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Section: Mental-health, sexuality, relationships, depression, gender
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
My husband has been clinically depressed for most of his adult life. A while back, "Herman" began seeing a female therapist who focused on my husband's early years to see whether something in his childhood might be the cause of his depression. His therapist discovered that during adolescence, Herman had been a cross-dresser. He apparently had worn women's clothing in his early teens but repressed it as an adult. Now Herman wants my permission to express this part of his personality around the house. He says he would not go out in public. This disgusts me, Ann. The thought of my husband in makeup, wig and high heels makes my skin crawl. His therapist told me I need to be more tolerant. She doesn't seem to think his behavior is abnormal or sick. Herman is artistic and sensitive, a gourmet cook and an avid sportsman. More importantly, he is a terrific father to our two sons. I used to think he was the most masculine man alive. Now I don't see how I ever can look at him the same way or stop wondering whether he is gay. I don't want to break up our marriage, but if anyone found out about the makeup, wigs and high heels, I would be devastated. I need your advice. -- N. Carolina

Dear N. Carolina,
You need to have a better understanding of your husband's cross-dressing. Herman is a transvestite. Some transvestites are gay, but many are not. They get their thrills from dressing up in women's clothing, but that's as far as it goes. Please go to the public library and read up on the subject. The more you know the less you will fear it.



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A Note from Margo:
Hi! It's Margo here. I'd love to know what you think of the letters -- and the answers!

Also, any additional thoughts you might have. Thanks!

King of AL.com's Comment
herman is a strange guy. But you are stranger for staying with him.

Meg's Comment
I don’t agree with Ann on this one. You should not be made to feel guilty for your response to your husband’s desire to cross dress. You married him under the assumption that he was a standard heterosexual man, and it sounds like you are a heterosexual woman. It is understandable that this new revelation would make you feel betrayed and uneasy, wondering if you really know your husband. It’s not fair of him to suddenly switch things up and expect you to push aside your preferences and discomfort in order to be understanding. I feel like this is very self-centered of him, since your comfort zone in this scenario is equally important as important as his. Any major changes like this need to be discussed and agreed upon 100% by both partners before moving forward. Your feelings and preferences are just as valid as his.

Meg's Comment
I don't agree with Ann on this one. You should not be made to feel guilty for any feelings of betrayal or disgust that you're feeling. You married your husband with the assumption that he was a normal, heterosexual man, and it sounds like you're a normal, heterosexual woman. It makes perfect sense that your husband's request to cross-dress has left you shaken and uncomfortable, perhaps wondering if you really know him. It's not right for your husband (and Ann) to expect you to push aside your discomfort and preferences in order to be "tolerant." Your preferences are just as important and worthy of "tolerance" as your husband's. Any major changes to a marriage need to be discussed and agreed upon 100% by both partners before moving forward, and it is selfish of your husband to expect you to struggle and be uncomfortable in order to accommodate a preference that he was not open about in the beginning. Your preferences are just as important as his, and you should feel no guilt or shame for holding opinions that haven't changed over the years.

Meg's Comment
I don't agree with Ann on this one. You should not be made to feel guilty for any feelings of betrayal or disgust that you're feeling. You married your husband with the assumption that he was a normal, heterosexual man, and it sounds like you're a normal, heterosexual woman. It makes perfect sense that your husband's request to cross-dress has left you shaken and uncomfortable, perhaps wondering if you really know him. It's not right for your husband (and Ann) to expect you to push aside your discomfort and preferences in order to be "tolerant." Your preferences are just as important and worthy of "tolerance" as your husband's. Any major changes to a marriage need to be discussed and agreed upon 100% by both partners before moving forward, and it is selfish of your husband to expect you to struggle and be uncomfortable in order to accommodate a preference that he was not open about in the beginning. Your preferences are just as important as his, and you should feel no guilt or shame for holding opinions that haven't changed over the years.

Reader Comment
I also disagree with Ann, having been in almost the same situation with my EX-HUSBAND. It’s unfair for him to have hidden this during the marriage then expect acceptance. My ex expected us to have girl weekends and shop for clothes together. When he revealed this compulsion to me he started buying high heels (over 35 pair), dressing, stockings, jewelry wigs and even boobs... he would constantly be online shopping for shoes and asking my opinion (I don’t wear heels)... If you are not ok with it don’t feel like you have to be.

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Reader Comment
I agree with Ann, and I am surprised by the close-minded intolerance by the other comments.

Reader Comment
You’re all so cold heart and closed minds!!!!!

Helen Fisher's Comment
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Hey,I'm so excited my broken Marriage has been restored

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Dear Readers,
, My x-girlfriend who lived with my son and I for 16 years died of cancer. Prior before we knew she had cancer-she moved out because of an addiction problem. We did stay very close before she died. Her x-husband an attorney took over her finances and the burial arrangements. I being financially set was okay with that, whatever they needed I provided. What really hurt my son and I the most was the obituary - we were not mentioned at all. Our friends (mine and hers) were appalled. I was embarrassed and upset for not just me, but for my son-who loved her also. I never been so upset. Her x-husband put his wife and kids and their grandchildren in the obituary, who my girlfriend barely knew. They live an hour away from us. I know its silly to be mad over a little section of the newspaper, but it still hurts. Will time let this devastating loss of her and this article ever go away? I am so angry at this whole situation, its not like we can go and rewrite an obituary notice.

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"If you marry a man who cheats on his wife, you'll be married to a man who cheats on his wife."
-Ann Landers