Reasons Not to Change Your Last Name

Rose at The Jewmanist explains why she didn’t take her husband’s last name after marriage:

People would ask me after I got married when I was changing my name. I would sometimes simply say “I’m not” but sometimes I felt offended and would utter “what’s wrong with mine?” 25 years it took me to love my own name. And now I have to change it? That, in conjunction with my general feminist attitude towards life, afforded me my only choice. Do nothing. ;)

Feminism is all about equality. And for me, a name change, doesn’t make me feel equal (although my hubby totally does). Also, he completely understands my view and has never said boo about it.

Are there any other reasons for a woman to take a man’s last name that I may have missed?

I’m curious about that, too. If you kept your name after marriage, what was your reason for it?

I don’t know how much of an anomaly this is, but I know one couple in which the husband took the last name of his wife. His reason was that her last name was just more pronounceable than his.

***Update***: I edited the post a bit to make my explanation of Rose’s decision clearer.

  • http://www.jafsica.com/ jaf

    If I ever do something crazy like get married, I will keep my name.
    Plus, I will have been published by then, so it will be much easier to keep my own name.

    Either that or we can make up a new name to share.

    But for now, I’m leaning toward keeping my own name, not getting married and never getting a joint bank account.

  • Sam

    I never asked my wife to change her last name for me, I let her know it was her decision if she wanted to. She ended up just hyphenating her last name and mine.

  • JulietEcho

    I was quite happy to take my husband’s last name, as it’s easy to recognize and pronounce (my maiden name was German). I didn’t have to think about any other aspect of the switch – I just liked his better!

  • Mara

    I always said I would take my husband’s name if I liked it better than mine. His is less interesting than mine, so I kept mine :)

    I happen to like my name and it’s part of my identity, so I saw no reason to change it. I can’t see how changing my name would make me any more married.

  • http://geo-geek.blogspot.com/ Katsu
  • jomarchri

    My fiance and I are getting married on October 9, 2010. I am not changing my last name, not necessarily for “feminist reasons” but for professional reasons. I’m 38 years old and a lawyer and I’ve been practicing law for 11 years. I have built up a reputation based on my name (the type of law I practice involves a lot of non-face-to-face interactions such as electronic filing and telephone and written contact.) If I were to change my name, that reputation would be lost and take a long time to rebuild.

    I honestly will not mind be called by his last name, as I am sure many people will do out of an assumption that I changed my name. But my legal name will remain the same.

  • Cathy Fiorello

    I don’t care which way it is as long as it’s symmetrical. Either both parties keep their names, or both parties hyphenate, or both parties change their names to a third surname.

    Cathy

  • Kate

    I’m taking his. Why? Because I like it better. And hyphenating would be a mess. I’ve always hated my last name.

    But there’s no way I’m ever going to be called “Mrs”. Ugh.

  • Rubbs

    My fiancée is going for her PhD in Counseling Psychology. To of her degrees will have her last name. If she changed her name when we got married one would be different. She also really likes her last name. If I didn’t like mine so much I’d think about switching to hers. We’re still undecided about kids, but we’ve got time to figure that one out.

    As a man, I don’t see a need for it.

  • Sue

    Many years ago, when I married for the first time, I suggested to my husband-to-be that we hyphenate our last names, and both change to the hyphenated version. To his credit, he considered it seriously, but eventually decided that it was just too much trouble to change his name. I decided that it was too much trouble to change mine too.

    (After three divorces, I am just as glad….)

  • Mana

    Gay couples have an extra twist – no gender for guidelines! When we get married, my partner wants to take my name; she dislikes her own as a link to her not-exactly-loving family.

    And when my mother remarried, she declined to take her husband’s because at that point she had built up a professional reputation with her maiden surname. She had already lost professional association to the items she wrote under her prior married name, and didn’t want a repeat.

  • Michelle Bell

    My partner and I made the choice that children were a possibility in our future — we wanted to have the same surname so that no one was “odd man out”. This meant me taking his name.

    In Michigan (and perhaps elsewhere in the US), it is legal to discriminate against a man seeking to take his partner’s surname. A woman with a marriage certificate gets streamlined through the system (as long as she’s taking the male surname and not doing anything else to it). For my husband to have taken my last name or for both of us to combine our names, it would have been close to $1000 in court fees and paperwork/bureaucracy. For us, that might as well be $100,000.

    So yes, Rose is rather right that the whole thing smacks of inequality. Cheers!

  • Aaron

    I did a pretty length blog post about this when I got married — hilarious, named exactly the same as Katsu’s post.

    In short: it seemed like things would get really complicated when we started having kids (whose name do they take?), it made a number of things easier from a legal standpoint (having the same last name saves you from a lot of questions), and our names were too weird to hyphenate. It was a lengthy, lengthy debate, though.

  • Bob

    My wife kept her last name because that’s how she is known professionally (and, because she’d already done the name dance with her first husband, so she changed her business cards, etc. and then had to change them back).

    My ego is not threatened by her not using my last name.

    (As for the possibility of taking her last name, her father and I have the same first name, so it was already confusing enough.)

  • allison

    I did take my husband’s last name, but if I’d been more established in my career at that point I would have kept my own name. My job requires academic publication, and when you change your name it’s more difficult for people to keep track of your professional work.

    This is not to mention that changing one’s name can be a real pain as far as the paperwork goes even if you don’t have to go to the courthouse to deal with changing it differently than is expected at the time of marriage. I was a student while working full time when I married. Changing everything at work was not so bad, but changing my records at school required contacting seven different departments and they never did manage to get my name changed everywhere.

    So…..Hemant, as someone who has a reputation as a speaker and author already, would you be eager to change your name? Why or why not?

  • Aaron

    My wife took my last name before I had a chance to ask her about it. She moved her hard-to-pronouce maiden name to her middle name.

    A friend’s son just took his wife’s name when he got married this last weekend. I do not know him, but my impression is that he had a lot of problems with his mother’s side of the family (where he got his maiden[?] name).

  • Dave

    well this is what I see from it a women that is fully satisfied by a man will want to take his last name. Highly intelligent sexual women likes to be “owned” by a dominant man. Im all for equal rights in fact I love intelligent women. But this is how I see it. Also when I say owned I dont mean it in the sense of a slave so to speak but from a more dominant prospective.

  • Nat Huck

    I’ve always been a tree hugger and his last name is Forrest. How could I not change it? :) Plus, I spent two decades being made fun of over my last name. Good riddance.

  • staceyjw

    I kept my name. I wanted my husband to take mine, but he refused :-) He likes his name, and the family it represents, as do I. It was never an issue. I was thinking of adding his name after mine, but decided it was unnecessary.

    Now we’re having a baby (4 more weeks) and the question came up- who’s name will he get? Of course, I wanted him to have MY name, husband wanted HIS. Instead, we decided to do what they do in Latin countries (we live in Mexico), where it’s standard for the woman to keep her name, and the baby to get both family names (no hyphen). I’m sure this will cause confusion in the US, but there isn’t any other arrangement that’s agreeable.

    I can’t think of any reason, outside of the simplicity of everyone sharing a name or because you don’t like yours, to change names. Its a personal choice.

  • C

    I believe she is wondering if there are any good reasons TO take a husband’s name not if there are any reasons not to. Your first line is incredibly misleading.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Wow JulietEcho, my partner’s name is German. We’ve not married (neither have some friends and family). A number of couples still choose to alter names despite not choosing marriage. Some couples choose to have double barrelled names but Hil and I both like our names exactly like they are.

  • CA

    Yeah, I got a huge reaction from my coworkers for not changing my name. I love my last name and my family, and I love being at the very top of lists. I can’t say I really “decided” not to change my name; it just never occurred to me (or my husband) that I’d change it. It only causes trouble when relatives put what my name “would” be on official stuff, but that’s only been one problem in two years. I also found this Wikipedia entry on world traditions very interesting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Married_name

  • chutz

    Here in Quebec, women don’t have the option to change their name, the government does not recognize matrimonial name changes. The only way for a woman (or man) to change their name when they get married is to go through the full process of a legal name change, just as one would to change their name in any other situation.

  • http://kitchenfallout.blogspot.com DianaG

    When I was married, I had two degrees and several publications under my maiden name. Changing my last name would have resulted in my loosing those accolades.

    Plus, none of his family can agree on how to pronounce his last name. :P

    But I’m ok with the kids having his name.

  • Nakor

    Hyphenating stops working after a generation or two. Think about it.

    Smith + Jones = Smith-Jones

    Smith-Jones + Johnson = Johnson-Smith-Jones

    Johnson-Smith-Jones + Gardner-Louis = o.o

  • Ubi Dubium

    My maiden name was easy to mispronounce (I have high school friends who after knowing me for 30 years still say it wrong), easy to misspell, and also was toward the end of the alphabet (which is a pain anytime something is done alphabetically). I took my husband’s name because it’s easy to spell, nobody mispronounces it, and it’s much closer to the beginning of the alphabet. Purely pragmatic decision.

  • EMB

    I know two heterosexual couples where the man changed his name when they got married. I think it was partially for feminist reasons, but in both cases the new name was more easily spelled or pronounced than the old.

    Of course, in many couples, they don’t change their names when they get married; avoiding personal and professional inconvenience is certainly one reason not to change it. There’s still the question of what to name the kids though (in which usually one name is chosen or they hyphenate; I think I know of one couple that decided on ABBAABB… though).

  • Jon Peterson

    I don’t care who changes (my father would be rather angry about this), but I do want to share a common last name with my partner if/when I marry. I feel that it establishes a couple as a family upon introduction.

    Mr. & Mrs. Peterson (or her last name) sounds like a couple.
    Mr. Peterson & Mrs./Ms. Herlastname just doesn’t carry the same connotation to me.

    I guess my opinion stems from a desire to have a family name, since it would be awkward to use anything but one’s surname for that purpose (with English names — I know there are cultures that format their names with the family name first).

    Edited to add: Just wanted to clarify that I only feel this way about social interaction… going by a common name, while not necessarily sharing that name on paper. For professional reasons, it’s often a good idea to not officially change one’s name.

  • Fingon Celebrindal

    We tossed a coin about deciding the last name, and she lost.

  • m1n4

    I live in Mexico and we don’t change our last name.
    Actually we have 2 last names: My dad’s first last name and my mom’s last first name.
    So for example
    if my parent’s names were:
    Jane Doe Perez
    John Smith Lopez

    my name would be

    Kate Smith Doe

    and we woud be named the Smith Doe family (also, if you want to refer to my mom and make obvious that she’s married you can always say Jane Doe de Smith which translates to Jane Doe of Smith)
    and so on with my kid’s etc. I think it’s fair for my parents and it’d be fairer if we’ve got to choose which parent goes first but that’s not an option… yet.

  • http://www.noforbiddenquestions.com NFQ

    Hyphenating does not seem like a feasible solution to me. What if one spouse, or both, already has a hyphenated name? It would only take a couple generations for this to lead to ridiculousness.

    I don’t see any problem with people doing whatever they want, though. Women who take their husband’s last name are not necessarily being dominated by the patriarchy or whatever. Perhaps they prefer to make the statement, “My husband and I are one family together.” (This could be equally well achieved by the man taking his wife’s name, or both taking a new name, which is something for the couple to discuss.) Perhaps the woman is not too fond of her old name and would happily trade it in for a stronger association with her husband and his family than with her own family / parents / father.

