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Straight Spouse Network Open Forum

This Open Forum is funded and administered by the Straight Spouse Network (SSN), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides support to straight spouses and partners who have discovered that their spouse/partner isn’t straight. Your donations allow us to provide important support and resources that straight spouses can't find anywhere else.

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March 20, 2021 2:45 pm  #1

Sliding off the ski lift

Hi. I want to introduce myself to this board. I tried posting on another board and found that I was having a hard time making myself understood.About three weeks ago, my partner of 14 years came out to me as a trans woman. (I am a cis woman.) I am in my fifties and she is in her sixties. (I will say "she" for simplicity, though I've been told it's only she when she is presenting as female.) This came as a total surprise to me and everyone else she's told, even people she's been friends with for 45+ years.

For the first week, she was on a total pink cloud—a term I know from AA that applies to newly sober people. She was dressing as a woman, joining groups, telling all her friends, bought four wigs and a whole bunch of makeup, and really just becoming immersed in it to the extent that I almost didn't recognize her. I don't want to make this too long, or too much about her. Let's just say that I am happy for her, and I feel so much sadness for the pain she's been through. I have told her I will support her, though it remains to be determined what "support" means to each of us. I put on a happy face for the first several days, and then, when I thought the coast was clear, I expressed some of my own feelings of being unmoored by what was happening. Her reaction was total panic that I was going to leave. She said she would forget about it and put it all back in the closet if it meant she would lose me. I said I thought that this was unfair, that it was emotional blackmail, and that I could not be in charge of her happiness. She said I was misinterpreting her, and that what she was saying was she put me before herself. I said she could not make me happy by making herself unhappy. And, just to clarify, this is a pattern that's been part of our relationship for many years. When we've had dischord in the past, she's said there would be no point in living if I wasn't with her. (This despite the fact that she has a son from her previous relationship.)  

There were some unsuccessful attempts at talking things through, and then upon awakening one morning I was presented with a letter she proposed to send to all her friends, retracting the previous announcement, giving a lot of private details about her decision making, and citing as "the main reason" that *I* was unhappy about it. She'd put away all the wigs, the makeup, the clothes--everything--and was now saying it was all a fantasy that she was giving up on. I expressed a STONG preference that she not send this letter without first speaking to her therapist. I told her that maybe she should just slow things down and stop making these impulsive decisions. if she wanted to tell her friends she was taking it slow or considering things, fine, but she didn't have to explain EVERYTHING. I also said that I didn't see why she had to bring me into it. For one thing, it's not true that I don't want her to come out, and in any case, just "taking it back" would not restore the status quo. I also said the letter made me sound like an a**hole. She said again that it just showed that she cared about me and wanted to put me first. ARRGHHHHH. It also came out that she thought I was angry that she'd lied to me about her gender dysphoria. This is because I'd asked her if she was aware of it when we got together. I'd said it was something I wanted to know, because I wanted to understand the extent to which she'd avoided getting my consent. She said she couldn't give me a simple answer, and I accepted that. And now she's saying I'm angry because she lied to me?

I just feel like everything I say gets twisted. I told her I didn't think we should talk about it anymore without a couples counselor present, and preferably one who specializes in situations like this. She agreed and said she would find one. (It would be her insurance, and she has been developing contacts with the local LGBTQ community. There is apparently no local community for trans partners.)The current situation is that she took my advice about the letter (or her therapist's advice, which was the same), and the makeup and wigs are back out, but she's only occasionally putting them on. She's keeping her endocrinologist appointment. But she still has not taken steps to find a couples counselor. I feel the gravitational pull back into the companionable rut that she was happy with for so long. Except now she has gotten this off her chest, so even better. It's like people say: I've taken her place in the closet, because I can't express even the smallest negative thought or emotion. Until, that is, there is a counselor. But she seems to be happy to let things just "go back to normal" between us.

I guess I know what need to do: take the lead in finding a couples counselor so I have a place to express myself. Maybe I'm afraid of that, too.

I had a dream a few weeks ago that my partner and I were on a ski lift that was over the ocean. I was sliding off the seat, and I was trying to get her attention so that she would pull me back up. But it was happening so subtly (the sliding off) that I couldn't get her to understand what I was asking for. I told my therapist about that, and we went around on the implications and meanings for a while, and finally she said, "Maybe it's a good thing to slide off."

