What’s in a name?

I recently participated in a light-hearted discussion with my mom and some friends of hers, who have a similar family situation (pseudo re-married, with children), about what we call my significant other.  Just how do I, and others, refer to him?  For my children it’s fairly simple – we call him their Bonus Dad, although not everyone “gets it”.  The term was coined by Jann Blackstone & Sharyl Jupe, who offer an explanation of the reference here: http://www.bonusfamilies.com/articles/bonus-living.php He calls them his Bonus Daughters, but even that doesn’t sound quite right to me considering he has no other daughters.  However, it works for them.

But back to me, what do I the single mom, now sharing daily responsibilities with a new life partner call my significant other?  At 30-something and 4 years in I can’t imagine calling him my boyfriend – I really never have. Besides, we’re really beyond that now aren’t we?  Together, we bought a home and are raising my children.  I sometimes refer to him as my partner, and it never feels quite right.  We don’t like how “partner” sounds either like a business relationship, or is accompanied (for some people) with a strange feeling of the need to qualify that we are not gay. During this conversation some humorous stories were shared of how some found themselves doing so at one time or another (“…and no, she’s not gay!  I’m just sayin’…” or “her partner, is a really nice guy!”).  Spouse sounds impersonal – like something a professional would use in an attempt to be politically correct.  Partner-in-life, or life partner, sounds so formal, and rather difficult to use in conversation.  I don’t know if we’ll ever marry, but if we do it will be a big decision, and I don’t like referring to him as my husband, when we haven’t made that decision yet.  So where does that leave us? A friend of mine referred to her man in her life as “my Michael”.  And I do find myself often simply referring to mine by somehow tieing him in to my family as an addition (“my girlies… and Ian”).

If anyone can offer an insightful suggestion I’m all ears!

It’s incredible to me how something as simple as a title or reference to someone has so much tied up in the language.  But it only goes to show how complex this whole transition in life can be.

Meanwhile, I seem to be referred to by my Newfoundlander as “Da Wife”. Hmmm.

About Trish

family legacy curator, social justice advocate, blogger, amateur photographer, reader, cyclist, runner & swimmer, mom of two

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13 years ago

You can just start making everyone uncomfortable and start calling him your lover. 😛 Though that sounds like he’s only the guy in the bedroom, which we know isn’t the case.

13 years ago

Too true, Angela. I’ve been spending a lot of time on our yard lately, maybe I’m also “the gardener” or the “yard-boy”. As a cyclist, I’m also her “riding partner”. I’m not sure if any of these offer better connotation, though.

Alishia Raina
13 years ago

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13 years ago

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