Bad Reasons to Change Your Last Name After Marriage

We can debate whether or not it’s a good idea to change your last name after you get married, but Andrée Seu Peterson at World Magazine (a Christian publication) explains how she changed her name after having a talk with her husband:

When nothing else was working my true love said to me, “Andrée, ultimately I’m not that important to you.” It was the last resort in a drawn out drama and it did the trick. Stunned like a wailing child by a well-placed swat, I straightened up and surveyed the new terrain.

Isn’t that romantic…?

Libby Anne is stunned (but not surprised) for a few reasons. Here’s just one of them:

First of all, of course, is the glaring double standard. If changing her name to his is necessary to show that he is “important” to her, then why is the reverse not true? Why should Andree’s fiance expect her to change her name to his without ever considering changing his name to hers? How is her refusing to change her name a sign that she is uncaring while his not even considering changing his name means nothing of the sort?

Ultimately, it should be each person’s decision what to do. It’s not mandatory for one person in the couple to change his/her last name. And it’s not a bad thing if you decide to do it, either. But the belief that you’re not really in love if you don’t do it is crazy.

Libby Anne changed her name — on her own terms — but this article was a flashback to a time she lived under the patriarchal rule that evangelical Christians love to promote:

It reminded me of everything I used to believe, and everything I am so glad I no longer believe. It reminded me of how glad I am that my decision to change my name was really my decision -– and one made without pressure.

If only everyone knew they had that choice.

***Update (9/12/12)***: The author’s husband has responded to this post (and Libby Anne’s), calling it all a big misunderstanding. Libby Anne has quoted him on her site so I’ll just send you there.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Marty

    It would be great if it was expected to just come up with a new last name for the couple when they married!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000070549477 Krista Yearwood

    I particularly like how she immediately equates her desire not to change her name with being a wailing child in need of a swat. 

  • 0xabad1dea

    I regretted signing the paperwork to change my name within five minutes. I only did it because my family and his were both upset about how unconventional we were going about our marriage and they kept asking “well you are changing your name to his, right?” and I was like “fine, I guess I don’t see why not”. At least my workplace is totally cool with me using my old name professionally.

  • http://www.chickhammer.com/ Ashley

    I ultimately decided to keep my last name, although both my husband and I felt it would be nice to have the same last name. He never pressured me to take his, and even considered taking mine, but it turned out to be a much bigger deal for men to do than women, so we kept what we had.

  • Michael

    Back when I was considering someone that seriously, I did suggest changing my own surname. This had nothing to do with hers being way cooler than mine.

  • Canadian Atheist, eh!

    I have had this discussion, and though the woman involved and I ultimately chose not to wed, we had decided each to change our names — a hyphenated jobby that wouldn’t have simply tacked my name onto hers but would have  resulted in each of us having the same last name that kept both of the originals, as it were. You wouldn’t believe the looks people would give us when we talked about it.

  • http://twitter.com/phoo Chris Irwin Davis

    Couples should interleave their last names, and both adopt the new hybrid.
    Smith + Jones = Sjmointehs

  • http://twitter.com/Vagrarian Michael Cornett

    I work in registrations at a testing agency, and it is often a huge pain dealing with name changes, esp. with those who have been married/divorced multiple times. If you’re going into a profession that requires a license, strongly consider keeping your maiden name because these days a career can last longer than a marriage. (Sounds cynical, but from what I’ve seen, it’s true.)

  • http://profiles.google.com/davydd.norris David Philip Norris

    Nothing says love like a little emotional blackmail.

  • Johnathan Fullman

    While I agree that the convention of the woman taking the man’s last name is patriarchal, I don’t think this means that we should jump on the name hyphenation bandwagon. If my parents and grandparents did that, my lastname would be very long. Name hyphenation is clearly an unsustainable practice.
    Perhaps last name changing should be centered around a more practical and rational method: The last name with the fewest family members to keep it going should be taken. Thoughts?

  • SisyphusRocks

    I took my wife’s name

  • Johnathan Fullman

    I like the hybrid name idea also!

  • http://twitter.com/Cluisanna Cluisanna

    In Germany, only one person is allowed to hyphenate, the possible children all have to have the same last name and you can’t make up a new name or combine the names.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AndresHelgi Andrés Helgi Valgarðsson

    Our solution here is to go without surnames. Seems to be working.

  • guest

    My wife took my name initially as we were young and “everyone was doing it”.  However, after being married 10 years and expecting our first baby (whom we had to name) the issue came forward and we legally changed our names to a hyphenated one with both our birth names; and our kids have that last name too.  It’s nice to all have the same last name but one that includes both of our birth names.  Some people think it’s weird but we are starting to see more of it.  

  • Onamission5

    I worked with a guy who did this with his wife when they married. They took both of their last names and combined them into a new name which represented their new beginning as a couple. She was able to get her name changed in court in a snap by just writing in the new name on their marriage paperwork, but he had to petition seperately and was being held up by the courts on grounds that it was frivilous. Some BS there, I have to say.

  • guest

    Oh, and I should add some of the legal issues with changing names that we encountered.  In that state we lived in at the time (Iowa), for a woman to change her name when getting married it just involved a trip to the Social Security office with the marriage certificate.  For a male to change his name it requires a court petition to do so (and of course costs associated with it).  I’m sure each state treats it differently and hopefully more are changing to make the process the same for males and females to change their names when getting married.

  • Joannaa

    I changed my name because I wanted to have one family name, and my birth name (I was no maiden) was difficult, while his was simple. We talked about making a new name, but as someone else noted, it’s not easy for men to change their names. Things like this make me regret appearing so traditional, just a little.

