Butch wife

I never wanted a wife.

I never wanted to be a wife.

Kate and Allie

Kate and Allie: I would have been the hilarious one on the right.

I figured a way around all of that tradition sometime in the ’80s. I suggested to my college roommate that after graduation we get a place and live, you know, like Kate and Allie.  It would be a 24/7 slumber party eating raw cookie dough right from the tube and staying up late to watch reruns of The Facts of Life.  (I watched way too much TV back then).  I would be Allie, played by comedy legend and pioneer Jane Curtain, because of my rapier wit and she could be Kate, played by Susan Saint James, because she had darker hair.

“Yeah, no,” she replied.

I offered for her to be Allie, but she still wasn’t buying into my vision of two women living under the same roof and raising kids.

Yes, she was narrow minded.

And I was deep in the closet, back with the unused ski equipment and broken umbrella.

Flash forward almost 30 years, and I am a wife. I have a wife, too.  Who even knew such things were possible?

I do not look like a wife.

Did anyone else have a crush on Donna Reed?

Did anyone else have a crush on Donna Reed?

Wilma Flintstone was a wife. Donna Reed, wife.  June Cleaver.  Laura Petrie.  Carol Brady.  Jane Jetson.

Before W and I said I do, we had a conversation about her referring to me as her wife.

“I wouldn’t say anything in front of anyone, but I would cringe inside every time you said the word ‘wife,'” I said.

It is the association with traditional female roles and stereotypes that bothers me. It is fingernails on chalkboard.

It is the same way I felt when I was 10-years-old and forced to pick out back-to-school clothes from the girls’ section of the department store.

W comes home these days and greets me as she’s walking through the door.

“Hi, wifey.”

“There you are, wife.”

I laugh.  She laughs.

We are still dumbstruck by the fact that we are married. Legally married.  Like non-gay people.

It is all new. We are still adjusting.

When W asks what she should call me, I tell her I don’t know. I don’t know yet.  Sometimes I feel I’m still in transition, in flux.  That it’ll all shake out one day.  That I’ll know the answer then.

I feel bad for W, because I make everything so difficult.

If I’m not a wife, what am I?  I’m not a husband.  A spouse?  Partner?  That’s how we referred to each other in the old days, before we had a piece of paper that says we’re married.

I think about what it means to be a butch. Sure, it is about flannel shirts and comfortable shoes and football on Sunday and Monday and every other day of the week and beer and treating your lady like a queen.

images[7]But it is also about having the courage to be different, to be who you are. To answer to “sir” when you are anything but.  To be mistaken for a young man when you are nearing menopause.  It is about wearing a necktie when every other woman in the room is wearing a dress.  And venturing into the women’s bathroom — that room with a door marked with the silhouette of a person wearing a dress — when you don’t know what kind of reception awaits.

So, yeah. Butch wife.  Maybe I can handle that.  On my terms.  In my way.

Listening to sports radio when I bake cookies for the kids. Or wearing a tie when I take my wife out to dinner on date night.

Anyone got a problem with that?

* * *

What do you call your significant other?

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15 responses to “Butch wife

  1. I call her Donna. Seriously, I’ve been turned down three times – because marriage is “bourgeois decadence” but I call Donna my partner when I introduce her. For the first few years I called her my lover or girl friend, but that felt odd when we moved in together.
    Once at a party as a joke, I referred to her as my fiancé (before gay marriage was legal anywhere in the US) and she shrieked “I’m not marrying you” and everyone turned around and stared – and then started to laugh because, of course, we couldn’t get married.

  2. We do ‘wife’.

    I’ve occasionally heard the term ‘wive’ used when wanting to join one thing into another … kinda like weaving two things together … to wive them together. Maybe a olde English term. Or maybe a writer taking liberties, not that we’d ever do that. No. Of course not!

  3. She is my wife and I am her Hersband (of course I’ll answer to Hubby,or the other half even husband < called that by some locals) but Hersband works pretty well.

  4. I’ve been wondering this for a long time too. I haven’t heard or seen a word that feels right yet. As things are now it’s not something I’m going to have to worry about but still I wonder.

  5. On my blog, I simply refer to him as Husband.
    At home, I always call him daddy, because otherwise our three year old calls him by his first name and it makes me feel weird. But in the end, doesn’t matter what the title is, as long as you are comfortable in your role. Right?

  6. I have been married for almost 10 years and it still gets on my nerves when somebody asks me what my wife does or thinks. The word “wife” never settled with me and probably never will.

    I call her by her name but in public I either introduce her as my partner or my spouse.

    marriage doesn’t define who you are. It doesn’t change anything. It is just an official paper that grants you some privileges (not in Canada anyways). Just because you exchanged rings, doesn’t mean that you have to adjust to a different life.

    One doesn’t need to or doesn’t have to get married to be committed. As you said earlier – it is a nice choice to have and it will help with some legal proceedings if something happens

    • I totally agree. I think we are still in shock that the state in which we live allows same-sex marriage (we still can’t buy beer in a 7-11 or grocery store). It certainly doesn’t matter what we call each other, although I sort of like Wibby or Wubby, a combo of Wife/Hubby.

  7. Pingback: Wife power | The Flannel Files

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