This is a post of questions asked by ex-crossdressers in the Online Prayer Group. They gave these questions to the wives of crossdressers who are in the Private Wives Group , a support and prayer group. The questions are answered by six different wives who have a variety of experiences, but most are living with husbands who have refused to stop crossdressing. To keep anonymity, each person answering used only their initials.
The idea for this post was to help ex-crossdressers or those wondering whether to give up crossdressing, to understand crossdressing from a woman’s point of view. While the questions are not answered by their own wives, the answers could potentially give a clue as to what their own wives think and feel about their crossdressing. Hopefully all of the crossdressers reading this post will come away with more empathy, understanding, and patience with their wives. And they will have more knowledge about how to love and care for their wives. I also personally hope that crossdressers will come away from this post with a firm resolve to quit crossdressing and stop inflicting such pain on their wives.
1. How did you find out about your husband’s crossdressing and how would you have preferred to find out? What concerns did you have after you found out?
N: As a good christian couple we decided to remain celibate before we got married (even though we both were not virgins). We were at his sister-in-law’s condo at the beach while we were dating and I decided to be “cutesy” and sneak into the room where he was sleeping and snuggle up to him. He woke up startled with overreaction and I kept apologizing. He came into my room and got into the covers, rubbing up against me with pantyhose on. It made me sick. That night he told me his attraction to women’s clothing started when he was little. I figured it was a harmless fetish.
D: He was locked out of his account and I had to get his account unlocked. I learned he was putting ads out asking for women’s clothes, and having email interactions with other crossdressers, and looking at porn.
J: He was acting distant and aloof and I took a look at his internet browsing history. I learned that he was using an app called Reddit to pursue his hidden attractions. I wish he had just come to me at the very beginning of our relationship and trusted that my love for him would bring us to work through the valleys and shadows together, rather than grow apart. After I found out, I figured that if he was able to hide something so seemingly ingrained in his every day, he must be hiding much more.
K: He initially, before we were married, told me he liked to wear women’s clothing but said he was interested in doing absolutely nothing beyond that. I almost felt honored that he trusted me so much. Then, years later, I found out he’d been going out fully dressed in wig, breast forms and full makeup…and had made friends with group of strangers, mainly one specific woman. This had been going on for 2 or 3 months behind my back. I was devastated, felt cheated on, and separated from him for a few days, considering divorce. I wondered, and still do, if he wanted a sexual relationship with either a man (him as a woman) or with a woman (him as another woman).
W: He told me after the end of our first year of dating. I knew about it but I thought it was harmless curiosity and just a kinky thing that turned him on. It was never really an issue until 17 years later.
O: He told me before we got engaged. He said he sometimes liked to wear women’s clothes. He indicated it was a once and a while thing. My immediate concern was he might be gay, which he said he was not in any way. I figured it was just an odd fetish and was occasional so no big deal.
2. How do you support or help your husband manage/overcome his crossdressing addiction?
N: I don’t.. I don’t think he goes out.. It’s more closet. I work on myself because not having any sex through the years made me stray online. It all came out with couples counseling 5 years ago once he knew about this. He actually understood it.
D: I do not support him to “manage” his crossdressing. He is not allowed to crossdress, and if I found that he was, I would end this marriage. He has looked at porn associated with crossdressing, and he’s been in a process of being delivered from all things associated with crossdressing. I am loving him through the process.
J: I encourage him to be completely transparent and unafraid in his counseling sessions. I willingly attend meetings when he invites me. I remind him that he is the head of our household and that I rely on his transparency to willingly follow him anywhere.
K: My husband doesn’t want or intend to give up his crossdressing. I can’t help him overcome it if he isn’t going to try. All I can do is pray for him.
W: 18 months ago when I found out that he was experiencing gender dysphoria, I tried to be supportive and told him that I would support and stand by him as he went through this period in his life. But during those 2 months of soul searching when he was exploring his gender identity, he went too fast and too far and pushed our boundaries past what I was comfortable with. Through God’s grace, he realized that transitioning into a female was not what God had in mind for him and he has since closed that door. I now support him by being firm and clear that I do not condone cross dressing or anything autogynephilic in nature.
O: At first I encouraged him to explore himself. I wanted him to be happy and if this was something he wanted to do to be happy then he should do it, as we all only get one life. I was VERY clear, my life will not include being married to a woman and we could remain friends but I also have one life and that is not the life I want for myself. All I asked was for him to be honest. At this point, I do not support it at all since he lied and was selfish so he could dress and keep me in his life. I currently offer no support for him to have it both ways. I am tired, betrayed and resentful.
3. Do you believe this is an addiction or a choice or both?
N: Addiction.. What else is new..
D: Definitely both. I think there are addictive aspects of this behavior, like the porn, but there are strongholds, and things that cause this behavior to be appealing to men, and they need to be delivered from them.
