Featured
Parenting through Rise-filtered glasses
As a new parent, you might find yourself cut off from some of your usual social outlets, stuck at home for long stretches of time with only the baby for company. At this time, family and friends can be more important than ever, providing support and advice to boost your confidence and help get you through the tougher days. If your friends and family live far away, or if you don’t have face-to-face access, online social media can help you and your partner feel more connected to the outside world. Emotional support and positive feedback from other parents can also be invaluable as you figure things out [1] [2]. Social media can give you access to this, but it also helps you stay in touch with old friends who keep you connected to the parts of your life outside your parenting role [3]. Beating loneliness with online social interaction Your baby is always going to be your first priority, but these other social connections are important. As humans, we need to have meaningful relationships with each other – when we disconnect socially it can affect our health, making us more stressed and more likely to get sick, and affecting our sleep and concentration [3]. Social media can help you feel less isolated but it’s important to pay attention to the way you use it. Parents who actively engage with friends on social media tend to feel less stressed and more positive about their role as parents [2] but people who just spend more time on social media without engaging tend to feel more isolated, not less [3]. The difference here is between use and interaction. We’ve all spent time staring into our phones, refreshing our social media feeds in the hope that something new will come up. But this isn’t going to help you feel more connected when you’re knee-deep in baby wipes waiting for your partner to come home. You’ve got to reach out and engage with people if you want to experience the positive effects of social media. Turning off the filters It’s also important to keep some perspective on what you see through the lens of social media. We all know that Facebook life isn’t real life, and that nobody ever looks as good as they do on Instagram, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing things through Rise-filtered glasses and believing everybody on social media is having a better time than you.  If social media is your only window into your friends’ lives, you might start thinking they are living happier, more connected lives than you [3]. Try to remember that you’re only seeing an edited glimpse of what your friends want the rest of the world to see. When your social networks start making you feel worse instead of better, take a step back and have a think about who you could reach out to for a chat. It’s the social aspect of social networks that’s valuable, so the next time you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through posts, send a message instead – ask for advice, vent your feelings, or just tell someone a funny story about your day. The empathy, advice and humour that you come across online can give you a life-affirming confidence boost and make you feel better about how you’re getting on as a parent [4]. You might even want to start by making a post here on Click.   References [1] Madge C., O’Connor H. (2006). Parenting gone wired: Empowerment of new mothers on the Internet? Social and Cultural Geography, 7, 199–220.[2] Bartholomew, M. K., Schoppe‐Sullivan, S. J., Glassman, M., Kamp Dush, C. M., & Sullivan, J. M. (2012). New parents' Facebook use at the transition to parenthood. Family relations, 61(3), 455-469.[3] Primack, B.A. et al (2017) Social Media Use and Perceived Social Isolation Among Young Adults in the U.S. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 53(1), 1-8.[4] Fletcher, R., & St. George, J. (2011). Heading into fatherhood—nervously: Support for fathering from online dads. Qualitative Health Research, 21(8), 1101-1114.
Article | social media, parenting
6 min read
Grieving for an aborted pregnancy
Making the decision to abort a pregnancy is tough, even if it feels like the right thing to do. Some couples face a difficult time in their relationship following that decision. Guilt With any major life choice, it’s natural to go through the what-ifs and the maybe-I-should-haves. This can happen no matter what decisions you’ve made. People carry guilt individually but, if a decision is shared, the guilt can weigh on you as a couple and potentially lead to blame-shifting or resentment. Grief Some people and couples still have a grieving process to go through, even if it was their decision to terminate. The following research refers to miscarriages and stillbirths, but the lessons of grief are applicable: In the study, most mothers and fathers struggled to understand their partners' grieving style. Fathers described having to focus on practical tasks and needing to remain strong, which meant that the way they grieved was very different to their partner’s [1]. People grieve and express loss in different ways [2] [3] and develop their own coping styles, which may not be recognised or understood by their partner. Some people are not consciously aware of their own coping style. How can I help? If you’re feeling upset or vulnerable after the abortion, it may be worth talking to a counsellor, or someone else you can trust. Talking through your pain is a helpful part of the healing process. Speak to your partner about how you are feeling and talk about what you might find helpful during this time. Keep in mind that your partner may be grieving too –perhaps in a different way – and try to offer support as well as asking for it. Coping with guilt There’s often a temptation to bury guilt or pretend it’s not there. Instead, try to recognise your guilt when it flares up, and talk to your partner about it. Talking it through and being heard may help you find some relief. Keeping the dialogue open and honest can also make things easier if it comes up again. If you’re able to support each other and show patience, you may even find that you become closer in your relationship. Coping with grief If you and your partner have different coping styles, it can be a source of frustration in the relationship. Take the time to talk sensitively with your partner about how you’ve both coped with grief in the past. It might not be the easiest conversation but, as you learn to understand each other’s coping styles, you’ll find that you have more tolerance and patience for one another. In the study, even the most bereaved parents were able to accept each other’s entirely different coping styles, and went on to become closer together in sharing their loss [4]. References [1] Campbell-Jackson, L., and Horsch, A. (2014). The Psychological Impact of Stillbirth on Women: A Systematic Review. Illness, Crisis & Loss, 22(3), 237-256. doi:10.2190/il.22.3.d [2] Dyregrov and Matthiesen (1987). Anxiety and vulnerability after the death of an infant. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology. 1987, 28: 16-25 [3] Gold, K.J., Sen, A., Hayward, R.A. (2010). Marriage and Cohabitation Outcomes After Pregnancy Loss. American Academy of Pediatrics [4] Avelin, P., Rådestad, I., Säflund, K., Wredling, R., Erlandsson, K. (2013). Parental grief and relationships after the loss of a stillborn baby. Midwifery. June 2013, Volume 29, Issue 6, Pages 668–673. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.midw.2012.06.007
Article | abortion, grief
4 min read
“I can't accept this rejection”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   I am fresh out of an 8-year relationship, 3 months out and counting. My ex & myself are getting on well, both trying to support each other through the break-up. (although she has told me multiple times she wants me back I don't feel the same) In the meantime I have met someone else. She is a warm, genuine stunning woman whom I didn't mean to fall in love with, however I have. We went on nights out in a crowd of people and always ended up dancing and laughing. We got on like a house on fire. One day I told a 'friend' how I felt about her & well it got back to her & she very nearly shut down, told me she didn't want a relationship just yet & I should give myself time to get over my ex. But we still went out, still got on & still had such a laugh. Slowly as the months passed it was fairly evident we was opening up to the possibility of a relationship, despite her resistance. I then made the single stupidest mistake of my life. I went to my ex to clear the last of my stuff out & well one thing lead to another & we had sex. I regretted it imminently & apologised. My ex was very level headed about the whole thing & told me it didn't matter - 'one for the road'! Somehow the girl I was interested in found out but not before I had 'the moment'. By 'the moment' what I mean is the moment I fell properly hard in love, with her & it was like nothing I felt before - they say your heart punches out your chest & I can say its true. I knew at the moment she was the one. Now I know she has a 'history' - not all of it pretty, she is certainly not whiter than white some of which included adultery, but her past is her past. As far as I'm concerned I fell in love with her not her past. When confronted my on the sex I told the truth & she went apoplectic - & rightfully so. I was such a idiot I couldn't - can't - believe I did it. She banned me form going out with our friends - which are mostly her friends & doesn't want to know me at all. The barriers up & its not coming down. I suddenly realised although we never went on a date, or kissed or spent any real time alone she clearly felt more than 'close friends'. A month & a half later after busting my ass trying to at least relight our friendship she shot me down again - telling me she only wants a 'working' relationship and nothing more - ever. This I'm finding REALLY hard to accept. We were so close. We had so many laughs & overnight its gone. I'm talking to friends about her & using their suggestions but nothing seems to get through. Then some days shes chatting to me & smiling with her stunning eyes, then others nothing. When I look her in the eye I can see the hate where there used to be love. When she answers the phone & realises its me you can actually her her tone change. about the only thing I can still do is make her a coffee. People tell me she doesn't like men. I've been told there might be 'something' in her past which I have either reminded her of (which I'm not her past) but not told what. I've also told shes scared of a relationship. The latest is shes just not interested in me like that which I find so hard to accept, I don't understand how she can just turn it off like that. One of her friends has said I should stick it out & wait but it probably wont be this side of Christmas which I find impossible but whatever it takes, she is 100% certain she will come back. Others say I should just sit her down & have it out with her & if shes still not interested then walk away. She has a very close friend who I know & I wonder if I should talk to her but if she finds out I think it kill of anything that remains. My question is why can't I just except it? Should I wait? Give it more time? Or go face to face with her & have it all out. If I give it time how long? Every morning shes on my mind, every night.
