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by Abigail Van Buren

Man Objects to Calling His Husband His Partner

DEAR ABBY: An issue needs addressing regarding same-sex marriage, and I hope you will share this with your readers. When asking someone about his or her marital status, please keep in mind that when the person responds "married," it may not necessarily mean to a person of the opposite sex. It would be better to ask, "What is your spouse's name?" instead of automatically saying, "And her/his name is ...?"

While dealing with customer service recently, the service representative kept saying "your partner" every time I said "husband." After three corrections, I emphatically stated "my husband" and she begrudgingly finished our transaction. (Yes, I did speak to her supervisor.)

"Partner" implies being in a business of some type. I know some people refer to their spouses as partners, but not everyone does. Thanks for printing this, Abby. -- "SPOUSES" NOT "PARTNERS" IN DELAWARE

DEAR S. NOT P.: The world is changing quickly, and not everyone has been able to keep up with it. The customer service representative should have picked up on the fact that you preferred she refer to your spouse as "husband" the first time you said it. You should not have had to remind her three times. However, because you did, you were right to talk to a supervisor so the woman could be counseled and will, one hopes, be more sensitive in the future.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics | Marriage & Divorce | Sex & Gender