Monday, July 11, 2005

The "In-Laws" Parsing Us

A few more thoughts on parsing "husband", "marriage", and "in-laws" (or "in-loves"). I talked about how my husband and I refer to each other, and how we refer to our "in-laws". It's also interesting to look at how our in-loves refer to us. The occasion doesn't often arise in our presence, but every once in a while we get a glimpse. I can remember one time visiting our niece and nephew. That is, my husband's niece and nephew. Since our marriage, I like to think of them as my niece and nephew too, but at the same time, it always felt a bit presumptuous, since they've grown up their whole lives with my husband as their uncle, and I didn't show up on the scene until they were in college. Our niece was on the porch as we walked up to her house, talking on the phone to a friend. As we drew closer, we could hear her say "Oh, I have to go now, my uncles are here." I was very touched to hear her refer to us as "my uncles". Yet that's exactly as it should be, isn't it?

There was another occasion when my husband and I were out with my parents, and they had occasion to introduce us to someone. I remember thinking to myself, "oh, I'm really curious to hear what Dad says here. Will he say 'husband'? Or 'partner'? Or just 'friend'?" We've certainly wrestled with the "how do I introduce my husband" issue, but we'd never seen my parents deal with it before. But Dad introduced us in a way we hadn't expected. He simply said, "These are my sons." And he deeply means that. He's said on a number of occasions of my husband, "he is my son too." We were very touched when he said that. But again, that's exactly as it should be.

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