  • http://www.ryanrobinsononline.com Ryan

    I like the idea of one or the other changing their name, at least in practice (don’t really care about legally). For me its a symbol of unity to share the name, as well as the practicality of children. I would gladly take her name, though, with the only real consideration against it that I feel like it would offend my mom since I have her maiden name. That said, I wouldn’t be offended if my (hopefully someday) wife didn’t want to take my name and didn’t want me to take hers.

  • JM_Shep

    As a woman starting my career (which happens to be in science) I am beginning my career with my ‘maiden’ name. If/when I get married, deciding whether or not to take my potential husband’s name will depend on a few things:
    1-Is it cooler? I have a pretty unique last name, so his better be cool to oust mine. Also, a hard to pronounce name is good for screening calls. If they can’t pronounce my last name, they don’t know me and want money from me.

    2-Am I established in my field with my name? This is important. I have been published and will continue to publish with my name. How much will that affect my career? What if I’m teaching by then?

    3-My desire to have one name to describe our cohesive family unit. Not important to me now, but will it be by the time I get married?

    I think what’s more important is that people (my age) are starting to think about this more and aren’t necessarily jumping straight to assuming the man’s name. We have had several lengthy discussions about this where I work. It’s always fun to see other people’s take on it.

    As far as hyphenation, I’ve heard that usually if two people who have hyphenated names marry, the women takes their mother’s name and the men take their father’s name, and use that to hyphenate. So Johnson-Smith and Jones-Anderson become Jones-Smith (or whichever permutation it ends up being).

  • Angela

    For me the question is why on earth would I have changed my name? I can think of all kinds of reasons — feminist, practical, and sentimental — not to, and not one good reason for me to do so.

    Still, it’s amazing how much trouble I’ve had in this day and age over such a small thing as keeping the name I’ve used all my life. Half the relatives on my side of the family refuse to use my name, still addressing mail to me as Mrs. [my husband's first and last name] despite my asking many times over the five years we’ve been married that they not do this. We had issues with the checks we received as wedding gifts because they were made out to my husband and a person who doesn’t legally exist. We’ve encountered trouble filling out rental applications toegether because we don’t have the same last name. I’ve been accused of not taking my marriage seriously, and worse, people don’t seem to get why I find this kind of thing insulting.

  • http://findingmyfeminism.blogspot.com/ Not Guilty

    In a way I want to take the name of a future husband because my relationship with my father’s family is strained, to say the least. In a way, I just want to get rid of it. I have toyed with changing to my mom’s maiden name, but I hate doing cursive capital ‘H’s’. At this stage, I am about to get my career off the ground and marriage is no where in sight. By the time I get to that stage in my 30s, I feel like, for professional reasons, taking his last name would be a bad idea. I don’t intend on having kids, so I may just stick with my own last name. If his last name is better, then I might reconsider.

    Oh ya, and my last name starts with ‘B’, so I am at the start of the alphabet, which has some benefits! I definitely wouldn’t move very far down the alphabet; not gonna demote myself! I guess at this stage I’m flexible. Not really keen on hyphenation. I’ll see what he says I guess!

  • Sally

    I haven’t really ever thought about being married, but if it did happen, I wouldn’t automatically take my husbands name. Ideally what I would like is for us to pick our own last name – something that we both like. That way, everyone’s family gets to be offended equally, with no special treatment.

    Given the professional field that I’ll be moving into, I don’t particularly want to have to change my name at all. As several people have already mentioned, it takes a lot of work to build up your working reputation under your maiden name, and changing it causes problems when you’re being published.

  • http://twitter.com/MikeFunIce Mike

    My wife is a South African National of South Asian descent. We travelled to Scotland for wedding. At the moment of our arrival, checking into the pub/inn we were staying, she gave her surname. A man sitting a few feet away at the bar turned his head and said, “You’re from Durban, right?”
    Of course she was. So was he. Small world.
    But her last name was a global recognition tool for her kinsmen. She took my last name and I can tell she misses her old one.
    I’m a tall blonde American with an Italian surname. A classic American mutt. I used to joke that when I went for interviews or meetings, people would look for me and this conversation would ensue:
    “Where is he? Is he here?”
    “Sure, he’s right over there.”
    “Where? Behind that Nazis poster boy?”

    Now she has the joy of looking Indian while being South African while sounding Brtish and having an Italian surname.

  • http://awesomethingoftheday.tumblr.com t3knomanser

    My wife didn’t take my name because she didn’t want to deal with the pain in the ass of updating it everywhere. And honestly, what’s in a name?

  • beckster

    I was still in college when I married so I had no professional reasons to stay attached with my name. Having been married for seven years with two kids and another on the way, I feel that having a common name adds to our cohesiveness and identity as a family unit that has been built through marriage and biological and adopted children.

  • Amy

    I took my husband’s last name. Changing my name was something I thought about a long time before I even met him, and he affirmed that it was my decision.

    Part of my decision was I like his name. It starts with a Q; how cool is that?! Professionally, not only does my new name make me more distinctive, I had only two piddling papers from undergrad to my maiden name. Personally, I wanted us to be easily recognized as a familial group, and a shared last name was how I wished to express that.

    On the issue of feminism, it is my opinion that feminism is about a woman’s right to choose – no matter what that choice is. If you feel attached to your name, keep it and kudos to you! If you want to change it, go right ahead. If you and your partner want to take an alternative shared last name, that’s a great option too. All that matters is that a person is allowed to make their own decision free from pressure or coercion.

  • phira

    I’m never changing my last name. Not only is it my name (it’s me!), but I don’t see an actual reason to change it if I were to get married. People mispronounce it? Don’t care (after all, it was pronounceable enough for my mother and my dad’s second wife). Demonstrates unity? He can change his. Our kids would have the same last name as both parents? Not sure if I’m having kids, and if I do, I’m pretty sure that people have done the different-last-names thing for years without any issues. Hyphenate? Doesn’t appeal to me.

    The fact that it’s easier for women to change their last names than it is for men is part of the entire reason for the tradition. Last-name-changing isn’t about unity as a couple, or sharing, or disliking your own last name. Last-name-changing is about a woman, who shares her last name with her father, marrying another man and sharing his last name. It’s part of the out-dated system of patriachal marriage, where women go from their fathers’ houses to their husbands’ (symbolized by the last name change and the father of the bride handing off the bride to the groom at weddings). That’s why last-name-changing for same-sex couples is seen as weird: there’s no woman being given to a man.

    I appreciate that changing your last name is a choice that many women, and some men, make. But if this were 100% about last names being pronounceable, or whether or not you like your last name, we’d see just as many men making the decision, we’d see the system allowing for men and women to make the change with equal ease, and we’d probably see even more couples picking completely new last names to share together. But instead, we see mostly women (and some hetero men and some gay men, but only case-by-case, especially with hetero men) changing their last names.

    That’s a gendered pattern that can’t be explained away.

    My last name is mispronounced often (the name itself is an Americanized mispronounciation of a German word), and since I’m estranged from my father and most of his family, my last name carries mediocre connotations at best. But good luck getting me to change it.

    I’m also going to start getting published (work in a lab), so that’s another reason not to change my last name, but even if I weren’t, no change!

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    A common name personally means more to me than a ring or a stupid piece of paper. Whose last name it is isn’t an issue with me, as long as it’s shared.

  • Leigh

    In Hispanic culture, the wife keeps her last name and the children get both last names (although not hyphenated). When those children have children, the father’s last name is continued. In the example above:

    “Smith + Jones = Smith-Jones
    Smith-Jones + Johnson = Johnson-Smith-Jones
    Johnson-Smith-Jones + Gardner-Louis = o.o”

    Latinos solve this problem by having:
    Mr. Rodriguez + Mrs. Serrano = Baby Rodriguez Serrano

    When Mrs. () Rodriguez Serrano marries her husband, Mr. () Aguilar Martin, their names stay the same but their children have the last name Aguilar Rodriguez Martin Serrano but use “Aguilar” or “Aguilar Rodriguez” for short. I used to be a public records researcher and in many latin countries (including our dear Puerto Rico) you have to have the person’s mother’s last name (Serrano in this case) to have public records searched, BTW.

    All that to say that I bucked convention when I was married and **took** my Spanish husband’s last name (both my father-in-law and mother-in-law’s names). And my son has his father’s Japanese last name from a previous relationship, and we’re all ok with that. :)

  • Kayla

    My fianceé and I are planning on changing both of our names to something new altogether, probably something farther back along the family line. (Current contender is my great-grand-father’s original Italian last name, before he changed it after moving to the states.) I’d gladly take his name, as mine is impossible to spell or pronounce, but his is long, just as difficult to pronounce, never spelled correctly, and came pre-hyphened. Yay… thanks future-mother-in-law.

    He doesn’t care either way about it – there’s no special attachment to his name for him. And as I don’t particularly care for our eventual children inheriting a hyphened name of any sorts (whether it was his or an unholy union of all three names), a third name seemed like a pretty wonderful alternative.

    Granted, we haven’t told family yet. That’ll be fun.

  • Miguel

    I don’t know what the deal is in the US… in many Latin American countries the woman does not take the husbands name, and it’s been like that for decades.

  • Michelle

    I liked my husband’s last name better. My maiden name is Hatfield, and everyone under the sun who heard it for the first time made a joke, a lame joke, about the McCoy’s. It was a bonus to change my last name.

  • http://www.secularplanet.org Secular Planet

    My wife has not changed her name. Part of the reason is that it’s expensive to change her passport and green card. Part of it is that in her native Vietnam, women don’t change their name upon marriage. Part of it is that we just haven’t thought about it much.

  • http://mile73.com Heather

    I’m not particularly fond of my last name. It’s got odd French spelling and it sounds goofy even when someone pronounces correctly, which rarely happens. I have no professional integrity associated with my last name.

    But I’ll be damned if I change my last name. I love my fiance and I can’t wait to be married to him. But I scratch my head when people try to convince me I need to take his name. And it’s been more than a few. I’ve heard people say “It’s important to him.” Nope, it’s not. He is as aware of the implied patriarchy and doesn’t agree with it either.

    We’ve entertained the idea of us both changing our names together to something else entirely. But neither of us are viewing marriage as a change in our identity. And we are more than happy to thumb our noses at convention for convention’s sake.

  • Ben Zalisko

    I think that it’s better for a married couple and family to have the same last name. However, who’s name? The hyphen is good and equal, but are the kids going to use the hyphen? Then we have infinitely long names. If the kids only take one name, there goes the equality and the common last name. I would say the couple could decide between the two names, but that just adds more drama. It would be easier for a man to take the woman’s name if it wasn’t perceived as so emasculating.

    My fiancee will be changing her name to mine simply because she simply thinks it’s more awesome than hers. At least, that’s our excuse. Luckily we dodged that bit of drama.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Beth

    What phira said. :)

    I will not be changing my last name. Sure, I have a lot of papers and such under my current last name, but the real reason is a feminist reason. My last name is me, my identity. It’s not terribly important to me if everyone knows we’re married or not just by looking at our last names–we know and the families and friends know, and no one else really matters to me. Also, I don’t want to be part of a “unit.” I am still going to be an individual person even while married, and I don’t want anyone thinking otherwise. I feel that changing my name (or his) would be the first step in dissolving my (our) individuality. Married for me does not equal a single unit, it equals the two people who are part of it.

  • http://theradula.blogspot.com Dorid

    I took my husband’s name… and after my second marriage, I went back to my first husband’s name. Why? Because the kids birth certificates gave them HIS last name, rather than my maiden name. If we wanted the family to share a family name, that was pretty much the way it was done.

