The best decision I made in my marriage? Keeping my name.

February 29 | Guest post by Ashley Lauren S.
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Thanks to Jayme Lover for uploading this to the Flickr Pool. Jayme explains this name jumble: I kept my last name, so one of my mentors was jesting about it. (Note: She didn't change her last name when she got married either.)

The best decision I ever made was keeping my last name when I got married in October 2010.

I didn't change. I didn't hyphenate. I didn't merge. I didn't decide to use my name professionally and his name socially. I didn't make my name a middle name and take his as a last name. I didn't take any of the plethora of options out there regarding this important decision. I simply kept my name the way it was.

There are many, many stories out there about why women have chosen to change their names upon getting married. In fact, a recent survey by TheKnot.com stated that 86 percent of women getting married are changing their names. Furthermore, another survey by the Gender and Society Journal has stated that about half of the participants think that changing one's name should be a requirement for marriage.

Women keep their name for a variety of reasons. For some, it is a feminist decision that defies patriarchal norms that often come along with becoming a wife. For others, a name can reflect one's culture; when you have a culturally specific name and your partner does not, giving up that name can feel like giving up your culture, too. For still more women, it's about working hard to build a career in a culture that uses social media to associate people with their names. This is not a conclusive list, but the decision to keep one's name — no matter the reason — is an important choice for many women, and one that should not be taken away.

Granted, sometimes changing your name seems easier than keeping it — after the visit to the Social Security office, and the DMV, and calling credit card and billing agencies, to be sure everything is up to date. When you don't change your name, that stuff is easy; you don't have to do anything at all. But socially, when you are constantly asked, "What's your new name?" and then given disapproving or confused looks when you respond that you kept your name, it can be disheartening. Even more disappointing is when you start to receive cards in the mail from friends and family addressed to Mr. and Mrs. His Name.

However, the benefits for me have been immense. My name symbolizes my identity, and it was very important for me to be able to retain my identity when I got married. Of course, you have to fit your life in with another person, but the symbolism of completely becoming part of him, while he wasn't symbolically becoming part of me, was too much to bear. Plus, as a little girl, I never dreamed of having articles or books published or earning advanced degrees as Ashley Lauren SomeoneElse'sName, but I did dream of seeing Ashley Lauren S___ on bookshelves and diplomas.

There are as many reasons to keep your name as there are to change it, and the decision is not one to make lightly. The choice should be ours to make with our families, whatever that choice is.

  1. After thinking about this issue for several months, I have decided to change my middle name to my current last name and take my fiance's last name. I still feel somewhat anxious about the decision because I really have a strong attachment to my last name and I'm in academia, but it's a decision that I can live with. I despise my middle name and am eager to change it to my super awesome last name. My fiance's last name is short, awesome and much rarer than my current last name. I can still publish under Amanda MyLast and that name will be written on my PhD diploma.

  2. The only reason I am changing my name is because my last name is awful and his last name is AWESOME.

    Well, maybe not the only reason. My parents went through a very messy divorce almost seven years ago, the result of which is that I don't speak to my father or any of his family. I really would rather not be associated with their name anymore.

    1 agrees
  3. This is an issue that I keep bouncing back and forth on… I feel really torn on the issue. There's the romantic part of me that wants to acknowledge that we're officially part of the same family now and would LOVE to take his name, and then there's the part of me that worries it would feel weird to have a new name and wonders about whether it would be a career issue (I'm a writer, and have been published, but not in any major publications and not for anything I feel strongly about yet).

    I've known multiple women who immediately changed their names on Facebook post-wedding, probably in a fit of romantic joy, only to change them back to their maiden names a few months later when they realized they didn't like the change. So that gives me pause as well.

    And a coworker/friend of mine TOTALLY gave me shit when I mentioned possibly changing my last name (she's married, and kept her name). She went on and on about how it was so anti-feminist, and how she liked my last name anyway, so she didn't see why I would ever want to change it.

    So, anyway, I totally see both sides of this. And this decision is going to be a long time coming. 😛

    1 agrees
  4. I've actually been thinking about this one a great deal.

    We were going to hyphenate, and honor both our names but the paperwork is terrible for men. Then several family members mentioned to me just taking his name but it isn't MINE. I'm not a T—-. Saying I am is a lie and I'm really touchy about lying, may be my biggest pet peeve. I'm not going to lie for anyone.

    So I am keeping my name, it is who I am and I have no intention of misleading anyone by suggesting otherwise.

    But the future, that might be fun. Both of our families have the real potential to really wreck things with us. After a solid row with my father I considered taking the FI's name, and after a fight with his mum he asked if he could take mine. I don't know what role family will play but it will be interesting to see.

