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How to Tell Your Wife You Are a Cross-dresser

05/17/2015 10:45 am ET | Updated May 15, 2016

Wearing your favorite lace bra and panties in a hotel room while on a business trip or when you are by yourself at home when your wife and kids are out of town can be a lonely experience. After all, you have been dressing in woman's clothing since you were a child, knowing this is something that you had to do. It made you feel good; it felt right to wear your sister's nightgown, even if you were caught in the act, you still did it.

As a cross-dresser you have always known you love to dress, and unlike a transgender person, you don't want to change your gender, as you are content with being a man, yet this need to wear woman's clothing and act out your femme self, has created confusion for you since you were a child.

You have always loved bras and are fascinated by breasts, even if you don't have them, you like the way they fill a bra. The touch of the silk against your skin makes you feel whole. It is something you think about everyday, even if you are not acting on it.

Conflicted over your cross-dressing habit, you try to make peace with it and quit attempting to figure out why you have this desire to wear woman's clothing. Your therapist says you are normal, so why can't you tell anyone about your desire to dress and let your femme self out for others to see? The one person you want to share your femme self with is your wife, the mother of your children, your best friend and partner in life.

Yet, you don't know how to tell her. You are afraid she will abandon you or look badly on your behavior, thinking it is a sexual fetish that she wants no part of, when dressing is something that you were born with and a part of you that is begging to be exposed.

According to Sister House, a popular site for cross-dressers, about 70% of their audience have expressed that they have told their wives. The other 30% are still hiding in the shadows wanting to come out and share their femme self. Conflicted over how to tell their wives after many years of marriage, they dress by themselves in silence, which only makes the act more deviant. They connect on social media, showing themselves dressed only as their femme self, hoping to connect with others who can share their need to dress.

With the transgender community stepping up, as Bruce Jenner has become the leader in this journey, the cross-dressers are still needing to come out of hiding and to at least share their femme self with their wives. But, how do you tell her after all these years that you have a secret life that she doesn't know about?

Let's first look at the three ways you shouldn't tell your wife about your cross-dressing:

• Leaving a picture of you dressed on your iPad for her to "accidentally" see and pretending that you never meant for her to find the picture when in fact, you did.
• Leaving your size 44 E bra under the bed as a, "Sorry, you weren't supposed to see it." This only makes her feel like she violated your privacy or worse yet, have a girlfriend with very large breasts.
• Get recognized by her girlfriend who saw you at a hotel bar. No wife wants to be the last to know your secret. Public opinion does matter and she wants to be able to control who knows about your cross-dressing because it also affects her.

The best ways to tell your wife:

• Take her on a vacation, just the two of you; no kids. Relaxed and away from responsibilities is the time to have an honest discussion on your cross-dressing. Let her know you have not told her because you are just beginning to understand how important cross-dressing it is to you in your life and the one person you trust and love is her. Tell her about your early experiences with cross-dressing.
• Schedule an appointment with a therapist for both of you. I would suggest you tell her before you see the therapist, but have an appointment lined up to help her sort out her feelings and give you both the tools you need to help keep an open line of communication. Communication is key for acceptance.

There is no perfect way to inform your wife you are a cross-dresser, yet the way you tell her is almost as important as what you are telling her. Most cross-dressers are quite good at hiding their secret, so when you do inform her after years of marriage, she is going to be shocked. She probably won't know what being a cross-dresser is and what it means to your marriage. She may think she is going to lose her husband to his femme shelf, which doesn't happen very often, but she doesn't know that.

Tell your wife you love her, will always love her and that she is the most important person in your life. You are not going to transition into a woman, you like being a man and her husband, but after all of these years of hiding, you have to be able to share that you are a cross-dresser and to let out your femme side. You are not abandoning your wife; you are just being who you have been all along.

Your wife needs time to process what she heard. It is another test for your marriage. Tell her that you never meant to hurt her and give her time to learn more about what cross-dressing is and don't forget to go to support groups. It will give her a chance to share with other wives and to feel connected.

Life is short; you and your wife deserve to have an honest marriage. There's nothing you can do to change the past, so focus on your future by sharing this adventure together and finding a way to integrate your femme self in your marriage that is acceptable and hopefully, rewarding for you both.