As every girl knows, balancing the obligations of daily life can be tough and managing two identities, like your favorite super hero or heroine, can make that harder. Work, social obligations and kids can all end up filling every hour of the day, leaving little time for you, your partner and your relationship. Adding therapy, support groups and time to dress up for your own sanity into that equation makes it more difficult. Making time to check in with one another regularly, talk about your feelings and compromise can keep your relationship fit and healthy. Crossdressing can impact your social life, bank account and sex life. Keeping everything above board, open and honest can prevent conflict. How often you need to check in with your partner depends upon how long it's been since you came out, how stable your relationship typically is, and both of your needs at the time. If you're both in a good place emotionally, a once a month sharing session may keep the two of you feeling close and connected. If either of you is struggling, you may need to bring up the subject weekly or even daily to process your feelings together.
There are a few must-share issues on your side that she has a right to honest answers to on a consistent basis. If your feelings about sex or gender change over time, you need to let her know. That may vary from a simple discussion about sexual boundaries to an announcement that you want to explore transitioning. If you're stewing or simmering about something, share. It's unfair to her to hear about unmet needs months later, particularly if she's tried to be loving and accepting. While you're opening up, take the time to be honest with yourself about whether or not you're being a good partner. It's easy to be self-absorbed, especially if you're recently out of the walk-in closet.
Obviously, this is a two-way street, but she may have a few more stop signs along the way. If she's not volunteering information, ask. You need to be prepared to hear what she's thinking and feeling. You may get serious worries or ordinary, everyday relationship concerns. In my experience, if you're handling the normal relationship issues and pulling your weight, what you're wearing while you do it matters a lot less than you might think. Just as she shouldn't have to hear about something months later, regular conversations can insure that she's not angry that you have a better shoe collection than she does.
You've got a few options here, depending upon what works for each of you. The key to all of them is honest communication between both of you. That's not an easy pill to swallow. Sometimes she may have something to say you really don't want to hear or you may need to share something she'll find difficult. Making communication a priority can keep small issues small and hopefully, keep big problems to a minimum.
- Weekly date nights are a popular suggestion and are great for sex, bonding and shared experiences. They're not so great for communication, particularly if you're prone to the dinner and a movie date option. If you get a night off once every week or two, you probably don't want to spend it sharing or sometimes oversharing.
- If you're handy with a pen, consider creating a shared journal. This isn't a private diary, but rather a journal the two of you use to write back and forth. If you're not comfortable with face-to-face discussions, writing may be easier. Email works in a pinch, if you're more comfortable with your smartphone than a pencil.
- Put it on the calendar. If this is new to the two of you, scheduling an hour of talk time each week may help. A quiet lunch, early morning coffee or a drive will work for a relationship check-in. You may even want to make it a part of your nightly routine for a while. If you're still in the adjustment phase, skip the skirt and heels for these talks as it may put her on the defensive.
Sometimes regular communication isn't enough or the two of you can't get past or work through a specific issue. Unfortunately, traditional marriage counselors may have biases that aren't helpful in your situation and can even make it more difficult to create a stable and loving relationship after you come out to your partner. If you live in a larger city, you may be able to find a therapist who specializes in gender issues or has experience in helping couples in similar situations. Small towns often have a shortage of crossdresser-friendly or even just plain friendly therapists and well, more often than not, your pastor is not an option. If you're in this situation, you may want to consider communication workshops, books or classes for couples. While they're not specific to your situation, the skills can help to smooth out challenges in your relationship.