Not sure how to process my husband’s secret
Evasiveness can be driven by fear, shame, guilt, protectiveness, or even the thrill of taboo, rebellion, or simply escaping the stultifying monotony of everyday life.
It's tough for you as you juxtapose your own perceptions and feelings of deception/lack of trust against the frustrations of a marriage you truly desire to maintain and advance - but these are your own, and in some way explain why he has not broached the subject (in line with the smoking issue, it must have been disapproved of before he went behind your back). Remember, you inadvertently stumbled upon this information and it is natural to take umbrage upon first becoming aware - but you have gained wisdom which could account for, and ultimately resolve, marital issues that have been plaguing you for some time. I guess if you want 'evidence' to leave, then you have it; alternatively, you are now privy to the inner machinations of your husband's mind and can be the support he might need now or in the future.
Perhaps if others could broaden their minds to encapsulate the realms of mental health pertaining to behavioural convention, such assumptions of right or wrong can be summarily dismissed and replaced with supporting present needs beyond individual biases.
Just my honest opinion,
U need to ask him, I think by hinting as u have done, what seems very open and obvious to you may just not feel that way to him, frankly it could have gone right over his head.
Who cares if u were snooping, OK it was not so nice that u didn't trust him, but u had Ur reasons, it's not like u were doing so for stalking or cruelty, I guess the snooping Re the birthday was maybe something u would feel u could have avoided but after what u found I doubt anyone would judge you for becoming more concerned.
To be honest, judt because the shoes were in his size does not mean he is cross dressing, or interested in dressing in women's clothes.
I would just admit to looking in his car, and ask why there are female clothing items there. Say u will handle the answer but it needs to be honest. There is no point going to therapy etc while keeping such things secret.
U both are keeping secrets, him having female items in his car, and u not showing that u know.
Someone needs to take a leap of honesty.
First I want to say the way you handled the first conversation was really mature and I commend you. I think you took a really good angle in touching on honesty and even hinting at fetishes etc. This plants the seed and allows them to see you aren't judging them.
Is it possible to just ask about one part of what you've found and confess to looking in his car? Perhaps not revealing you've looked through his email inbox to reduce the feeling of invaded privacy...
And just approach them to ask why they had high heels in their car? Without any accusation or ideas behind it, just gentle curiosity.
There are so many possibilities, they are questioning their gender identity, for example. Which can be a really deep and personal experience to come to terms with.
I think a soft, open and loving approach will always yield honesty because you are creating a safe space for them to talk. It can take longer, but some gentle prodding may get you there.
Let us know how you are going, we are here for you.
Others have made good suggestions here, I just wonder if there were some problems with your relationship before you discovered the shoes? Would you say there were? In which case, if you agree, would the two of you think of going to a marriage counsellor?
I have heard of couples in this situation that you find yourselves in, reaching a compromise, where for example, he only dresses in women's clothing when you are not around, if it disturbs you. He may just want to know what it feels like to be a woman, or expressing the feminine side of himself.
Do you think you would be able to agree to some counselling? Is he a good partner to you in other ways, ie. is he kind, supportive? Do you think you would be able to accept this part of him? It sounds as if you were already a bit mistrustful, looking for what he would give you for your birthday, and the intimacy lacking in your relationship... what are your thoughts about this?
I think we are not here to find solutions for you, but to try to help you work out yourself what solutions might be do-able for you, and for your partner.
I have read a lot of different answers or suggestions or whatever to your posts. I hope my reply does not add to any confusion.
And I will reply by analogy...
There are some topics that I find hard to talk about with my psychologist. There was many a time I would not venture there for the thought of feeling like a failure and what it says about me. Eventually we did talk. It was difficult.
Perhaps your husband is not ready to talk about this yet?
And then the not knowing what is going on is hard for you as well? To that end there is no easy answer.
Also you both were able to hopefully have an honest conversation and it sounds as though some questions were answered but not the one really wanted to know.
Perhaps if I were allowed to ask you...
What do you want?
Thank you posting. The others have made some good suggestions here. You spoke about sexless, but more important than that is love. Would you say that they were some problems that led up to this? Would you say it is time to do some soul searching and see what you want. You can either sit down and speak with your husband about this or you can keep the secret and pretend that you never found out. I sat with my wife and spoke with her about a secret affair that she got into and I found out about it. We came to an agreement that we both could not promise to say that this never happened so we our separate ways amicably after 18 years of marriage and both of us are in a better space now.
It is totally up to you how you would like to handle this. Its time to think and figure out will you be able to forget this secret? Will you be able to forgive and move on in your marriage? What is better for you as an individual?
Getting professional help is a good way to start. It does help a lot. Also we from BB are here to support you always.