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Forums / Relationship and family issues / Wife of many years now non-binary - really not sure how I feel about this

Topic: Wife of many years now non-binary - really not sure how I feel about this

  1. Battlin Business Owner
    Battlin Business Owner avatar
    18 posts
    25 April 2022

    Hey everyone,

    Guessing I can't be the only person in this situation. I'm a simple guy with a fairly simple perspective on the world, at least I think I am.

    My wife and I had been married almost 20yrs, we're both in a mid 40's and we have two kids one daughter and a son. We've had the usual challenges I think many relationships have but we're still here.

    In the last 6 months or so my wife has declared she's non-binary and my daughter is apparently gender fluid.

    Honestly I'm fine for people to be who or what they want to be.

    My challenge is I'm a guy, I'm not anything else, I married a woman. It was pretty simple.

    Apparently now, some 20yrs on I'm no longer married to a woman...

    I've had a look for support material on this issue, frankly it's all put out by organisations that I find, are heavily slanted towards looking after the needs of the transitioning partner and supporting them. Don't be selfish and make it about you seems to be the message.

    For me, ok I'm not the most intuitive guy, this was a massive shock and after 20yrs how can it not be about me as well?

    I honestly don't know how I feel about it. She seems pretty committed to this course.

    I really don't think I can be married to someone who feels like their a guy some of the time. I get there's more too it than that but essentially, I feel like that's what she's telling me.

    I've read a few posts here of others who have have had partners decide to change gender part way through a relationship. Essentially it seems however it goes it's hard for everyone, some make it some don't.

    Anway, really not sure what's going to happen but would love to hear from others in a similar situation.

    Thx in advance.

  2. sbella02
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    25 April 2022 in reply to Battlin Business Owner

    Hey Battlin Business Owner,

    Thank you so much for opening up to us about your situation. I may be able to offer some advice, or at least another perspective to consider.

    Non-binary is a really interesting strand of the gender spectrum, I think. I remember when I first learned about the term, I would've been about 14 years old, and one of my classmates had just come out as agender. I began to look into gender non-conforming identities out of curiosity, because I couldn't quite comprehend the idea of gender being a spectrum. After much research and surrounding myself with more members of the LGBTQIA+ community since, I've come around to the idea of the gender spectrum and now quite enjoy learning about different identities within it.

    Your words, "how can it not be about me as well?" make sense to me. The whole experience of coming out is highly individual and complex for not only the person who is coming out, but also for the people around them too. With people who identify as trans or non-binary in particular, coming out can induce a variety of lifestyle changes and adjustments for people. I would attribute this to our society's socially (and culturally) defined gender roles and stereotypes that can outwardly or even subconsciously dictate our interactions with people.

    I would like to draw upon an example from pop culture here. Kris Jenner was married to Caitlin Jenner before she publicly came out as transgender. Kris is, to my knowledge, heterosexual. Although she still has much love and respect for Caitlin, her sexuality is dictated by gender preference, and thus she felt that remaining in that marriage wouldn't be true to her identity.

    I would highly recommend open communication between you and your wife about this situation. You can talk to your wife about her experience of coming out - how she's come to realise her identity, what her preferred pronouns are, etc. It may be a good idea to get some insight into her perspective and how she's feeling. This could help you with your feelings, too.

    Of course, on the flip side, it is also important to consider your own fundamental needs, boundaries, and wishes in the relationship. It's okay to have sexual preferences, that's the nature of sexuality. I would recommend establishing whether your wife being non-binary introduces for you a level of discomfort, dysphoria, or misalignment with your sexuality.

    Please feel free to continue chatting with us, we'd love to hear more from you.

    All the best, SB

    1 person found this helpful
  3. geoff
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    geoff avatar
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    25 April 2022 in reply to Battlin Business Owner

    Hello, I understand this must be quite confusing for you as it would be for myself, but perhaps you could look at this 'If Your Partner Just Came Out As Non-Binary, Here's How To ..'.

    I need to research this a bit but hope others can get back to you in meantime.

    Take care.

    Geoff.

  4. Battlin Business Owner
    Battlin Business Owner avatar
    18 posts
    25 April 2022 in reply to sbella02
    Hi SB,

    Thanks for your insight.

    I get what your saying, my wife and daughter both seem happy, going on this journey together with their gender identities.

    Feeling pretty much discarded and left out honestly.

    Never been much of a talker. I get some open communication is probably the 'right' thing. I think I'm just not ready yet. It's a huge shock and I don't think she really gets the impact her decision is having on others not on her journey.