  • Donna Lafferty

    I never considered changing my name. I can’t imagine falling in love with a man who would insist on that, either.

  • Onamission5

    Between my spouse, our kids and myself, we’re got five last names amongst six people. I hope my kids know that they are welcome to use any of those names or none of them at all, without any reprocussions from us parents.

  • Glasofruix

    The one that sounds cooler would be a better system

    (because my name is really really cool :p)

  • http://www.facebook.com/isidore.ducasse.3 Isidore Ducasse

    When my husband (then fiancé) and I were discussing the options, we both liked the idea of sharing a name (for practical reasons, and well, it’s just kind of nice).  It turns out that he is very proud of his Sicilian roots and can trace his family tree back several generations.  I can’t trace my lineage back very far and felt no major commitment to my last name, so we went with his (we did discuss hybrid/hyphen options, but it wasn’t for us).  In addition, I was never given a middle name.  So since I was going to have to go through the name-change hassle anyway, I decided to give myself a middle name in the process (never again will I have to leave that “middle initial” box blank on standard forms!).  So now I have my first name given to me by my parents, a last name given to me by my husband, and a middle name that I gave myself that has personal meaning.  

  • Fargofan1

    That’s what struck me, too (no pun intended). It’s one of the ways women are equated with children.

  • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

    Surname adoption only really mattered (in a stretched sense of the word) when bloodlines were valuable, land was ultimate wealth and women were chattel and child production factories. Inbred British aristocracy made a fuss over it to the point where people had and have strange double-barreled names like Wettisonwick-Fumblebuttocks.

    Ms. Peterson’s husband might be immersed in a value system where wives are expected to adopt their husbands’ surnames to indicate marriage, which in some cultures is the same as ownership.

  • Carmen

    I did not change my name when I married.  I made that decision probably in high school.  I remember the way people would refer to my mom as “Mrs. [husband's first and last name] as if she had no identity other than her husband’s wife.  Historically, women were expected to change their names because they were property to be owned by their husbands.  That is also why women wore wedding rings.  However now wedding rings are worn by both spouses, yet last names are still a vestige of the old property laws.
     
    14 years later, I still have numerous in-laws who blatantly refuse to use my name.  I don’t get upset, I figure they just really cannot handle the idea of an independent, married woman.  My husband gets more upset than I do.
     
    I am a professional and to this day, people seem hugely surprised when I tell them I kept my name.  It’s 2012, isn’t it?  Lucy Stone – the first recorded US woman to keep her maiden name, did so in the 1850′s.  (Interestingly when they married, she and her husband made a formal protest of the marriage laws and recorded the “marriage protest” which says, among other things:

    We protest especially against the laws which give to the husband:
    1. The custody of the wife’s person.
    2. The exclusive control and guardianship of their children…

  • b33bl3br0x

    “Name hyphenation is clearly an unsustainable practice.”

    I’m reminded of the German baroque composer Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern -schplenden -schlitter -crasscrenbon -fried -digger -dingle -dangle -dongle -dungle -burstein -von -knacker -thrasher -apple -banger -horowitz -ticolensic -grander -knotty -spelltinkle -grandlich -grumblemeyer -spelterwasser -kürstlich -himbleeisen -bahnwagen -gutenabend -bitte -eine -nürnburger -bratwustle -gerspurten -mit -zweimache -luber -hundsfut -gumberaber -shönendanker -kalbsfleisch -mittler -raucher von Hautkopft of Ulm.

  • Matto the Hun

    My wife and I decided to combine our names w/ no hyphens or spaces (people always drop one of the names with hyphens or spaces) My mom lost her mind and tried to lay on the guilt about… I don’t know… family or some shit I think. Even her side of the family took it as an affront. Funny thing was, my dad didn’t care at all (and he’s the only one left from his side of the family).

    I think another good avenue would have been to try to think of something totally cool like Wolfenstien, or McDanger, or GodSmasher, or Von Mehta

  • Isilzha

    Hopefully, those “well-placed swats” don’t become literal after the marriage. 

    I wonder why she didn’t also ask her husband why he didn’t respect her feelings about her own name?  Why are HER feeling less important in this argument?  Oh, right…cause she’s a woman.  That’s the ONLY reason!

  • http://twitter.com/cthulhubrett Brett Greenleaf

    My wife, before we got married, spent about 20 minutes one night justifying to me the reasons she did not want to change her last name to mine.  I looked at her and said, “I don’t care, I always thought it was stupid”,  and that put an end to it. 

    It leads to thinks like being introduced as “Mr. and Mrs. So-and-So”, which basically is saying that she is not important, and is not an individual, and only the male matters.

  • Onamission5

    Because wanting to retain one tiny, symbolic scrap of your personal identity is sooo childish, don’t you know? Yet another reason I rejected the QF movement out of hand the second my parents tried to lay it on me.

  • Isilzha

     Though I cringe for the future genealogists! 

  • Isilzha

     Or well-placed swats!

  • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

    Hm. I think I’ll drop my first name and surname simply for ‘McLovin’.

  • http://profiles.google.com/sfjetland Serge Fjetland

    i could see taking my wifes last name as an additional middle name (even if that will leave me with three middle names!) but i do belive that changing your last name is silly.

  • Druttaro

    As someone who’s father had a horrible name (Lumpee) and had it legally changed later in life, go with something your kids can live with.  I had all my ID’s in my mothers last name and only when I was going to school outside of the US did I have to legal change it.  What a hassle and expense.

  • Conspirator

    Well some people are into that kind of thing, who are we to judge? 

