Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Who else forgot to get married?

177 Responses

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  • Shaun Lott,

    Persoanlly, I feel that the technicality of marriage/civil union/whatever is viewed with much less importance than the stability of the couple, especially with the children in mind. In my peer group of couples with kids, some are married and some are not, and actually I have a hard time recalling which are which. What would make everyone sad in either case would be a family breaking up (though I accept the comments that this can in some cases be better than keeping a strongly dysfunctional family together just for the sake of it...)

    the spectacle of women adopting their husband’s surname (is this practice staging a comeback?)

    Totally yes and mysterious to me. I'm Dr S, my wife is Dr M... but quite often I'm Mr S to some bloke on the phone who has dealt with my wife first. You just roll with it. I know a few people who are Dr X at work but Mrs Y at home... In professional circles, it can actually be a useful way of not telegraphing our family arrangements when there is no need to do so.

    But personally I can't stand the double-barelling of the kids names... just choose one and be done with it! :)

    Waitakere • Since Aug 2009 • 109 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    For teachers especially. What happens when your grand children get married and their full name is Chester Lowe-Smith-Higgins-Carter-Jones-Samuels-Matoto-Yin ???

    Well, there's a number of options - mostly under the broad heading of "common social usage and legal formality amicably parted ways".If the Duchess of Cambridge ever gets around to dropping the sprog, the poor little tyke could have ended up with the ungainly moniker " Mountbatten-Windsor" (which sounds like the unholy union of a railway station and a tea cake) or even "Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (which sounds like you're sleeping with a whole branch line). Have my doubts either would have stuck.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Mahal,

    I managed to offend my boss a few years by mentioning her husband, rather than her partner. They've chosen not to marry, and she told me this quite firmly. I haven't made that mistake since.

    My social circle contains a bunch of different arrangements, from the long-term partnership where they don't live together (blissfully happy), domestic partnerships, civil unions, marriages...

    Me, I got married, and I took my husband's surname because I wanted a significant degree of separation from my previous family - we wanted a significant event that said this is us, we're in it for the long haul, after a few various crappy years. It worked for us, but I wouldn't dream of assuming that it'd work for everyone else too.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2007 • 31 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    What are the divorce rates for couples who have had children together vs the separation rates for unmarried couples who have had children together?

    Are there even stats collected on the later? Too many variables I guess.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Yeah, the beloved and I have been notionally engaged for about 7 years now. But weddings are expensive and the law means her property rights are protected now, and it's all bit hard so... meh.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones, in reply to Yamis,

    What are the divorce rates for couples who have had children together vs the separation rates for unmarried couples who have had children together?

    I think there are subgroups within the latter that would be hard to disaggregate, eg long term relationships where children have been planned as well as people making a go of cohabiting to support a surprise baby, or people who aren't married because they can't afford a big ceremony, and there would be different outcomes for each. It would take some effort to dig into those.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Aidan,

    The only real issue is what we call each other: “partner” can be an ambiguous word. Sometimes it is easier to acquiesce to the use of the word “wife” when dealing with tradespeople or call centres. I don’t really mind doing that. It’s less bother than correcting people.

    Reclaim your inner husband! Those titles are useful shorthand, as you’ve found out, and who said it had to be about marriage anyway? Stuff `em. Our marriage celebrant had a great attitude – she had kids from one marriage, kids from her second, never changed her name the whole time but was happy to be called Mrs ##### (where ##### = 3 possible names) as she said, correctly IMO, that she was all those things and her own name too. Good on her.

    My wife told me she wouldn’t cohabit with me unless I was prepared to get married. Obviously this approach isn’t for everyone, but that was the right approach for me, as I had to really think about what I wanted and the commitment I was making. Having spent 10 years in share housing as far as I was concerned moving in with her was an extension of that, which it clearly was not. It was a different beast entirely.

    My experience (2000 vintage) was that many people were surprised we were getting married. They couldn’t see the point. I insisted my wife not take my name which she wasn’t sure about at first, but can’t imagine it being different now. It did cause some problems at school (to begin with) and once at immigration.

    Canberra, Australia • Since Feb 2007 • 154 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Jason Kemp,

    The other stat not mentioned is the divorce rate among those who do get married.

    Nobody knows what it is. Not a single person. Figuring it out would require a complete database of marriages and divorces all the way back to the year dot for whichever jurisdiction was trying to do the figuring-out.
    I get heartily pissed off when people say "x couples got married last year, y couples got divorced last year, ergo the divorce rate is y/x." Doesn't work that way, and that much ought to be blatantly obvious to anyone with an IQ above room temperature.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    I'm pretty sure 20 something years ago when we last discussed this option, punk rock forbade us from getting involved in any such ceremonies sanctioned by The Man. The young 'uns in my office seem to love it though, and in 2013 all power to them. Do whatcha wanna, as the songs says.

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 948 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Shaun Lott,

    Totally yes and mysterious to me. I’m Dr S, my wife is Dr M… but quite often I’m Mr S to some bloke on the phone who has dealt with my wife first. You just roll with it.

