Partner, spouse, civilly united or married?

by Beverly A. Pekala on June 7, 2011

Last week the first Illinois civil union licenses were issued and ceremonies were performed commemorating the couples’ unions.

 So the question now becomes how should couples refer to one another and how should we refer to their relationship? According to those who received licenses and those who intend to do so, there are a variety of choices being considered. Some couples have decided to refer to one another as “spouse” rather than “partner,” saying that spouse is just an easier and more comfortable word to use. Others say they might refer to their relationship status as “married” rather than “civilly united” for the same reason. Though they are obviously not legally married, some couples feel that the designation of “married” is more descriptive of how they view their relationship.

 Many say that couples should call their relationship and reference each other in whatever manner is easiest and best for them. However, the contrary school of thought is that calling someone “married” when they aren’t or referring to someone as a “spouse” when they aren’t is legally incorrect, perhaps deceptive, or just may cause confusion down the road.


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