When talking about same-sex relationships in modern Japanese (not Edo-era), are the same words used for husbands and wives as you'd use for opposite-sex relationships?

For example, can you use ご主人 to describe (politely) a man's husband, and 奥さん to describe (politely) a woman's wife? Or do Japanese speakers regard "a man's wife" and "a woman's wife" as different concepts best described with different words?

  • 2
    – user1016
    Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 12:22
  • 1
    I think that パートナー is a valid option, but I do not know if this term is common. It does not seem that there is a standard term, and I guess that it depends on how they want to be called. Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 13:13
  • 4
    – user4032
    Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 14:27
  • @andrew-grimm 同性婚といっても大抵の場合はどちらかが男役、どちらかが女役を演じているわけで、男役の方をご主人、女役の方を奥さんと呼ぶのは自然なこと。そういう役割が固定されていないケースならパートナーとか相方とか連れとかケースバイケース。
    – jovanni
    Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 9:22
  • もっとも、古典では、夫も妻もどちらも「つま」なので、もともとあまり区別はなかったのかも...
    – jovanni
    Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 9:40

1 Answer 1


When I was in college I had a Japanese professor who was also a lesbian. She referred to her SO as パートナー, and other teachers referred to that professor's SO as パートナー. It's possible that this choice of words was because it was most familiar to us as American students, but I feel that in Japan as well this would be the safest, most 'PC' way to address someone's SO. If I were to ask her about her SO I'd say パートナーさん.

  • Since you refer to American students, are you perhaps referring to a Japanese professor who is living outside of Japan? In that case, it's possible that she may have chosen 「パートナー」 to be easily understood in the context where she is living, as compared to what term she might use most commonly when speaking to fellow Japanese when in Japan. There was a shoujo manga by 小花美穂 called 「パートナー」 which is about twins, so there might be possibility for initial confusion within a purely Japanese context.
    – seijitsu
    Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 3:19

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