You are facing a fundamental conundrum that is unique to the transgender world. How to swap genders in a historically two gender world. Of course there are many intermediate degrees of transition between the distinctly two genders, but many of these are ultimately unsatisfying for the transgender individual. That might be a question you pose to yourself: Will you be happy to achieve some transition to woman-like, but still predominately present as a man. An intermediate degree of transition often comes with expected limitations on “when & where” one can woman-up.
I literally told my wife on several occasions that I want to be a girl; she didn’t believe me, she would make light of the comment, she would overtime impose restrictions on my actions. She refused allowing me to buy the very pretty metal flake lime green Prius, I got the dark red. I would buy pretty men’s clothes and she wouldn’t let me wear them. On and on.
All of the previous advice is excellent. I would lead with you seeing a psychologist that specializes in transgender issues. Developing self awareness of how sincere you are in some degree of transitioning is a critical first step. I did this without my wife’s knowledge, as it is a very personal thing. I did learn enough about myself to bring her into the discussion after a few sessions.
If you find that eventually you will want to completely transition, that will place significantly different criteria on what hints you give, and how you negotiate the progressive nature of your female-expressions over time.
If my wife had let me be “girlish” many years ago, I may not have ever needed to make the decision to pursue complete transition. I had a very good relationship of over 32 years, but always with social restrictions that were cognizant of, but not freeing my female tendencies. My wife celebrated our 33 wedding anniversary this last May the 21st by sharing a bottle of our wedding champagne and informing me she was divorcing me because she can’t be seen in public with me, and to stop introducing her as “my wife”.
I don’t hope that scenario on anyone, but know that it is there.
So, you go to a therapist and determine that you will be adequately happy to transition over many years of taking little steps into woman-hood. I wish my wife let me do this; we could have had so much fun. If you can be happy with a transitional plan of this nature, the hints are different; you don’t necessarily want to be a woman, but woman-like. Many years down the road when the children are off to their own lives, and your wife is “so-over-it”, maybe progress further.
A very important aspect of my desire all these years was the need to live a little publicly as a female. The restriction that I could only “girl-up” in the privacy of our home, with no guests over was a non-starter for me: it was the same as yelling “shame-shame” every time I dressed up.
I wish you the courage to ask yourself the hard questions. My wife asked me to put Lukcia away, and to never speak of this again; I said “no”.
A good transgender friend of mine was very upset because he couldn’t afford the procedures to facilitate physical transition. I wrote him an extended essay (I write extended essays). I told him point-blank: Doing this is a luxury item. That 95-plus percent of the world people have zero access to such opportunities, and suffer harm, prison or death in their social environment. Sometimes one just has to “buck-up” and do what has to be done. (notice I didn’t say “man-up”)
That totally pissed her off, and she didn’t talk to me for several months.
Everyone, transgender or otherwise has a unique path before them as well as behind them. Take care in every step you take. Good Luck