Giving to One Who Gives All

Trans Marriages Are Like Any Other

Pam and I recently celebrated our 34th anniversary. I know this woman like I know no one else. I know her now in ways I couldn't have dreamt when we first met or at any other point in our relationship.


But how can I fathom everything she's given me?


In How to NOT Know You're Trans, I detail how we navigated a marriage in which I didn't know till my 50s that I'm trans. Yet, there's so much more to Pam than what she has surrendered and what she has gained through our transition.


To define Pam or our marriage only in terms of the gift she gave in sticking with me through my transition where other spouses do not is to do her horrific dishonor.

Marriage and War

And I do mean "our." G. K. Chesterton said that "Marriage is an adventure, like going to war." It's a giving and taking of ground, though, only so long we see it as a competition with a winner. When we realize that the ground given and taken has always been ours, the war is over—or was never a war in the first place.


Yours, Mine, Ours

To define Pam or our marriage only in terms of the gift she gave in sticking with me through my transition where other spouses do not is to do her horrific dishonor.


For she's always giving. And taking.

Marriage is … a yin and yang dance in which the shape of one's giving defines the other's taking.

Our unnoticed daily givings and takings pave the way for moments of truth where we actually see that something's gotta give for something else to take. Marriage isn't the obliteration of two selves into an amalgam but a yin and yang dance in which the shape of one's giving defines the other's taking. For it to be a relationship at all, however, we each must radically be ourselves.


And that is Pam's gift—she is always herself, even when I hardly know myself. I do the same for her.


So Much at Stake

This dance applies to those, trans or not, whose marriages crumble. Divorce is harrowing because of pressures we place on ourselves and our partners, abetted by our culture's oversized expectations of the institution of marriage. So much is at stake that we risk burning ourselves at the stake.

Similarly, divorce, despite it's harrows, is the dance of two people who realize that the path to selfhood can't be through this particular relationship.

As a child of divorce, I can tell you it's hell (but not permanently so). As a partner in a 34-year marriage, I can tell you that's hell (and heaven), as well. In a successful marriage, two selves create a whole, greater than the sum of the parts—not by obliterating each self but accentuating each person in ways the world would never see without the marriage.


Similarly, divorce, despite it's harrows, is the dance of two people who realize that the path to selfhood can't be through this particular relationship. The resulting people on the far end of a divorce are also greater than the sum of the parts.


I'm not glorifying divorce or marriage but giving each their due—and giving husbands, wives, and divorcees a needed break. A marriage depends on the integrity of two unique selves. So does a divorce. Don't judge others' keeping or leaving a marriage. They are both about transition.


Give Space

I give space to Pam. To this day, I continue to be surprised at how she surpasses herself with that gift and, in turn, so gifts me.


We're lucky. We're blessed. We're Pam. We're Bethany. We're married. Happy Anniversary, Baby.


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