Author Topic: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing  (Read 15175 times)

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RebeccainGA

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How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« on: September 21, 2012, 10:03:35 AM »
Since moving into a big office, with lots of people, boy have I found the etiquette dilemmas!

In my old office, there were eleven of us at most in my department. By the time I moved to Georgia, there were four of us. We were a tight group, and everyone knew everyone's spouses, children, pets, etc. and discussed them regularly.

As many of you know, my DP has had quite a medical journey the last two years, and many of my coworkers know *something* about it, as things come up in conversation, asking what I did on my weekend, asking how my family is adjusting to the move, etc. I'm totally fine with them knowing, and am touched that they ask.

The problem that keeps coming up is that nearly everyone asks me "So how's your 'friend' doing?"

She's not my "friend", she's my spouse! I know getting them to use the term we prefer is totally impossible (I call her my husbutch, she calls me her wife), but would correcting them to "partner" or "spouse" be ok? Should I just keep saying "<DP's name> is doing well, thanks for asking!" I know it's a minor point, and I should be grateful they haven't gotten out the torches and holy water after me or anything, but still.... it bugs me.

Suggestions?

NyaChan

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2012, 10:11:32 AM »
"Oh my partner is doing fine, thank you for asking!"  Just refer to her as you would like them to refer - if they at all care about your preference and aren't saying "friend" deliberately, they should pick it up over time.

Diane AKA Traska

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2012, 11:08:12 AM »
SnarkyTraska wants you to say "Oh, she's great.  And how's YOUR friend?"

Personally, I like "My wife's doing great!" (Husbutch, while cute, a) ain't gonna catch on, and b) is just going to make people think it's not a serious thing... it lies in the realm of nickname it does.  Get them to accept wife, then you can hit them with the custom terms of endearment.  You may call your spouse "Snookums", but you wouldn't refer to her as that in conversation with others, would you?)
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RebeccainGA

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2012, 11:20:20 AM »
SnarkyTraska wants you to say "Oh, she's great.  And how's YOUR friend?"

Personally, I like "My wife's doing great!" (Husbutch, while cute, a) ain't gonna catch on, and b) is just going to make people think it's not a serious thing... it lies in the realm of nickname it does.  Get them to accept wife, then you can hit them with the custom terms of endearment.  You may call your spouse "Snookums", but you wouldn't refer to her as that in conversation with others, would you?)

I know husbutch isn't even an option - but for us, wife would be just as weird (really!). My problem is that there's not a good 'traditional' term, and so I'm stuck with the generic 'partner'. Blech.

I will start saying, "My partner's doing well, thanks" - I know that in general it's not preferred to correct someone, but....

Slartibartfast

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2012, 11:21:49 AM »
I'd emphasize "my wife is doing much better, thank you!" the first few times, then finally call them on it: "She's not just a friend.  If you're not comfortable calling her my wife, call her my partner.  But please don't pretend she's just a casual friend because it's demeaning to the both of us and you do know better."

Jones

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2012, 11:26:41 AM »
"Friend? Sorry, I have a lot of friends..."  ???
"Your, ah, special friend."
"Oh, you mean my partner/spouse/consort/helpmate? She's doing better, thank you for asking."

Seriously though, NyaChan's suggestion is what I would do if I were in the situation, and what I've heard from others.

Cat-Fu

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2012, 11:41:05 AM »
I LOVE the term husbutch! I agree though, it's probably going to be tough to get people to take it seriously.

I have never been overly fond of the term partner, but it sounds like gently correcting with that is the way to go. (I'm not even sure if it counts as a correction to say "my partner is fine," for all they know, you just misheard!) I do like Slartibartfast's more stern correction, as well.
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SleepyKitty

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2012, 01:29:20 PM »
"Friend? Sorry, I have a lot of friends..."  ???
"Your, ah, special friend."
"Oh, you mean my partner/spouse/consort/helpmate? She's doing better, thank you for asking."

Seriously though, NyaChan's suggestion is what I would do if I were in the situation, and what I've heard from others.

Actually, I would do the above.

Coworker: "How's your friend?"
You, friendly, polite but puzzled smile: "Oh, which one?"
Coworker: "You know, Whateverhername is?"
You, big smile and friendly tone of voice: "Oh, my wife! Haha, sorry, wasn't sure who you meant. Whateverhernameis is doing great, thanks! How's your husband?"

