For the majority of partners this is the sad side of Transitioning. And the support in New Zealand is still sorely lacking for supporting couples.
How well we handle the transition from lovers to partners or exes depends on a lot of factors, such as similarities in attitudes, interests, and backgrounds, financial stability, communication skills, perceived trust and supportiveness, etc.
Maybe you are okay with your partner’s transition but you really don’t know how to cope with it. Perhaps you are worried about your children, the neighbours, your places of employment, your partners, etc. Some of you who are supportive of your transitioning partner may feel excluded from the process. There are others of you who may even think that you are the problem and that is why they are transitioning.
My personal belief is that what partners, children, and the entire family system go through is one of the most overlooked areas during the process of transitioning.
It's not just understanding your partner that's the issue. The partner first has to get to grips with the apparent dishonesty of the trans person. Secrets are bad for relationships and this is a biggy. While the secrecy is understandable, it is still has an inherent sniff of dishonesty and that puts a huge strain on the relationship.
Another major issue is the partner is now forced to confront their own sexual preference. In order to maintain the relationship this make them at least bisexual and most straight people can't deal with that.
Even if they accept their partner's transition and truly love them, in most cases the couple may need to simply be a best friend to each other.
“do I stay or do I leave?”
“It wasn’t just that they were changing gender, but it seemed like they were becoming a different person and I was losing the person I married.”
“It’s not just emotional support but little things, like my partner asking my opinion on what clothes they should wear, how they should act and what should they change their name to.”
“I was very much in love with my husband, and I will always miss being married to that person. The thing that helped me around it a little bit was realising I was never married to him, I was married to somebody who looked like him and who I could project all that himness onto, but when I go back and look at our wedding photos, it’s like, ‘She was making such a valiant effort to look like a man, like a groom.’ I never married a guy, I married a woman.”
“I’ve never fallen in love with a woman … and then after my partner started taking Estrogen, it confirmed to me that I’m definitely heterosexual.”
"You’re not my person!"
"Was I going to go through all this with her, just to have her leave me because she preferred men? I was terrified."
*Quotes from various anonymous sources