  • Oldf ogey

    Obviously most of these comments are for the US. In the UK you can call yourself anything you want, unless it is for fraudulent purposes. Obviously it helps in dealing with admin, banks, governments etc. etc. if you have some paperwork, but it is not legally required.

    When we married my wife did not change her name, and I would have been surprised if she had. Most of our friends haven’t.  Even our older relatives have now got used to it.

    Often strangers are likely to call me by her name – say if she has made a restaurant booking, but this is of no relevance either way.

    One idea I quite like is that people should change their name at the age of 18 from their “childhood” name, to an “adult” nmae of their choice.

  • Conspirator

    But what if your child marries someone with a hyphenated last name?  That could get out of hand real quick after a few generations.  Just something to think about. 

  • Onamission5

    Not only go with something they can live with, but make sure you’re not setting them up for too much legal hassle down the road.

    My parents didn’t legally change my last name when they married, nor did my stepdad adopt me, but they did enroll me in school under his last name, which has caused me endless amounts of bureaucratic bullshittery. I now have to use a hyphenate of a name that’s not even mine in order to tie my birth records into my school records into my other paperwork. B.S. My folks consider this compromise on my part disrespectful  to them, because part of the hyphenate is my birth name. Wha?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=797402801 Stacy Nickels Fletcher

     I’ve noticed a lot of women using their maiden name as a middle name. No hypen, but not a total loss of identity either.

  • Conspirator

    Hmm, I wonder if that creates issues for people in certain cultures where certain surnames are prominent, like the Vietnamese.  At my last job we had 3 Nguyens in our department, one man, two women.  Both the women had the surname Nguyen and both married a man with the same last name.  

  • mints11

    I love we don’t have to change our last names in my country…  that is why we keep 2 last names (dad’s and mom’s) and our children will have his first last name and my first last name.
    Sure, my mom’s last name will be lost with my children, but at least I got to carry it for the rest of my life :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Francis-Montes-de-Oca/100000177616186 Francis Montes de Oca

    I just decided to keep my last name, at least for now. Though I do sometimes get the feeling people don’t consider our marriage to be a happy and valid one *simply* because I kept my last name and don’t like wearing rings.

    The real headache will come when we have children, anyway. Still trying to figure how we will name them since I’m not 100% comfortable giving my kids my husband’s surname only because he happens to be the male in the relationship.

    No, Cooper-Montes de Oca or Montes de Oca-Cooper will never be an option. :)

  • Nunya Bidness

    When I got married the second time, both of us were in our 40s.  She already had a well-established professional presence with her maiden name, so it made no sense to change it.  We just had different names.

    My high school students were scandalized.  “She must not really love you.”  Bah!

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Sliding gleefully down the slippery slope, (weeee!) these hyphenated names could get out of hand. If John Toby married Mary Arnott, and their child later married a distant cousin from the Toby family, their kids’ name would be Toby-Arnott-Toby.

    If my daughter marries Bill Downs, and their kid marries someone whose ancestors come from the Upton, the De Swany, and the River families, their kids’ names could be Wade-Downs-Upton-De Swany-River.

    For my unfortunate great grandchildren, faking one’s death and becoming John Doe would be a viable option.

  • Charlesbartley

    I am getting married in 2 weeks. We call our family “Team CharBeka” combining our first names, and our friends refer to any potential kids as CharBekletts. Legally we are keeping our own names, and I don’t think that we have worked out what we will have the kid’s names–should they happen.

  • http://twitter.com/mrs_hubbell Cara Hubbell

     My husband and I considered inventing a hybrid last name, but when we couldn’t come up with anything cool, I just decided to take his. We did leave a LOT of traditions out of our wedding though including the garter toss (which symbolizes witnesses of consummation fighting over the bride’s undergarments as evidence) and my dad “giving me away” as I am not and was never his or anyone else’s property.  My husband and I walked down our respective aisles at the same time since we are very proudly equals :).

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TLHIXVS2CHDJNWYPZJIZ5NNZ3A Robert

    That was my thought too. 

  • Matt Womack

     That’s a win-win situation.

  • Conspirator

    That joke was made on occasion.  We also had four Roberts in the department, at least.  We decided that a perfect employee would be named Robert Nguyen.  

  • popeyoni

    Where I’m from, it is customary for the wife to keep her “maiden” name and for the kids to take their last names from both the father and mother. However, this is not as egalitarian as it seems.
    Everybody has two last names, one from the father and one from the mother.But the one you pass on to your kids is always the paternal one.

  • http://garicgymro.wordpress.com garic gymro

    We didn’t even give our son either of our surnames. In other words, my wife, my son, and I all have different last names. And future children will each have different last names again. This doesn’t simplify international travel (we need to take our son’s birth certificate with him as well as his passport), but it solves a few other issues. There’s also something of a precedent in Wales, where I’m from.

    In case anyone’s interested, I posted more about it on my blog:
    http://garicgymro.wordpress.com/2012/01/30/my-sons-name/ 
    http://garicgymro.wordpress.com/2012/01/30/my-sons-name-2/ 

  • KB

    In CA both parties are given the option to change middle and/or last names at the time of marriage.

    I chose not to change my name, and my husband chose the same. We don’t need the same name to love each other.

  • Onamission5

    I’m curious, do you know if that option was available before the granting of same sex partnership in CA, or was it a product of such? 

    ITA with not needing the same name to know you love someone.

  • KB

    I would say with hyphens decide on a method such as the mother giving the maternal name and father giving paternal name or vice versa, and voila! a new name that has elements of both and still allows the generations to trace their family heritage.

  • Coyotenose

     Don’t know if it’s true, but I heard that when Mongolia required the citizenry to take surnames for recordkeeping purposes, roughly half the population chose the same name.

