Husband. What a fun word. I like hearing it. I like saying it. Its freshness smacks in my mouth.
Our reception was the first time I heard it and realized it applied to my life: Husband.
The band leader was asking me what we wanted as our first dance. We had different ideas going in — Frank Sinatra’s “The Best is Yet to Come,” “This” by Darrius Rucker or maybe some kind of “Pulp Fiction” parody to the song “You Never Can Tell” — but at the last minute I decided to ditch them all.
“Just start,” I said. I just wanted to dance. I was convinced, but the band leader was not.
“Are you sure?” He asked. “Do you want to check with your husband?”
Oh! There was that word. It was the first time I heard it being applied to me and it was great.
“Sorry, can you just say that again?” I joked. As a wedding singer, he must get that a lot. He didn’t laugh. But that’s the fun of being newlyweds, the newness of it all. The fanfare, the titles . . . the new life.
Merriam Webster traces the origins of the word “husband” to Middle English husbonde, from Old English husbonda master of a house, from Old Norse husbondi, from hus house + bondi householder; akin to Old Norse bua to inhabit; akin to Old English buan to dwell. The art of husbandry deals with the cultivation of animal or plants — for such a male word, it has very domestic origins.
But unlike the word “wife,” it has no stigma. No one is trying to take back the word “husband,” trying to scour away its sad, abused past. I’m about ready to accompany it with trumpets. “Oh, have you met my husband [Bah, bah, bah, bah]?”
It’s also fun because it’s a word that only exists in relation — you cannot be your own husband. You cannot marry yourself. The word itself — for better or worse — demonstrates a committment. And that’s what this whole thing is about — being in a relationship beyond yourself, nurturing it, growing it, working it out.
In the end, the band chose “Stand by Me” and it was just right. We just danced — Joel and I — cheek to cheek: “Darlin', darlin', stand by me, oh now now stand by me ...”
I like having a husband.
And, now, my funnier half . . .
I never liked the term girlfriend. Even girls have girlfriends. Who cares?
I’ve also always been leery of guys who use “my girlfriend” when starting every sentence. “My girlfriend said this,” “My girlfriend likes that.” I get it. You have a girlfriend. Mazel tov. Now what?
When we got engaged “fiancé” was a little better, but it’s a temporary word. Fiance means you are committed to do something. It’s not really a term of endearment. It’s more of a word that says “I’m gonna get married, I promise!”
When we got married a co-worker reminded me of the old Seinfeld routine. “Is it fun saying my wife over and over?” And you know what? It is.
It’s a word that denotes a real accomplishment. I got married and I have a wife to prove it.
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