Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Staying Civil

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  • Sacha,

    Can't imagine why Metro wouldn't want this one.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16433 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan,

    Personally, I like to use the word "lover". It makes people so gloriously uncomfortable.

    Especially when you say it luuuverrrr.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1273 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    I'm sure we've discussed this before but: Amy is my "wife" for the reason that the word encompasses everything you need to know about our relationship and makes life infinitely simpler (9 times out of 10) when talking to strangers.

    That tenth time is when they ask: so when did you get married? Then I look like a liar.

    EDIT: I just thought about what would happen if I said "wife" and actually used air quotes

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2081 posts Report Reply

  • Mahal,

    I've done this to my boss a couple of times. Accidentally married her to her partner, that is. She's lovely about it, but I do feel like a heel for saying it, when I know perfectly well that she and her partner have chosen to be not-married (and yes, they have the mortgage and the kids and traditional trappings).

    I am married, and the word hubby still drives me mad.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2007 • 31 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Sacha: obviously something I can't publicly discuss.

    the word encompasses everything you need to know about our relationship and makes life infinitely simpler

    Simplicity is the reason I often let strangers refer to me by the wrong surname - because they're relating me to either my partner or my children. Only, yes, if it carries on it becomes incredibly awkward and embarassing to correct.

    I just thought about what would happen if I said "wife" and actually used air quotes

    That IS dodgier than "lover".

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4334 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    Great post :-)

    I wish there was a word for "person you are in a civil union with", as surely it's a step up from a de facto partner: you've bothered to make it official. And even with de facto partners, we don't have enough words: when I lived with a partner, we both intended it as a lifelong commitment, but there was no word to convey that. ["So why don't you get married?" people would ask]

    We didn't get married because we'd seen too many friends do it for reasons we just didn't share (religion, wish for respectability, social conformity, wishes of parents or families). To us, it was a more serious commitment to be together without being married.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3413 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    "and this is my lover,"

    Even better: say "this is one of my lovers".

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1039 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    My current partner happens to be male, and so we had every right to a wedding. If he was the same person but female it would be different. I could feel the same way about her – need her, love her, make love to her - but I would be legally forbidden to marry her. It seems utterly ridiculous that the contents of trousers matter more than the contents of hearts. As long as my right to marry is dependent on the gender of my partner, I will not do it.

    You and Brad Pitt both.

    In Italian we have the lovely word compagno/compagna, which means both live-in-partner/lover and comrade in a political leftist sense (but not a military one). I miss being able to say that. Partner is just awful - we're not in business together, although it is occasionally business time in the home - and companion is only good over eighty. What to do?

    And I also correct people, without feeling particularly churlish about it, except for telemarketers, to whom I'm happy to be known as Mr. Fletcher.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7348 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan,

    That tenth time is when they ask: so when did you get married? Then I look like a liar.

    Actually, you've done that to me, and I've known you for years. There was a time recently when you referred to your wife, and in the back of my head, I thought "they got married? They got married and I wasn't INVITED?"

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1273 posts Report Reply

  • Joanna,

    This might just be my personal experience, but to me a "lover" doesn't convey equalness or really any kind of relationship beyond the sexual connection, unlike "partner", but you're right, "partner" does sound a little clinical. So I've had bucketloads of lovers, but no partner, and one boyfriend, sort of. Words are super important to me, so I have no idea what I would call a significant other in my life. Perhaps that's why I don't have one (yes, that's why, honest).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 726 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    Lover, partner, hubby, whatever, you got it easy.

    Spare a thought for us middle-aged hermits.

    Single is sad. Celibate is worse.

    I opt for "Wanker".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 707 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    (Also, I spent a week in the US and made a lot of people think I was gay due to my frequent references to my partner, and that NZ had very liberal rules on gay adoption due to my frequent references to my children.)

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7348 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    I wish there was a word for "person you are in a civil union with"

    I was going to say that I'm sure the Germans have one, and we should 'borrow-word' it into English.

    In Italian we have the lovely word compagno/compagna

    But we should use the beautiful Italian one instead.

    It's a reflex, like women laughing when a man gets kicked in the balls.

