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Being a wife vs. being a girlfriend -- a small thought

March 27, 2019

One tiny thing that changes when you are married is the status you're accorded by your social circle.

Today, my husband interrupted a work call saying, "Excuse me, I need to say goodbye to my wife."

I thought it was sweet, of course. But it occurred to me that there is a difference in saying "my wife" rather than "my girlfriend." The first implies: you are happy/satisfied at home & have something that requires attention that supercedes part of work. The second would mean... maybe you're being controlled or the 'girlfriend' would be mad if you didn't say goodbye. That doesn't mean either thing is TRUE, just what others generally may draw from the exchange.

Similarly, my husband took the day off of work for my birthday recently & mentioned to me how it felt natural to say he was taking the day off for his wife's birthday, but it would be weird to take the day off for his girlfriend's birthday.

Just thinking out loud -- & I suppose sharing my experience with some who think marriage is irrelevant : )

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[–][deleted] 80 points81 points  (3 children) | Copy Link

Reminds me of John Mulaney in Comeback Kid.

"My wife. That's my wife. Has a much better ring to than pre-pubescent voice "Erhm can my girlfriend come along?"

[–][deleted] 20 points21 points  (1 child) | Copy Link

“That’s my WIFE!”

[–]snackysnackeeesnacki10 points11 points  (0 children) | Copy Link

“I didn’t kill my wife!

Ooh... who’s that guy? I bet he DID kill his wife.”

John Mulaney is gold.

[–]aftertheafter-party3 Star[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children) | Copy Link

I loved that!

[–]theawaregirl63 points64 points  (6 children) | Copy Link

This is so true.

Before we were engaged, if I mentioned "boyfriend" to a coworker, they'd get a weird look on their face, so much so that another coworker would regularly jump in to clarify, "oh but they're very serious, they live together, they blah blah blah" as if my relationship had to be defended.

It is clear as day that if you're boyfriend/girlfriend, you're just children fooling around, no matter how serious you actually are.

In ancient Sparta, men above 30 who were unmarried were shamed endlessly. Here, we simply call them bachelors, and some idolize them in some ways, but at the end of the day, they still don't get the same respect as men who are married.

"Girlfriend" gets an eyeroll.

"Wife" gets a very different reaction.

The same thing works for women when they switch from saying "boyfriend" to "husband."

When you get married, you're displaying a very different level of commitment. And the rest of the world sees it, too. Marriage matters, 100%. For many more reasons than just this one.

[–]vanBeethovenLudwigEndorsed Contributor15 points16 points  (4 children) | Copy Link

"Husband" or "wife" titles denote family life. "Girlfriend" or "boyfriend" subconsciously connotes someone who doesn't have qualities to have their own family or someone who is selfish and refuses to make concessions or sacrifices for other people.

Plus when you get older and you have to bring a +1 to events, your friend circle will definitely gossip if you bring a different escort every time. It doesn't look cool when you're older. People marry later now, late-20's or early 30's, but by the time you're past 35 and still single, there's going to be a loser halo hovering over your head for a while.

[–]young_x2 points3 points  (2 children) | Copy Link

Any "loser halo" is entirely dependent on your character. I'm willing to bet very few people think Oprah's a loser, for example.

[–]vanBeethovenLudwigEndorsed Contributor4 points5 points  (1 child) | Copy Link

Unless your social circle actually involves people like Oprah, then I wouldn't know! Must be lucky to be so famous and rich ;) Some of us are mere immortals that want family and children.

[–]Hammocknapping4 points5 points  (0 children) | Copy Link

I think you meant mortals, not immortals.

[–]theawaregirl0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy Link

Very good points.

[–]enamite27 points28 points  (2 children) | Copy Link

I like being married because I don’t love being a free agent flapping in the wind. I like knowing someone has stamped my heart officially, that I wear their signature, on my finger.

I tend to enjoy the kink community too, but in the vanilla world, a wedding ring signifies what a collar would be in the kink world. At least for me, because I wouldn’t let just anyone collar me.

I am committed to ONE, no matter the realm we play in.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children) | Copy Link

That was very interesting and informative, thank you for sharing that. In the past when I dabbled in the world of kink relationships, I saw them as an extension of vanilla relationships and if I'm being honest, saw the women who interacted with me as subs as depraved sluts just asking for it, in a way like regular sex wasn't enough for them kind of way. So as a "dom", like many newbie "doms", and I'm sure you can relate to the quotes, I was exploitative, demanding, aggressive and saw it as very technical. In reality this was just coming from a place of insecurity in my Dom role. How women crave a real Dom! Not even a 50 shades version.

Through spending more time actually learning about BDSM lifestyle and kink relationships, putting in more work to discover who I am and why I'm doing this, getting older and discovering what really turns me on, I was able to understand concepts like safety, communication and the centrality of trust in the relationship, that this could be a matter of life and death and cannot be taken lightly. Now I know that women don't just want to submit to any pervert, but the right kind of pervert, and a man they trust and want to belong to, want to be owned by. It takes some time to build that, and TRP really helped me understand that.

