consider the difficulty the other partner experiences because her husband's conduct is so at odds with what she has been conditioned all her life to believe. Is it any wonder the CD and the CD's spouse have difficulty communicating, and much more difficulty coming to terms with cross-dressing issues?
So what can we do to compensate for the unfortunate cultural conditioning with which we are all burdened? Start by treating your partner the way you would like to be treated. Be aware that you are each burdened with a lifetime of biased psychological conditioning, and you may never totally understand each other's problems. Be positive about your partner and work to develop a balance between your needs and limitations and that of your partner, but realize that your balance point will change as both your understanding and that of your partner increases. And above all, let your love for each other take precedence over any negative feelings and doubts.
You have to begin with honesty, and each of you must be positive with your partner about your feelings, wants and desires. You may desire one thing and your partner another, but it is important that each of you try to understand the other's position.You and your partner may have substantial differences, but neither of you should take the position that your way is the only way. Rather, each of you should try to realize that you are both victims of systematic cultural conditioning, and your relationship has suffered as a result. Neither of you is to blame, and both of you are suffering. So, what are you going to do about it? Look for ways to help each other, and you will begin to come together. The process may be long and tedious, and at times, it may seem easier to throw up your hands and walk away. But if you stop talking with each other, you will never truly resolve anything. Effective communication requires both partners to listen attentively and ask questions until you understand each other and find a workable solution for living with your differences. It is something we all have to work hard to achieve, but the improvement in your relationship will be worth all the effort and pain along the way.
Once you have achieved your first basic breakthrough to understanding you have both arrived on the same planet, and you are in a position to accomplish results. However, it will take more hard work to stay on that same planet and achieve results..
If you find that you are unwilling or unable to achieve even the first glimmer of understanding with your partner, you need to ask the question "So ,Whose Fault Is It?" Then, perhaps you both should take a look in the mirror!
Life is an adventure, pick up the challenge, and get on with it!
The ABC's of A Successful Marriage
When we got married, we believed that our love for each other was all that mattered. Now, after more than forty-two years of marriage, we know that it takes more, and we firmly believe that the beautiful relationship we continue to enjoy is the result of the principles on which we have based our relationship. Together, we have gotten through the hard times resulting from miscarriages, cross-country moves, four years of full time graduate school, meddling parents and cross-dressing. We have raised two sons, who now have wives we dearly love, and we now have six boisterous and adorable grandsons. Throughout our marriage, we have had a wonderful life and continue to have fantastic adventures together (some of them as Joan and Don and some as Joan and Lucy). As a result, we have come to believe that perhaps there is something special about the way we conduct our relationship, and perhaps it is the ABCs that guide us. The ABCs that we try to follow are:
Apply the Golden Rule
From the beginning of our marriage, we have always tried to apply the Golden Rule to our marriage. Applied to marriage, it is "Do unto your spouse as you would have your spouse do unto you." This is not always as easy as it may sound. Sometimes you really have to stop and think, "Would that hurt my feelings? How would I feel if my spouse did or said the same thing to me." We never knowingly hurt each other with words or in deeds. When that happens, as it inevitably does, then the apologies are made quickly and hugs are exchanged both for the apology and for the acceptance of it.
Differences in your duties, responsibilities, preferences, concerns and societal norms and that of your partner also have to be considered. And here is where it is easy to introduce problems both for your partner and for yourself. For example, you decide that your partner wouldn't be receptive to something you would like to do or would be unreceptive to something you would like very much for him/her to do. So, you refrain even mentioning your need or desire, but you continue to want it. It causes you stress, and in turn begins to have a negative affect on your relationship. In your attempt to avoid the problem you have created one that can lead to serious complications, and it is so unfair to your spouse, whose feelings you were trying to spare. Instead of stating what you want, you have tried to think for her/him and she/he doesn't have a clue what the problem is. How much better it would have been to discuss your concern, find out how your partner feels about it and arrive at a positive course of action for resolving any differences.
We both very much believe in the power of positive thinking. Instead of despairing when "our glass was half empty," we have always been thankful for all of our blessings and looked for ways to add to what we already have. For us, it is almost a second nature to build self-esteem daily, both our own and each other's. Negative thoughts have no place in our lives. Name calling or screaming at one another is a behavior that has no place in our lives. It only hurts the other person and that is the last thing either one of us has ever wanted to do to the other. We also learned early in our marriage silence never resolves an issue. Rather, it make matters worse as hurt feelings fester when disagreements are left unresolved, and difficult problems become increasingly difficult.
