Wife is the Word…It’s Got Groove, It’s Got Meaning

My husband was admitted to the hospital Thursday night with chest pains. I dropped him off at the entrance to the emergency room and he was sent to triage where they took his vitals. I parked the car and ran into the ER to find him and make sure he was alright.

I uttered this declaration to the triage nurse: I’m his wife. And just like that, I was allowed to go back and be with him throughout the entire process, save for the ex-rays and ultrasounds. I was also able to fill out his insurance information for him while he was examined, which I would not have been able to do if we were not married. He’s fine, thank goodness. They think it was probably a esophageal spasm, which can sometimes mimic the symptoms of a heart attack. Whew!

Now I am sure that there are hospitals that let girlfriends or domestic partners have the same privileges as married couples. But if they did not, a person would have no legal ground to stand on to force them to do otherwise absent a law giving a person the right to be with their partner in a medical emergency.  My point is simple: In a hospital emergency, there are only 4 words that mean anything: spouse, parent, child, or sibling. Other than adoption, marriage is the only way to create a “next-of-kin” relationship with someone that is not a blood relative. Unfortunately we have not yet reached the Promised Land where all couples have equal rights – I hope we get there someday soon.

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5 responses to “Wife is the Word…It’s Got Groove, It’s Got Meaning

  1. One thing I’ve always been curious about: did anyone ask you to somehow *prove* that you are married? I’ve always wondered because I can’t really imagine how you would prove it on the spot if asked (other than showing a marriage certificate, which I’m guessing most people don’t carry around with them). I totally think the world will be better off when that distinction isn’t necessary but I’ve also sort of always assumed that if the situation arose, I could just lie (of course, my partner’s family and everyone else in our lives would back me up – I can see how it could be a very different scenario if anyone in his family thought I shouldn’t have those rights).

  2. I didn’t have to prove anything! I just said the word “wife” and they stopped asking questions and let me go back and shoved a bunch of forms in my face to sign on his behalf. That is an interesting question, though. But I suppose that is part of the point – you don’t have to “prove” that you are a spouse but if you are something other than that, you might have to “prove” some sort of legally significant relationship…

  3. I would lie too. I don’t care if it is legal or not. But there might be problems with actually filing out the paperwork if you’re not actually a relative.

    I am glad to hear that your husband is OK! Phew!

  4. I’ll echo what Singlut. said – I’m also glad that hubby is OK!

  5. Fitting that this post followed one on New York State. Married people do not have special visitation or medical decision making rights in NY. In NY, domestic partners – very broadly defined – have the same rights as spouses for visitation; and NO ONE has medical decision making rights without an advance directive. (AtMP has been educating New Yorkers about their rights and lobbying for a better law for the past year. )
    A Florida court just announced that NO ONE has guaranteed visitation rights in that state – it’s always up to the hospital’s discretion.
    more on this at http://www.unmarried.org/blog/

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