Ask the community | breakups, rejection, cheating
“Our life paths don't line up”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   I don’t know if we should continue our relationship. We have been dating each other for a couple of months and are very much in love and have communicated to each other that we both feel very compatible and have a great connection with no issues with each other. We also feel that we are a perfect match. The only hang-up is that our careers and life situations and paths don’t quit line up and is complicated. He is still uncertain with his career plans, and is currently in the military and trying to figure out if he wants to stay or not or pursue another career. I have been very supportive. Due to the current custody situation with my son, I can’t move out of the city with my son and we both feel that stability is important for a child, which I have been giving him as a single mom. I am 39 and he is 33, and we both want a family with kids, but the longer I wait, my chances decrease. We are both seeking a serious relationship, but cannot get over the hurdle of trying to figure out and see a clear future with each other in order to move forward. We have discussed this and he says that he’s holding back from truly loving me completely because of this.
Ask the community | career, stepfamily
“Channel 4 documentary looking for participants”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   Are you aged 17+ and lost touch with your mum, dad or sibling? Have you seen them on social media or know where to find them? Are you ready to make contact, but need help reaching out? A brand-new Channel 4 programme could help support you through the next big step In today’s world, it’s never been easier to connect with people quickly. In ‘One Click Away’ (working title) we follow young people as they use social media and mobile technology to contact a family member they’ve never met or not seen for a long time. While the simplicity of connecting online might appeal, knowing how to navigate what happens next can be difficult, without additional support. This programme will bring two family members together for four days, whilst they get to know each other (again), under the guidance and experience of independent reunification specialists. While not every attempt will be successful, these experts are highly experienced in helping families to reunite, and the hope is that positive and lasting relationships will be forged. For more information, please go to www.electricray.com/oneclick Your application will be treated in confidence and there is no obligation to take part.
If you are under 18, please ask a parent/guardian to call or email on your behalf. Applications close 30 April 2018. All data will be processed in accordance with Electric Ray’s privacy policy.
User article | family
Making a commitment: goals and dreams
What are your goals and dreams? Take a moment to think about why you'd like to achieve certain things. Often there’s an underlying need – such as stability, excitement, popularity or self-fulfilment. With some goals, it may be more about being true to the things that matter for you, like caring for friends and family, working in a job that makes a difference, or standing up for your beliefs and values. Discussing your dreams with your partner – sharing what drives you – can help you to feel closer and more intimate as you make a commitment to each other. Hopes and expectations   As well as sharing your dreams, it is important to look at what each of you expects from your life together. Being open and clear about your hopes and expectations can help you work together to achieve what you both want. Your hopes and expectations will be influenced by many things, including previous relationships, friends, family members, the media, your age, and some of your significant life experiences. One of the most significant influences might be whatever you learned from your parents’ relationships as you were growing up. Some of your learned behaviour from your parents may not show itself until you enter a long-term relationship or become a parent yourself, but it can have a much more powerful influence than you realise. Finding yourself behaving like your parents can be a shock, especially if it’s something you have been trying to avoid. It's perfectly normal to have doubts or feel scared about making a commitment. Taking steps like moving in together, getting married, or having children are among the biggest decisions you’ll make in your life. But, if you can share your feelings, and support and reassure each other, then you're on the right track. Money matters Making a commitment can be like a merger. You may need to strike a balance between holding on to some financial independence and covering your new shared responsibilities. Because money is a sensitive and personal issue, many couples avoid talking about their concerns, especially in the early days. But, if you are worried about money, you may be able to help avoid problems getting any bigger by having an open conversation with your partner, and making plans. There are certain factors that can help you determine whether money might be a problem between you – differences in what you earn; what you like to spend money on; how you split paying for going out; how you handle big purchases like holidays; etc. Getting married or moving in together can be expensive, and many couples will need to rely on loans or credit to cover the costs. Before you take on any debts, agree together how you are going to pay it back, and make sure you can manage it together. If one partner feels pressured into financial outlays that they can’t afford, it can lead to unnecessary stress and resentment, so it’s important to discuss money concerns when they first arise. Having a monthly planner can help. You can work out a budget together, including all items that you will cover as a couple, and keeping your individual spending separate. Work out what you will spend each month, and which of you will take responsibility for what. A joint account can be a good way of dealing with shared outgoings like rent, bills, and grocery shopping. Sorting this stuff out early can help you avoid arguments later . Working out your budget may trigger conversations about what will change as you deepen your commitment. Be honest with each other about your worries and expectations. Discuss your attitudes to money and any hopes and fears you may have about financial security. In addition to the monthly planner, you might want to look at your longer-term goals. Write down some ideas for what you want to accomplish over the next few years. This doesn’t need to be set in stone – you can revisit it yearly to see how things are going and what, if anything, has changed for both of you. Even when you don’t agree, having a sense of each other’s goals and dreams can help you to understand each other better.
