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A lesbian couple with their pet dog

The Family Unit: love across the Atlantic

Sarah and Laura have been together almost nine years, and married for three. Sarah is from Reading and Laura is from Idaho in the USA, but now they live in Birmingham with their cockapoo Bisbee. You can follow their story on their blog Sarah + Laura.

What are your thoughts around the ‘traditional’ family in the UK?

We think the term ‘family’ is ever evolving – there is no one definition of ‘family’. A woman and man, two women, two men, one man or one woman, kids or no kids – all are families and many family types have existed throughout history, so, really, all could be seen as traditional!

Do you think that your family dynamic is properly represented in the UK?

A couple of years ago we would have said no, but that is changing. Society is increasingly inclusive as more individuals are finding the courage to be themselves openly. It has led to an increasing presence of families like us in daily life and in the media.

The progress is slow but it’s heading in the right direction, and we believe that just by being ourselves openly and visibly to the world around us, we are helping those around us form positive and more accepting opinions of families different to their own.

‘More individuals are finding the courage to be themselves openly.’

What financial protection do you have for the future?

We both have individual life insurance policies. Our experience of life insurance was that it wasn’t as straightforward as expected. We took independent advice when looking as there were a lot of questions we wanted clarification on, and a lot of future-focused parts that we weren’t sure how to answer.

We did look up same-sex life insurance and didn’t see a difference between what we were offered and other married couples. The initial request for a quote referred to ‘me and someone else’, which is a positive change as when we looked into life insurance a few years ago it was focused on heterosexual couples.

Same-sex relationships are no different to straight relationships – therefore, the rights we receive should be the same. Like the right to marriage, this is no different.

Do you worry about your financial future?

Our plan is to take as much control as we can as early as possible, rather than relying on government pensions when we get to retirement age. We both contribute to private pensions and are focusing on building up savings.

Our biggest worry is unexpected outgoings, we prefer to pay a small amount monthly towards home protection and our car so that we don’t have to find large sums if something goes wrong.

‘22% of people who describe themselves as gay or lesbian and don’t have any children say they intend to in the future, compared to 17% who describe themselves as heterosexual.’

Do you plan to have children?

Definitely. We will probably start trying sooner rather than later. We have a checklist that is a mixture of practical and financial factors we want in place before trying, which includes priorities such as buying a home, paying back any loans (excluding mortgage), finishing our travel wish list (for now), and having enough in savings for fertility treatment.

Do you think there is still a stigma around people who choose not to have children?

There does appear to be a deep-set, pre-conceived notion within society that women should want children. However, a career woman’s accomplishments are increasingly being celebrated rather than condemned. We hope the stigma is lessening as people realise that women can have a fulfilled life and would not be ‘missing out’ if they had other priorities besides having children.

‘the stigma is lessening as people realise that women can have a fulfilled life if they have other priorities besides having children.’

We believe that the evolution of the traditional family is helping with this outdated prejudice. As the rate of women having children later in life increases, we hope it will change the question from ‘when are you thinking of having children?’ to ‘what do your future plans look like?’ After all, motherhood is not the only option for women.

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