I'm not sure as I post this whether there is or is not a general lesson to be learned. My wife has been all over the emotional roller coaster seemingly with the all day ride pass. She has always understood things intellectually but how she feels usually dominates how she acts.
Before we were married I had mentioned that I had a desire to wear women's clothing; to this point I had not really been crossdressing all the guilt and self condemnation kept me in check from caving into my "weakness". She was a little stunned and made me promise that she would never come home and find me in her clothes (she was an 18 and I'm a 12; easy promise to keep). Never talked about it for the first 5 years of marriage.
At this point she found that I was reading TG fiction stories on line and was rather upset. How does one explain uncontrolable thoughts and dreams where you are a woman when you REALLY hate the fact that you feel this way. After days of bare bulb interrogations the only answer I found that made any sense was asking her why she liked garlic in her cooking. Yes the food tastes better but why does it taste better? So many things that people have no idea why they feel the way they feel about them.
Amanda is a creature of the internet. She went into exhaustive research mode and in a short time knew way more than I did about crossdressing/transvestite/transgender. She found someone in a yahoo chat room who directed her to "the Crossdressers Secret Garden" yahoo group that she joined asked questions and frequented their chat room.
She had at this point accepted intellectually that what I was experiencing was not wrong, or evil. It explained a lot about my personality and that trying to keep a lid on it all made me a seeming emotionless person. She understood that this was not good for my overall mental health to keep a tight lid on it all.
She also developed a great deal of empathy for what I was going through and for other transgender people she had met on line. This led her to the conclusion that I should crossdress. She ordered a wig and when it arrived she encouraged me to dress up the whole nine yards for the first time in my life.
Although quite excited I was still wanting to just put the lid on and pretend that this was not how I was. She got me to dress enfemme and I loved! It also had the first set back for her.
Amanda has had her share of self image issues and given to clinical depression. She was annoyed that I looked nice; "It was unfair that my legs looked better than hers." Her making comparisons between how I look and how she looks has been ongoing since then. More than a few times she has asked me to wear something else because she did not want me to be dressed nicer than her.
Having started dressing in September, Amanda felt pushed to take me out in public by friends online. December tenth we went shopping at the very large King of Prussia Mall which is an hour from where we live. Shortly after we arrived we ran into some people we knew and managed to avoid them seeing me. I thought I looked nice and a few guys were noticeably checking me out. Things went incident free even though someone had "clocked" me. I had a wonderful time, she was ready to have a heart attack worrying that something would go wrong.
Entering the out and about phase she worried more and more about things going wrong. She also hated seeing guys checking me out. As a guy nobody checks me out. She felt that men being attracted to me could cause trouble as well as the fact that she does not think that men notice her.
Moving into the new year the closet creaked open a bit as my dressing up became more frequent. Told some friends, told the kids, told some of her family; sofar so good. Went to the fall "EnFemme Getaway" in Eureka Springs AK and the whole family had a good time. After that more people knew, we had to tell anyone that the kids might tell; four and five year olds have no discretion.
At this point some negative feedback started. Some from people we told and some from people who saw us in public and figured out that the woman was her husband. We were asked to leave the conservative bible fellowship we had been attending; the following year had problems with the Lutheran church she grew up in that we started attending. Things people said was wearing her down. Things that increased her depression also increased her negativity about my transgender status.
By now my attitude was that we have taken what ever flak we will take so I might as well dress as I choose. When we first went into this she thought that dressing would be a part time thing, I certainly had no idea how I would feel. The more I dressed the more I found myself the more I enjoyed interacting with people. The more worried Amanda got about "where would this all lead."
She encouraged me to go out and find a new church, my faith is very important. Not wanting to repeat past failure, I felt that I should be up front and not let people find out I'm a crossdresser and cause trouble. I went to church in my favorite yellow dress and introduced myself "Hi my name is Eric, my friends call me Samantha!". This began my 16/7 life.
The next year was hell, my daughter had medical problems that resulted in a diagnosis of Neuroblastoma cancer. With the medical issues and my wife's winter depression I had slacked off a bit with dressing but after the diagnosis to deal with life I had to be me. For the rest of the year we were playing tag taking turns with Moriah in the hospital and spent very little time just us together.
Coming out of the year being focused on Moriah we had to reacquaint ourselves with each other. She increasingly focused on "What does being with a transgender person say about me." She leaned towards that it said nothing good. She was tired of answering questions about her husband. She had enough stress with a sick child she did not need the stress of a gender variant husband. We spent a lot of time leading separate public lives, she did not want to be seen with me. She felt embarrassed or ashamed because I was different.
Her being rather insufferable about it led to me to stop dressing this past January. I lived as a hermit in male mode (my job requires very little interaction with people). I was not so happy but life was livable. My wife and I were getting along.
Amanda has a friend who was performing at Wicked Faire in New Jersey. She was attending and since we were getting along she invited me to go with her. Although her friend performs with a burlesque troop we had no idea what kind of event it was.
We arrived dressed rather preppy like to what is a very "Adult" alternative kind of event. Amanda was stressed being outside of her element and I was feeling very dysphoric being a guy. She met her friends and decided to have fun. She had a great time for the weekend. Outside of the gender dysphoria it was a good event. After the event Amanda was telling everyone what a great event it was, how much fun she had and that everyone who can should go next year.
We had to talk! I simply had to ask how she could be advertising this alternative/Adult event and be so embarrassed about her husband. Being with me certainly does not say worse things about her than enjoying Wicked Faire does. That she was willing to set aside her initial discomfort for her friends sake but could not set aside any of her discomfort for her husband.
It clicked in her head. She appologised for how she had been acting and promised to do better. I went back to being me. The photo in my profile is from her friends next event, "Steampunk World's Fair." ; Her friend is the living statue in the photo.
Things are going well. We are moving a few miles away next month. She told me that we will just introduce me to the new neighbors as Sam/Samantha not Eric. That is a big leap for her. In hope that there is something in this for others to learn.
Peace and Love,