Tell Me About It: ‘I find this very strange – I feel that I need to discuss my husband’s crossdressing with him, but I am afraid it will change and possibly end our relationship’
My husband is a strong, confident, hard-working man. Our kids are now in their mid-teens and we have a busy life between ferrying them and their friends to different sports and back and forth to each other’s houses. My husband does the majority of the transport to sports activities, as he coaches an underage team at the club that both our kids attend.
Over the past few years he has seemed distracted, and always seemed to have somewhere to go without any valid explanation as to where or who with. I have had so much going on myself that initially I barely noticed, but after a while I started to notice strange things, like the smell of a perfume off him that I do not use and receipts for expensive ladies’ clothes, in fact these clothes were more expensive than anything I would normally buy.
I confronted him immediately as I expected an affair. He had no explanation, but denied it immediately and seemed hurt and was distant with me for a long time. Recently, things have improved and we have been getting along very well and have been having a lot of impromptu sex when the kids are out of the house.
I called to his office one day as a surprise to take him for lunch, he was out at a meeting, and I had a quick nosy around his office. In a cupboard at the back of the room I found a stash of female clothes and jewellery. I was shocked but did not want to say anything to him. I hoped that they might have been owned by a colleague. But I was still suspicious that there may be another person in his life.
My curiosity got the better of me and one evening when he was working late on his own, I went to the office building. I saw him from a distance, sitting at his desk, working while wearing stylish women’s clothing. This was not something I was ever prepared for, he did not see me and I have not said anything to him. My husband is a rugged man’s man and not the kind of person I would have ever thought would engage in cross-dressing. I find it very strange, I feel that I need to discuss it with him, but I am afraid it will change and possibly end our relationship.
Why does he act like this? An affair I could deal with.
While there is a possibility that the shock of this discovery could rock your relationship, there is also the possibility that it could enhance it. You and your husband are getting on so much better after years of distance, and your sex life has demonstrated this closeness – you could get even closer now that his secret is no longer between you and true intimacy can happen.
Of course this may not be the outcome, but if enough love exists, you may both have an opportunity to explore your sexuality and desire in a different way. You ask why your husband acts like this and the only real way of finding out is by asking him. However, the way you ask will have consequences – eg, if you ask with resentment and disgust, he will retreat and possibly become defensive. Whereas, if you ask with genuine interest and care, he may find a way of explaining that might be his first opportunity for disclosure.
Crossdressing has been around for a very long time, and you will find communities of people who can offer support and understanding to both you and your husband. One of these groups in Ireland is Sí (thehiddenpeople.ie). Many couples find that they can accommodate cross-dressing in their relationship as long as both partners are open and honest about the alternate identity and that the boundaries can be discussed and adapted to the needs of the family. As you have teenage children, you will need to have a discussion with your partner about how to handle this – if they find out by accident it might not be for the best.
I wonder if you would benefit from some couple’s counselling to help you to untangle this
Most cross-dressers enjoy displaying their alternate identity and this needs to be factored into your future relationship, though discreet display is also possible. As we get older and our children become less dependent on us, our relationships inevitably change and we often grow more comfortable with our sexual expression, and can handle more variety. You will also have to broach the years of secrecy and distance that have been the underlying factor in your life for so long.
I wonder if you would benefit from some couple’s counselling to help you to untangle this and to find new ways of connecting with the person you have spent your life with – or, indeed, tackle your idea that dealing with an affair would be easier (this suggests a blockage for you that is worth exploring). Both of you have propped up the secrecy and distance (through hiding and busyness) that has been rampant and, at the very least, you owe each other the dignity of honesty and understanding.
If this disclosure results in separation, you will have given the relationship every chance of surviving and this would offer you both some comfort in the ensuing heartbreak.