Article | commitment, goals
Commitment phobia
Most couples realise that relationships can only work in the long term when both partners make some form of commitment. Why then do some people who love their partners continue to fear the ‘C’ word? Loss of independence Some people see commitment and compromise as a loss of independence. However, a committed relationship doesn’t need to mean a total loss of self. While you might spend most of your time together in the early days, most people in long-term relationships go through a phase of ‘finding themselves’, where each partner wonders, “Who am I? What do I want? What do I need?” This may not happen at the same time for both partners but, with good communication, most couples find they reach a stage of ‘reconciliation in their relationship, where they have a good balance between feeling part of a twosome and feeling like two individuals who enjoy time together and apart. Avoiding past hurt People who’ve been hurt in the past might worry about future relationships ending in pain or failure. If your partner has experienced a painful breakup or bitter divorce, they may worry about history repeating itself. Likewise, someone who had a bad experience loss at a young age, through bereavement or a parental separation, may find it difficult to form strong bonds as an adult. For many people this is unintentional, and they may not even be aware of the issue. The timing isn’t right Some people have a mental checklist of things to achieve before they settle down. This could be anything from getting a degree, to travelling the world, or earning a salary that can support a family. Some people prefer to postpone making a relationship commitment until the feel like they have something to offer. Uncertainty of feelings People have different levels of emotional awareness.  Some people avoid the difficult feelings sometimes associated with relationships by throwing themselves into other activities like work and sports to feel busy and successful. Understanding your own thoughts and feelings is important when considering making a commitment. Thoughts and feelings inform and guide the big decisions in life. People may be less willing to make commitments when they’re struggling to understand their own feelings. Keeping their options open Some people shy away from commitment due to a quest for perfection. Many of us are taught to seek the ‘perfect partner’ – someone who is good-looking, intelligent, funny, charming, successful, and who likes the same things we do and has plenty of money. These people might be facing an important task but, until they learn that for themselves, commitment might just not be on the cards. Wanting to move on If one partner is unhappy or no longer in love, they may start to avoid commitment because they lack the communication skills to address the issue or are unsure of how to tell you they want to exit the relationship.  It can be helpful to start a conversation about what you both want from the relationship and what your hopes are for the future – you don’t need to take any drastic steps or leap to immediate action, but you’ll both be better equipped to make decisions about the future of your relationship when you each know where the other stands.
Article | commitment
4 min read
Why parents should make a will
Making a will ensures that your money and possessions will be distributed according to your wishes. When a person dies without having made a will, it is called ‘dying intestate’. Without a will, your money and possessions could be distributed in a way you may not have wanted. By making a will, you can ensure that your estate (your money, property and possessions) is passed on in the way you want. You can nominate someone to be responsible for dealing with your will and passing on your estate. It’s important to review your will from time to time and keep it up to date, especially if your circumstances change. After getting married or registering a civil partnership, you will need to make a new will, as any existing wills become void. Not married or not civil partnered Couples who are not married or not civil partnered can only inherit from each other if there is a will. And, unless your partner has specifically named you in a will, you will not be automatically nominated as their personal representative to sort out what is left behind. Without a will, the only option for a surviving partner who feels they have not received reasonable financial provision is to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Married or civil partnered - when survived by a spouse or civil partner and children If your estate is worth up to £250,000, everything goes to your surviving spouse or civil partner. If your estate is valued at more than £250,000, the first £250,000 plus personal possessions go to your spouse or civil partner. Half of the rest is shared equally among your children, and the income or interest on the remainder goes to your spouse or civil partner until they die. At this stage, the capital is shared equally between your children. Married or civil partnered - when survived by a spouse or civil partner, and either the parents or siblings (but no children) If your estate is worth up to £450,000, everything goes to your surviving spouse or civil partner. If your estate is valued at more than £450,000, the first £450,000 goes to your spouse or civil partner, along with half of the rest and all your personal possessions. The other half is shared equally between parents, or shared between siblings if there are no surviving parents. Note: These rules only apply to ‘whole blood’ siblings, which means brother or sisters who share both parents with you. If you have children, your will should say what you would want to happen to them if you or your partner die, whatever your marital status. Inheritance tax - not married and not civil partnered Inheritance tax is applied to the value of an estate when the owner dies. Assets below £325,000 fall into something called the nil-rate band and are charged 0% tax. Assets above £325,000 are taxed at 40%, so it’s quite a big jump. If your family home is worth more than £325,000, this could cause a problem. There have been cases where surviving partners have had to sell off their shared home just to cover the inheritance tax. In areas where property prices have risen, it may be too expensive to buy another home nearby. Inheritance tax - married or civil partnered Married and civil partnered people are offered special circumstances that allow them to transfer their nil-rate band to a partner after they die. Any of the £325,000 allowance that hasn’t been used can be transferred to the surviving spouse or civil partner’s estate, effectively doubling the threshold to £650,000. Later, when the surviving spouse or civil partner dies, inheritance tax kicks in only when the value of their estate exceeds their own nil-rate band and the partner’s unused nil-rate band. However, inheritance tax does apply to anything left to any children. Further information You can find more information and advice on making a will at Citizens Advice. The legal information on this page was checked by Langleys Solicitors.
Article | inheritance, finance
4 min read
Living apart together: an increasing trend
One in 10 adults live apart from their partner, according to research by NatCen, Bradford University and Birkbeck University. The research, Living Apart Together: uncoupling intimacy and co-residence, describes this style of relationship as ‘Living Apart Together’ (LAT) and refers to couples who are monogamous and committed but do not live together. In official statistics, however, most of these people are classed as ‘single’. Two decades ago, dating couples began to move in together more quickly but the research shows that many couples are now choosing to, live apart. 30% of adults don’t feel ready to live with their partner. Other groups in the study can’t live together for financial reasons, because of jobs or education, or because of other commitments, such as children. Almost 90% of LATs talk to their partner every day by phone, email, text or online messaging. Just under 70% said they have face-to-face time with their partner several times a week. Lack of face-to-face time can have a direct effect on intimacy in LAT relationships. Just 34% of participants in the study said they turn to their partner for help dealing with problems that require emotional support, and 20% said their partner looks after them when they are unwell A relationship is usually considered strong when partners can rely on each other for physical, emotional and financial support. However, a sense of independence is also important in relationships. Living apart together gives couples more control over their daily lives, and how they manage their homes and finances – the kinds of things that many couples bicker about. So, while LAT couples may be less reliant on each other for support than cohabiting couples, they may also be more independent and less likely to argue. What do you think? Are you in a LAT relationship? How does it affect you and your partner? Do you intend to move in together in future or are you both satisfied with the way things are? Share your stories below.