    Ok, I laughed at this. Does that make me a gender-traitor, or just gender-confused?

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2343 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Oh Emma. Beautifully put. Words are so powerful. I used to struggle, when I was betrothed, with fiancee. And initially struggled when first married, with what we should call each other, to other people. Wife and husband just became so easy, but by now, after more than 20 years together, life partner is my preference. That of course raises the question as to how long one is in a relationship before it becomes a life partner sort of thing, because after all, when you enter into that phase of everyday coupledom that comes after all the wines and roses, you can't imagine being with anyone else. Until you can. Ian wanted to be married, I never did. And I still don't really see the point of it all, in theory. In principle, of course, because there are still people who are denied the right to be married to each other, it matters very much. Either way, I'm sticking to "Ms Goodison/Clark is the life partner of Mr Goodison. " Works for me.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    but to me a "lover" doesn't convey equalness or really any kind of relationship beyond the sexual connection, unlike "partner"

    Well, there's a shade of difference in meaning between 'lover' and, say 'bonk', or 'fuckbuddy' or 'shag'. And as Megan said, you can change its connotations with the way you pronounce it. But yes, it does rather imply impermanence.

    I am married, and the word hubby still drives me mad.

    The woman who was using 'hubby', and persisted even after I asked her not to, was, I believe, doing it because she simply could not get her head around the idea of a Good Relationship that wasn't a marriage. It's a horrendous, ghastly word, like 'wifey'.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4334 posts Report Reply

  • Thomas Beagle,

    I like making words up.

    "We got civilly uned."

    "This is my CUP (civil union partner)." (Additional vomit points if you then say something about "my cup runneth over" and snigger.)

    But, I admit I often just refer to her as my wife because it's easier and I can't be bothered explaining.

    BTW, I note a weird attitude in your post that implies that you think marriages are superior to civil unions. I'd argue that it's exactly the opposite - civil unions are clearly superior because they're available to more people.

    New Zealand • Since Nov 2007 • 38 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    It's a horrendous, ghastly word.

    And it always makes me think of hubcaps for some reason.

    civil unions are clearly superior because they're available to more people.

    I couldn't agree with this more vigorously without developing an aneurysm. Seriously - fuck marriage already.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7348 posts Report Reply

  • John Russell,

    Well, there's a shade of difference in meaning between 'lover' and, say 'bonk', or 'fuckbuddy' or 'shag'.

    How about "Beneficiary", as in Friends With.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 17 posts Report Reply

  • Joanna,

    Well, there's a shade of difference in meaning between 'lover' and, say 'bonk', or 'fuckbuddy' or 'shag'.

    True, I retract my bucketful of lovers then. A handful perhaps.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 726 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    BTW, I note a weird attitude in your post that implies that you think marriages are superior to civil unions. I'd argue that it's exactly the opposite - civil unions are clearly superior because they're available to more people.

    That's not what I think, it's what I believe the social attitude is, otherwise we wouldn't have this "stepping stone" position where politicians were happy to go this far, but no further. Having the right to marry, whether you choose to or not, is superior to not having it.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4334 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    True, I retract my bucketful of lovers then. A handful perhaps.

    I believe technically they're known as a "murder of lovers".

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7348 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    How about "Beneficiary", as in Friends With.

    That does sort of imply that I'm doing someone a favour.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4334 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    Single is sad. Celibate is worse.

    I sympathise with you to the extent that involuntary celibacy is awful. But "Single is sad" doesn't always apply. A lot of people are happily single, and not in a rush to get partnered up for the sake of it. Some would love to have a compagn(a|o), but in the absence thereof are happy to enjoy their freedom and friendships.

    Also, single =/= celibate. A while ago when I was "single" and people occasionally expressed their commiserations, I used to say that "I'm a bachelor, not a monk".

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1039 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    The one that I get really, really irritated by is being called "Mrs". Makes me see red.

    Renee of Womanist Musings refers to her partner as her unhusband.

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1300 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Having the right to marry, whether you choose to or not, is superior to not having it.

    Only if you go along with that mindset. If people actually abandoned marriage in favour of civil unions for the reason that Thomas so succintly espoused, then civil unions would become the superior institution.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7348 posts Report Reply

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