“Meet my better half.” How often I hear this statement when I’m introduced to someone’s spouse or partner. It’s usually intended as a compliment, a sweet comment about the esteem the person has for their loved one.
A couple of days ago I ate breakfast with a group of clergy and lay people prior to a meeting. One minister told us a story of a sweet elderly woman living with an increasingly cranky husband. After making some solo rounds of conversation at a recent party, the never-critical woman said, “I need to go find my bitter half.” Ouch! Since I fear becoming a cranky old lady, those words were painful. I don’t need my husband Andy to introduce me as his “better half,” but I sure don’t want to be introduced as his “bitter half” —in spite of some occasional justification for such a moniker.
I’m contemplating some alternative adjectives for what kind of “half” I’d like to be and still have the familiar, poetic ring of “better half.” I kind of like “buffer” although it has no validity whatsoever. “Bigger” is definitely out, true or not. ‘Brattier” or “battier” or “beefier”-no good. This is just not working. Maybe the “half” word is not so good either.
So here’s my ideal, fantasy introduction of me by my husband: “Meet Sybil. She’s my best friend, my long-loved love, and my funny, sometimes grouchy and impatient, but sincere companion on this earthly pilgrimage with God.” So much for the “better,” the “bitter,” and the “half.”
P.S. Thanks to Madeleine L’Engle for her expression “long-loved love” in her book The Irrational Season”
Chapter 4, “To a Long-Loved Love,” Crosswicks Ltd, 1979
Sybil MacBeth ©2010