The name of the game is our perfect partnership

A Family Affair; This Week: a couple discuss why they didn't get married but do use the same surname
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The Independent Culture
JULIE MYERSON, 38, bestselling author of three novels, lives in south London with author and dramatist Jonathan Myerson, 38. When their first child was born, Julie decided to change her name from Pike to Myerson by deed poll. They describe their relationship as "a partnership".

Jonathan Myerson: "The background to all this is that I made a foolish marriage in my twenties and was divorced by 26. Time moved on, I met Julie and, as things got more serious, I realised that I didn't want to get married again. To my mind, it only makes sense to do it once.

"I rather imposed this on Julie who, at the time would have happily got married, although as the years have passed, she's become a passionate advocate of never getting married. It only became a problem when our first child was born and she realised she was going to have a different name from her children.

For years, Julie had been walking around with the name of a father she never saw and never wanted to see. When he killed himself, she said that although she didn't want to get married, she also didn't want to have a different name from the children. So she decided to change her name by deed poll. Since she's not very good at getting paperwork done, I was absolutely convinced and content in the knowledge that it would never happen. Then one day she just walked in with the deed of covenant. Instead of getting married and keeping her name, she'd changed her name without getting married. She could have just taken my name, but I think it was an important statement for her to do it legally.

At the time, there was no professional overlap in our lives because I was - and still am - a dramatist and Julie was in publishing. She then became a novelist and later, I followed in her footsteps. Now I don't know whether to mind or not that we've got the same name. It means the name of Myerson is in the world of fiction, but it's largely hers at the moment. (Of course, that will all change!)

Since Myerson is a rare name in Britain, I presume that people notice it and assume we're related. Since very few couples who work in the same area have the same names, it's quite nice that we do, but it may mean that people compare us.

Not long ago, I approached a literary editor who commissions Julie, and I'm sure she didn't use me because she didn't want two Myersons on the same page.

Still, I'm glad she changed her name. You get interesting situations when you book flights and hotel rooms in the names of Mr Myerson and Miss Myerson. People wonder what's going on. I always use the term "partner" and love watching people trying to work out why we've got the same surname. I enjoy those moments immensely and they'll continue for the rest of my life.

Julie Myerson: "I didn't have a good relationship with my father, and by my late teens he'd virtually stopped seeing me. I didn't see him again until I was 28 and Jonathan insisted that we visit him with our first baby. When he showed no interest in his first grandchild, and was as rejecting as you can be while still being polite, it just confirmed my feelings of rejection.

Two years later, he killed himself, on the night our daughter was born, which I found very freaky, although the timing was probably coincidental. It was a shock, but my feelings for him had long gone and I began to feel that I didn't want his name anymore. I wanted our family to have one name, but not the name I grew up with, which was Pike.

I was 11 when my mother left my father. She remarried and changed her name, so my sister and I grew up with a different name to the rest of the family. That's probably why having one name is a romantic idea for me.

When I met Jonathan, I would gladly have married him, but I understood his argument against marrying again. As it turned out, the more permanent our relationship became, the less I felt I needed to marry him, and later I found the experience of having a baby was so romantic that it felt very much like getting married.

I realised that what I wanted wasn't so much the actual marriage, but everything else that went with it, including the name.

In a funny sort of way, I almost felt it was my right. I thought that after having three children who took Jonathan's name, it was also mine to take. Maybe it was a bit rough on him that I was the first to get the name on a book, especially as my first book attracted so much publicity. Still, I'm glad I've only published in the name of Myerson because Pike didn't stand for anything nice at all.

My friends saw my change of name as a bit like having our own marriage. At the time, I didn't see it like that, but in retrospect I can see that's probably what we were doing.

It very much came from me, though - it wasn't something we decided together. We had a party to celebrate and all our friends brought presents, like wedding presents, which was a bit embarrassing because I hadn't meant it like that.

I didn't leave my old name completely behind because around that time Jonathan nicknamed me Pike as a joke. That's typical of our relationship - we send each other up all the time. Even the children now call me Pike when they're cross.

I never felt happy when I was Julie Pike, but everything started to fit into place when I became Julie Myerson.

It's a bit like when you read about people who have had sex changes because they've always felt they're the wrong sex. I'm sure that it's got a lot to do with the fact that I'm happy - probably happier than I've ever been - and I feel very rooted."

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