J: I believe this is an addiction that stems from a trauma or influence that was introduced at an early developmental stage.
W: Both. I think it starts out as a choice then it becomes addictive. You can choose to stop it but whether you can is a different matter. You need to have strong faith in God and excellent selfcontrol. My husband has neither.
O: Addiction. Obsession. Fetish. Selfish.
4. If the nature of intimacy in your marriage has changed, how do you both deal with it?
N: He seems to deal with things really well. In fact when I’ve brought it up multiple times through the years. He gets closed mouthed and we end up arguing so I stopped that. I brought it up recently again.. Nothing changes if nothing changes. At this stage though I’ve recommitted my life to Jesus because I don’t feel romantic toward my husband anymore. It’s been too long, and I don’t want to live in guilt by straying, so I stopped that too. I’m waiting for the day when I am really in menopause and don’t have a sex drive. In every other way we get along.
D: We have had moments of intimacy in our marriage, but not to the level or degree I would prefer. I hope and pray that he will trust me with his heart. It’s been a process building any aspect of intimacy in our relationship. I can tell when he has been looking at things he shouldn’t, I can tell when his attentions have been elsewhere by how he touches me. How he talks to me, how he looks at me, every way he interacts with me is an indication of his behaviors and choices.
J: I struggle with PTSD in the bedroom because of the jarring reveal of the hidden life of my husband that I thought I knew everything about. We try to keep the marriage bed warm, but it takes a LOT of pre and post communication. Lots of pillow talk. Lots of kitchen chats. Long walks and drives. Trying to get back to “us”.
K: It has changed tremendously. It seems to me like he is in love with himself and is only interested in himself. We only pleasure ourselves, sometimes together and sometimes alone. I HATE feeling unattractive and unwanted… enough that I still struggle with considering divorce or separation.
W: This is work in progress. I did not know that my husband was paying for transsexual prostitutes for many, many years. It has taken a great deal of trust and dependence on God for me to give my husband a second chance. Through Christian marriage counseling and the support of our pastor, we are now at a better place and do have sexual relations once in a while.
O: It has changed. No dressing in the bedroom. He has respected this, but, since he now shaves everything to be as smooth and visually femme as possible, he might as well be dressed. I feel like J that I suffer from PTSD in the bedroom. I now have had panic attacks when I anticipate an evening of intimacy is being planned and have to mentally prepare myself for us to be intimate. He is constantly asking that I wear something nice to bed – I’d like to, I hate feeling unattractive, but ‘wearing something nice’ makes me feel like he wants sex with the clothing not me so its a lose-lose.
5. What amount of information is too much for you? How do you find the balance between wanting your husband to be honest with you without taking on too much pain from hearing the details?
N: We don’t talk about it.. That way there is peace.
D: I believe that men need to be accountable, they need to confess to someone. They need to build trust with someone that they can confide in and pray with, and that will not share their business with God and everyone. But I do not necessarily believe they need to disclose every gory detail to their wife, unless they choose to. Wives need to be a safe place for them (NOT to engage in the behavior or to be allowed to dress) but to confess to, ask for forgiveness and be free from condemnation. Our job as a wife is to love our husband, its God’s job to do the rest. As far as wanting to know, I already know a great deal of the details of his involvement with crossdressing.
J: Who knows if this is right or wrong, but I want to know it all. I apply this to everything in my life. If I hear a word I have never heard before, I google it. I always want to learn, so why wouldn’t I want to learn everything about the man I devoted my life to? Now… this is not a painless journey. Sometimes the truth hurts. In this case, the truth devastates me. Moving forward with the true, unabridged version of my husband’s past and present helps me to understand him on the deepest level possible. To help with the pain, we both also attend weekly Christian counseling. If we are having a sour week, we at least have to meet and sit on the same couch and talk once a week mandatorily.
K: I want to know where he goes and what he does in general, but do not want to hear anything about his prep and how he dressed.
W: I would want to know everything, even though it may hurt me. Timing wise, it has to be when I’m ready to hear it. It helps build trust if he is fully honest with me.
O: I do not believe my husband can be honest with anyone. I want my husband to be honest with himself, then and only then can he be honest with me. I want to know if he wants to be a full-time woman at home once his kids leave so I can make my own personal decisions on what is best for me. I want the information. Not knowing and pretending it’s not there doesn’t make it go away.
6. Often crossdressers feel worse about their actions compared to those who are addicted to pornography. Which feels worse or more painful to you?
N: Well, I guess we are both in the same boat since us not having sex led me to pornography. Soft porn. I struggle with that as well because he doesn’t find me attractive obviously if he doesn’t want to have sex with me. Since recommitting to Christ, I get on my knees daily and ask him to remove my sinful nature and guilt. Betrayal is not cool.
