Feeling… Hopeful?

Posted by – March 21, 2006

There have been two recent break-ups (three, if you count Chrissy’s recent news) on the MHB message boards, which I’m sure have left a lot of people who read/post on them a little less than optimistic. Unfortunately, two other couples we know are probably on the verge of splitting. Unfortunately, breakups are very regular news for us.

It’s one of the downfalls of the trans community, and one of the reasons I find it hard to extend myself to partners, especially. The trans person remains trans – and after a break, often returns to the community. (Lots of trans people only find the community after the breakup of a relationship, as well.) But the partner is free, of course, to go on their way – and leave all this stuff behind, which is what they usually do. I’ve invested in so many partners who became friends, who after a while of trying to keep in touch, faded out of my life after fading out of their tranny’s.

But the good thing is that very often both parties find some kind of happiness with other people, after a time. Some days it can seem that the statistics are very, very bad specifically for us, but it is still true that half of all marriages dissolve, not just trans ones.

A longitudinal study of marriage find that the happiness people experience with marriage dips after the “I do” and for four years after that, then plateaus until years 8-10 (the so-called “seven year itch”). Not good news, but still it’s better knowing than having something like that bite you in the ass, right? And the message couldn’t be better timed, for me, since Betty and I will be celebrating our 8th anniversary this April (and our 5th wedding anniversary this July).

I especially liked this bit:

”Research shows it’s not how much you love each other that predicts the success of a marriage, but how you handle the problems that come along in life,” he said. ”Happily married couples view problems as ‘us against the problem.’ They identify themselves as a team.”

Which for me is very fitting for those of us dealing with transness, and which, to beat a dead horse, is another good reason for the trans person not to refer to it as a “gift” – especially if that’s not the way the partner feels about it. A difference of opinion, in this case, might rob a couple of one type of comraderie that they might really, really need.

But in the meantime, I’d love to have a bunch of you post here with how long you & your partner have been together, to give some of the folks out there a glimmer of much-needed hope.

For us, eight years and counting. You?

16 Comments on Feeling… Hopeful?

  1. Rikki says:

    For Nancy and me, 27 years and counting. Twenty eight if you count the time before we were married. Trans issues we’ve dealt with have included coming out (to myself as well as her) and going full time.

    And yes, you’re right–one of our secrets has been that “us vs. the problems” mentality. We discovered first-hand that problems (any problems, by the way) will divide us if we let them. So we don’t.

    When it comes to trans issues, that means that all of the big decisions have been our decisions together, not my decisions or hers. And we’ve faced a lot of them, from coming out (I was coming out to myself, as much as her), to going full time (we decided Yes), to hormones (we decided No). There’s always been room in our decisions for feelings from both of us, reasons, second thoughts, consequences, and so on.

    And we remain as much in love now as the day I proposed–if not more so.

    Rikki

  2. jadecath says:

    We married in May 1993. Since then, we’ve never slept apart. (Bosses scowl when you tell them you don’t want to travel without your spouse, did you know that?)

    Twice, we have gotten to know trans+spouse couples that later broke up. I -do not handle- this well. I honestly don’t know how to push on with the relationship – I feel like I’m chitchatting with somebody while they’re sawing themself in half. Maybe if I had gotten to know them separately, but when people get embedded in my head as “together”, I can’t get over it when they’re not.

    We’ve also known “standard” couples that broke up, and one gay couple and one lesbian couple that later broke up, and I don’t handle those well either.

  3. Diane Frank says:

    30 years and two grown children if you count the time before, 29 officially…but that’s on the boards already. I really agree with the “team” idea. We are. And, oh yes, the “trans” in whatever form we understood it has been there from the beginning. Discoveries yes, withheld information no. What also helps is that neither of us is plain vanilla no matter what parts you look at.

