Your Trans Marriage
When I began transitioning I would often find myself telling my wife that she didn’t need to feel sad, because I was still the same person. Three and a half years later, and now two days following our divorce, I can plainly see that was untrue. But the person I was lying to the most was myself.
I suppose I would have said anything to keep the life I had intact, and that was destined to include a full dose of self-delusion. I disassociated myself from the man I once pretended to be, and with each passing day I made more effort to annex him from my world. Unfortunately, the byproduct of this meant that I was murdering the man my wife loved. I think she realized that he was completely gone,the day she laid eyes on my naked body following my gender reassignment. In that moment, there was nothing left; all evidence of the man she married was erased and replaced with someone who simply was a vessel of that couple’s shared memories. Even then, I still tried to pretend he was still there for her, but the reality is that he was buried.
I was a phoenix her husband laid to ash during his adolescence. Kira eventually rose as if beckoned by Lazarus himself, but the denial of the life she’d appropriated continued. As I tread into learning what my sexual identity consisted of, we made concessions to allow one another to see others for the purpose of fulfilling the needs that we could no longer meet for one another. During the duration of my transition (sans the two first months), I slowly began falling back into the same alcoholic tendencies which lead to my “coming out.” Fears about what was taking place in this country with regard to Trans-rights fed into a self-defeating narrative that my life had become an overnight battle for a basic existence. Those fears, parlayed with fears of losing my spouse to a “real-man” became the backfill to a retaining wall of resentment that I drank in order to emotionally mitigate. The drinking facilitated verbal castigations for my spouse, the worst of which was probably the often repeated statement “You Don’t Love Me.”
The drunk was playing off of years of marital tumult that began long before her transition. Feelings of emotional abandonment, and withheld physical intimacies only reinforced the narrative. But the truth was very different. She did love me, and that’s the problem. How can anyone find contentment with someone they truly care for but whom would repeatedly go on benders and scream that their love wasn’t real? She even began setting aside funds to leave me if the final breaking point had been reached. In the end, it was me, the drunk abuser who moved out. Unable to navigate the jealousies that came from seeing other people, I opted to remove myself from the household.
While I know there is a great deal of animosity about that exit, I happen to feel it was optimal for both of us in the long run. That first month away, I found myself continuing my old habits, drinking to the point of unconsciousness or borderline suicidal behavior. In these instances, I didn’t have her to levy my suicidality against her perceived lack of love. A point which she correctly identified as Gaslighting; a tactic I unfairly accused her of in the past.
It wasn’t until December 1st 2019 that I stopped drinking. And while I find myself often on the cusp of crossing the line of sobriety again, I also find that the collection of sober months and days add up to a generous counter that I am extremely hesitant to reset.
I have since had conversations with my wife that were absolutely painful to have. Resisting my own urge to try and justify my actions or who I became; I did a lot more listening than her husband or her drunken wife ever would. I realized that the dissolution of a marriage following a transition is not really tied to the spouse being Transgender. Rather the spouse was absolutely never the person they married to begin with.
Over the course of my transition I have become friends with several couples that are married, some have staying power, while others have had their marriages completely disintegrate. I am not writing this as a slight, I’m writing this as reflection of reality. It is, and can be completely selfish to transition and expect that your partner will endure that transition without any hurt. As a Trans individual, it was stupid of me to try and sell my wife on the notion that I am the same person she married, that’s bullshit, and with each passing second of life, I know this.
Furthermore, the institution of marriage was already plagued by staggering divorce rates, so to add transition into that already disquieting statistic, it stands to reason that more often than not, failure is inevitable. Understand that when I speak of failure with regard to marriage, it’s a broad term, and not a condemnation of either spouse.
Monogamy has been billed as a thing we must all pursue and adhere to, but it’s still widely flawed. It’s unfair to hold any one person as responsible for the sole happiness of the other. There is literally no way that one person can be another’s everything without significantly compromising their own needs. In which case, only one spouse is truly happy.