D: It seems to me that these addictions overlap, that a man doesn’t just crossdress; there are other thoughts, and behaviors, and addictions like porn associated with dressing that go along with it. I have cried too many tears and felt too much pain and hurt over the betrayal, and disregard to my heart, my love, and my choice to love and care for him. I have spent too many sleepless nights tossing and turning over this issue, and countless hours praying about it. It seems like they do not have the ability to see the hurt and pain they are causing, and it seems like they do not even care. The excruciating anguish and, the pain inflicted by someone choosing to engage in a behavior that causes betrayal to the most intimate parts of a marriage whether it is porn or crossdressing, it affects the whole dynamic of the relationship. It’s not just a lie, it’s an intentional attack on the most sacred part of sharing yourself with someone you trusted with your heart.
J: I’ve learned that the enemy is the addiction to lust. Lust takes on many forms, voyeurism, pedophilia, autogynephilia, transsexualism, etc. Lust can travel in many vessels. In my husband’s case, his lust was transsexual porn and his vessel was Reddit on his phone. The underlying sin is LUST. Hate the sin, don’t hate the sinner. It took me a long time (and a lot of prayer) for me to rationalize the difference. Once I learned to hate lust and understand it, I was able to show more mercy to my husband.
K: Well, I’m wondering if porn is a turn on for many husbands. Maybe then they’d make love with their wives. So I guess crossdressing definitely feels worse. But either way would be awfully hard to live with.
W: Cheating with transsexual prostitutes takes the cake. My husband’s addiction to shemale pornography spiraled into paying for escorts and visiting brothels. Second worse would be seeing evidence of his transitioning and/or cross dressing. What was hurtful was slowly losing my husband to the woman he thought he was. It hurt to see him grow out his hair, and behave in what he thought was womanly behaviour like occasionally flicking his hair or the way he crossed his legs, or seeing that he had shaved all his body hair because he wanted to be smooth all over. Or seeing a new lip balm in the bathroom. Or hearing him practice high notes in the bathroom or choose female avatars/characters in video games. My husband still looks at shemale pornography but he claims he’s slowly working on it. I don’t know if his goal is to ever abstain from it.
O: Addiction is difficult for a spouse. CD and porn put a wife in a similar situation I guess, leaves you feeling not good enough in the eyes of the husband to fulfill their sexual desires as yourself, therefore they need clothing, props or videos to supplement and prefer the clothing, props or videos over the wife – it feels that your only purpose for the wife is to be a warm body while they act out something else. It doesn’t leave you feeling too good or in the mood to encourage it in any way.
7. After hearing about your husband’s struggle, would you prefer to know or not know which of your clothes he has worn in the past? Would learning he wore something make you want to never wear that article of clothing again?
N: He never wore my clothes.. We have different body shapes.. He is all legs and I am shorter and have gained weight. So for years I blamed my weight as the culprit, but my therapists through the years told me that this thing is his problem and in our couples counseling he even told me he isn’t that shallow, so I guess I need to go on that. I’ve come across a ton of his garb and either left it on his bed (pretty passive aggressive, I know) or threw it to take to the salvation army or goodwill.. My stomach turns each time I think of the things I found.
D: If I found any of my clothes involved in his behavior I threw them away. I will not let those things be a reminder of his crossdressing. I definitely do not want to put anything back on and him look at me in it thinking of him putting it on or causing temptation to want to put it on again.
J: As stated above, I want to know it all. Once I learn what he wore, I’ll probably throw it out. (Maybe that’s not right? Is there a right or wrong?)
K: NOT know. Yes, having to think about him dressed in my clothes (or any woman’s/his own female) clothes makes me never want to wear them again.
W: I would definitely discard whatever he has tried on. I do not want him getting triggered or remembering what it was like wearing my clothes/makeup/accessories etc. I would also feel repulsed at the thought of wearing something that my husband has worn.
O: My husband openly dresses. I have had my husband come out dressed in a matching outfit to my own, and I have thrown out my own clothing so we NEVER match again. It makes me sick. If he actually wore my clothing (I am much much smaller than him) I would throw it out, tear it up and burn it. So yes, likely for the best I am not told if it has happened.
8. What can we do to show you that we are moving on from crossdressing? How can we regain your trust again?
N: Regain our trust? It’s not about us. It’s about you. What do you want? Do you want to stop? Show us you are going to counseling. Show us that you are doing the things necessary.. I’m grateful my husband attends church, so maybe something may click. I started going back as well.. There’s always HOPE. Grow some facial hair, get manly.. My husband lost too much weight from running, although he’s in the best shape of his life, I’m happy for him. He never had weight issues, it’s just he wears tighter things since he lost. He no longer wants facial hair.. He doesn’t shave his legs thank GOD..
