Friday, December 31, 2010

More Than a Feeling

I have been thinking of a topic to write about for this last day of 2010 and nothing of profound note came to mind. But something has been going on that I thought I should share anyway, so here goes...

We all have those days when those things that seem okay most of the time do not feel so okay. I am one of those people who tries to remain conscious of the causes of my feelings, so when these days happen, I search for reasons. Today is one of them.

We live in the Phoenix area (AZ) and yesterday it snowed. We had nothing more than a dusting, but the fact that snow fell from the sky over the Surface of the Sun is not normal by any means. I take these changes in weather three ways: first, I love snow so it was awesome; second, even awesome snow is proof that negative climatic changes are happening and that's bad; third, my life is about to undergo a major shift... again. I forget how much weather changes frighten me until they happen. I fear for my children's futures most of all. I could delve deeper into this subject, but I have no interest in starting an eco-political conversation here. My point is that the snow clearly altered my mood and I started to think negatively about a lot of things having nothing to do with the weather.

One of the main thoughts scuttling around my mind today was how much Natasha is in her forums and on her boards. She converses with her transfolk community at least as much as she interacts with her kids. Sometimes, it seems as if she is more interactive with the community than she is with me. I'm not exactly complaining. Yes, I obviously am feeling this way, but I also understand how important she has become to many people who need her. I understand that she needs these people, too. I can only so understanding and then I can go no further, having no personal experience with what she is going through. Rationally, I don't blame her for her commitment. Emotionally, when I'm having one of these days, I'd rather she be more present.

This brings me to the main point of this entry. I know that there are lots of transfolk who become very involved in their new lives and their partners start to feel like the third wheel. Natasha's "thing" isn't nearly as obtrusive as behaviors reported by others, but the issue is similar enough that I think I can address it.

To the transfolk: we (most of us partners, I hope) totally understand that you have entered a "new" world and that you are excited about exploring it. Perhaps you have begun going to meetings or developed friendships or you are really just going all gang-busters with your transition and being as much woman (or man) as you can be. Perhaps we, your partners, have given you the go-ahead and have chosen to stay and be supportive, but sometimes, you might stop to consider how quickly or how blatantly you are going ahead. How are we acting around you? Have we become withdrawn? Do we not hold your hand as much as we used to? Do we look you in the eyes as much? When we opened that door for you to go through, did you barge right in or did you step through with caution?

Partners, we will have days when what we have signed up for seems too much to handle, but it's just a day among many that are just fine. When your trans partner is going overboard... at least, to you... do you say something or do you keep it to yourself? Are you not saying anything because you are afraid that your trans partner's feelings will be hurt? Aren't YOUR feelings being hurt? They key to making it through the transition together is communication. Tell him or her that the behavior is making you feel excluded or is simply freaking you out. Ask him or her to take a step back and listen as you calmly explain how you feel. If you both talk about what both of you need, you can start to make these bad days less bad and less frequent.

So today, I mentioned to Natasha that her frequent blogging/forumming was bugging me a little. I also told her that I recognize that today, in particular, I am feeling totally off about a lot of things and I am working hard to feel better. I don't want to ring in 2011 with a bad mood.

The weather says that things are changing. I like snow, so perhaps this change will be good for all of us. 2010 was, over all, a very good year. We had some seriously bad downs, but we made it through them. Maybe a little snow is the gentle cleansing of the air that we all need.

I don't know if this post made any real sense. I hope someone gets something out of it. Basically, I hope everyone has a wonderful 2011. I hope that we all take each day as it comes and that we continue to work together... all of us... so that everything works out for the best.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Changing of the Guards

Virginia felt much better knowing that I would not be leaving any time soon, or at all. Unfortunately, that was also a problem that kept her depressed and having "gender dysphoric" moments every few days. She will read this and say that my indecision was not the cause of these moments. She will say that it's normal to start to hate your penis (if you're MTF) and not want to even see the thing. However, my proof is that the frequency of these moments diminished when I made a certain decision that I will get back to later.

In early September, after several months of wishing she could get up the courage to tell B about everything, B came out to visit. Her husband was not able to come, which disappointed us greatly, but I saw this as an opportunity to get it all out. So, I set her up so that B would know that something was going on and Virginia had to tell her. As I suspected, B was wonderful! She is my best sister-friend in the whole world, after all. Then, not long after, Virginia told my parents, who were really only concerned about me and the kids. Again, they were great! It's a joke in our family that J is their favorite child (I have a brother and J even beat HIM!). The news did not change their minds.

