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I caught my husband wearing my lingerie

QI'VE been married for 12 years to a man I love. Some time ago, I discovered by accident that he likes to wear women's lingerie.

I arrived home early one night to discover him in some of mine, and was very taken aback. Initially, he said he was just experimenting, and was a bit embarrassed. I didn't believe him, and challenged him to tell me how much and how often - and eventually he admitted it was something he'd been doing for some time in secret.

Something made me ask him to let me see him wearing his favourites, and while I thought he looked funny in some things, I must admit his legs improved in tights.

Over the next few weeks, we discussed his liking for lingerie, and I reluctantly agreed to tolerate it - on the basis that he didn't overdo it or let anyone know. Occasionally, I agreed to allowing him wear something as part of foreplay, and must admit that his heightened arousal greatly improved our sex life.

With Christmas coming, he tried to encourage me to buy some new items - including colours like red which I never buy, and I presumed he wanted them for himself as much as for me. I refused. I'm still a bit uncomfortable with him wearing my underwear, and wonder if this is something that will pass as he gets older. Or should I be willing to buy him what he wants, for his own use? He says he's too shy to buy for himself.

I've seen this problem raised before. How common is it? Am I wrong to be even thinking of buying lingerie for him, and hence, in effect, encouraging his behaviour, especially as I cannot get over the fear of being embarrassed if someone should find out?

AFOR YOU, this seems to be a question of other people finding out, rather than any personal objection to your husband's cross-dressing.

On the contrary, you felt it improved your sex life. So I don't hear serious emotional opposition on your part. That's fine. But the issue of secrecy is a thorny one when it comes to cross-dressing.

You are right when you say that in buying the lingerie,you will encourage your husband's behaviour. But thereality is that you're already encouraging it. Until now,he was confined in what he did on two counts - he wastoo shy to get underwear for himself; and he was keeping his cross-dressing hidden from you. Now you know about it, and have actively participated. So he hasn't just got acknowledgment from you and the relief of no longer having to hide, but he's also got your acceptance, and, indeed, encouragement.

There is no obvious moral issue here. Cross-dressing is not a crime, or an old-fashioned sin. And society is increasingly treating it as merely a personal preference.

The problem is that I don't believe that it is a preference, a simple choice - at least, not for everybody. For many, it is a compulsion. And cross-dressers will tell you they feel more relaxed, more complete in themselves, more confident, comforted, when they wear women's clothes. In fact, they'll tell you they feel a strong urge to do it.

Like all compulsions, it can become harder to keep in check. Risk-taking behaviour is not uncommon, with men taking the chance of bosses finding out, the world at large finding out, the desire to cross-dress becoming more open and elaborate - like wearing women's clothes around the house, or dressing up and going out on the town.

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No, I'm not saying that your husband will follow this route. I don't know that. What I am saying is that I believe he may well be one of the men who find cross-dressing hard to resist - not done for fun, but out of emotional need. If he is, both you and he have a choice. You can attempt to tackle the emotions that drive him to cross-dress. Or you can shrug - as many are now doing - and simply say it's fine.

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