The benefit of growing old with another person is you get to see them transform from the version they started out as to the version they chose to become. My spouse, Roffey (they/them), and I went to the prom together. We weren’t dating—we went as friends. I hugged them goodnight.
They went into the US Army, and we wrote letters back and forth. I loved getting one of their letters in my mailbox, and I sent them awful, horrible envelopes with embarrassing things written on them. Their superior officer reprimanded them for it. Roffey was kind enough not to hate me for it.
They asked me out from 3000 miles away, and I, like a fool, declined. When they returned, it was with this swagger and attitude (and I suspect a modicum of hurt feelings.) I wanted to send them to another country with a one-way ticket—at least until I found out they were thinking of dating someone else.
I realized I’d been an idiot, and the rest is history. But on the day we married, we married these young, not quite formed versions of ourselves. They went by ‘he’ back then, and I was naïve, overly-trusting, and found it difficult to voice my own opinion.
We strolled along the first four or five years, just learning how to navigate, completely in love with each other and trusting each other implicitly. But at some point, after a very deep revelation, I could no longer believe them, and they could no longer bear to be constantly questioned by me.
In about our seventh year of marriage, we hit an impasse. We couldn’t communicate—we didn’t know how, or what to say. They worked, I worked, and we visited our parents on the weekend. Our time to work on our relationship became scant. We had no time to figure out who we were together. And they weren’t ready to be themselves in front of me, and I’ve often marveled how the friction of that secret didn’t snap the thread that held our marriage together. I remember tears and arguments, and even a moment where I thought divorce was imminent.
Luckily, we made it through with marriage counseling, all the stronger for it. We learned how to talk, and how to make each other understand what we each needed to have a successful marriage. I needed to be able to trust—I needed complete honesty. Roffey needed me to be able to trust them, and they needed time for us to be a family.
Understanding what we each needed, and being able to communicate about it without anger or anxiety meant that we could each begin to fully form. They held in such a deep secret that when it finally came out, it shocked me. It devastated me a little, because I didn’t know anything about gender or sexuality, and I didn’t know what it would mean for our little family. Because we had learned how to communicate, though, we were able to take a journey together. They could become their authentic self, and reassured me at every turn that who they were was still connected to who I was and who we were. I could communicate when I didn’t understand something, and they worked hard to help me get it. This allowed me to support them every step of the way. They came out to the public as genderqueer last year.
I wanted to write, and they have done everything in their power to allow me the time, space, and opportunity to do that. When I got an opportunity to volunteer cosplay, they supported me one hundred percent. I needed to trust, and they have done everything to be patient and rebuild that trust, even when it was frustrating.
I remember during one of our counseling sessions, my spouse talked about wanting to become the person they thought they’d be. The beauty of being in a marriage for twenty years is that you get to see that person—and you get to see the journey on the way.
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