As Partners We Should Not Be Afraid to Share How We Feel
A relationship going through transition should be taking care of like a delicate plant. It needs the perfect amount of fertilizer, water, and light in order for it to live. If just one of these three components are lacking, the plant will die. If we replace fertilizer, water, and light with respect, honesty, and communication, then your relationship is on the right track. I consider myself lucky because the relationship I have with my wife encompasses these three elements. Not only do I consider my wife my partner in life, she is also my best friend. I know my thoughts and feelings are safe with her, and I hope she knows that her thoughts and feelings are safe with me.
Some partnerships have a disconnect when it comes to sharing everything. I belong to several online support groups for partners of transgender folks. The purpose of these groups is for partners with common experiences or concerns to provide each other with encouragement, comfort, and advice. They are all that and so much more. In the beginning of our transition, it was miserable to think that I was alone in this journey as a person married to a transgender woman. These spaces are so important for us all, both the person transitioning, their family, and their partner. One of the biggest grievances I read over and over again from partners on the message boards are about the difficulties they are experiencing with sharing their feelings with their partner.
"IF YOU DO NOT LEAVE ROOM IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP FOR OPEN AND HONEST COMMUNICATION, YOU ARE PUTTING IT IN JEOPARDY."
As part of a healthy relationship, the lines of communication should always be open and the sharing of our inner most thoughts and feelings wanted. In times of stress and upheaval it is crucial. So why then do I hear so many partners say that when they talk about how they are feeling through transition, they get flack from their partners for it? They get shut down, ignored, yelled at, and told that they are imagining things that aren't there. We as partners and spouses are also going through our own transition. Our feelings are valid. If you do not leave room in your relationship for open and honest communication you are putting it in jeopardy.
I live with my wife and her transition everyday. I know how very difficult transition is. I see her dysphoria, her depression, and her self-doubt. I encourage her to lean on me when she doesn't feel strong enough, and I know that she will be there for me when my own strength is wavering. My first marriage was very dysfunctional. I did not feel as though I could share my feelings with him without being bullied, having him flip out, or being invalidated. It was dreadful, and part of the reason that the marriage did not survive. So I speak from experience. Not being able to share how I was feeling was very lonely. No one should feel alone when living and sharing their life with another human being.
Some psychologists believe that a person needs to feel love and belonging in order to grow. Just as important is our need to love others. Intimate relationships do not need to be complicated. If respect, honesty, and communication are important to both parties, then together you can weather any storm. Transition is a long and sometimes scary journey. We should be able to depend on each other for love and support, not to be afraid to share how we are feeling on any given day. So raise one another up, and get rid of the negativity.