Time to put and end to the terms husband and wife in our legal system

While we’re sensitive about pronouns and racial terms, we give a free pass to this?

We are in the era of de-labeling, yet we’re clinging to medieval name tags like husband and wife. Pathetic. Maybe some get off on the last vestiges of feeling superior. If that’s your game, it’s time to retire!

The labels: husband and wife, are used in our legal system to describe marriage, reflecting the legal recognition of the roles and responsibilities traditionally associated with these terms within the institution of marriage.

In the Unitarian/Universalist wedding vows, the groom typically states, “I, take you, to be my wife/husband”, while the bride may reciprocate with a similar statement.

In legal contexts, such as the Marriage Ceremony (Prescribed Words) Act 1996, the contracting words include “I, take you/thee, to be my wedded wife/husband”, emphasizing the use of these gender-specific terms in the formalization of the marital union.

Imagine you’re at a social gathering, and someone proudly introduces their partner with a casual, she’s my wife. We must all admit that, for a split second, we have to suppress the involuntary reflex of conjuring up age-old stereotypes of husband and wife. And we’ve heard the occasional line from a husband, feeling pressured to clarify, after a pointed look from his wife, …she’s the real power here, she’s the breadwinner.

Time to ditch the possessive ‘my’. Nobody owns anyone! Not more ‘my wife’ or ‘my husband’, ‘meet my wife’…

Say my wife, and you just stripped her down to a role. Slap my husband on a guy, and suddenly you’ve got a power dynamic. You’re slapping on labels that reek of a patriarchal stench. That’s the traditional script, and every time you say it, you’re directing a rerun.

Have you ever stopped to think about the words we use to describe these connections? They carry centuries of history, reinforcing old-fashioned roles that no longer reflect our evolving society.

Say goodbye to husband and wife and say hello to ‘beloved’ ‘partner’ ‘best friend’ …get creative!

This isn’t about erasing the past or diminishing the importance of marriage and commitment. It’s about recognizing that language shapes our perceptions. Not to invalidate personal preferences and the husband and wife labels as a way to express the commitment and connection within the relationships.

You want inclusivity? Your lexicon better reflect it. Act like it. Partner, Spouse, those are your new universal tools or even better…

Use a damn name! ‘This is Zoe’ ‘Meet Max’

It’s not rocket science, it’s basic respect. Leave behind the outdated labels and use terms that honor the depth and equality of modern relationships.

By referring to someone solely by their marital status, such as my wife or my husband, we can unintentionally:

Reduce their identity to a societal role rather than recognizing them as unique individuals.

Imply the woman’s primary role is within the household or as a caretaker, while the husband’s role is outside the home or as the breadwinner.

Assumptions about Identity: Using the term ‘wife’”’ may lead people to make assumptions about the person’s sexual orientation and reinforce heterosexual norms. It can also overlook or invalidate same-sex marriages or non-binary individuals in relationships.

By shifting the focus to the person’s name or more generic terms: Using someone’s name when introducing them or talking about them emphasizes their individuality and agency. It reflects a more respectful and person-centric approach, highlighting their personal identity beyond their marital status or gender.

#RedefiningLegalTerms #EqualityInLaw #ModernizeMarriageTerms #BeyondLabels


Middle English wif, from Old English wīf; akin to Old High German wīb wife and probably to Tocharian B kwīpe female pudenda the external genital organs of a human especially : the external genitalia of a woman : vulva —usually used in plural. New Latin, singular of Latin pudenda, from neuter plural of pudendus, gerundive of pudēre to be ashamed.

-American Heritage – The English word husband, even though it is a basic kinship term, is not a native English word. Old Norse word hūsbōndi, meaning “master of a house …”

-HUSBAND Meaning: male head of a household, master of a house, householder. Probably from Old Norse husbondi master see origin …

The Unsurprising Origin Of The Word Husband. History tells us that love and marriage may or may not go together like a horse and carriage. For that matter, what do husbands and wives …

So Long, Partner The Atlantic.If you are a woman, and you are married, you are ‘generally’ a wife regardless of the gender of your spouse. Husband and wife were…”

-Husband Definition, Meaning & Synonyms – Vocabulary.com. “A husband is a married man.

Were ancient ‘wives’ women? Oxford University Anatoly Liberman is the author of Word Origins…And How We Know Them It meant “woman,” not “female spouse,” as it still does in housewife, midwife, old wives’ tale, …”

-Is there a husband in husbandry? The Grammarphobia Blog. The noun “husband” originally meant a “male head of a household.” The guy could have been married, widowed, or single. I t took nearly 300 years for “husband” to evolve into its modern sense of a married man. This meaning was first recorded in about 1290.