    And, and while after our first date, we weren’t apart one day for six months, we’ve frequently had business/family reasons for being away from each other for as long as 3 months at a time. We just ended 6 weeks of travel at opposite ends of the globe, and it looks like that will pick up again in a week or so. Thank heavens for email, high speed internet access (to share photos of what’s going on, or music that is inspiring us).

    Diane

  4. Donna says:

    Sorry to be a wet blanket, and you can delete this if you want, but Joanne and I always, always thought of ourselves as a “team” too. A team I would have bet my life would never break up. And I don’t think I’ll ever really understand what happened. I certainly don’t now.

    There’s no way to predict anything, I think.

    Donna

  5. deborah says:

    Together 25 years but essentially just over 2 years since I came out to my wife.We are on different pages right now. At best, my wife expects that we will be best friends and live together. I still desire to have a full intimate relationship.

    Sara Becker (who doesn’t post here), who will be at IFGE BTW, has been married over 25 years. She transitioned in 1999 and is happily married.

  6. My wife and I have been together 8 years, our five-year anniversary coming up this April. We have two kids, a boy of 8 and a girl, 2. We met in 2nd grade at the elementary school across the street where our son now attends.

    Life has been tough and there have come plenty of times where we both questioned our ability to stay together. Strangely enough the hardest part of it seems to be dealing with outside influences, such as her mom, rather than issues between us. We know we love each other and it keeps us together.

    We may not last…only time will tell…but nothing can change my love for her.

    Currently the issue isn’t very important as she was recently diagnosed with cancer and has had to make it clear to those few naysayers that any issues with my transition that arise or are bothering them are secondary right now…her health is more important. I agree. She needs people in her corner right now…and I’m glad that includes me.

    But I do wonder if this time next year won’t find us apart. Events in a turbulent life are too unpredictable. Whatever happens, I’m blessed that she is a part of my life. For better…or for worse.

  7. Donna says:

    PS: Whatever happens, I don’t think Joanne is ever going to fade from my life, or, I hope, from yours and Betty’s. Our relationship may have changed (temporarily, I still hope), but it’s existed in one form or another for more than 18 years; it hasn’t ended; and it never will, if I can help it.

    Donna

  8. Zoe Vars says:

    Katerina and I have been [living] together for 13 years now and married for 6 years this September. I’ve been out to her for over 11 years.
    I can’t agree more with what Helen said about the team approach. We fight, we bicker; ask anyone who knows us. But you will never find a more happily married couple because not only are we still madly in love, we talk and work things out together.
    Expanding on Helen’s points, it’s not just important to be in love, it’s important to share your goals and make sure you are both pulling in the same direction. We share so many of the same dreams and goals and I think that is essential for long term happiness. I see so many young couples today get married for love and then a year later when thye first talk about retirement, political values, dreams and ambitions they discover they have nothing in common. You don’t have to agree on everything, but it helps to have some common ground.
    Don’t mean to sound like Dr. Phillys…

  9. Beauty says:

    Hi,

    We just made the 5 year mark at the end of the year. We’ve known each other for about 6 years. 4 years ago she found out about my being TG’d and only in the past 2 1/2 years have I taken steps to transition.

    I’d never thought about the us versus them stuff. I really like the sounds of that. I do know though I am changing (physically) and I am trying to listen to her more. I’ve started to accept that though I “thought” I was a good listener, I need to do even better as we go through this. I pray it’s together, but I don’t know.

    Gracie

  10. grvsmth says:

    We started dating in 1996, moved in together in 1997 and got married in 2001. Still together.

  11. Barbara says:

    Including courtship, 4 years. That’s all God would allow. But she’s been my guardian angel for the last 17½.

  12. MonkeyGirl says:

    Jessica and I have been together for almost 7 years now and married for 1.5 years. She makes me smile and belly-laugh everyday!

    MG

  13. caprice says:

    It’s been 19 years and 24 days since we started dating. It will be 18 years of marriage this summer. More important, it’s been 9 and a half years since I told my wife that I wanted to dress in private, when she wasn’t around. Two years later I told her I wanted to go out as a woman.