Article | living apart together
3 min read
Finances: planning for the future
Although money isn’t the most romantic topic, it’s an unavoidable part of any relationship. Your financial situation as a couple differs depending on whether you are married, civil partnered, or not. Married or civil partnered couples have a legal duty to support each other but cohabiting couples don’t, even after a separation. Working out a budget can help you keep track of the money you have coming in and how much you spend. You can find a budget planner on the Money Advice Service website. Separate bank accounts If you are not married or civil partnered, you won’t be able to access money held in each other’s separate bank accounts. If one of you dies, any money in the account will not be available until the estate is settled. If you are married or civil partnered, you can only access money in your spouse’s or partner’s account with their permission. If one of you dies, the account becomes part of the inheritance and automatically goes to a spouse or civil partner, unless the will says otherwise. Joint accounts If you have a joint account, you both have the right to access the money. If one of you dies, the account immediately becomes the property of the other, even if you are not married or civil partnered. If you are the only one putting money into the joint account, the money and any purchases you make from it legally belong to you. If you have a joint bank account with your spouse or civil partner, the money - including any debts or overdrafts - is owned jointly, regardless of who has been paying money in, or taking money out. If one partner dies, the account immediately becomes the property of the other. Debts Whether you are married, in a civil partnership, or not, you are not responsible for any debts in your partner’s name, including in their separate bank account. If you do have debts, always take advice as soon as possible. You can speak to Citizens Advice or a debt counselling agency such as the National Debtline (0808 808 4000). In some circumstances, you may need to contact an insolvency practitioner. If you have a joint bank account, things may be more difficult if you are not married and not civil partnered. To close a joint account, you both need to give consent. If the account is not closed, one of you could run up an overdraft and leave the other one responsible for it. If you have a joint mortgage or rent, you are legally responsible for covering each other’s share. Real couples tell their debt stories on our debt and relationships site. Visit the site to see our short animations and expert advice. Credit cards and personal loans If a credit card is in your name, you are liable for the payments, even if your partner is a named user. If you hold the card jointly, then you are both liable. If you take out a loan with your partner, you are both responsible for repaying the borrowed amount. Taxes If you and your partner live together and are not married or civil partnered, you are treated as two separate individuals. This makes a difference to how you are taxed. Married couples and civil partners have certain advantages because they are given tax exemptions for Capital Gains Tax and Inheritance Tax. As an unmarried or uncivil partnered couple, you may be liable for: Capital Gains Tax: This applies to the profit made when you sell or give away an asset, which can include property or possessions worth over £6,000. Everyone has an annual allowance of £11,300 (as of 2017). Beyond this allowance, if you want to transfer assets to your partner, you will be charged Capital Gains Tax if you are not married or civil partnered. Inheritance Tax: This applies to the value of an estate when the owner dies. It is charged in two bands: Assets below £325,000 are charged 0% tax and assets above £325,000 are taxed at 40% (2017). Married and civil partnered people can transfer this to a partner after they die, effectively doubling the threshold to £650,000. As a married or civil partnered couple, you can transfer assets between you without having to pay Capital Gains Tax, and inherit assets from each other without having to pay Inheritance Tax, which can be a large amount of money if a house is part of the inheritance. Although it isn’t possible to avoid these taxes completely, there are ways of arranging your assets to lessen your liability, even if you are not married and not civil partnered. You can ask an accountant or solicitor about the best way to arrange your financial affairs. Benefits and tax credits Some benefits are awarded regardless of marital status. For example, Child Benefit, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit are not affected by marital status, income or savings. Other benefits, such as widow’s benefits, are only available to people who are married or civil partnered. Pensions Although the rules vary between pension companies, spouses or civil partners are entitled to inherit pension rights on the death of their husband, wife, or civil partner. People who live together and are not married or civil partnered are in a vulnerable position when it comes to pensions. Employers who give pensions or death-in-service payments to spouses or civil partners do not usually recognise partners who live together. But things are changing and a few pension companies have shown flexibility. The most important thing you or your partner can do is to name each other as the person you want to benefit from the policy. Useful contacts Citizens Advice – legal rights and advice HM Revenue & Customs – UK tax authority Jobcentre Plus – work-related benefits The National Insurance helpline – 0300 200 3519 Tax Credits helpline –0845 300 3900 or textphone 0845 300 3909 Child Benefit Office helpline – 0300 200 3100 Advicenow - guide on tax, benefits, and living together. Community Care - an ‘A to Z’ of benefits. The Pensions Advisory Service – free and impartial pension advice Unbiased – professional and legal advice service database The legal information on this page was checked by Langleys Solicitors, and updated in 2017.
Article | finance
Long distance: moving closer together
If you’re in a long-distance relationship, you probably already have some ingenious ideas for making things work with your partner. But have you started preparing for the time when you move closer together? Chances are you aren’t planning for your relationship to be permanently long-distance. You may already be looking ahead to a time when you and your partner will be able to live in the same town, or even the same home. And, while that anticipation might be exciting, there’s a lurking danger that things might not go as smoothly as you hope. Rather than feeling more secure, many long-distance couples face greater instability when they move closer together. In fact, the longer they spend apart, the more likely they are to feel unstable, or even break up, when they get back together. One study showed that 82% of couples broke up when they moved closer together [3]. However, all is not lost. Having managed the long-distance situation, it’s likely you already have a good idea of what makes a relationship strong and happy. Couples in long-distance relationships often report having similar or even better relationship satisfaction to those in geographically close relationships [1]. Many long-distance couples also report having higher levels of trust and, thanks to the availability of video calls and instant messaging, are happier with the way they communicate with their partners [2] [3]. All of this, however, runs the risk of creating unrealistic expectations of how the relationship will be when it is no longer long-distance. Couples who only get to see each other on the occasional weekend tend to idealise each other and romanticise the relationship. When you live far apart, it is much easier to present the best side of yourself and keep your unpleasant habits and grumpy morning face out of sight of your partner [3]. One of the reasons it can be tough getting back together is that the non-idealised versions of yourselves suddenly have to get to know each other. Any transitional point in a relationship can be difficult to navigate, and switching from a long-distance relationship to a geographically-close one is no different. If you’ve talked about living together, try living separately at first, and adjust to being in the same town before you share a home. Moving in together can present challenges for any couple, so if you’re accustomed to being apart from one another, it’s worth paying attention to how you manage the change. Many of your routines and behaviours will be different, including sex. Increased availability may run the risk of making things feel less special or important. Talk to each other about what you want and figure out together how it’s going to work for you. Try not to put too much pressure on yourselves for everything to be perfect. Focus on the positives and enjoy the fact that you can do things together that you couldn’t before. One of you may also be adjusting to living in a new town, which can be stressful in itself. If you’re the one who has moved, give yourself some time to discover your own things, rather than just falling into your partner’s routine. If your partner has moved closer to you, join in with their exploration by finding new places together that neither of you has been to before. Give each other a bit of space so you can still be yourselves. Accept that it is a period of adjustment and take things slowly, particularly in the first few months. Talk to each other about what you both want from the relationship, and then work slowly towards your shared goal, allowing it to unfold slowly and naturally. It may be a shock to the system, but the more openly you communicate about the changes, the easier you’ll find it to deal with the change together and come out smiling on the other side.   References [1] Dargie, E., Blair, K., Goldfinger, C., & Pukall, C. (2013). Go Long! Predictors of Positive Relationship Outcomes in Long Distance Dating Relationships. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy. doi:10.1080/0092623X.2013.864367 [2] Crystal Jiang, L., & Hancock, J. T. (2013). Absence Makes the Communication Grow Fonder: Geographic Separation, Interpersonal Media, and Intimacy in Dating Relationships. Journal of Communication, 63(3), 556–577 [3] Stafford, L., & Merolla, A. J. (2007). Idealization, reunions, and stability in long-distance dating relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 24(1), 37–54 [4] Lydon, J., Pierce, T., & O’Regan, S. (1997). Coping with moral commitment to long-distance dating relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73(1), 104–113
Article | long distance
8 min read