    There are a number of good reasons to NOT take hubby’s last name. My daughter, for example, is well published. Changing her name would only be confusing and would divorce her from her reputation. She decided not to when she married.

    A little side note to this: Even so, and after having both a secular ceremony and making it clear she wouldn’t be changing her name, the JoP ended the ceremony by introducing them as “Mr and Mrs (his-last-name)”

  • Christin

    I have a friend with a fairly novel reason for keeping hers: the literal family farm is named for her last name, so if the Lastname Ranch is passed on to her eventually, she wants to still have the matching Lastname.

  • CypherSD

    When I married my wife I was pretty fine with her keeping her maiden name (though I never got the feminism associated with keeping your fathers name). However, now that we have 2 kids I wish we had thought it out. Essentially, kids make it really tough when there are 2 last names, requiring at least one of you to have a different last name. Both hyphenating just passes the mess down to you kids (what do they do when they marry). I highly recommended picking a name both taking it, whether it is the one of your current last names or a totally new name. On the pragmatic side, just taking the husbands last name might be the easiest and cheapest approach, but if that unnacceptable spend the time or cash to get a new one.

  • Mariela

    I had a professor in college who had changed her last name when she got married. She published a bunch of really important papers under that name. She then got divorced and kept the ex-husband’s last name instead of switching back, for professional continuity. She then got married again, and hyphenated the new husband name to her first husband’s name, so she could still be googleable.

    Too complicated. I’m keeping mine, even when no one can pronounce it.

  • Chelsea

    I didn’t take my husband’s last name because like Rose, I didn’t feel there was anything equal about this custom. I like my last name, I’ve had it for 26 years, and I don’t think marriage should change any part of who I am as an individual.

    I’ve encountered a lot of people who just assume that there was some sort of battle between my husband and I about whether or not I would take his name. There wasn’t. I remember our travel agent asking if he gave me “the sad puppy-dog eyes” when I told him I didn’t want his last name. I felt like saying, “No, I didn’t marry an asshole.”

    Unfortunately, I often give a very un-feminist response to the question “why didn’t you take your husband’s last name?” Typically I’ll say something like “Oh, he has a long German last name that needs to be spelled out and mine is only four letters long.” That isn’t the reason at all, but I feel like the question implies “Why would you emasculate your husband like that?!?!?!” and therefore the appropriate response must be politically benign.

    Anyway, I feel like this ties into atheism because it’s another belief I hold that seems completely logical, and yet I always feel like I have to be on the defensive about it. Perhaps I’m being a weenie, but really, I’m just tired of providing explanations for things that seem pretty self-evident.

  • Icaarus

    The equalitarian in me says I should be willing to take her name, and in principle I probably would just to prove a point. But I have a once proud and common last name that has all but disappeared, as such if I gave it up it could literally be the death of my name, which would give me great pause. A name dying with me would be one thing but to purposely kill it feels like an insult to those who came before. Either way, for travel and safety reasons the children would have their mother’s name. Just from personal experience it makes life much easier.

    One comment on the whole hyphenated argument – you don’t take the whole hyphen, just one name from each person. There are many schools as to how to do this that I will not go into, but suffice it to say it can work indefinitely.

  • Rich Wilson

    Or you can merge names http://www.starshineroshell.com/stories/20070517.html

    Another reason not to change is that if you are an immigrant, and hence have a foreign passport, it can be a huge hassle.

  • Wendy H.

    My dad was an attorney; I’m now remembering him for the second time today. He once said that you can call yourself anything you want, as long as you are not defrauding anyone. (This was in Los Angeles, California.) I’ve been married twice, and both times I changed my name. After I was divorced from the first husband, who was half Russian Jewish, half Italian; people thought I was Italian, and tried to talk to me in Italian. The second time I got married, my little girl wondered why her name wasn’t going to change… that was hard to explain. Now, although we’ve been divorced for over 20 years, I think some people think I’m Irish, although I am a Jewmanist, like Rose. People made assumptions about me based on my name that had nothing to do with who I am.

    It seemed normal at the time to adopt my husbands’ names, go through the rituals of dealing with DMV and Social Security… it was not an issue with me of losing credibility for degrees earned; and in fact I’d read a lovely story about how fitting it is to take on the name of your husband, the only thing he has when he is born. (Nothing about how this custom is descended from paying off a bride price.)

    If I knew then what I know now… I might make different choices. It’s not a matter of feminism, it’s a matter of just having more information.

    So no, Rose; there is not a good reason to do anything any differently than you have done it. In my opinion, as long as you and your old man are happy, you can call yourself whatever you want as long as you are not defrauding anyone :-)

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Sharmin

    I think two non-feminist reasons to not change your last name at marriage are:

    1. The hassle having to change your name on so many documents
    2. A career in which you are well known by your name.

    A romantic relationship really isn’t a consideration for me right now or anytime in the near future (let alone marriage) but I think I’d want to keep my last name. It’s a name with a long history.

  • Neuenschwander

    My wife went from Shaffer to Neuenschwander. I tried to stop her.

  • Reckless

    My mother kept her maiden name, and while it’s sometimes generated confusion (I look more like my father, so some of my childhood teachers had trouble with the idea we were related), I’ve always admired her for it. When I get married, I plan on keeping my last name, mainly because it’s a very pretty name and I’m quite fond of it (and considerably less fond of my partner’s last name).

  • James

    If you don’t take your spouse’s name, what last name will be on your children’s birth certificate?

  • Jen

    I am never changing my name. My name is awesome. I could never get to the point of marriage (something I do not want to do) without having informed said person that I would never change my name, so accept that or go away.

    As to all the people saying it was totally their/ their wives’ choice- well, yes and no. There is a choice, yes, but look at the statistics of women taking their husband’s last name verses men taking a new name- oh, wait, there are no statistics, as it is so rare no one has bothered counting. If it was really a choice, and not a societal norm that many feel the urge to push on people, then wouldn’t the statistics even out a little bit? These things don’t happen in a vacuum.

    Here are the main arguments I see:

    1. I, a woman, hate my last name because it is so hard to spell/ I hate my family/ it is so boring.
    *Really? Do all the men in your family change their last name when they marry to escape it too? And anyone can change their last name without getting married, so why wait?

    2. If the kids have a different last name from one of us, (something terrible)
    *Isn’t this a little bit of a slap in the face to blended families, foster kids, and unmarried families? I assure you all that, growing up, plenty of kids had different last names from their parents and no one ever refused to let them parent their kids.

    3. But hyphenating will lead to mass hysteria!
    *Alright then.

    Let me just point out that while I may sound like I am condemning women who take someone else’s last name, I am not. There are many battles a woman has to fight- lipstick? Heels? Last names? Glass ceiling! And no one can fight every fight, and there still is a lot of pressure, and sometimes its easier to take the road traveled by the vast majority of people.

  • JB Tait

    I lost a job because I put on my resume that I had been a member of my professional society from a certain year, but unknown to me the records of the professional society lost the continuity of my membership when my name changed. After looking it up, the potential employer assumed I had lied on my resume by claiming a longer membership than was recorded. It took a very long time for me to figure out what happened.

    Likewise, finding my school, employment, and medical records requires a list of names and then proving who I am and my entitlement to those records becomes an issue.

    The only problem we had when I married and did not change my name was explaining to telemarketers that my husband was not {his first name}{my last name which is actually deceased husband’s family name} but had his own surname. We frequently get mail for the fictitious mashup person, but at least that name is a good spam detector.

  • Charon

    A friend of mine made what appears to be an unusual choice – she took her husband’s last name, because it’s substantially more unusual than hers. As in, she had a very common last name, and his isn’t even listed in the US Census list of names (so <100 people in the US have it). Interestingly, she's also a scientist, with published papers under her old name.

    "Instead, we decided to do what they do in Latin countries (we live in Mexico), where it’s standard for the woman to keep her name, and the baby to get both family names (no hyphen)."

    I'm curious how they deal with the exponential name crisis. Someone above suggested keeping only one name from each partner in subsequent generations, but that seems silly too – you're just removing the sexism by one generation.

  • Claudia

    I don’t want to lose my name. My name is a part of my identity, and the fact that the female is almost always the one to change her name really reeks of changing from being the possession of your father to the possession of your husband.

    Of course, there’s also the cultural bias. Oddly enough in Spain, a country with a strong Catholic tradition, women do not change their names upon marriage and as far as I’m aware never have. Everyone has two last names, the first from the father and the second from the mother, and we pass on the first to our own children. Modernization has brought the possibility of switching the order of surnames of children, but that’s about it. For most women in Spain, the idea of losing their surname when they marry is bizarre.

  • Charon

    “3. But hyphenating will lead to mass hysteria!
    *Alright then.”

    Oh, if you put it like that, obviously! I can’t believe I didn’t see that the solution to the exponential problem was “alright then”. Brilliant. Incisive. Witty. Trenchant.

  • JB Tait

    Part of the hassle of the name change is the opportunity to do the document dance again, and find yourself un-changing or re-changing when you are divorced or widowed and want to marry again.

    1. Have you found them all?
    2. Can you get the forms?
    3. In what order do they have to change so you have the required supporting documents?
    4. Can you afford all the fees?
    5. What do you do when your documents are half changed and don’t match, such as when your driver’s licence won’t support your credit card name?
    6. Will you encounter a circular support requirement that won’t let you change A until B is changed but won’t let you change B until you have A to support it?

    I know several families who give their girl children the mother’s surname, while the boys get the father’s surname.

  • Claudia

    @Charon LOL, how convenient that your comment would be just before mine talking about the same subject.

    Typically the maternal line last name is lost in the grandchildren, but its a significant improvement. For starters the woman does not lose her last name. In addition, the children carry one of her names all their lives, so she leaves that part of her identity with them. Her grandchildren however don’t, so obviously its not perfect. However in Spain at least you can legally switch around the order, or even in cases of single parents, the adult child can request the adoption of the two surnames from the same parent. Gay couples marry here, and children from those marriages presumably are given last names in the order requested by the couple, although I think authorities request that siblings be given the same order, because otherwise it gets hopelessly muddled. Eventually I’m hoping that children born to heterosexuals as well will routinely be given names in the order wished by the parents, and not the father-mother by default.

    And yes, book-keeping is damn hard, which is why numbered ID is so handy ;-)

  • TMJ

    When I got married, I didn’t see any reason to go through the hassle of changing my perfectly good last name. We briefly discussed changing both our names to something neutral, but chose not to. In retrospect, I made the right choice; his 2nd wife is welcome to his name.

  • Icaarus

    @Charon, That was not a suggestion, but in actuality the way the system works. There are ways of choosing which names get donated to the new names that are non-sexist. I.E. grandchild’s last name is – as the most common, others exist and there are reasons for each school of thought. Some are sexist, but not necessarily so.

  • Jen

    Charon, seriously, if the kids have to figure out what to do when they get married to other hyphen kids, they will come up with a solution. This is, of course, assuming the kids want to get married, which they may not, and it also assumes they want to change last names when they get married, which they may not, or that is will standard in a few generations, which it may not. Give the kids whatever name you want and let them make the decisions for themselves.

    And clearly people think this is an issue: from upthread

    What if one spouse, or both, already has a hyphenated name? It would only take a couple generations for this to lead to ridiculousness.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    C — I’ve updated the piece to make Rose’s decision read more clearly

  • A

    It took me a while to decide, but I finally ended up hyphenating my last name with my middle name and taking my husband’s last name. I wasn’t ready to give up my family name entirely, but I still wanted to take his name and feel like we were starting our own family (as much as two non-breeders and a dog can be a family!), so this seemed like the best solution.