Always, we try to understand each other's point of view, even when we have strong differences of opinion, and sometimes this can be very difficult. This is especially true when each of us have attached different meanings to the words we are using to try to explain our thoughts. Then, we have to go back and ask for clarification of what we did not understand. Sometimes it can be a simple word or two and sometimes it is the entire idea. Sometimes it seems to take forever before the light dawns as to what the other person is trying to say. Once we understand each other, the point of disagreement usually is easily resolved, and one can feel so stupid because it often is such a simple thing. That is when a sense of humor comes in handy, and it is at that point, we can both have a good laugh.
We both have the courage of our convictions, and without a sound approach based on our love of each other, our relationship could have been difficult if not impossible. Should your marital relationship be less than harmonious, you might want to review the ABCs on which our relationship is based, and see whether there is something in our approach that would work for you. We don't pretend to be experts on marriage relationships, and we can only tell you what has worked so very well for us.
Our Thoughts on Cross-Dressing
Because we have been happily married for 42 years and coping with cross-dressing for 41 years, we are frequently asked how different aspects of cross-dressing appear to us. We decided to compile a list of questions that we frequently have been asked by both CD's and wives and to provide our views. For each question, each of us has expressed our individual opinions. We hope our thoughts will help others who are currently trying to cope with the reality of cross-dressing in their lives.
Question: What differences do you see in the personalities of Don and Lucy?
Joan: I don't see any difference in personality as such. His voice and gestures are softer, but that is not a change in personality. I just know I can get his attention much quicker when he is dressed as Lucy.
Lucy: I am very much the same person. The only thing I have ever done is try to make certain that my mannerisms and voice fit with the way I'm dressed. When I was an army officer, I tried to walk with a military bearing and conduct myself as such. When I was a graduate student, I dressed like one and had long hair. In the same way when I am dressed as a woman, I try to look and act very much like a lady.
Question: When Joan and Lucy are out together, how do you feel when people say they don't know which one of you is the genetic woman?
Joan: I am very glad because that means Lucy is doing a good job projecting her femme persona. It also makes me feel good that all the time we spent to help her learn how to express herself is paying off.
Lucy: For a long time, I was concerned that Joan would be offended. However, she is very secure in her femininity, but I was doing her an injustice when I thought it would bother her. Now, I feel that it is a form of validation that my appearance is that of a woman.
Question: How did you feel about going out in public before Lucy could readily "pass?"
Joan: I don't remember going out when Lucy did not pass. She worked very hard to pass so that she did not embarrass herself or me.
Lucy: Until I really gained confidence, I sometimes felt insecure and always was a little concerned that I might be "outed". However, I don't ever remember being concerned enough to not want to dress unless there was not an obvious reason that I shouldn't.
Question: When you are out together as two women, does it takes away from your capability to enjoy each other's company?
Joan: No. I really enjoy being with Lucy. When we go out together it is as if we are best friends (which we are.) She has some great ideas of things to do and places to go. Most of them much better than I would suggest. There are times; however, that I really do enjoy being escorted by Don and Lucy is very good at letting this happen frequently. And his children and grandchildren all enjoy Don very much. He is their buddy, mentor and friend.
Lucy: We have had and continue to have great times together, both when I am dressed as Don and when I am dressed as Lucy, and I would never want to miss out on any of them.
Question: Do you consider cross-dressing to be a blessing or a curse?
Joan: A little of both. When we were younger and had no one to talk with except each other it seemed as if this was a curse. And I worried that if he did not pass that we would be discovered and we would loose everything. However, as time has passed and we have made a lot of wonderful friends in the CD community it has turned into a beautiful blessing. I now can say that I truly enjoy Lucy as much as Don.
Lucy: For too long, it seemed like a curse because I felt guilty that I was not the "man" that my wife deserved. When I finally listened to her, the situation began to change, and I now give thanks to God in my daily prayers for this wonderful blessing.
Question: Do Lucy's feminine gestures and feminine voice cause problems in your relationship?
Joan: No. I am glad when she dresses as Lucy that her gestures and voice are feminine. However, when it comes to romantic moments I am glad that Lucy can go away and leave Don. He is very good at knowing when I need Don and when Lucy can come forth. Plus we discuss all our outings well ahead of time so we know exactly what we are going to do.
Lucy: No. In fact, I think Joan and I both are more comfortable knowing that I appear to be a "normal" woman when I am wearing my "Lucy clothes". Besides, we both are secure in our relationship to each other. Our happy marriage and our relationship with our two sons and six grandsons are the best evidence of this.
Question: Do you think that it is possible for Lucy to have any idea how a genetic female feels?
Joan: Not really. She does try. When we were growing up society kept the boundaries of male and females so far apart that it was difficult to even try to understand the others feelings. Now, we both try and I think we come close, but not fully on the mark.
