Dear Gabi, My Wife Says One of Us Has to Move Out

Dear Gabi,

My wife just found out I am a cross dresser (I have been as long as I can remember…), and reacted very badly. I don’t know where else to turn… none of my friends would understand, and I still think most of them would not speak to me again if I told them…

My beautiful, brilliant wife, the love of my life, and the only person I would ever want to spend my life with, has told me she would have stopped dating me if she knew I was a crossdresser, and has told me she will never be able to deal with me being a crossdresser… she has done the research, she understands I am hetero, and not gender confused, but she says she just cannot deal with me being a crossdresser… she has told me that one of us has to move out, that she will not change her mind, and that she will never be okay with this…

I have a beautiful family, and I don’t want my son and daughters growing up in a broken home! But I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what to say to make it better, to make her understand I am still the same person!

You have already been so much more help than I could ever have expected, and I don’t even know what I am asking you for… There is no magic word or phrase that will make this all okay, I know that… I guess it just hurts so much and I needed to vent and I just don’t have any other place to go… This is just so hard, and I don’t know what to do…



Gabrielle HermosaDear Nora,

I am sorry to hear about your troublesome situation. My heart goes out to you.

It is not uncommon for wives to react badly at the discovery of their husband being a crossdresser. Sometimes couples can work things out and reach a mutually agreed upon understanding. Sometimes marriages fail, families are broken, and life goes on.

Secrets are generally bad
As much as it pains me to hear about your story, and those who share a similar tale, I think it is important to keep in mind a rather important mistake that was made. We all keep secrets – it’s part of our nature to maintain a certain level of personal privacy. The difference between a harmless secret and potentially harmful one can vary from one situation to the next. Sometimes that difference is learned the hard way.

Like many crossdressers, you chose to keep this aspect of your life a secret from your wife. The reason for doing so is completely understandable. Confusion, embarrassment, the fear of being rejected and everything in-between can act as powerful motivation to keep this a carefully guarded secret.

Regardless of motivation and the seemingly justifiable reasons, intentionally keeping a secret from one’s wife-to-be, presumably out of fear that she may decide to beak up if she knew of it, is not a good move. It’s also not fair to an unknowing partner. The same would be true if a woman kept a deal-breaking secret from her husband-to-be.

All marriages experience troubles
This is still fairly new to your wife. It may be possible that her initial reaction of “I can’t deal with this” and “never being ok with it” is something that will become less a matter of “never” and more “I need to think about this” as time passes. This kind of thing can require some time to fully digest for many people. It is not something that much of the population truly understands, though they may be aware. Even if your wife does comprehend some key aspects, her mind may still be filled with misconceptions and the abundance of popular negative cliches.

Not all marriages are doomed to fail when one party expresses the need to live apart from the other. This can sometimes help put things in perspective by allowing time and privacy to sort things out alone. It can lead to a new beginning and rediscovery of each other. Although it can sometimes be the first step down the road to divorce, try to focus potential positives until there is clear reason not to.

Some women enjoy it, some are indifferent, and others are repulsed
One key factor in determining where things might lead is to figure out why your wife feels the way she does about crossdressing. Some women express an extreme dislike (or even hatred) for crossdressing essentially because of the the negative social stigma attached. They fear what others may think if they find out, and do not want to be ridiculed for having (what they may feel is) anything less than 100% man for a husband. If her “never accepting” your crossdressing is based on her fear of what others may think, more than anything else, that may be a good thing. Her fears might be put at ease over time, leaving the possibility for acceptance.

Even if your wife never fully warms up to the idea of you being a crossdresser, she may eventually be ok with things to some extent so long as you keep it private and out of her sight and mind. I know of several crossdressers who’s wives are aware of, but do not participate in their crossdressing activities at all. They each enjoy a happy marriage by agreeing that crossdressing is kept separate from and does not involve their wives. Not all married couples share all of their personal time together, nor personal activities of interest. In that regard, this is no different. While it may not be an optimal situation, it can be manageable and the marriage can go on with love, understanding, and happiness intact.