  • Aaron Scoggin

    I’m a man. I changed my name to my wife’s name because for one, I don’t see it as a big deal, so long as we have the same last name, and two, she had already been there, done that before and didn’t want to go through the hassle.

    And when I say hassle, IT IS A HASSLE. As a man who changed his last name, I can tell you that society is VERY sexist when it comes to that. I’ve had official documents mailed to me saying that I needed more info because my request to change my name as “unusual”. Really.

  • Onamission5

    I mean same sex marriage. Not partnership. Sheesh, self.

  • Conspirator

    I was told by one of the Nguyens that it was common for Vietnamese people in the past to take the king’s surname, and the last king was Nguyen, the one before him was Tran, and I believe the one before that was Le.  Could be similar thing in some other Asian cultures I guess.   I believe Sherpas have the same surname.  And many Sikhs will have the name Singh as a surname or middle name. 

  • http://carpescriptura.wordpress.com/ MrPopularSentiment

    Yup, we also did away with aisles. 

  • Conspirator

    My point was that you have a doubling of names every generation.  Pretty soon everyone will think that companies that have long names based on mergers, like Glaxo-Smith-Kline, were actually founded by one person.  

  • http://carpescriptura.wordpress.com/ MrPopularSentiment

    That’s awesome! My husband and I Rock-Paper-Scissored for who would take whose name. He won fair and square, but I do regret that we didn’t take the opportunity to make a feminist statement.

  • http://carpescriptura.wordpress.com/ MrPopularSentiment

    Why is it something to think about? There’s no requirement that the children take the same approach. If the kids decide that doing it the same way their parents did would make things too complicated, they can just do it differently.

  • Daniel

     Fun Story: I was excited about taking my wife’s name as it was kind of cool “Hunter”, and I wasn’t that attached to my last name.  However, when I mentioned this to her, she quickly nixed the idea – she was excited to be changing her name as her maiden name was identical to that of a reasonably famous porn star and she was tired of late night calls from drunken guys and delivery men smirking at her when she had to sign her name.

    I then pushed for us creating a new last name, but she’s a bit too traditional for that.  

    More Fun: We got married in Ireland.  Signing the marriage certificate was part of the ceremony, but during the actual ceremony was the first time we saw the actual document.  Which had blanks to fill in for “Groom” and “Spinster”.  Luckily, she has a great sense of humor.

    There is a huge convergence of women and children with their place in society in most classic fairy tales.  You know, from the 1600 and 1700′s.  Not to surprising that that is were many churches are on these issues.

  • Conspirator

    Obviously.  Really I was mostly joking.  

  • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

    My husband feels your pain. We’ve just always rolled with humour when the stupid flies. He gleefully fills in the “maiden name” blanks on forms. It’s generally amusing to see people’s faces when they find out and try to compute it.

  • Sharon Hypatia

    I’ve been married for 36 years (to my one and only) and kept my maiden name. Our kids use his name – I figured that giving birth to them gave me primary ownership so using his name was giving him credit where credit was due.
    Never had a problem except for the occasional individual who took offense at something that was none of their business.
    Sort of of off topic, but I had a female friend (who uses her maiden name) who had to go to court to change her FIRST name. She had been using a first name since childhood as her legal name but it wasn’t on her birth certificate. Georgia passed a law that your state paperwork, including your driver’s license, has to have your full birth or legal  name on it. So they wouldn’t issue a drivers license with the name that was on her bank account, credit cards, checks, etc.
    She had to apply to have her name legally changed. The judge heard 5 minutes of her request and said “Done!”

  • Miranda

    A tiny, symbolic scrap of your personal identity, or a tiny symbolic scrap of your father’s identity?

  • Coyotenose

    I want to start a tradition where each spouse just takes the other’s last name. That won’t be confusing at all.

  • http://garicgymro.wordpress.com garic gymro


    I don’t see it as a big deal, so long as we have the same last name” @Aaron, out of curiosity, do you mind if I ask why it’s important to you to have the same last name as your wife? I don’t mean this question as an implicit criticism of your choice at all. I’m genuinely interested, partly because I’m interested in understanding the way some people responded to our choice to all have different names.

  • monyNH

     I love it! We also discussed hyphenated our last names, but some names just do NOT sound good together. I know a couple of women who use their “maiden” name as a first or middle name for their child–I always like this idea, and wished it was an option for us.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jadelackey Jade Lackey

    I took my husband’s last name because his sounded better, and now our son wont be made fun of as bad when he is in school like I was. My maiden name sounded as if I was a person who planted butts. Oddly enough now my last name is a word for servant.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/6WB627FPPESQSJXE5ICAME653E Stable Master

     McDanger would have rocked. I may have gone with Von Savage! (complete with !) if I had thought about it.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/6WB627FPPESQSJXE5ICAME653E Stable Master

     There was no way I was going to take my wife’s name, as I could never pronounce Huynh without her family looking at me like I was saying “poopstain”, and she as a highly paid professional was not about to change or hyphenate hers. The kid got my last name, with her last name as his middle name, and that was entirely her call- she basically told me that’s what she wanted and I had to live with it- which is how most decisions went…but mostly because I am pretty laid back and her….not so much.

  • Yukimi

    In Spain you can chhose the order of those two last names although is more common to just go with the dorm of first the father one and then the second one.

  • Cainturnley

    My wife and I created a new name from our combined surnames. I was Turnley, she was Rowston, we are now legally Turnston.
    Our surname is an amalgam with half from each of us – very much like our kids now are. And it made a very real statement to those we knew that we were now a family, distinct from our pre-married selves, both equally important in the relationship, and equally committed to it.

