Spousal nomenclature

Some time ago someone asked me some specifics about my partner. Specifically, they wanted to know if my partner was male, i.e. whether I was in a heterosexual relationship.

It was clear to me that this person had not read my blog for very long, because I think it’s obvious that we are living the life of a traditional family. I am the primary caregiver and he is the primary earner and we cohabit at the same address and raise the spawn together.

But it begs to ponder nomenclature, doesn’t it.

By chance, I came across an article which addressed this exact topic. And it made me think about all the different types of terminology we use to describe our so-called partners:

  • spouse
  • husband/wife
  • significant other
  • life partner
  • other half/better half
  • common-law partner
  • common-law husband/wife
  • common-law spouse
  • the father/mother of my/our children
  • fiancé/fiancée
  • plus one
  • bride (to a lesser extend, groom)
  • mate (UK/Australia/New Zealand)
  • companion
  • hubby/wifey
  • the husband/the wife
  • misses/missus
  • old lady/old man
  • (some derogatory or insulting names which have no place in this post…)

It’s quite an extensive list, isn’t it. 🙂

I have referred to my partner mostly as my partner. This is what he is, theoretically: we are partners in tending to this house, to this family, to the kids. The fact that we are, technically, fiancé/fiancée is beside the point. I mean, he sort of proposed to me, and there is a ring which I haven’t worn in years, but to go around naming him my fiancé after 20 years, a mortgage and two kids seems a little…weird.

The article talks a lot about spousal nomenclature, and touches on same-sex unions and its terminology. You can read the article here.

So, my question is, what do you prefer? I realize many of you are in traditional husband/wife relationships, but you can still chime in with your preferences if you wish.

Personally, I like partner – no matter what our past, current and future status is or will be, it still encompasses an accurate description of our roles inside the family unit that includes both offspring and tangible assets.

Your turn.

See you in the comments.

47 thoughts on “Spousal nomenclature

  1. In the year erased 2020 we celebrated with my wife 25th anniversary of weddings. On this occasion we bought a new pair of gold and silver rings to commemorate that event. But we have two more rings on our hands. I’ll address that in a blog post, where from time to time I write a few words.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Though I’m currently engaged to my partner, I do prefer the “standard” label of fiancé/fiancée for us. Once we’re married, wife/husband is preferable but I’m also okay with us being referred to as spouses and significant others. Despite my urge to be non-traditional when it comes to a lot of societal labeling, I do prefer the standard when it comes to my current relationship, though I wouldn’t mind us being viewed as “life partners”.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I see the dilemma of what to call someone when boyfriend is no adequate and husband seems antiquated (my words, not anyone else’s). I started calling my husband or life partner, hubs, when I make posts or blog. It seems intimate, not too many people use it, and I like different. In private, we call each other a number of affectionate words from honey, darling, sweetheart, and sugar, to others like teddy bear, honey-bunch, and so on. Legally, of course, we are and think of each other as husband and wife. But, otherwise, we are friends, lovers, cohorts in our own personal jokes and understandings, and…partners 🙂


  4. We’re MarTar. A single unit. Though I like to call her my “better half” sometimes (that one didn’t make your list but very well could have).

    I’m curious why you guys never followed through on getting married?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. MarTar is awesome!

      Better half is part of other half, 5th from the top. 😳

      The ‘not going through with it’ is due to a variety of things; my own perspective about the institution of marriage and a sequence of events that led me to where I am today. I doubt I’ll illustrate all of that on the blog but I have thought about writing it out in some way. Maybe I will one day.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It was easier when I was married because husband and wife are clear and don’t elicit follow up questions. I don’t like the words boyfriend and girlfriend for the same reasons as the article states, it feels less than what the relationship is. My man (that’s what I call him) and I have been mistaken for husband and wife more often than not and we both like it and haven’t corrected anyone. Personally, I’m especially not a fan of boyfriend because the person I am in a relationship with is a MAN, not a boy. I saw someone else mentioned using Sweetheart, I like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Boyfriend is so… adolescent, isn’t it. But a surprising amount of people in midlife still call it that. That’s alright if it suits you, I just think for us after 20 years it’s a bit odd.

      Someone I know in Australia calls her man “beloved” 😍

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, adolescent. I think beloved is nice, but I don’t see myself pulling it off. A journalist friend suggested Love Thang, so we tried that but it made me laugh so that’s for private use only. 😂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. This is interesting. I have a blogging friend from Australia, who referred to her bf as “mate,” just as this list indicates is typical. I didn’t realize it and assumed she was a lesbian lol, which she thought was funny, too.

    As for me, I just say husband.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I called him my husband for the 18 years we lived together, and raised our spawn, until we got married. The relationship lasted 3 more years. He’s been gone 12 years and we’re still legally married, but he’s “the ex” when I’m being kind or PG.

    I read the same article. I had the same thoughts as the writer. Using “husband” felt weird at first, but better than alternatives. We finally made it legal for Younger Daughter. It bothered her that it wasn’t legal🤷🏼‍♀️

    I think I’d go with partner now. My millennials find it easier to use for all relationships. Seems to be more accepted generally too.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Partner feels like it makes more sense if you aren’t legally married, but I suppose your relationship could fall under common law marriage. I rarely talk to people, but I suppose we both say husband/wife at times. Moreover we call each other bunny more than our own actual names ALL the time. 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I call my wife sweet pea or pea, when referring to her in conversation with others I say “my wife”, when I’m pissed I call her by her first name. We never gave or give it much thought really, we just kind of are. Given its been a 25+ year relationship on and off, all the terms applied at one time I suppose.

    I dont have a preference myself, my wife likes “wife” (yes I asked).


  10. I call her “my wife” but in so many ways we are more like “life partners”.

    One of my facebook friends call her husband (soon to be ex-husband) her “huzzbutt” which always cracked me up. 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m a big fan of partner (not that I have one). It seems like there was a brief moment a while back when society was just starting to realize that (gasp!) non-hetero folks exist, and “partner” was sort of a euphemism for same-sex partner, but I think most of society grew past that a couple of decades ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I always called my husbands as my husband and they called me wife.
    I didn’t even think anything about it at the time as it was just the way of it.
    Now the person I am seeing calls me, “my lady “. I don’t call him any name to make the connection special. I don’t like the name he calls me. It is kinda equal to “my lady friend “, and now I want to gag. 😂😁

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I called him my husband, then the ex. I haven’t found anyone that I would ‘name’ since the divorce. While I like the name partner, it seems in the past it held that connotation of same sex relationship, but I think that’s changed now. :). Either way, I am happy for you both!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The article I linked to does talk about how the same sex terminology and its implications, how it has evolved over time. Being in Canada where these things seem fairly standard these days, the term partner is so widely used in all scenarios I don’t even think about how it might have been different at one time.


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