“His baby mama lives with his mom”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   Short Version: His baby mama lives with his mom, he lives elsewhere. I would have felt better about this situation had I not realized that he is still taking very careful steps not to impose on her feelings. They have not been together for 2 years, he is not on child support, and they have been friends since high school for 8 years or so. Him and I have a serious relationship, open communication, his mom knows about me and knows that he plans to be with me in the future. Problems arose when he went to his mother's house to see his son, and I noticed he was only calling me once he left the house to run errands. The very night I confronted him about the baby mama not knowing of me (via text), is the same night she went into his room, went through his text messages while his phone was on the charger and he was working (he's a social media influencer). That's how she found out about me. My question is how should I confront him about this situation cause it's making me uncomfortable. He won't put his foot down with her. Hes being overly cautious of her feelings and she has control of him because of this, and I don't like this. He says child support and custody is the furthest thing from her mind so that's why hes trying not to set her off. But all I see is excuses. If she walks over your feelings, is inconsiderate of your time, and talks down to you, it's because you haven't put your foot down
Ask the community | someone else, parenting together
“Hot and cold”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   So basically I met this guy on a dating site and everything was going really well, we had quite a few dates around 8 or 9 and have been speaking for nearly a month. We would talk everyday, he would message me in the morning and ask how I was every morning. We arranged to meet on Valentine's day last week and he promised me he wouldn't cancel but on the day he said someone had rang in sick at work and be couldn't make it. All of a sudden after this he started being really distant and now his morning texts get later and later everyday. I asked him the other day what was wrong and he just said he had a lot on with work etc. The past few days he has been distant but fairly talkative until today he didn't message me until the evening and only replied a few times. I have tried giving him space and being nice etc but he's been distant now for nearly a week. I am thinking the worst that he's not into me anymore but I don't know what to do whether to ask him or just keep giving him space? Last time we saw each other a week ago he was still lovely and there was nothing to suggest he wasn't into me anymore. He has just gone distant all of a sudden since when he was supposed to see me on Valentine's day so I really don't have a clue what is going on with him. Since he started being distant he will give me fast replies and ask what my plans are but then won't reply for 5 hours or even won't reply until the next day, i havent suggested meeting up as i'm taking it as he's not interested anymore but then i dont know whether me not suggesting is making him think i'm not into him anymore? I dont know whether he just texts for the sake of it now and so I'm being short with him but he's still being distant. This distance was all out of the blue it was going really well until he cancelled last Wednesday and all of a sudden he's become all distant randomly. I don't know whether I should suggest meeting or maybe be nice as I always wait for him to message me first so I don't know whether that's giving him the wrong message. He told me he's been cheated on before in the past when he did everything for his ex and she cheated on him and before he went distant he seemed genuinely nice compared to the others I've had before he was respectful etc so I don't know whether the fact he was cheated on is making him insecure etc and that's why he's stopped putting effort into me or whether it is that he's not interested anymore but I can't see how I could've made him lose interest. He also said last time we saw each other that he catches feelings quickly and easily and that he felt things had moved really quickly so I just don't know if he is genuine and maybe has ran off because he's scared due to his past and is waiting for me to put the work in or whether he is just using me?
Ask the community | someone else
“What should I say after I ignored him?”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   I was already in a relationship for almost a year and was no longer in love with my boyfriend when I met my this new guy. He's much older and has most of what intrigues me in a man. I got his number and I started texting first. In the beginning I just wanted to try something new. Flirt with a man, go out on fun activities because I felt bored in my relationship and restrained. I just wanted to live at that time. He replied almost immediately and he still remembered my name even though we had spoken for only a few minutes that day in the conference. He told me a few days later that he had a girlfriend but that did not matter much to me because all I wanted to do was have a little fun. I told a week later that I had a boyfriend too. But we enjoyed each other's company very much and we talked everyday for weeks. He was that ignition I needed in my life and he helped me grow in ways I didn't think I could. I felt more responsible with him, he commanded the respect I didn't think I could be humble enough to give anyone and he unintentionally made me discover things about me I didn't think I could. I was happy. So I told me boyfriend it could no longer work between us because I did not love him anymore. He had recently found out about the other guy and I and was so depressed because he thought I was leaving him for the other guy. I told him I broke up with my boyfriend and I reassured him it was not his fault because honestly I was going to leave him anyways. I found myself wanting to have a serious relationship with this new guy, I was falling for him already and I know he knew but he never made or said anything that could make me know he was liking me differently other than a girl with good company. It seemed I had already starting hoping too much that when he told me his girlfriend came in to town to see him I felt hurt and to make it worse, he did not tell me goodnight that day. He only texted me the next morning. Ever since then I decided to stop talking to him, because I did not want the hurt to grow. He did not call me that day and he only texted the next morning ask why I did not reply his texts, I still did not reply him. About a week later he called me in the morning but I did not pick up and another week later he texted me in the afternoon and begged me to reply him. I just wanted him to prove to me that I was important to him by making more than just one phone call, or sending more than just 3 texts messages in about 3 weeks. I wanted him to give a good reason to not go back to my boyfriend who still kept begging me to come back to him. But those were the only moves he made, he did not even come to my house to look for me. I am suppose to be disappointed and stay mad or just be disappointed and tell myself I guess I know where I fall. I console myself with the thought that we had not had sex even though we were close and spent a couple of nights together. But then I find myself thinking about him, keeping tabs and checking his recent activities on facebook. I even dreamed about him some nights. Meanwhile within those weeks that I ignored him I felt so sad that I hurt my boyfriend for someone who was not worth it. I eventually went back to my boyfriend even I knew sooner or later I would no longer want him. This other guy still is in my head and my heart and I do not know if I pushed him to stay with his girlfriend (because he told me once that he did not care if his girlfriend ever saw us together) or ruin any chance I had with him. I was having a hard time these past few days getting him off my mind that I intentionally called him on Whatsapp last night even though I knew he was not online. He finally came online by midnight and greeted me like nothing had ever gone wrong. I do not know what to say. I am contemplating on telling him the truth to why I ignored him all this while and just hear what he will say. Someone help please.
Ask the community | someone else
“Partner had an affair, having his baby!”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   I'm Scottish I met my Australian partner and moved here 14 years ago. We have 3 children ages 11, 9 & 6. For the last two years my partner has been having an affair. We have split up and got back together due to it. Then last year I was diagnosed with cervical cancer AND thyroid cancer. I have had chemo and radiation therapy surgery and many hospital appointments its been hell and is still ongoing as my cancer is still present. During this time my partner was my rock he was there with me throughout it all. My treatment made me infertile and we were heartbroken at the loss of not being able to have anymore children. Things were going great I thought, personally that is. Then just before New Year I was hit with a bombshell. The woman he had an affair with was pregnant and despite him trying to convince her she refused to have an abortion she is convinced keeping the child will mean she traps him to being with her. She is due any week now. I cannot bear it. She apparently knew I was infertile and even my partner thinks she did this on purpose. I know she will use this child ever moment she can to get him and destroy us. My partner still talks to her as he said he is not going to abandon a child of his. I have told him I cannot be with him and don't even want to be around she lives only 15 mins away. I feel humiliated I don't want to go out of the house I feel sick at the thought of seeing people I know I cannot see any future that is happy or peaceful with her in it. He wants our children to know their new sibling and it breaks my heart I have told him she is part of his life not ours, I have no choice in them knowing the kid but she is not to be part of their lives he says he can't promise anything!! I feel like screaming. I honestly don't know how I can cope much more. The affair was bad enough but we were working through that but a child!?! having this women forever part of our lives!! I can't bear it. I feel completely broken I cry practically every day I am barely functioning. My partner has now got himself his own apartment. I have asked him what he wants and all he keeps saying is he doesn't know. I have told him I want to move away not far but far enough that we are not on her doorstep and not having to avoid places just because I don't want to run into her. But I can't do it without his help financially and I legally I cannot move too far without his permission. In theory he says yes but whenever I suggest areas he always has an excuse it has become so unbearable for me that I am even considering leaving the country for good but cannot bear the thought of leaving my children as I know that is exactly what she wants but I feel staying will kill me. I honestly don't know what to do. I'm dying inside.
