In "That's What S(He) Said," CB Editor Alison Henry and fellow relationship writer Ryan Austin go head-to-head on life's tougher topics. Or at least the ones they're concerned about.
Today, Alison and Ryan wonder: Are husfriends the new husband?
There's an epidemic on the rise – a sub-strain of the anti-committal monstrosity known as the "frelationship." But unlike its relationship-ravaging counterpart, this offshoot seems to have mutated from its matrimonial malignancy into a new, benevolent breed of boyfriend, bettering the lives of an entire generation of women.
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Introducing, the "husfriend," yet to be defined by standard dictionaries as:
Husfriend (n): \həz-'frend\ Modern English, 21st century | The male companion in a couple over the age of 35 who resembles all aspects of husband yet currently retains the title of "boyfriend." While typically this behavior is considered frivolous, irresponsible and anti-committal when seen in younger members of the population, the relationship with the husfriend is healthy and based on emotional maturity and mutual agreement. SEE ALSO: "Other Words Made Up By Alison Henry."
To clarify, frelationships seem to have become common practice among people in their 20s as a way to avoid commitment and have their cake and eat it too. (Can someone please explain this to me? If you have cake, why wouldn't you eat it? Anyway...) It's a blurring of the line between friend and relationship, often leading to a destroyed friendship and a doomed relationship. You can't play the game with one foot on the court and your butt on the bench. You're either in or you're out. Decide.
The husfriend, however, seems to be immune to these stigma. He is a responsible, upstanding gentleman. He is, for all intents and purposes, a mature grownup. He is an active participant in a healthy, long-term committed relationship. The only thing stopping him from acquiring the full-fledged title of husband seems to be the fact that he and his girlfriend (yes, I'm still working on a new term for this one) just don't want to get married.
And I say, more power to 'em! Marriage, after all, isn't for everyone, and it's sometimes refreshing to see two people bound only by their love, rather than a legal contract. I'm not saying one arrangement is more real or stable than the other, but isn't it nice to see a man voluntarily taking care of a woman for the long haul, outside the realm of contracts and cake cutting and cummerbunds?
Can we just agree to always be outside the realm of cummerbunds? They're ugly and people need to stop wearing them.
Seriously, though, I have to admit that the whole husfriend thing strikes me as wrong. "I'm going to commit to not commit to you, baby. Hug?" Yes, he is committed in the sense that he doesn't intend on leaving her, but he's still technically un-committed because opting out of matrimony is kind of like admitting that one day he might leave her. Again, not that he intends to, but that he might.
Marriage (one would hope) is a declaration to a whole bunch of friends and some annoying relatives that you don't just intend, but that you will commit to love this person come hell, high water or really flabby arm fat. There's no, "Well, maybe it won't work, but we'll worry about that later." There is only, "We're going to make it work and that's that, because we're making that promise, we're not going back on it and we've already paid the caterer." Unfortunately, people don't seem to realize this like they don't seem to realize that "LOST" won't end well. (Sorry Alison, it's just not gonna happen.)
Last week you mentioned that the success rate for a first marriage is 40 to 50 percent. I'm willing to bet the crowd skewing these statistics embody the husfriend mentality. They've entered marriage almost expecting it to go sour and are comfortable with the notion of jumping ship if and/or when it does. There's not really a portion of the vows that state, "Till death do you part... or if it just doesn't work out." Why not save yourself the trouble and skip the whole mess altogether? At least then there's no expensive ceremony, obnoxious DJ or chicken dance song.
However, if you're into forever – like forever forever – and you're down for committing the rest of your life, go with marriage. I've said before, I'm only going down that aisle once, and when I do, it's forever forever. Yeah, it's partly out of a respect for the institution of marriage and true love, but it's also on account of the fact that I've helped pull off a wedding before, and it's very much like watching all three "Lord of the Rings" films in a row – if you're smart, you only do it once.