    My son is younger and he's pretty oblivious to it all at the moment I think.

    Thx
  5. Battlin Business Owner
    Battlin Business Owner avatar
    18 posts
    25 April 2022 in reply to geoff

    Geoff,

    I get your trying to help, but there was no link there. When I googled that it just took me to another page all about how I can support her in this brave courageous decision she's made...

    I'm not there yet. Not sure I will be.

  6. geoff
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    25 April 2022 in reply to Battlin Business Owner

    Hello, did you copy and paste it as I've done and a web page appears.

    Geoff.

  7. therising
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    25 April 2022 in reply to Battlin Business Owner

    Hi Battlin Business Owner

    It's an interesting time we live in. With so many people in the world wondering about how they feel about themself and who they are, how they relate to others, where they fit in and so on, it can be a challenge at times, for all concerned.

    I can't help but wonder what led your wife do declare herself as non binary and what led your daughter to declare herself as gender fluid. I imagine they didn't reach such a conclusion without having wondered for some period of time. Do you know what or who led them to wonder and what that process looked like for them?

    I can relate to what you're saying, in regard to how tough it can be to make sense of the way people label how they feel about themself or see themself. Personally, as a 51yo woman, my take on life is different from how it used to be. Having spent 15 or more years in depression earlier in my life, one of the things that's come to serve me, in not returning to it, involves a more soulful way of seeing the world, a little less physical than what it used to be. When I came out of depression it was very sudden and this triggered in me a lot of questioning. The main question was 'Who am I?' If I wasn't all the traits of depression - if I wasn't this angry, controlling, sad, lethargic, confused, lost person with so much self hatred, then who was I? Who was I simply, without the filter of gender, age, race, religious upbringing and beliefs related to that? Who was I without the ways others chose to define me or the ways I was taught? There was a heck of a lot of questioning. I reached the conclusion - I'm simply me. Call me what you will, I'm not phased. If you want to label me as a 51yo white woman, I'm simply not phased by it. I don't feel 51. I don't feel white. I don't feel like any particular gender. When I gave birth to my 2 kids, I never thought 'I'm a woman giving birth', I'm simply someone who gave birth to 2 legends :) Again, from a soulful perspective, I'm simply me. Call me what you will.

    I've found the benefit of letting go of labels also involves how I see others. For example, I may not look for a simplistic form of wisdom in a 60yo male or female of any particular race, I may simply find such wisdom in a little soulful person who's been on this earth for only 3 years.

    In a person's desire to be free of labels, the challenge it to not adopt more in the process, although sometimes a label can help, when it comes to simply expressing to others how we feel about our self.

    1 person found this helpful
  8. Battlin Business Owner
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    18 posts
    25 April 2022 in reply to therising

    Hi The Rising,

    Thanks for your perspective. Glad to hear you've come through your own journey. Sounds challenging.

    I have no idea what or who lead to them making this decision. It appears to have just happened.

    Thx

    1 person found this helpful
  9. randomx
    randomx avatar
    3348 posts
    25 April 2022

    Hi op .

    Your daughter might just be being subconsciously different for now, particularity sexuality stuff these days it's almost a damn trend and cool, an identity for a lot of the younger ones now. Some of the stuff l hear come out of my d's mouth and some of her friends. One wk one's decided she's a lesbian another's decided she's A sexual another's decided this that and on it goes.There's sooooo much info over load out there now for them, label over load, identity over load, influences and fb's and snap chats over load and al their other crap, tellin ya l feel sorry for them. lt might even just pass with her when she realizes she's just a normal girl after all , seen that happen with my d and everyone of her friends so far. Someone now and then is gonna be for real, for sure l know. Butttt. anyway. One day even my d announce she was gay, l tried not to laugh she's no more gay than l am we knew that for sure. 6mths later oh, she's not gay after all.Sooo, you never know,

    Your wife , who know's and l'm so sorry l can well understand the shock. Of course it's not fair on the partner , seen quite a few stories like that, one's turned gay or this or that . It must be terrible for you and l can well imagine how you must be feeling. l wonder if it's real or just a faze or influence with her to, or mid life crisis. A lot of women change around that age especially after married 20yrs and stuff , then menopausal stuff to.

    Just thoughts but l;m very sorry for what you must be going through.

    rx

    1 person found this helpful
  10. Battlin Business Owner
    Battlin Business Owner avatar
    18 posts
    27 April 2022 in reply to randomx
    Thx really appreciate your input.

