Friday, March 26, 2010

Answering a Few Questions

A few days ago, I received an email from another wife of an AGP. With a few exceptions, her story reads very similarly to mine. She sent me an email, telling her story and asking three specific questions. (This are edited a bit...) Did I ever consider divorce? How could I have sex again with him so soon after my discover? And how did I find a therapist in a rural area?

This is my response to her...

In response to your questions...divorce...yes, it more than crossed my mind. In fact, the first day or two, I would have sworn that was were we were going -- and it was so scary. How was I going to support two kids? Not only had I lost my husband, I had lost my best friend - and I couldn't talk to anybody else about it! I think it was when I offered William the option of "living together with him doing his thing and me doing my own thing" and he said "no" that made me think that we had a chance of making it. That was a couple of days after my discovery. I have told William that lying to me will take us down that path again, although I did amend it to tell him that if he faltered, he'd be checking himself into a sex addiction clinic to deal with his issues if he wanted us to stay together. some strange way, it was my way of controlling the situation. And at the same time, re-affirming myself as a woman. He hadn't wanted me in so long, it was a little powerful to be wanted again. We are still having sex 3-4 times a week - as opposed to our one "quarterly" of before. Some piece of me worries that if he's not wanting to have sex with me, it's because he's finding satisfaction somewhere else. I'm slowly relaxing about it, but I'm also aware that it's when I relax my guard that he's the most likely to stray. As I wrote in my blog...I trust his love for me, but I don't trust his ability to resist his urges.

Therapist...actually our therapist doesn't know a whole lot of detail about William. He was unaware of autogynephilia until we had mentioned it. He knows that William cross-dresses for sex and he knows that there was sexual anorexia. And he knows that we had lots of issues to deal with! We didn't go in asking to "fix" William, though. We started off by saying that we wanted him to help us deal with this inside our marriage - to incorporate it into our lives - so he focused completely on our communication and relationship. His goal was to get us to the point where we could talk about what was happening in our marriage in a productive manner. I found him by googling "gay and lesbian" and "marriage counselor" hoping that he would at least be open-minded. The one we found has interests in both, although his primary focus is marriage counseling.

Outside of counseling, I found my most help in looking at AGP as a sex addiction rather than a fetish. The book "Your Sexually Addicted Spouse - How Partners Cope and Heal" by Barbara Steffens and Marsha Means was extremely helpful as it gave me permission to be angry. To feel betrayed. To feel EXACTLY how I was feeling. Getting that support was helpful in allowing me to move on. Sex addiction was also something that "clicked" with William. It changed his perspective on what he was feeling - and how I was reacting. - and made it easier to communicate. I HIGHLY recommend picking it up. The authors also have a webpage/forum that I found helpful.

I think that thinking of this as a sex addiction somehow makes it less personal to me. And I understand that an addict can really, really want to control themselves, but there are times when the urges become over-powering. It takes away that "if you loved me, you'd stop" piece and makes it "if you love me, you will work to try to control this - and ask for help if you can't" - takes the pressure off just a bit.

Check out the website " - it is also a wonderful online resource.

Knowing that I am not alone helps me as well.

I thought about what I had written...and NOT written overnight and sent this the following morning...

I wanted to add something...most addicts try abstaining as the primary way to control their addictions. Because I do believe that AGP is biologically based (somewhere on the gender spectrum), I'm not sure that abstaining is realistic. I also knew that William didn't really want to stop - he only wanted to make me happy - and that's not going to give him the "umph" necessary to truly stop forever. So we have decided to "control" it. I personally am okay with the cross-dressing piece of this. And role-reversal during sex is all right also - but not every time. We incorporate his "fantasy" into our sex life once a week or so. But I get him as a man also. Masturbation is forbidden, period. Sex outside of US is cheating, period. Even if it with himself. Fantasies are the gray area. I don't think that he can help them popping into his mind, but he certainly can choose to NOT lay there and fantasize for some time.

We talk about this - a lot. Like you, I am a talker - but one thing I learned in therapy is that William does not hear me as clearly as I speak - which was a real shock. AGP's don't communicate "normally", so learning to communicate with him has been key. Everything I said, he took as "against him" - an affirmation of his unworthiness. It didn't "fit" - my William has always been so confident, so masculine, but the incredibly poor self-esteem is part of everything that he was hiding. And he is as good at hiding the insecurity as he is the behaviors...

She wrote me back expressing several concerns that she had about her own relationship. Again, this was my response to her...