Do it with genuine friendliness and I think your point will get across without it being harsh. I would use the term wife, even if it's not the personal term you two would use, just because it's easy, but fill in whatever makes you most comfortable.

MorgnsGrl

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2012, 01:42:17 PM »
Coworker: "How's your friend?"
You, friendly, polite but puzzled smile: "Oh, which one?"
Coworker: "You know, Whateverhername is?"
You, big smile and friendly tone of voice: "Oh, my wife! Haha, sorry, wasn't sure who you meant. Whateverhernameis is doing great, thanks! How's your husband?"

Do it with genuine friendliness and I think your point will get across without it being harsh. I would use the term wife, even if it's not the personal term you two would use, just because it's easy, but fill in whatever makes you most comfortable.

I think this is a brilliant way to handle it.

EmmaJ.

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2012, 01:47:06 PM »
To me, it sounds like they like you and are interested and concerned in your life.  But you may be the very first person they've met with a same sex partner.  I bet they just don't know how to refer to her and are trying their best not to offend.

I agree with the other posters, for a couple weeks use the name you would like them to refer to her as; after all, that's how babies learn how to call their parents.  "Smile for mama!  Come to papa!" 

P.S. How is she doing?  The last I remember reading about was when you were still packing up your previous house. If there was an update, I missed it.

RebeccainGA

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2012, 02:02:55 PM »
To me, it sounds like they like you and are interested and concerned in your life.  But you may be the very first person they've met with a same sex partner.  I bet they just don't know how to refer to her and are trying their best not to offend.

I agree with the other posters, for a couple weeks use the name you would like them to refer to her as; after all, that's how babies learn how to call their parents.  "Smile for mama!  Come to papa!" 

P.S. How is she doing?  The last I remember reading about was when you were still packing up your previous house. If there was an update, I missed it.

I agree - I think I'm probably the first married gay person they've ever met, and it's sort of unknown territory. They are kind people, the two that are the most frequent are VERY kind, and genuinely want to know - they just don't have the vocab.

DP is doing well - she's had two hospital stays since we've been here, both about a week, but for more oddball unrelated things (another bout of pancreatitis and lysteria poisoning from bad watermelon). She's up and around, made the bed one day, did laundry, that sort of thing - she can do about two major tasks or three or four smaller ones, and then has to rest for a day or so. Still nervous about going places alone, but I'm OK with that - she really doesn't have balance, and get tired very easily. Got some big surgery for next year, but that's far in the distance at this point. Thanks for asking!!

camlan

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2012, 02:16:37 PM »
How do your co-workers refer to each other's spouses/SOs? Do they use titles, like husband or boyfriend, or do they use the person's name?

Because it might be easier all around if you could train them to use your partner's first name when referring to her. Use the method NyaChen describes, but use her name instead.

That way, they aren't using words they are uncomfortable with, and you don't have to hear words you are uncomfortable with.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


RebeccainGA

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2012, 02:24:16 PM »
How do your co-workers refer to each other's spouses/SOs? Do they use titles, like husband or boyfriend, or do they use the person's name?

Because it might be easier all around if you could train them to use your partner's first name when referring to her. Use the method NyaChen describes, but use her name instead.

That way, they aren't using words they are uncomfortable with, and you don't have to hear words you are uncomfortable with.

It varies - and we have some self-declared 'bitter divorcees' that get peeved when anyone mentions their spouse, so it's just weird to discuss people not at the office at times. I think I may just reenforce the "DP's Name" thing and not the title so much, except with the ones that keep insisting on a title - they can call her my partner or something else that's close, but the 'your friend' will get corrections.

NyaChan

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2012, 03:57:24 PM »
Yeah I would just sub in whatever term/name you would like them to use into your conversations- I just used partner originally because it was one of the options you mentioned in your post. Personally makes me go straight into a business frame of mind, but then I can be a bit slow on the uptake  ;D

BarensMom

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2012, 05:47:34 PM »
Living in the SF Bay Area, I puzzled over what to refer to those in same-sex relationships.  I finally settled on "spouse" for committed couples or "other half" when I wasn't quite sure of their commitment status.