Terry, Terri Quite Contrary
I never liked sharing, and two bodies becoming one flesh required sharing living quarters, family, friends, and even skin. In our case, we not only became one flesh, but also one name. I became Terri Hutchison, spouse of Terry Hutchison.
Marrying Terry and being absorbed into Terries Hutchison frightened me. To belay my loss-of-identity phobia, I resolved to be Terri number one.
"This is my wife, Terri," he'd say.
Ignoring chuckles about two Terries, I'd stake my identity claim. "I'm Terri number one."
Thus recognized, we moved into a new house—not his or mine, but ours. I established utilities in my name.
"Yes," I'd say. "That's T-E-R-R-I Hutchison."
Family struggled a bit. "Should I call you Terry Michael?" they'd ask him.
I called him "T." I wasn't about to give up my name.
I hated talking on the phone, so when strangers asked for Terri(y) Hutchison, I'd pass him the phone, say,"It's for you, honey," and scoot out the door.
Eventually, Terry's mom came to live with us because of her dementia. The Terri and Terry thing suddenly baffled her. She remembered my name but forgot her son's.
"This is my daughter-in-law, Terri, and my son, eh."
"Same name as mine, Pat," I nudged.
She smiled. "You have the same name?"
We had a problem at the pharmacy too. Once, they spelled my name with a y on an estrogen prescription. Thinking it a typo, I disregarded it. The following week when Terry went into work, an insurance adjuster greeted him.
"Uh," he said, yanking at his tie. "If you're taking hormones for some kind of gender reassignment surgery, we don't cover the procedure or the medications. If there's a medical rather than elective reason for the estrogen prescription, state your case."
Terry relayed the conversation to me later that night. I pictured the staff curled around his doorjamb, eager to learn whether Terry with a y would soon be Terri with an i.
Terry set up a meeting with a client one day, giving the man our home number just in case. Just after he left for the luncheon, the phone rang.
"This is Terri," I said.
"Uh," the voice stammered.
"May I help you" I asked.
"Yes, it is," I said.
"Are you sure?"
I didn't jump to check my id, but I did scan my husband's scribbled note.
"Is this Mark?" I asked.
"My husband, Terry, is on his way to meet you."
"We're both Terries."
Reassured he hadn't lost his mind, Mark confessed to misplacing his directions; I stifled a grumble about sharing identities and helped him out.
We discovered later that my husband's identity had disappeared. We took on some payments for a car. The business manager at the dealership wrote the contract in my name.
"Where am I?" My husband narrowed his eyes and scanned the papers.
"Well," the man shifted. "Your wife's credit score is excellent."
My husband leaned in. "And?"
"Mr. Hutchison, according to Equifax, you don't exist."
I snorted a laugh. Even in the eyes of Equifax, two had become one.
I called Equifax.
The girl's voice was tentative. "You're saying that you want me to take off the FKA Terry Hutchison from your credit profile?"
"Well, no," I said. "You've mashed us together. I'm not Terri with an i, Formerly Known As Terry with a y. My husband is Terry with a y and I am Terri with an i—two people."
"Wow," she moaned. "You got a real problem. We don't show a Terry with a y Hutchison with credit history. Yours is great. Why don't you just put everything in your name?"
Eventually, my husband regained most of his identity.
After a while I didn't mind sharing anymore. Signing birthday cards, "Love, Terries" or "Aunt and Uncle Terries" saved a few strokes. I laughed (semi-convincingly) at the repetitive jokes about Terry marrying Terri. I stopped insisting on my status as Terri number one. Family gatherings began to jell. I could distinguish by tone which Terri(y) Mom, Dad, brother, or sister-in-law summoned. Sometimes we both answered in unison—after all, according to Ecclesiastes 4:9, "Two are better than one," and two sets of ears certainly helped us remember things.
The other day, as Terry and I worked to get my kayak seaworthy, he pulled out two epoxy tubes from a brown bag. It hit me: God's reason for two becoming one was not to make a person lose his or her identity. If I were to use the A bottle of epoxy (polymer) alone to fix my kayak, it wouldn't work; there would be no strength, no power to adhere. When I mixed the B bottle (catalyzing agent) with A, the reaction was a near unbreakable bond.
When two people risk losing themselves in each other's identity, becoming one flesh through marriage, God catalyzes a mighty, unbreakable bond. The bond doesn't dissolve one identity or the other. Instead, with the Lord in the marriage mix, two becoming one means a tough and secure new identity. In Ephesians 5:31 when two "become one flesh," the love of God catalyzes the bond between them in perfect unity.
We've been married 14 years, and I like sharing my identity with my husband. Terry is an extension of me and I of him. He anticipates my needs and meets them before I even know they exist. I insert myself as a buffer in situations that I know cause him anxiety. We began sharing one flesh in God's eyes when we said our vows, so why not share one name? After all, the apostle Paul sums it up best: "And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity" (Colossians 3:14).
Terri Hutchinson is a freelance author.
Copyright © 2008 by the author or Christianity Today/Marriage Partnership magazine. Click here for reprint information on Marriage Partnership.
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Terry, Terri Quite Contrary
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