    And I have to say– when I worked in an office that handled marriage stuff, we would offer instructions on how to complete the name change process to customers picking up their licenses. I would ask, “is the bride changing her name?” and I was always floored at how many grooms took serious offense to that question. They were downright rude about it as they declared that “she better!” Ugh, so glad my husband isn’t like that…then again, if he was, we wouldn’t be married. :)

  • Claudia

    People seriously, hyphen or no hyphen people have been doing this for generations. We deal, I promise. Yes of course no one keeps all their names forever and ever. Each child has two, one from each parent, and one of the surnames of the parents is not passed on. Its pretty normal to know more of the family names than your own of course; most folks know their parents and their grandparents full names, and some people can go back further, but your ID just has two last names. The name you are given at birth is the one you die with, male or female, unless you choose to change it.

  • Judith Bandsma

    I don’t understand how a woman can call it ‘her’ name when deciding to take or not her new husband’s.

    ‘Her’ name is more likely to actually be her father’s name. So the only name she can truly call hers is one she’s chosen for herself.

    • http://twitter.com/Tobi_Is_Fab Ashes

      By that bizarre logic, the man’s name is also his father’s name. What’s the difference?

    • Cicig83857275

      Easy. On the birth certificate it states HER first and HER last name and that she is FEMALE. That last name now become property of a FEMALE.

      Who else shares her last name isn’t significant.

      MANY people have the same last name. That simple! Her last name may be the same as her mother, father, sister, brother, Aunt, Uncle, cousin or family down the street…but it is now HER’S as well, not JUST her father’s last name or a MALE last name.

    • Greattigerlily

      I’m Chinese, in my culture it is not uncommon for a child to take his/her mother’s name. My best childhood friend takes her father’s last name, while her brother takes their mother’s name (they have the same biological parents). Here in the U.S. people would think she and her brother have different fathers. But in China this kind of things are widely accepted. Parents have the right to name their children whatever ways they like.

  • Raven

    I should premise this by saying that my husband’s last name happens to be in a very popular song (circa 1967) which also happened to be in a very popular movie (Hint: Plastics). Having people sing that song to me would drive me nuts!

    That’s not the real reason I kept my name. My parents have no sons. I want to honor my parents by keeping the name that was given to me. Furthermore, my husband’s name doesn’t sound good with my first name. It’s not a matter of not being used to it. The syllables literally clash, for lack of a better description. Then there is the whole matter of the woman being expected to change her name. OK, I admit it, it bothers me a little bit. Frankly, if I ever have kids, I would want them to keep my last name. My husband isn’t opposed to the idea either which is awesome. If I have to carry around a baby for 9 months, the least I should be able to do is name it! Yes, I’m joking….sort of! Matriarchy rules!!

    No, I wouldn’t expect my husband to change his name, his name is his. And mine is mine!

    Surprisingly, my father was not thrilled. I’ve been married for over 3 years and to this day he says “Hello Mrs. SoandSo” using my husband’s last name. He knows it bothers me which probably eggs him on a bit. ;)

    For the record, I do not care if people write only one last name on mail addressed to both of us I understand it’s a space issue and just quicker. I’m not that much of a stickler!

  • http://chunkymonkeymind.blogspot.com/ Palaverer

    My name has been legally changed four times: my father’s name, my adoptive father’s name, my mother’s maiden name, my husband’s name and back to my mother’s maiden name. I am never. changing it. again.

    I will probably marry my boyfriend in the future (it’s important to him). I will not take his name officially, but I won’t be offended if people call me his name. Our kids will get his last name. My last name, which doubles as a unisex given name, will be their middle names.

    I don’t care about passing my surname on to my progeny. There are enough people with my name in the world. I care about giving them unique first names and helping them to build a unique identity, as my name is now part of my identity.

  • stephanie

    I never took my husband’s last name. The documentation would have been a pain and my name has served me well all my life. His is always misspelled even though it’s only five letters long.

    Prior to our wedding, my husband asked if it would make me happy for him to take my name, but I had zero interest either way. The marriage is to a person, not a name.

    Oddly, the only person who’s ever seemed to have a problem with it was my sister-in-law, who took my last name when she got married.

  • Sally

    Heh, I read through all the different customs on the wikipedia entry about name changes. It looks like the only places where the woman changes her name are in Christian, English speaking countries like the USA, UK, Australia etc. In most countries it seems a woman legally keeps her birth name when marrying, but may choose to use her husband’s name socially (or variations on that theme)

    I didn’t realise until reading that entry that even Muslim women traditionally keep their family (maiden) name for their whole lives, precisely because taking the husband’s name implies ownership.

    Fascinating stuff. I think in the end it is one of those things that just comes down to personal choice.

  • PW

    Beth, Phira, Claudia – right on.

    I have no desire to change my name at all. While a feminist, it really for me boils down to the fact that my name as it is now and has always been is my identity, and I’m not prepared to sacrifice even a little piece of that for anything. As someone who grew up with a parent that had a different last name, I couldn’t have cared less, and so far as I know, it never mattered in any substantial way.

    Ah, and my name? Open to MANY pop cultural references (and with each, the jokester thinks they’re the first person to think of it), and I’d still not change it for the coolest name on earth.

  • Amber

    My reasons for not changing my name ranged from shallow (his last name sounds silly with my first and middle names) to professional (3 college degrees and a notary in this name) to social (will my new passport/driver’s license/social security card be in and correct when I need them?) Ultimately, though, I’m attached to my name. It’s a part of who I am, it’s the name my parents gave me. These are all reasons that spilled out of me when trying to justify my decision to my fiance. He was silent until I finished, then he told me he had always thought it was silly that women changed their names. I agree.

  • Cyphern

    One of the main reasons my wife kept her name was because it was associated with her business. She didn’t want to cause her branding (which included her name) to become obsolete, nor to risk losing customers who didn’t realize the new name was the same person.

  • Ayesha

    I will change my last name when I get married because I want to.

    1) My current last name very clearly marks me out as someone from a particular ethnic group, and I don’t feel it describes ME at all… because only my father is from that ethnic group, whereas my mother is mixed-Eurasian. So my surname cuts my mother out even more completely than most people’s (since most people have their father’s, not their mother’s, surname). Whereas my partner’s last name is unusual, but it is British, and honestly, since I was born in Britain and brought up in Britain with British values, his name more accurately reflects ME.
    1a) There are studies to show that in the Western world, job applicants with “ethnic-sounding” names are not given as many interviews as applicants with “white-sounding” names. Honestly, do I want that baggage? No.
    1b) I could change my name NOW but a) I want to do it when we get married, as a symbol of commitment to a life together; b) it’s easier to change it after marriage.

    2) As others have said, I think it is nice to have the same family name as my future husband and future children. In answer to Jen, this isn’t intended as a “slap in the face” to anybody. It just makes life EASIER. As you say, we all pick our own battles and my current last name simply isn’t important enough to me to make this one of the battles. I’d rather save that energy for other battles, which are more important to me, which maybe I fight and you don’t fight.

    3) I’m 21 and intend on getting married within the next few years, so won’t really have any kind of professional career under my belt. Don’t know what it’s like elsewhere but in Britain it’d be fairly easy to prove (for example) that the name listed on my degree certificate is me by simply showing my marriage certificate. (That’s more of a ‘why not?’ than a ‘why?’)

  • Manksteve

    I had a a freind who took his Fiancée surname, as he preferred her surname.

  • http://marniemaclean.com Marnie

    My husband took my name. :)

  • Stephanie

    I don’t understand all the concern about what the kids will be named. Just make them pick the name of the parent they love more. Easy.

    But seriously, what a silly, inconsequential issue to focus on.

    • Anon

      I imagine you took your husbands name.

  • Margy

    I didn’t change my name when I married, primarily for feminist reasons. The ownership connotation bothered me and I was already a well-established professional under my own name. For those who say “but it’s your father’s name,” I respond that it is also my name now, just as my husband’s name is his name, not just his father’s name.

    A number of acquaintances and family members had trouble with my decision; I am thinking now of the Christmas card that was memorably addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. David Johnson and Margy Harris.” (The fact that the “Ms.” honorific was left off was meant to twist the knife, I suppose.) When I called the sender of this card, I received quite an angry lecture from her. She insisted that I was insulting my husband by not taking his name (although hubby had no problem with it).

    I support the idea of giving male children the father’s surname and female children the mother’s, because I think it is more than fair. I mean no offense to the devoted fathers out there, but is there anything men deserve to have their names on less than children?

    One more reason for keeping my maiden name, which no one here has yet mentioned, is so that former friends, acquaintances, and classmates can find me if they want to look me up and reconnect. When I was helping to plan a high school reunion several years ago, my committee was unable to locate a lot of female classmates who had disappeared behind names that no one knew. To my mind, they were effectively enshrouded in nomenclatural burkas. It was very disappointing to all of us.

  • Jeff Purser

    My wife kept the last name she was born with.

    Her reasons were simple.

    She liked her name.

    I’d been divorced twice and, based on my track record, it was highly probable this marriage would not last either.

    So, rather than change her name on all important life/legal documents, only to have to change it back after OUR divorce, she chose to keep her name.

    We’ve now been together over 33 years.

    We’ve given up trying to explain it to folks or correct them when they call her by my last name.

    The one issue no one has discussed above is the issues this will raise for family historians. Future generations tracing their family trees will find it much more difficult to do some genealogical research. So, be kind. Leave evidence behind.

  • Unholy Holly

    I took my husband’s 10-letter last name complete with the 2 Z’s and 3 vowels. It was cool and different. I wasted no time relieving myself of it when he took off after 20 years. It only took $35 and 3 minutes of paperwork. Best $35 I’ve spent.

  • sixtyseven

    When I get married my wife WILL take my last name. Anything else would be slapping my ancestors in the face. People are being progressive to the point of ridiculousness. No one has any honor anymore.

    • dawn

      get with the 21st century….how about her slapping her ancestors in the face for dropping her name for a man??

      • Hermytatie

        Exactly!

  • Crux Australis

    My wife kept her last name until she graduated from University (about a year after we married), so she could have it on her degree. Then she changed it.

  • Valerie

    I’m going to keep my name just because it’s lovely and I’m proud of my hispanic lineage. If it was anything less iconic or if I didn’t love my family so much, I’d change it without hesitation. There’s no male heirs in my family, and I’d like to keep the name alive.

  • http://toomanytribbles.blogspot.com/ toomanytribbles

    when i married in greece, keeping one’s surname was actually mandatory.

  • silver fox

    In Quebec, it’s actually required that you keep your own surname. They did this a while ago to cut down paperwork and confusion because some papers would have one name and other papers another name. The government basically went ‘This is stupid. You want to change your name? Fine, fill all these forms and locate ALL current contracts/paperwork and change them all yourself.’

    Naturally, the Catholics (the religious majority in Quebec) complained but the government basically told them ‘shut it or do (and pay for) the paperwork yourselves.’

    They kept quiet after that.

  • http://www.twitter.com/jalyth Tizzle

    Nice that nobody is feeding the trolls.

    I won’t be getting married, and if I did, I wouldn’t ask my wife to change her name to mine, even if I were having children, which I’m not. This is a moot issue for me.

