My last name is Fuquay and my husband’s last name is Weese. No, I didn’t choose to keep my own last name when we got married — we’re not technically or legally married. We may get married some day, but then again, we may not. Marriage doesn’t really hold much significance with Hubby and most of the time it’s not something I consider important either.
I must admit that occasionally I wonder what it would be like to be called Mrs. Weese, to have a wedding, or to not have to stumble through an explanation that I fear to be over her head when our very perceptive three year old asks why I have a different last name from her and her daddy, but I know that wedding bells are nowhere in my immediate future. Yet still, I call Ted my husband. I feel that is his appropriate title and I can’t really think of a better description of his relationship to me.
I know all the many names that we cohabiting couples call our partners: boyfriend or girlfriend, lover, life partner, significant other. None of these really feel right to me. Ted is more than just my “boyfriend” although we have been friends for eight years and lovers for almost five. He is definitely my partner for life and is certainly very significant to me, but he is also the father of my child, my best friend, my other half, the soul I feel bonded to, not in a restrictive sense, but in a most liberating spiritual fulfillment. When you’ve found the right person, you know it, and ladies and gents — I’ve found mine. Perhaps its because of my conservative upbringing, but the word most associated with all of these things in my mind is “husband.”
There are other reasons why I choose to use the word husband as opposed to the alternatives. For one thing, I feel that it’s the easiest way to describe our relationship to others rather than going through the more lengthy explanation of, “No, we’re not married, although we do live together, raise a family together and will be spending our lives together.”
I also feel that people don’t respect the word boyfriend as much. Some people call guys they’ve only dated a few times their boyfriends. As much as you would think the term would imply exclusivity, people seem to have a lot less problem hitting on or even actively pursuing someone’s boyfriend or girlfriend than they would doing the same with someone’s husband or wife. I’m aware that people in both categories can choose to have open relationships but I think that as a simple courtesy you should check with their partner first if you know the person is attached.
Then there’s the whole issue of living in a backwoodsy bible-busting area like we do. I personally couldn’t care less if someone thinks the way my family chooses to live is “wrong,” because it really isn’t any of their business. However, when we become the object of discrimination based purely on the fact that we are not married, it’s both upsetting and inconvenient.
We were once considering moving into income-based apartments. We did a little research and found out that if you are not married, you cannot have a man living with you there. They even go so far as to check your closet for men’s clothes when they do their inspection. (Surely they realize some women wear men’s clothing too.)
When my husband went to set up a bank account for the business that we started together, they allowed us to set it up as a partnership account with right of survivorship. That was because the clerk had assumed that we were married. When we later mentioned that we were not married they threatened to freeze the account if we did not fill out papers agreeing to change the account to his name only where I was just undersigned and no longer had right of survivorship. I have since learned to keep my mouth shut. Most of the time, people around here will assume we are married, and why not leave it at that if it benefits us? It’s a bit more convenient than the alternatives.
So, Ted is and always will be my husband for many reasons even though we are not married. I believe everyone has the right to decide what goes on in their own personal relationships and use whatever terms they see fit to describe them. The terms I feel best fit us are husband and wife. I’m sure I’m not alone in my interpretation and that there are an infinite amount of equally valid opinions on this subject. What term do you all use for your significant others?