“They’re not your husband” is a short story written by American Raymond Carver. It was first written in 1973 and featured in a spring edition of the Chicago Review, later it was published in the short story collection “Will You Please Be Quiet, Please” - in 1976.
Raymond Carver was an American contemporary short story writer and was among a handful of short story writers who “revived” the literary form.
His writing style seems very minimalistic and almost bland but as the reader delves into his stories they might find many underlying issues. He comments “I think a little menace is fine to have in a story. For one thing, it's good for the circulation.” As his way of expressing the way he writes.
“They’re not your husband” is a short story about the salesman Earl Ober and his wife Doreen who works tirelessly as a waitress at a twenty-four-hour café.
One day Earl decides to try to get something on the house when he overhears two male costumers comment about Doreen’s weight and body figure, saying crude comments such as “Look at the ass on that, will you?” after this, they discuss their interest and disinterest in bigger women. Earl takes all of their comments to heart, and uses their remarks to reflect his own insecurity and lack of confidence upon his wife.
As she is naïve and he is persuasive and very manipulative, he makes her lose weight because she “…Could stand to lose a few pounds…” in his (and the two men’s) opinion.
He says this even though he did not have an issue about it before the two men walked through those doors that night. Insecurity, other’s opinions and manipulation are all themes that this short story revolve around.