Monday, 1 August 2016

Why We've Changed Our Family Name

If you're friends with me on Facebook, you may have noticed that my name has recently changed - instead of being Hayley McLean as I have been  since I started my profile all those years ago (and, indeed, since I was born!) - I am now Hayley McLean-Glass.

If you've been following me on social media, you'll no doubt be aware that my life has been very normal lately - there have certainly been no big occasions involving white dresses or churches going on.

So why the name change?

Well, as you may or may not know, Jon & I are not married.

This is something that I always assume that people know as I always refer to him as my partner rather than my husbands, but people often assume when you've been together for a while and you have children that you must be married.

But we're not.

The thing is - shortly before Jon & I got together, I called off a rather large wedding which had already been planned and paid for, invites sent over, bridesmaids asked to take part, and so on...And Jon has already been married once.

So marriage was never something that we talked about - not for any real reason, both of just assumed it was something we'd consider later down the line when the time was right - because having recently called off one wedding I just didn't feel that organising another one was something I wanted to do.

I know that a lot of people think a wedding doesn't have to be a big elaborate affair but I have always wanted the big white wedding and I just wouldn't want to give that ideal up - and the problem I faced was that I'd already chosen the perfect venue for me and the perfect dress - the problem had merely been that the groom wasn't right!

But how could I plan a wedding in those places, wearing that dress...with somebody wouldn't seem right, would it? To keep everything else the same and just switch the groom - I could almost hear the jokes people would make and it just didn't feel like something I wanted to deal with - it made me feel awkward and embarrassed... and so we left it.

But then...along came Tyne.

And once you have children - things that cost a fair bit of money suddenly seem so much harder to save for - because there's always something else that we needed more. Birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, family holidays, a new pram, a new car seat, a bigger car....and before you know it, it's 3 years and 2 more children later and whoops - the wedding thing still hasn't happened.

But the thing is - it doesn't really matter to me.

We live as a married couple - we have a common law marriage, we have children together, we have a committed relationship - so do we really need to say some words in front of a vicar and sign a piece of paper to make that official? Is that really what makes a family? 

I personally don't think those things make a single bit of difference - I think what makes a family is the love and respect that they share between them.

It bothers me when I hear people make nasty comments about people having children out of wedlock because what does it matter?

Relationships break down every single day, and whether or not they're married makes very little difference other than making it more difficult to leave - and is that something that anybody would even want?! To be forced to stay together because it's easier than trying to get out of the marriage?! Of course not. So...why does it matter?

Jon & I both agree that we will get married when the time is right and we can do it the way we want to - but in the meantime, NOT being married has created some problems for us that we hadn't really thought about before...

When Tyne was born, we decided to give him both of our surnames hyphenated - this was because I am one of two girls and I didn't like the thought of my family name not being carried on, Jon was the one who suggested we use both names and it was the perfect solution.

And so we've carried that on with all of the boys - but we never realised how strange this must seem to others until our recent holiday, when a customs official remarked on the fact that all of us have different names.

I couldn't help but feel a bit embarrassed when this was pointed out, after all... it is quite unusual for neither parent to share the same complete name as their children.

And then I started to think about how confusing things may get when Tyne starts school, and his name is different to both of ours - filling in forms, teachers knowing how to address us - it all seemed like it was going to get complicated.

I didn't like that thought - and suddenly I yearned for all of us to have the same name - to be easily identifiable as a family, because that is exactly what we are - marriage certificate or no marriage certificate.

And so, a few online forms and £50 later - Jon & I have changed our names by deed poll, and taken each others surnames alongside our own - now the entire family is McLean-Glass - the perfect coming together of both of our families.

I'm not ruling out marriage for us one day, but I want it to be an occasion to celebrate the way we see fit - not a quick cheap & cheerful thing because it's all we can afford and we feel forced to do it fast.

But for now, our family name is the perfect resolution for us.

We don't need to be married to prove our families solidarity to anybody, and we don't need to be married to share the same name.

Families are tied at the heart, not by law alone.

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