    For my friends, I’m actually surprised I’ve only met one who did NOT take her husband’s name. I thought I knew more hard-core feminists than that, but hey, their choice, their battles, etc. :)

  • Beth

    @sixty seven: Really?! I don’t think your ancestors care…or am I missing your humor? I’m somewhat new to this blog…

    I did not change my name. No one could give me any really good reasons beyond “tradition.” The genealogy point made above doesn’t hold much water for me and we’ve spent over 15 years doing family research. I was a bit concerned about being the only one with a different last name once we had kids, but now that they are here I find it really doesn’t matter to me. I also grew up in a family of many divorces and was used to my mom having a different last name than me, a step mom with the same last name, step-siblings with a third last name and a grandmother remarried with another last name. We all could keep each other straight and I found that that was all that really counted. : )

  • Nick

    I for one took my mom’s last name, people tend to ask me why.

  • Slickninja

    Call me strange but it’ll be a sticking point as I do not want any woman to take my name. It seems so ripe with association to women as property acquisition, religion and such.

  • selfification

    I absolutely approve of hyphenating and combining. For later generations, simply use more double hyphens.

    e.g.

    a A marries b B and becomes a A-B
    c C-D marries d A-B and becomes c A-B–C-D
    so on and so forth.

    After a couple of combinations, we have a geneology tree, a naming system, a way of testing broken SQL queries and tables and a way of slowing identity theft and name collision all in one! And since nobody can pronounce last names, it will encourage couples to pick family names from scratch for non-legal documents!

    /me now puts the coffee down and steps away from the keyboard.

  • http://getinhangon.wordpress.com/ Meg

    21 years ago I took my husband’s last name. My maiden name is Eastern European Jewish and was mispronounced by people reading it and misspelled by people hearing it. My husband’s name has it’s own problems, but they are much easier to deal with.

    In my mother’s family there is the tradition of dropping your middle name and moving your maiden name in it’s place. I liked the idea of tradition, but I’ve always loved my middle name.

    My first job out of college was for the American branch of a Canadian company. Our office was full of Brits. After seeing them with 4 and 5 names, my solution was to just add my new last name to the list.

    So I have 4 names instead of the traditional 3. It drives computer systems NUTS. I am constantly asked if the last two are hyphenate – no. Or if my middle name is EN when I use the initals – no.

    I even got out of getting a speeding ticket once because the officer couldn’t figure out what name to use on the ticket.

  • matt

    Ian Snell (nee Okendo) of the Mariners took his wife’s name when they got married. It happens.

  • Jagyr

    I haven’t read all the comments yet, but I wanted to share my experience:

    When we got married, I offered to hyphenate our last names, figuring that would be the most fair thing to do. Also, I’ve already got a hyphenated middle name, so I thought I could get more appellations under my belt.

    My wife decided she’d rather just take my last name – her parents are divorced, and she was going by her mother’s maiden surname even though her legal surname was her father’s. It was complicated, and she didn’t have an attachment to either name, so it was her choice to take mine. I feel kind of weird about it because of the whole implied patriarchy thing, but it was her choice, and it’s no big deal for us.

  • http://olivenyc.wordpress.com/ Olivia

    I’m not married, but I’m in a long-term relationship. He is 6th-generation born-and-bred in America, a mix of Northern European and has a very generic Irish last name. I am first generation Chinese-American. If we ever do get married, I don’t want to lose that part of my heritage. If I changed my last name, I would no longer be able to write my name in Chinese!

  • http://theadventuresofj.com adventuresofj

    @staceyjw: From personal experience, no matter how you do it, your childs name will get hyphenated. Whether it be on their social security card, a typo at the school system, or because the DMV system requires it. OR they will end up using only one anyway. Depending on which legal document you look at my two last names are hyphenated or not.

    My mom did not take my dad’s last name (not sure why), my siblings and i all have hyphenated names – well no… I have two last names on my birth certificate, a hyphen on my SSC, in one state my DL had to have a hyphen and when I moved it didn’t.. One sibling is the opposite, and the other because i was much older, i asked my mom to just put the hyphen in on everything so there was no confusion. Because my bc didn’t have the hypen, all through school I only used my dad’s last name – but when I was applying for college and all my ACT/SAT information needed to be sent i needed to prove to my school that they had gotten my name wrong in the first place.

    For me, I’m still undecided about whether to change mine eventually or not – it just seems like SUCH a pain notifying everyone and getting everything switched over – I might be too lazy for that.

  • Rajesh Shenoy

    Ours was a traditional Hindu “arranged” marriage. And unique to my caste was the tradition of the groom’s family announcing a new first name (also) for the bride(!). My mom left it to me (a rather forward-thinking move on her part, I’d say, given her generation) to decide on the new first name, and I picked up cues from my fiance that she was actually looking forward to a new first name! So there I was, a young “forward-thinking” man, hoping to break the shackles of tradition by “allowing” his bride to keep both her first and family names, with a bride who was actually looking forward to changing both! Needless to say, we finally ended up changing both.

  • Donna Lafferty

    I never considered taking my husband’s last name when we married 26 years ago. I was (and am) happy with who I am, I like my name, and I saw no reason to surrender my identity just because “that’s the way it’s done.” It made a lot of waves back then – I was the first person not to become “Mrs.” in my entire family.

    I’m happy with my decision, as is my husband. If he’d been the sort to insist I change, then I wouldn’t have married him in the first place.

    I do know one couple where the husband changed his last name to that of his wife. He was from a large family, whereas she was an only child, so her surname would have died out if at least one of them didn’t retain it.

  • fritzy

    I know two men who took their wives name and another who hyphenated his. In the case of the two that took their wives names, they hardly knew their fathers and were very close to their father-in-laws.

    I’ve encouraged my fiance to keep her name if she so chooses. I personally couldn’t care less. I’d even be OK with the kids having her name–after all, she’s carrying and giving birth to them. She wants to take my name as hers is a phonetically cumbersome Fillipino name. Not that my german name isn’t mangled frequently.

  • Nora

    This was a tough call for me. I recognize that it’s a patriarchal and sexist tradition–but something really appealed to me about my husband and my own last name matching. It was the thing that finally made me feel truly “married” (6 months later, when the Navy finally finished the paperwork).

    My hubby was totally okay with me not taking his last name, but he refused to take mine. This was never really an option, though, because my hubby has the same name as my brother and that’d be TOO weird!

    Hyphenating didn’t really appeal (too many resulting L’s, and I don’t in general like hyphenating names), and so if I wanted a new married name, it was going to have to be his.

    I’m glad I went with that decision, but it does bother me a little that he was so open to me keeping my name but wouldn’t even listen to the idea of taking mine. Of course, he’s very close with his family and I’m not very close with mine, so it’s not a straight black-and-white situation.

  • Nora

    Also, I’m only 22, so there was no real professional basis for anything. By the time my major series gets published (ha!), I’ll be firmly ensconced in my new name.

    While I like having a new last name (I don’t like to say “having my hubby’s name” because it’s MY name now too–even if, gods forbid, we were to get divorced, I could keep it), I hate hate HATE being called Mrs. I just recently changed my last name, and many people at work call me “Miss H–, oh I’m sorry, Mrs. H—” and it drives me nuts! 1) You can just call me “ENS H–” anyway and 2) Just use “Ms. H–” and you’re covered either way!

  • Zoe

    I took my husband’s name as I liked it better than my own for a number of reasons. If I hadn’t married, I would’ve changed my last name anyway. Also, my husband’s name is easier to pronounce – I have a non-English background.

    I totally understand women not wanting to change their name though, to each their own :)

  • lyric

    I kept my name. I was 31 when I got married and had two degrees and a portfolio of work published under my name, so why start making changes.

    Fortunately, my husband works in a field where women keeping their names is more the norm than the exception. It was never remotely an issue.

    The only glitch I’ve run into is some of my ultra-conservative relatives addressing letters to “MyFirstName HisLastName,” even though they know darn well that is not my last name.

  • http://www.facebook.com/amy.cools Amy

    My name is my name! Enough said.

  • Diqui

    I’d had my name for 43 years when I got married, and I also have an advanced degree and published work under my name. Neither of us saw any reason for me to change my name. A shared name does not represent any greater commitment than having 2 separate names. We do get the occasional letter or card from conservative relatives addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. HisLastName,” but I just let it slide.

  • John A

    My fiancee and I have both decided that when we marry, she will not take my name. She is nonchalant, and I find the idea distasteful.

    Part of this is because I find it is a throwback to a time when a woman was considered a man’s property (and in some places, they still are). Partly, it is because I am Colombian (she is Syrian-American), and in my culture women do not usually take their husband’s name. Some find the idea downright offensive. Although some women do chose to add their husbands name after their own (First Last de Husban’s Last).

  • Jenn

    In this one book I read, called ‘A Summer to Die’ by Lois Lowry, there’s a woman (whom I cannot remember her name) that has a different name from her housband – because she said that she was known for many things by that name and by many people, so why change it?

    I like my last name, it being Polish and evil to spell, so if I ever get married I’ll probably end up doing the same thing that Rose did. It’s nice to hear what other people had to say about it, though.

  • Anne

    My name is a part of me. Why would I want to change my name? Why is it always assumed that a woman’s name is disposable but a man’s name is not? The second time I married I was in my 40s and I had some professional success to my credit. For that if for no other reason I would have kept my own name. But mainly it’s the first reason.

    FWIW, I offered my husband if he wanted to take mine we could both hyphenate, but no go. See how entrenched this cultural artifact is? As a matter of fact, he was and remains rather offended and hurt but I just can’t give up my identity to please someone else. Nor should I be asked to.

  • Anne

    Oh yeah, my son has both our last names, hyphenated. That tends to be a bit of a pain sometimes as databases typically don’t allow for enough characters so we have to go through “which name is it under?” before they find him.

    But it’s a relatively minor issue. I wanted him to have my name as well as his dad’s because I have been divorced and always regretted that my daughter didn’t get my last name as well as his. After the divorce it always seemed odd to have different last names.

  • Deepak Shetty

    Ive never asked or wanted my wife to take my last name and she hasn’t. For me I always thought it was a pointless waste of time. I don’t really see it as a matter of equality and the future kids will probably have my last name since neither my wife nor I are fond of hyphenated names

  • C

    Abusive parents. I cannot wait to get rid of their last name. In addition, his is just easier to pronounce & spell on the first try (such as when ordering pizza).

  • AxeGrrl

    Beth wrote:

    What phira said.

    I will not be changing my last name. Sure, I have a lot of papers and such under my current last name, but the real reason is a feminist reason. My last name is me, my identity. It’s not terribly important to me if everyone knows we’re married or not just by looking at our last names–we know and the families and friends know, and no one else really matters to me. Also, I don’t want to be part of a “unit.” I am still going to be an individual person even while married, and I don’t want anyone thinking otherwise. I feel that changing my name (or his) would be the first step in dissolving my (our) individuality. Married for me does not equal a single unit, it equals the two people who are part of it.

    *hooting* Great post :) And I personally ditto ALL of it (including your shout out to phira:)

    It’s bad enough that we (chicks) have been saddled with the “Miss/Mrs/Ms” thing and men have never had to ‘accept’ a title designed soley to announce to the world his marital status.

    In my experience, you might be surprised by people you thought you knew by their reaction to the idea of a man changing his name……..it seems to bring out the freakiest prejudices/sexism in some people……

  • AxeGrrl

    Chelsea wrote:

    I remember our travel agent asking if he gave me “the sad puppy-dog eyes” when I told him I didn’t want his last name. I felt like saying, “No, I didn’t marry an asshole.”

