Did I change my last name when I got married?

Find out here.

Also, as you may notice, I do guest posts. :-P

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Paula G V aka Yukimi

    In Spain we have two family names, the first from our father and the second from our mother (although the order can be reversed) and we don’t change our names when we get married which I’ve always thought it was complicating things unnecessarily (all the paperwork you already have in one name, possessions and the like, …). So my name is Paula García Vicente, García from my father and Vicente from my mother and my kids will supposedly be XXXX García. Actually there’s a bit more stuff in all this (for example you can choose to pass your mother’s surname instead of your father’s to your kids but it’s not really common) but that’s the basic. If I’m still with my boyfriend they will Martín García and taken into account García is the second most common surname in the world after Chan and Martín is pretty common too… we might do something about it.

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

      Why do you think that they choose to pass on the father’s surname instead of the mother’s?

      • Paula G V aka Yukimi

        Because Spain like most countries was pretty “machist”, patriarchal, whatever you want to call it. Paternal bloodlines were more valued and keeping the family name was important in olden times. Actually technically you conserve all the surnames of all your past relatives so let’s use simply the example with the parents whose names are XXXX AAAA BBBBB (father) and YYYY CCCC DDDD so their children will have AAAA CCCC in their identifications or car licenses, … but actually their surnames could be expanded : AAAA CCCC BBBB DDDD (and then it could be continued with the surnames of the grandparents paternal and maternal and great grandparents and so on). For example my boyfriend knows his first 16 surnames by heart and tells the whole list at the slightest “provocation” XP although really people here only use the first two for example I always introduce myself as Paula García Vicente

  • Contrarian

    Can I do a guest post for you, then? :P

  • http://elliha.blogspot.com Elin

    My fiance and I are getting married this month and I will not change my name. It has nothing to do with feminism, I just think his name is boring and it is like top 5 of common names in Sweden.

    I can actually argue that I am the traditionalist here since it was not until the 1800s that women started to take the man’s name in Sweden. The reason for that was that most people didn’t have last names but their father’s (on rare occations their mother’s) first name followed by son or daughter. I would be Elin Persdotter (Per’s daughter) in this system and my fiance’s last name would be Stigsson and despite being married we would still be our parents’ children and the woman would not become the daugther of her father in law. In the 1800s people started to keep an old ‘son name’ for both boys and girls and these names became proper last names and women also took their husband’s name. One can still see today which names where popular in the 1800s, Johan, Karl, Erik, Lars, Sven as these are the most common ‘son names’ today. My fiance has one of these son names and I do not, I have a far more uncommon and in my view beautiful name so I am not going to enter to anonymity of son name bearers just to be married to him.

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

      This is fascinating, Elin, to learn about different cultures’ practices for last names. I really appreciate how in Sweden, you can either be either “daughter of” or “son of.” I’d love to hear more!

      • http://elliha.blogspot.com Elin

        The old system is not in use now but it is in Iceland. It is important to notice that they there not real lastnames, more ways of separating one person with a certain first name from another. It was kind of like when my fiance talks about two of his friends with the same first name and calls one of them Conny and the other ‘Conny with the Saab’ instead of saying their proper last names. People in the old days could be known by other things than their father’s name, the name of the farm, the way the looked or what they worked with but the names were not inherited but personal. I read a book where they talked about a woman mentioned in a document as Elin Katthjärna (cat brain) and one cannot but speculate as to why? Was she not very smart? Had she stepped on a cat brain? Did she think about cats all the time? Who knows but it is interesting…

        From the end of the 1800s though we have regular last names that are inherited but most of them still bear witness of this old system.

  • jose

    There’s something I found confusing. I’m not sure how changing your name to your husband’s is breaking with the past. This was probably supposed to happen in your past christian life, wasn’t it? It would seem like getting married and not changing your name, that would break the rules you left behind.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Right, I know. It was really a *me* thing. To me, it felt like closing a door on a chapter of my life and opening a new one fresh. I didn’t want to keep my old last name after everything. And again, that was only one of several reasons I changed my name.

      • shadowspring

        I felt the same way. I no longer wanted to be associated with the family of origin, so it was a relief to take my husband’s name. Alas, I was leaving a more feminist upbringing and joining a fundamentalist family, who I thought was “God-honoring”, so I was proud to take on the name.

        Young people often make the mistake I made: in trying to get far away from what has hurt you, what you KNOW you don’t want, you just take off running in the opposite direction. Live and learn.

  • mcbender

    Interesting decision, Libby. I think the most important point in this discussion is that you spent time thinking about it and didn’t take a default decision due to social pressure (even if your deliberation eventually came down on the side of the default decision). That’s much more important than whether or not you changed your name – the point is that it’s a complicated and personal decision which people should be thinking about before they do it.

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

      Yes, exactly! That’s the whole point of the project — to tell people’s stories and to highlight that this is an important decision worth really thinking through (even though 80%+ of women take their husband’s names when getting married, still).

  • http://cfiottawa.com Eamon Knight

    At the time we got married (1980) my wife and I were moderate (certainly by CP/QF standards!) evangelicals from non-Christian families. We discussed whether she would keep her name, but in the end she (IIRC it was mostly her) decided it would just complicate things to go against the usual custom (and besides, which name do the children get?). So it was mostly a “secular” decision, with little influence from our religious beliefs per se at the time.

    That was then, this is now. I’ve been radicalized on gender issues in many ways, and if we had it to do over again I think I would argue strongly against her taking my name — it’s a relic of patriarchalism, and I don’t want to participate. That being said, I don’t think less of people who are still making the traditional choice, as long as they have their reasons — everyone has to live in their own life by their own priorities, not mine.

  • http://mamamara.wordpress.com Mara

    I always said that I would only take my husband’s name if I liked it better than mine :) My husband’s name is okay, but it’s not nearly as interesting as my father’s last name, so I’ve stuck with it.

    The funny thing is that everyone “knows” that I kept my last name because of some gigantic feminist principle, blah blah, but that’s wrong. I kept my last name because it’s unique, I like it, and I was too darn lazy to go to the trouble of getting all the paperwork done to change it. (Seriously, I can’t believe people who’ve known me for decades don’t immediately jump to the “too lazy” place. This is *me*!)

    My MIL was hugely offended I didn’t change my name, but whatever. ::shrug:: And I’m perfectly happy for my kids to take my husband’s name. For me, the name you grow up with becomes yours wherever you get it from and then when you grow up you can decide whether to keep it or change it.

    • Rosa

      Weirdly, it was my family who freaked out over me keeping my name. And my mom (who went back to her maiden name when she divorced, and then remarried and changed her name again – so her own kids don’t have her name, but her stepkids do) pulled the “it will be so CONFUSING if you don’t have the same name as your CHILDREN.”

      My partner’s family was all, yeah, our name is weird with the Zs and Ks and Ys, yours is nice.

  • Noelle

    People were surprised I took my husband’s name. Many professional women keep theirs. But I was never attached to my last name. Girls are often called often by their first names only. My mom had married twice and her children were a mix of 2 different last names, so many adults didn’t even know my last name when I was growing up.

    Like for you, it was closing a chapter on a difficult childhood. My maiden name was short, bland, at the end of the alphabet, and never really a part of me.

  • Pingback: On World Magazine, Misogyny, and Name Changing


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