Lessons in Language

Posted on | June 5, 2011 | 11 Comments

I don’t think I realized how many times I said the word “husband” in my every day life.

Normal sentences, ones that could easily have begun with “I” almost always began with “we.”  It wasn’t on purpose, I just naturally associated the two of us as a unit.  We were a “we.” There was no him and me, there was only us.  As a result, I’m not only learning a new lifestyle, I’m learning a new language.

Where I used to say “my husband is allergic to…” I now have to say “J’s father is allergic to…”

Where I used to say “my husband and I” I now have to just say “I.”

Where I used to check married, Mrs, and spouse, I now don’t know what to check, what to call myself, or what to call him.

I catch myself quite often.  I stop myself mid-sentence to correct the words that flow freely from my lips.  “Husband” can only be coupled with “Ex.”  “In-law” can only be coupled with “former.”  “Married” can only be coupled with “not.”

I remember how curious it was to first call him my husband.  I remember that strange moment post-wedding when I looked at him, lovestruck and tired, and said only one word: Husband.  It felt funny on my tongue; sweet but unfamiliar.  I learned the language of marriage happily; saying “we” brought a rush of color to my cheeks.  We were married, we were buying a house, we were … in love.  (Or were we?)

It was like learning to speak a native tongue.  It was a language I embraced, a language I craved to learn and speak fluently.  I wanted to say “husband” as often and as loudly as I could.  I wanted people to ask me anything so I could find a way to work in “My Husband…” as part of the conversation.  I wanted to scream it from the rooftops because it was the life I wanted.  It was the life I thought was mine, ours, to cultivate and build.  It was the language I thought we would always speak, slowly drawling out the syllables from a weathered rocking chair on a distant porch, him beside me, with sweating glasses of sweet tea and a lazily sleeping dog between us.

This language of “single again” is not so familiar.

It is harsh against my teeth.  It catches in the back of my throat.  It is hard and strange and I do not fall so willingly into it’s nouns and verbs.

It is the language of almost.

It is the language of not quite.

It is the language of the formerly loved best.

And perhaps this language will one day seem as familiar and safe as the language I spoke that not-so-long ago night, curled into the curve of his arms in the hotel where we spent our first night as husband and wife.

But it is not so familiar now.

Now, it is an afterthought.

It is a hesitant and confused correction.

It is a barely murmured word…


Mumbled so softly that I wonder how the nails heard it and knew to dig deeper under my skin.


11 Responses to “Lessons in Language”

  1. Diana @Hormonal Imbalances
    June 5th, 2011 @ 9:00 pm

    🙁 I remember the feeling of the newness of “we”, and I hurt to know that the memory is tainted for you now.

    This was a beautiful post lady.

  2. Savgypsy
    June 5th, 2011 @ 10:33 pm

    I remember after my husband died I was talking to a friend about possibly organizing a painting party like I did when I was single, she said “why not, you are!…. That was the day I knew widowed equaled single a different type of loss of status, but still the loss of of we and us. Our society is hard on single, proper place is married… Shouldn’t matter but it does. Perhaps we should do away with marriage….

  3. Adrienne
    June 6th, 2011 @ 3:09 am

    There is an Italian word for a person who you once loved and don’t anymore. We need a word like that in English.

    Someday, he will be J’s father, full stop. I wish there was an easier way to get there, though.

  4. facie
    June 6th, 2011 @ 7:50 am

    You do this all with grace, Law Momma, and beautifully written words. Which reminds me–how is that book project coming along?

  5. KLZ
    June 6th, 2011 @ 10:27 am

    Mwah and hug.

  6. Fancy
    June 6th, 2011 @ 11:29 am

    You know, I had the same struggles and still do sometimes – catching myself saying “my husband” or something similar.

    I never really thought to put it into words, which you have done so eloquintly. But you’re right, it’s exactly like learning a new language.

  7. Maija @ Maija's Mommy Moments
    June 6th, 2011 @ 12:12 pm

    I know this is a terrible topic and I should say something encouraging or inspiring but all I want to say is that you write so beautifully. I feel what you have written. I can see it. I can’t help but want to read more.

    I am of course sending hugs for this horrible thing you are going through but please keep writing!

  8. gillian
    June 6th, 2011 @ 6:42 pm

    have you read:


    i think you might like her.

  9. Suz @ Suz's Treats
    June 6th, 2011 @ 9:18 pm

    I still call my husband Husband more than I call him by his name.
    I can not imagine all the changes you’re having to make. I’m sorry for your stumbles as you familiar yourself with the new language.

  10. Joanna
    June 7th, 2011 @ 12:59 am

    I hear you law-momma, and coming from a different perspective, talking semantics only, I somewhat envy your clarity. As an unmarried person, defining our relationship was weird from the beginning. Now that we’re separated… he literally is, baby-daddy. But that makes him a sperm-donor, which is untrue. Ex-boyfriend, just as “boyfriend” was in the real of it, is just as disgusting. There is nothing in “boyfriend” that defines the years we had together, buying a house, starting a family, etc. And now being an ex-…. it’s just yucky.

    I still lie. Maybe because he is around every day, so when the phone rings with his ring-tone, I say whatever was my response when we were together… “my son’s father, my husband, my partner”. Maybe we’re still too new into the separation. He just can’t be… That so removed from US yet. It’s still just easier to lie (perhaps one benefit of not being married?).

    I’m getting better about the “I” statements, gut-wrenching as it is. Maybe because I am the one always there, I am the one paying the bills, I am the one working in the yard. Perhaps spiteful, but the “I” is becoming a bit comforting. I did this… Hoorah!

    It’s a shitty process regardless. Semantics just make you face it, force it out of your throat before you’re ready… and you constantly catch yourself. HUGS.

  11. Tara@Do These Kids Make Me Look Crazy?
    June 7th, 2011 @ 2:35 pm

    Very well written post.

    I feel EXACTLY the way you do. I find myself using “I” as though he doesn’t exist.

    But he does.

    His mere existence reinforces the fact that I am the “unloved”. I am “unlovable”. Maybe not to everyone, but to my children’s father. Which is not the way it’s supposed to be.

Leave a Reply

  • Creative Commons License
    Spilled Milk (and Other Atrocities) by Law Momma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
    Based on a work at http://www.law-momma.com.
  • Twitter

  • Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner


  • Grab my button for your blog!