    *giggling* that’s a brilliant comeback :)

  • Ailia

    In retrospect, my previous nick was already in use! The comment about parents and pizza was mine, not the other C!
    (I wonder if her “C” is the same as my “C”? Mine’s unusual, probably not!)

  • ash

    I changed my name completely when I was 18 to suit myself – new 1st name, old 1st name as new middle name, new surname. I have a great name that I picked myself, and any potential future husband is welcome to share it or keep his. Weirdly, I have already have people criticise me for not being traditional and keeping my birth name ‘coz it disrespects my parents’, but my answer is that, hey, they tried, but they guessed wrong. I’ve just corrected that mistake, and I ain’t gonna make another one to please some bloke. I wouldn’t consider him marriage material if I even thought he’d be bothered.

  • Charlotte

    I’m a lesbian, and am civilly united with my wife (in NZ). When we married (for want of a better word) I took my wife’s last name.
    Also, we decided that since we’re family, we should share a family name. We were both happy to take each others name, but had to pick one so I picked hers. My maiden name is German and everyone in NZ had trouble pronouncing it.
    Of course, it will all backfire once we’re living in Germany for a few years and we have people trying to pronounce a Scottish surname.

    Luckily for us, our Civil Union, and therefore my name change, are recognised under German law, therefore I was able to obtain a new passport with my new name on it.

  • Chris

    I took my wife’s name. It was important to me that we match and I figured I couldn’t ask her to do something I wasn’t willing to do myself. After I suggested taking her name she let me know she always wanted a man to take her name! The only person that was ever upset about my name change was my mother. I got a lot of strange looks out of my students, but they adapted quickly.

    • fu

      Does she have a strap on too? You’re the man!

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VR7LGXVZ75T6HHKY6YBTPVBFQQ Kat

      I think that’s awesome that you have the confidence to do that!

    • RocknLox

      That’s pretty awesome. My boyfriend wants me to change my name but when I suggested the reverse he got completely bent out of shape. I’m like so you see how I feel, then, if it’s so important to you why don’t you take my name? He still can’t appreciate the irony. You’re a good man for not being a hypocrite.

  • Lisa C.

    I took my spouse’s last name because I like his parents more than my own. HAH! I want to be adopted into their family and all the awesomeness that’s there.

    I also like that it’s Chinese in origin, and I’m not. It’s fun to stretch people’s minds a little.

    I also like that our name is beautiful in Chinese caligraphy, and I felt accomplished when I could sign it for myself.

    Also, being feminist (to me) includes having the choice to choose in which things I would like to follow tradition and for which ones I would like to leave behind.

    But I didn’t choose this for tradition. I chose this for the novelty and to help shape a desired new identity.

  • Niels

    Research that was conducted by my colleagues (and reported on in the NY Times) might shed some interesting light on this:

    Women who choose to adopt their husbands surnames may be penalized in the job market, a new study from the Netherlands suggests in the journal Basic and Applied Social Psychology. Using Dutch population data, Marret Noordewier, Femke van Horen, Kirsten Ruys and Diederik Stapel, researchers at the Tilburg Institute for Behavioral Economics Research (Tiber), found that there were demographic differences between women who chose to take their partners names and those who did not. Marital name-changers were generally older and less educated, for example. Even when name-changers and maiden-name-keepers are demographically identical, they still may be judged differently.

    So, marital name change is not without consequences. Women who took their partner’s name appear to be different from women who kept their own name on a variety of demographics and beliefs, which are more or less associated with the female stereotype. Subsequent studies show that women’s surnames are used as a cue for judgment. A woman who took her partner’s name or a hyphenated name was judged as more caring, more dependent, less intelligent, more emotional, less competent, and less ambitious in comparison with a woman who kept her own name. A woman with her own name, on the other hand, was judged as less caring, more independent, more ambitious, more intelligent, and more competent, which was similar to an unmarried woman living together or a man. Finally, a job applicant who took her partner’s name, in comparison with one with her own name, was less likely to be hired for a job and her monthly salary was estimated 861,21 lower (calculated to a working life, 361.708,20).

    Marret Noordewier, Femke van Horen, Kirsten Ruys and Diederik Stapel: ‘What’s in a Name? 361.708 Euros: The Effects of Marital Name Change’, Basic and Applied Social Psychology, Volume 32, Issue 1 March 2010.

  • Valhar2000

    I guess I am handicapped by my insufficient americanism: in Spain women do not change their names when they get married, and they never have, so all this surprise and shock over women not changing their names is very weird to me.

    There is, however, a similar phenomenon here now: traditionally, children got their first surname from their fathers and their last one from their mothers, but now the law allows parents to reverse that order of they wish (although I believe that the surnames still must derive from the parents’ surnames). Some idiots that suffer from particularly bad cases of Catholicism were horrified by that, a few people took advantage of the new law, and most don’t care.

  • GSW

    @Niels:

    Did the research take into account the fact that in many European countries, up until 20 years ago, women were given no choice? Many of your 50+ women were probably not even asked.

    The official name change was automatic and extremely difficult to reverse!

  • grneyedmonster

    I changed to my first husband’s last name because his was easier to pronounce than mine (you get tired of hearing your last name get butchered). Plus, my last name was from my father’s adoptive father, whom I never met in my entire life, so it was never really “mine” in the first place.

    I changed to my current hubby’s last name to get rid of my first husband’s last name. :-D My hubby’s name is simple and easy to pronounce, too.

    One reason to keep your own last name: in Arizona they make you change your driver’s license picture when you change your name. I hated that because my old license photo was damn near the best picture I’ve ever taken. Plus I was pregnant by the time I got around to getting a new license, so I was humungous. I tried to argue with them. I said, “Look, people, I got married, I didn’t enter witness protection. Just let me keep the damn picture so I don’t have to have an elephant woman picture.” But to no avail. Seven years later and I’m still stuck with the elephant woman photo. (AZ driver’s licenses are good for like 30 years, which is dumb because in 30 years I won’t look a thing like either picture.)

  • cypressgreen

    I let my first husband bully me into taking his often mis-pronounced German last name. When we divorced, I took back my own.

    I didn’t take my current husband’s name because I’m the last of my family, and because if I had done so I’d sound like a charater from a Dickens novel. I am NOT joking.

    This makes life interesting, as we now have a 3 surname household!

  • Hannah

    When my parents got married, they wanted to have the same last name and decided to go with my dad’s instead of my mom’s because hers was more common. They actually looked it up in a phonebook to check the number of people listed with each last name! That seems like a good way to settle the issue. If I end up getting married, I’d like to have the same last name as my husband and any kids we have, but I hate the idea of hyphenating my name (it would be so confusing in the second generation, and just seems overly long to me – not a sustainable solution to the problem). I think it’s nice for a family to all have the same name, but it would be nice if it were equally likely and accepted that the husband change his name.

  • http://ericachampion.com Erica

    When my parents got married in 1978, my dad changed his name to my mom’s. His was a generic Italian name, my mom’s was/is Champion. She had been married and changed her name before, and she didn’t want to do that again. My dad was a musician and decided Champion was a better name for a performer.

    I’m not going to change my name if I ever get married. How can you beat Champion?

    I don’t really care if my hypothetical husband changes his name. Name is a big part of identity, and I wouldn’t want to encourage someone to give that up.

    And why is it the women are the ones making this decision? Why can’t a man consider this as well?

  • Carrie

    I never even considered changing my name. And my husband wouldn’t want me to. If there is one thing I dislike, it’s tradition. I do things because I want to do them, not because it is considered the thing to do.

    Also, we don’t own wedding rings. I hate jewelry. No wedding, either, just a quick unplanned stop at the courthouse. My parents weren’t thrilled with being told about my marriage after the fact, but it’s my life, not theirs.

    We don’t want kids, so we don’t have to figure out what to do with the next generation. The cat has my name. Probably because I’m the one who made the first vet appointment.

    I don’t need silly symbolism to feel unified in my marriage. I have an awesome marriage. We see eye-to-eye on all of the important things, and on a lot of silly things as well. We don’t fight. We’ve been married for over 9 years and I was 20 when we wed.

    • guest21

      Wow! I read your comment and its like reading about my own situation and my opinions about married life. I had done exactly the same thing you did and I am proud.  Good for you!

    • Terrrence

       Great decision to not wear rings. Women who insist on him buying her an engagement ring and him wearing a wedding band but refuse to change their names based on equality and not wanting a symbol of ownership are hypocrites, which is disappointing.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VR7LGXVZ75T6HHKY6YBTPVBFQQ Kat

        I kept my names and I do wear a ring. He wears one also…how is that hypocritical? Also, we saved up for the rings together, he did not buy it for me.

        It’s not an ownership thing…I AM his wife. He has a different relationship with me than anyone else. But we belong to each other equally, so why change my name?

        • EvanMyers

           It’s not necessarily. As long as you spent about the same for your rings. For example, where you don’t also have a precious stone ring that he had to buy, getting down on one knee to ask, etc. -  while he only has a band.

          Rings do indicate ownership. Many people are okay with that.

  • Randy

    My wife kept her name mainly for business reasons. She is a classical pianist from Russia and her Russian name has opened more doors here than my name would have.

  • Rawr

    I never did like my family’s last name very much, especially while growing up. When my husband and I were talking about all the little details you need to discuss before you decide to get married, the name change never came up. I know he’s a pretty supportive feminist, so probably didn’t want to pressure or even make suggestions. I mulled it over for a little bit in my own head, then decided I wanted his last name. It’s cooler, easier to spell and pronounce, unconnected to my past, and I was feeling a bit sentimental.

    Professionally, it doesn’t make a difference, because I’m in broadcasting and have been using my first and middle names together. My last name was just too unwieldy for that anyhow.

    You should’ve seen how happy my guy was when I said, “I was thinking… I’d really like to change my last name to yours, if that’s okay with you.” I was pleasantly surprised when he was so ecstatic about it. It was like I had just given him a baby sea lion!

    Now I get tickled by our friends who call me Mrs. ___ because I never thought I’d want to get married, and I feel way too young to be a Mrs. :)

  • Somejustin

    When my wife and I decided to get married I really did not care if she took my name, hyphenated, or kept her old name. She is the person I wanted to marry and her name had no bearing on that. She ended up taking my last name when we got married because she was not that attached to her maiden name and wanted our whole family to share the same name. So it was a decision based on family unity more than some long standing tradition.

    I have read many modern solutions to the surname/marriage issue including couples combining their last names into a new last name which I think is very creative if your names match up well enough.

  • http://politicalcartel.org David

    What last name do the kids get if the parents have different names? It seems bound to make the losing name feel less than equal at some point.

  • muggle

    Wow, that was an interesting read. Let me add to it:

    I couldn’t wait to get rid of my maiden name when I married simply because my parents were both abusive and I disowned them both when I left home at 18. Yes, I could have changed it immediately but that would have been a huge legal hassle.

    When I divorced, I couldn’t wait to change it back.

    End result: my daughter and I have different last names. Her’s is the easier of the two. Mine is French but easy as pie to pronounce but has about 50 variant spellings so I’m always asked how to spell it.

    My daughter’s is a very common English name I’ve only seen spelled one way except when used as a first name and someone got cute with it and then oddly I’ve only seen the one variant tweaking the last syllable. Her first name is a long German one that no one can pronounce or spell (though of late it’s becoming more common) and even if you know the traditional spelling, I altered it slightly (didn’t like the repetition of one letter). She’ll often use her last name as a first name on the phone for things like ordering pizza and that sort of thing where it doesn’t matter.