Lucy: Not fully. I have never experienced the bodily functions that are unique to a genetic female nor did I have to grow up with the limitations with which Joan had to cope, but my desire to dress in pretty clothes and emotional sensitivity appear to be little different.
Question: How would you feel about Lucy cross-dressing full time?
Joan: I would not like that at all. I think that we would miss out on a lot of wonderful times with our children and grandchildren. I think some of our friends might not be in the least understanding about cross-dressing. There is too much enjoyment on both the male and female side that it would not be at all good for him to only express one side at the expense of the other.
Lucy: I think it would be terrible. I never want to bar myself from experiencing the wonderful enjoyment that I derive from being a husband, father and grandfather. It would be as bad as not expressing my feminine side by not cross-dressing and losing out on the wonderful times that Joan and I have when we go out as two women who are best friends.
Question: Do you feel that a male who wears feminine clothing is making a mockery of femininity?
Joan: Not in the least. I think a cross dresser is only dressing to express his feminine side. This is something that our society has denied, and a cross dresser needs to express it in the best possible way, cross- dressed.
Lucy: I don't and that certainly is not my intention when I cross-dress. I enjoy wearing feminine clothing, and by wearing it, I can give expression to my feminine side
Question: Do you believe that your relationship has suffered because of cross-dressing?
Joan: Not in the least. I feel that ours has actually been strengthened as we have struggled with the cross-dressing issue. We have been come closer to each other in our strengths and have learned lessons from the cross-dressing experience that have helped us in all aspects of our lives.
Lucy: No. Our relationship has grown closer over the years, and I feel that cross-dressing was just one of the many challenges with which we have had to cope.
Question: If you knew when you were young what you know now, what would you have done differently?
Joan: I hope I would have relaxed and enjoyed his cross-dressing ever so much sooner. Perhaps, I would even have helped our sons to acknowledge and accept it sooner.
Don: I would not have spent so many years feeling guilty about being less of man because of it. Rather, I would have been able to acknowledge my feminine side as an asset and more fully benefited and permitted my family to benefit from my appreciation of the sensitivity that accompanies it.
Dignity 11 Cruise -- A Wonderful Experience
We were very privileged to have the opportunity to be part of the Tri-Ess Dignity 11 Cruise that left Houston on November 14 to sail southward for a weeks cruise with port calls at Cancun and Cozumel, Mexico and Roatan, Honduras. The cruise provided the opportunity for personal discovery and growth, developing lasting friendships with and providing support for other Tri-Ess sisters (both CDs and SOs), as well as outreach to other members on the ship. There were many happy moments and a few sad moments, the worst being when we all had to say good-bye. The cruise made for a very special week one that was very much a high point for us. Peggy Rudd worked very hard to put this cruise together, and she continued to work hard right through the cruise to make it a wonderful success
We traveled to Houston on Thursday November 11. While our cruise was not to begin until the following Sunday, we traveled as soon as our schedules would permit so that we could at least catch some of the Femme Holiday activities. Lucy left home dressed en femme and dressed en femme for most of the trip. The only exceptions were a side trip to the NASA manned Space Center on Friday, November 12, and a morning of shopping in Cozumel on the following Wednesday. That meant flying both ways, boarding the ship, going ashore in Honduras, boarding the ship afterwards, reentering the US at the end of the cruise and returning home while being dressed en femme. The only problem we encountered was when we checked in at the start of the trip. The ticket agent, a pleasant middle-aged woman did not believe that Lucy and the picture of Don on the drivers license was the same person. However, the problem quickly went away when Lucy produced an ID that had the same picture and information contained on Dons drivers license and also a picture dressed as Lucy. It also explained that the bearer is a member of Tri-Ess and that she is a cross-dresser. For the remainder of the trip, Lucy provided both the Tri-Ess ID whenever she had to produce either her drivers license or passport for identification, and no further problems were encountered.
Our first meeting as a group occurred in the Le Bistro Restaurant up on Deck 10. Peggy Rudd arranged for us all to get acquainted here on our first night at sea. It was the highlight of our wonderful first evening at sea. We had time to begin the process of getting acquainted while enjoying a very wonderful meal. We look forward in years to come to seeing again the friends that we began making that night.
Monday, we culminated our first full day at sea, by getting dressed to the nines in our formal dresses. Then, it was off to the Captains Cocktail Party. As everyone entered the cocktail lounge the obligatory photos with the captain were taken. When our turn came, we were directed to positions on either side of the captain. As we took our places the captain put his arms around us and pulled us close to him for the picture. It all happened so fast that the picture was taken while Lucy was still realizing what had just happened and before her startled expression could develop. In the photograph the Captain looked as if he was really enjoying holding us. Were not certain why.
