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I’m creating a list of families that lists both partners’ names, ages, wedding date, and divorce date if there is one. To do this I have been using:

Husband    Age    Wife    Age    Marriage Date    Divorce Date

My cousin got married, and because he is gay Husband and Wife no longer apply as appropriate titles for the list of families. I’m not sure how to replace Husband and Wife. I could use Husband and Spouse but that won’t work where the couple are both female. Using Partner A and Partner B would seem to negate the “family” aspect of the relationship, considering that you can have a partner and not be married. Also, partner seems very business-like to me — as in law partners, business partners, etc.

Is there a way to replace husband and wife in a family relationship that still carries the family connotation but is gender neutral? Spouse seems to fit one half the couple, but I’m not sure what then to title the other half.

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2  
Spouse 1 and Spouse 2? –  Andrew Leach Jul 18 '13 at 17:20
    
But if the couple is gay and men, there is no need for gender neutrality = Male spouse and His spouse Likewise for the gay female couple = Female spouse and Her spouse. –  Mari-Lou A Jul 18 '13 at 19:59
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I think there's something awry in OP's basic preconceptions here. If spouse works for "one half the couple", how can it not work for the other half? The only conclusion I can draw is that OP supposes every couple consists of one dominant partner, and a lesser "spouse". Interestingly, according to this NGram, her spouse has actually become more common than his spouse in recent years. –  FumbleFingers Jul 18 '13 at 20:43

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

The correct term is spouse:

The term is gender neutral, whereas a male spouse is a husband and a female spouse is a wife.
(My emphasis)

Both members of the marriage are spouses, regardless of sex.

In the context of your table, Spouse 1 / Spouse 2 or Partner 1 / Partner 2 (or A / B) would be perfectly acceptable. Since you've specified Married Date in another column, I doubt anyone would be confused about whether or not they were actually married. There's also probably no harm in simply stating Spouse twice, like you have for Age.

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If they can’t both be Spouse ¹⁄₂, make the other one Spouse ²⁄₂. That would distinguish them well enough. –  tchrist Jul 18 '13 at 17:29
    
I guess I'm thinking there should be two separate terms but I guess that's not necessarily true. In this situation what would be better Spouse A and B or Spouse 1 and 2 –  Justin808 Jul 18 '13 at 17:48
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Two separate terms like Spouse / Other Spouse? (just kidding)--FWIW I would prefer A / B to 1 / 2, as the latter seems to apply some implicit ranking to the spouses (as though one is more important than the other). A / B could be read the same way, though it's not as obvious. –  p.s.w.g Jul 18 '13 at 17:55
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@Justin808 the only way to make separate terms would be for those terms to be gender specific. Since you specifically do not want this, I can see no way of having different terms. –  terdon Jul 18 '13 at 18:30
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@tchrist 's suggestion also generalizes to polyamory (1/N, 2/N, ...), which might be useful in the right circumstances. –  MετάEd Jul 18 '13 at 21:29

I make the assumption that you are tracking mainly from the stance of blood family, the marriage partner and then the additonal information, but I would would use Spouse and Family member:

Relative    Age    Spouse     Age    Marriage Date    Divorce Date   
John        36     Jim         34     11.11.11          -------      
Sam         25     Spooner     23     5.12.03           6.12.03

Perhaps this gives a level of detail you don't want, but otherwise it negates the gender issue and does not require using spouse twice.

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That makes the assumption that OP (or the subject for whom OP is building the table) is related to exactly one of the spouses. That's not a safe assumption in some families—e.g. some Alabamian / royal families. :p –  p.s.w.g Jul 19 '13 at 3:43

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