Spousal Suggestions : How to address a couple that is not married

Q.  I would like to know how to introduce my brother’s partner correctly. They have been living together for many years and have two children, but are not married. I have introduced her as his ‘partner’ at a social function but my brother did not like this and asked that she be introduced as his wife, or my sister-in-law. I do not feel comfortable doing this as it is in essence a lie. One should not simply decide that they want to be called married and asked that others perpetuate the lie, should they? Couples go to lot of trouble financially, emotionally, spiritually and socially to get the status of marriage and it shouldn’t come to those that simply choose to call themselves that.

I have taken to simply introducing her my name and letting her explain her relationship which I know is probably not the best way of handling this.

A.  Yes, your protocol is the best way of handling this. It is never necessary to explain relationships when making introductions. Someone’s name is all you need convey and your solution covers both bases – your brother’s dislike of “partner” and your uncomfortableness with using the word “wife.”

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What’s allowed for vows ? : Do you need to memorize your vows ?

Q.  Is it okay to read vows to my groom from an index card?

A. Sure. It is an emotional time and if you are concerned that your mind will go blank having your vows written out will be an aid to you. The option is to memorize them and give the card to your officiant so that he or she can prompt you if you forget. Best wishes.

Open Thread

Welcome to the Etiquette Daily

This open thread is your space to use as you like. We invite you to discuss current and traditional etiquette. Feel free to ask questions of each other and the community moderators here.

Episode #28: Sportsmanship and Burning Jerseys

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> iStock/matteocestra

Lizzie and Dan get emotional about free agency and talk about how burning jerseys is not cool.Also mentioned:

  • When is it okay to talk about my business at social events?
  • I was flirting with a guy online. He didn’t have a picture. We kept flirting. He sent me his picture. Now I don’t want to flirt anymore. Help!
  • I’m planning a midday bowling party for my friend, and her coworker is complaining about my planning choices. How do I deal?
  • Is it rude to unfriend my teenage daughter’s ex-boyfriend on Facebook?
  • My colleague at my on-campus job sneezes all over her keyboard and it grosses me out. Should I tell her that she is disgusting?

And Dan investigates subway etiquette, past and present.

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Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning of the Emily Post Institute answer your questions about etiquette in the 21st century. Awesome Etiquette guides listeners through everything from traditional etiquette quandaries to newly emerging issues in the modern world. Want to know more? Click.