Married Is Married & Thinking About Dipping? Chew On This Story

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

DEAR CAT: I am a gay woman in an eight year relationship and we consider each other a spouse. We introduce each other as “my wife.” There was a dinner function for local business owners and when my wife introduced me, one woman said, “she’s not your wife, she’s your girlfriend.” I told her that’s not true and she said in a very snippy tone, “there’s married and not married. You’re not married.” I said we have made a lifetime commitment to each other, we wear rings, we own a business and two properties, we share insurance, we are “next of kin” on personal documents, what else is there? A girlfriend is temporary, a wife is forever. We can not legally get married in our state (I don’t think that will change any time soon) but I feel married is married! I’m very hurt and I refuse to attend more functions with those people. My wife tells me to let it go because “not everyone is understanding, that’s the way the world is.” What’s your call on this? — A WIFE THROUGH AND THROUGH

DEAR WIFE: Your wife is right. Of course you’re hurt but don’t let one obnoxious person prevent you from socializing. The fact that you’re not legally married has no bearing on whether you are allowed to call someone a spouse (Joy Behar referred to her boyfriend of 26 years as a “spousal equivalent” long before they got married.) If you allow that woman’s comments to shame you into hiding you’ll miss important opportunities to cultivate business relationships. Does the title ‘wife’ imply a legally married woman? Yes, it does, but a semantic argument with a mouthy beeyatch isn’t worth your time. You don’t have to defend your bond, or your chosen terminology, to anyone. There are countless ‘legal’ spouses who cheat on each other, abuse each other and generally treat each other like dirt, and if they can justify calling themselves wives or husbands….Cat’s Call: A truly loving and committed couple can, too.

DEAR CAT: I started chewing tobacco in my teens. It is a habit I wish I had never started and now I am trying to desperately break it. I lost a great girl because of what she says is a ‘foul odor’ that I can’t even smell anymore, and she said my whole face looked awful when I put it in. I can’t even go without some of it in my mouth anymore. I even have a white patch (pre-cancerous) on my gums and I am losing my yellowed teeth because of decay. I would like to have another girlfriend. I am going to try hypnosis to stop using tobacco. If this letter prevents any young boys or men from “experimenting,” then it’s worth it. – MR. DUMBBELL

DEAR DUMBBELL: I agree, it’s definitely worthwhile to publish your story, and thank you for sharing it. By the way, I used the ‘signature’ you provided but I wouldn’t have called you a dumbbell. Cat’s Call: I would call you impressive for trying hard to break a bad habit.

What’s YOUR call? Share it below! Submit questions to: or click here!.

  1. Technically married means legal but I agree a couple has the right to title itself however it wants. Gay people should be allowed to marry and if they cannot then I say good for them for using married titles because that is NOT against the law. Alot of people I know consider marriage a state of mind and I am one of them. I was married to my spouse in mind before we got married, nobody could change that no matter what they said. ‘Mouthy beeyatch’ is funny Cat : )

    — FineAndDandy    08/23/2011    Reply

  2. Totally agree with Cat’s call for both!

    To A WIFE THROUGH AND THROUGH, don’t let other jerks spoil your mood or your fun, I feel that people that close minded and nosey enough to think they need to tell you how to label your relationship upon meeting you probably have a pretty miserable existence.

    — JB in Pittsburgh    08/23/2011    Reply

  3. Agree with Cat on both counts.

    Especially the woman who had the gall to question another person’s relationship status in a public setting no less. I am getting angry just thinking about it. How dare she?! I hope that her peers showed her some justified scorn for it. If that ever happens again look at her and say “Queeble quabble zoo zorp.” When she gives you a weird look back say “I’m sorry I thought spewing ridiculous nonsense was the ‘in’ thing.”

    — Brandon - Pittsburgh    08/23/2011    Reply

  4. “Does the title ‘wife’ imply a legally married woman? Yes, it does, but a semantic argument with a mouthy beeyatch isn’t worth your time.”

    - Preach it, Cat. No matter what the topic, arguing with people like that is NOT worth it. Go talk to other people who aren’t so interested in proving they are right all the time.

    “There are countless ‘legal’ spouses who cheat on each other, abuse each other and generally treat each other like dirt, and if they can justify calling themselves wives or husbands…”

    - My view exactly. It’s very hard for me to support those who say their reason for opposing homosexual marriage is because of the “sanctity of the institution.” Puh-lease. I have eyes and ears, and I know what goes on in many marriages.

    — Deanna, Johnstown    08/23/2011    Reply

  5. Marriage is absolutely a state of mind! I have been with my partner (I am a woman, he is a man) for almost a decade and we have never gotten married. However, we share bank accounts, expenses, a home, a dog, and everything else. We easily refer to “my husband” or “my wife” in conversations with doctors, people we meet, etc., because frankly, it’s just easier that way! It seems very silly to be a woman in my forties and call my forty year-old partner my “boyfriend”! But we haven’t gotten married and that’s our business! And also, for all that snooty woman knew, those two women could have gotten married in a different state. She should mind her own business and worry about her own life, which probably isn’t doing so well if she feels the need to rain on someone else’s parade!!

    — steeler girl, Pittsburgh    08/23/2011    Reply

    1. Depending on where you live, what you have described is a common law marriage.

      — John, Lexington    08/23/2011    Reply

    2. TO BOTH A WIFE THROUGH AND THROUGH AND STEELER GIRL – I took an estate class once in which a lawyer said that if you publicly call your boyfriend or girlfriend “wife” or “husband” and your are living together, using the same last name and filing joint tax returns, then according to the laws in Pennsylvania, you are considered married. In fact, when you end the relationship, you may have to get a divorce. Eventually, I believe the same will apply to same-sex relationships. Good luck to you and your wife and remember, there are many people out here who support you!

