In Common Law

I was having a text conversation the other day with a friend.  As the conversation wound down, he told me to, “Enjoy my in-laws”.  (They were visiting so this was appropriate.)  As I thought about his comment beyond the obvious, I was hit with a realization.  What does a person who is not married but has been with the same person for 20+ years call their wife’s parents?  The rest of this post is my mental meanderings about this topic.  (It is not my purpose to discuss the merits or non-merits of this arrangement.  It is only a discussion of how to best reference the parties involved.)

In many states, once a couple carries on for an extending period of time in a married fashion, they are awarded the designation of “common law” marriage.  (If the title is not awarded, it may be simply them claiming the title.)  While I refer to my wife’s parents as the “in-laws” or “mom and dad”, I have a suspicion my friend refers to his common law wife’s parents the same way.  (Technically, I suppose “mother in common law and father in common law” are the correct title.)  While it would be appropriate for parents in-laws to call son in-laws by their first name, I cannot think of more than a couple of times I called my in-laws by their first names.  Fortunately, the kids of common law parents face no confusion – mom, dad, parents, uncles, aunts, and grandparents share the same titles regardless of the parents status.

Is this a fluff posting to meet a quota?  It might be.  Is it a real thought I had within my brain that needed to see the light of day?  Debatable. Do I celebrate marriages but still hold those who stay in committed heterosexual relationships in high regard?  Absolutely!!

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