When my husband and I were first married, we had the annoying habit of constantly asserting all of our opinions with the pronoun “we.”
“WE loved The Terminator.”
“WE hate people who talk during movies.”
“WE don’t watch baseball.”
WE, WE, WE! It was nauseating to others, I’m sure. It seemed neither of us had a mind of our own. It was just that we were so in love that we felt a strong need to be seen as united in everything. It was like verbally holding hands.
It’s not as if we were in total agreement, however. How could we be? He is interested in tax law and college sports while I prefer literature and night-time soap operas. Politically, I consider him a right wing nut job while he thinks I lean to the left of Karl Marx. Certainly over the years we have found much to fight about.
But that identification as a couple has been really good for our marriage. As Bruce Feiler puts it in his book The Secrets of Happy Families, “We is a particularly good pronoun because the ‘we-ness’ is a mark of high togetherness.” As parents, we have found that it is usually best to present a united front in conflicts with our children. The feeling that we are in this together makes us both feel more secure.
As our marriage has evolved, we have been able to enjoy our own separate interests and to forward our individual opinions without feeling as if we are threatening the relationship. My individual happiness has certainly been positive for our relationship. And my husband’s ability to enjoy his own pursuits builds up good will between us.
Still, it is nice to think of ourselves as “we” most of the time. And I hope WE will continue to find common ground as a couple in the years to come.