[–]Vellore9921 Star28 points29 points  (2 children) | Copy Link

Our status among our peers changed immediately and drastically upon getting married. It was actually quite shocking the increase in respect we both experienced at work, from our families, from our friends, etc.

[–]vanBeethovenLudwigEndorsed Contributor9 points10 points  (1 child) | Copy Link

It goes both ways for men and women for the status upgrade.

For married men, it shows they're trustworthy and have their life together enough for a woman to want to stay with him and take care of him. Women have instincts that make us run if we feel a man is not reliable or responsible to take care of us or does not contribute positively to society. A married man proves that he's not a creep or sex offender or criminal; a married man shows that he's worth passing on his genetics.

For married women, it shows that they're able to be a good caretaker, emotionally and physically, to her husband and/or to her children. She's able to keep a cool head and be a good partner to the man steering the ship. She's not out seducing other men or spending recklessly, she's able to think about her household and take in consideration the big picture. Selfish, immature women often don't get married because they're not willing or able to think of other people. A married woman proves that she has virtues that a man admires and cherishes. Men don't marry sluts or whores.

[–]Hammocknapping2 points3 points  (0 children) | Copy Link

A married man proves that he's not a creep or sex offender or criminal; a married man shows that he's worth passing on his genetics.

Good in theory, not super accurate in practice. Maybe it would read better if you replaced proves with signals.

[–]kmjyu4 points5 points  (1 child) | Copy Link

I much prefer the term partner- and it’s gender inclusive! I’m married so I say husband but when I talk about other people’s boyfriends or girlfriends I say partner because we’re not children...

[–]redwatch950 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy Link

I was going to say this. I use partner sometimes and it’s just better.

[–]Dancersep3821 points22 points  (6 children) | Copy Link

Yes. Being the wife is a total game changer. Fiancee was also a notable step up. I've always felt like there should be a term between girlfriend and fiancee. I was always annoyed talking about "my boyfriend" like some 16 year old kid. We were living together, had joint bank accounts, had been monogamous for 2 years, and so on; I was mid twenties and he was early 30s, hardly kids, we just hadn't officially gotten engaged yet, but we knew we were going to get married.

I'll never forget having to ask my cousin if my boyfriend was invited to her wedding too (I hated doing it as it's rude, but long story short, I asked.) She said he could and was all bitchy about it at the wedding, even had a super snide remark about if I ever got married. My husband literally proposed 2 days later. She did a complete 180 and was so happy for us. It still pisses me off. We were no less serious at her wedding than 2 days later, but that title changed.

To be fair though, I definitely think there should be more respect paid to a wife. We're in this legally. We took vows in front of everyone and have totally intermingled our lives. It is way more serious than 2 people just dating and should be treated as such. I know a couple who has been together for 10 years but they're still just dating. They're those "why do we need paperwork to prove anything" couples. That's fine, you do you, but they're all pissy when people point out it isn't the same as being married. Sorry, not sorry, it isn't the same. Now, I do think we need a term that conveys the seriousness of cohabiting couples, but it is still not going to earn the same status as a married couple. Life partner and similar feel so bland and usually just leads to more questions instead of clarifying the situation.

[–]rp_lili17 points18 points  (5 children) | Copy Link

There is a word in french, it's "concubinage" and you would call your SO my "concubin" or "concubine" :)

[–]Dancersep385 points6 points  (0 children) | Copy Link

Haha yes! I love this, too bad we're married now. I could have been freaking people out all the time!

[–]foid4you0 points1 point  (3 children) | Copy Link

I think people would look at me sideways if I call the person i'm with "my concubine", I like " Mi corazón" which means "my heart"

[–]rp_lili0 points1 point  (2 children) | Copy Link

Ahah I agree, even in french it sounds a bit weird. I never heard someone say it but I have seen a bunch of french people putting it on their CV, instead of single/married they put "en concubinage"

[–]KittenLoves_Endorsed Contributor0 points1 point  (1 child) | Copy Link

I've never heard anyone actually use the term "en concubinage" or referring to their partner as such, though I have seen it occasionally on documents and I guess it must be my English influence but I find the term pretty funny. :P

I just use conjoint.

[–]rp_lili0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy Link

I don't know if it's your english influence because I also find it sounds funny. I only saw it on CVs and never heard someone actually say it. I had to google search the first time I saw it ahah

[–]titamc4 points5 points  (0 children) | Copy Link

My husband and I aren't legally married, but our relationship status is legally equivalent to marriage here, so it left us in a weird situation in which we kinda could choose what to call each other. He never had any kind of problem with saying "my girlfriend", so he kept referring to me like that. I had all kinds of troubles for saying "my boyfriend", so I went with "my husband". I guess women have it worse.

[–]padpump5 points6 points  (3 children) | Copy Link

Wife is another word for woman 👩 of course it sounds better than my girl(friend).

One is an actual contract (marriage) the other “thing” is just a temporal “fling” thing.


Weib means woman in German. These days it’s however mostly used in a derogatory or demeaning fashion.

