Friday, August 22, 2014

In Living Memory

For the trans spouse, those feelings of attraction, the desire for intimacy, the relationship, none of that inherently changes. What does change is caused by how much the other spouse feels that things have changed on his or her end. For example, Natasha, now being a woman, is not attractive to me. I have no desire for intimacy with her. The physiology of our relationship has fundamentally changed.

So here I am, living mostly very happily with my best friend. Every so often, my primal self, the part of me that likes to remind me that I like men, does its instinctive duty and I look at my devoted spouse and I feel horribly guilty for what my core being is saying to me. Life would be so much less complicated if I were much older and we'll past the point where my primal self gives a crap. But I'm not, and when it nags at me, I look at my spouse and see the person I used to want. It hurts.

But what am I going to do about it? Nothing. Not right now. Maybe not ever. A friend told me that I described where I am perfectly. I am the hub at the center of an infinitely-spoked wheel. Each spoke represents an option. Half of them lead me to stay and half lead me to go. But I am the hub and I can't actually make any decisions right now because the wheel is spinning very, very quickly. The only way it will slow down is if I can eliminate a lot of the spokes, and at this very moment, it is neither wise nor practical. I'm not going to even attempt to share any of those variables with you, mostly because you probably know exactly what I mean. For those who have no idea, I will say that no one lives in a vacuum and to make decisions as if one does is amazingly selfish and often catastrophic, especially to others.

For the rest of my life, Natasha will be a living, breathing memory of the full, complete life I had. I don't hate her for it, although I wish I had reason to. How much easier and how far fewer spokes there would have been had she cheated or had lied about knowing she was trans when we met. But no. There is no fault here, and that makes it all the more sad at times. I can't imagine my life without her, yet I sometimes wish we were neighbors or roommates instead of married. This pulling from different directions weighs in a person's soul at times.

And then, she is the living spouse who is still the one to make me laugh, to eat too much bacon with, to raise our kids with, to make silly voices at the pets. She's my family.

The wheel keeps spinning and it gets to me sometimes, but at the end of the day, I still have with Natasha what so many others will never have: a truly loving family. It makes me feel mad at myself that I even entertain the idea of breaking that up, even though I know that I am not the one who changed and that what I feel and think is normal.

I know it's okay to think what I do, even if it doesn't always feel that way. Just one of many effects of being the hub.

9 comments:

B. Strong said...

My question is mainly about why an "open" relationship can't exist. Is it religious? Is it fear? Is it the idea that marriage is only two people being intimate and also physical?

I'm not asking this out of any type of judgement, but a real question of if this type of relationship can exist for the long run. Is there any hope of being with our soulmate while getting our physical needs met by others? If not, why not? Why can't we get physical pleasure from others while getting emotional needs met by our spouse?

I struggle with this issue in my own mind since we are just in the beginning of this transition right now. I don't know why we as human beings can't accept that different needs might be met by different people. Does any one person ever encompass all our needs? Why can't we let ourselves get these need met without jealously?

I hope for all of our sakes we can find a balance. Can we love and let each other get other needs met elsewhere without breaking up our relationships?

joanna Santos said...

Please forgive my comment it it seems rude to you but since Natasha made this major life decision this was not something that made part of your marriage contract.

Speaking as someone who's wife divorced him over crossdressing, I can't help but think this far exceeds what you should expect to find acceptable as a normal heterosexual woman.

without destroying your marriage is there not some way to fulfill your needs somehow?

I am very understanding of Natasha as I am gender dysphoric but yet am very realistic about my prospects of having a conventional woman accept a transition.

My girlfriend accepts my dressing but would not stay were that to happen.

I wish you both the best.

Marni said...

Hi B and Joanna!

I think I can respond to both of you with one comment. I will try to be brief (Ha!)

I am not religious at all, but I have a strong spiritual set of beliefs, all of which center around the idea that we are all interconnected to some degree or another. When I say that Natasha, or any of a few others, is a soul mate, I'm not kidding. For me, a soul mate is someone who is so connected to me that we are practically twin (spiritually speaking).

Marriage, to me, is a promise between only two people. That may not hold for others, but that's what I feel. I could never be with someone else while married to her. It would break her heart and it would tell my children that I consider marriage as something other than what I believe deep inside.

But it's more than that, frankly. The fact is that I have tried to have purely physical sex without a connection to the guy. It really sucked. I'm not exaggerating, either. My enjoyment of sex is as emotional and spiritual as it is physical, so it just doesn't please me when the first two aren't there.

And yes, B. For me, I would answer your question that one person CAN encompass all of our needs. I don't think that humans are incapable of seeing each other as parts to a whole, but in my experience, I've never known a truly happy open marriage situation or a threesome relationship. Inevitably, someone ends up being left out and regrets.

Jealousy is what a person feels when he or she feels left out. It's a derivative of sadness. It's what drove our ancestors (and our modern selves) to compete for the strongest or most fertile partner. Also, remember that the major evidence of polygamy in humans is one male with many females, not the other way around. As a species, anthropologists are finding that monogamy is also genetic for a large percentage of us (but not all). Anyway, it's not my bag, so if I'm going to find somebody to have sex with, that means I will also have an emotional and spiritual bond with him. I simply can't stay married to another soul mate for that. It's just not fair to her.