  • Onamission5

    Well yes, that occurred to me as well, but then again you’d have to go back multiple centuries in many families to find a woman who had a last name not passed to her by her paternal family. Based upon that, I have decided that I own my last name even though it has paternal origins, and that the patriarchial implications of paternity and inheritance can end with my spouse and me.

  • http://www.fromtwotoone.com/ from two to one

    My husband and I chose a completely new name after much contemplation and discussion — rather debate — with our families.  We also opted to not have the garter toss/bouquet toss, my father AND mother walked me down the aisle after my husband’s father AND mother walked him down the aisle.  We were announced as “the newlyweds, M & D” instead of “Mr. & Mrs. Hisfirstname Hislastname” and several others given that we are both feminists and reject patriarchal traditions like these.

  • http://www.fromtwotoone.com/ from two to one

    This is a great option since it was much more difficult for my husband to change this name

  • Stev84

    The Spanish naming convention handles it just fine. Women keep their names and children get a surname from both parents. The first surname is the father’s first surname and the second surname is the mother’s first surname. That still means that a grandchild with lose the grandmother’s surname, so family names aren’t necessarily handed down all the way.

  • MG

    Ditto pretty much all the way.  My 10-letter, 4-syllable, easily spelled last name was not as attractive to me as his 4-letter, 1 syllable last name.  And in addition to being complicated for him, it would have cost about $200, and we could not afford that in 1985. 

  • Conspirator

    But how does that work for the next generation?  I take it the male side surname still dominates then?  Does it vary for a boy vs. a girl?

  • MG

    I will be celebrating 27 years of marriage in two weeks, and I can’t think of more than four occasions when anyone even called me “Mrs.” I took his last name, but I took it for my own, not as “what you do when you get married.  Maybe I give off that vibe, or just don’t travel in those formal, conservative or old-fashioned circles, but I am only very rarely treated like some sort of adjunct of Spouse. Usually in my hometown, (What does your husband do, honey?” rather than what do YOU do?).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anthony-Rosa/1059360979 Anthony Rosa

    Several comments:

    First, the phrase “If you really love me, you would…” should only be followed by something like “…not murder me in my sleep!” or something else meant solely as a joke.

    Second comment: Honestly I don’t see the big deal about having different last names. I’d certainly never insist, on marrying someone, that they change their name to mine. Especially if she had a professional career of some sort! Now, would I take a wife’s last name? I actually thought about this. The answer is a deep-felt “maybe!”

  • Lauren

     Don’t worry about it.  I am a girl and changed my name too, but mine had nothing to do with the patriarchy….I symbolically want to leave my ugly past behind.  I also CHOOSE to be a SAHM for the years right after my children were born.  The beautiful thing about atheism = CHOICE!!!  Women can CHOOSE what is best for their situations and their families!!!

  • Lauren

     Choose whatever last name sounds the most badass with your 1st name  :)

  • LauraD

     That “Mr and Mrs Hisfirstname Hislastname” thing irks me at every wedding I go to!  Nice to see people doing their wedding their own way.

  • Alexandra

    My husband was serious about changing his name to mine until we looked at the process for a man to change his name vs a woman and decided that we’re too lazy for that crap.  

    Seriously, the fact you went through the process is a bigger gesture of love than the fact that you were one of the few men who actually would take their wife’s name.  

  • Stev84

    Since the male surname takes precedence, the grandchild get the grandfather’s surname and a new surname from his/her mother. So the grandmother’s name is lost.

    Though legally, it’s now possible to give the mother’s name precedence. There are also some people who became famous by their mother’s surname. Pablo Picasso for example.

  • Nolamama10

    Love it! My hubby and I flipped a coin but I lost… I was sad to lose but I got over it. A fair and square gamble (with EACH of us putting our names at stake, not a fake one with the ‘gamble’ being do I take his or not) seemed the only fair thing to do given that we wanted the same name. I know it was tough for him especially since he is a iii’ed, but it was tough for me too.

    Props to all the men here who showed their wives they see them as equal instead of just saying they do. And you have my sympathy for the sexism in name changes…we had looked into it in case he lost and were shocked at the difference

  • Nolamama10

    I think it might have been a product… We looked into it per- same sex marriage and it involved petitions, posting in the local paper, and about $2000 in fees

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OAUXAA362EXWLYVMPJOKLFB5JQ Incipient Madness

     That is (or was) very common here in The South. I know a guy named Strake because he came from old timey people who used to own land.

  • http://carpescriptura.wordpress.com/ MrPopularSentiment

    Indeed. My philosophy in all areas of relationships is that neither partner should expect anything of the other that they wouldn’t be willing to do themselves (and that includes what goes on in the bedroom). 

    Here in Canada, there’s no legal difference that I know of in men changing their names vs women doing it. However, as some other commenters have noted, how companies treat people in practice may be a very different matter. 

  • Onamission5

    If true, that’s a pretty awesome side effect of marriage equality. Actual marriage equality for everyone! 

  • Tekeydie

    I’m all fine and dandy with people keeping their own names, fine with hybrid and random names too.  it may be because the world i live  in but it seems like it would be easier to have one name (how ever the 2 of you choose what it will be)

    but my question is, if you both kept your own names what is your kids last name gunna be?

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Thus did my English Rowell and his bastardized French Gaushell morph — after reams of paperwork, published legal notices, courthouse visits, and scads of cash — into the acultural, unhistorical, but hard-to-mispronounce hybrid, Roshell.

    and

     Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was Mr. Villar before marrying Corina Raigosa in 1987.

    http://www.starshineroshell.com/stories/20070517.html

  • http://art.lismitchell.net Pixelfish

    He kept his. I kept mine. Our kids will have two, non-hyphenated last names. Whichever they choose to bequeath to their own offspring is something they can solve for themselves.

