Monday, February 13, 2012

Why I Don't Have a "Hubby"

It's as if saying "husband" would hold us to a higher duty that we just, well...can't live up to. 

Why I Don't Have A "Hubby"
By Mimi Hecht 

So, what exactly is a "Hubby?"

Is it a shorter husband? A chubbier, plumper husband? Is it an extremely cute husband? Is it a pet named after your husband?

I remember being taken aback when this abbreviation for "husband" emerged from the mouths of friends and was found splattered all over peoples' Facebook statuses. Watching the new lingo take on many forms—"Hubs," "Hubster" and so on—only deepened my alarm. I wondered, why isn't anyone calling this out?  Is no one else concerned? Why couldn't women call their spouses by their honorable title? What is this need to "cutesify" and shorten the appropriate title for an esteemed role? Why are women increasingly unable to say "husband" when this noble position is so central to their lives?

Potentially worse than "Hubby" or "Hubster" is the acronym "DH." "DH" stands for "Dear Husband" and is officially a part of the Urban Dictionary. When I first saw it going around, it took me a second to decipher. I refused to believe woman had resorted to referring to their husbands with two letters. But more telling is the way this acronym gets used. In my Facebook feed alone, I see at least one daily post from friends who are actually belittling and embarrassing their husband, yet refer to him by "DH."

In case you haven't seen these, here are some examples that reflect actual FB updates.

"DH said he would do the dishes. It's now 9:00 and he's passed out on the couch. Did he think I meant tomorrow?" or "My DH says he wants a Xbox for his birthday, but I can't bring myself to support such a habit! What would you do?"

Or from the blogger at "I know for a FACT that DH has seen what garbage cans look like, knows what their purpose is, and knows the general locations of said garbage cans in our house.  But for whatever reason, he doesn't seem to get the concept of actually USING them."

In all these examples, the wife is using "dear" as a way of excusing the belittling that follows. Like as if saying "DH" makes it okay or proves she loves him anyway. And even when the "DH" is referenced in a positive light, it's still insulting. Like, "DH bought me a diamond bangle for our anniversary! He's the best!" The wife is praising her husband, yet he doesn't deserve a respectable mention?

I couldn't see this as something inconsequential. The trend was picking up and, the more I thought about it, the more clearly I saw how it represented a bigger ill in the way we're treating our marriages.

Women today have this attitude that they are allowed to reference their husbands casually when sharing, complaining and relating. Made possible by the myriads of mom-groups and other public social outlets, this sense of entitlement is dangerous. For many women, it seems that sharing a new common term strengthens the camaraderie and opens the gates for them to let it all out. Saying "Hubby" of "DH" seems to give wives license to kvetch and publicize and overall disrespect—albeit often subtly—their spouse.

Perhaps more damaging is using "Hubby" of "DH" for the cutesy factor. I've had friends tell me they think it's sweet, endearing. But, for real people? Not only are you completely making a joke of something real, but you're using the same word that thousands of other women also use to refer to their husbands. How personal and meaningful can it really be? Moreover, what's with this need to be cutesy? Has our focus on publisizing our lives completely eroded the confidence in our marriages, to the point that we actually think saying "husband" is boring, dry...not good enough? And is this need to be "cutesy"not all too often a display of connection and confidence that may not actually exist behind the curtain? Sure, these are vast claims that surely don't apply to every "user," but its certainly something to think about.

It's as if saying "husband" would hold us to a higher duty that we just, well...can't live up to.

What well-intended woman with a dose of sensitivity can't admit that saying "Hubby" or "DH" (and certainly its usage) is making a mockery of something that demands all our sensitivity and reverence?

I mean, honestly, I would like to meet the woman that enjoys her husband calling her "wifey."

If we truly honored the divine nature of our marital unions, our sensitivity and focus wouldn't be something reserved for the bedroom. It would be reflected in all our gestures, actions—and certainly in our speech.

In fact, perhaps it begins with speech.

When I was twenty, I asked Manis Friedman how I can tell if a man, a potential suitor, truly honors and respects marriage. He answered simply, "It's in the way he talks." Does he say things like "his woman" when referring to someone's wife? Does he laugh at marriage jokes? Propagate stereotypes? In essence, Rabbi Friedman was telling me that if someone is casual about marriage in the way they talk, in the way they actually reference marriage, then it's likely that they lack the appropriate awe and reverence it requires.