[–]rp_lili3 points4 points  (2 children) | Copy Link

In portuguese, wife and woman is the same word (mulher), it's funny because it's not the same for men, homem = man and marido = husband.
That's why it always feels weird when people say (even in other languages) "my woman/my man", I mean, for me it has a huge connotation that they are married (and in most cases they aren't)

[–]padpump3 points4 points  (1 child) | Copy Link

In German you are pronounced man and woman when you marry. Then you are married-man and married-woman.

The English husband relates to animal husbandry. So it’s like he is the shepherd/rancher and she is the/a woman 👩 doing womanly things.

Update: Husband actually means master of the house 😊

[–]rp_lili0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy Link

That's beautiful :)

[–]foid4you0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy Link

I find it interesting the moment you say you want to check to see what your boy/girlfriend's opinion is on something, people tend to either comment that their boy/girlfriend is either controlling or have you on a leash... however, if you do the same with a spouse/fiance it's completely normal. It's normal to want to check in with your S.O. if you live together, it's normal to want to have your SO's opinion on things that would affect both of you, and should be socially acceptable to bring your SO to events that you would have no problem bringing if they were a spouse/fiance.

I expect there will always be friends that would tease you in good fun when it comes to a spouse/fiance saying no to something but will turn around and jeer the moment you mention a boy/girlfriend doing the same. People see the term "boy/girlfriend" and see it as noncommittal or don't take it seriously if they have been together for years, we can't even take people living together into account anymore because it's common for people to move in the beginning of the relationship these days.

This is my own opinion of course.

[–]LittleMissAfrodite 1 points [recovered]  (10 children) | Copy Link

There are definitely arbitrary social benefits to being matried if you care abiut those type of things. My captain and I refer to each other as "partners" and it carries a certain aura of respect as well. It is of course very arbitrary in our case but we don't blame people for making that mistake. It is just one of those social norms which will probably become less and less common over time given the trend of reduce marriage rates and higher rates of divorce. I am glad it makes you feel special though. That is always a nice feeling no matter how you get it.

[–]aftertheafter-party3 Star[S] 1 point2 points  (9 children) | Copy Link

According to the World Economic Forum, divorce rates are actually on a downward trend: "Cohen notes that both marriage and divorce rates are dropping. And as the divorce rate is calculated as a percentage of marriages, the 18% fall in divorces between 2008 (when ACS began collecting data) and 2016 isn’t merely a consequence of fewer marriages. The implication is that contemporary unions are lasting longer than those of 10 years ago."

[–]LittleMissAfrodite 1 points [recovered]  (8 children) | Copy Link

You left out the part where it also showed the declining marriage rate.

[–]aftertheafter-party3 Star[S] 1 point2 points  (7 children) | Copy Link

You left out the part where it also showed the declining marriage rate.

I actually did include that in the section I quoted. You mentioned higher rates of divorce, but it seems divorce rates are lower right now; that was my intent in sharing that link with you. No one can predict the future, but it would seem to me that the trend of fewer people marrying more conscientiously - while also being more mature, making more money, & being better educated - bodes well for those who have chosen to marry as well as a divorce rate that continues to decline.

Your opinion that marriage does not have an impact on the respect or weight a relationship is given doesn't offend or concern me -- but it does not line up with what I have experienced.

[–]LittleMissAfrodite 1 points [recovered]  (6 children) | Copy Link

Yea I actually got something completely different out of the data. I find the data skewed by its focus on a particular category of people. Older, middle class and upper middle class milenials. It shows me that they dont divorce in their 30's but I dont see the trend that they are staying married through their entire life. Time will tell. I am seeing a lot of older divorces and in my life marriage is no longer scene as this default state of awesomeness. We have completely different experienced and both having a partner or husband/wife has given similiar respect in my life.

We can agree that "girlfiend/boyfriend" isnt a respectable term. Partner is.

[–]aftertheafter-party3 Star[S] 0 points1 point  (5 children) | Copy Link

We can agree that "girlfiend/boyfriend" isnt a respectable term. Partner is.

I don't want to fight, but I don't agree with you here. Boy/girlfriend are perfectly respectable terms for people who are dating. Partner is a respectable term for people trying to accomplish a goal together.

I just flew back from traveling across the country to celebrate a wedding. In my experience, a marriage is when your entire mutual communities are invited to unite on both sides to support you as a new family. Thus being husband / wife means your mutual communities & families join with you to build alongside & upward with you.

[–]LittleMissAfrodite0 points1 point  (4 children) | Copy Link

Ah then you disagree with the op then. Thanks fir your perspective. Where did you grow up? Marriage in my community was about the two people, not about a community. That's definitely not a universal understanding.

[–]aftertheafter-party3 Star[S] 1 point2 points  (3 children) | Copy Link

Definitely don't disagree with the OP, since I wrote it.

I grew up in the US in a major city. Bringing the 2 communities together is an extremely universal thing -- that is literally what a wedding is.

[–]LittleMissAfrodite 1 points [recovered]  (2 children) | Copy Link

You said a marriage, not a wedding.

[–]aftertheafter-party3 Star[S] 1 point2 points  (1 child) | Copy Link

I just flew back from traveling across the country to celebrate a wedding.

I was clearly talking about a wedding. A wedding is the event to commemorate a marriage.

You can kill a man, but you can't kill an idea.

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