All posts tagged: Wife

I’m Married, But Don’t Call Me Mrs.

I was absolutely terrified and not sure at all that I wanted to step out of the car and into the church. I was all of 24 years old and about to marry a man whom I loved deeply and who I wanted to share my life with. Have children with. But wife? Wife. WIFE. I felt not unprepared or ambivalent but rather, resistant and fairly resentful of both the word and the reality of “wife.” Or at least the reality I envisioned. I went into marriage with a fair amount of pre- (or rather, ill-) conceived notions of what a marriage “should be,” what it meant to be a wife and how my life and world would change. Part religion, part society, part too many hours spent reading and watching overly romanticized, conventionally and poorly written beach novels and Lifetime For Women television specials. And part me and my own family baggage and mythology. My mom married my dad at 18 after being sweethearts (what a term!) since they were about 12. My mom …

What Lurks Behind the Word ‘Wife’?

The meaning of wife? (Photo courtesy Jennifer Ha) My young son recently asked me why some words are “bad.” He’s at the age where saying an illicit word brings a certain measure of delight and thrill due to the reaction of others, namely me, his Mom. He lets a naughty word slip, I admonish him, and we do it all over again. My daughter has a workaround. “I may think those words, Mom, but I just don’t say them aloud.” So when he asked me: “What makes a word bad, Mom?” I had to think about it. We, the users of language, assign meaning to words. If a society agrees on a meaning, it sticks. But language is a living thing. It changes. The meanings of words that have been around for thousands of years often transform, over time, into different meanings. So while I’ve been busy correcting his language for polite company, I’ve also been thinking about my own “bad” words. I surprised myself with the revelation that there has always been something about …

When I Traded in My Girlfriend for a Wife

Wife is such a loaded word for lesbians. When I married my girlfriend, it took at least six months before I could call her wife. I’d skate around the issue; she was my partner, my spouse, my lover. All of those words seemed more appropriate than wife. Wife comes with ownership — baggage neither of us could carry. My wife makes quite a first impression, a large personality that no one could tame, let alone own. She is at once personable, caring, totally funny and wrong — my favorite traits in a woman, self possessed and completely open to the world’s possibilities. We had been friends for 10 years, a common ex introduced us (how very lesbian). We watched each other date the wrong people, bitched about our crazy current and ex-girlfriends while shamelessly flirting with the next bad plan. We both needed each other and had no idea. In town for a freelance gig, I brazenly teased her across the bar, claiming I was free and in control. Didn’t need anyone. Ready to explore what …

A License to Self-Unite: Why We Decided to Marry Ourselves

(Photo courtesy Julie Parr) First, I was a single person. Then, I was a mother. Next, I became a homeowner. Finally, I became a wife. As you can see, I didn’t become “wife” in the order that most people would expect. It’s a long story. The short version is that my husband and I met, dated, broke up, got pregnant, had a baby, lived apart, had other relationships, rekindled our romance, went to therapy, lived together, co-parented a child and then finally, and only when we had decided that we needed to move to another city together for work, got married. It was a functional decision, one based in the idea that we should be more committed if we were going to tough it out through an enormous change, like moving to another state. Plus, we’d already survived more ups and downs than most newlyweds. And we didn’t get married in the traditional sense. If you happen to be from Philadelphia, then you may have heard of the “self-uniting license.” It exists in Philly because …

My Quick and Quirky Vegas Wedding

(Photo courtesy Adrianna Dufay) Wife. Even at a relatively young age, I knew I was never going to be a wife. In the books I read, the wife stayed at home while the husband went out and did “things.” The wife took care of the children, cooked, cleaned house and all that sort of stuff, but I hated cleaning, didn’t much care for cooking and I was never going to have children. So why would I need to be a wife? I grew up in the 1970s and 80s, a card-carrying member of Generation X. I was a latchkey kid, during a time when it felt strange if your parents were still together. Divorce was the norm. In my 20s, I attended friends’ weddings, big affairs with white dresses and bridesmaids and tuxedos and catering halls. I was incredibly happy for my friends. But each wedding cemented the idea that all this frou-frou was not for me. I knew I was going to be a lone wolf. A drama teacher once told me that he saw …

Front to Backlist

Must Reads From Wolitzer and Greene on Infidelity, Academia and Wifery

(Photo: Nancy Gonzalez/TueNight) The words we use in English for spouses of opposite gender do not simply indicate sex (e.g., “epouse” and “mari” in French), but also denote a power system that dates back to when the word “husband” came into common use around the 13th century. Previously, the verb “to husband” meant to carefully use or manage something, such as a resource, and was often used in the context of breeding animals and farming land. When the concept of romantic love became a popular trend in medieval Europe, authorities married it to (see what I did there?) the idea that someone had to be “In Charge.” Guess who it got to be? We’ve been living with inequality between husbands and wives ever since (and beforehand, too, but the words were different). Husbands were legally their wives’ owners until the 19th century. While I’m here to write about books and not give you a long history lesson, I think all of this is important to the two stories I’m writing about today. My Frontlist title, which …

Margit’s Note: The Wife Issue

(Photo: Nancy Gonzalez/TueNight) “This is my wife…” At a cocktail party, the phrase is inserted before my name. It says, “I go with this person.” Does it immediately imply I make casseroles and iron shirts? No, but roles have been identified and a claim has been staked. This is my territory, these are my Hawaiian Islands, there is a fence, watch out for the moat. The word “Wife” is beyond loaded, as we’re exploring this week — and as we’ve debated for decades. Personally, I struggle less with the word than with the activities it implies. And I don’t mean doing dishes or sewing buttons. After I got married, there was suddenly a ridiculous new assumption (not from my husband, mind you) that I would be the one to remember details and follow-up on things — birthdays, thank you notes, vacation details. People would suddenly connect with me about activities that had to do with both of us, or even just my husband. I was suddenly the Julie McCoy of our partnership. Little did they know, I will almost always …