    Feels very strange, just not sure where to from here at all.
    1 person found this helpful
  11. Battlin Business Owner
    Battlin Business Owner avatar
    18 posts
    27 April 2022 in reply to geoff

    yes it takes you to a web page.

    Not helpful though, at least for me, at this stage....

    As I said in my answer to you... it's all about how I can support her in her decision.

    I'm still a long way not past how this impacts me and how I feel about it which I need to resolve before I can possibly contemplate supporting someone else in something I don't even understand.

  12. Lillylane
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    27 April 2022 in reply to Battlin Business Owner

    Hi Battlin Business Owner,

    I understand what you’re saying about the support material most often directed towards supporting the transitioning partner.

    Even if supportive, the other partner can feel a bit lost trying to adjust to a huge change to the relationship dynamic.

    This affects you. It’s definitely important that you receive support. It may take your wife a bit of time to realise how much it affects you. I’ve felt a similar way to you at times.

    Nearly three years ago my husband told me he feels female and wanted to transition.

    We are no longer a couple and have sought counselling together to try and navigate how we move forward as a family (we have two very young children). We still live in the same house.

    So I have experience in what it’s like having a partner transition from male to female.

    It might be a bit different (or not?) having a partner come out as non binary, I’m not sure, sorry! It’s probably even harder finding support written specifically about that situation. But I relate to the feelings you’re expressing.

    Give yourself time. Don’t feel pressured into any rushed decisions. (I’m a planner and like things ‘all sorted out’ so it was hard for me to take this advice initially.)

    I appreciate it’s a really challenging time for you. But it’s a great step talking to others about it. You’re not alone.

    Lillylane

    1 person found this helpful
  13. Lillylane
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    27 April 2022 in reply to Lillylane
    Just a thought following on what I wrote below...

    I know a couple who are still together after the wife came out as non binary a few years ago.

    I guess the outcomes can be varied and no couple is the same. And it can take time too, before people sort out feelings and decide what they want to do.

    Just don’t want my experience to sound all ‘doom and gloom’. :)
    1 person found this helpful
  14. sbella02
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    27 April 2022 in reply to Battlin Business Owner

    Of course, and there's definitely no pressure to have a conversation before you're ready to. Perhaps it would be best to spend some time alone with your thoughts, just to consolidate what you're feeling and help you process some of the more difficult emotions.

    Sometimes it feels great to just let all of my emotions out in a journal or diary entry. Journalling can be helpful if we need to think deeply about what we're feeling, or express something that's difficult to put into words.

    SB

    1 person found this helpful
  15. Battlin Business Owner
    Battlin Business Owner avatar
    18 posts
    30 April 2022 in reply to Lillylane

    Thx Lillylane,

    sounds very similar. I imagine you would have felt much the same as I do. Our kids sound a little older than yours which helps but definitely still a factor on the way forward.

    Thanks too for the feedback on your friends.

    I'm still processing think I will be for a while as this is not something you expect to happen after this many years.

    TY

    1 person found this helpful
  16. Isabella_
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    30 April 2022 in reply to Battlin Business Owner

    Hey there

    I've read through this thread and have found it very interesting.

    One thing I want to mention is that I hear you when you say you feel left out and ignored. Your partner and daughter have transitioned into new identities which is profound for them.. Meanwhile you're in a position where you need to accept that on your own. I highly agree that there isn't enough representation for partners navigating and accepting the transition of their partners, and it's very much needed. So I can empathise that you feel neglected in this scenario, because struggling to accept this massive change would be viewed as maybe prejudiced, unfair, unaccepting, transphobic. Your feelings are completely valid here. You've mentioned you're accepting of transgendered people and that isn't the issue, it's ultimately about navigating your partners transition, and there is nothing wrong with struggling with that.

    Bottom line, this is a massive shock as you've mentioned, especially after 20 years. You're in a position here of needing to support your partner on this challenging journey, but you're also on an incredibly challenging one that seems to be in the shadows.

    Physical attraction is essential in any relationship.. You can't change your sexuality or decide to be attracted to a man, and that in no way makes you superficial or a bad person, it's simply human nature.

    I think some relationships make it work and learn to navigate that challenge, but others may not be able to. I'm not quite sure how that works, perhaps the ability to love your partners personality transcends the physical attraction aspect, maybe the partner is more flexible in their sexuality than first realised and they can still make it work in that way. You can still see the feminine aspects of your wife that you're attracted to, and as you've said, seeing this new masculine side can make things more confusing.

    It's almost like they've become another person - a massive part of their identity has changed, and I think often times, people argue that gender identity and presentation isn't as significant as most people think. Ultimately that is up to you, and for me personally, I think it's a massive part of someones identity and how you see them, and of course how you're attracted to them.

