Honestly, I don’t know how to begin this blog post. This particular post idea has been neatly collecting dust in my draft pile for over a year now. Everytime, I start to write my thoughts on the topic – I reshelve the post and pick up an easier topic. I think part of my reticence in writing the post deals with unanswered feelings and questions I have personally about the topic of marriage and psuedo-marriage. That in and of itself could be a whole another blog.!! But today I am going to get through this post – I promise. I apologize in advance for the muddiness of it all.
So, I should first mention that I have never been married. Which is quite an accomplishment considering my advanced years.!! lol…. I guess there was always a part of me that feared commitment. Or truthfully, feared a loss of autonomy. I crave freedom and independence the way other people crave coffee and doughnuts. Oh wait, I crave that too.!! But you get the point. Then, of course, there is the part of me that believes in romantic soulmate love. Which according to the latest reports is a recipe for disaster.! People who see relationships as journeys fare way better in relationships. So that’s strike one and two against me. Geesh, can’t a girl get a break.?!
But how does all this relate to Mexico.? Well for starters, culture shock. They say that when you move to a foreign country, at some point you experience an event or custom that sends you reeling. I assumed this was never going to happen to me in Mexico because I was so in love with the country.! Or if it did, it would involve some weird food group. Wrong.!! And the arena where I experienced my shock….drum roll please – marriage.! Or in this instance, psuedo-marriage. Of course, this might have something to do with the fact that I found out my first novio in Mexico (the bad one) had a “wife” or an “esposa“.
I used air quotes because they technically weren’t married…not by the church nor by the courts. Though funny enough, I recently heard they did get officially married. But, I digress, back to my story. In Mexico, it is customary to refer to the person you are living with as your esposo/esposa. So while my American friends, J. and C. live together and call themselves boyfriend and girlfriend. All of our Mexican friends refer to them as husband and wife. This naming rule also applies to the person who is the father or mother of your child even if you are not married or living together.! What the what.?!?
I have to admit this shocked me at first. There was a long period of time that whenever someone referred to their esposo/esposa, I would actually ask them if they were officially married. Somehow to me that seemed to make a difference.! Apparently, I needed to categorize the distinction in my head like some sort of marriage police. I often wondered why they just didn’t make the relationship official.! In hindsight, I feel like I was exceptionally rude. Like I said, I’m sure my earlier emotions were colored by the “esposa” revelation from bad novio number one. But still, I was raised better.
The irony is that when I returned back to the United States, I experienced reverse culture shock. Not so much through marriages, I have to admit that in my inner sanctum, friends and family typically get married after a certain length of time or break-up. But they always get married if there are children involved. My culture shock was directed at the greater society as a whole. I have never liked the terms babymama and babydaddy. I know they were created to give a symbolic importance to the person who is the father or mother of your child especially when you are not married. But just like my sister, who would throw things at her husband when he would jokingly call her that euphemism – I’m not fond of it.
And that’s when I had my epiphany about the Mexican custom of calling a significant other esposo/esposa. The title was meant to convey respect. End of story. You chose to live with this person and pay your bills together and eat your meals together – they deserved respect. You chose to make this person the father or mother of your child whether you live together or not – they deserved respect. The revelation hit me so hard – I was speechless for days. Believe me, it’s hard for me to be at a loss for words.
It was always about respect. I had missed the whole point while I was living in Mexico, I’m ashamed to admit. But I’m very pleased that I only showed up late rather than never understanding at all. In fact, I wish we had more of this type of respect here in the states. With that thought, I leave you with one of my least favorite Beyonce songs – “All the Single Ladies”. Every single one of my friends will tell you that I have continuously refused to sing this song or dance to it either. I have walked off dance floors believe you me.!! But I think it’s appropriate for today’s post because all Beyonce wants and the rest of us single ladies (single guys too) is respect. Hasn’t anyone listened to Aretha Franklin’s song.?!