Some women are just plain repulsed by the idea of any femininity in their man, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It has little to do with social taboos and fear of what others think, and everything to do with their personal preference in men. Everyone is allowed their preferences. The very thought of a man being feminine may be a complete and absolute turn off, sexually and beyond. There is little that can be done to change what people’s personal preferences are, nor should one try to.

Family first
It is understandable to not want one’s children growing up in a broken home. This particular concern is a good point to bring up with your wife. Is she willing to set aside her dislike of your feminine side and consider the needs of your kids first? This point should not be used to twist anyone’s arm, but is valid discussion material when the possibility of not being able to live together has been communicated. The discussion should be centered around what is best for the children. They are not possessions or bargaining chips to manipulate emotions with, but rather young people who’s future is at stake.

If this cannot be resolved in the initial conversation, agree (to each other) to sleep on it, even if it be in separate rooms for now. While your wife is taking the time to consider the effect of a broken home on your children, she may also cool down to some extent about your crossdressing. How she feels in the end is greatly dependent on whether her dislike of it is rooted in the negative social stigma, or the fact that she simply is not romantically interested in a man with a feminine side, period. The latter, of course, carries with it heavier complications.

Nothing has changed, but everything is different
Even though you’re the same person she fell in love with way back when, your wife’s perception of you has probably been damaged by the thought of you having a feminine side. If she needs her man to be 100% masculine, there is little you can do to change how she feels. Even if you “successfully” gave up crossdressing (at least in the physical sense), it would be similar to treating a life threatening wound with a temporary bandage. In time, your need to essentially be yourself will take a toll on your emotional state, should you try to repress it. The personal conflict and misery it causes within you will manifest itself in various negative ways and only create more trouble later on. Any sense of “this is the right thing to do to save your marriage/family” you may feel in purging will probably be short lived in the grander scheme of things. Keep in mind that one should not need or attempt to change who they are when there is nothing wrong in the first place.

You and your wife both deserve to be happy. True happiness cannot be built on the idea of changing who someone is – either your wife’s dislike of a man being feminine, or your need to explore your feminine side. If it cannot be with each other, at least allow yourself to consider the idea that happiness can and will be achieved apart, each with new love interests.

Divorce isn’t the end of the world
I certainly hope that you and your wife can patch things up and keep the whole family together under one roof. If by chance, the marriage is not salvageable, there is a silver lining amidst the pain and suffering. In time, you will indeed meet a new love – one that truly loves you for who you are, completely, and not just a part of you.

According to statistics, about 50% of marriages end in divorce. I’m not sure what percentage is due to the discovery of crossdressing, but it is sometimes a factor. Most marriages come to an end due to incompatibility issues, regardless of what they may be.

If it is not possible to patch things up
If divorce ends up being the final chapter in your marriage, do not feel that your crossdressing is to blame, or that it should paint you in a bad light in the eyes of the law. Your withholding this information prior to marriage may have played a significant role in the split, but do not allow anyone to ever suggest anything more than that. Being a crossdresser does not make one unfit to be a responsible, loving parent. Being a crossdresser does not necessitate that you should be the one to move out of the house by default. Simply being a crossdresser does not equate to you being a bad person in any way, shape, or form.

This aspect of your life may come out during divorce proceedings. It is something to prepare for rather than worry about. Find a therapist who has experience in transgender issues (and is held in high regard within the profession – do your homework before choosing). Get evaluated and have documentation ready to show the court that you are in no way a threat to your children, or unfit to be a parent because of this.

Be prepared for the possibility of your friends finding out. In worst case scenarios, some wives try to bully their soon to be ex-husband into submission with the threat of outting them to their friends and family. Give a bully an inch, and they’ll wring you for all that you have. Some of your friends and family may disassociate themselves from you. You will gain new friends in time – friends who love and accept you as you are, and not just for some facade they’re comfortable seeing. Don’t forget that some friend/family may react poorly at first, and have a change of heart after things settle in. They will discover that you’re still the same good person they’ve always known and loved.

Tough times ahead
Whatever the outcome, keep in mind that the pain and suffering you are experiencing now is only temporary. It may not feel that way today, but it will indeed pass. However things go, you will emerge from this as a stronger, wiser, and better person.

