Monday, December 1, 2014

When the status quo isn't cool with you

At dinner last week, I was talking to friends about marriage and name-change (or not).  My views are pretty straight-forward: nobody has ever convinced me that having the same last name is a necessity, and beyond that I've never been convinced of why a woman should change her last name, or that it's cool for hers to be the only name-change on the table in many cases.  Beyond that, if someone agrees to change their last name to their partner's, it seems only reasonable that their partner should do the bulk of that annoying paperwork.

Someone then shared a story about how families have had difficulties when a parent travels with a child that doesn't share their last name - as a reason for why having the same joint last name is important.  In mulling this over, I can only shake my head in wonder - we were looking at the same set of facts, the same earth and the intricate social systems we humans have constructed, and it led us to different beliefs.  I hear about issues arising from different last names in a family, and that makes me rage against a system, to want progress and fewer assumptions (so yes, I correct people who assume my last name is my husband's and vice versa).  And someone else concludes (validly) that families having the same last name is the better course to take.

I have been thinking a lot about the status quo - it is usually hard to do something that doesn't line up with what the majority says or thinks (or more accurately, what the majority of your little slice of society believes).  People don't like it when you don't accept the status quo or do something different that seems to inherently judge their alternate choice.  I mostly feel like this when it comes to finances.  I know I am an odd duck, what with thinking about retirement since college and being a big fan of prenups.  But I found a lovely person, who is equally odd but in different ways, and we're making our way through life together, making choices (including financial choices) that I love.

If I were to keep the name-change analogy going, I'd conclude that it's especially hilarious (and sad) that a woman not changing her last name has an even bigger assumption behind it - that she won't have the same last name as her children.  I'm sure it will surprise nobody that I'm not cool with that status quo either.  And if we carry the financial analogy of retirement savings all the way through, the biggest assumption is that everyone is happy (or at least accepting of the reality of) working until their sixties or poor health (whatever comes first), which is why saving 10% of your income is cool and laudable.  If that's the system, then why of course, saving more money is useless, let me buy more stuff and eat out more and eat more expensive food!  But that is missing the whole big picture - you can have a lot of control over how long you have to work (by choosing how much you save).

Anything in the status quo that you have questioned, and ultimately ended up better off for having done the questioning?  Not having a TV is bringing me such joy right now - I can ignore the entire holiday season and accompanying endless commercials.  Everything important is on the internet anyways! ;)

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