Last edited by suzuki b (March 20, 2021 2:46 pm)


March 20, 2021 3:41 pm  #2

Re: Sliding off the ski lift

Wow. That dream is such an analogy for what’s happening in your life. I’ve never had a dream that was that relevant. Interesting take from the therapist. 

I’m the wife of a bisexual so I don’t have experience with trans, however others on here will chime in & be able to give their experiences & help you.

I just wanted to welcome you to the place no one wanted to be....but, we are here & support each other. Good luck with the couples’ counselor. That’s a very good idea. It’s also good you have an individual therapist, too. We just aren’t born with the tools we need when something like this comes along. 

Also, hopefully a therapist will help her to know which way she really wants to go. Regardless of what she does, I hope you do whatever is in YOUR best interests. She’s already ‘gone off’ do do her own thing. 

Please take care of YOU. It sounds like you’ve got a good head on your shoulders & I’m sure you’ll come out of this just fine.



March 21, 2021 9:59 am  #3

Re: Sliding off the ski lift

Suzuki, I'm so very sorry you find yourself here, but please know you won't have a hard time making yourself understood in this forum. We understand the pain and the confusion you are experiencing.  Also know what your are feeling/thinking it's all normal.

A few of us in this forum have lived through the nightmare stage. I believe it's our intuition trying to reach us, wake us up from the nightmare our reality has become. If you feel your husband is twisting things around, believe your feeling. Our feelings are the first thing we should listen to. Our minds and our hearts are at war, it's your feelings that will help guide you out of this darkness. Listen to your intuition,

Also know, sometimes the only thing left to do is to let go and slide off the ski lift in order to save yourself. Post here as much as you need. Others who have lived through this experience will post shortly.

Take care of you, one step at a time, one challenge at a time. Someone on here once said, by taking one small step at a time, you can travel great distances. I'm here to tell you, this saying...... it's very true. . Stay strong..

Last edited by longwayhome (March 21, 2021 10:31 am)


March 21, 2021 12:21 pm  #4

Re: Sliding off the ski lift

Oh, dear.

I read your post last night, but needed to let it settle before I could decide whether I had anything useful to say.  

I'm quite familiar with the "pink fog" (or "pink cloud") stage of the trans reveal, having lived through it myself, that time when each new step your partner takes to feminize himself ups the ante and the craving, and he has to take the next step..and the next...and the next.  I've lived the frustration of being made into "the clothing police," the gatekeeper, advising him when his impulses to overshare would damage him at work, and the scapegoat, when he did not have the courage to follow through on his expressed desire to live the life he said he'd been denied because he was shamed and repressed as a child.  I've had my now-ex take every expression of discomfort at how my life has been turned upside down as an "attack" even though I was at the same time supportive and accepting to a degree that even his therapist--the one I told him he needed to get rather than using me as his sounding board--told him was unusual.  I've also had the dreams and nightmares, all of them expressions of my un/subconscious response to the overturning of my life by his trans reveal.  My dreams went from purely visual to, when I failed to act on what my own psyche was telling me, auditory.  In one of the last dreams I had before I finally called it quits, I woke up from a dream in which I was seeking an exit from a building and standing in front of a door, to an audible voice in my head saying "You have to get out."  

I second Longwayhome's suggestion to listen to your intuition, and her analysis that your heart and your mind are at war.  Your feelings are to be trusted, and they represent your deep response.  So trust them, especially when your partner is working hard to manipulate you and impose his own narrative onto the situation.  When your therapist says, "Maybe it's a good thing to slide off" I'd listen to her.  Your partner is not going to help you; you're going to have to look for help elsewhere--from yourself, from friends and family, from this forum, from your therapist.   When I read that you couldn't find any help in the LGBTQ ranks for the partners of the transgendered, I was reminded of what Stokely Carmichael had to say about the place of women in the SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee): "The only place for women in SNCC  is prone."  By which I mean, the party line of LGBTQ groups on the spouses of those who declare themselves trans is that you must "quell all your doubts and discomforts and fall enthusiastically in line with what your partner wants."  