William has always been about masturbation as well. He says that it is still really, really hard to abstain . Saturday afternoons are the most difficult for him. My fear is that this will always be an issue for him - can he hold out against his urges for the rest of his life? He tells me that he has not strayed...but he also admits that he's not 100% sure that he will tell me if he does. How do I know if he is telling me the truth? I don't. I still worry. I still get freaked out whenever he is home alone. I still worry about where this is going (escalation). I still feel a little hurt feeling in my chest when he dresses - that I'm not enough for him. That he can't just stop now that we are so much better together. But the reality is - he can't. The hurt is much smaller now than it was, but sometimes it swells up again.

I call him when things being to "swirl inside" - talking to him about it helps. Just last week, we talked about I don't understand how could he NOT be gay when he wants to (sorry for the bluntness!) "suck dick" and "be penetrated." His response "I don't know either - that's what makes it so confusing for me as well. It would be so much easier if I was just gay! But I don't find men attractive, I find women attractive" (Jack Molay posted his blog with the comment about AGP's liking "shemale porn" right after our conversation - "light bulb moment!")

The thing is: William doesn't know where this is going either. The escalation piece of this scares him as well (although now he feels like he DOES have a certain amount of control over it.) I feel certain now that he's not going to go all the way to transition - more because it would freak his family out and he couldn't handle disappointing his parents. He also hates, hates, hates confrontation, so I doubt public cross-dressing would be somewhere he would go. But these conclusions came after a few months of therapy. I DO believe that if I hadn't found out last September, he would have eventually met another man (as a woman) and had sex. Somehow, in his mind, I think he would have justified that as "not cheating" because it wasn't with another woman. He does not deny this.

I guess that the difference between now and right after my discovery is that we have both recommitted to our relationship. We have made our relationship a separate entity from us and we are both making efforts to do what is in the best interest of the relationship. It took me awhile to accept the idea that he had to learn to trust me as well as me learning to trust him. We both still feel exposed a bit and there are still "egg-shell" subjects. The third party marriage counseling helped enormously. Our therapist was able to rephrase things in such a way that William was able to grasp what I was saying. I thought I was being clear as a bell, but somehow, he still wasn't getting it. There are still times when I have preface what I am saying to him with "I know that I'm sounding angry, but it's really hurt talking, not anger." (learned from therapy) We have learned that verbally acknowledging that the subject is "egg-shell" in the beginning of the conversation makes it a bit easier to talk about.

Based on William's and my experience, I don't think that bridges are ever burned. But either of you can make the choice to NOT go forward together. It's a lot of work to incorporate this into a relationship. And I personally believe that you will have to incorporate this because he can't give up the transgender part of this, it's biologically part of his brain make-up. He most certainly CAN, however, make the choice to give up the addictive behaviors that can be part of AGP. Masturbation is NOT part of a healthy relationship, period. It's addictive behavior that doesn not belong in a marriage. Escalation is also part of sex addiction - in fact, it's a key component to the diagnosis.

I guess my advice to you would be to find out if both of you are willing to put forth the effort to make your relationship work. Seriously. For real, this time. If he's not willing to put in the work, then your efforts are not going to make the difference. If he is interested, point him to my blog and to Jack Molay's. Talk to him about the sexual addictive side of AGP. I printed out a bunch of stuff from the website and gave them to William to read. I took the spouse quiz on there and gave it to him also. And asked him to take the other one. Once he saw that his behaviors were really "addictive", he realized that he had more than a fetish. I strongly recommend that you find a counselor to help you communicate. One who is local and that you can see weekly as you try to work through this. Or even who will do Internet or telephone therapy - I almost did that ourselves. The third party really helped keep our communication grounded and on track - it stopped the "unproductive escalation" that we had at home. And as I threatened William, there are several in-patient sex addiction clinics that will be in our list of options if he ever strays again.

It's a hard road - and not easy. But as William has said - it's so much better now than before - for both of us. If you are thinking that there is a chance - then there is one. It's not over until it's OVER.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Sex Life of Crossdreamers (Re-posting)

This is not my creation, rather it's something that Jack Molay wrote on his blog. It's an awesome piece and I thought it worth re-posting on my blog. The original can be found here.

The Sex Life of Crossdreamers (Autogynephiles)

It will probably take some time before Cosmopolitan writes a "how to" guide on how to cope with a crossdreamer (men who fantasize about having a woman's body, also known as autogynephiliacs). But if the woman's magazine ever does, maybe they would write something like this.

Cosmopolitan June 2025.
My husband is a crossdreamer! How to keep your relationship thriving.

