Using "my wife" instead of her name?


#1

Hi!
My wife and I have noticed a recent trend amongst her father and her uncles that we can’t quite figure out.

They have begun to refer to their wives as “my wife” instead of using their name. They also do this for their sons and daughters, saying “my son xxxxx” or “my daughter xxxxx” instead of using just their names.

Now, both myself and my wife know the people personally who they’re referring to. In the cases of their sons and daughters, there’s no need for an introduction such as “my son” or “my daughter”. (We could see there to be a need if there are maybe more than one person with the same name or something, but generally that’s not the case). And in the case of their wives, we hardly find it necessary in the case of my wife’s mother, and we’re close friends with each of my wife’s aunts.

My father in law will be talking to my wife, and tell us “my wife said such and such”. It’s odd to us, because one would think he should normally say something like “your mother said such and such” or use his wife’s name at least.

We’re thinking it might have something to do with a relationship class they might have taken, or some kind of teaching that they’ve heard?

It’s been kind of a sudden change, and they haven’t volunteered the reason for the change, which could mean that they may have their own reasons for it and it might just be personal, and we don’t want to intrude by asking them directly.

Anyway, has anyone else heard of this?


#2

I don't think it's wrong. Perhaps there have been life changes that have percipitated this. I know that when you start a new job, or are in a new parish it can be difficut to keep repeating just who "mary" and "katie" are and face embarassment when people come inevitably mix names up.

I think lately people just don't make the effort to learn names. There's also alot of "false-ADD" that's brought on by TV. That can make it hard to get people to pay attention to who's who. After a while people just give up.


#3

Among new friends, acquaintances and co-workers, I use the term “my husband” or “my son” instead of their names because these people don’t know my husband and son by name.

But family and old friends? Um… seems odd.


#4

I will admit my perspective is in no way normal but here it goes. I personally love to talk in more ‘old-fashion’ terms. At work, I will call a lot of men that are younger than me 'Sir; because I like to be formal. I have asked people to call me 'Miss (insert my last name). They think I am weird and the only time they do it is for a laugh.

One thing I do is when a friend’s kid ask me my name I will say 'Miss (insert my last name). I find it shocking that people will introduce me to their kids by my first name without asking my permission first. Never in my wildest dreams would I have called my parents friends by their first name.

I still talk about my aunts and uncles as ‘Uncle Bill’ and ‘Aunt Helen’. I always wondered why that is only pertinent to aunts and uncles.

So in a nut shell, I would love for society to do that.

I do realize that I am not in the situation and I don’t hear the tone of voice so I could be off base

CM


#5

[quote="cmscms, post:4, topic:196562"]
I will admit my perspective is in no way normal but here it goes. I personally love to talk in more 'old-fashion' terms.

CM

[/quote]

It was the endearing, respectful custom of the 19th and early 20th centuries to do people the honor of referring to them by title rather than by name in public, and also even as a sign of respect within a household, and particularly in the presence of friends and relatives. One's pets or servants were called by first names, but formal titles were always used as a sign of endearment, admiration, and respect amid family and friends.

If your relatives recently enjoyed a movie or read a book set in such time period, they may well have become suddenly enamoured of such formal verbal habits of a bygone age in this casual, disrespectful, treat-people-like-furniture-and-take-them-for-granted post war age. If one person picks up such verbal mannerisms, they tend to spread as they are quite contagious! You too might find yourself tempted to kiss someone's hand or sign something with:
"I remain your humble and devoted servant..."

I once inadvertently ended up with 2 entire departments of graduate students picking up my own personal habit of referring to a particularly powerful and intimidating tenured professor as "his lordship" I had never dreamed of how contagious such things could be....


#6

[quote="former_Catholic, post:5, topic:196562"]
It was the endearing, respectful custom of the 19th and early 20th centuries to do people the honor of referring to them by title rather than by name in public, and also even as a sign of respect within a household, and particularly in the presence of friends and relatives. One's pets or servants were called by first names, but formal titles were always used as a sign of endearment, admiration, and respect amid family and friends.
...

[/quote]

was reminded of this recently by relatives who address and refer to each other as Mr. and Mrs. Smith in conversation with others, "Mr. Smith went golfing today." or "Mrs. Smith, will you please give me another piece of pie." sounds like they have been reading Jane Austen.


#7

Thanks for all the replies. You all make excellent points.

The main point that I'm trying to make is that it 1) seemingly came out of nowhere, and 2) seems very formal and distancing, from my perspective.

To me, using the name of the person you're talking about, when you're talking to someone who knows them, is an acknowledgment that you know that the person you're talking to knows the person you're talking about. It's an inclusion, a "you're one of us" gesture of language.

But when someone uses the title instead of the name it's a sort of wall of formality that I think is odd to put up now, when they know that we're part of the family and know everyone involved, and are good friends with the people they're talking about.

Especially when a father is talking to his daughter about her mother and saying "My wife..." instead of "Your mother..."

My assumption was that there might have been some relationship teaching that they may have gone to that might have taught, as some of you have suggested, that using the title is a form of respect and love, and maybe that's why they're doing it. It just seems odd to me.


#8

My brother and sister do this; they refer to our mother as ‘my Mom’ even when they are talking to me, their sister who has the same mother! I think that they have just gotten out of the habit of regular conversations with people who have a shared relationship with the person they are referring to, and they are more accustomed to speaking to people who have no shared relationship with the person they are speaking about. My mother will still say to me ‘your brother’ or ‘your sister’, because it is always at the forefront of her mind that each of us children came from her womb! :smiley: So she doesn’t accidentally fall into the same habit as my brother and sister have done.


#9

[quote="Abinoam, post:1, topic:196562"]
Hi!
My wife and I have noticed a recent trend amongst her father and her uncles that we can't quite figure out.

They have begun to refer to their wives as "my wife" instead of using their name. They also do this for their sons and daughters, saying "my son xxxxx" or "my daughter xxxxx" instead of using just their names.

Now, both myself and my wife know the people personally who they're referring to. In the cases of their sons and daughters, there's no need for an introduction such as "my son" or "my daughter". (We could see there to be a need if there are maybe more than one person with the same name or something, but generally that's not the case). And in the case of their wives, we hardly find it necessary in the case of my wife's mother, and we're close friends with each of my wife's aunts.

My father in law will be talking to my wife, and tell us "my wife said such and such". It's odd to us, because one would think he should normally say something like "your mother said such and such" or use his wife's name at least.

We're thinking it might have something to do with a relationship class they might have taken, or some kind of teaching that they've heard?

It's been kind of a sudden change, and they haven't volunteered the reason for the change, which could mean that they may have their own reasons for it and it might just be personal, and we don't want to intrude by asking them directly.

Anyway, has anyone else heard of this?

[/quote]

It may be for nothing, but some people like to emphasise that they're happily married although others use "the wife" in a derogatory manner.


#10

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