One expression that has come into widespread use over the last decade or a little more is ‘life partner’. The Oxford online dictionary, I found, defines it as ‘a person with whom one is in a long-term monogamous relationship’.
Funny, isn’t it, that the older term spouse has been quite forgotten? Also, as far as India is concerned, I cannot get rid of the suspicion that the term is a direct translation of the expression jeevan saathi, for the popularization of which all credit must go to cable TV and the matchmaking industry.
Funnier still is the fact that the term has caught on precisely in an age when no one can be sure any more whether a marriage will last out a single full year. Old-fashioned as I am, I should have thought no one who has not celebrated his or her silver jubilee, at least, with the same spouse can earn the right to call that spouse a ‘life-’ partner!