Kiwis use the term “partner” to refer to any romantic interest – husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend.  It’s quite an egalitarian term.

I still get confused by it, though, because when Americans use the term “partner” they usually mean it in a business context … and when they use it in a romantic context, it almost always refers to a gay relationship.

So when someone talks about my partner, I go through a mental monologue:

“Is he talking about my producing partners? How does he know about them? Or maybe about one of my writing partners? Nah, probably not. Oh! Maybe he thinks I’m gay. But wait! He’s talking about my wife!”

I go through that same internal process every time someone talks about my partner. It just happens faster now. Eventually I’ll be able to hear the term without throwing a 10-second lag into the conversation as my mental gears grind.