Your boyfriend tells you he is a crossdreamer. He gets turned on by imagining himself being a woman. In bed he wants to take your role. He may even want to borrow your lingerie. So now what do you do?

Know that there are good news as well as bad news.

From Venus and Mars
The good news is that you have found a man that worships you more than most men can do. He admires your looks, your wits and your ways to such an extent that he would like to be like you. Given all the misogynists out there, that is not a bad bargain.
The "inner woman" of a crossdreamer may also make him more sensitive. What some of them lack in testosterone driven masculinity they make up for in their love for you, your family and kids.

Fear and self loathing
The bad news is that he may be slightly traumatized. There are male pop stars and Hollywood actors coming out as metrosexuals and male lesbians, but in small towns a man having feminisation fantasies will still be considered a freak.
This means that he may also think that you consider him a pervert, whatever you tell him. His self-esteem may be low. The fact that crossdreaming was considered a "paraphilia" by the American medical establishment up until 2023 has not helped.
In order to keep your love he might try to hide his dreams. If he is a crossdresser he may hide his feminine clothing out of your sight. This may make him distant and withdrawn. His inner woman becomes your rival instead of your partner. If you want to make this relationship to work, it is therefore important that you help him bring his secret life out in the open.
Do the woman thing: talk about it! The man in him probably hates the idea, but his "inner woman" may become your best ally.

Is he a transsexual?
Many women who love crossdreamers harbor another fear: Is he a transsexual? What if he wants to have an operation? Then what do you do?

Note that the crossdreamers can be put into at least three overlapping groups.

The crossmopolitan identifies as a man, and has a good relationship with his own male body. He thrives in the traditional assertive male role as well as the more feminine caring role. For him his feminization fantasies are sexual spice and a way of getting in touch with his feminine side. He will feel no desire to transition for real.

The transsexual feels a strong gender incongruence. He -- or she, rather -- may have spent a lot of energy to suppress her dreams of becoming a woman, but the fact is that if she does not transition she will probably never find peace with herself. She has reached the tipping point where the sum of various genetic and hormonal causes of crossdreaming equals woman. She is a woman!
There are some relationships that survive a male to female transition, but the process will cost you a lot of suffering. It is a sad fact, but most relationships and marriages of this kind fail. You being bisexual might help, though.

The twilighter gets his name from the twilight zone in between the male identifying crossdreamer and the transsexual. He is in the problematic position of being both male and female in close to equal proportions. In our cultural context there is no role for the twin-spirited, and he may find it extremely hard to make peace with himself and the people around him.
Some of the twilighters become love-shy and introvert geeks, preferring their secret fantasies to the love of a real woman. It is not that they do not want your love. The fact is that they desperately long for it, but they find no way of conceptualizing what kind of life you and his inner woman can share. And if they do, they may imagine themselves as male lesbians. And you are probably not looking for a lesbian, are you?

He may still be a very good catch, though. When he understands that you understand him, his gratitude and love will lead him to make a tremendous effort to make the relationship work. He is very likely to be a faithful and committed husband. The trick is to find room for his inner woman. There are ways of doing that.

Is he gay?
The first suspicion that comes to mind when a girl realizes that her boyfriend and husband has a strong inner woman, is that he is gay. There are a lot of gay men with strong feminine sides. Some of them may even harbor feminisation fantasies and get turned on by crossdressing. Drag queens explore their inner woman in this way. Some of them do get married, although not as many as before, now that male homosexuality has become accepted.
Still, most male to female crossdreamers are actually gynephilic. They want to have sex with girls. Really! Check his web browser history. If you find a lot of pictures of sexy hunks, he is most likely gay. But if he is more into Penthouse and Playboy he is straight or bi.
Note however, that some gynephilic crossdreamers may have erotic fantasies about being banged by men. That could mean he is bisexual. But if the men of his fantasies are faceless, they may also be an expression of his desire to be the bottom in the sexual act, not a real sexual desire for the male body per se. He would rather have a woman penetrate him than a man, which is why some crossdreamers also get into "shemale" porn.

8 ways of making a crossdreaming sex life work

1. Make sure he understands your needs and desires. Some crossexuals have never spoken to anyone about their desires and have become pretty self-obsessed. This is an interesting paradox: In spite of the fact that he has a strong inner woman, he may lack the skills needed to interpret the dreams of a woman. Make sure that he understand that your "inner woman" is as important as his. Most crossdreamers can take the active role when having sex -- he owes you much more than that!

