What is a partnership? It is my understanding that a partnership is an arrangement between two parties who wish to cooperate to advance their mutual interests. Kind of a strange definition when thinking about two people in a romantic relationship. What exactly are two people in love trying to advance? I would guess that the answer to that question would be success in life. Though I think the definition of success is different for everyone. So at what point do you decide what you want in life? Compare that to what you need and then figure out how to accomplish those things together. Is this something that you decide before you get into a relationship, or something that you figure out along the way? Do you make this decision on your own, or together with your partner?
I can only speak for what has worked in my current relationship with my wife. My wife and I talked about many things before getting married. Whether we wanted to have more children, as I had three from my previous marriage. What would we do if one or more of our parents needed a place to live, and if so whether we would take them in. We spoke about cheating and trust. Our religious beliefs, our families, and money. What death and dying look like to each of us. I have said it a million times and I will say it a million more if I must. Open, honest communication is the most important part of any relationship! Romantic, sibling, parent, and child relationships. Without it, you may find yourself on the road to unhappiness.
"SO WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE UNEXPECTED POPS UP IN LIFE?"
So what happens when the unexpected pops up in life? Even though my wife and I talked about many things, we never discussed what would happen to our marriage if one of us were to come out as transgender. So as a partnership, we needed to figure out how to transition together and what that looked like for each of us. She desperately wanted to figure herself out, and I wanted to live with a happy spouse. It might sound simple, but I can assure you that it wasn’t. She started therapy with a gender specialist, and I tried to educate myself as much as possible. We had some sessions together with her therapist, but eventually I needed to have my own. I needed a safe place to unpack what was going on in my life.
I joined a few groups on the Internet for partners of transgender folks and not only learned what self-care meant, but practiced it. I understood that for her she wanted to eat, drink, and discuss transition 24/7, but for me that was not healthy. So stepping away to read, take a bath, or just get out for a walk was important. We made time for transition and space to be individuals. Because of the mutual respect that we have for each other we were able to give the other person what they needed without resentment. We were open, honest, and listened to the other without judgment.
Each and every one of us is different and unique. That is what makes our world so colorfully wonderful. There is no right or wrong way to transition, and no handbook to follow. This journey is distinctly our own, for the partner as well as the person transitioning. Try not to put limitations and expectations on one another because it is simply not fair to do so. Be open, honest, empathetic, and speak to your partner the way that you would want to be spoken to. Acknowledge your differences then figure out how to manage them so that both partners are satisfied with the outcome. As I travel along the road of transition with not only my wife, but our children as well, I have learned so much about myself and the people around me. Because I opened myself up to change, I have evolved and became a better human being. Not to mention, I have met some of the most beautiful people. So thank you Honey for this amazing adventure.