Finally, I had people to talk to. I couldn't really talk to my folks about it much, though, because I never discussed the "sexual" aspect of my life with them. They asked a lot of questions and I answered them the best I could, as did B. She and I talked nearly every day and at this point, much of the conversation was about Virginia. As relieved as I was to have people to talk to, there were new issues coming up. The big one, the one that was echoed by other friends/family when they were told in November, was that J might not be transsexual. Our little group of true friends knew about J's past, his drug use, his father, his mother and brothers... we all knew that he had tried to kill himself, his depression, and most importantly, a recurring comment of his that he never liked himself and wished he could be someone else. That was the big bell-ringer for everyone, including me. But my instincts told me that as horrible as it was, he/she was transsexual and that would never change. Once I began to voice my support of his condition, the matter was dropped (but not after she heard about it and got depressed, believing that no one trusted her and would never accept her).

On the plus side, B and I talked about how, if Virginia and I were not married and if she were our friend, we would be 100% supportive of her transitioning. I knew that if this news had come out earlier in our relationship, definitely before the kids, we probably would have divorced and I would have remained her best friend forever. That not being the case, B and I were often stumped. She wanted me to be happy. She loved Virginia, but I was her soul mate sister. If I was going to be a lesbian, it would have been with her (had she also been a lesbian). Seriously. When I told my parents that I was getting married, my father said, "Good. I was wondering if you were going to say it was to B or to J." I've known B since 1993. We're more than best friends, you know? So, she wanted me to be happy, but she also wanted Virginia to be happy and at some point, she said, I might have to make that hard decision to put my happiness before Virginia's. And every time she said this, my only response was, "I don't want to live without my Bubbow." (That's not really what we call each other. It's a secret.)

I started to embrace my own determination that I would be with her through this transition. Yes, I had already helped her to buy clothes and learn to put on makeup, but that was nothing. What I mean by "embrace" is that I resolved to help her be the best woman she could be. Virginia... J... Natasha... is my best, best friend in the universe. I love her more than B, and that's saying a lot. She is my perfect soul mate: the one I asked for. True, I never specified in my list that my perfect husband should not really be a woman in denial, but that's my fault. The universe always plays these tricks on me. It looks for loopholes. :-) Anyway, I wanted my husband to be happy, and for her to be the absolute happiest, she first had to become a woman and then she had to be with me. While I still could not guarantee the latter, I could be her friend and help her transition. I even fessed up and told her that Virginia was an AWFUL name for her. She doesn't look or act like a Virginia... I've known two. She's stocky and tall and Slavic. Virginia is none of these things. Together, we searched and finally found Natasha. Now THAT was a name for her. As many of you know, it stuck quickly and forever.

And that's when it happened. Over the course of a couple of months, it finally hit me that after all is done, I probably would not ever leave. Here's why.

I asked myself again: What is it about Natasha that has made me stay even this long? The answer: She's my Bubbow. Bubbow is a personality, you see. Bubbow is the essence of that person I married. It is not a gender. Had Bubbow changed? Maybe a little. Bubbow was less prone to rage. Bubbow waggled her hands a teeny bit more than she did before HRT and Bubbow CRIES A LOT MORE now. But overall, Bubbow has always been emotional. Also, Daddy did not change. Daddy still tossed the kids onto our bed so that they could pretend that they were flying. Daddy still read to them before bedtime. Every evening after dinner, Daddy still plopped onto the couch in HER spot with the computer.

One of the questions partners ask ourselves is if we really need to have a man or woman, whichever we initially married or dated. At first, that is what I thought I needed. A husband is a man, right? Why? Is being a husband defined by gender or by role? I think it is by role. Putting that aside, in terms of sexuality, we ask ourselves how important intercourse is. For us, sex was never a priority. I was certainly not bad, but we loved just being together. Sex happened sometimes because of a need or because it was fun, but honestly, I've never had the "need" for sex. I had a lot of it at times, but I'm a pleaser. I did it because my partner wanted it. Or I wanted it because my partner stopped paying attention to me, preferring to read a book instead of even holding hands. Also, I was exposed to a LOT of crazy stuff in college (off college grounds). The people I spent time with in college were re-enacters, pagans, potheads, sexually unconventional. While I did not partake in much of the really zany stuff, I videotaped a lot of it for them. :-) In other words, I never really cared what people did as long as they weren't hurting anyone. Nothing ever shocked me, just like I wasn't really shocked when Natasha first told me. So, I thought about the sexual part of our relationship and decided that, while the idea of being with another woman was not appealing, the idea of experimenting with my husband might be fun.