      — Kathy, Pittsburgh    08/23/2011    Reply

      1. Effective January 1, 2005, common law marriage was abolished in Pennsylvania. All common law marriages prior to that were grandfathered.

        — Becky    08/24/2011    Reply

  6. Let me also point out that same sex marriage is now legal in a number of states, so how the heck would she know whether you are married or not? Just because I am at a party in Pa doesn’t mean I was married there. I have several gay friends who have been wed in states that allow same sex marriage. So in addition to the “mouthy beeyatch” being bigoted and showing ignorance, her comeuppance would be to point this out while never having to say that you were married in one of those states. It puts her on the defensive, having to be the one who is shown to not know what she is talking about and defend a stupid statement.

    — Matt Gainesville Fl    08/23/2011    Reply

    1. Just because a same sex couple has been wed in one state does not mean that another state will recognize that marriage.

      However, if they was to call eachother wife (or husband if they are gay) or anything else, that is their business.

      — John, Lexington    08/23/2011    Reply

  7. sometimes the best answer is sort of like Tai Chi – just deflection can cause them to injure themselves..

    Years ago, when we were expecting #4 – someone asked my mom “if it was planned”. My lovely mother looked at this woman with incredulity and said, “Oh, I would never dream of asking her!”

    Likewise, this nosey-body woman should have been simply put in her place;
    “Oh that so interesting. I would never feel like I could comment on a stranger’s relationship.” – and walk away.

    People say the stupidest things. As a mom with a larger family (5 kids) by choice – I am constantly exposed to strangers who feel like they can say things like: better you than me. I always look them in the eye, and say: “yes”. – then I walk away.

    Remember that “common sense” is neither.

    And please – never give ignorant people the satisfaction of debating with them.

    Good luck – and congrats on your strong marriage. That is truly something to celebrate.

    — married    08/23/2011    Reply

    1. @married, I absolutely LOVE this comment! and I love the response suggestions as well. I will definitely have to keep them in mind when a stranger or someone I don’t know well asks a totally inappropriate question.

      — Megan    08/31/2011    Reply

    2. Good comment. My father had a saying – “Never argue with an idiot – first they drag you down to their level, then they beat you with experience”.

      — Ben - VA    09/02/2011    Reply

  8. I’ve often said that this argument over a word is insane. Marriage is a legal instrument that got all mixed up with religion. It’s essentially a contract. Being a legal instrument it is subject to definition by law but being all mixed up with religion it is impossible to redefine. The gay and lesbian community want to be treated just like everyone else and the religious groups want the term marriage to be placed on a pedestal, so the clear solution is to redefine the system. The government gets to use the term civil union. The church gets the term marriage. If you are married in a church you get a marriage, if you are married by a judge you get a civil union. the government will recognized a marriage as equivalent to a civil union. So if you are gay and a church performs the ceremony then it is a marriage and if you are straight and go to the JP you have a civil union. As far as taxes and benefits goes the civil union is the status that qualifies you and since marriage is equivalent to a civil union it all works out. It’s really the way it should have always been. Keep the religion out of the state and the state out of the religion.

    On a side note, no one can define your relationship and you don’t feel somehow more after the ceremony (unless you count more in debt). If you really love someone then only you can define that relationship. Though there will always be those who are more concerned about the terminology than the substance but you don’t wake up next to them so I don’t think it really matters. At this point you’ve already given the distraction more attention than it deserves.

    — John from Pittsburgh    08/25/2011    Reply


    You are always going to face adversity, whether it is due to religious beliefs, morality, or just plain “old fashioned” upbringing, by other people. Hold your head high and ignore them the best you can.

    One suggestion though, and I am not sure if you participate in this type of behavior… being “in your face” with regards to your sexuality towards other people just doesn’t work. It only increases the intensity of the flames of bigotry and hatred and has not positive outcome.

    — Lebron from Pittsburgh    08/25/2011    Reply

  10. To the wife –

    It’s great that you’re happy together, and I totally support you defining your relationship on your own terms. But technically, you aren’t actually married (in a very official boring, “legal” sense of the word). Perhaps this other person wasn’t trying to insult you as much they were just trying to get a grip on it? Either way, at the end of the day, you aren’t married, and that’s the truth. That should hold no bearing whatsoever on how you feel about your relationship, so you really should just let it go and be happy that you’re open minded enough to not care about titles! I mean, you are, aren’t you? ;-)

    — A, Pittsburgh    08/31/2011    Reply

  11. My wife and I actually went to Canada and got legally married and have been for 5 years. Although the state of Pennsylvania dosen’t “recognize” it, we are still legally married. We can go into any county that recognizes gay marriage and are considered married.

    — Amy - Pittsburgh    09/02/2011    Reply

  12. Goodness, what rudeness “Mouthy Beeyatch” had!

    Don’t let her ruin your life though. Stand proud, it’s the best way to show her she’s wrong! And the next time she mentions, “You’re not actually married,” nicely point out, “I am most comfortable calling my wife my wife, because it is what best defines our relationship to me. If you are not comfortable hearing that, you are welcome to leave my presence.” Make it HER choice to put up with it or go away!

    — Gwen, Pittsburgh    09/08/2011    Reply


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