As someone who does a great deal of thinking, I have been thinking about what it means to be married. I should mention that I was married a little more than a week ago. I should also mention that this is the second time I have been married. I am pleased to be married, and I want to qualify my lack of enthusiasm by mentioning that I do not get excited about things often so please understand that I am thrilled to be married and feel great love for my wife. I also want to observe that I am being intentional to refer to her as my wife, not my new wife, and that I am married, not remarried; even though these points may be true to the circumstances in which I am currently pleased to be living. Getting back to my thinking…
Marrying someone who is Jewish, me being atheist, was educational. The Rabbi who performed the ceremony provided us with a book about Jewish wedding called The Jewish Wedding Now. I read it in a few days, my wife didn’t bother with it. I enjoy reading as it helps me as someone who does a great deal of thinking; she doesn’t as it doesn’t allow her mind to do what it needs to do to be successful (and her mind does a tremendous job, not all of us can be “readers”, my words intend no harm). Reading through the history of Jewish wedlock some things came to mind.
As my mind is usually racing and occupied, I have been mulling this blog post over for many months. It seems topical now, as I am no longer engaged but married, I should write this post. One thing that has been on my mind is the title of “husband”. I have been aware that a husband was to take ownership of the bride at the wedding; The Jewish Wedding Now solidified that understanding, historically speaking anyway. Globally, it has only been a little more than a hundred years that marriages have been en vogue to have anything to do with love, not just a business transaction. Furthermore, there are a lot more than a few cultures and areas of the world in which marriages are arranged and still a business transaction.
I have been growing a climbing program at a summer camp for over 13 years. Part of being the caretaker for this program is I look after its equipment. Rope husbandry is a large part of my job because if I do not take care of the ropes someone will inevitably get hurt or dead because of it. That said; husbandry holds in it the core “husband” which has roots in caring for. I am accepting of my duty as a husband in that I am pleased to take care of, tend to, and nourish my responsibilities in the relationship. What about wife?
The word “wife” has been more difficult on my mind. I could not come up with a connection to my presently existing knowledge or experience like I could with husbandry. This troubled me. I know, I’m sure many persons today would have just cranked up their smartphone and googled it, or even asked that filthy tramp Siri help out, but in the even you haven’t caught on, I’m not all that good at technology and frankly I felt I needed to suffer through this one more; letting it percolate so the brine was just right. I had some time, which is not a common occurrence around my house, so I looked up “wife” in a book I have called Merriam-Webster’s New Book of Word Histories, it directed me to “woman”.
According to Word Histories, “woman” is a combination of Old English wif = woman and man = human begin; which sadly, in my mind, hold woman throughout history as less than man. However, as upsetting as it may be, we cannot alter the facts of history only grow to not repeat the errors of the past; moving on. My interpretation of this history, according to Merriam-Webster, is that “wifeis the identification of a woman who has been married. A wife belongs to someone else; her husband (husband = home builder).
I mentioned before that I was accepting of the mantle that the title husband holds, even though I do not build houses, I am pleased to care to and nurture a “home”. My wife has made it abundantly clear that she wants to be called my wife, not my partner. There was a discussion about the concept of married couples being partners. Some of her coworkers, who may have been influenced by the fermented juices of any variety of grains, had a difficult time with this concept to the point I finally acknowledged that trying to convince people, in this state of inebriation, that someone who refers to their spouse as a partner does not mean the two are homosexual. As the husband, I am going to care for her and shield her from the historically disrespectful title of “wife” by treating her respectfully not as property but as a partner.