Sunday, 3 October 2010

Not enough about them

    I read a lot of tales of partners in this game. Wives and girlfriends, for mostly these stories come from heterosexual MtF people like me.
    Something concerns me in the reactions, they are sometimes very one-sided. The trans person is a saint, the partner is a bitch. Whereas the reality is not one of saints and sinners, nor winners and losers, only losers. Nobody wins here.
    It occurs to me that our paths might be smoother in these matters were we as a community to try harder to understand the turmoil associated with being the partner.
    Because sometimes a bit of that might be all that's needed to ensure a happier ending.

    Just a thought for a Sunday morning.


  1. You should see some of the stuff on the spouse support forums...vitriol goes both ways, the perspective just changes.

    The situations that work do so because both people are able to empathize with the other. And by "work" I don't necessarily mean "stay married". One of the primary barriers to successful negotiation of these issues is the serious consideration of all possible outcomes; by far the most hostility I see out there comes from people still inside of relationships, putting up with their pain on the face of things and bitching anonymously about their spouses online.

  2. +1 on those sentiments Jenny

  3. Absolutely right...

    @Renee - My therapist told me that very same sentiment in my last session. If you stay together then it has to be for the right reasons, and it has to be right for both parties... Staying together isn't always the right thing. I hope that's not the case for Mrs Stace and myself...


  4. I agree that staying together has to be for the right reasons. And that can be incredibly hard to do.

    My wife and I are trying to make it and seem to be doing okay. But, we haven't found many support resources for her on-line. Can anyone please recommend some good ones that she (and I) can check out? It might help us.



  5. I think unfortunately that most trans go into the transition process with blinders on, assuming that their SO will come along for the ride. Which of course is totally unrealistic. Echoing the above, though I have been physically separated from my wife for over a year, and though I love her so very much and would do practically anything to be with her, I know our paths diverge and I cannot go back - it would unfair to us both.


  6. Karin try

    My marriage was well and truly on the rocks before I physically transitioned in 2002 and we divorced in 2004. Our intentions until 2009 were to separate and go our own ways but we found it difficult to sell the house. This was fortunate in retrospect. I love my ex. and will always love her. I know deep in her heart she still loves me. The problem you have all pointed out was just the same with us. It is hard to understand just how much your gender issues affect your spouse's feelings when you come out to her/him and especially if you are deciding to fully transistion. There whole life and hopes will have been dashed in a moment of confession. It is sad but it can work out. I am now eight years down line as it were and my ex. and I are now fully reconciled and still living together. I think it would have broken my heart to leave her and I am sure she would have had similar feelings. Over the last three years we have enjoyed holidays abroad together and we are often dining out in our favourite places. Life is what you make it and it all depends on you and your significant other.

    Shirley Anne xxx

  7. I meant 'their' LOL

    Shirley Anne

  8. Jenny, your use of the saints and sinners analogy reminded me of this blog post by my good friend Carrie, one of the very rare honest and public accounts of what it's like for even a supportive spouse. Two years after this was written, they did split up, though they remain close friends - showing that there's really no length of time after which the other shoe isn't going to drop.

    Karin, two mailing lists for spouses that are on the supportive side that I'd recommend are Helen's engender parentners list and TransFamilySpouses. There are others that I would be less likely to recommend, where the vitriol level reaches painful levels. At least on these two, the wives/girlfriends (and in one case, husband) seem to actually like their partners.

    Pat, from the TFS list, wrote this essay entitled 'The Challenge of Transition to a Wife' which all new members of the list are encouraged to show their partners, transitioning or not. (That you would you!)

    Honest accounts of partners' feelings are very rare to come across outside of those safe spaces where they can vent to others in the same position. I have been struck by the contrast between the public proclamation of how honesty is the best policy in a relationship, and how many of these partners are obviously bottling things up when it comes to their own feelings. It's very hard to say or do things which we know might endanger the stability of our relationships, and as Renee has stated, "putting up with the pain" in order to preserve the status quo often seems better (not to mention, that's ingrained in our society as "what wives do").

    Good luck to all of you.

  9. Good post.
    Approaching this with honesty and communication on both sides is the right way to go.
    I found first hand that no matter how hard you both try it may not work out in the fairy tale manner we would like but at least with an approach that looks for the best outcome for both people has the best chance of ensuring a positive outcome, whatever that is.
    Many poeple have managed a sucesfull transition and stayed with there partners and when you learn about how they did it, honesty, communication and love were the key, along with a flexible approach to the change in their lives.

  10. Thanks everyone for your replies, it seems I've touched an important theme.

    This post was triggered by a comment from Mrs. J about the similarities between the sentiments in some discussions on both sides of the fence. It's not about our personal situation per se, neither about transitioning or not, nor about staying together as a couple or going our separate ways. After all, people split up for a multiplicity of reasons other than this, and we could mess it up just as much as any of them do.

    I hope Mrs. J doesn't bottle everything up. I'm pretty sure she doesn't, we're not afraid of the occasional “frank exchange of views”. We have tried to avoid secrets held from each other in this context.

    It's interesting, challenging and even upsetting in equal measure to read those pieces from spouses. Particularly the bit about shifting our lifetime of grief from us to them. Thank you for those.

    I have asked Mrs. J at various times if she'd like to contribute here, but thus far she's declined the invitation. However since she's come online in forum-land (Rose's for the curious, they have quite a few partners, though largely UK based) I think she may be warming to the idea. I would like her view on this mess to be alongside mine, even with the risk that it might not necessarily be entirely complimentary to me.

  11. It'd mess both of us up very badly to go separate ways.

  12. Thank you everyone for the great suggestions and your perspectives. This is a subject in need of a good book writer or three!

    We have making sure communication, love and honesty are apart of our marriage at all times. My wife likes to read some of the blogs and I encourage her to read ones that are positive and negative, so she doesn't feel I am just giving her "sunshine."

    I'm sad for those whose marriages can't survive this and I will work my damndest to make sure that doesn't happen to us.

    Thank you again,


  13. Exactly, spot on both of you! I couldn't do that to Mrs. J!

  14. I worry a lot about demonizing my wife in my writing. I hope I manage to put some blame on my own head too.

    So much said in such a short post, Jenny!

  15. For those of us who are in the middle of it as well your writings do not come across as such. You don't have to look too far to find some of the writings that prompted Mrs J's and my conversation, and they ain't chez Leslie.

    Should this be about blame though?