  14. Phoebe says:

    My wife and I will have been together for 18 years this summer, and married for 15. Of course, the tg issues have only come up in the last year.

    Dr Gottman (a psychologist who specializes in couples therapy) has said that in couples that make it, each partner makes at least six positive, affirming comments to the other for every negative one. (Including nonverbal ‘comments’.) Whether or not you believe that particular ratio, you have to put a lot more time and energy into building things up than you do in tearing them down to have a chance.

  15. alison says:

    We have been married for nearly 8 years. A year ago I wasn’t sure we’d make it to this point, but I have new hope every day. Before we married, I swore off crossdressing forever, or so we both believed. A few years ago, I began down the path of self-acceptance as a crossdresser. Through much introspection, prayer, and time spent dressed as a woman interacting with people, some of whom became good friends, I came to the realization that I really would like to be a woman. I would transition if possible. However, we have two young children and a wonderful family that I can’t (and don’t want to abandon).

    The past year has been an incredible struggle. My wife was rightly frustrated and quite angry. We have a number of gay friends, which has given her a point of reference in trying to understand in me, and a sort of boundary that we can use during arguments (which are finally growing less frequent, and not because we are suppressing anything). Things she wouldn’t say to any of them about being gay are not fair game to say to me. (She admits that if we weren’t married, she certainly would have no problem with it and we’d probably be good friends.)

    We have decided to stay together primarily for the kids, but also because we truly love each other. By marrying and having kids, I have made commitments that I cannot back out on, regardless of my desire to be a woman. My wife could not understand why I did not just leave, until we discussed what she would want to do if she became pregnant unexpectedly. We are both opposed to abortion, so regardless of whether a baby fit into our plan, we would still have the baby. It would be difficult, but ultimately not without many joys. For me, remaining a man in order to be a good husband and father is a similar struggle with similar joys.

    We have made some real progress. I had typically done much of the housework and care of the kids before coming out to her. Since coming out, I have made it a point to always do the lion’s share of the housework to relieve some stress from her. I am up late every night cleaning the house, doing laundry, preparing lunches. I make it point to get the children ready in the morning and keep them occupied when I sense that she needs some down time. After a recent serious accident of her mother, I did everything in my power to help around their house for a couple of weeks, putting in a series long days cooking, cleaning, and entertaining well wishers for my infirmed mother-in-law. Through it all, I have also tried to change my attitude and approach to life, argue less, and be more loving. In short, I have tried make myself indesipensible, and given her many reasons to remain married.

    For her part, my wife really has tried to come to peace with it. I can’t imagine how devastating it must be to find out the man you married wishes he were a woman! While she still detests crossdressing, she has come to the point where she will let me crossdress a couple of times a month. I use the time to run errands, chat with friends, get a little exercise, or just relax at a coffee shop with a good book. We are now to the point where we can have calm, honest discussions on where we are both at on the topic. Neither of us are completely happy and probably never will be, but we certainly have turned the corner. In the end, we may end up with a stronger love thanks to the struggles we continue to overcome. Say a prayer for us, we stil need plenty of them, but I think we’re going to make it!

  16. djessica says:

    For us it’s 20 years (hard to believe!) and almost 17 years of marriage. Facing my transexuality has actually brought us together at the same time the “slippery slope” looks like it will eventually push us apart. We’re living for the moment (at least as much as my spouse who likes to plan everything at least six months in advance can) and getting along pretty well on a day to day basis. She still hasn’t forgiven me for hiding my crossdressing from her for half of our relationship, but since I realized I was transexual almost three years ago, I’ve shared just about everything about my gender identity and how I express it (except for her actually seeing me…), and the mistrust has been at least somewhat buried. I’m trying to hold off transition at least until our daughter starts college in 2-1/2 years, and we’re discovering things we both like to do which we’d forgotten.

Leave a Reply