Father and mother is man and wife; man and wife is one flesh; and so, my mother.

My sociology professor in college was this badass feminist scholar with fun spiky hair. She told us a story about when she married her husband and they warned the clergyman that if he so much as came close to saying, “Man and Wife” they’d be outta there!
And I remember laughing but also being confused. The phrase “Man and Wife” had such a familiar ring to it – it took me a little while to work out what was wrong with it. It’s man and wife. Man and Wife. That’s what they say in marriage ceremonies on TV! But then I thought it through and realized that man and wife were not equivalencies. Equivalencies would be “husband and wife” or “man and woman.” “Man and Wife” implies that the man is a man but his wife is his possession, his wife. She is his but he is not hers. He retains his identity while she gives up hers. But “Man and Wife” is such a familiar song, I still have to double check the difference every time I hear it. And it is a big difference.


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