January 28, 2010

Husband. Partner. Spouse.

Four months from this weekend, K and I will be married. Very exciting, and good to know the wedding is pretty much planned (Sunday brunch at a beautiful historic hotel, about 50 people, informal and, we hope, elegant).

As K and I go forward, planning our wedding, marriage, house, honeymoon, merging the canine kids, deciding who's popcorn machine gets to stay, adjusting to in-law's, etc., we are going through pretty much the same process as any straight couple would be. Except for one big exception --- what they hell do we call each other?

Like it or not, the world consists of us labelling each other. Mr. Mrs. Doctor. Colonel. Bride. Judge. Rabbi. In-law. Father. Academy-Award Winner. Felon. President. First Lady. Son. Husband. Wife.

So when a married couple is not a husband and wife, and is two guys, do you go with husband and husband? Or is that, well, weird?

For some people not an issue. Ellen and Portia call each other wife and wife very matter-of-factly. So do Wanda Sykes and her wife. And why shouldn't they, as two women who are legally married to each other?

Husband? Partner? Spouse?

Putting aside those who believe that we will burn in hell for being gay -- that's you, Rush Limbaugh, Mr on your fourth wedding while out there protecting the virtues of 'traditional marriage' --- getting married is getting married. And getting married is about building a family, for the emotional and social significance, and the legal protection (look at A Single Man, where a guy loses his partner of 16years and the family blocks him from attending the funeral, and even keeps their dog).

Shortly after K and I decided to get married, we walked into a meeting with the architect designing our house, and K introduced me as his fiance. I was startled for a brief second (yikes, hope I hid that one); not in a bad way, just in a "hmm, I hadn't thought of that label" kind of way.

Now some time has passed and I am all over the fiance label. I use it, I like it, it feels romantic and significant and long-lasting. What's next?

Once we are married (countdown four months), what do we call each other? Husband and husband?

My fiance (see, using that one!) is going to use 'husband'. And me? Over the last 18 months I have gone from calling him my boyfriend to calling him my partner. Okay, actually I have gone from calling him 'some guy' to 'that cute guy' to my boyfriend to my partner. So what's next?

I had planned on using 'partner'. But that inclination has faded as the wedding approaches, as it won't be new or deeper somehow; I use 'partner' to refer to K now, and truth be told may have used it in other relationships before, so what is different about being married?

In addition to wanting a new and weightier label, and one that I have never used before as this is my first and only marriage (take that, Limbaugh), I am proud to be an out gay man getting married in a place where I can be fully and legally married (take that, Banderson Booper and the state of California). So for personal and political reasons, I don't think the label 'partner' is enough, and 'husband' it will be...


Matthew said...

Yes, I'd probably plump for husband too.

I hope that the coming four months are enjoyable and the years afterwards are heaven-sent.

Thanks for stopping by my place recently - it's always nice to welcome new faces and hear new thoughts.

Stephen said...

We got married in Vancouver BC, on our 25th anniversary as a couple... after the ceremony, attended by our 2 best men, we drove to Seattle 9where we had lived for 20 years) & had a party at former neighbor's house for 50 friends & family. We refer to each other as HUSBAND. At first I was uncomfortable, but now it rolls of the tongue & just seems right.

Congrats on your impending nuptials!
How does Alfred feel about all this?

Vodka Logic said...

I work with a man married to a man and I think the rest of us were more uncomfortable about how to refer to his partner. They call each other husband.

Aunt Juicebox said...

I don't see why you shouldn't call him your husband. Because that's what he'll be, yes? I've been married for 5 years, and it's still weird sometimes when I hear my husband call me his wife. It's always like, oh yeah, right, we're married now. (after being together unmarried for 7)

Michael Rivers said...

What a wonderful post! Best wishes for your upcoming marriage. The plans sound great. Thinking of the "Mr. and Mr.", are you going to join names? Hyphenate?

I'm looking forward to photos of the big day!

lena said...

Ummm... that's a tricky one, but then if you have to use a label, a husband will be the most appropriate! :)

Best wishes for the marriage. I bet you are excited :)

robertga99 said...

Congrats on the upcoming nuptials. Whatever you choose to call him I think just depends on what you want and what works best for you.