As a writer, I couldn't agree more. I am sensitive to how words not only communicate a concept but actually contribute to a state of mind. I beseech women everywhere to consider the effects of their language when speaking of their husbands. It's the difference between respect and belittling; between casualness and importance; essentially between care and disregard.

On the eve of Valentines Day, when the world celebrates "love" with roses and chocolates, let's bring back the respect. With marriage getting bashed and humiliated at every turn today, it's all the more critical for us to be committed to its preservation. We can turn back the hand, starting with our speech. Call your husband what he is. Use his name. Have a little respect for a relationship that is more important than your pet. Start building up your marriage and the sanctity within it, right down to your words. Because if we don't start there, if we allow our very speech to minimize our spouse, how can we possibly say we're giving our marriage all that we've got?

8 LadyMama voices:

Russi said... [Reply to comment]

Love it! 'Hubby' may slip out of my mouth every now and then but the point you make about respecting your spouse is a strong one and as you mentioned in your post - it is horrible how some women tramp on their husbands using Facebook statuses as their venting station. We all get upset at our spouses but to invite the world into a very private relationship will only cause detriment. Happy Valentines Day to all!

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

Awesome article - right on target!

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

ummm I think the only issue here may be your complaining friends? BH I am in a healthy marriage - one in which both my husband and I respect one another (and certainly don't use facebook as a juvenile boxing ring to punch out our frustrations). Coming up with nicknames for one another - including hubby/ well as some other completely nonsensical words - is a fun endeavor which usually ends in a smile or a chuckle. Nicknames do not demean our relationship as long as they are not used in a demeaning way.

You are right in that there are some sad marriages out there...but just because those women use nicknames doesn't mean that nicknames are the problem. It's like saying women in healthy relationships should never get a diamond bangle or jewelry because women who demean their husbands and marriages get diamond bangles. Likewise, the term hubby is not in and of itself a problem.

Sounds like you have a few toxic friends that don't respect their marriages - and that IS a tragedy that should be explored. But hubby? Eh...not as much.

Chandra MoMoMod said... [Reply to comment]

I despise the terms hubby, hubster, and hubs. I'm not married yet, but I feel as those terms downplay the term "husband". I want to call my husband my husband or use his name.

Another irritating thing are the ladies who find it cute to post the lil' things their husbands do in a public forum. I get it. Men can be silly. Men are different from women. However, I feel that those differences should be dealt with at home and behind closed doors. Too many women deem it okay to talk harshly and vehemently about their husbands for the sake of retweets and likes. It's never okay to bash a spouse, but social media has made it easier for partners to do so.

I feel that wives and husbands alike need to respect their loved one in word and in deed. Having a wife or a husband is a blessing and a spouse should be treated with love and with respect.

Mimi, thanks so much for liking my Facebook page. I am so excited to have found your blog. I just signed up for updates by email and now that I have liked your FB page I will be further connected with you.

More Modern Modesty

Rivki @ Life in the Married Lane said... [Reply to comment]

Very interesting, Mimi. I'm reminded of the enjoinder I learned back when I was an engaged girl not to complain about my husbands to my parents, friends, or co-workers. On the flip side, it's also not a good idea to sing his praises in public either. I know that I've been guilty of comparing my husband to other glowing reports on FB. My problem, I know, but still.

In this day and age of online over-sharing, it's difficult to toe that delicate line of marital privacy, but it's important to remember that there's a level of respect that comes with keeping things close to the chest.

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

I hear you... but isn't it the same thing as any nickname? Does the term "Mimi" demean the deep spiritual meaning behind the name "Miriam"? I'd vote no...

Natalie said... [Reply to comment]

Interesting post, but I wouldn't say the problem with the terms is that they disrespect one's spouse or marriage in general--I don't think they inherently do such a thing.

The problem, as I see it, is that phrases like "my hubby," "the hubster," and "the hubs" are so nauseatingly cutesy that they make you want to wretch. People who use those phrases in life will, after death, inhabit the same circle of hell as those who use other annoyingly shortened words such as "pics," "redic," and "vacay."

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

Couldn't agree more! seeing 'DH' used makes me cringe every time, I can't help thinking that their 'H' can't be too 'D' to them after all..