You scream and cry and when you’re finished, you scream and cry again. You seek out a therapist and begin couples counseling. After some grueling soul searching, a few late night talks till dawn, you ultimately decide that you want to stay married to your spouse. This is the person you vowed to love through it all. In your mind the love you have for one another is stronger than anything. You and your spouse can certainly figure out how to navigate through transition.
“PERSONALLY, I LIVE WITH A MUCH HAPPIER PARTNER NOW, WHICH IS ONE OF THE MOST POSITIVE ADJUSTMENTS I’VE HAD TO MAKE.”
After the introduction of hormone therapy, you realize that the stories you read online are true. The person transitioning really goes through a second puberty. Whether it is male to female, female to male or anywhere in between, you begin to notice mood swings, hair growth, breast development or a change to the pitch of their voice. You are living with a teenager in a grown-ups body. The whole occurrence is bizarre to say the least. You witness your partner begin to blossom. They are becoming the person that they were always meant to be. Personally, I live with a much happier partner now, which is one of the most positive adjustments I’ve had to make. However, if you look closely you will start to see subtle changes in them. Things that they liked before they may not like anymore, and things that they swore they hated are starting to look appealing.
Transition has progressed well, your spouse is healthy, your relationship is stable and together you have made it to the other side. Then the unthinkable happens. They come to you and tell you that they are attracted to the opposite gender. Unfortunately, this can and does happen all the time in cis/transgender relationships. Just because they were attracted to one gender before they transitioned, does not mean that they will still be attracted to that gender after they transition. Despite that, they still love you and want to stay married to you. So here you are, the dutiful spouse, going to hell and back to save your marriage and they just want to have sex with someone else.
“FOR SOME PARTNERS THIS IS A DEAL BREAKER.”
For some partners this is a deal breaker. They don’t want their spouse out in the world looking for someone to have casual sex with, and they themselves can’t imagine having sex with someone other than their spouse. The thought of my wife being intimate with someone else would literally drive me mad. Add to that the potential for feelings between your partner and this other person to develop. Nevertheless, some couples see options. A considerable amount of people prefer to have an open marriage rather than nothing. They want to continue to raise their children together and live out the dreams that they built years before. They are aware that intimacy is a large part of a relationship but sex is not the only way to be intimate.
There is no right and wrong in this situation. If having an open marriage works for you and your spouse, then do it. If waking up next to the same person you have for the last umpteen years is important to you, then every option should be on the table. As partners of transgender people we experience things that people in cis only relationships will never experience. We are extremely strong people who love unconditionally with our whole heart and soul. We have a love that most people will never know, cultivate it in whatever way makes the two of you happy.