Early in my transition I would see my wife fall into cycles of grief. She would mourn the death of her husband, but also the death of her perceived future. I remember telling her that I was the same person, and that nothing was going to change. This is the lie that even we (transitioners) believe.
I didn’t know what it would even mean to transition. That even though I was with this accepting and still loving person, I never took stock of all the changes I’d go through. While my changes were obvious to those around me, what I had been oblivious to were the changes that others were going through; at the forefront of that was my wife.
This year we will have been together 14 years in October; because of that, we both get approached (usually online) from people seeking advice regarding their own spouses’ transition. This can be frustrating and troublesome. When we do get contacted, it’s always one half of a bigger story. We can offer advice, but since we rarely connect with mutual spouses, we really can’t get the bigger picture.
The most frustrating part is that we both believe that marriage counseling is a critical aspect of having a marriage in transition. The frustration is that these individuals often resist seeking this counsel, and expect us (as strangers) to be the ones to help them traverse their own emotional journeys.
Neither of us wants to be a catalyst for causing someone else’s marriage to lose it’s cohesion. Neither of us are mental health professionals, and during the most tumultuous parts of our marriage, we both put up roadblocks to individual and couples counseling. This, as far as I am concerned, is a detriment to navigating a couples’ transition.
Those who think we’re “doing it right” really need to understand that we have our open dialog in the presence of counsel. They’re there to help us release the hopes, and fears that we’ve sheltered each other from because we thought that sharing that would do more harm than good. But I feel I’ve come to learn more about my wife, and her feelings in that small office than I have sharing a home with her all these years.
I’m reminded about how the character of Rose from Titanic talked about how a woman’s heart is as vast as the ocean (totally paraphrasing here). It’s like we’ve swam in each other’s oceans but never really saw what wreckage was lying on the bottom. This of course goes both ways, my heart is just as deep, and just as murky. We go to counseling in the hopes of brushing the silt off the treasures of our ocean floor, and reap the benefits for having done so.
This is why I think counseling is so critical. When two spouses are at loggerheads, all they do is blame shift, and never really get to the core of what’s happening to the marital dynamic.
It’s very distressing to see and hear about other couples who can’t make a go of things following a transition. More distressing when their arms are thrown up in surrender without even really bothering to fight. I can say that since I began transitioning, I have repeatedly felt like “this is the end.” This is common, and one should not really jump into giving up. If there is love, then both individuals should want to make the most of their marriage, otherwise, why did you ever get married to begin with?
I did a lot of rationalizing in the beginning of my transition. Things, I needed to do to try and navigate my wife’s grief. “If i’d been disfigured in an accident would you still be with me?” “I’m the same person, my essence is still here.” Back then, that felt accurate, but it wasn’t. My wife gave up a lot. Her grief was justified, and still is.
Having gone the route of gender confirmation, we have reached a new level of impasse in our relationship. She’s not a lesbian, and I feel my sexuality more accurately correlates to the person I would have been had I simply been born female. This change was not her choice. In some respects it wasn’t mine either. I’d grown to live the life I felt was societally dictated to me based upon how my body matured; I had male hobbies, I did predominantly male jobs, and I identified as a heterosexual. These were part of a lie I’d felt forced to live. Unfortunately that lie was woven into the fabric of my marriage.
Now, turning to face the depth and destruction of that lie leaves me in an awkward place where I think many couples find themselves faltering. It’s this part where the love you have for one another is based upon the facade that one of the spouses had been presenting to everyone — everyday of their life — right up to the day they admit their truth. It can be devastating, and I completely understand why some marriages fall apart.
More recently we’ve gotten very frank with one another about the intimate nature of our marriage. This is one of those areas that probably causes the most significant rift in any marriage in transition. I am overcome with guilt for changing the sexual dynamic. When I think of all this woman has sacrificed to remain by my side, it becomes quite overwhelming. The hurt she must still feel; the death of her husband, the inability to reconcile an intimate life with me — a woman she never really knew.
But there is love; as deep as any ocean… There is love.
We acknowledge that the changes we are making in our marriage have the potential to lead us away from one another. Ultimately I wouldn’t blame her, and I don’t think she’d blame me. We both have desires that we cannot properly address anymore. Our aim is to continue our marriage, and that should be the aim of any couples in transition. It’s important to understand and respect the needs of one another. And if you do find yourselves drifting apart, understand that this circumstance was not one created with intent; no one transitions to hurt someone else.
If your love is strong, take your spouse's hand, and make it a point to seek the collective individual and joint counsel that you both need. It’s possibly the most critical aspect of maintaining civility during an emotionally trying time. Understand that it won’t always be okay; but that it’s important to finally stop hiding behind the last remnant of a mask you’re trying to disassociate from.
It’s been 35 months since I came out to my wife. I swore that almost nothing would change; now I know better. Everything will change, and it’s important to be cognisant that the person in transition has no objective viewpoint. They likely need to transition, but they must also understand that in doing so, others are being made to transition. This can be a time of great hurt, and great honesty. It can be compelling to accuse a spouse of being unsupportive, but if they’re still there, that’s just false; they’re trying to navigate their ocean, and they need you to be a lighthouse, not the storm.
If you enjoyed this piece, please *clap* or *applaud* (you can do it 50 times you know). 👏👏👏
Also feel free to take advantage of the Facebook and Twitter *share* buttons, and help me spread the love. 💗
As always, your respectful comments are appreciated. 🤗
You can connect with me here:
👉 ∙∙∙►Follow Kira Wertz at The Transition Transmission Facebook Page
👉 ∙∙∙►Follow Kira Wertz on Instagram
👉 ∙∙∙►Follow Kira Wertz on Twitter
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR READING!