    This has been mentioned already, but open communication is so important.. And I hope you and your partner can arrive at that stage. You're deserving of that same empathy, and it seems it's essential in order for you to move forward

    1 person found this helpful
  17. Battlin Business Owner
    Battlin Business Owner avatar
    18 posts
    3 May 2022 in reply to Isabella_

    Hi Isabella,

    Thanks for your reply, it resonates with how I feel.

    It's a huge transition and yes, I agree completely that in contrast to what some may say, I feel that gender presentation is a huge part of how you view someone and whether you're attracted to them. That's probably the core issue here for me.

    I still love my wife and care about her as a person but her presenting as non-binary, now, impacts the attraction I feel definitely.

    Not sure what the future looks like, but yes at some point I'm going to have to be ready to sit down and talk to her about it.

  18. randomx
    randomx avatar
    3348 posts
    3 May 2022

    Hi op.

    Oh hell yeah , of course it all would. So sorry yourself or anyone for that matter has to go through this. lf it were me the main thing for me, just on the between you two part of things, would be on whether or not it was real and here to stay or just some confusion or faze. lf it was going to be here to stay then that would have to be that for me l'm afraid.

    For me as much as hard as that would be to deal with, l would rather know so that l don't end up hanging around in hope for yrs and trying to cope. Bc l know l'd have zero interest whatsoever in somehow learning to cope or attempting to force myself to be attracted to something l'd know l just won't,be or living in hope, or in staying married to the same. Sorry if that's blunt but for me, that would be easier than the alternative and l'd rather know so that l could start preparing emotionally mentally and in all the other things involved, toward a new life life apart. For me , maybe later on in a few yrs if she'd discovered she was just mixed up and reverted back ,then maybe l might be still be free and who knows, maybe interested in trying again. But l wouldn't be prepared to gamble trying to live through 5 or10yrs of it together in hope.

    rx

    1 person found this helpful
  19. That Other Guy
    That Other Guy avatar
    125 posts
    3 May 2022 in reply to Battlin Business Owner

    non binary is not trans. Your wife is not saying they are a man. Most trans folks don't have gender reassignment surgery either. So I would suggest, if they plan on keeping their sex parts, and using them with you, then how does a label like non binary affect your life together? Is your wife asking for things to materially change in your relationship?

    I have a trans son, so I get the whole "Never really thought about it until it visited me" thing, and a partner is more than a child in this sense, but I think you just need to talk to your partner, and navigate both of your feelings and how you move forward

  20. Battlin Business Owner
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    18 posts
    10 May 2022 in reply to randomx

    Thx Randomx,

    that's sort of where my head is at. I think it's here to stay.

    Had our first real conversation about it today and her comment when I raised it and mentioned we hadn't talked about it, was it's nothing to do with me.

    Apparently she's always felt this way just didn't know what to call it.


    1 person found this helpful
  21. Battlin Business Owner
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    18 posts
    10 May 2022 in reply to That Other Guy
    I get that non-binary is not trans. However when someone is saying they feel like a man some of the time.... it's close.
  22. Juliet_84
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    10 May 2022 in reply to Battlin Business Owner

    Hi Battlin Business Owner,

    Firstly, I’m sorry you find yourself here under such circumstances, but glad that you have found some supportive responses already. It’s a brave new world out there and I imagine this is going to be a problem that increasingly affects people who don’t quite know what to do or how to feel anymore. You entered into a relationship in good faith based on certain fundamental premises and now those circumstances have dramatically changed and you are left not knowing how to feel. Which is completely understandable -as you mention, you’re a simple guy with fairly simple interests, and I would probably feel the same way. I suppose you have to figure out what this change means for you. You don’t need to figure it out right away and it might take time to reveal itself, but you can always decide if it’s not for you. Plenty of marriages fail for a number of reasons, you entered into a contract and if those conditions have changed significantly then you are entitled to leave if the new conditions aren’t working for you. That being said, presumably your wife was always non binary in spirit even if she hadn’t fully appreciated/embraced it, which begs the question, if she hadn’t have labeled it than you may have just continued on with your life unaware? I suppose I’m just trying to say to not get hung up on the label, but if she is acting significantly different then that is obviously a different story.

    1 person found this helpful
  23. randomx
    randomx avatar
    3348 posts
    10 May 2022

    Unfortunately for op it's likely far more serious now than a label. She's felt it inside 10yrs l think she said , but put simply now, she wants it out and to live it.lf she's serious about that then she'll no longer be who she was, not physically or mentally and probably not even personality wise.