What is important is weathering the storm, and reclaiming your life. You can and will do just that. It may not be easy, but it is absolutely attainable. Be it with your wife, or with a new love in the future, you will experience happiness once again.

Good luck
Hang in there and don’t loose hope. I wish you and your family all the best.

Offer your input to help a struggling family
I would ask those of you who have been where Nora is now to please offer your input. If you were able to work things out, what seemed to help the most? If things didn’t work out, can you share any insight or important lessons learned? How did you ensure the best possible arrangement for your kids if there was a divorce? What advice can you offer up that you wish someone could have suggested to you?

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23 thoughts on “Dear Gabi, My Wife Says One of Us Has to Move Out”

  1. A few thoughts come to mind – actually a lot, but I’ll try to be brief.

    The first thing that springs to mind is whether or not Nora is in touch with a gender identity aware therapist? If she isn’t, now might be a good time to start working with one. Why? Because a neutral, but experienced, voice might be able to help her spouse start to come to a more constructive view of the situation. (I am, of course, assuming that her spouse is willing to talk to a therapist as well…)

    The second thought that comes to mind is the issue of betrayal. Like it or not, when a secret becomes public like it has in Nora’s situation there are inevitably going to be feelings of betrayal on the spouse’s part. Working past that is going to be difficult for both Nora and her spouse. I suspect this has to be addressed first before Nora and her partner can start to integrate Nora’s reality into their marriage.

    Other than that, I agree with what you’ve written, Gabi. If things do end up going down the divorce route, it’s not the end of the world – although it may feel that way at first.

    My last thought is more from my own perspective – as a transsexual, I can assure you that the term ‘gender confused’ does not describe my experience of gender at all. My body and mind were out of alignment – I knew this from an early age, and I transitioned when it became too painful not to. While my story may be confusing to others, there was never any confusion on my part. Gender Confusion is a term that I’ve seen the political right wingnuts use to try and dismiss the narratives of transgender people of all stripes – we should take every opportunity to erase that term.

  2. Gabi – superbly handled. You ought to be in the counseling business. I would encourage Nora to seek a professional 3rd party family practice counselor that they both can talk with about the whole range of issues. Clearly, all things need to be subordinate to the kids at this point – that is just a part of the bargain.

    Good luck and best wishes Nora, and again Gabi, thanks for the great work here.


    1. @ Petra – Thanks, Petra. :) You bring up an excellent point on the family counselor. It’s one thing to call it quits on a relationship. It’s quite another thing when children are involved. Any actions taken have a direct impact on these innocent and impressionable lives.

      @ Michelle – Thanks for chiming in with your take on things. :) It is definitely in the best interest of the whole family that proper counseling take place before any harsh measures are taken. There is a complex array of feelings, emotions, and circumstances at play here. Working through them with professional guidance would be a very wise move.

      In terms of gender confusion, I didn’t get any sense of that (or any confusion, period) in my communications with Nora prior to publishing this, granted they were brief. The topic of “gender confusion” itself is a rather interesting one that I’d like to explore in depth another time. It is another one of those topics that I feel is rarely assessed in the proper light.

  3. This woman needs to realize that her intollerance is going to cost both her and her husband huge amounts of money and time and heartache. This is just disgusting, to read.
    First off it is disgusting this guy felt he needed to hide from “the most wonderful and understanding person…” She doesn’t seem that any more.
    She is being completely irrational. The trust issue is definitely a factor, and she should be a bit less intolerant when it comes to her husband hiding this aspect.
    It is time women brought themselves into the now, just like us men did decades ago when women started entering fields previously for men only.

  4. Impossible situation. Or would be for me. If you love, you CANNOT make an ultimatum like that! If you love you CANNOT force your love-subject to do anything! And if you love, truely, then it’s impossible to just stop loving one day, even as a reaction for something.
    I took me about 10 years to make my wife accept my “weirdness”. But I have all the time in the world. At first I just said my first girlfriend gave me some skirts to wear, for fun. Then I did wear them occasionally in front of my wife. Went few years, then she gave me some skirts herself. And so, break-through has been made. Then I started buying some stuff I liked from the internet (skirts, dresses). And i wear them in home all the time. And now- now SHE bought me few books by Helen Boyd!!! :D
    So my life has been easy, but maybe it’s because I have always told to everyone, that I am what I am, and I WILL NOT bend under someone’s will. So, “the world” just has to accept.
    ps. I’m glad I never wanted to do counseling :) It would be chaos.