Why do heterosexual women need men? Mainly it's biological. We are hard wired by our brains (as you all know) to "need" a certain gender or variety of genders. For heterosexual women, we have the drive to be with men mainly to procreate. Who cares if we don't really want kids. The drive remains and so we look for men. Well, I already have my kids, so why do I still need a man?

Maybe I don't.

For the heterosexual partners out there, you really need to think about WHO you want to be with for the rest of your lives. Is the gender of your partner ESSENTIAL to your happiness? If you answer yes, then you need to be HONEST with your answer. Are you afraid of what others will think? What if you do go out with your transitioned partner; will people think you're gay? Are you homophobic? Do you see where I'm going here? Ultimately, I believe that if partners really... REALLY criticize their feelings, many will find that it's not the gender that matters but the PERSON.

Now, I'm not going to judge anyone for their decisions. We all have various other circumstances that will determine who stays and who goes. The bottom line is: how much do you love your partner and does that love outweigh all of the circumstances involved in your decision-making process? If the answer is no, then I suspect that you and your partner had other issues that should have been addressed much earlier. If the answer is no and it's because you really, truly NEED a partner of the correct gender for you, then be kind and let your love for your transitioning partner keep you two close, if only as friends.

Leaving a person in transition can be a deadly move. As much as Natasha reassured me that she would never try to take her own life, I had read enough to understand how often it happens in this particular community. Having tried before, to leave her in the midst of metamorphosis would probably kill her. Am I staying because of guilt? Absolutely not! Why would I WANT to leave someone I love who is going through something so difficult and scary? Have you ever been in a hospital by yourself with no one to even visit you? Well, I have not, but I have been in hospitals many times. Even WITH visitors, the times when you are alone, hurting, uncomfortable, hooked up to machines and hoses are horribly depressing. What about before that, when the person is in the process of getting used to new emotions and trying to fit in but terrified that people "will know" and possibly beat you up or kill you for it? Or to a lesser extent, those people simply shun you? I could never imagine abandoning my loved one to go through that alone!

Okay, so here I am. It's early December. Probably a day or two before my first blog entry. It hits me that I don't want to spend a moment of life without my Bubbow. It, suddenly, became that simple.

I told Natasha and she cried, of course. :-)

We started talking about the rest of the transition process and the time it might take to do that.

Natasha stopped having those really bad dysphoric days.

Between she and I, it felt just like it always did, before that day in June of 2009.

I can hear some of you readers saying, "You don't know how you'll feel when she has the surgery and is living full time as a woman." Well, you're sort of right. I might have one of those moments when I realize that it's just not enough anymore.

But then, if you consider that our son, now nearly 5 1/2, said just the other day, "Daddy, I can't wait until your body matches your brain because then you'll be very happy," you've got to wonder what's going on in his non-judgmental, unconditionally loving mind and ask yourself why you can't think that way, too.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

So now, I will bring you up to, approximately, late August 2010. The year I'm covering went by in a very... systematic way. I say that because as I look back I can see a clear progression of mental shifts for me.

For you transfolk, I think this is the point where many of your partners could not or would not go. For you partners, if you are reading this it is because it is a point where you hope to go or are in the process of investigating yourselves.

So, in November of 2009, J, my husband, began taking the hormones. The first signs were the crying and then the slow but steady increase of breast size. For most of the year (Nov 09 - Oct 10) I was being reassured that there would be a point where the physical changes would stop and he would be a she on occasion. J dressed to go to his therapist. J dressed to go to his aesthetician to eliminate the facial hair. J continued to wear women's loungewear at night. I was okay with this, but I did not particularly like to see him dressed as a her. I knew it made him feel better, though, and I could tell that the HRT was calming him, but still, despite weekly conversations that ended up with both of us crying (especially me), I saw my J slipping away.

