A blog post caught my eye the other day. More or less the author asked why some women stay and some women leave when their partners transition. And as I can’t speak for other couples I’ll try and speak for us. So why does M choose to stay? She married a man, she married Rick, and now I am neither. I’m Dana and while I may not be a woman in the classical definition, I am most definitely not a man anymore. This is reason enough for her to go. But she doesn’t.
The roles in our marriage are fluid at best and become confused in many situations. She handles these situations with grace and humor, and she stays. My personality is still changing and the person she sleeps next to is different every month. Yet, she still stays. She has to explain to countless people, including her family, my family, friends, and coworkers that she’s married to a woman now. She has to answer questions never asked of others. Yet, she does this with patience and pride. She never complains and she keeps moving forward. And she stays.
We have a good life. We have two great kids, we have a lifetime of memories, and we still enjoy each other. She makes me happy, and I strive to make her happy. We still laugh with each other and sometimes we cry with each other. But other couples in this same situation have these same attributes in their marriage and yet they break apart. But she stays.
M has made me happy every day for the last 30 years. And still makes me happy every day. But, beyond that happiness she has chosen to give me the gift of a lifetime. In one year’s time she has taken away the piece deep inside of me that has caused grief and confusion my entire life. She looked at me and said ‘I want you to be happy’. She knew what that meant; she knew the sacrifices she’d be making. Neither of us knew what lied ahead but each of us knew it was big, life changing, and a one way trip. Why? Why would she offer this to me? Why would she give this gift to me, at such a high cost to herself?
I’ve also been good to her. She’s the most important thing in my life and I still worry each day I’m not doing enough to keep her happy. I’m not talking about the happy that money buys, not the cars, or the house, or the travel. I’m talking about the happy of a smile, a thought, a touch, the gift of attention I am there when the world looks dark and bleak, I am there with a touch, a hug, an ear. I’m her best friend always, every day, no exceptions.
But that is not why she stays while others go.
She knew of my struggles years ago. She has lived with them almost as long as I have. She knows the pain and confusion the struggles bring to both her and to me. She never signed up for this, but neither did I, I would not wish this type of pain on my worst enemy. She has worked hard over the years to learn how to live with them, as did I. In many ways she progressed down this path side by side with me. There were times when she did not understand, or couldn’t cope. And, there were times when I did not understand the pain I was causing her and I couldn’t cope. But we both worked through those times, we worked through them together.
We worked hard to be happy together, but that is not why she stays and others go.
I wondered if I had told her of my struggles late in life, and surprised her with all of this. If after 30 years of this I had said I was unhappy and had been my entire life, would she be able to handle it. Would she have left then? She says ‘no’ she would not have been able to handle it, but she would have stayed. Why?
Even though I knew the answer already, I asked her today why she stays. Why live this life with me, why share this pain, why embrace the world together?
She just said ‘because I love you’.
As I do her.