Ask Beth: Don't Judge a Book by Its Cover

Posted by Beth Darling on Jun 7th 2022

Dear Beth,

Last week I came home from work early one day and found my husband having lunch in our kitchen dressed in one of my fancy nightgowns and stockings.

I freaked out, obviously. He changed clothes immediately and then started crying and telling me he didn’t know why he did it, but admitted it wasn’t the first time. When I told him to pack his stuff and leave he freaked out and said he still loves me and wants to stay married. I told him I don’t want to be married to a gay man- but he says he isn’t gay, he just likes wearing my stuff sometimes.

What should I do? If a man likes to dress like a woman - does that mean he’s gay? Or Trans?

After 13 years together, I feel like our whole marriage has been based on a lie.

Please help!


Dear Susan,

Wow- I can see how this would be a shock for you. It’s hard to realize that sometimes we don’t know someone as well as we thought we did.

But, no matter what a shock this is, it doesn’t mean that your marriage has been built on a lie. After all, there’s much more to a marriage than what either person wears- even if they keep their preferences hidden for years. Of course, it’s hurtful to think that he doesn’t feel safe enough to share this part of himself with you. But to be fair, cross-dressing isn’t something that is widely acceptable so it wouldn’t be surprising if your husband has fear, shame or embarrassment around this issue.

Having worked with many men in this situation, I know that they are often terrified that their partner (even if a very loving person) will judge them, or won’t understand and might even leave them.

It seems to me that the big issue isn’t the secrecy, but rather how you feel about the cross-dressing. And what it means to him because cross-dressing doesn’t mean he’s gay, trans or anything else. The only way to delve into those issues are to engage in some blunt, ongoing conversations that might be tough for both of you- but could lead to a much more authentic relationship.

In my experience, simply agreeing that he won’t do this any more won’t accomplish anything long term except drive his behavior further into hiding. There’s part of his personality or erotic template that led him to cross-dress, ignoring it won’t get rid of it. Which is why I’d challenge you to dig deep and come to terms with how/why his choice of attire affects your love/desire for him.

On the upside, if you can find a way to share and accommodate his desires, not only might you be more inclined to share your own, but your relationship will probably be strengthened immensely by the accompanying feelings of safety and acceptance.

I’ve known many wonderful men who cross-dress and many of them have been very happily married for decades. Of those men, the happiest were those whose wives knew and accepted their affinity for feminine attire.

I hope this helps reassure you a bit and that you’ll take time to work through your feelings before making any rash decisions. I also encourage you to consider working with a coach or therapist to make sure that y’all take this opportunity to get everything on the table to avoid further surprises down the road.

I’m rooting for your happiness!