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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Do I take DF's name or even get married?

23 replies

bumblebod · 22/12/2010 11:37

Hello!
I am quite new to mumsnet so hello all! I am in a quandary. I always wanted to marry my DF, we have been together for over 10 years and have a DS (who's 1). Recently though I wondered if I want to get married for the wrong reasons... I grew up in several step families so for me to have my own family where we all have the same name and are all actually related has meant so very much. However, that is not a reason to get married is it (I love DF, let's take that as a given). I am pretty feminist at heart and maybe I should come to terms with who I am rather than lusting after a name and ceremony to make me feel secure? We are happy being unmarried. And maybe I should learn to love my name (is my Step Dad's surname, not one I was born with)and not need another. What do you think? And what are the legal implications of being unmarried should one of us die or we split up?

TIA!

OP posts:
msrisotto · 22/12/2010 14:26

I am getting married next year. For me, it isn't being insecure that is making me want to get married although I obviously couldn't speak for yourself but getting married isn't a feminist weakness in my opinion!

With regards to taking his name. I am not going to but I did have a struggle with myself because my family have always been very close so for me family did = all the same surname. However, I am truly not comfortable with changing my name so that trumps the desire for us to have the same name. We still will be family, we just won't have the same surname. I don't love my surname (seems a weird concept personally) but it is my name, it is a big part of who I am so I don't want to change it. It's bloody hard to explain.

Legally - there is no such thing as a common law marriage so if you two were to die unmarried then whatever the will stated would go. If you split up, you split up, neither will be protected.

RuthChan · 22/12/2010 14:33

I am not a feminist, but I was certainly happy with who I was and the name I had.
However, it was very important for me to feel that my DH, children and I were one family and shared the same name. Apart from knowing that the ceremony and piece of paper made it a little harder for DH to run away and leave me in the lurch, I also wanted the security of knowing that we were legally a family.
I am quite a conservative person at heart and these things matter to me.
I therefore don't think it's unreasonable for you to have those feeling too.

On the other hand, I have several friends who are unmarried with children or who have married without taking their DH's name.
I can understand their choices, those would not have been for me.

Getting married and having a family is not about changing who you are. Who you are will not change, even if/when you change your name. It is about making a statement about being a single family group and all that it entails. It sounds from your post like you would really like to get married, but somehow feel you shouldn't want to because you are a feminist. I'm not a feminist, but I know people who are, and most of them are married!

Unmarried couples do have some legal rights, but they are slightly different from those of married couples. You might want to check up on that.

LeninInExcelsis · 22/12/2010 14:44

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msrisotto · 22/12/2010 14:45

Having the same surname doesn't make anyone legally a family btw. It is the ceremony that unites a couple in marriage. The surname thing is just a tradition.

LeninInExcelsis · 22/12/2010 14:48

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defineme · 22/12/2010 14:57

I don't think marriage is anti feminist because legally it's about partnership and sharing now and it's not about obeying a man or becoming his property any more. The ceremony reflects this as does the fact that a lot of brides make speeches, don't walk down an aisle with their dad and all the other things that may have signified an inequality.

However, along with being 'given away' I do believe that taking your dh's surname should be done away with. It didn't sit well with why I was getting married. The kids took both our names and to me that is a beautiful symbol of our union. If I'd given my name up I'd have felt subsumed rather than joined.

I can appreciate it's complicated for you, but we have to start somewhere don't we?

Bue · 22/12/2010 16:02

I agree with everything defineme said.

marantha · 23/12/2010 07:16

I don't even want to go into the emotional side of things as regards differences between marriage and cohabitation, but I will say this:
Cohabitation has no status in law; not matter how long you've lived with someone, you are just a housemate.
Unless your partner has gone out of his way to name you as beneficiary in wills etc, and/or you have made explicit joint agreements regards finances (properly drawn up), you will be regarded, in event of split/death, as just two mates sharing the same house.
The default position with cohabitation: housemates.
The default position with marriage? Your spouse is next-of-kin, inheritor of your possessions/assets if you die intestate and so on.

marantha · 23/12/2010 07:19

The government (rightly IMO!!) cannot just declare a couple to be legally and financially joined for life just because of a sexual/emotional relationship under one roof.

TheTimesMNer · 23/12/2010 07:53

I diouble barrelled my name and then have reverted to my maiden name.