  5. Dear Gabi,

    I so feel for Nora and Nora’s wife. It is difficult to know what to say from a brief letter and not knowing them personally. However, you are able to give thoughtful advice. I am lucky in that my Significant Other was open with me from early on, and he is lucky that I have fun with him as a Crossdresser. However I did receive shocking, albeit more common, news about my husband (now ex) having an affair. My shock and the betrayal factor caused a similar reaction in me to Nora’s wife. I was upset and angry, my feelings were “get out, no talking, no listening”. Yes, we did divorce, but time did cause the anger to fade and let me look at the whole picture from different sides. My advice to Nora is to not give up yet, don’t push, the shock and anger need time to run their course, be patient, keeping talking, keep trying. The right counselor can help a lot. There are websites where she can talk with other wives, but she needs to be ready for that suggestion. As I have told another friend…baby steps when you are wearing high heels. Best wishes to Nora. I would love to hear someone describe me the way Nora describes her/his wife.

    Lynnd (GG)

  6. Hang in there and don’t loose hope. I wish you and your family all the best.

    Can I second that sentiment?

    Please, do keep talking to her as best you can. Gabbi’s advice is right on the money.

    It might feel like the end is nigh, but there is a chance that you can both work through this. Sure, it will be tough and there will be compromises necessary…. for both parties.

    But, with luck and love, you can get over this. I remember reading an article about 2nd & 3rd marriages. Many of the people interviewed in there said that what made them break up with their first partner, now, they’d think twice before walking away.

    Hang on in there,

  7. Thank you all for the wonderful words, and thank you Gabi for your help and advice through this; without you, I would be going through this trauma still thinking I was mentally ill, or at the best, depraved. Your advice and your articles allowed me to see that cross dressing is not an evil, and that I am not, as I had always been taught by parents and society, sick. Without you, I would never have been able to come to terms with this aspect of myself, and would have lived with guilt and shame forever! How different my life would have been if I had seen this website twenty years ago!

    My wife and I are seeing a couples therapist, at least for now; thank you all for your encouragement!

    Michelle- please forgive my use of the term “gender confused”! I was using what I thought was a clinical term, and did not realize the negativity of the phrase. I only wish I had your courage, and your clarity!


    1. I’d like to thank everyone for offering their take on things. Your thoughtful input is much appreciated by Nora, and I’m sure, by anyone else who might find themselves in a similar situation. To those who have yet to chime in, please, by all means, share your thoughts, ideas, feelings, etc. I know Nora will continue to check back for a time.

      @ Nora – You’re welcome. :) I’m very happy to hear that my efforts here have had a positive impact on your understanding of things and your life in general. It is the reason I do this. Perhaps in time, you will also choose to make a difference somehow as well. Couples therapy is a smart move for both of you and probably the best way to sort things out most effectively. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  8. @Nora: I’m a little unusual – I pay a lot of attention to how the terminology is used in the political arena. Unfortunately, there are those in the political arena who invent terminology designed to render all of our narratives invalid. Gender Confusion is one of those terms, IMO.

    Even the clinical terminology has been changing over the years – it has gone from ‘Gender Dysphoria’ to ‘Gender Identity Disorder’, and may yet change again in the DSM V to ‘Gender Incongruity’.

    So … your mistake was an honest one, and no offense is taken on my part.

    @Gabi: I’d love a discussion of terminology … that could be very interesting!

  9. I am 66 yrs old I have been blessed a crossdresser since I was 7 or 8 yrs old I have tried to stop but can not almost 60 yrs but when I was in my late 20’s I told my wife that is straight as a yard stick we talked over this I told her I loved her but this was a part of me all my life just like my eye color I could not change this. I have dressed for all my life hiding from people and keeping this secret all these years pretty much my wife is about the only one that knows this side of me but I do not see how it hurts anything my wife accepts this part of me I dress around the house wear womens shoes all the time and we still love each other as much as we ever have, we have been married for almost 50 yrs, give him a break its only clothes they do not change a thing about neither one of you.