In December 2009, I began to see a therapist who specialized in transgender issues (Yes, I know. Don't nit pick right now). I knew intellectually that I needed to ask myself questions about what I really wanted and what I thought was best for the kids, but because I had absolutely no one to talk to, I decided to give it a try. Oh, there was another reason. Before J began taking the hormones, we had gone to visit our closest friends (I mentioned one, B, in my last post). I was in another room with B and her sister, also like family to us, when B commented to me that her husband really missed J. She said that J was the only male her husband really felt comfortable with. Oh, how that set me off! I burst into tears right in front of them. They were panicking, not knowing at all why I was crying. I was nearly delirious, saying "I can't tell you" and "He's not himself," over and over. They had no idea what I was talking about and I knew that, but all I could feel was that her husband would no longer have that kind of relationship with J. He would lose the only other male he felt truly at ease with. So, by December, I was quietly going crazy. By early February, I stopped seeing the therapist. I had spent about six weeks with her, telling her about my life and, mostly, my husband's past and his relationship with his father. We barely touched on the reason I was there. I thought of looking for another therapist, but I had a feeling that I would just spend another couple of months... or more... providing backstory. I was alone again.

During that year, about one day a week was devoted to discussing his condition and changes and then crying. It wasn't planned, of course, but inevitably, he would bring up his frustration with not fully expressing his femininity or I would make some unintentional comment that would upset him. Like once after she had come out to B, B and I were talking on the phone about J and "his boobs." An innocent question was asked concerning hiding them. As usual, I had shared the gist of the conversation with J and recited the question verbatim. The phrase, "his boobs" made him upset. "Her boobs." Why couldn't we have talked about HER boobs? Men don't have boobs. Bear in mind that she had said to everyone, including my parents, when dressed like a guy, use "he," and when dressed like a girl, say "she." Well, HE had been dressed like a guy and B and I were discussing HIM in a male role. But this was how things went. J got upset at a lot of things that did not further her quest to become fully female.

From November to about August 2010, while on my own, I looked at my children and wondered how they would cope. Knowing that one day, their daddy would be a woman and mommy and daddy would no longer be together. The thought broke my heart over and over. Divorce wrecks kids. Surely a gender-role change would do the same. J, whom many of you knew at the time as Virginia, insisted that she would always be Daddy, but seriously; what happens when the kids talk about their daddy Virginia? Most people are horrible. Most people stick to gender-roles like they stick to their religions. They fear difference and change. Understand that I never hated Virginia for what was happening. I hated "the other:" everyone else... out there... who could hurt my family because of ignorance, stupidity and intolerance. It was the kids themselves, too. Would they really understand? I had read a variety of comments from children of transfolk. Some accepted it and some did not. I vowed to show my children that, no matter what, I loved their father and I loved them. I hoped so hard that it would be enough for them.

I noticed that my children (about 5 and 3) did not seem to care that Daddy wore the same evening clothes as I did. They did not seem to mind that Daddy used a higher pitched voice when he read to them at night. They did not blink when Daddy dressed like a girl to go out every so often.

Whenever I thought about my children, I found myself asking how I really felt about what was going on. Again, I was not, nor will I ever be, a lesbian. So, what was it that made me so sure that I would not stay married to... her? It took a long time, but eventually, as I asked myself this question, I started to realize that there was nothing wrong with our marriage. This is, in my opinion, why so many partners leave their transitioning partners. The more I read and thought, the more I understood that partners leave for two reasons. Either they simply can not get past the physical manifestation of another gender on their spouse, which is ENTIRELY LEGITIMATE, or there is something else wrong with the marriage and this is just the last straw or the best excuse to get out. Regarding the first option, no matter how much one might claim that he or she is not "materialistic" or that he or she is attracted to what's on the inside of a person, EVERYONE has a tendency to be attracted to a certain physicality. It could be eye color, height, build, voice... or gender. The thing is that lots of people really are more physically comforted by a specific kind of person. This is natural and is okay. But when you are the partner and have to make the decision to stay or leave, you can not allow yourself to make a decision about gender changes without taking a good, long look at how important those physical attributes really, truly are to you. Height won't change. Hair color won't change (but some might grow back!). Build only changes slightly, since muscle mass decreases. Eye color doesn't change, nor do feet or hand sizes. And, usually, the face doesn't change. Only people with lots of money might consider some facial reconstruction, but if you look at the majority of transfolk out there, they simply are too poor to become the next top model. For most, just BEING a woman is enough. Most cis women, like me, are pretty plain. Now, I must say that for a long time, I thought Virginia would be trying to raise her vocal pitch. We both recently discovered that this is not necessarily the right thing to do. It's resonance, not pitch, that makes a female voice.

