Are you married, getting hitched soon, or a recent convert? A fun read for the modern girl, extracted from an article on The New York Times.

“I NOW pronounce you husband and wife,” the minister said to Anthony and me 22 years ago. Although I was thrilled about what we were undertaking, I cringed. Being pronounced a “wife” felt archaic and just plain weird. I went with it, squeamish but thankful that at least we’d gotten past the days of “man” and wife. 

Years later, though, I was still dodging the vocabulary. “I’m Margot,” I’d say, “and this is my, um, partner, Anthony.”

For our first decade of marriage, Anthony and I employed traditional spouse words only from a distance born of snark:

“Hey Husband, can you use your big strong hands to get the lid off this jar?”

“Hello, Wife. How are you this fine day?”

Anthony and I loved each other. We married each other. We snuggled in front of the television and created three children and balanced the checkbook. We’d embraced the whole package. So why couldn’t we speak the vocabulary of our institution with sincerity? Why we were always employing air quotes when using the terms that simply and accurately described our relationship?

For me, marriage-role terminology carried too much baggage of a history I didn’t want. Although I could imagine the pride with which a new bride might have worked the words “my husband” into every sentence 60 years ago, I couldn’t get there myself. The words “husband” and “wife” didn’t conjure cozy commitment and togetherness, the comfort of a partnership I could count on for all my days. Instead, “wife” smacked of “old ball and chain.” And don’t even get me started on the fact that the word “husband” had no negative colloquial equivalents.

Language resonates and implicates, and marriage-role vocabulary represented a life I didn’t want to sign up for. In my mind, wives wore frilly aprons and husbands worked at offices performing briefcase-related activities. A husband returned home exhausted from a long day and his wife handed him a martini, cooing. And those were the best-case scenarios. In the worst case, wives were frustrated and subjugated and husbands were domineering and entitled.

Continue article here > The New York Times, Modern Love, Labels of Married Life

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