    1. Thanks for chiming in and sharing your story, John. :) You’re absolutely right – it hurts NO ONE and is 100% completely harmless. Of course, there are those who do not understand it, which sadly, represents most of society. Some women (wives, SO’s, etc.) have a need for their man to be 100% masculine. There can be conflict of preference in a marriage when it comes to this, but even so, there are ways to manage a happy marriage even if the wife doesn’t want to know about it or prefers it kept out of her sight. I am glad your wife has been accepting of your feminine side, John.

  10. To the last poster.

    What an ignorant statement.

    About the same as some people say about gays wanting to marry.

    “If you want to get married, then marry a woman”.

    God why is this earth so populated by such ignorant and close minded individuals that make other individuals that are hurting no one feel like they are destroying the world?

    1. I feel your anger, Pythos – trust me, I understand. Try not to get too worked up about it, though. At least “dipsey” commented without bashing, using profanities, calling anyone disparaging names, or wishing terrible things on anyone. Most of the negative comments people leave include wishing all kinds of terrible things (usually on me personally), frequent use of the word “faggot”, and obvious attempts to get me (or site visitors) to engage in a flame war. I don’t approve comments like that (as spelled out in the comment moderation criteria), but it comes with the territory. On a side note, I really don’t mind the hate-filled comments (that don’t get approved). It tells me I’m doing something right. If you don’t piss off the haters, then you’re not getting your message out. ;)

  11. Whoa,

    It is YOUR house. If she doesn’t like your choice of attire, tell HER that it will be she that leaves, not YOU. Tell her ba-bye and to not let the door hit her in the ass on the way out.

  12. It wasn’t me who said they are only clothes !

    Until you are open and honest about who you are then ingorance will remain, go out in what ever you want when you want I really don’t mind if you knock on my door in a ball gown selling insurance but don’t lie to me/us then expect understanding. The CD er being open and honest is the first step against ignorance.

    I have to add the CD Myths on this site are probably the most helpful info I have found on this subject, it’s all very new to me.

  13. Dipsey,

    I am open and honest with my friends, and my to an extent my family.

    But in case you haven’t noticed, the reprocussions for being open and honest in our society for the most part is not, understanding, or cudos, but instead it is met with ridicule, laughter, and at times a trip to the house of pain.

    If I was open and honest about my more wild styles in my chosen career path I would lose all reputation. I would be made a pariah. People would immediately think I am unfit for flight (I am in the aviation field)

    I wish I could be open and honest with everyone I know, but as you seem to know, ignorance is quite alive and well.

    What really surprises me is there are areas on the web that propport to be there to support cds, and yet the female variety of said stifle any meaning conversation when it comes to clothing inequities.

    There are people that make completely unfair and incorrect judgments on people’s appearance or what they wear.

    What you need to do Dipsey is get out and tell those people that appearance does not matter. State what you did here, to those people. If you hear of anyone, male or female, cd, or transgendered being put down because of the garment they choose to wear, then speak up, instead of being part of the silent majority that just lets injustice happen.

    That is also another way of doing away with bigotry when it comes to this subject.

    I am quite honest with myself. I am a straight male that likes to present an image that is a blend of both genders. I am odd, but not as rare as I once thought.

  14. Thank you all again for bringing this more into perspective for me. The thoughts shared above helped me through a very hard time. I would like to respond to a few posts individually.

    First, @dipsey; it is not about clothes, it is about how I feel. I am a straight man who feels more comfortable and more “in touch with myself” when I wear women’s clothes. The mores of the society in which I live, however, prohibit me from being generally accepted when I am dressed in clothes specifically intended for women. You are dead on right about being honest; secrecy and lies (which often are the same thing) only hurt you and the people close to you.

    @Clairese Lippincott; I appreciate the support- please understand, tho, it was not “my house”. It was our house, and it was a house in which I hid a major part of my self, my personality, from my wife, the person supposed to be the closest to me. That is much more the issue than the crossdressing was. Gabi points out in several places on this site, “Secrets do not make healthy relationships.”