    My sisters axed their maiden names completely because they were pissed at dad for not giving them middle names. He always told us we would get our middle name upon marriage. He was kinda shocked when sis did away with his surname altogether. If I’d been really adamant, I could have adopted my mother’s maiden name but I hate paperwork, even the minimal version women have compared to guys who change their names upon marriage. I decided I’d stick with my birth identity.

    Other non-traditional things about our hitching:
    - I said no ring. We exchanged high fives instead.
    - we got married Vegas with an Elvis but did not elope. Immediate families were invited.
    - I wore a black off the shoulder dress I bought two weeks before.
    - my something old – my combat boots
    - my something new- octopus tights

  • AxeGrrl

    14 years later, I still have numerous in-laws who blatantly refuse to use my name

    What fucking nerve.  There are few things more blatantly disrespectful than refusing to address someone by their name.

    I hope you’ve invented some ridiculous nicknames for these petty, childish twerps and refuse to use their real names ;)

  • AxeGrrl

    I just decided to keep my last name, at least for now. Though I do sometimes get the feeling people don’t consider our marriage to be a happy and valid one *simply* because I kept my last name and don’t like wearing rings.

    *rolling eyes*

    People who project their ideas about ‘marriage’ onto others are beyond annoying.  Marriage is what the people involved decide it’s going to be.  Period.

  • AxeGrrl

    Beautiful!  :)

  • http://twitter.com/finsel Sebastian Finsel

    When my wife and I decided to get married, we talked about which of our names we liked more. It was hers, and so I changed mine. No big deal, for both of us. Some of the older relatives (and the more religious ones) were irritated, though. 

  • NickDB

    “Ultimately, it should be each person’s decision what to do.”

    So true, got married 6 months ago and my wife debated with herself long and hard about changing her name. My input was – it’s your name, I like mine and not going to change it, so I can’t ask you to change yours, it is completely up to you.

  • NickDB

     Unless your mum has a different surname isn’t it part of your parents identity? Yes it’s in dictated by the fathers line. But in most cases the parents were married before having the child, so it is also your mums name and the name you grew up with.

    So would say it is personal identity.

  • belongsomewhere

    My boyfriend and I have long planned to be introduced as Mrs. HisName and Mr. MyName, mostly to screw with his conservative parents. The idea struck us after a beloved professor, who refers to students as Mr./Ms. LastName, called my boyfriend Mr. MyName in class. We’ll both keep our names and our children will be hyphenated (short names that sound good together), but

  • Laurance

    When I got married back in 1962 I didn’t know that I had any choice.  I thought it was the LAW that the wife lost not only her last name but her first as well.  I became “Mrs. Husband’sfirstname Husband’slastname”.  My first name was no more than a nickname once I was married.

    If I had known I had a choice, I would have wanted to keep my own name, but my parents and inlaws would have had a major hissy fit and raised holy hell.

    I expect that sort of thing back in 1962, but it still happens in the 21st century.  A young woman wanted to keep her own name, and her fella was fine with that.  But her inlaws made a dreadful fuss and pressured her into changing her name.  In this day and age!

  • Hibernia86

    My Mom, when she got married in 1979, kept her last name. Her three boys (including me) got our Dad’s last name as our last name and our Mom’s last name as our middle name. While she is feminist, she isn’t someone involved in any feminist organization (though she does go to the local Democratic Party meetings). She isn’t an outspoken rebel, but keeping her name made sense to her. I’m actually kind of surprised that women changing their last names is still so common these days.

    If I got married, I’d keep my last name. I don’t care one way or the other what my wife does. As for the children, I don’t like hyphenated names, so I wouldn’t want that. We could do what my parents did, with one of our last names being the child’s last name and one of our last names being the child’s middle name. We might even have one child with one of our last names and the next child with the other person’s last name. I guess  we’d just figure out something.

  • Epinephrine

    We talked about merging our last names as a hybrid name.  In the end, she took my name, but it was in part because she had her father’s last name, and he had left when she was young, so she had little attachment to it, and wanted to change.  

  • judith sanders

    You’ve been peeking in my ahnentafel!  It’s full of names like Kunigunde Olimpia Von Sonnenschirm Zu Unter-Schwein-Stiege.

  • http://www.quietatheist.com/ Slugsie

    I am someone who is currently divorced and single, and not planning on changing that anytime soon. However I have long thought that if I should meet some unfortunate woman who is daft enough to marry me that I would be quite happy for her to keep her surname. I have no plans on loosing mine (it’s an unusual spelling of a relatively unusual surname and I’m quite attached to it) so I don’t see why I have any right to expect my intended to loose hers. If she wants to change hers she’s quite welcome to of course.

  • Hibernia86

    I don’t think it is fair to assume he is a domestic abuser just because he has an old fashioned tradition. I think he is wrong, but saying that his opinion is based on her gender isn’t proven. Don’t make negative assumptions about someone just based on one wrong view.

  • hingle

    When my husband and I got married we both “identified” as Christians so we did pretty much all the traditional things, including me taking his name. Looking back, I honestly didn’t even care about any of those things, I just did them because I thought I “had to”. Now, 3 years later, we’re both atheists and have had so many discussions about how we would do things differently if we were to get married today. But all in all, I’m not too upset that I took his name and because of the hassle there’s no way I’m changing it back now!

  • Hibernia86

    I guess there is no shame in being laid back. Just so long as she would take you seriously if you did have a view on some issue.