Jason said...

I totally understand how you feel. I've been married to Colin for 7 years and I still "cringe" when I refer to him as "husband." For some reason, it just doesn't fit exactly. But since there are no alternative labels that matches the word "husband," then husband it is.

All the best to you and your loved ones on your special day.

Kevin said...

Awe. How sweet, honey.

injaynesworld said...

Husband absolutely! I'm thrilled for you and wish you every happiness in the world. Does Alfred get to be the ring bearer? Surely, he's outfitted for a tux?

Ajay in Mill Bay said...

My spouse and I were one of the first man couples in BC to get hitched. In fact, they didn't even have marriage certificates yet for same sex couples, so I ended up filling my name in the "bride" heading. HA. I'm so not a bride.

We both us different terms at different times and in different situations, depending on whether the person we're talking to needs to know the particulars of our life.

In normal, everyday life he's my husband. If I'm referring to him to someone I don't know and gender isn't an issue I use the term spouse. I once had a woman ask me what my wife thought of something, and I said I don't have a wife. She said the ring on my finger says otherwise. I said the ring on my finger says I'm married but it doesn't say what the gender of my spouse is. 'nuff said.

Tom's not as "out" as me, especially in a corporate structure, and doesn't have the same comfort level talking about it to people he doesn't know. So for him, it's usually spouse, sometimes partner when marital status isn't relevent but usually never husband.

Whatever works for either of you is the proper term to use. There are no laws, no societal rules. Just enjoy your lives together and don't sweat the labels.

Congrats, best wishes, have a long and happy life together. We've been married 6 years, together for 9. Marriage is what you make of it, but don't let anyone else tell you what you should make of it and what to call the other. We didn't feel compelled to change our names, hyphonate, combine names. Husbands rarely take on the others name, though when my niece got married her husband took her name, he thought it was less weird then his. Whatever.

Crystal said...

Congrats as well on the upcoming wedding. I'm sure it will be a fantastic party and I wish you both a lifetime of happiness.

I'm not sure what to say regarding the labels you'll use after you are married. I think each couple has to find something that suits them and they are comfortable with. I think "partner" sounds the most neutral, or perhaps my "significant other". But in the end, screw the labels and just focus on the union :)

Bo said...

I prefer husband and husband, but you need to find what makes both of you comfortable. Best wishes on your upcoming marriage 4 months isnt that far off.

marymac said...

Call it whatcha want you guys are just HAWT! (I mean, i'm still the other woman...) Wish I was invited to the BRUNCH because I would totally come up to America's hat...I mean...CANADA for that! ;) xo and smoochy congrats in advance!!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Congrats! I think "Husband" is the perfect choice. Once the novelty wears off, you can simply call him "Hub" or "The Hubster." Just so long as you never start using the term "The Old Ball 'n Chain," LOL!

Brahm said...

Great comments all, and thanks for the congrats... we are of course very excited heading into the spring (yep I am in northern Canada and pretending there is no effing winter)... and ooh, "the hubster" is a new and interesting one!

GregoryJ said...

I think 'spouse' sounds good. I pasted synonyms below. Mate? He-mate? He-spouse?
Are either/both of you changing names? Hyphenating?
Congratulations and Best wishes to you both.

Main Entry: spouse
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: one of a married couple
better half, bride, companion, groom, helpmate, husband, man, mate, partner, roommate, wife, woman

Kelly@TearingUpHouses said...

the trying to decide who's popcorn machine to keep CRACKED ME UP.

that's awesome.


Anonymous said...

Brahm, I wish you and K much happiness.

The Princess of Sarcasm said...

I didn't know gays could get married in Canada! That's awesome! I voted against the ban in my very conservative southern state.....even though I knew it was a futile effort. *sigh* I say call him whatever you damn well please! (I call my husband my prince. But we're not really royalty. *wink*) Best wishes in your upcoming married life. *smooches™

Brahm said...

Thanks, Princess, and yes totally legal here -- in some provinces for many years, and country wide since 2003...

And we can also serve in the military... not that I want to.

Middle Aged Woman said...

How about "Love of My Life?"

Post a Comment

Comments are like chew toys and favourite treats. Alfie says thanks!