    @pythos; I agree with you about the injustice about transgender issues. I find myself looking much more closely at my attitude of ignorance, and finding myself lacking. I do not believe I have the courage to go out seeking or trying to change such injustice, but I hope that now I will at least be strong enough to stand against it when I see it.

    Thank you, all of you, and especially Gabi!


  15. I can relate to a lot of that. I told my ex about what my crossdressing but we only had a limited conversation and never followed it up. I told her I’d stopped but the idea of me wearing female clothes repulsed her and the sex life died.
    We have a young boy – she is concerned about any impact on him. Ridicule and bullying at school, not having a proper role model. I can really understand that but this is what I’ve always been since 12. I didn’t want it but I have it.

    1. I’m sorry things didn’t work out with you and your ex, Robyn. As I’ve said so many times, relationships end every day for a plethora of reasons. There is an endless list of deal breakers and a woman who is repulsed at the thought of their man in a feminine light is but one of infinite possible factors. In the end, it is always the **same** reason relationships fall apart: lack of compatibility. Many people hide at least something about themselves (often many things) well into a maturing relationship. The reason is typically out of fear of appearing undesirable to the other party in the relationship. If a relationship’s success truly hinges on keeping certain realities/secrets from the other, then that relationship is usually little more than a ticking time bomb of failure from the start. This isn’t unique to trans folk, but rather a universal rule. MOST relationships end for reasons that have nothing to do with being trans, and many of those reasons are cemented in this same model of secrecy and incompatibility.

      Your ex’s concerns about the potential negative impact on your young boy is unfounded, IF solely based in your being trans. Unless you’ve got some major issues going on, being trans alone, has nothing to do with one’s ability to be a good, strong leader, parent and role model. Please don’t just take my word for it though, consult a trained, licensed mental health professional. They’ll tell you the same.

      I get what the real concern is – the social stigma and (incorrect) belief that being trans is some kind of defect or illness. The social stigma is, understandably, a rather difficult pill to swallow for many. The reality is that the *stigma* is really the only true negative in being trans… and that is but a product of *society*.

      I’m rather tired of the idiotic stigma and the mind-screw it causes so many trans folk… and once did me, too. Stigma or not, I’m very happy to be me. I love being trans and wouldn’t give it up for anything. As a child, I was picked on for being too “smart” (in school). I was so naive then and hated being “smart” as a result. Yes, it carried a stigma – being perceived as “too smart”. Did that stigma ever change the reality of my state of being, hence making me “defective” or “ill” for being smart?

      Please don’t take this the wrong way, Robyn, but try to lighten up (on yourself) about this thing you “didn’t want but have”. :) There’s nothing wrong with you or the “it” you have. It may not be a *popular* personal attribute to have, but that doesn’t change the reality. It’s NOT a bad thing… just sadly misunderstood by far too many people. I don’t think that’s news to you, but it’s understandable to sometimes feel down about how others treat the topic.

  16. One of my clients was given the same ultimatum by his wife. I told him there were several ways to proceed. One– call her bluff, start looking for another job in another job, making sure the correspondence from other cities is seen by her. Start taking days off to ostensiblt interview in other cities. . Two if you do or don’t get another job start boxing your possessions.Sooner or later she will realize you are serious about your beliefs and change her mind. Fourth remind her that what you are inside is whom she married. There was one client whose wife divorced him because of his CDing. Later his wife found that she missed the woman her husband had become and she died of a broken heart because she knew she missed them both and had never set things right.

    1. Thanks for sharing those accounts, Patricia. :) “The ultimatum” is a rather stressful and most difficult one to face, and I use quotes to denote this particular kind of ultimatum that many crossdressers face. I’m glad you offered a show of support and I’m sure that really meant a lot to your client. How did things turn out, if you don’t mind sharing, or is this particular case still playing out?

      The latter example is interesting, and one that I’ve not often seen publicly expressed, and never to the point where the wife passed away broken hearted. You know the old saying: you don’t know what you’ve got, until it’s gone. My phrasing of it is from the 80’s power balad hit from the group “Cinderella”, but however you like to put it, in most cases, it’s very true. Always best to think twice before laying down “the ultimatum” and potentially ended up lonely, broken hearted, and longing for the past.

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