Lucy was not dressed when we went ashore at Cozumel. She had dressed for each of the five previous days, and on the evening before Joan had expressed reservations about not getting to see her husband enhomme for that length of time. The next morning, she realized that her negative feelings had been more a product of fatigue than anything else. She told Lucy to go ahead and dress enfemme, but Lucy felt that it would be better to spend the morning enhomme (as Don). After lunch, Don returned to being Lucy. Dressing enhomme that morning, after spending five days enfemme had been an interesting experience. The enfemme mode had become so familiar that Lucy felt cross-dressed all morning in the Don mode. Perhaps this feeling resulted from the confidence that comes from having the opportunity to comfortably dress enfemme for a number of days, or more likely it was cross-dressing that had become routine. Several times during the morning, Don had instinctively reached for Lucys purse and started to adjust his clothes as Lucy does with the result that he was less self-assured than normal.
We felt that Dignity Cruise 11 was a fantastic experience, and Joan as well as Don feels that it was the highlight of a year when we traveled extensively. Not only did we have a wonderful time with everyone in the group, but the people we met and the friends we made are a lasting bonus. It was so great to be able to visit with other wives and CDs at almost any hour we were awake. Joan especially enjoyed the opportunity to talk with other wives about families and friends. as well as each of their special CDs. There were many opportunities for everyone to exchange information, address each others doubts and problems. Everyone strived to help everyone else, and individual problems were responded to with well thought out answers that drew upon past experiences. The atmosphere was relaxed and the people were an interesting cross section of Americana.
For the first time in our forty plus years of marriage, we freely shared items from our individual wardrobes on this trip. It was not planned ahead of time so that made it more fun. We had each shopped for and selected our own formal wardrobes. Then one evening as we were dressing for dinner, Lucy looked at the outfit that Joan had selected for the evening and said, " Why don't you try my black top with that skirt. I think you might like it better." Joan agreed, and the result turned out to be spectacular. Several nights later, Joan suggested that Lucy would look better in the top Joan had originally selected for her formal skirt. Lucy tried it on, and sure enough it looked better with her skirt. From then on, we have been experimenting with different looks. And for the first time, Joan is really enjoying having one wardrobe with Lucy, rather than hers and hers! We have always shared jewelry and scarves, but never much clothing. Joan says that she has found this to be a lot fun, which is quite a change for her because she has always been a person who has fiercely guarded her own wardrobe.
We have made wonderful friends on this trip, especially one couple with whom we seem to have a special affinity. When we first met, it was as if we had always known each other. The bonds of friendship were immediate and strong. We are looking forward to seeing them very soon and we hope often over the years, even though we do not live in the same part of the country. If it had not been for this cruise, we might not have ever met them and our lives would have the poorer.
Joan says that, being in contact with this wonderful group of people gave her the opportunity to relax and really begin to enjoy her cross dresser. Not that we have not had some really great times over the years, but this trip put into perspective a lot of thoughts that had been floating around in her head for long time, which she was not fully able to express. We urge everyone to seriously consider a dignity cruise. They are wonderful. You will get the opportunity to discuss any and all problems in a relaxed and non- threatening atmosphere. As we all know cross dressers and their significant others are wonderful people. So go along and enjoy being with each other. It is an experience you will never regret.
Is it possible for two ladies (a CD and spouse) to travel over 14,000 miles in two weeks and have an absolutely fabulous time? The answer is an unqualified yes. This past June, we flew as two ladies from Richmond, Virginia to Los Angeles where we met Peggy and Melanie Rudd and the others who were going on the Dignity Cruise to Tahiti. That evening, we all got acquainted over dinner and had a wonderful time. The next morning we boarded Hawaiian Airlines DC-10 and were on our way to Tahiti and what was to be seven wonderful days touring French Polynesia.
When we arrived at the airport in Papeete, government officials handled Tahiti, our entry into French Polynesia efficiently and courteously and we were immediately transported to our Renaissance Cruise Ship. On the pier, Renaissance personnel also were efficient and courteous, and within 15 minutes we were shown to our stateroom. We stopped there only briefly and then were off to tour the ship. What a beautiful ship it was, and the week only got better from there.
Our first day was spent docked in Tahiti where we could leave the ship and do some shopping in the open-air market place. In subsequent days we visited four other islands, Moorea,Huehane, Roitea and Bora Bora. On each island, we took a guided tour around the island. What wonderful experiences we had meeting the hospitable French Polynesians and viewing the beautiful scenery. Touring the Islands was a delightful and relaxing experience, and our private balcony made cruising the islands especially delightful.