D: It’s day by day, I have completely resigned myself to trust God in this issue. I hope and pray that my husband gets completely delivered. I do not allow that behavior in my marriage and boundaries have been established. Trust has been virtually completely destroyed. I have spent too many hours of my life worrying, and checking up, following up, and hurting over his behaviors and addictions. I surrendered my husband to God and it’s between him and God. As it stands the future of our marriage is in jeopardy. I have not given an ultimatum, I have however expressed the severity of the situation and if the behaviors and addictions continue, I will be forced to end the relationship.
J: Prove it. Demonstrate God’s love, and shine your faith for all to see. The fruits of the spirit are not invisible and they show themselves willingly in our actions when we are in The Word daily. That’s all. Love God, love me.
K: Actually move on from it! Perhaps my trust could be re-gained if he were to never lie to me, even about little things, again. That would take a lot of time, but maybe if I learned over and over again that he’s trustworthy, I’d finally be able to trust him. Most importantly, if he were to begin to live his life for Jesus I believe I could trust him.
W: Remind us frequently through loving words, intimate touches, prayer, sentimental gifts and acts of service that you are committed to the marriage and still want to be together. We need to feel loved and desired by our husbands because we are insecure and don’t want to have to compete for attention with the woman that our husbands want to become. Show through your actions: repentance and willingness to change, proactivity and transparency (doing things like going through credit card bills without us telling you to), and just be honest (tell us if something triggers you so that together, we can get rid of it or avoid it).
O: I agree with the above. Prove it. Actually do it. My husband lies to everyone around him, his family, his kids, me, he has practiced a lifetime of lying, it’s like second nature. I don’t know that I can ever fully trust him.
9. Have you ever given your husband an ultimatum, like “If you do it one more time, I will leave you…”? And do you think this is a good idea? Do you intend to keep your promise or is it an idle threat?
N: I’ve asked for a divorce twice.. The first time he laughed in my face like I was kidding because in a way, it would be very difficult to leave my current situation. The other time, he was going to get an apartment but he said it was too expensive to live on his own and maintain our home. So, I just am grateful for what I do have. He is a loving father and a hard working professional who maintains the money. I definitely make sure I have an income as well. Some sort of income. A few other times when I hinted about leaving, he cried and sat me down, and said he would never give up on us, so I don’t know… there you have it. Idle threat? Nah.. that’s immature. You either leave or don’t.. No head games.
D: Yes kind of, but I had to rethink it. He is not actively crossdressing in the home (to my knowledge) and if I suspected or found out he was I would end the marriage. I expressed to my husband my concerns, and if he chooses to continue in these behaviors or addictions the marriage will be over. That’s not an ultimatum. That is a consequence to him for choosing the addiction over his marriage. He has had several years to choose to get help, and he has dropped the ball with getting counseling. He does not understand or realize the pain this has inflicted on me or the damage to this marriage. If he has he has not disclosed his understanding of the situation, or acknowledged the damage it has done to this marriage, I do not think ultimatums are a good idea. Everyone has consequences for their choices, positive or negative. Yes I will end this marriage if and when the time comes. The pain of continuing needs to be more intense than the pain to stop a behavior. I have disclosed the consequences of his choices, and I told him my thoughts, feelings etc.
J: I remind my husband that I do not belong to him. I am a child of God and He is the love of my life. The establishment of marriage was created for our enjoyment and the preservation of the Christian faith. I said my vows under false pretenses, so it’s important for my husband to see that our vows seem nullified because of his betrayal. Once that foundational conversation happened, we could both move forward with the same playing field before us.
K: When I first found out about what I considered cheating (see an earlier reply), my ultimatum was, “Either you give up crossdressing or I’m leaving.” I was shocked and hurt that he chose crossdressing. Yeah, I think it’s a good idea to say it if that’s what you plan to do. I had intended to keep my promise, but after a few days of prayer and thinking I decided perhaps we could work out a compromise and avoid divorce. Our agreement was that he could go out crossdressed no more than once a week, not begin any new behaviors without discussing it with me, and I would stay in the marriage.
W: Yes, I have given my husband an ultimatum. I believe I have very good grounds for divorce so it’s definitely not an empty threat. My husband is well aware of it. I think it’s good to have but only if you’re prepared to walk away.
O: Not an ultimatum exactly, I asked/begged out of respect for me, 6 years ago, when the open dressing started to be a regular thing, that if he had any intentions of wanting to live as a woman once his kids moved out, to be HONEST, and tell me. I made it clear, I have no interest in living with a woman or having a wife. He slowed it down a bit, but now it’s at an all time high. It’s time for an ultimatum, her or me, and yes, it breaks my heart but I will follow through for my own well being.