Why I call my live-in partner “husband”

Guest post by Nova Fuquay

silly dad 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?

Comments on Why I call my live-in partner “husband”

  1. My fiance and I are already married in the ways that matter to us. We call each other husband and wife in private most of the time and we always say we are already married in our hearts, which is what matters the most I think. We are already partners in our life together, have already started a family, and are bestest friends. ;] It’s awkward when I try to explain to people that he isn’t actually my husband, so then people refer to him as my ‘husband-fiance-boyfriend-thing’ person. XD

  2. Back in the day, very early Christians would consider people married if they simply said the words “I marry you” to each other.

    These formal legal agreements have only been around for a short amount of time in comparison to the thousands of years of history when partnerships were made out of vows to each other, not by the written consent of a governing body.

    I call my partner my fiance, or my prehusband. We’re getting married in about 10 months and then he’ll be my husband. I can’t wait, because I like the weight that the word carries. I would probably do the same as you if we weren’t married. His sister and her husband have done that since they found out they were pregnant, and they aren’t planning on having a legal ceremony any time soon. If it feels right, why not?

  3. I love this!

    I gave my now-husband a time limit to propose to me. I was SO SICK of calling him my “boyfriend”. To me, “boyfriend” means disposable, not special, replaceable. What he was to me was so much more than just a boyfriend so I told him to propose to me within two weeks because I couldn’t take it anymore (we knew we were getting married already, I just wanted to DO IT ALREADY). So he proposed to me two weeks and a day later and then I called him my fiance 😀

    A husband is a husband, regardless of a ceremony or a document. Good on you! 🙂

  4. You may need to marry him soon if that is a Three Wolf Moon shirt he’s wearing. You know how hard it is to keep the ladies at bay when you strut around wearing that mystical frock?!?!?


    Oh nevermind, I just read the photo caption and realized that’s not actually your partner. Phew, you’re safe!

  5. Hey, common law marriage goes all the way back to the Roman Empire (and probably before). Even if your state doesn’t legally recognize a common law marriage, they a social fact. Everyone says the marriage is more important than the wedding. Who cares if you skipped a step? You may, however, want to get with a lawyer and make sure you have all the legal stuff (like medical power of attorney and all that).

  6. My man and I have been married legally for 8 years and it still feels weird to hear anyone call me his wife, or to introduce him as my husband – seems somehow so 50’s sitcom, like we’re making fun of ourselves. But we still do it sometimes for clarity’s sake. I like to say “my sweetie”, though that feels a little cute.

    On a tangent, I always knew I wouldn’t change my last name when we married, and now that we have a baby on the way, we’re in HOT debate over which last name this child will get. And I’ve never been a “Mrs. Anybody.” So some of the questions the original poster asked will apply to us, too!

  7. This is a wonderful website of very relevant information that I just wanted to share with you all. It is a nonprofit that supports and advocates for choice in relationship status including lgbt couples, straight unmarried couples, poly relationships, and those who choose to stay single.

  8. my dude and I had both always been uncomfortable with the whole boyfriend/girlfriend label. I knew him before we were romantically involved, and we had a sort of long “casual dating” period (we cared about eachother weren’t f-buddies or in an “open relationship” but we also hadn’t talked about not seeing other people).

    Before we were monogamous I called him my “ish” and now he’s my “not-too-gentleman”

    we’ve never been the formal types.

    • That’s a lot how like how it was for us. We met in highschool when he was a senior and I was a freshman. I had a crush on him right away but as we were both dating other people at the time, I sublimated my feelings into a brother-sister type relationship. In this way I got to know him quite well, and when the time came for our romance to blossom we already had more love and understanding between us than many couples who had met recently, boyfriend and girlfriend didn’t really feel right to us even then.

  9. I love this post. I call my girlfriend husband because she is the more feminine of the two of us, but its really just a joke between us. Normally around other people, I refer to her as my partner or my other half. I knew that gay couples experienced this question of what to call thier partners but its interesting that strait people do too.

  10. Nova is my daughter and is a very bright, beautiful sensitive individual. I am very proud of this articulate article.

  11. I have been with my “boyfriend” for 4+ years. We are both around 50. For reasons too long to go into, we will not be married. He has helped me through a job loss, the death of my son, raising my 2 girls, I’ve helped with his autistic son, and we will be together forever. I feel our relationship deserves the respect of being called husband and wife. I absolutely LOVED this commentary on Names for Partners. I had made a Facebook post today refering to my “husband” without much though, and I received numerous messages asking when we were married. I felt those people deserved an explanation. I searched the internet for something nicely worded and ran into this article. I must say I stole a lot of it, modified it to my situation, and blasted it back to many. I am rather offended when people question our title of husband/wife! At nearly 50 years old, we are madly in love, inseparable, and can hardly wait to wake up each day together. I dare say we will never be in the nearly 50% of newlyweds that end in divorce. I don’t value a legal piece of paper. I value what is in our heart.

  12. thank you so much for this post, as all of the couples i know are married. we have an 18th month old daugther and are not married either. it’s refreshing to be reminded we are not the only ones who feel this is the option for us. <3

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