  • Isilzha

    Well, if he does, it seems she’ll gladly accept that form of “correction”.  Since, you know, women are like children and can’t understand reason.  Therefore, when they need to be straightened out, hitting them is the only way they’ll understand.  It’s also a faster way for a man to get his point (and will) across.   Don’t need to even waste time with words.

  • Aaron Scoggin

    Well, what it comes down to for me is the whole family unit. If I’m married to someone, I just would like for both of us to have the same last name, along with our children, so that they won’t get confused about it, and so we can have a definitive family name together.

    I suppose where it comes from is that my parents got divorced when I was very young, so I never really felt any sort of family cohesiveness growing up. My wife also felt the same way about our last names, for different reasons. So it just felt like the right thing for us.

  • Thegoodman

    My wife and I discussed this at length. I really wanted her to take my last name (we are both atheists) for selfish (I wanted it “just because”) and sexist (other may view me as less masculine if “my” wife didn’t take my name) reasons. I made this clear to her and in hindsight regret pressuring here so much to take my name, which she ultimately did.

    That being said, she loathes her own father. He is a despicable man by many many accounts and carrying on his name had no value to her. This made the decision rather easy for her and I think she would have taken my name regardless, but I still wish I hadn’t influenced her decision.

    I would have rather had her take her mother’s maiden name than her father’s.

  • Thegoodman

     We agreed this seemed weird. We were announced “Mr. and Dr. [Lastname]“

  • Paige

    This is my thought on it too – it’s really just a way to ensure we all have the same last name. In the end, I changed my last name because I didn’t really mind being the one to do it and it sounded nicer than hubby changing his. I also just added my maiden name to my other middle name.

    At the end of the day, you should have whatever traditions you want – as long as you do them because you want to, not because you have to. I loved having my father accompany me down the aisle because I love my father. It had nothing to do with property.

  • Carolyn the Red

     I’ve never had a different last name. It’s the one I learned to write in school, the one I enlisted in the military under, the one written on my masters’ degree. I own that name just as much as my father does. Or is just his father’s father’s father’s identity too?

  • KB

    It was put into effect by the California Name Equality 
    Act of 2007. I am not sure if or how much same-sex marriage equality was involved. But it is was a good step.
    http://www.cdph.ca.gov/certlic/birthdeathmar/Documents/CHS-NameEqualityActPamphlet-2010-01-Merged.pdf 

  • Carolyn the red

     Mine. Husband likes going against the grain on gender things, and says that since I’m doing the gestation (halfway through now), my name and my opinion on naming should get priority. I’ve suggested his name to as a second middle name or something similar. But he’s actually pretty indifferent.

    I grew up in Quebec, where there’s pretty much no ability to change one’s name, even at marriage, and a lot of kids with unmarried parents. Kids with one parent’s name are the norm  (among kids of my high school friends at least). We’re all related to lots of people with different names. This isn’t any different.

  • Alan Christensen

    When my (now ex-) wife and I married, I told her it didn’t matter to me whether she changed her last name to mine. We even toyed with the idea of both of us changing our name to something new. She decided to keep her name since it was in the name of her company.  It made perfect sense to me and I never resented her decision. It also saved her a second round of name changing after we divorced.

  • Alan Christensen

    I read of a couple who took each other’s first names as their new last names. It was something like Charles Carol and Carol Charles.

  • Hibernia86

    I agree that men should never slap a woman in an argument. But I also think a woman should never slap a man in an argument either. I wish society had the same standard for each gender.

  • Tsu Dho Nimh

    My SO took advantage of the “freebie” of a divorce to change his name … his first name.

  • http://bareatheism.blogspot.com/ Deven Kale

    If, and this is a big “if,” I ever get married again, I will most likely change my name to hers. I have little emotional connection to my family anymore, and I believe it’s important that a couple which has agreed to spend their lives together (and likely have children) share the same last name. At the very least, it helps to avoid confusion with the children later, and helps foster a sense of “oneness” within the family.

  • dalsegno

    My parents combined their last names (but it was more like Smith + Jones = Smones). I plan to do the same thing if I ever get married. My dad’s mother was NOT happy about it at all, most people seem to think it’s ether odd or cool. I think more people would try something like this if they knew that they could, it just never crosses most people’s minds as a possibility. 

    But I think if you’re going to take the name of one partner, you should choose whichever sounds best with your first names.

  • Silent Askew

    Currently arguing about this with my other fiancée. She wants to either keep her name or hyphenate her name.  I’m fine with her keeping her name (although I would rather share a family name), but I can’t stand hyphenated names.  I don’t want to take hers as we don’t get along with her father and her brother holds the same first name as me and is constantly in trouble with the police. 

    I have offered to take her last name as a second middle name, but the problem comes down to kids.  She wants the kids to either carry her name or hyphenate it.  I am close to my family and very close to my grandmother and have always looked forward to giving kids my last name.  This has only come up on the  last six months and we have been together for 7 years.  I am also happy to give them her last name as their only middle name.

    Unfortunately she’s not budging and telling me that I’m being unreasonable.  I’ve also tried to compromise by asking to have the males with my last name and females with her last name, but she wont go for that either.

    It’s looking like we are going to book into some relationship counselling as we can’t come to an agreement that both of us are happy with :(

  • http://bareatheism.blogspot.com/ Deven Kale

    I don’t want to take hers as … her brother holds the same first name as me and is constantly in trouble with the police.

    Be extremely careful in situations like this. My ex wife, who took my name, had the same first name as my sister. At one point, while we were living in the same city, their credit histories somehow got mixed up. Debts and purchases from the one ended up on the others history, and vice versa. I don’t know if this can happen with criminal history, but I never thought it would happen with credit history either. So again, be extremely careful if you take hers.