During the period of time that my wife and I were separated, I observed her only through the lens of social media. I saw a woman healing and growing in the wake of what might be best described as hurricane Kira. I was a blight on her life for many years, and only hindsight has shown me this. In a recent conversation with her, she said that she’s come to realize that our marriage lasted 10 years too long; a fact that I am inclined to agree with.
How many marriages that don’t involve a transition have gone on too long, and why? Is it rooted in a feeling of financial stability that comes from marriage? Is it because we don’t want the stigma that comes from being a divorcee? Or maybe it’s the feeling that we’re too old to start over, so we’re resigned to continue living in an unhealthy marriage that moved past its expiration date long ago?
It is OK to drift apart. What’s not OK is to hold on to someone longer than one should. People will come in and out of our lives, the real pain comes from trying to force a relationship where one simply cannot exist anymore. Love can still exist, it’s simply no longer romantic, or intimate, but rather platonic. Love can change, and acknowledging that change can be affirming for all parties.
Many years ago, my wife and I had gone to hear Deepak Chopra speak. During that talk, he mentioned something about cell division that really speaks to the fact that we are always changing. He said that within the span of ten years, the human body will have replaced every cell within itself at least once. To that end, I am absolutely not the same person my wife married, and she is not the same person I married. It is short-sighted and extremely ignorant to believe that one can remain with the same person over any significant length of time, and deny that they evolve as an individual or that they will remain the spitting image of the person they married.
Most marriages do have an expiration date, some will be measured in days, others in decades. What’s really important is to understand is that assigning fault for what boils down to an individual’s evolution and understanding of self, is not correct. When a marriage ends, it ought not to become about assigning blame, but merely realizing that two people were compatible for a time, and their time has now passed.
Is it okay to be sad? Absolutely! Perhaps even for a time, anger is a qualified emotion. But in the end, is it not best to fixate on the joy that person gave you, rather than the pain you felt when they were gone? That pain is a barrier to the joy you could be experiencing in the now, and the only person who’s reinforcing that barrier is yourself.
Transition can be a factor when it comes to the dissolution of a marriage, there is no doubt about that. But unless your spouse comes out and directly says that they’re leaving you “because you’re Transgender,” then telling the world that’s why it ended is a lie. One has no right to expect that a spouse will remain in a marriage that will challenge who they are as a person. You cannot expect your spouse to accept living as a homosexual because you’ve decided it’s time to live your truth. If their orientation is heterosexual, than that’s part of their truth. Accept that you are both being true to who you are, and make rational and caring decisions instead of flippant and accusatory actions.
These are only observations I’ve been able to register in hindsight. I leave them here in the hopes that other marriages in transition need not come to the same tensions and hurt feelings that mine has.
Now that my divorce is final, I want to leave a lot of ill will behind me. It’s my hope that my wife and I will continue to be platonic friends. While true our marriage did go on a decade too long, she was still my best friend and confidant for fourteen years; not having her in my life going forward would be heart wrenching. I am sorry I wasn’t more up-front about who I was, but I am more sorry about how my alcoholism and jealousy got in the way of having honest and heartfelt communication about our marriage.
There are always going to be tough conversations when one is in a marriage, but if you never have them, you’re going to end up dragging out a relationship that has already exceeded its shelf-life. Be honest about what you both want, and when you want it. Anything different will only prolong unnecessary suffering. If there is love, then it should be a mutual desire that both parties find their happiness; and sometimes that happiness won’t be with each other.
Please believe me when I tell you, “that’s okay.”
Kira Wertz (she/her) is a Transgender woman who openly identifies as pansexual and polyamorous. She is a top writer in LGBTQ for Medium, Editor of The Transition Transmission, and Professional Truck Driver. Kira is a strong advocate for Transgender rights, especially the rights of Transgender youth. She is a public speaker, a panelist, and can often be found helping her local Transgender community. You can connect with Kira on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.