Ask the community | cheating, big changes
“Husband always breaks and loses things!”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________  My husband and I have only been married for a year, but we are having some real problems already. He is great around the house and helping with our new baby but he literally breaks or loses something nearly every day. It's getting to a point where I am getting so stressed and upset when I have to replace yet another thing we can't afford (or go without) that it's making me ill. I am at my wits end and have no idea how to help him take better care of things. I have tried talking to him about it and emphasising the importance of looking after posessions. It's not even just his own things he loses/breaks. It's the children's things, phones, wallets, money, keys, clothes. The list is endless. He also broke our bed, computer, camera, loft door etc. I have no doubt that each time it has been accidental, but it is getting me so down I have even thought of leaving at times. I don't want that at all as we do love each other and have a lot in common. I know he doesn't value material things as much as I do and I wonder if this is a subconcious thing, but I need some kind of advice and solution suggestions. Please help, I can't afford to carry on like this...literally!
Ask the community | marriage, new parents
Moving in together: buying & renting
Moving in together is one of the biggest decisions you can make as a couple. Whether you are buying or renting, there are a number of things to consider and it’s important to get your legal position clear from the beginning.   Buying Mortgage lenders tend to treat couples similarly whether they are married, civil partnered, or not. However, some mortgage lenders require you to have life insurance as a condition of the loan and single (unmarried) men are treated as a higher risk. You can get past this issue by choosing a mortgage without a compulsory insurance clause – there is no legal requirement to have life insurance. If you are planning on buying a property together for the first time, you will need to decide how you are going to own it, and make this clear in the paperwork. It is also a good idea to make a will, if you have not yet done so. Joint ownership means you both have a legal share in the property. If the property is only in one person’s name, then the other person will have no legal right to the property if you separate. This can be changed if an agreement is drawn up or if ‘trust principles’* apply.   There are two types of joint ownership: Beneficial joint tenants This means that the whole property belongs to both of you and neither has a separate share. If one of you dies, the other automatically becomes the owner of the whole property. This type of ownership suits most couples who plan to stay together for life. Tenants in common The property is still owned jointly, but each of you has a separate share. If one of you has contributed more money to the property, you may decide to reflect this in the size of your shares. If one of you dies, that person’s share can be passed on in the will or under the rules of intestacy**. If you own a property as tenants in common, you will need a separate document or deed setting out the shares in the property and how the proceeds of sale will be divided if you sell the property. This is usually called a ’trust deed’ or a ’declaration of trust’. If you choose to be tenants in common, it is important to: Make a ’declaration of trust’ Your solicitor can draw up this legal document which sets out each person’s share of the property and what happens if one partner decides they want to sell. Make a will Tenancy in common does not make your partner the automatic beneficiary of your share, so it is very important to make wills saying what you want to happen to your share if you die.   Owning together If you have already bought a property, you may not be sure how you own it. It is a good idea to find out. For most properties, there is a record of ownership at HM Land Registry. You can get a copy from the Land Registry online service and check up-to-date information.   Moving in together If you or your partner already own your property and one of you has moved in, it is likely that the property is only in one person’s name. This is something you need to talk about, especially if you or your partner makes contributions towards the mortgage, bills, and general maintenance of the property.   Changing the way you hold the property Try to agree at the beginning what the original position was, ie who owned the property, and agree on what you want the new arrangements to be. Make a short written record of your agreement, preferably in the form of a declaration of trust.   Renting Different types of property and rental agreements have different rules. These also depend on whether you have a council tenancy or private accommodation. There are three main types of rented private accommodation: Assured shorthold tenancy A tenancy that started on or after 28 February 1997 will be an assured shorthold tenancy unless otherwise stated in writing. Assured tenancy A tenancy started between 15 January 1989 and 27 February 1997 will be an assured tenancy unless the landlord stipulated otherwise and this is in writing. Regulated or protected tenancy A tenancy started before 15 January 1989 is likely to be a regulated or protected tenancy.  There are different time periods for which tenancies can last and these have different names: Fixed-term, which means the tenancy lasts for a limited period like six months or a year. If neither tenant nor landlord gives ’notice to quit’ at the end of that fixed period, the tenancy automatically becomes a ‘periodic tenancy’ which has no fixed end date. After a longer period of time, a tenancy can become a ‘statutory periodic tenancy’, which is the most secure and can only be ended by the landlord getting a possession order.   Renting in both names If you and your partner decide to rent a property together, the rental agreement will recognise you both as equal tenants. This doesn’t mean you are each only responsible for half of the rent. If one of you leaves the property, for example, the other will be liable for the whole rent. Always make sure you have seen a copy of the rental agreement.   Renting in one person’s name If the tenancy is only in one partner’s name, the other has no automatic right to remain in the property if the couple break up. You would have to negotiate with the landlord about the possibility of transferring the tenancy to another name, and your success will depend on how good a relationship you have with your landlord.   Glossary * Trust principles: Trusts are created to hold assets for the benefit of certain persons or entities. A written declaration of trust states the terms and conditions for the distribution of assets. ** Rules of intestacy: If a person dies without having made a will, this is called ‘dying intestate’. Intestacy rules dictate how the money, property or possessions should be distributed and who should inherit them.   Further information AdvicenowNational Housing FederationShelter
Article | living together, big changes
6 min read
Do we both want the same things?
Ambitions, hopes and dreams How much do you know about your partner’s vision of the future? Do you talk openly about where you see yourselves in five or ten years’ time? Many couples don’t! Important decisions like where you want to live, your career plans, and whether to work full- or part-time often get overlooked as couples embark on their life together. Children Many people assume that making a long-term commitment like getting married means having children sometime in the future, but not everybody wants to start a family. If your ideal future involves starting a family, make sure your partner is aware. It is especially important for couples to share views on having children. Talking about what matters to you bothWhen thinking about what matters, you might want to have a look at the headings below. You don’t need to have all the answers right away – what’s important is being honest about what matters to you. Creating a home together What did home mean to you growing up? How important is it to be near family and friends? Do you see yourself settling in one area or moving around? How do you picture an ideal home? Children Do you want to have children? If so, how many? If either of you have children from previous relationships what issues does this raise for both of you? What are your memories of childhood? Extended family  How involved would you want your extended family to be? What lessons would you learn from your own upbringing – what would you would want to replicate or avoid? Career What do you want to get out of the work you do? What’s your ideal job? Do you want to be self-employed or employed? How do you want to balancing work with your home life? Which matters most – making money or doing a job you care about? How ambitious are you? What motivates you? Life together and apart How important is your social life? Think about your shared friends and those from before you met. How much time will you spend together as a couple, and how much time apart? What does quality time mean to you? Do you have a mix of shared activities and separate hobbies? What do your interests and hobbies signify for you? Do you have any travel plans and dreams? How important are these to you? You shouldn’t rush this activity – you might even want to do it over several weeks rather than in one go. Try to consider your practical goals as well as big dreams and fantasies. You might even want to go through the list with your partner.
