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Long-Term Partners Called Out For Using Marital Terms Even Though They Aren’t Married

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In any kind of unconventional relationship, friends and family are bound to have opinions.

But is it really anybody’s business besides the people in the relationship? When do these opinions cross a line?

That’s the drama a Redditor, who goes by the name Coolkat734, found herself in with her opinionated sister-in-law. So she took her situation to the AITA (Am I The A**hole) subReddit for some perspective.

The Original Poster (OP) asked:

“AITA for using marital terms even though we aren’t married?”

She explained:

“I (F[emale] 45) has been with my partner for 22 years, and we’ve lived together for 19 years. We also have three kids. However we’ve never married.”

“There are a few reasons, but the main one is that we simply do not want to. However I still love to refer to him as my husband and he refers to me as his wife (we mostly use partner though).”

“All of my friends as well as my family are aware of this. A lot of them find it a bit weird that we would use marital terms even though we aren’t married, but they accept it.”

Just under a year ago, my younger brother got married. About a week ago, him and his wife had dinner at my house. It was the first time we were able to have dinner with them in about a year, as we live in separate countries, and due to the ongoing events, they were only able to recently get flights.”

“My sister in-law came up to me following the meal and told me that it was extremely disrespectful for me to use marital terms when I’m not married.”

“She claimed that I wanted to take the best parts of marriage without earning them, and that if I wanted to be referred to as a wife or refer to my man as my husband, then pehaps I should get married.”

“I laughed, and I pointed out that I’ve been with my partner for more 22 years, and that my youngest child was older than her entire relationship. The argument immediately escalated, and she ended up storming out with her husband.”

“My partner doesn’t think it’s a big deal if we stop doing it, but I love being referred to his wife. I just don’t want to get married.”

“AITA for using marital terms even though I’m not married?”

“I do admit that my reaction probably wasn’t very nice, however I was really offended by what she said. I thought it was obnoxious and entitled, especially since we don’t know each all that well.”

OP’s fellow Redditors were then asked to judge who was in the wrong in this situation using the following acronyms:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
  • NAH – No A**holes Here

And for them, this was a no-brainer.

“You know what is extremely disrespectful? Unnecessarily, and without provocation, insulting your host when you are a guest for dinner in their home.”

“NTA, call each other Brünnhilde and Siegfried if you want. It’s none of her business and has literally no impact on her whatsoever.”

“Edit to add, I think this statement is particularly wtf: ‘She claimed that I wanted to take the best parts of marriage without earning them.'”

“If she thinks being able to call herself a ‘wife’ and her partner a ‘husband’ constitutes ‘the best parts of marriage,’ then I predict divorce court in their future. Her priorities are not in order.”Dszquphsbnt

“I will say that calling each other ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ for the first few months was such a silly, exciting, thrilling thing in my marriage, so I can sort of see how someone would consider it to be on a higher pedestal as a newlywed…..”

“But gatekeeping in any form is unacceptable. OP and her husband have as much right if not more to use the terms as a newlywed couple.”

“I’m guessing the SIL blew up as a cover for being embarrassed that she didn’t have a decent point.”Ishdakitty

“I think you’ve earned it, with a 22-year relationship and three kids. I think that is a lot more ‘earning’ than throwing a party and signing a document. NTA and it was a perfect response. Not even that harsh, just the truth.”Jazzisa

“Yeesh! NTA. Remind your SIL: 1. she’s your in-law not the marriage police. 2. In fact, common law marriage exists. And most importantly, your marital status or how you refer to your SO is none of her freaking business.”emherrerra1960

“SIL is clearly gatekeeping. Fu*k her opinion, you’re a wife! You’ve put in the work and time, just because it’s not the official title means nothing. You do you! It’s not your job to cater to others or baby them because they don’t like something. It’s their job to handle their own feelings.”lovelylillemon

“NTA your sil is a huge a**hole and frankly I wouldn’t speak to her until she apologized. You’re technically in a common law marriage so she can get off her high horse. What you call each other is none of her damn business.”Darkskinellie1

“…If two people I met introduced themselves to me as husband and wife I’m not asking for proof. I’ve never asked someone to prove to me that they’re married.”

“I might, at some point in our acquaintance, ask about their wedding or how long they’ve been married, but it’s fine if the answer is “we didn’t actually bother getting married.” I’m not their lawyer, I’m not preparing their taxes – what do I care if they’re not legally married?”217liz

“My husband and me dont even use wife or husband or each others name. He calls me stinky and i call him puppy to us that equals spouse. If we were not married wed still be using those same names. The audacity of ops sil thinking nicknames and titles in a relationship are owned by only certain people”

“Edit id like to state I in fact am not smelly. My husband likes to fart and blame it on me and the cat even though its him so ever since then he just calls me that.”Ellistrae

The moral of the story here is pretty straightforward: Mind your own business!

Written by Peter Karleby

Peter Karleby is a writer, content producer and performer originally from Michigan. His writing has also appeared on YourTango, Delish and Medium, and he has produced content for NBC, The New York Times and The CW, among others. When not working, he can be found tripping over his own feet on a hiking trail while singing Madonna songs to ward off lurking bears.