    Yes! Although I find it's quite a good one for filtering cold-callers. Anyone who addresses me by my partner's surname has probably fished our phone number out of a database.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22744 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Shaun Lott,

    But personally I can’t stand the double-barelling of the kids names… just choose one and be done with it! :)

    I think we were very lucky in that we have two names that sound really cool together. Our first-born is Jimmy Rae Brown.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22744 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    On the topic of surnames, a colleague got married a month ago. She's kept her own surname, but now goes by Mrs. As an American, she didn't get the humour associated with being Mrs Slocum.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Swain,

    For trivia's sake...

    Here in Japan, the law says that when a couple gets married, they must assume either his or her surname. It can be either, but one of the couple ends up having to change their name (in practise, this invariably means the wife; it is extremely rare for a couple to use the wife's maiden surname).

    There is an exception to that law when a foreign national is involved. In that case, you start off with the assumption that neither party will change their surname, and if they want to use the same surname there are separate procedures for that.


    Meanwhile...

    debate is raging

    ...where is all this "raging" is going on?

    Japan • Since Apr 2013 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • Thomas Beagle, in reply to Mahal,

    For people who get pissy, the best response is to use "that guy you're shagging".

    New Zealand • Since Nov 2007 • 46 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    Could I object to this association of Bob McCoskrie with clowns? Clowns can be scary. However, McCoskrie is about as terrifying as a wet dishcloth and less politically effective than one...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 560 posts Report Reply

  • Josh Addison,

    A friend called Eleanor used to go out with a guy whose last name was Rigby - it didn't last long, so no chance of marriage, more's the pity.

    Frankly, I think the hyphenation issue hsan't been a point of interest since the 80s - after the onscreen relationship between Michael J. Fox and Courteney Cox in Family Ties failed to turn into the real thing and deliver us a couple with the surname Fox-Cox, what's the point of anything else?

    Onehunga, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 298 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    When I was married, my then wife kept her maiden name. Our daughter has her mother's surname as her middle name. Everyone seems happy with this arrangement.

    In Latin America as I understand it women keep their surnames on marriage, and a child of Jose Sanchez Ferreira and Maria Martinez Alba would be Juan Alba Ferreira. Arguably more fair and reasonable (though still patriarchal because it's the father's name that gets propagated to the next generation).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe,

    We didn’t have time to get married this time before the 31-week twins, and have never found the time since. Maybe one day, maybe not.

    We decided to use their father’s surname for the twins to help their older brother (son of father and his second wife) blend into a sibling relationship. This was driven by having known families where all the children had different surnames due to various forms of blending the mother’s and father’s names. That gave rise to petty but time-consuming challenges every time officialdom became involved.

    To offset the surname, we used forenames of significance to my family: one’s first name is that of his great-uncle, the other’s second name is my father’s name. We felt it kept everything fair – and we liked the names.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2895 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I don't understand this.

    Surely it's just a choice. It may just appeal to some folks to bind their names with their beloved in the same way they have bound their lives. What is odd is that it is almost always only one way and almost never do you hear of a couple creating a new surname of their own (which I kind of think would be cool).

    It seems to me that if you are choosing to share so many parts of your life you could just as easily want to share a name.

    Of course as a man it is never expected that I change my name and in our case it would have been silly to have either of us mess up our publication record by changing names. But I can see why some folks do want to change their name.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4450 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    almost never do you hear of a couple creating a new surname of their own (which I kind of think would be cool).

    A couple of my acquaintance went from being Burch (his) and Hall (hers) to being Burchall. You're right, it is cool. They were fortunate that their names worked so well together and could be blended so seamlessly.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Surely it’s just a choice. It may just appeal to some folks to bind their names with their beloved in the same way they have bound their lives.

    Oh, I understand individual reasons for making that decision. I can totally see why, for instance, someone else who had the kind of relationship with their father that I did would take the chance to get rid of the shared surname. It's the overall trend I find a bit boggling.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    I know a couple who kept their own names and blended them for their children's surnames. Great idea .

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2895 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    I think there’s some value in a couple publicly declaring their intentions; but I see no reason why people should have to get married for the relationship to be taken seriously.

    My parents were living in a committed relationship and raising children together for many years before they were able to marry. They had both previously been married to other people and in 1950s NZ, divorce was only by mutual consent. One of the other parties involved withheld their consent, so no divorce.

    Fortunately divorce law is different now, but I’ve known married folks get in terrible fixes because they feel it’s not OK for them to end the marriage.

    A pity that marriage can still be used as an instrument for hurting people.

    I think the decline of marriage as an institution helps us to see what a diversity of relationships have been hidden within it. There are so many different types of bonds couples form. And if you’re in a relationship that works, then good for you. It’s a big achievement.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    Internet ate my first post. Must be a kind of in built intelligence filter.

    Why not merge surnames?

    Brown + Jones = they both adopt Brones

    Brones then marries Carter to become Cabrones.

    Williams marries Nonu to become Wino.
    McCaw marries Weepu to become Mcpu.

    Even better punch both names into one of those anagram generators. My wife and I could end up with "Much Dolors" as our surname which would be ironic. :(

    Brown + Rae = Bar Owner. Or, War Boner.

    God bless the internet. http://www.wordsmith.org/anagram/

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis, in reply to Hebe,

    I know a couple who kept their own names and blended them for their children's surnames. Great idea .

    Snap, what I was typing (typed) up.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

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