Who Is This “We”? Weekend Poll

By: wheatmeister
September 22, 2012

Some Mormon couples like to refer to professional or educational pursuits in the plural when one spouse is supporting the other one.  For example:  “We are in grad school now, which has been challenging for us,” spoken by the spouse who is not personally attending grad school.  Does the husband ever state, “We are putting our bachelor’s degree to use wiping the butts of toddlers.  Oh, and we are also a lawyer.”

What is your reaction when you hear couples use "we" to refer to individual pursuits? (choose the best one that applies)

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19 Responses to Who Is This “We”? Weekend Poll

  1. NewlyHousewife on September 22, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    I did it when I was still living with my spouse as a way to feel like I had a connection to the greater system. By saying “We are in grad school” that mention I was involved with the decision. I’m a stay at home mom, and my husband is a doctor is used when I wasn’t involved with the decision of what to major in. It also was a way for me to separate when my individual life ends and my married life began. As bad as that sounds. Don’t shoot me.

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  2. whizzbang on September 22, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    One of my biggest pet peeves in and out of the Church. Sometimes and with some people I think it shows an insecurity when they say “We” as in they think they are part of this thing, event, etc. when they are not whatsoever connected to it. Mark from Pawn Stars is bad for this, “we took Iwo Jima” like he was invovled? With schooling it could show that ‘I feel bad because my spouse is doing this great thing and I don’t feel like I am so I will say “we”.

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  3. FireTag on September 22, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    Often used for insecurity covering, but it would really be nice if “we” meant it. In hockey, they award scoring titles for combined goals and assists, because the perfect pass can make scoring the goal trivially easy. I hope “we” can get to that point.

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  4. Samuel Rogers on September 22, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    Does this apply to medical school? I think it would sound really weird if my wife said, “we’re in medical school,” and I don’t think she says that. Maybe the generality of “grad school” makes it a bit easier on the ears.

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  5. Yet Another John on September 22, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    I don’t think it’s necessarily a ‘Mormon’ thing. It’s a mark of how invested we are in something. When our team (Packers) wins, ‘we’ win. Unless we are particularly handy, ‘we’ rarely build a home. We pay for it, but the contractor builds it. Of course, if the Packers lose, ‘they’ blew it, and if our house settles and cracks appear in the walls, ‘we’ didn’t do that, the contractor messed up!
    So when people say ‘we’ are in school, when in fact just one of them is, it really doesn’t bother me.

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  6. anita on September 22, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    what really bothers me is when a husband announces that “we’re pregnant.” no, *we* are not.

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  7. Julia on September 22, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    That is funny. I was about to say that the only time is does NOT bother me is when couples say that “they” are pregnant. :-)

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  8. KT on September 22, 2012 at 8:30 PM

    It’s annoying. It shows insecurity for the person who’s not “doing the big thing” within the relationship. I am in grad school, and although I certainly appreciate my husband’s support – “WE” are not going to class, doing the work, etc. Just as “we” are not going hunting when HE goes hunting and I support his hobbies.

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  9. jks on September 23, 2012 at 12:32 AM

    It is somewhere between practical, harmless and annoying.
    Today, my husband said “We’re homeschooling child #3″ to someone, but really he simply supports me doing the actual work and doesn’t plan to do it himself. But he did participate in it as a parenting decision in an “ok, if you think its best” kind of way. But I actually prefer him waying “we” over “my wife is homeschooling #3″ I guess.
    “We had a baby last night” is used sometimes instead of “my wife had a baby last night.”

    The only time I can think of that I might be guilty is if I say “When we were at BYU” I might actually be referring to a time after I had already graduated but my husband was still plugging away. I perhaps wouldn’t bother to differentiate in the story.

    It is worth noting that as a wife and mother my life changes a lot based on the details of my husband and my children’s responsibilities. I do try to not live vicariously through my children, but I can’t help feeling like I am a part of things when my daughter’s early morning seminary requires me to give her rides. Or when my son going to middle school requires me to teach him skills so he can succeed. Or when my husband getting a job means we have income, or when he was laid off it meant we had no income. Despite that, I believe I always say “My daughter is in middle school. My son is in Honors English and they are hitting him hard with homework. Or my husband was laid off or found a new job.
    So, maybe those people who do “we” are mostly annoying.

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  10. NewlyHousewife on September 23, 2012 at 1:58 AM

    Is there a reason I can’t vote or see the results on the mobile web layout?

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  11. Julia on September 23, 2012 at 2:10 AM

    Newly Housewife-

    I have not had good luck with the mobile version here, so I always switch to the standard theme. I have an iPhone, so I don’t know if other phones are different. I just tried turning the mobile theme on and I didn’t see the poll either. Not sure if that helps.

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  12. Hawkgrrrl on September 23, 2012 at 7:00 AM

    I must say I haven’t heard people do this more than maybe two or three times. I have assumed that they were both doing grad school or whatever, which is also common, and been confused when they clarified that actually just the husband was doing this. Put me down in the “This is a weird thing to do” camp.

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  13. Glenn Thigpen on September 23, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    My daughter told me “we are pregnant” when cluing me in of her condition. I assumed, correctly, that she was not intimating that she and her husband had concluded a singular achievement.


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  14. Moss on September 23, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    It comes off as insecure, mostly because you really only hear it from youngish people in school. No one says, “Oh, we’re Dentists” when one spouse is a dentist and the other takes care of the kids. I think, hopefully, by that point both spouses acknowledge that both make important contributions. Hopefully.

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  15. Joseph S. on September 23, 2012 at 11:47 AM

    I think the “We are pregnant” phrase could be replaced in most contexts with “We managed to conceive.” I think that’s really what they’re trying to say–after all, a wife doesn’t get pregnant all on her own. “We are pregnant” also strongly implies that the husband is the father–not that it would be doubted in most situations where you say “my wife is pregnant”, but nonetheless it could be taken the wrong way (or at least set you up for the joke “have you met the father?”).

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  16. LovelyLauren on September 23, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    I couldn’t think of a good answer for the poll, but I’ve only every noticed women do it when discussing their husband’s professional choices. (Except for the “we got pregnant” phrase, which I wouldn’t use, but doesn’t really bug me.)

    Perhaps I’ve never done it because I am in grad school and my husband already has a career. I don’t want to say that “We” finished paramedic school because while he was doing that, I was finishing my Bachelor’s and applying to graduate school.

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  17. salth2o on September 24, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    Someone recently said when “when we were getting our MBA” and my genuine response was “I didn’t know you had your MBA” she rephrased and said that it was when her husband was getting his MBA. That threw me for a loop.

    If you’re secure in your decision to be a spouse and not have an MBA, then there would be not need to attach your personal narrative to the achievements of your husband.

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  18. Douglas on September 29, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    It’s always well to have your spouse’s back. But overuse of “we” seems eerily like Kirk asking Dr McCoy how “they” were doing (that green-blooded SOB….). The price of a happy marriage shouldn’t be the loss of one’s identity.

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  19. [...] anita, commenting on wheatmeister’s post “Who Is This ‘We’? Weekend Poll” at W&T: what really bothers me is when a husband announces that “we’re pregnant.” no, *we* are not. [...]

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