Joanna, you are right. My husband becoming a woman was not in our contract. And this is, technically why some day our marriage may end. But what was in our contract was that we would stick together through the hard times and the easy times. We've both honored that. Yes, I guess I've done more of the sticking by in the hard times than she has, but as I said in the post, it wasn't her fault. She didn't do anything to break the contract, like lie or cheat.

Michellewhois said...

Marni, I too am one that has a strong spiritual set of beliefs but I am the other side of the equation. I am the one that changed. I hold my marriage sacred and would never do anything to harm her in any way. I believe that she holds my heart dearly but I know that her primal urge got the better of her several times in the past. She never found out that I knew because I felt that I was to blame. I love her dearly and if she needed anything I would gladly give her what would make her whole. I felt she needed that man/woman experience to help her feel whole. I know what she experienced was not as profound as she might have expected. I will admit that prior to our marriage I took lovers to help me find myself as a woman.

Just as you have found, she found that trying to have a purely physical relationship with a guy was a recipe for disaster. She once told me that a guy she dated (supposedly before we got together) lacked the emotional portion of her need to feel anything for him. I know that the guy was someone that we both knew from some of the slips she made when talking about him. She told me that I was the only one she found in her life that could ever give her all the physical as well as the emotional and spiritual satisfaction that she needed to feel whole.

I once asked her if she would enjoy having a lover on the side and I almost lost her after suggesting it. She stated that she could never share herself or me with anyone. As you stated, jealousy would become a factor that she would never want to bring into our union. After 36 years together, I look back and see that she was, is and always will be my soul mate.

joanna Santos said...

Marni you are very committed to your marriage and I find that marvelous and wonderful and yet I am not certain qualifies under the thick or thin category. The tables were turned on you and I would argue that this constitutes an entirely new contract.

Again, I very much relate to Natasha's side of things but from your perspective it seems more than unfair. For the record I have no such expectation from a normal heterosexual woman so kudos to you for hanging tough.

I was brought up with the idea that marriage vows are extremely serious business so I understand and respect very much your stance on this.

B. Strong said...

Hi all,

Marni, I love your commitment to your marriage and being faithful. I have always been faithful so far, but I do question if I can do that in the long run. I would not be sneaky about it, it would have to be "in the open" so to speak. Our conversations in the past have included thoughts about me getting my physical needs met but her not needing to know details. I was in the unique position of knowing about the conflict of the gender dysphoria from the beginning of our relationship. I did express to her (him at the time) that I like men and have my physical needs for a man. I like women too, but it's not my first preference in regard to sexual activity. So, I feel like we both went into this marriage with our eyes wide open.

I am terribly conflicted about this. I have never been unfaithful to my spouse and would never do anything without her permission. But even with permission, I don't know if either one of us could deal with the thought of being with another person sexually. I don't want to hurt her.

For me, sex and intimacy are not mutually exclusive.
Personally, I am able to disconnect from sexual encounters and not get emotionally involved. It's actually the only way I ever had sexual relationships in the past. I get uncomfortable with intertwining sex with emotion. But that's just me and my past.

This is of course my biggest concern for our future. Can we both be satisfied in all aspects? We do not have children, so we don't even have that kind of bond keeping us together. I take my marriage very seriously as well. I committed to spending my life with this person. I meant it and I still want that. My day to day life with her keeps me whole. I don't want our relationship to end. I love her.

I absolutely respect anyone else's position on what they feel is right or wrong in a marriage. Religious, spiritual or otherwise. For me, I just hope we can resolve our emotinal and physical needs to both be happy. I would prefer it be with us married, but if that isn't in the cards, I'm prepared to deal with that as well.

In a way, I feel like the typical ideals of what marriage should be kind of went out the window with the transition. Not my commitment to her, just the expectations or idea of how a marriage would be for the rest of my life. Yes, I knew this may become an issue when I married her, but she also knew what my needs were when she married me.

Mourito Jasphere said...
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A. Quiet Voice said...

I have been with my current husband for 15 years now and I understand what you mean about that spiritual intimacy shared when we are making love. For me it is almost 'other worldly' and I know my husband also feels that our physical intimacy is extremely special.

This is why I have to inquire about how you can say that "She didn't do anything to break the contract, like lie or cheat."

Is not not telling you about the existence of a known condition, like cancer, or an STD or GID, a lie of omission?

Marni said...

@A - When Natasha went to Colorado in her early 20s to have the surgery, she was so terrified by what she learned and saw that she utterly convinced herself that it was another phase of self-loathing and she pushed the thoughts into the deepest parts of her subconscious. By the time we met, to tell me that she went through that phase would have been like admitting that you still pick your nose, except that for her thinking that she was trans was something made up in her imagination. Being in such extreme denial is not uncommon among adult trans folk, or among other folk who have gone through sever traumatic psychological experiences. So, for me to say that she knew all along and simply kept the truth from me would be a false accusation. It's not a lie of omission when for them, there is nothing to lie about.

Yes, plenty of trans folk lie to the people they meet, usually because they are afraid that they will be rejected... which most certainly happens. But this was not the case for Natasha. You and other readers can think that I'm delusional, that I've convinced myself that I can trust Natasha THAT MUCH, but the fact is that I do trust her that much. If she tells me that she wasn't conscious of it when we met and while our relationship grew, I completely believe her. I have no reason not to.