01/12/19

Wife or partner?


The word “partner” in relation to the beloved man or woman is unusual to our ears, because in Russian the partner is more associated with the business sphere. It was once the case in the UK, but over time, a passionless nation decided that marriage was a business project in which each party had to invest the same amount of effort, and although marriage contracts were not in vogue, as happened in the US nevertheless, many couples began to adhere to some premarital arrangements. For young Britons, it is becoming increasingly popular to discuss in detail the conditions of living together before they have settled in the same territory. And since there is an agreement on how finances, household duties and the contribution of each party to the upbringing of children are distributed, it is quite logical that they both are partners in this mutually beneficial transaction.

Wife to be status

It is difficult to imagine that the Russian people would call their beloved partners, it seems that the word itself completely denies romance and feelings in relationships, reducing them to some kind of business commitment. Sometime at the dawn of my immigrant life, my Russian girlfriend annoyed that even in television commercials, the word “partner” was used. Something like “you wake up every morning, drink a cup of coffee, kiss your partner and go to work ...”

- Why does he kiss a partner? - she was indignant. - Why not a girl, not a friend, not a wife, after all?

She was very proud that she was a wife, not a partner, and constantly corrected her boss when he called her husband her partner. It seemed to her that the boss constantly forgets that they are married, and she had told him more than once about it.

I also disliked this “partnership” from the first day and announced to my husband that he would never call me a partner in his life. In my understanding, the status of a woman in a relationship with a man is determined only by three words: a friend (girl), a bride and a wife. And several times I corrected my acquaintances trying to write me to these partners. “Sorry, I am not a partner, I am a legitimate wife,” emphasizing, as it seemed to me, a higher social status. Now I understand that the polite, respectful and politically correct Englishmen did not try to belittle my status, calling me a partner, but for me, as a young wife, it was extremely important to demonstrate to society that my husband, as a decent man, publicly showed his love and respect for me and got married.

Everything is easier

In fact, the role that the British call a “partner” in the Russian language is referred to as “roommate” - the only relevant term in Russian legislation, but completely unacceptable in society, because no one who is respectful to his romantic relationship will come to head call them cohabitation. In modern Russian society, cohabitation is called a civil marriage, but it seems to be unclear to the participants of this civil marriage how to designate themselves, therefore women, as a rule, call their partner husband, and men who do not consider this relationship as marriage, call it their a girl. When describing their marital status, couples simply say “we live
together".
The British, apparently, decided to avoid this confusion and call things by their proper names. Therefore, a “girlfriend” is considered to be a girl with whom a man is in a romantic relationship, and a “partner” is one with which a man lives in the same territory and leads a joint household. At the same time, they may have separate budgets and different responsibilities, but this union is closest to the official marriage.

Event at a wedding

Last weekend we were at the wedding of a very modern couple, where a deeply emancipated English woman engaged in a successful career, married her long-time friend and “partner” who also pursues her career, although not as promising and financially advanced as hers, so their new housing will be near her place of work, so that she can earn money with minimal discomfort. I realized that they had long ago abandoned traditional female-male roles and, as a successful, self-sufficient and self-confident modern girl, she didn’t find it necessary to put on makeup or grow hair for her wedding, because everyone understands that her fiance doesn’t like her for plump lips and long curls. But it struck me that in their ceremony they included their thoughts about the meaning of marriage, because it seemed to them that they should explain to their friends and relatives why they were at all confused by these formalities. I got the impression that 99% of the audience thinks that a wedding, like marriage registration itself, is a useless, expensive and obsolete ritual, so the newlyweds made an attempt to explain why they started it. Of course, even the speech does not go that she will change the maiden name to the name of her husband, and the reason is not at all that his last name is incoherent. Her mother still has the maiden name, for career reasons.

So whether to change the name?

I also lived a few years of marriage on a maiden name, but not at all from the desire to preserve my independence, but because of bureaucratic problems with visas and passports. As you understand, the situation when a Russian woman changes her surname during marriage is so rare that the Russian embassy had no idea how to settle it. When I made the request, they explained to me that the embassy can only issue a passport for a new name, but for this I need to first change my internal passport at the place of registration. Since I no longer have a Russian residence permit, the matter has reached a dead end. As a result, it turned out to be easier to wait for a British passport and immediately issue it to a new name. But all these years, I didn’t even have an idea that I should keep my maiden name, because it seemed to me that this was not a manifestation