Saturday, 25 February 2017

My Relationship Goals

My Relationship Goals as a Newlywed Wife

Goals can help in ensuring we actually do actions that will strengthen our lives. I am setting relationship goals, that will enhance my marriage in the context of my diverse fulfilling life.

Take note, I am not a psychologist. My background is in business marketing and journalism. Although I can reflect on personal experience, to see what works for me.

Continue Independent Projects

I enjoy delving into creative autonomous projects. It could be about dedicating some time on my blogs or online store. There is great freedom in doing something I have control over. These projects definitely will continue during my married life. Not only is it important to me, it is also something my husband encourages. We were both originally attracted to each other's abilities as much as our personalities.

Personal projects can be either hectic or calm. I might be rushing to a deadline on a publication or campaign for someone else. Some of my own digital work is done from the comfort of my laptop at home. Both types of pace are needed.

Daily Phone Calls During Lunch and Evenings

Chances are one of us will be out somewhere, working or being social, at lunch time and after five. We already have a routine of chatting on the phone about anything that is happening. It brings us into each other's worlds and continues communication. We also help each other to cope with stressful days. Clay is now used to only eating lunch after I have called on the phone. And a chat on the mobile is my first reaction to ending a day of work. We are together at the start and end of the day, but want to feel connected between in-person moments.

Regularly Going Out to Treat Ourselves

Simple outings can be fun. It might be a shared plate and cocktails at a local venue. Or I might find a quality movie at the cinemas. My favourite time out involves walking around a city or beach. We do something we both will enjoy, when we are emotionally and physically ready. 'Date night' should not be strictly scheduled in a way that stresses us out. Excitement will happen at the right time.

Frequent Quiet Nights In Together

We do get a bit tired after work, community events and personal travel. Our lives are filled with fruitful adventures. Then it is time to rest. Sometimes all I want is to curl up on the couch, with a DVD or Netflix, and indulge in some light snacks alongside a good glass of wine. Even just two hours of chill-out could be relaxing enough. I then tend to have more clarity of thought, a calmer energy and more creative ideas.

Constant Honesty From Both of Us

I always encourage complete transparency. My favourite line in conversation is, "What are you thinking right now?" Luckily, hubby Clay is used to willingly sharing innermost thoughts when asked. This honesty keeps us both on the same page.

There is no benefit to burying thoughts. Openness is great in a loving respectful relationship. We can help each other in our personal struggles as much as our successful triumphs. This can only happen when we understand what is happening, from both our perspectives.

Complimenting Each Other

Compliments are fun to receive. Kind words will also give us the joy of easily making each other happy. We say reminders of each other's outer beauty, inner personalities and contributions to the world. Who wouldn't want to hear positive words about themselves? Our marriage benefits from regular compliments, which are another perk of relationships.

Showing Gratitude for Life Blessings

Gratitude helps us to be thankful for the positive things throughout our lives. Anyone can be grateful for blessings. We say thoughts of gratitude out loud, to remind ourselves of what is going well. It could be thankfulness for home, career moves, fun friends or interesting hobbies. This strategy for positive thinking will lift my mood at any moment.

Adaptation for an Evolving Committed Relationship

These strategies have proven to be beneficial in my relationship. Perhaps they might be equally useful for you, dear readers. Constant evolution is important for relationships, partnerships and marriages. I believe in change over time. People evolve as human beings. As such, new strategies can add greater depth to relationships and life.

Melanie and Clay at their wedding.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Why I Have Two Surnames As a Married Woman

Why I Have Two Surnames As a Married Woman

Melanie Suzanne Wilson

After marrying in February 2017, I publicly kept my maiden name and also legally gained my married surname. That's right. I chose to have two surnames.
And no, I did not draw inspiration from celebrities like Kim Kardashian West and BeyoncĂ© Giselle Knowles-Carter. This was a clear decision based on what works for my life.

Past and Present Identities Combined

I feel quite happy now with two identities. I am publicly keeping my 'personal brand' of Melanie Suzanne Wilson, which is also my legal birth full name. It is what people know me as. That simply feels right.
My married name will be used in legal purposes when possible. So in private situations and when filling in forms, I am happily Melanie Suzanne Wilson Halford. The last two words will be a surname. I want to feel connected to my new life through a shared name.
Both identities reflect who I am in personal and professional contexts. Both surnames are necessary parts of me. That is why I will still have my original name, but sometimes add the new surname at the end.

Breaking Tradition

It was a complicated choice. My family freely gave their opinions on my decision. They compared me with their friends and history as a whole. Surely I would want to do what other women did in the past (actually no I wouldn't).
My decision contrasted to the tradition of women taking their husbands' names and abandoning their own. Some of my friends had followed the traditional approach. They enjoyed a freedom of choice, that every woman should have.
To further clarify, I am happy for women to change their names if they wish. It is a freedom that is enjoyed by many Aussies. The ABC reported in 2016, "More than 80 per cent of women take their husband's name after marriage."
I am apparently in the minority when keeping my maiden name, even if I will also add the married name. It is what I feel comfortable with. Others can do what is right for them.

Keeping a Heritage

I do not want to hide my cherished family name, that I associate with a history and heritage. We both felt strongly about me keeping that part of my identity.
Why should women loose valuable family identities? What makes a woman's background less important in a name than a man's background?
By asking these questions, I am suddenly looking more feminist than before. Maybe that means we have a feminist marriage. We both just don't do something simply because it's 'what women do.' I am lucky to have a relationship that is about people more than gender.

Personal Branding

Branding is a sad reality of the online social media landscape. We all have an online presence. We are all known online for something. The internet is now another reason not to entirely change my name.
The whole branding issue is an odd thing to consider in everyday life. It is an image portrayed online, through words and multimedia. It is a perception in audiences' minds.
Whether we like it nor not, branding is now a reality for anyone with a public presence. And a name can be closely tied to a brand. Our identities influence our presence in online and offline communities. That's why my surname is still used in communications.

A New Family Name for a New Life

Getting married can feel wonderful. In addition to the lifelong commitment, there is a connotation of starting a new family unit away from the old one. The two of us are a team. I like the idea of symbolising that togetherness.
A second surname helps to differentiate me from other Wilsons. Some formal contexts, typically when a form has been filled out, will still call me "Mrs" so-and-so. The whole "Mrs" label is not something I directly deal with every day. I am not a teacher or other professional that would get referred to by my last name.
But when I do see the phrase "Mrs Wilson," there is only one person I think that could be - my grandmother. There is a big difference between the grandmother Mrs Elizabeth Wilson OAM and the granddaughter Mrs Melanie Suzanne Wilson Halford. Let's not confuse one person for the other. In very formal occasions of only surnames, I would feel more comfortable as Mrs Wilson Halford. Although that would not be an issue so often.

Best of Both Worlds

I feel grateful to continue calling myself Melanie Suzanne Wilson in my current social circles. That choice is a privilege. I am even more glad to become Melanie Suzanne Wilson Halford for personal and legal purposes. There is more freedom in naming than I ever imagined.