Not only at home, when you are padding around in domestic bliss and not only when you are mentioning each other to your children – but what do you say when you mention your spouse to other people?
Apparently Hubby and Hubster are both popular options, although I know of only one person who uses either of those words.
When I was newly married, I quickly realised it was a kind of professional faux pas to say Husband or Wife and thereby reveal your marital status. At the agency I then worked in, significant others were referred to as Partner – a term I came to love for its ambiguity. After all, why should professional colleagues, clients or collaborators need to know anything about my personal life?
But then, in a more Muslim setting, the term Partner can sound a bit odd. At a mosque gathering, I once referred to moving house with my Partner and was met by several bewildered looks to which I didn’t pay any mind until we were leaving and one lady caught my sleeve and exclaimed “By partner you mean Husband, right?!? A MAN?”. Oh boy.
In traditional South Asian culture there is something about not mentioning your spouse by name in public or even by terms of endearment and so I grew up hearing my Aunties talk about their husbands as Woh – a semi polite urdu way of saying “that person” – and the Uncles saying of their wives Begum.
My father always refers to my Mama as My Better Half whereas Mama is resolute in her use of Mr. Malik. One sister in law refers to her husband as their Children’s Dad and another refers to hers as her Banda (also an urdu word, which literally translates into “man”) and then I have one friend whose husband is always Dude while she is Bae.
Eventually I settled on referring to my own lovely spouse simply by his name – daring, I know – and funnily enough, even when I need to mention him to complete strangers, everyone always seems to know exactly what he is to me.
So, back to the title of this post. What do you call your spouse when you mention them to others? Is it something plain and obvious or cute or culturally motivated? Was it easy to figure out or has it changed over time? Have you ever slipped and called them by their private nickname name in public or do you not care? Tell us everything.
For some reason my mom calls dad his last name. I know people in India who never say their partners name but refer to them as ‘wo’. And speaking about partner – in academia if you use any other term people look at shocked and confused at the fact that you clearly didn’t get the memo on acceptable lingo. Also – Jaan. Ayni. Petal. Those are my favourite nicknames 😘
Aiysha, you have a truly lovely Infectious smile. 😄 Your beloved is a blessed man.
Loved this post, because my beloved and I went through this kind of thing when we first got married. His family hated me, (I use this word carefully), so I would use ‘jaan’ as my name for my jaan_i_muun in front of his family! You could see then recoil physically . lol. My husband was quite uptight in front of his family and they could not understand the softness I had for him. This loveliness has followed through to my children, who call each other ‘jaan’ or ‘batcha’. Alhumdolillah, kindness is the greatest act. My mother in law and me are now after years best friends and I gave way from calling her ‘aunty’ to ‘umee’ (mother). Sorry for the size of this comment. I normally never respond. Keep up the good work. 😘
We love that you took the time out to comment and respond! And what a lovely story MASHALLAH!
My mom never said my dad’s name while calling him or talking to him, only when talking about him to others. Somehow, without even knowing it i started doing that when I got married. At home i just say “baat sunein” which is “listen”. I believe there is respect in that, but I do face difficulty when trying to get his attention in the presence of others, but i just cant get myself to say his name
I did find that choosing how to refer to your spouse in public took greater care in the Asian community into which I married. I quite like it – from what I see it is meant to emphasize the dignity of the spouse, be they the wife or the husband. I know that he rarely refers to me by name, even to his friends. I like the idea of divulging as little as possible, to keep it extra special. Having said that, I have sometimes slipped in public, calling him by one of his terms of endearment!
I never really thought about what to call him at work. ‘Husband’ felt natural. I first refer to him as ‘my husband’ and, when I know people a little better and we’re sharing more than work-related things, I sometimes refer to him by name, as to keep saying ‘my husband’ would feel a bit odd and distant in the school in which I work, where colleagues are quite close and the atmosphere is quite family-like.
The first time hubby (see, I guess I call him him hubby when talking about him to others) called me ‘Jaan’ (which means like ‘darling’ or ‘sweetheart’) in front if my parents (soon after we were married) I was sooo embarrassed! But now alhamdullilah if we need to call each other in front of other people it’s always ‘jaan’ or by our first names! Loved this post Aiysha!
How interesting! I’m boring and simply refer to him as “my husband” which took some getting used to at the beginning… But in Moroccan culture (I think it’s when they’ve forgotten your husband’s name), people often ask “how is the master of the house?”
I love the cultural influences with stuff like this! I was oblivious to the Bangladeshi culture of never referring to your spouse by their actual name until I was married to my ex. I found it so hard to think what to call him other than his name, I ended up settling on referring to him as his daughter’s dad, but it felt awkward and unnatural to do so. Just cultural differences! ☺️
I grew up in a Bengali family in which none of the women calls her husband by first name and somehow, I find it hard to not follow suit. Is it naive to think this comes from a place of respect? Kind of like how I would not call an auntie, uncle or older person by their name?