If you and I were to sit down together for a cup of coffee I would have lots to fill you in on – about life in a new city, my marriage and my handsome husband.
I would tell you first that moving from the East Coast to the West almost a year ago was one of the hardest decisions of my life, but I’m so glad I made the leap. Despite the timing of that massive change happening exactly around Carver’s start with hormone replacement therapy, our life here feels bigger, and brighter and far more adventure packed than ever. Our move has given us a new start in many ways, both personally and professionally. I would say, all things considered these last 10 months have gone remarkably well, but I’ve learned something vital about being the loving partner of someone who is transitioning.* (I expect this would apply to more than just a transition on the gender spectrum given our simultaneous shift in cities all at the same time.)
There are really three transitions going on.
- Our marriage
I’d tell you that no matter the day or time, there’s no one in this world who is more proud of Carver than I am, I suspect probably even more proud than Carver is of himself. I love seeing him evolve into someone who is so much more comfortable with who he is. I love feeling his body change and his eyes light up when I tell him how I see it and feel it.
I’d show you these on my phone from the other night as I was watching him converse with a friend:
and smile because I have always seen who he is, but I can tell that he’s feeling (and seeing!) himself more now too.
I’d tell you that his voice is deeper and he’s finding his own in that depth. I’d tell you that his body is changing, more firm, more muscle and leaner hips. He’s physically stronger and I can see how much he enjoys how his body responds differently now to his hard work in the kitchen and in the gym.
I’d tell you that his silver fox hair is always freshly barbered and coiffed and he’s finding his way with a razor now that his salt and pepper facial hair is a thing. I’d tell you that my heart still skips a beat when I’m waiting for him to meet me and I spot him coming towards me.
I would admit to you that I was rather home sick when we first arrived in here on the West Coast. There were tears and a whole lot of emotions. I was anxious about all the newness. I was a little scared of all of the unknowns. All of those emotions came a time when my newly less emotional husband wasn’t so sure what to do with me. To make matters ever more complex that homesicknesses came along with lots of fresh insecurities for me.
- Would Carver on hormones still love me the same?
- Would our marriage make it when so many marriages when one partner transitions do not?
- Would we find our way through the giant shift in communication that were experiencing?
I would lean in over that cup of coffee and confess that those first 5 months here in the city weren’t easy for me. I’d tell you that Carver and I had some very serious conversations (or maybe lack of conversations is a better way to describe it…frustrated silence that had us staring at each other unsure how to pin point exactly the problem or what to do on some nights). I’d share that in all honesty Carver’s transformation has sparked a personal transformation for me too. I went from someone who felt quite sure of her partner’s communication style to someone who felt like she was getting to know a new person all together when it came to things like every day conversations and decisions. I’ve had to find new places to compromise and a new style to process my own thoughts. I’ve had to find space for understanding as I discover my husband’s new approaches all the while trying not to think it was all just in my head or that I was somehow to blame because I was too emotional about it all.
I would also say quite frankly there is a personal identity challenge as a partner when it comes to gender and sexuality and how the world starts to see you. Those judgments can come fast and furious sometimes and figuring out how and when to advocate for your spouse (for example when they are misgendered) can feel daunting some days. I’m grateful that we live here in Canada where people in general seem more open minded and certainly less threatening than we have experienced, especially while travelling.
I’d tell you that despite all of this change going on and my own personal insecurities coming out of the woodwork in all of this, for me Carver’s transformation has never once made me question our marriage. I love him for who he is and him feeling more himself than ever just makes me feel like my love has grown along with him. My love for him didn’t have anything to do with his gender when we met and it still doesn’t.
Of all of the challenges I thought we’d experience in our marriage this year it was the one I never anticipated that has had the biggest impact: the communication shift after Carver started hormone replacement therapy. We are still working through it but it’s easier now. But that is one I didn’t see coming.
It feels much more like we’re on the other side of a lot of this now. Like we’re both finding places in our personal transitions through this that are meeting once more in the middle. We make sure we take the time to talk to one another. Even when it feels challenging, even when I’m emotional and trying to make a decision and Carver isn’t sure what to do with me as I process. We work at being open and patient and are careful to try and listen even if it’s frustrating. We plan time together and we have both found new friends separately and together that have brought us sounding boards and support through this roller coaster year.
Now we’re coming up on 10 months here in our new city, and Carver’s first anniversary on testosterone. We have navigated personal hurdles and marital hurdles. We’re finding our new ways of communicating. I’ve given him approximately 46 testosterone injections (a physical assist in his transformation that I’ve really come to appreciate being a direct part of), and I think our marriage is stronger now than ever.
It truly feels like the perfect time to celebrate Carver’s legal name change documentation by introducing myself as Mrs. Carlson officially for the first time.
We’re currently on mail box watch…
Over our last few sips of maybe cold coffee, I would leave you with this: if you or anyone you know is in a relationship embarking on a transition together, I’d say please know you’re not alone. I felt terribly alone when this all first happened for Carver and I. I didn’t know many transgender people, let alone married couples who experienced one partner transitioning together. But since then I’ve been introduced to lots of amazing people who can relate, including those whose marriages continue happily despite the extra craziness (in the kindest way possible) that one partner’s transition can bring. I know first hand it means more than you know to feel like you’re NOT the only one and that your marriage isn’t doomed. In fact, it may just be a reason to hold on tight and discover what the transitions will bring you, your partner and your marriage.