I wonder if there is a checklist somewhere, or a flow chart, that parents have to work their way down when one of their children gets married. Of course, one of those is the egregious “why aren’t you going to have children?” discourse (GOTN has an excellent post about this) – as if that’s the default, or something. I, of course, have already given my family my reasons for this.
In fact, I’m not sure any of the five left in my generation want to have children. The family continues with my one niece and nephew!
So they moved onto the next box.
“Have you talked about what to do with your names yet?”
Strangely enough, it’s not the sort of light conversation that I had thought of having, at least not midway through our cute honeymoon in Stockholm.
I have thought about it, though.
When I was 16, I had started to envision what married life would be like if I ever managed to marry my current crush. (I even built up a sitcom-style introductory sequence in my head, complete with theme tune.) At that point, I was dead set on taking her last name, rather than having her take mine. I quite liked the way it sounded, and if you add the fact that her father (for whom I used to work) did the same thing, it kind of made sense to continue the tradition.
I’m not overly keen on my surname anyway. It’s difficult to spell – since it’s a homophone for another word that already exists and people keep spelling it that way – people have had issues pronouncing it, too. In fact, I have the same first, middle, and surnames of my great-great-grandfather… and his father… and his father… and, you’ll never guess what… his father.
And they were all butchers, apart from Grandad, who made weapons.
I am so pleased my dad became an actor.
I feel, as you may understand, very little connection to this family who were founded on principles which I believe to be ethically wrong, and our coat of arms is particularly stupid (it’s a red cock on a shield and there’s nothing else). My immediate family is very important to me, sure, but historically? No. I don’t really need my surname.
But then of course there’s the issue of my wife’s name, one which is also impossible to spell and pronounce, plus it’s their dad’s surname, and they never had a particularly good relationship with their dad. Their assumed Internet name of “Sleight” suits her much better, and I’ve ever started thinking of them as “Jill Sleight” in my head.
But back to me. I’m keeping my own name for the simple reason that the legal hoops I’d have to jump through would be a massive headache. I’d need to change bank details, passport, work details, qualifications, student loan accounts, Government documents… I’ve claimed benefits for a while so that would be changed, too. Not to mention the subscriptions I have for Nintendo, Cineworld, and Green Party membership. Oh, and my trade union membership and probably about a million other things that I’ve forgotten to list here.
And people refer to me by my last name at work, so I’d need to deal with that somehow.
I’d need to pay to change it, as well.
Just thinking about this makes my head hurt, and I wouldn’t wish to foist this extra amount of stress onto my wife. I’m fairly sure neither of us want to burden the other with a surname which carries an amount of baggage, and seeing as how only one of the married couples I know (Robinson and Lovely) have taken that step (and it took her years, as well), I can very much see the rational behind it.
But then it hit me that I’m married now. I did it. It’s done. We have a life to lead, and as to what my wife’s name is, I genuinely don’t care.
It’s their decision and I’ll go along with whatever they decide, because it really shouldn’t be an issue.
My family can move on to the “so are you going to buy a house?” question whenever they want. I’ll give them time for that one.