On Moorea, Lucy fell while walking down an incline to a botanical garden, and as a result experienced a wonderful outpouring of concern from fellow passengers who rushed to her aid and the Polynesian tour guide who administered first aid in a very caring manner. Later to her chagrin, Lucy learned that an Australian tourist had videotaped the whole incident as it took place and had narrated it with comments such as, "The lady just fell . . .she is getting up . . . I don't believe she is hurt." Fortunately, other than her dignity and a skinned hand Lucy was uninjured.
The ship's crew all knew our cross dressing group was on board, but they also knew there were heterosexuals and homosexuals, married and unmarried couples, swinging singles, friends of Bill and perhaps a few categories of people I have forgotten. However, we all were paying customers, and no one made the slightest distinction. At least our cabin stewardess knew that Lucy was a cross-dressed male, but she always addressed her as madam and treated her with the utmost courtesy.
When we returned to LA, we spent four days in Southern California with another couple who were on the Dignity Cruise and that was also a delightful experience. We rented a car and drove to Vista, near San Diego, where we stayed with the mother of the other wife. The mother had agreed for Lucy to come cross-dressed, if she would dress as Don when we went out to dinner with her. While we were there we toured Wild Animal Kingdom and old San Diego. Early on our hostess, the other wife's mother, decided that she really like Lucy and didn't care if she ever met Don. As a result Don never emerged from the suitcase.
It was a great trip, especially for Lucy because she got to remain dressed en femme from the time we left our home in Williamsburg until we returned. During the trip, we boarded six airplanes and a ship, we rented a car, and we stayed in three hotel rooms. During our travel, each time it was necessary for Lucy to reveal that she was actually a cross-dressed male and she showed her Transgender ID, we were impressed by how routinely for the most part the news was handled.
We had only one minor experience even worth mentioning, and that occurred when we checked in for our flight to Tahiti. The ticket agent got very flustered when she looked at Don's passport. He told her he was cross-dressed and showed her his transgender ID, but she refused to even consider the possibility. Instead, she took his passport and ID over to another agent. While we couldn't hear what she was saying, we could see by the other agent's demeanor that he was trying to tell her it was all right. However, she still was not convinced and went to a second who appeared to respond the same way. Then, she came back and reluctantly gave Lucy a boarding pass. Unfortunately for our ticket agent, meeting Lucy was just the beginning of her exposure to cross-dressers because several other cross-dressed members of our Dignity Cruise group were in line behind us. Checking later with them, we learned that by the time she got to the third cross-dressed member of our party she acted as if boarding someone cross-dressed was a very routine matter. As the result of our wonderful trip, we can truthfully say that it is possible for a couple to travel over 15,000 miles as two ladies and for both of them to enjoy every minute of it.
Isn't it great that we have Tri-Ess, and in most areas, a local chapter as well? Tri-Ess provides each of us with invaluable guidance and support for our own lives and for that of our chapters. Chapters provide support and a safe place for dressing. A place where you can meet others like you who are either cross dressers or spouses and SOs. It is one place where you can go for a social outlet and a safe haven for dressing without the fear of being outed. Comfort is what we are all looking for. However, in order for that safe comfortable place to continue to exist, everyone needs to care enough to be willing to help.
Anything that is accomplished for Tri Ess or your chapter, is the result of the volunteer activity of someone. About now, some of you are probably saying, "That is true, and I would be glad to help if I had time." Just think, if everyone felt that way, we wouldn't have Tri Ess, and we wouldn't have a chapter. And do you really think that the folks who are actively involved in Tri Ess or chapter activities have any more time than you do? Unfortunately, there are cases of other chapters where too many members were "too busy " or just became complacent, and the chapter folded because something happened to a member who played a key role. Here in southeastern Virginia, there was a thriving Tri Ess chapter that folded when a couple who was carrying much of the load moved. Only the cooperative efforts of members can prevent the demise of a chapter, or for that matter Tri Ess.
"But what can I do?" You might be thinking. "I work long hours, and at most, I could only spare a few hours per month anyway. Besides, no one has specifically asked me to do anything ." One way to become more active is to volunteer to help. When referring to volunteer activities, Bishop Fulton Sheehan used to say, "It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness." In other words, it is better to do a little than to be unhappy because something either is not being done or is not being done well. And just think what could be accomplished if everyone in Tri Ess was an active participating member. Sometimes we only have an hour or two a month to use for volunteering why not help your chapter and/or Tri-Ess? To use Bishop Sheehaan's analogy, don't you think it is time to light your candle? Help support your chapter and Tri-Ess by volunteering for jobs that need to be done.