Article | communication, compatibility, future planning
3 min read
What is a ‘cohabitation agreement?’
If you’re considering moving in with your partner, it might be worth making a cohabitation agreement – even if you’re just renting. A cohabitation agreement, sometimes called a ‘living together agreement’ is a plan that maps out the financial aspects of your relationship, and can protect you both if the relationship breaks down. This doesn’t mean you don’t trust each other or that you’re planning to separate but it might clear up some of the question marks about how you would sort things if it doesn’t work out. If you and your partner aren’t married, there are very few laws protecting you in the event of a breakup. Contrary to what many people think, there is no such thing as a ‘common law marriage’ status, no matter how long you live together. So, if marriage isn’t for you, you might want to take some measures towards protecting your rights. A cohabitation agreement is a contract you can draw up together, with the help of a Family Solicitor. It can protect you in the event of a breakup, even if things end up having to go to court.   Why you might want a cohabitation agreement A cohabitation agreement protects your and your partner’s financial rights, which can include your home – whether you own it or rent it – all your property, and the money you spend on bills. If you separate without a formal agreement, you’d have to divide up your property and deal with the finances yourselves, which could be particularly difficult during a breakup. Getting all of this down on paper while you’re still happy and on good terms could save you this trouble in the future, should anything go wrong.   How do you bring it up? When you’re in a happy relationship, planning for a breakup might seem like the worst idea in the world. However, if you feel like you want to be ready just in case, it’s important to find the right way to broach the subject with your partner. Let your partner know your reasons for wanting to set up an agreement. Make sure they understand that you want it to be a joint decision to protect both of you. It might help to think of it like buying insurance. A cohabitation agreement can protect you if one of you dies, or if you break up. You’re not planning for any of that to happen; you’re just giving yourself one less thing to worry about if it does. Essentially, it’s a way of solidifying your financial rights without getting married, and it might just give you a little peace of mind as you embark on the adventure of living together.
Article | living together, legal rights
3 min read
The myth of common-law marriage
Common-law marriage is basically a term for couples who are married outside of a registered civil or religious marriage. Otherwise known as an ‘informal marriage’ or ‘marriage in fact’. Now for the myth. The myth of common-law marriage is that couples who live together have the same legal rights as married couples. It springs from a time when there was uncertainty about what constituted a ‘marriage’. Church and State marriage ceremonies are relatively recent, having been grafted onto older popular rites where legitimacy was not dependent on written law.   Marriage by consent In earlier times, the validity of a marriage depended on the consent of two people publicly announced or at least symbolised by the exchange of rings or love tokens. These were spoken rituals, celebrated by the people themselves; their witness and memory of the events was evidence that made the marriage legitimate. Among Anglo-Saxons, the Beweddung was a public ceremony led by the father of the bride. The groom and his people offered weds to the bride’s guardians - these were guarantees that the bride would be looked after. In Scotland and northern England, couples exchanged vows (plighting the troth) by joining their hands in the handfast. They were then called wyf and husband. A woman without a guardian – such as a widow – gave herself to the groom. The partners exchanged weds and rings, kissed and clasped hands and this was overseen by an orator. The man would give the woman the gift of a ring to imply a formal contract.   Married ‘in the eyes of God’ In the 13th century, Pope Innocent III declared that the free consent of both spouses was the sole essence of a marriage, not the formal solemnities by a priest or in church. A valid and binding marriage was a verbal contract, through an exchange of vows between a man and a woman over the age of consent (14 and 12), with two witnesses and expressed in the present tense. A promise in the future tense was only binding if it was followed by sexual intercourse, which was taken as evidence of consent in the present.   Married ‘in the eyes of God and the Church’ Priests initially got involved as orators, inviting witnesses and prompting the vows. They later offered the church porch as a place to announce and witness vows made at other public places such as the market cross. Gradually, the clergy took over the role of orator, asking those attending whether there were objections to the marriage and then getting the couple to repeat their betrothal agreement publicly. This was symbolised by rings and coins placed in the priest’s book. By the 1500s, most people brought their vows to church as the final part of the marriage process, following the betrothal and church services started to take place at the altar rather than in the porch. The church did not approve of men and women taking themselves as man and wife before their vows were ratified by the church, since canon law recognised this as the basis of holy matrimony. However, the church courts recognised common rites - spousals, handfasts, and trothplights followed by intercourse - as valid marriages.   Marriage and the law All three branches of the law – ecclesiastical, common and equity – had control over some aspects of marriage. Medieval canon law determined the rules of marriage. These were revised and restated in the Canons of 1604 and enforced by the church courts. The criminal courts could become involved if either party chose to sue the other for a statutory offence like bigamy. Equity law had jurisdiction over trust deeds and became involved in marriage where there was litigation around marriage settlements and the enforcement of trust deeds. The various courts overlapped and sometimes contradictory verdicts were returned as to what was or was not a legally valid marriage. After inheritance, marriage was probably the single most important method of transmitting property. As a result, much of the litigation about marriage was about property over which the common law had legal jurisdiction.   Uncertain unions and clandestine marriages By the 16th century, large numbers of people were living together in situations of varying uncertainty, as there was no consensus about how to conduct a legally binding marriage. Some – especially poorer people – still opted for private verbal contracts, which were ‘valid in the eyes of God’, but not always enforceable in court. Others chose a clandestine marriage conducted by a clergyman. These followed the ritual of the Book of Common Prayer but violated canon law in a number of ways, most notably by being performed in private without either the reading of banns or a valid licence from a church official. The advantage of these ceremonies was that the clergyman’s involvement gave it respectability and it was recognised as legally binding, having full property rights in common law. There was a huge demand for clandestine marriages as they were considerably cheaper than official church marriages and held in secret – an important consideration for minors who feared opposition from parents, or servants who feared dismissal.   The State steps in By the 1730s, public opinion was beginning to turn against the clandestine marriage system with complaints in London newspapers about the fraudulent seduction of heirs and heiresses. In 1753, Lord Harwicke’s Marriage Act, ‘for the better preventing of clandestine marriages’, stipulated that no marriage was valid unless performed by an ordained Anglican clergyman in the premises of the Church of England after either thrice-called banns or purchase of a license from the bishop or one of his surrogates. In the case of both banns and license, at least one party had to be resident for at least three weeks in the parish where the marriage was to be celebrated. Parental consent for those under 21 was strictly enforced. Only the Quakers and Jews managed to have their marriage rites exempted. There were strong objections to the Act. The Gentleman’s Magazine claimed ‘proclamations of banns and publick [sic] marriages are against the nature and genius of our people’.   Common-law marriage practices Despite the Marriage Act of 1753, people still tended to keep marriage informal – many felt that the State and the Church had no business in their private lives. One informal ceremony was the Gretna Green wedding. The Marriage Act applied to England and Wales, so it became popular to cross into Scotland, where you only had to have your consents witnessed. As the railways opened, people developed ‘package tours’ offering bed and breakfast for ‘celebration and consummation’. In Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cheshire, those who had gone through common-law rites were said to be ‘married on the carpet and the banns up the chimney’ or ‘married but not churched’. In almost every part of Britain the term ‘living tally’ established itself: They’re livin’ tally They’ve made a tally bargain They’re noant wed, they’re nobit livin’ tally The origins are obscure but the term ‘tally’ became widespread in the 19th century. It referred to a definite, but conditional contract or ‘bargain’, based on the consent of both parties and protecting the women in the case of motherhood. Studies of rural areas have found as many as one in seven couples ‘living tally’. In the mid-Victorian period and throughout the following hundred years, common-law arrangements reduced considerably. Since the 1960s, a series of administrative rulings, court decisions and laws have given some legal rights to cohabiters, and the number of couples in cohabiting unions has increased dramatically. These limited rights, however, do not amount to the restoration of the legal recognition of common-law marriage, which ended definitively with the Marriage Act of 1753. References John R Gillis (1985) ‘For Better For Worse: British Marriages 1600 to the Present. Oxford University PressPeter Laslett (1979) The World We Have Lost. MethuenLaurence Stone (1995) Uncertain Unions and Broken Lives. Oxford University Press