I would like women to carry the female line name and men to carry the male.

So Mr and Mrs Johnson-Smith would have baby Johnson-Smiths. When Miss Johnson Smith marries Johnny Tate-Lyons, the couple become Mr and Mrs Johnson-Lyons. When Master Johnson-Smith marries Miss Cote-Blank, they become Mr and Mrs Cote-Smith.

marantha · 23/12/2010 08:03

Changing your name to that of your partner's is entirely up to you, but, as regards your legal status with him, it is irrelevant.
You will not become in any way shape or form married to him because of a name change.
To be honest, although it may be something you wish to do (and why not?), it has no relevance.
Apologies if you know this, but you would be amazed by number of people who think changing their surname to that of their partner makes them somehow 'married' Confused.

bumblebod · 23/12/2010 13:33

thanks ladies! I know that changing my name has no legal bearing, but did want to be reminded of my lack of next-of-kin status as cohabitees. I do want to get married, just wondered whether the faff (oh my word does DF want a big ceremony and fair enough, we are the last of all our friends to get married and so need to invite everyone! eek!) and name change was necessary - even desirable. But seeing as my DS has his dad's name, a double barrelled name is out of the question (would be 6 syllables long) and I don't want to feel left out, plus that I do want us to be legally bound just in case, I think it is indeed the way forward. I shall be wed!
thanks again!!!

OP posts:
LeninInExcelsis · 23/12/2010 14:19

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going · 23/12/2010 14:24

Me and DH eloped this year after being together for 11 years and having 3 kids together.

The fact we had different names really bothered me beofre we got married. Now we are married it doesn't seem to matter as we legally are now a family. Maybe next year I will get round to changing my name!

TeiTetua · 23/12/2010 14:45

If you get married, you've declared that you're each other's next of kin. That's hard to achieve in any other way--legally your closest relatives are still Mum and Dad, as long as you have them. But so many people are living as couples without being married, society must be adjusting.

Ephiny · 23/12/2010 17:39

If marriage is a good idea for you because of the legal rights etc, but you don't want all the 'faff', don't be afraid to insist on a simple ceremony. You don't have to invite anyone other than two witnesses. You're not obliged to invite people just because they invited you to theirs.

DP and I are planning to have the minimal possible registry office 'ceremony', just our parents and siblings there, and then have dinner together afterwards. No faff. No name changing. Obviously if you want to have a big wedding then go for it, but it's not necessary.

About the name changing, you can do whatever you want - go back to your birth name, keep your current name, change to your DFs, change to a completely new one. You don't have to do it at the same time as getting married either.

aviatrix · 01/01/2011 23:29

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JessinAvalon · 01/01/2011 23:56

Ditto! I was wondering that too. This is the feminism section plus I am always surprised at someone declaring themselves not to be a feminist.

aviatrix · 02/01/2011 00:00

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edam · 02/01/2011 00:12

V. good question, aviatrix. Whenever I hear someone say 'I'm not a feminist' I always want to ask them 'What? Do you really think women are inferior to men? If not, then yes, you are a feminist whether you realise it or not!'

Anyway, bumble, very much worth getting married for the practical boring reasons but you do need to talk to dp about your feelings re. having a big ceremony. But you don't have to invite everyone whose wedding you have attended yourself. Honestly!

aviatrix · 02/01/2011 00:15

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ElfPantsAtMidnightMass · 02/01/2011 00:25

Hi bumble - just to say don't forget that you can change your DC's names with the permission of both parents. So if you want to keep your name, you could change his to yours. Or your DP could take your name of course. Have you talked to him about this? May I ask why your DS has his father's surname?

MamaMimi · 02/01/2011 00:55

Our dds both have dps & my surname as a double barrelled surname which creates a 6 syllable surname. I was always worried that it would be a bit long winded but it actually flows quite well and our eldest dd loves her name. Smile (youngest only 18 mo, so no opinion yet!)

We are planning marriage, probably this year, mostly to sort out the legal stuff, apart from wanting to as we love each other and want to seal our family unit. It will have nothing to do with tradition and will be very simple and we are thinking we will both then use the double barrelled surname our dds have.

It does take some milling over tho' to make sure you are doing what you feel happy with so I don't blame you for getting other views on the subject as it can help make your own thoughts more concrete, or maybe make you question some of the plans you may have.

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