    She never married grandbaby daddy when she was living with him but gave baby his last name — An even more common Scottish one that I’ve never ever seen spelled any other way or heard mispronounced. Both his first and last name are common as dirt and, in fact, his first pediatrician had another patient with the exact same name and it was always which one are you calling about?

    Now that her and baby daddy are split up and we’ve moved into together to save expenses and so it’s easier for me to help with babysitting and her to help with my difficulties walking, we’re a household of three generations with three different last names. No one wonders if we’re related. We have no problem with that. In fact, his school is a pain in the neck about calling me if they don’t reach her on the first try in non-emergency situations even though my name doesn’t match either of theirs.

    So, tell me, exactly what’s the big deal if the kid’s name differs from yours?

    Maybe it depends on area, however. I got more confusion over her last name and mine not being the same in a different state when she was growing up.

  • Justin

    My wife kept her last name. I kept mine. The reasons were simple:
    1) We are still individuals.
    2) Name-changing is a pain in the ass initially, and can have annoying ripple effects if not done carefully.

    Also, looking through this thread, how awesome would it be if our culture evolved to the point where abusive parents could be easily visible by their offsprings’ married surnames?

  • bullet

    I used to work in the box office of a theatre patronized by Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Everyone addressed her as Ms. Woodward, but the checks were always signed Joanne Newman.

  • http://cannedamathome.blogspot.com Cannedam

    I enjoy having my husband’s last name. It’s an unusual name and it is his, which makes me feel more a part of him. Having our whole family have the same last name is preferable, but my oldest 2 children have their father’s name — a name I couldn’t be rid of fast enough. In some cultures, the children are given the mother’s maiden name before the father’s surname.

    “Mrs.” is a term I cannot abide. To me it might-as-well be Mr.’s as if I am the property of my husband. Even worse, those women who a couple generations ago would leave their entire identities behind and become “mrs. John Smith” after marriage.

  • Hypatia’s Daughter

    I didn’t change my name 33 years ago when I got married. Hyphenation was out of the question because we both have long Scottish names that would tax any application form…
    Hubby didn’t care. His Mom did, yanked my chain a few times, then got over it.
    Our 3 kids have his last name. I figure my maternity was a fact of giving birth, but his paternity had to be acknowledged by him & me, so it was a way of recognizing his commitment to his children (O.K., so maybe that is a rationalization, but it worked.)
    I was in the PTA when my kids were in school and have been the Treasurer for a Club, so I can tell you the number of families with multiple names is far more than you realize. I have seen four or more names for one family – usually from remarriage, where the kids have their father’s name, the mother keeps another name and the husband uses his own.
    Except for a few snarky regressives, our different names has never been an issue. Two men in our Club (who consider themselves open-minded) persistently refer to me as Mrs Husband’s Name, even though they have received checks with my own name on the bottom. Very confusing as the new members can’t find Mrs Husband’s Name on our website or in our roster. She doesn’t exist (unless my husband gets a sex change operation.) I find this behavior rude, condescending & disrespectful to both me & my husband.

  • Gibbon

    There is so much talk here about wanting to retain that individual identity that each of us has, that I think those who have said that have forgotten that we are not an individual species but rather a social species; we are not great white sharks, instead we are ants, just with a much higher level of self-awareness. That social nature means that we rely on forming relationships with others to survive, and in that vein any strong relationship does require that all involved parties make their own individual sacrifices. If a person is unwilling to sacrifice even the tiniest part of their individual being when they get married, then I have to question whether that person should in fact be getting married.

    In that respect if I ever get married, which I do have an intensely strong longing for, I, as a male, would be willing to change my last name to that of my female partner. For me it would be a display of the depth of my commitment to the relationship. Besides that, either she or I changing our last name to that of the other would be logistically preferable for a variety of reasons, most of which other people here have mentioned.

  • Trixie

    I kept my last name, our daughter has her dad’s last name as her surname and my last name as her middle name. Sometimes, people get confused and call her by my last name which drives my in-laws nuts.

    • hg

      You are very smart indeed for making your daughter’s life complicated with your feminist crap.

  • tony

    my fiance didn’t really want to take my last name and i didn’t really want to buy an engagement ring. tradition took over and neither of us got what we wanted.

  • Jude

    I kept my name in part because I’m a feminist; in part because when I was 3 years old, I decided it was asinine for only females to give up their names; and mostly because I like being a Crook. However, since I ended up divorced twice (they both had horrid last names), I’ve always been grateful that I was born a Crook and will die a Crook.

    • dk

      And you do sound like a crook :)

  • AxeGrrl

    Hypatia’s daughter wrote:

    Except for a few snarky regressives, our different names has never been an issue. Two men in our Club (who consider themselves open-minded) persistently refer to me as Mrs Husband’s Name, even though they have received checks with my own name on the bottom. Very confusing as the new members can’t find Mrs Husband’s Name on our website or in our roster. She doesn’t exist (unless my husband gets a sex change operation.) I find this behavior rude, condescending & disrespectful to both me & my husband.

    *rolling eyes* talk about passive-aggressively disrespectful ~ to purposely dismiss your identity (which is exactly what they’re doing).

    What are these people threatened by, anyway?

  • Nikki

    I’m not married, but when I marry, whether I change my name or not will depend on how much I like my husband-to-be’s name. I like my name fine – it’s pretty neutral (no obvious ethnic connotations), it goes well with my given name as well as my nickname, and it would make a great first name. If i have a kid, his/her first name will be my last name, and he/she will have my husband’s surname.

    If I choose to change my name, I’ll use my current last name as my middle name, and sign all three.

    If my husband-to-be has a problem with me keeping my last name, then I’ll know I made the wrong choice – and cancel the wedding.

  • Tina

    I had a friend once that was married to an Asian lady. (sorry, can’t remember exactly where she was from.)
    He told me the girls there were not given middle names, thus when they married their maiden name became their middle name and then took the husband’s name as their last name. Because of that, you could trace genealogies very easily.
    I always thought that was a cool idea.

  • http://www.secularstudents.org Lyz

    My husband and I both chose to keep our own names when we wed largely because we both have published works under our own maiden names.

    I suppose my attitude at large is derived from the fact that I see my marriage as a legal pile of paperwork that magically makes the government give us assorted benefits. Our relationship would exist whether we were married or not, and our relationship has absolutely nothing to do with what our names are. It makes about as much sense to me as, I dunno, dying your hair green to signify that you’re dating someone.

    Except for the creepiness involved when married women are addressed as “Mrs. Husband’s Name.” That is effed up – you sign a paper and suddenly you’re an appendage of another person without even a first name of your own? Inhumane.

  • Pem

    I know a great deal of academics keep their last name when getting married. When it comes to the prestige of your last name on a paper and the authority that comes with years of research, it is important that people recognize your work. If your last name changes it can be the equivalent of starting from square one. Why give up a life time of work just for a single name.

    To me it makes sense to keep your last name, be you a man or a woman.

  • absent sway

    I took my husband’s name because it was one tradition I was comfortable keeping because growing up, it was always taken for granted that I would and it didn’t particularly bother me. Also, my maiden name was constantly being butchered and I welcomed the convenience of a new one. I don’t consider myself to be particularly traditional in general. I think we all have some traditions that are emotionally significant or reassuring or even just convenient and others we would rather do without for a similar variety of reasons. This was one tradition I participated in and there were others I ditched (I didn’t get married in a church or wear a veil, for instance). P.S. I never do my husband’s laundry and almost never cook. ;)

  • Scott Carlson

    My wife kept her name, for various reasons, none of which on there own is really convincing. Our son has my name, and I decided to give our daughter my wife’s last name.

    • My

      Pu$$y!

  • http://frans.lowter.us Frans

    My wife wants my last name because she likes it better. *shrugs*

    Anyway, what I personally think is incredibly weird is how in English people sometimes say that a woman who got engaged will be “Mrs. Husband’s Forename Surname.” I mean, what the heck is that: a statement that the woman shall be the property (i.e. a slave) of the man or something?

    Regarding name changes, I think it’s perfectly regular for a man to take on the woman’s name, or for one or both of them to hyphenate. Keeping both individual names, well, individual isn’t as regular a thing to do afaik, but do note that couples typically live together for many years without getting married, if at all. For the kids people do tend to pick just one surname though, I believe.

    P.S. I’m Dutch, since that might be relevant here.

  • Amelia

    I never wanted to change my name when I got married. My husband wanted me to do it to create a new version of the family he grew up in. I told him I would be willing to do that if he would take my last name as a second middle name – so we’d both be My Name His Name on paper. He didn’t want to change his initials, so I wasn’t about to change my name.

    My take is that if name changing is really about a cohesive single name for a family, couples would flip a coin, or create a new name. The default to a man’s name is clearly patriarchal.

  • Marie T

    I liked the idea of having the same last name as my husband and had always wanted to have us both change our last name to Frankenstein when I got married, but my husband thought that was a little too bizarre. Additionally, he had been forced as a child to use his abusive step-father’s last name and his own name was very important to him because of that. My father had begun treating my family so strangely by the time I married that I wanted the separation from his name and just went with my husband’s. My father’s behavior got a lot worse after I married, to the point where I have not had any contact with him for 8 years. That whole side of the family has since demonized me based on things he has said. I’m very happy to not have my father’s last name any more and like my father-in-law so well that I do appreciate sharing his name instead.

  • http://hhfcraft.blogspot.com/ Kristen Mary

    This topic has always bugged me because it is never-ending. I did not want to change my last name, but the reason I have my last name is because of my father, and not my mother. Even though I grew up with my mother’s family and felt much more a part of that tribe than my father’s. My husband and I decided the way that was best for us was to each take each other’s last name in conjunction with our own. (Himsl Hunter) It was the most accurate way to describe our union and our new little family.

  • Heidi

    Interesting responses. I’m coming at this from the other direction. I did take my husband’s name. Now that I’m getting divorced I’m wondering if it’s worth changing it back.

  • Steff

    No more debating about this in the Province of Quebec, Canada: since 1981, women MUST keep their maiden names when they marry. I think we are the only territory in the world to do so (correct me if I am wrong).And I am glad of this, and nobody seems to tick about it anymore…it is custumary now.

  • Matt

    In Quebec women don’t even have the right to change their last name to their husband’s if they wanted to… Not sure why they took that right away from women there. I’m assuming they can still vote.

  • Everett

    I couldn’t give a monkey’s what other people do; it’s their life and their right to choose what they want to be called. Like people’s sexual orientation, I have enough things in my life to worry about other than people’s personal choices that have no effect on me.

    BUT… that being said, I’m always a little baffled by the logic of people who choose to go the hyphenate route if they plan to have kids. What do they think this current generation of rampant hyphenated-surname kids are going to do when they get married? I’m just picturing all these people 20 years from now changing their names to things like, “Foster-McCormack-Lee-Schumsky.” And then what about when those kids get married? It’s like that old shampoo commercial – “and she told two friends, and she told two friends…” It’s just such an amazingly short-sighted ‘solution’ from a logical perspective.

  • sangetencre

    “‘Her’ name is more likely to actually be her father’s name. So the only name she can truly call hers is one she’s chosen for herself.”

    This is a specious argument.

    That woman’s male fiance’s last name? It’s probably *his* father’s name. But no one goes around telling him that his name isn’t really his name, on loan to him until he gets married…

    Do last names just stick better to boys?

    Both men and women (speaking from a very Western U.S. perspective) tend to get their father’s last names, so we’re on equal footing there.

