Q: I know that it’s been brought up a couple times, but can we do another post on what people call their loves? Because honestly, I don’t want a husband. I want a wifey. And so does my guy. Who DOESN’T want a little person cooking food, matching your socks, and making sure that you feel good? I understand the posts on reclaiming wife, and I get that, I really do (although that scares me almost as much as “husband” does), but can we discuss possibly reclaiming husband? Or something? I’m not sure what I’m asking…besides, if anyone was getting into husbandry between my partner and I, it’d be me. I want goats and chickens and cats and dogs and the full nine yards.
So, yeah. I just know that when I get married my mother is going to refer to my guy as my husband, and I’m not sure if I’m ready for that. Or that people are going to tell me that I’m a wife. Why can’t we just be us and in love?
If there’s a post out of this, I’d love to see it. I’m not fully sure what I’m asking, but I want to see APW tackle this and see what solutions people have come up with that work for them.
Nervously Erratic Ramblings Volunteered Out Unto Sages
A: Dear NERVOUS,
You know, I think this is probably one of those things that won’t be such a big deal once you’re married. What I mean by that is being introspective has this nasty side effect of maybe allowing us to think about things so much that they become a really big deal sitting there in our little heads. And then, when they finally happen, we realize, “Oh. It’s not as big of a deal as I thought.” Sort of like bracing for the shot in the doctor’s office. Only, even less painful than all that. I’ve heard people describe all sorts of “big things” that way—from weddings, to changing your name, to having a kid. You stress yourself out worrying about the transition, and then it happens, and meh.
And I say all that because, well, he is going to be your husband.
The main thing here is definition, not connotation. And the definition of “husband” (married male) is what your spouse is going to be, all connotations about breadwinners and belly-scratching grunts from the couch aside. We can’t really change the definitions of words. Ask any linguist—that sort of thing takes time. But, we can change the connotations of them a bit more swiftly, which, like you mentioned, is the idea behind Reclaiming Wife. To take a neutral, actually not half-bad word, and wipe it clean of its terrible connotations while holding onto the actual definition, and by doing so, broadening it. Just like “wife” doesn’t necessarily mean house robes and dustpans and pot roasts pulled out of the oven as he walks in the door, “husband” doesn’t necessarily exclude those ideas.
Beyond its own dictionary definition, the only other meaning that your use of “husband” should have is that which you invest with your vows. So, that bit about making you feel good probably is in there (and matching your socks may be, too, who knows). My husband, by definition, is the man I married. But as a result of my vows, that role comes with a whole bunch of meanings for my own husband that may not necessarily translate to yours. You and your husband need to determine between the two of you what this role signifies.
Of course, all that said, sometimes transitions do take a bit of time. Maddie mentioned that she remembers feeling sort of similar to you, and that it helped her to realize she could take baby steps, starting with calling him “husfriend” instead of “husband.” If you’re still uncomfortable using the “H” word, give “partner” a shot. You don’t have to call him husband if it makes you feel icky. I know folks who completely avoided ever uttering “fiancé” because it felt weird. “Partner” isn’t gender-specific or status-declarative, so it’s nice and neutral in a bunch of ways.
But you do need to prepare yourself for folks calling him your husband. Because they will. I’m not sure I’d encourage you to march around asking folks to say otherwise, because, well. Them’s the facts, kid.
If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!