So, what about the other reason? Like I said, we had no problems before this. We were soul mates like you might have never experienced. We were different, but so much alike. We had fun together, loved each other, brought our children into the world because we felt that we would fill them with love that would somehow help them grow into people who would change the world... make it a better place. We had one of those marriages where we would tell people that we never argued and they would say that we must not be communicating because EVERY couple fights, right? Not us. We always communicated with each other. We certainly disagreed, but we did not argue. We discussed. We negotiated and worked things out. Did I want to lose that? Of course not!

I was thinking, he didn't do this on purpose. The one thing he could do that would make me divorce him was to cheat on me. He didn't do that. He was trying so hard to do what I wanted. I knew he couldn't do it forever, and we intend to live that long.

Trust me: I looked for a reason to leave. I looked for a reason to be mad enough at J so that I could pack up his stuff and toss it out. By the end of the summer of 2010, I sat Virginia down and said that, no matter what happens after, I would stay with her through everything. I said I knew she must eventually transition entirely. I wanted her to be happy. To remain in limbo would have brought little happiness, no matter how much she loved me and our children. I said I would stay until it was done, and then we would see how I felt about being married to a woman.

That, at least, was good enough for her for the time being.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I Read the News Today, Oh Boy...

In early June 2009, after my husband came home from a session with his psychologist, he said to me that he was transgendered (yes, that's not quite right, but that's what he said). He said that his brain was female.

I said, "So, what does this mean?"

He said, "It means I'm a girl."

I believe that my mind went blank. I didn't pass out or anything; I just didn't have a reaction. He had been going to the therapist for a few months already because he had a terrible childhood (with some fun thrown in), went through a drug phase, a suicidal phase, was a compulsive eater and was a very angry person. Every few months, he would have these breakdowns where, for no apparent reason, he would become so depressed that he would, quite literally, dissolve into a mass of unmovable sorrow on the floor. He would cry horribly, tell me that there was nothing in the world for him, and I could say or do nothing to help. These episodes scared me probably as much as they scared him. I got to the point where I would be crying, too, saying over and over that I didn't know what to do. Then, a few times a month, he would become so enraged at things that most people would simply be annoyed at that he would leave the house, hit a wall, kick something (never a person or pet) or just seethe in it. Once, when our son was only a few months old, he almost... almost... shook him too hard because he would not stop crying.

What he told me that day, now that I look back on it, did not exactly surprise me. For a few years at that point, he had been "cross dressing" in the evenings. He preferred to wear women's lounge wear. Admittedly, they are softer and more loose-fitting than men's. I never minded that.

How and when I learned about the consequences of him being transsexual (as he finally announced maybe a month ago) is a blur. I didn't need to learn a lot about it in the beginning because he said that he was going to learn to live somewhere in the middle. He needed to dress as a woman sometimes, but he, the husband, would never go away.

I was okay with that.

But then, he told me that he needed to start Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). What was that? He said that it would help him feel like his body would be more in line with his brain. Great! He said that he would start to grow breasts... Huh? No.

You need to understand that my husband talked to me about all of this in a highly emotional state. He wasn't crying or anything, but when a person sees the bright end of a horribly dark, seemingly infinite tunnel, even the most calmly stated words are said with a subtle sense of urgency. So, the result was, and was for over a year, frequent contradictory statements. One day, I heard, "I don't need to become a woman. I can put this part of me away." Another day, I heard, "I can't be fully happy if I don't transition."

Within a month or so of getting this news, I had become fully immersed in a depression that I had never experienced before. I could not talk to anyone about it except him, so when we talked and I voiced my fears, I made him cry and insist that he would never do anything that I didn't approve of, but also that he couldn't stand not doing something about it. He knew that he was "to blame" for my depression, and that depressed him, so I had to stop being depressed in order to help him out of his sorrows.