    But it’s only women who are routinely socially expected to give up the last name they were given at birth when they marry.

    There is something seriously wrong with that.

  • Pingback: The More Things (and Names) Change… > BustMyBudget.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/powellrichard Richard Powell Pysaruk

    I just got married to my partner in a same sex marriage…. Before the haters comment in force, Ive chosen to take his name, yet his name would seem foreign here, he is eastern european i am western european. For us the legal aspect of name change is easy but I like his name, its unusual and I never liked my own surname anyway so I have decided to take his. 
    So men have that option too, same sex, or not!

  • Rich

     just got married to my partner in a same sex marriage…. Before the haters comment in force, Ive chosen to take his name, yet his name would seem foreign here, he is eastern european i am western european. For us the legal aspect of name change is easy but I like his name, its unusual and I never liked my own surname anyway so I have decided to take his. 
    So men have that option too, same sex, or not!

  • Atlgal

    I really didn’t want to change my last name or wear a wedding ring. but my husband went on and on about how important it was to him. Forget the fact that his parents divorced when he was 5 and he hardly ever saw his father again – but the name was important to him. I keep my maiden name in my country of origin but use my married in the US were we live. our daughter has his last name. I hope by the time she’s old enough to be married this practice goes out of style. Hopefully new families will create a new last name. we have DNA and computer records to keep track of genealogy now 

  • KerryLangstrom

    I was born with my father’s last name. I changed it to the spelling of my grandfather’s last name before he came through Ellis Island. But it is MY last name too as it was my female cousins. It is and always has been a female last name as well as a male’s last name. I wouldn’t change my name if I married.

  • john rogers

    Feminist bullllllshit feminism is a pure admittance of a feeling of grave insecurity. Women and men are obviously equal and both completley necessary to create life. The fact that you’d take so much time to focus on such an inferior issue is just apalling. For instance you decide to have children, children who then have to either decide on which name to be given (which parent do you like better?), you and your significant other will definitely resent whoevers name is given (obviously if such insecurity due to a simple name causs such a stir, or finally the child will have to deal with the fact that he/she has two last names because his parents do not truly love eachother. Love is about sacrifice and devotion to your better half, if you are an example of this wonderful thing than following a simple tradition would be the absolute least of your worries. *exception – your surname is essential to your safety or career-* marriage simply began as a bond of procreation in which feelings and consideration took a backseat to the creation of new life(best genetic match); however it has evolved into a beautiful unification of two halves to create a whole. Those of you that refuse to be a part of a unit and seek to be an individual rather than an integral and necessary piece to a functioning unit are contradicting the act of marriage in itself. For all you femenistas that are going to rant and rave about my ignorance, my wife is a beautiful, INDEPENDENT,caring and intelligent surgeon. She is the strongest person I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and quite honestly sets the bar for women everywhere. She is the definition of an alpha-female (the true desire and point of feminism, “we want as much power and equality as men have blah blah,” the truth is, if you desire and deserve as much equality as your counter gender then assert yourself with humility and greatness and you will prove everything there is to prove. Feminism is an excuse for failure laziness and lack of effort because the real women in the world assert themselves to greatness without asking for help or more rights because the truth is that life is not fair. Every person creates their own destiny and women have just as much ability as men. I have seen it and know it. The women in my life are the most respected, independent, and humble people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Marriage is a union. Without two parts it does not exist. Individually cannot exist in a partnership, however independence can. I apologize for any spelling errors as I am typing this on my cell phone in which the screen is quite destroyed. To finish: couples that truly love eachother do not quarrel over individuality because they seek mutual dependence. Love is a partnership, not a competition. So stop bitching and moaning for more differences when your entering a union of partnership. Double lunch =)

    • Fhahs

      By the way quick shoutout to gay marriage love has no bounds I respect and envy your courage for you have a true cause to seek equality because you actually face hardship in simply being. I apologize for feminism in its entirety for it detracts from the seriousness of true tragedy in the world.

  • Greattigerlily

    I grew up in China, where nobody changes last names after marriage. When I came to the U.S. and told people that my last name is not my husband’s, I was asked “Why?” I was astonished. Do I need a reason to keep the name I grew up with? I’m really puzzled.

    • guest

      i don’t want to change my last name either, especially if I were to marry someone with a common last name such as jones or smith  or a really bad last name like butler or dick or potty (i know people with those last names).

      I was just wondering which last name your kids would take?

      I like a family having all the same last name because it’s something they have in common.  
      I just hope my future husband isn’t offended if I try to make him change his name to mine ;]

    • guest21

      I am with you. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico were women don’t change their last names. That is a very bizarre custom for us because we are very proud of our last names over there and we follow the Spanish custom of using your family’s name all your life and that is unheard of.  The name changing is an American custom only, not followed at the majority of the rest of the world, and many people in America think that whatever customs are followed here are followed everywhere else around the globe. 

  • DouBle

    I get a little sick of the ‘a woman’s name isn’t hers, it’s her father’s’ comments.  If a family name is passed down then you’d have to go back a long way to find the originator.  My surname is mine, it was also my father’s.  My husband’s surname is his, it was also his father’s. Just because they were handed down from our parents, it doesn’t make them any less our own. 

    When I married, it was never an issue that I kept my name.  My husband is an ardent feminist and had no desire to impose his name upon me.  If he had been the kind of man that tried to insist I take his name, I wouldn’t have even entertained the notion of marrying him.  His family accepted it without a problem, as did mine (aside from a couple of the older members who still find it confusing).

    We’re now expecting our first child and have decided that they will bear both surnames.  Double-barrelling may not be the most elegant solution but this child will be a part of both of us and there is no way of combining our surnames that wouldn’t sound hideous or ridiculous.

    I like my surname, it’s a fairly common name, it doesn’t stand out from the crowd but it is mine.

  • afi

    I took my Husband’s last name because I wanted our family unit to have the same last names. I always hated that I had a different last name from both my parents. I had my mother’s maiden name…then she had married another and took his name.

  • Sharon

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  • Haroldprsurf

    I am a man, I’ve been married for 18 years and my wife kept her last name. Why? you might ask? well simple, thats who she is; I did not buy her, I do not own her. and I think that women who keep their last name after marriage are very smart. Think about it; why women have to change their last name? Is it because she belongs to the guy? is it because she is an object that is under his name now? And why men doesn’t take hers? Is it because she is less than him. I just think is plain stupid. Its 2012 people; slavery ended years ago….

    Women DO NOT CHANGE WHO YOU ARE FOR ANY GUY!!!!!!!!!!!

    • mary

      Thank you so much for this post. I am dealing with this issue as we speak. My fiance has told me that if I don’t change my last name that he will not marry me, and my family is backing him up. I am 22 years old and about to go to law school. I am just heart-broken over this because I love this man dearly, but do not feel that I should be subject to such ridicule. I believe very firmly that if I allow my name to be changed to his, that I am becoming his property and subjecting myself to an old tradition in which women were men’s property. Please help me resolve this issue because we are scheduled to wed in less than a year and I am just lost for words and in tears right now. I want to stand firm on my beliefs, but I cannot lose him. We have been together for two years and he is my college sweetheart. It sickens me that he will not back down and love me unconditionally enough to compromise. I am a feminist and I believe firmly that that old marriage tradition is WRONG!! Women should NEVER have to change their identity and become a man’s property! Please help me!

      • Juli

        All things considered, and I’m saying this from the position of someone that fell madly in love with a person only vaguely like me in menial things like name changing and dwelling quirks, if he’s refusing to marry you for not taking his last name, he doesn’t love you enough to marry you at all. Marriage only seems to be about compromise, it’s really about realizing that your quirks and pride are secondary to someone else’s happiness and if he can’t put aside his silly notions of name to marry you, you’re not the woman he loves.

        That said, when my husband and I got married it was agreed that I would keep my last name (because my last name was awesome and I’m not property) but, seeing how much it meant to him, I changed it when he was out of town for a few days. 

      • Me So Ornery

        Would your fiance consider double-barrelling the two last names? This way, both of you will have the same last name/ family identity.
        If he can’t agree to a 50% change in his last name, why does he have the right to insist on a 100% change for yours?

      • Jewl121

        You should never change who you are for a man!  I feel bad for you that no one in your family supports you!  I did not change my name when I got married and my husband not only supports it, but loves me more because I’m a strong woman.  If your fiance really loves you and cares about you, then he wouldn’t put a stipulation under certain circumstances in which he will marry you.  A name is a name, and he shouldn’t bully you into believing that you have to change your name just because you are becoming his wife.

      • Terrence

        “Women should NEVER have to change their identity and become a man’s property!”

        Agreed.

        Show him that you mean what you say by telling him that you also don’t believe in engagement or wedding rings, which show belonging just as much as the name change.

        If you insist on the engagement ring, and insist that he wear a wedding ring, you will appear (and be) selfish and you will have no argument.

  • Juli

    I recently married and changed my last name for one reason: My last name meant more to him than it did to me. Despite being in a field where it’s standard to go by your last name I’ve always insisted on being called by my first due to the fact that I absolutely love my first name. When we got married his level of caring what my last name was easily four or five times higher than my level of caring so I just changed it.

    Apathy for the win.

  • HR

    My husband (not legally, but I use boyfriend and husband interchangeably) and I have chosen not to get legally married. Mainly this is because I don’t believe that a spiritual bond between two people has to be government approved to exist and because I never do something purely out of the sake of tradition and no one has ever given me a remotely good reason to prove to me that legal marriage is necessary. Anyways, I’m pregnant (it was planned. and its ridiculous how many people who know our relationship situation still feel the need to ask if it was planned or not) and his parents keep asking over and over who’s last name will the baby have. I don’t really care, what’s the point of last names anyways other than following family lines – the concept of the baby having my name never crossed my mind. I grew up with my dads last name and my parents were never together (after the initial few months), and it was never weird for me to have my dads name even though I lived with my mom, so I don’t get how its even an issue for parents that are split up.

  • Terrence

    After marriage, women shouldn’t have to give up their identity if they don’t want to. Marriage should be equal sacrifice and neither should be branded as belonging to another human. That is why she can keep her last name if she wants, and why I won’t be buying an engagement ring or wearing a wedding band. The engagement ring, if the man is expected to unilaterally spend the thousands is just as unequal as the women being expected to unilaterally change her name. She can buy one if she wants one. And, I won’t be wearing anything that brands me as belonging to anyone, married or not. It’s no one else’s business, least of all strangers.

  • Monique

    I am 47 years old and my husband is 53 years old.  We just got married on Nov. 03, 2012.  We dicussed hyphenated his name on to mine or me changing my last name to his, at the end I just asked him and he said he would like me to change my name to his.
    Now my maiden name is Speights, so I will gladly change it to Clark, it is an easier name to spell and pronounce and I am so tired of pronouncing and correcting people when the think that Speights is Spites or spaghetti or something else foolish.

  • Pecora Nera

    When I married my wife, we joined and hyphenated our names. Living in the UK meant changing our documents was easy. However when we returned to my wife’s country ‘Belle Italy’, the change has caused all sorts of problems, I have spent the past 7 months trying to get the Italian authorities to recognise my driving licence.

    On hindsight changing my name was a mistake.

    Pecora Nera
    englishmaninitaly . org

  • Bob the Lunatic

    There is only one true solutoin to the name dilemma, and it cannot be offered by feminism, as it has shown, for feminism has a focus that is limited. And no solution that fails within two generations could be true. Equality is true, therefore the solution exists, and like equality, it is simple.


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