DEAR AMY: I have been married almost 15 years to a man I first knew in high school. I first became aware of his problem several years ago, when I found a bra hanging in our laundry room that was not my size. Finally, my husband confessed he’d bought it for himself. He said it was a one-time occurrence. After he returned from a business trip, I found more women’s lingerie. He assured me this would not occur again. Then, I found a white gown and panties in his backpack in the trunk of his car. Yes, I was snooping, because I remained suspicious. He wrote me an email telling me he was fascinated with lingerie. I decided that he had a fetish, and sought marital counseling. He attended, but he didn’t think it helped. I told him then that if he had to make these purchases I did not want to ever know about them, and I’d better not ever find evidence. Last week I discovered two emails on his phone (yes, I was snooping again) in which he has ordered almost $1,000 of lingerie AND women’s clothing. He also has a secret post office box where these shipments are delivered. I sent him a letter to the P.O. box asking him WHY he has it, and WHY he was buying women’s clothing. So far, he hasn’t acknowledged the letter. Our relationship has suffered because I feel betrayed. I do not feel loved, respected or cared for. I think I still love him, but this behavior disgusts me (maybe it shouldn’t). Your advice?
DEAR WIFE: You have demanded that your husband must not disclose anything about this fetish to you. You have also demanded that you must never find any evidence of it.
He seems to have gone to great lengths to keep this a secret, as you insist he must.
So why do you keep snooping? If you don’t want to be confronted by something, then don’t look for it.
Cross-dressing (or perhaps only purchasing women’s clothing) is obviously a very important part of your husband’s life. It is shocking to me that your therapist didn’t help you to talk about this during your sessions. The way you two communicate — via email and now postal letter — is passive and one-sided. You both seem to basically throw down and then run away.
Instead of insisting that your husband stop doing something that he won’t stop doing, you might seek to understand it by discussing it with him, suspending your disgust and judgment until you feel you understand this impulse.
You say you feel unloved and betrayed, but I can imagine that your husband might feel this way, too.
DEAR AMY: My boyfriend and I are pretty young, and we have been dating for three years. His family has picked petty arguments with me in the past. A year ago, I posted a photo on social media of me in a bathing suit that some assumed was my underwear. My boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend, “Katie,” reached out to me through social media to tell me that the photo was disrespectful to my relationship. Some somewhat vicious messages went back and forth between us until I blocked her. It’s been one year, and at gatherings I refuse to speak to her, even though she once tried to speak to me. Katie is a 30-year-old woman who decided to poke her nose into my relationship, though she posts plenty of swimsuit wear and has a history of cheating. My boyfriend wants us to make up. Am I wrong to ignore her? Even if she were to offer me an apology at this point, I’m so angry I don’t want her involved in any part of my life.
DEAR SILENT: If you want for things to continue as they are — with you being furious for over a year and playing the victim — then by all means, keep doing what you’re doing. If you want for things to change, then you should start behaving differently, and agree to listen when someone attempts to talk to you.
DEAR AMY: “Don’t Like Dirty Laundry” was a woman whose middle-age “macho” boyfriend had never done his own laundry! Well, my dear husband of many decades never did a load of laundry in his life. But he did so many other things! He died four years ago, and I’d give anything to wash his clothes again.
DEAR MISSING: These simple acts hold so much power in our memories. My condolences.