On changing names - about as OT as you can get

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Wed Mar 12 16:44:59 EST 2003

On Wed, 12 Mar 2003 10:12:43 -0500 (EST), johanna wrote:

>> I totally agree with Melissa on this one (she is so right). In
>> Australia, a  lot of government forms have become so "inclusive" they
>> don't actually let  you specify spouse as spouse, but only give the
>> option of saying "partner".  We caused some trouble by crossing it out
>> and writing "spouse".
>I guess what I don't understand is why the distinction is so important--I
>mean, if you say "partner" (holding aside the issue of business partners &
>such), people will know that you are committed to this person. Why does it
>matter if you are legally bound or not? What additional information does
>it add that you want conveyed? I could, perhaps, understand for census
>forms & such because maybe they just want statistical data. But beyond
>that, I'm not sure what benefits it would offer.

When I got married, it was in a religious ceremony in which I made not vows,
but covenants; in my faith, marriage is forever, not just for mortality, and
the marriage ceremony is like a three-way promise between two people and
God.  That is not something I take lightly and it's not something I want
subsumed in a generic word like "partner."  I know to a lot of people the
idea of marriage is just a piece of paper and a meaningless ceremony.  And
if that's the case, then absolutely there isn't any point to it, because you
don't need that to make a commitment to someone else.  But there are
actually a great many people to whom the ceremony of marriage still has
personal meaning, and I think it's that meaning that they want conveyed.
What distresses me is not that so many people are choosing other kinds of
personal relationships (because it's none of my business) but that so few of
them understand why marriage is important to others.

This is the opposite of the distinction that used to be such a big deal back
when government forms etc. assumed that if you were with someone, you were
married.  Back then a lot of people went to the trouble to make the
distinction that no, they weren't married, and they didn't want anyone
thinking otherwise.  It was important to them even though it would have been
easier to just go along with the prevailing trends.  You have to be willing
to stand up for the things that define your life, even if they seem
irrelevant stands to take.

Melissa Proffitt

English doesn't borrow from other languages. English follows other languages down dark alleys, hits them over the head and goes through their pockets for loose vocabulary.

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