Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr. Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in three continents, he has been training with Dr. Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives
Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.
Dear Dr. Holmes and Mr. Baer,
I am eight months pregnant. This April, I found out my husband had cheated on me. I found out he created a very recent FB account, explored the conversation with the “woman,” found out that “she” calls him daddy and he calls her “baby/bb girl.” My husband is an AFP officer nearly in his 50s, and a decade older than me. I immediately confronted him and asked him to leave, which he did.
I found out his bb was transgender. My husband was giving the transgender money for hormone replacement therapy. The trans knew everything about him, his work, that I was pregnant and working, and saw photos of him and our son. He provided all the details of what was going on with him throughout the day.
That he was unfaithful makes me furious; but that it was with a trans takes it to a whole new level of disgust. And he laughs and makes fun of colleagues with same story, even saying he would slap them.
An exchange of messages transpired between my husband and I. I said stuff that bothered me and likely hurt him. But I believed that they were our realities and things that had been left unsaid in fear of confrontation.
He only said sorry three times, never even asking for forgiveness. Just “sorry;” no “patawarin mo ako.” Worse, whenever I ridiculed him, I received the same amount of ridicule. He is not remorseful. He just says that he would face the consequences of his actions, at times also putting the blame on me.
I am not the perfect wife or mother, but I did try. I tried building a home, took responsibility of our son while he provided financially, which was not enough. I continue to work because if I don’t, our eldest, who is diagnosed with ASD, won’t be able to go to therapy.
When we were younger, we were active sexually. It got less active through the years. We co-sleep with our son. My husband is not very good-looking (sorry I had to be honest). I chose him because I thought there may be a lesser chance he would cheat. That wasn’t the case, though.
I just want to understand his psyche. Did I misjudge him all these years and never realized that he was bisexual? Please advise me.
A scorned and betrayed wife
Dear Scorned and Betrayed (SB),
Your account makes it difficult to find any redeeming characteristics in your husband in his role as your spouse. He is unfaithful, unrepentant, disrespectful, and actually wants to blame you for his actions. In addition to failing to support you and his children adequately, he is spending what are already scarce resources on this other woman. He is therefore derelict in his duties as a husband and a father. So if it is feasible for you to leave him, I would suggest you do so. Some might urge you to stay for the good of the family. Consider however what role models as spouses and parents you are exposing your children to. Is this the type of marriage to which they should aspire? Is this the type of parent that they should aspire to be?
You have also asked about his psyche. We do not of course know him or have his account of the reasons for his behavior, but there are studies which could possibly shed some light on his actions.
In “Transamorous Misogyny: Masculinity, Heterosexuality, and Cis Men’s Sexist Desires for Trans Women,” Professor Brandon Andrew Robinson of the University of California Riverside shows “how cis heterosexual men construct their desires for trans women vis-à-vis misogyny toward cis women. That is, transamorous cis heterosexual men think trans women are better than cis women and discursively construct trans women as superior in ways that have the effect of shoring up their own cis heterosexual masculinities.” (Prof Robinson defines transamorous misogyny as “the paradoxical processes of cis heterosexual men both claiming to desire trans women while simultaneously disdaining and policing all women”). If this is correct and if this reflects your husband’s thinking, then this may help you understand both his attitude to trans women and to you as a cis heterosexual woman.
All the best,
Dear Scorned and Betrayed:
Thank you very much for your letter. When I noticed I was becoming more and more incensed at your husband (for all the reasons Mr. Baer summarized), I decided a more rational approach was the best way to help you heal.
Your husband’s bb girl being trans has such a big impact on you that I thought it best to contact three experts in this field:
- UP Diliman Professor Jay Yacat, board member of the Pambansang Samahan sa Sikolohiyang Pilipino
- UP Diliman Professor Beatriz Torre, co-chairperson of the LGBT Special Interest Group of the Psychological Association of the Philippines; and
- Dr. Eric Manalastas, currently working in Oxford, UK, but who, when he was a UP Diliman professor, formulated the first LGBTQ+ psychology course at UP and taught it for ten years
All three agreed that your husband did not respect his marital vows, and cheating on you can be the most painful way any man could betray his partner.
Secondly, they underscored that your husband was having an illicit affair with another woman who just happens to be trans. In other words, a cisgender heterosexual man (whether married or single) attracted to a trans woman is not a surprise, and in fact happens quite often. If he is attracted to her as a woman, then many would still consider him a straight man.
Many married Filipino men think that being unfaithful is different if their side partner is gay or trans. These men seem to think they are not really unfaithful because their partners are not women (they are gay) or not “real women” (they are trans). In other words, “hindi tunay na babae.” To such men, infidelity with “real women” is the only thing counts as pangangaliwa.
You think the above rationalization is bullsh*t, as do I and our three experts. And while I know it is very hard to go beyond what’s happened, including his refusal to apologize or, it seems, even ACKNOWLEDGE his kawalang-hiyaan (excuse my French), should you decide to make a go of your marriage, it would be a good idea to explore if your bias against trans women might be one reasons your husband is hesitant to behave in a way that would appease you more.
If in the end you wish to consider the possibility of getting back together, it might be good to listen to where he is coming from…as he should listen to what your expectations, your hinanakits (the pain his actions and words brought through the years), and your needs are.
Since the anger and pain is so high for you both, it might be a good idea to see a therapist, if only for a couple of sessions – someone who will help you both listen, instead of merely waiting your turn to put forth your arguments.
It will be immensely difficult, and may take a lot of time, but if you consider your marriage worth saving (though I am not necessarily saying it is), then give it your best shot, even if you have to curse him to high heavens before you do.
All the best,
Please send any comments, questions, or requests for advice to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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