2. All right, so he is willing to please you. What can you do to please him? Take the active role! He will love you to be on top! He may fantasizing about you being the one inside him and not the other way round, but who cares as long as you get turned on together?

3. Talk dirty to his inner girl! That will shock him and delight her.

4. If he is a crossdresser, allow him to wear some lingerie. Borrow him some of yours if it fits. But if it makes you very uncomfortable, don't. Your needs are as important as his!

5. His inner woman may desire penetration. A finger up his anus may drive her wild. You will find that his ecstasy will turn you on as well. But demand proper hygiene!

6. If you are of the daring type, try out a strap-on. Pegging gives you full control and allows for his submission.

7. Most men, including many crossdreamers, do not fully get the bonding part of sex, i.e. that sex is just the natural culmination of friendship and love. Some crossdressers do, however. They would very much like to have a pajamas party for two with you doing girly things together -- like painting your toe nails and talk feelings. If you can live with him dressing up, that can work well. Again, tell him when you need him to be your man and not your girl friend!

8. Some crossdreamers would also like to make some body modifications. Shaving body hairs and electrolysis fit well into the crossdressing category. If you can live with his crossdressing, this should not be much of a burden. If he wants to take hormones, however, you need to have a looooong talk, and seek some counselling. Some wives can live with their man growing breasts. But he may also become non-functional as a man. Know also that if he wants to try out hormones there is a very good chance that he is a transwoman.

The ups and downs of a normal relationship
The relationships between a male crossdreamer and a woman are not that different from "regular" relationships. Or maybe there are no "regular" relationships. Given human diversity, they are all unique exercises in making love grow, and love requires patience, understanding, perseverance as well as a the kind of self-confidence and strong will that protects you from being exploited.

Crossdreamers may be traumatized from their struggle with their dreams and desires, especially if they have never felt acceptance for their secrets. That trauma may be healed by love, but it may also require professional help.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Looking through a microscope

After the dialogue following my last posting, I got curious. So I went back to some of the "wives of cross-dressers" support forums that I had joined at the beginning of my journey. I was actually saddened to read many of the postings there. The progressive nature of cross-dressing...the involvement of sex, attraction, etc...the despair of the wives, the confusion - it was quite disheartening. "Just Chris" had mentioned that he and his wife had not found much help in similar forums either for similar reasons. Many of the wives had been dealing with this situation in their marriages for a long time - longer than I have been - and yet I feel that we have come so much farther in our journey. Thank God. It has caused me to do a considerable amount of soul-searching lately, though, about us. William and I and our lives together - and our solution to this problem.

I looked hard at William the last time he dressed and do I really feel about it? I know it absolutely does NOT turn me on, but it doesn't turn me off either. In the beginning, I was so relieved to be a partner in what we were doing that I actually enjoyed it. Yet as time goes on, I have to admit, it does feel a bit strange to be making love to my man as a "woman." And after much thought, I think it's because with him dressed as a female, I'm still a bit confused as to exactly what my role is in what we are doing. We have discussed this ad nauseum - and yet when we are in the act, I still feel awkward. Not bad. Just "discombobulated?" And while it does not affect my physical enjoyment of the act, it does feel a bit strange...

And maybe I'm just PMS'ing, but I also have to say that it's rather "annoying" for me that William is turned on just by dressing. There is nothing that I have found that turns me on that quickly. For me, foreplay is vital...and while there is a large mental/emotional component involved with foreplay, the physical exchanges that occur during that stage are just as important. William is fully capable of being fully involved, but there are times when he can also be "lazy" during that stage of lovemaking - which just annoys the "*&^%$" out of me. It probably stems back to the days when he complained about not liking sex because it was too much work, so I feel like if I need him to "work" at anything, then I'm potentially creating a problem. It's all part of the past that still affects the future a bit, I guess. Thankfully, we have been able to discuss it and are continuing to work through this, so it's not a cause for alarm...just more conversation, discussion and and learning about each other and how we are working through all of this.

The journey isn't over, but despite my ponderings, I know that we are in sooooo much a better place than we were six months ago, it's amazing... There are several reasons why we are doing so well. Improved communication, total honesty...but I also think that a large part of the reason that we have been so successful is that William has granted me a bit of control over the situation. Unlike the women in those forums, I feel like my feelings about this matter to him, that I have a say in how we are going to incorporate this into our relationship. And I also have to say that part of the reason that William has give me this modicum of control is that I am making the effort to respect his desires and wishes as well (not just saying "no".) We are making the decisions and choices together. which is key, I think, in making this work.