    So sorry op.

    1 person found this helpful
  24. therising
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    10 May 2022 in reply to Battlin Business Owner

    Hi Battlin Business Owner

    It's a shame your wife doesn't feel the freedom to explore and share with you the reasons for her way of thinking. I think some constructive conversations could perhaps help you see things more from her angle. Doesn't mean you have to agree with that angle, just means it might offer you some 'Oh yeah, I can kinda see where you're coming from with that way of looking at things' moments.

    Wondering if she's someone who's been led to consider the non binary angle based on wondering about how people from the LGBTQ+ community experience their perspective on life or whether she's considered it more from a natural or spiritual based angle and certain influences in ways of thinking within that community. Perhaps it was something else, some other influence. Have you asked what triggered her to begin wondering about this new way of seeing life and some of the resources she may have accessed in order to make better sense of it, reaching this conclusion?

    1 person found this helpful
  25. Juliet_84
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    10 May 2022 in reply to randomx

    Hi randomly,

    I suppose I’m asking, what does that entail and what does that actually look like for OP? Does his wife want to continue the marriage as before with little change to their relationship? If she identifies as a man at times, does that mean she wants to explore relationships with women etc? I think whether the relationship can move forward really depends on being able to define what these changes mean in the context of their relationship. Has it been an otherwise happy marriage? Will it just take some time for adjustment etc. I just think a lot of that needs to be explored or at least understood before making such a large decision

    1 person found this helpful
  26. randomx
    randomx avatar
    3348 posts
    10 May 2022

    Hi Juliet .

    Hmmmm, yeah , l know the way you were looking at it and in my first reply l actually pointed out things your getting at to. But from what op has said since to me she sounds as if she might end up a lot more serious about it than just what your thinking. Gender presentation is pretty well saying it all butttt , l can't speak for op and l can see how incredibly hard this is for him so anything further atm , not sure.

    1 person found this helpful
  27. Battlin Business Owner
    Battlin Business Owner avatar
    18 posts
    16 May 2022 in reply to Juliet_84

    Thx Juliet,

    some good points. I think it's both, she's felt that way a long time and, yes if it was just a label and nothing else changed I'd probably be, 'fine whatever'. There's a definite shift though in her attitudes. I did actually try and start a conversation with her the other day.

    Didn't go far. Basically when I asked why she didn't even talk about it with me before starting to tell people she was non-binary, she said, well she's always felt that way and I don't get a say...

    I get it but tough, seems to me to just put more distance in.

  28. Battlin Business Owner
    Battlin Business Owner avatar
    18 posts
    16 May 2022 in reply to randomx

    Thx everyone for your input and support. it helps.

    as in my other reply my so far 1 attempt at a conversation got shut down pretty quickly.

    not sure where things will go but definite distance.

    I'm heading away for a couple of weeks travelling for work so will give me some time to think.

  29. randomx
    randomx avatar
    3348 posts
    16 May 2022

    l'm so sorry man.

    l can't believe her disrespect, you've been her partner and husband 20yrs , she hits you with something as huge as this but then won't even talk about it. Then, tells you not to make it all about you, what is she doing, it's all about her with no concern for you whatsoever ?

    So sorry , and l'm very glad you'll be getting away for awhile, for you !

    Rx.

    1 person found this helpful
  30. Juliet_84
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    Juliet_84 avatar
    731 posts
    17 May 2022 in reply to Battlin Business Owner

    Hi BBO,

    Thanks for getting back to me and the additional clarification around your wife’s attitude. I must admit her attitude is perplexing, drop a grenade into your marriage essentially and then refuse to talk about that and what it means. It’s not like you wanted a say, you just wanted the common courtesy that should be afforded to her partner to have had the situation explained to you as it most affects you. It may be that she doesn’t herself know, it may be that she’s buying time to get her stuff together so she can leave in a better position, or that she just can’t acknowledge that she bears any fault/responsibility in this and so is on the defensive, or is having some sort of crisis and just wants to do whatever she wants to do and marriage be damned. However, none of those things are particularly helpful for you. So your options as I see them are to set the boundary that you won’t tolerate this type of attitude from her and be prepared to leave, or stick it out and see where it goes. I’m reminded of my ex-partner’s attitude towards me in our relationship, whenever I raised an issue that required discussion, no matter how small, I was told “if you don’t like it leave” so one day I did. There’s only so much a person will take before they say enough. Only you know when you reach that point.

    1 person found this helpful

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