Our relationship had always been that way, anyway. No matter how I was feeling, I could not let him remain in a depressed state. I put away my feelings for his most of the time and in the process of helping him to feel better, I forgot about my own process.

I'm not trying to play victim here, or try to make you feel badly for me. I have always been this way. My parents said that my friends were like "wounded birds" that I would take in, heal, and let go. My husband was a wounded bird when I met him, but I knew that he was also my perfect soul mate. I had asked for him exactly six months before I met him (...for the second time, but that's another story). I cast a spell in a fire at sundown on the Spring Equinox at Joshua Tree National Park in California. I listed (with my very best friend, who did the same for herself) exactly what I wanted in a husband, burned the list in that fire with certain flowers and herbs and knew that he would come. He did. Neither of us were perfect, but we were and still are perfect for each other. So, for me to put my feelings aside to help him was as natural a process as breathing.

Yet, I remained depressed. I was afraid. My husband tried to reassure me. Unfortunately for him, I always trusted my instincts, which were telling me very loudly that this would not end the way he said it would. I was going to have a woman in my house that I did not want there. I was not, nor am I now, a lesbian. By then, I had begun to read and research. I read so many accounts of transsexuals who came to the point where he or she simply could not stop the process. It became almost an obsession to, to quote one of my favorite all time TV shows, "put right what once went wrong." I knew for 100% certain, that he would become a she and my heart broke. There was nothing he could say to reassure me, even though I often ended conversations letting him think I was convinced.

In the middle of all this, probably in August 2009, he started acting out. He became flamboyant in the worst way. He wasn't acting "gay." He was over-compensating, trying to mimic female mannerisms but really badly. He dressed up poorly. He wore unflattering makeup. I flipped out! It was so sudden and over the top that I was ready to leave. I didn't say that to him, of course, but because we ALWAYS communicate, I did tell him that I couldn't stand to see him that way. He explained that he was trying to learn to be like a girl by imitation and he understood that he needed to back off. It was like the dam had broken and he was finally free, but there was no control, no order, no real thought about where he was heading. He calmed down without hesitation.

It was eye-opening for me. The thought of snuggling up to a woman was not alluring or comforting to me. I saw myself becoming a statistic of divorce. I saw myself without my soul mate. I saw him becoming a women who would return to a small apartment somewhere, alone, depressed and scared... without me. I saw my two children bring ridiculed, beat up. I saw their beautiful, genius minds being forever screwed up because their daddy was going to be a woman. I couldn't shake it. I saw our friends being torn because most of them knew me first but came to love him just as much. These, I knew, were not predictions. I knew them to be fears, but they were definitely also very real possibilities. I hated them all.

I researched desperately for some innovation in the treatment of GID. No luck. I read about the few "successful" people who were happily living a live in both worlds. But I also knew my husband. He's a double Aries. He can't start something big and not finish it, even if it takes years. He tried so hard to be this way, but by late September of 2009, I knew that he was dying inside.

I felt that my husband was dead.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

My Husband is a Girl...

Welcome to my latest attempt at creating a journal for things going on in my life. I think that, although the other two were very important subjects to me, this one is not only just as important, it is focuses on a subject about which I have a lot to say that I don't think many other people in my position are saying publicly or, sadly, privately.

My husband is transsexual. He... she... has Gender Identity Disorder. I assume she has Harry Benjamin's Syndrome. I have chosen to stay with her throughout this long transitional process. When it is done, I do not know how I will feel. However, it is safe to say that I love my husband enough to believe in our relationship over the long, difficult haul. I will probably stay and be quite happy.

So, this blog will first get you caught up on the last eighteen months. She told me in June of 2009. It took me this long to figure out that I needed to write about this as much for my own sanity as for my desire to add to the conversation about transsexualism. And then, I will continue into the future when I can, reporting my feelings and those events that influence them.

This blog is, I hope, going to be one that will bring hope to both transsexuals and their partners and families. I think that even cross dressers and their families might benefit, as well as any family in which someone finally comes to terms with the fact that he or she is not exactly who she or he wanted to be, or convinced him/herself who she or he was. This is for the loved ones who know in their hearts that this was not a choice.

I hope it becomes what I wish it to be: it being the blog... and my marriage. :-)

Just as an aside, please forgive me if I slip into calling my husband him sometimes. She still presents male much of the time and, after over nine years, habits are hard to break.