We’re More Than Friends from School. We’re Married.

The four of us sat in a group at the front of the funeral hall. It was visitation for my husband’s late grandmother, Mae, who’d passed peacefully at her nursing home a few days earlier. The mood was somber, tense, and was haunted by all the happy memories Grandma Mae had left behind. I’d only met her a couple of times, but those moments were enough. “…and this is my husband, Jamal.” There was a power in that introduction, and because of it, I’ll never forget those first few minutes of meeting Grandma Mae. My husband and I had been together almost four years, and I’d never heard anyone from his side of the family refer to me as “husband.”

Time and small talk took a moment, as my husband’s mother and father approached.  “Come meet the kids! You remember David, and his wife Alice…” His mother continued with a smile. “…and our youngest, Stanley, and his friend from school, Jamal.” I smiled, gave a polite nod to the cheerful strangers, and felt phantom burning around my wedding band. I’d come to expect this introduction in any situation that involved meeting friends of my parent-in-laws. In the past I’d let it slide – chalking it up to their old school ways, and not really knowing how to introduce their son’s husband to familiar faces – but this time, the word “friend” really got me thinking.


I wondered why being referred to as “friend” was bothering me now. To villainize my in-laws is not my intention. The number of favors and help they’ve provided my husband and I, is beyond anything I could ever imagine for us in any time of need. Was I being introduced this way as some subtle form of protection? Is the term “husband” one that is uncomfortable for them in uncharted social territory? I still don’t have the answer to those questions, and they’ve haunted my curiosity ever since.

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2 thoughts on “We’re More Than Friends from School. We’re Married.

  1. I totally understand. Ron and I had been together for many many years. His family had several gay members, and they were not overtly homophobic. But for nearly 25 years they never sent a card addressed to both of us. It was all addressed to him. Often they would reference me in the body of a note or such, but all the mail from them was addressed to him. Then after we were married, we got letters and cards and each were addressed to both of us and referred to us as a couple. I guess they were waiting to make sure the relationship was going to work out. Ron use to have trouble telling people we would meet we were a couple, but from day one I was up front with it, proud of it. He was not ashamed or scared, Ron is just private and felt it was no ones business, now he tells everyone we are married, as do I. Times change, Ron changed, his family changed. Hugs

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