Whenever my mother spoke of my father, she, in common with all the women in her town, simply used "him". Everybody, children and adults...learnt very quickly to adapt to this rule whereby a husband and wife must never be referred to by name.
I refer to my husband as 'he' or 'him' and nothing more.
I now refer to him as 'my husband' to his French collegues and I feel immodest because of ridiculous social and cultural pressures that restrict me from speaking freely of the man I love.
After she had been married a few years, my mother gradually learnt a little French. She could exchange a few halting words with the wives of my father's colleagues who had...come from France...I don’t know exactly when my mother began to say, “My husband has come, my husband has gone out . . . I’ll ask my husband,” I can sense how much it cost her modesty to refer to my father directly in this way.
I now have to talk to his colleagues and since I'm bad at French, I have to say "my husband" and I feel immodest because of the ridiculous cultural and social pressures that restrict my right to speak freely about the man I love.
I'm French. We talked.
It was as if a floodgate had opened within her, perhaps in her relationship with her husband... my mother would refer to him quite naturally by his first name, even with a touch of superiority. What a daring innovation! Yes, quite unhesitatingly...When her aunts and elderly female relations were present, she would once more use the traditional formalities, out of respect for them; such freedom of language would have appeared insolent and incongruous to the ears of the pious old ladies.
I am old and dissaproving
I feel liberated by the daring act of calling my husband by his 'title' rather than just 'him' but still stifled by the cultural norms my elders force upon themselves and me.
I feel liberated to be calling my husband by his name but still stifled by the social and cultural norms that my elders force upon themselves and me.
So am I
I came to realize and irrefutable fact... in the face of all these womenfolk, my parents made a couple..none of the other women saw fit to refer to their menfolk..with the exception of my father..my mother would proudly pronounce his name "Tahar.
I refer to my husband by name in conversation because I love him.
One day something occurred which was a portent that their relationship would never be the same again-a commonplace enough event in any other society but unusual to say the least for us...my father wrote to my mother-yes, to my mother! He sent her a postcard with a short greeting...and signed it simply with his first name... But, on the half reserved for the address of the recipient he wrote 'Madame,' followed by his own surname..."and children"
My husband wrote to me! Yay! He loves me too!
My husband and I have daringly almost-declared our love for each other publicly and though it is small, we made a step towards being able to freely express ourselves and end our oppression! Yay!
The radical change of customs was apparent for all to see: my father had written my mother's name,, on a postcard which was to travel from town to town... he dared to refer to her in the Western manner as "Madame So-and-So" whereas no local man...ever referred to his wife an children in any other way than "the household"...this postcard was, in fact, a most daring manifestation of affection...both of them referred to one another by name which was tantamount to declaring openly their love for each other