Unmarrieds: What do you call each other?

5 May

This is a repost of something that I wrote in September ’09. With all this talk about labels, semantics and what we call each other in our little family, I thought it was appropriate in light of yesterday’s post.

Recently I got an email from a friend who’s been reading my blog. She said she was confused because I had mentioned that DH and I are not legally married, yet I refer to him as my husband and my relationship status on Facebook is “married”. Obviously, she’s not a close friend (although she used to be) otherwise she would have known, so I explained to her that we choose to refer to each other as if we were married and that no one that we are close to has a problem with it. My friend came back with “I can’t help but feel like I’ve been lied to, thinking this whole time that you guys are married. If both of your divorces are final, it’s been three years, and you have a child together, why not get married instead of telling everyone you are when you’re not? Just my two cents. You’ll probably be mad at me, and that’s OK.” I wasn’t mad, but I shot back with “Why do you even care?” Understand that all this communication was happening over Facebook email, so of course, my tone and facial smirk didn’t come through and the comment was taken negatively. I had to explain myself by saying that I really did want to know why it bothered her so much and she replied with, “There are kids involved, it’s like living a lie if you’re telling everyone you’re married, and not a good example for children” (emphasis added). Really?? Living a lie?

Our life is definitely not a lie. In fact, it’s more real that our former marriages. Neither of us could comfortably be ourselves in our former marriages; on that we agree. Together we can relax, be ourselves, live our lives and raise our children. We decided in the beginning that we weren’t going to get married and we struggled over what to call each other. “Girl/boyfriend” made us sound like teenagers. “Significant other” sounds like the relationship really isn’t committed. “Partner” is what some of my gay friends often call their spouses. So, we settled on “husband/wife”. But does what we choose to call each other really matter?

My answer is no. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the relationship that we have, how we raise our children, and what’s in our hearts. There is no protocol for unmarrieds or unmarrieds with children for that matter, so we are free to write the book and do what works for our family.

I think my friend vehementally disagrees because I haven’t heard from her since. I just hope that one day, she can see past the names. Our self-proclaimed marriage, which is unsanctioned by the State of Washington, works for us. We may decide to make it “legal” one day. We may not. But for now, God (and we) knows what’s in our hearts and it’s all good.

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One Response to “Unmarrieds: What do you call each other?”

  1. Sara Huizenga December 2, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

    I relate and agree – and did I mention RELATE – 😉

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