  • Sarah

    On the off chance I ever get married, I don’t care about taking his name as I’m not really attached to my own, but I’ll change my email address (which contains my current surname) over my dead body.

  • Tulla

    Its time to get with the times ladies!

    You are not property, when you convert under him..you take his name and rid yourself of your family to join his family as your own.  This has got to stop.  Many baby girls are being aborted for this reason…”she will be a burden on us, she will not carry our name, only a son will get rid of her” attitude exists!  Women need to be proud of their birth families…many kids don’t even know their mothers side family name which is their own blood!?  In my country i can trace back at least 15 generations both sides because i come from spain..where all CHILDREN TAKE THE MOTHERS LAST NAME!  I am shocked at america how old fashioned women are!  American women are like from the 1800′s.

    This is how my country works:

    Example:
    Father’s name: John Lopez Mano
    Mother’s Name: Maria Ortiz Silva
    child’s Name: Shelia Mano Silva

    This is the LAW IN MY COUNTRY!  Child grows and gets married is:

    Husband: Adam Smith Seize
    Wife: Shelia Mano Silva       (never changes name upon marriage)
    Child: Melissa Seize Silva
    2nd Child: Jonny Seize Silva

    So notice that there are always 2 last names…and always Legally ends with the mothers!

    why don’t women ever learn, It seems that there will never be an equality because women don’t want it!  Sorry, if you continue to go under a man upon marriage and half these kids are left without fathers, why don’t you put them under your name…Look at spain a european country where children are under their mothers and we know both sides because MOTHERS SIDE IS JUST AS IMPORTANT THIS ALSO PREVENTS INCESTS..I KNOW BOTH SIDES OF THE FAMILY TREE WHICH MAKES THE HOLE SIDE OF THAT CHILD…HAVING ONLY ONE LAST NAME SAYS I DO NOT CLAIM MY MOTHERS SIDE BECAUSE SHE IS NOTHING…AND NOT BLOOD RELATED!

  • Tulla

    IN SPAIN ALL CHILDREN GO UNDER THE MOTHER’S LAST NAME, MEN HERE ARE IGNORANT!  THIS IS THE LAW IN SPAIN…
    This is how my country works:
    Example:Father’s name: John Lopez ManoMother’s Name: Maria Ortiz Silvachild’s Name: Shelia Mano Silva
    This is the LAW IN MY COUNTRY!  Child grows and gets married is:
    Husband: Adam Smith SeizeWife: Shelia Mano Silva       (never changes name upon marriage)Child: Melissa Seize Silva2nd Child: Jonny Seize Silva
    So notice that there are always 2 last names…and always Legally ends with the mothers!
    why don’t women ever learn, It seems that there will never be an equality because women don’t want it!  Sorry, if you continue to go under a man upon marriage and half these kids are left without fathers, why don’t you put them under your name…Look at spain a european country where children are under their mothers and we know both sides because MOTHERS SIDE IS JUST AS IMPORTANT THIS ALSO PREVENTS INCESTS..I KNOW BOTH SIDES OF THE FAMILY TREE WHICH MAKES THE HOLE SIDE OF THAT CHILD…HAVING ONLY ONE LAST NAME SAYS I DO NOT CLAIM MY MOTHERS SIDE BECAUSE SHE IS NOTHING…AND NOT BLOOD RELATED!

  • Tulla

    Good for your mother…i can’t believe it too, omg…in my country spain all children must have the mothers last name.  Its the law.

    but it always ends in 2 names, because we know which side is what which makes alot of sense…think of it like this if your half italian and have british…but your dad has the british name, then the italian part is lost…cause your smith  and not:
    Milano-Smith

    Still either all the girls have the mothers last name or boys fathers or vice versa, but baby girls are being killed of for this reason in 3rd world countries, it makes no sense…i believe every child should have  both last names this also prevents incests, i can trace back 15 generations of my family, because everyone in my family including 4 generations all have 2 last names each…. mother and father have 4 all together, but give only  the last 2 to the children…We are proud to have daughters here!

    This is how my country works:Example:
    Father’s name: John Lopez Mano
    Mother’s Name: Maria Ortiz Silva
    child’s Name: Shelia Mano SilvaThis is the LAW IN MY COUNTRY!  Child grows and gets married is:Husband: Adam Smith Seize
    Wife: Shelia Mano Silva       (never changes name upon marriage)
    Child: Melissa Seize Silva
    2nd Child: Jonny Seize SilvaSo notice that there are always 2 last names…and always Legally ends with the mothers!

  • Zmisc

    You missed the point of the whole article.  She is recognizing that Christ is number one for both of them.

  • scram

    I was thrilled to take my husband’s name when we got married. I have little attachment to either of my alcoholic parents, or their last name. I actually showed up for a copy of my marriage licesnse at the county recorder’s office a few days before it was guaranteed to be ready because I was so excited about heading to the DMV/Social Security office. My husband jokes that I married him just for the new last name. 
    To take it a step further, I dropped my maiden name entirely and opted to keep my middle name. I actually had an aunt argue with me and insist my name is first name maiden name new last name.
    I have a daugher from a previous relationship that had her father’s last name. We just completed the legal process to have her name changed to both my and my husband’s last name.
    So yes, for me, changing my last name was important to me.

  • Acompton

    I came from a family of different last names and let me tell you…it’s heart that makes a family not last names! Parents put too much emphasis on what will “mess with their kids heads” let me tell you it’s neglectful parenting that messes kids up not different last names


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