Article | marriage, civil partnership, legal rights
7 min read
How to change your name
If you and your partner want to share the same last name, it can be a simple process. How you go about it will depend upon whether you are married or civil partnered, or not. If you marry or register a civil partnership, taking your partner’s surname is fairly straightforward. You can put your partner’s surname on your marriage or civil partnership certificate and this will be accepted as a legal document when changing your name on other documents, like your driver’s licence or passport. Not married or not civil partnered If you are not married and not civil partnered and want to change your name on official documents, you will need to change your name by Deed Poll. This will allow you to change your name on your passport or driving license, but some documents - like birth certificates, marriage or civil partnership certificates, and decree absolute or dissolution certificates - can’t be changed. You can apply for a deed poll online. It costs £14 and comes with a list of instructions on how to complete and return it. Married or civil partnered If you want to take your partner’s surname, you can just take the name as described above. You can also combine your surname with your partner’s, to make a double-barrelled name. All government departments, the Passport Office, and DVLA will accept a marriage or civil partnership certificate as evidence of this. If you and your partner both want to change your surnames completely, you will need a Deed Poll. This is still fairly simple, but it takes a bit more planning. Before the ceremony, one of you can change your name by Deed Poll, and then, when you marry or register your civil partnership, the other can take the new name. You can change your name on your passport up to three months before your wedding or civil partnership registration, but you won’t be able to use it until the actual day of your marriage or registration. If you’re going to need your passport for your honeymoon, make sure you give yourself at least six weeks to get everything changed over. You should not attempt to travel abroad holding documents with different names. Changing your child’s name There may be circumstances under which you want to change your child's name, such as if you’re joining a stepfamily and want everyone to have the same surname. To do this, you’ll need to apply for a Deed Poll and you must get consent from everyone who has parental responsibility. Further information UK Deed Poll Service Deed Poll Office Identity and Passport Service Glossary Deed Poll: A legal document that binds the person who signs it to the course of action detailed on the Deed Poll document. Deed Poll document: Provides documentary evidence that you have changed your name and that you are legally binding yourself to using your new name. A Deed Poll will be recognised by all UK government departments, UK companies, and organisations if it is prepared by a recognised authority (such as the UK Deed Poll Service) or a solicitor.
Article | legal rights
3 min read
How offshore work affects relationships
Sometimes our jobs require us to work away from home for long periods of times. Some people, including oil rig workers and members of the Royal Navy, can spend weeks or months working offshore or abroad. In the weeks or days leading up to the next offshore shift, the partner who is left behind can feel increasingly worried about how these long periods of separation will affect the relationship. My army boyfriend will be deployed abroad in August. I'm afraid he might not come back, that he might come back not wanting me, or I just might not be able to wait for him at all. -- Click user Both partners can get lonely during these times apart. My boyfriend got lonely in the beginning and he still does. It’s easier for me as being offshore is so artificial that it doesn't seem like I'm away for long. We keep in touch with each other on a daily basis via online text messaging, and we Skype quite regularly. We met online so this method just feels natural for us.-- Jenny, oil rig worker from Edinburgh Reunions can be just as hard as parting. Being reunited can lead to arguments about how to spend the time together. I spend two weeks offshore and two weeks at home. When I get back we argue a lot about how clean the house is. I don’t always want to get straight into housework after working solid for two weeks without a day off. But when I do start cleaning, my girlfriend complains because she says that I should be spending my time with her. -- Click user Despite initial tensions, many couples manage to make the most of the time they have together. When I get back home, we love going to dinner and movies. I drive him to and from University – we do pretty much everything together to maximise the time we have. -- Click user
Article | long-distance, military, vox-pop
2 min read
Being in your first same-sex relationship
Being in your very first relationship is an exciting time. But when you’re gay, lesbian or bisexual, your first relationship can be difficult. Same-sex couples entering their first relationship face unique difficulties that heterosexual couples don’t. Some can suffer prejudice from friends and family, and some choose to keep their relationships a secret. Others may have a strong support network but no gay, lesbian or bi peers they can turn to for specific advice. Here, men and women recall their first same-sex relationships. Were you ‘out’ when you were in your first same sex relationship? It was in 1981. I was out, but only just. I think it was probably less than six months after I told my parents -- Chris, Bury ‘I was 23 and not out when I had my first same sex relationship. It was all very much a secret and was fun for the first month. But in the end, it became a strain on the relationship. Having to make excuses about where I was going for the weekend, who I was with, etc.  We could only meet at his place and even when we went out as a couple it would be to places I kind of knew my family and work colleagues wouldn’t go’. -- Ty, Wimbledon ‘No, I wasn't out. I had always been open to the idea of having a relationship with a woman but it had never happened before. I think this made the initial steps a little tentative but quite fun’. -- Liz, Shotton Reactions from friends and family My sister was fine with it. I didn't really talk to people about my relationship as I thought it was obvious - I lived with my partner and we were raising a child. I would challenge people who made homophobic comments and was quoted passages from the Bible on a few occasions. But the straight friends I had did not seem too concerned about my living arrangements. -- V, London There was some resistance from some family members and friends, although the majority was supportive. My parents worried about how people would view me and not give me the same chances. -- Amy, London Seeking relationship advice The only person I spoke to about my relationship was my best straight friend. Not that he was the best person to ask. To be honest, I just took things as they came. This was in 1996 before we had the internet, so information about homosexuality and same sex relationships was incredibly limited. -- Serge, The Netherlands   The difference between first same-sex and opposite-sex relationships I had a girlfriend for four years before my first gay relationship. While it was very nice I always felt that there was something missing, that it was pretend and not real.  With my first same sex relationship, I felt more comfortable with myself when I was with him. -- Ty, Wimbledon  I had only been in straight relationships before meeting my partner. I think being with someone of the same sex means it can be easier to know what is going to be pleasurable. -- Liz, Shotton It was different as people saw straight relationships as normal and a given. Both same sex and straight relationships were new and awkward. -- Amy, London
Article | same-sex, vox-pop, identity
3 min read

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