You say you "know what [you] need to do.  Take the lead in finding a couples counselor..."  I would actually caution you not to "take the lead." You didn't like it when you thought your partner wanted to put you "in charge of her happiness," and dealing with the dysphoria and confronting the reality of what it will take for your partner to live the life your partner wants to live is a job that only your partner can do.  Taking the steps to do that has to be your partner's move. 


Last edited by OutofHisCloset (March 21, 2021 12:24 pm)


March 21, 2021 2:03 pm  #5

Re: Sliding off the ski lift

Welcome Suzuki
My partner isn't trans, he's bisexual but I agree when OOHC says
" I would actually caution you not to "take the lead."
She's right. Why should we do their research and be their personal secretary?

KIA KAHA                       

March 22, 2021 1:49 am  #6

Re: Sliding off the ski lift

suzuki b, slide off and ski away as fast as possible. You are being abused and used as a useful wife appliance.   Without telling your partner, get yourself a lawyer and start doing a property settlement.  Organise yourself to leave, don't tell your partner until you are ready to walk out that door - and then go. Hurts like a mofo but do it before the assets are spent or hidden.  You look after you, because going by your post your partner sure isn't going to. Love and hugs, none of us asked for this - WE didn't unilaterally change the rules - but we can deal with it any way that works best for us.


March 25, 2021 6:34 pm  #7

Re: Sliding off the ski lift

Wow! Thank you all for your kindness and advice. As it happens, my partner did find us a counselor, and we have an appointment for Sunday. It's a relief, but also scary. There's a lot to face up to for both of us. I need to own my part in the situation I find myself in. I "settled" in this relationship. I am still here because it has felt safe and stable, and I've felt so loved. But I have stayed despite persistent misgivings, and that's unfair to him/her. (Well, today it's him.) There is a lot of love between us, and a deep bond, and right now it's impossible to imagine finding someone who will understand and appreciate me so well. And he's been with me through so much. The loss of my brother, my mother, my aunt who was like a mother, and so many other things, and he's known people and places that no hypothetical future partner will ever know first hand. I mean, you know. The usual.

I am proud of having established and maintained a boundary about not talking about things without a counselor present. I hope it means I'm capable of more along those lines. But I have to admit that it's also just been nice not having to talk about our relationship. I could almost sink back into that comfortable rut myself. But there are big scary changes coming, and I have to face them. Sometimes I think about it and my hands get shaky.

I think I will come back and update again after the first session. 

Last edited by suzuki b (March 25, 2021 6:37 pm)

     Thread Starter

March 26, 2021 11:57 am  #8

Re: Sliding off the ski lift

What do you mean by "own [your] own part"?  For sure, nothing you did or didn't do is responsible for your partner's decision to change gender identity.  Or do you mean, "own" the fact that you're in the relationship at all, on grounds that aren't the healthiest?  Many of us who have dysfunction or trauma in our backgrounds end up in situations that reproduce those original conditions, because they do feel familiar--but they are not healthy, and not, therefore, "safe." That you say you "could almost sink back into that comfortable rut" says to me that you recognize at some level that you know that just because this situation feels familiar to you doesn't make it a healthy one or the right one for you long term. 

Last edited by OutofHisCloset (March 26, 2021 11:59 am)


March 26, 2021 7:50 pm  #9

Re: Sliding off the ski lift

OutofHisCloset, yes, I'm talking about owning my part in the relationship. Not in her gender identity!  And yes, I recognize that it isn't a healthy situation for me in a lot of ways. I don't want to make absolute statements, because things aren't so simple when you have had a rocky life (or even when you haven't). 

     Thread Starter

April 2, 2021 2:49 pm  #10

Re: Sliding off the ski lift

Well, we had the first session. It felt good to be doing something, but at the same time, I kind of felt like it was not going on the right track. It was a lot about communication skills and ground rules, and not really about goals. So at the end of the hour I kind of blurted out that I wanted to focus on what were the implications of the transition for our relationship going forward. I feel some frustration that I have to fight so hard to keep the focus there. Especially because this is as painful for me as it is for L. It's like I'm pleading for someone to cut my arm off so it doesn't get gangrene.

     Thread Starter

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