    I've also heard about women(and men) who grow into names. One name becomes less and less how they see themselves and they migrate to another. I can see that happening with us. We want to share a name but there isn't one we could agree on that both of us felt okay with. Maybe in time there will be.

    1 agrees
  5. Oh the relief when the divorce was final and I could change my name back to my maiden name for free. Back in 1986 in my province it cost $120 to change your name without a finalized divorce and nothing with a divorce certificate, the certificate only cost $10.

    If I ever got married again I would keep my maiden name. I don't care if people mispronounce it or misspell it as long as the bank cashes the cheques!

    2 agree
  6. Exaclty this.
    I try to ignore it when people address us wrongly by mistake.
    It gets offensive when people do it on purpose. I do have quite a lot of friends that are in the middle; they address us as 'hisfirst & myfirst hislast-mylast'. I try to ignore that too. They do it with good intentions, although they get it wrong (I haven't changed a bit). I'm not willing to go on a crusade for my name. But I do get a little miffed.

    This part of the post rang especially true for me:
    My name symbolizes my identity, and it was very important for me to be able to retain my identity when I got married. Of course, you have to fit your life in with another person, but the symbolism of completely becoming part of him, while he wasn't symbolically becoming part of me, was too much to bear.

    Yes! And I wouldn't have married a guy who wasn't ok with my decisions. We discussed briefly him taking my name, but decided that the reverse was also wrong.
    We don't have a clue though, what we'll do about kids.

    3 agree
  7. I was raised with a really strong family identity, based in part on our name. Our name was who we were, and my brother and I wrote songs and poems about it, crafted an identity around it. While you might think this left me with a desire to never change my name, what it actually gave me was a strong need for my adult family (myself, my husband, and our future kids) to all have the same name. I want my kids to have the same sense of identity and belonging that I did. It seems that whenever a woman keeps her name the children take the father's name, so how is that equality? My husband and I took on an entirely new name, and plan to create a new family identity and culture.

    Of course, that's easier said than done. While in California it's easy to have either partner take on the other's name or some combination, changing to a completely new one involves court dates and lots of paperwork, which we haven't gotten around to. Our first is due in six months, and I hope that we'll have it figured out by then so that everyone can have the same last name on the birth certificate.

    2 agree
  8. When I was younger I hated my long, cumbersome, double-barrelled name. I had looked forward to the future Mr who would provide some kind of awesome lastname that I could take on. Now he's here, and I'm starting to rethink things. I have my name on my passport, my driving license, my educational certificates, on my employment records. I'm not sure I want to potentially lose my connection to all those things, but – equally – I'd quite like to join names with him and create a family.

    Still not decided! And then there's whether to be Ms or Mrs.

  9. I didn't really hate my maiden name, but I didn't like it really either. I like my new last name much better.

  10. Thank you so much for this statement.
    It has never been an option for me to change my name. Not for any other reason but that anything else would simply not be me.
    Why change? We talked about it, I asked my FH if he would consider changing his to mine. He said no and I asked the reason. He said exactly the reason why I can't and I respect him for that. We have a family, a history and an identity of our own that will not change when we tie the knot. Those factors will help us develop the next stage of our family, history and identity together.

    2 agree
  11. HOORAY! That's all. <3 <3 <3

    1 agrees
  12. I've read all 120+ comments to this article, and I have to say….I love you ladies! On any other wedding site (*cough The Knot *cough cough*), articles about name changing often have comments from other women who say things like, "I can't imagine not taking his name! It's tradition!" or "Not taking his name shows how disresepctful you are towards your new husband!" or "Your marriage will never last if you keep your maiden name!"

    Here? I haven't seen a single negative comment directed at anyone else (just at meddling relatives). How awesome is that, that everyone here respects one another's choices, regardless of what it is? This is why I love OBB!

    18 agree
    • Their comments are hilarious. My husband's first wife took his name; they divorced a couple of years later. I kept mine and we are going strong after 10 years. I think he "respects" me even though he kept his own name, so why would that be any different for me? The strength of marriage depends on love and commitment, not who's called what. :)

      10 agree
  13. As a staunch feminist I always thought, "I will never change my name!" Then when we decided to get married and my husband told me how much it meant to him I changed my mind. Sometimes you make sacrifices for the people you care about. Yes, I've been published under my maiden name. Yes, I am super family oriented and with my brothers hold tight to my maiden name. But in reality, a name is just a name. Changing it meant so much to the person that I love most in this world that it really doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I'm no less of a feminist. Period.

    5 agree
  14. I changed my last name to his because I didn't identify with my maiden name anymore. I went through so many changes in life in the way of family, beliefs, ideologies, friends, and hobbies that changing my last name seemed like a necessary step in the process of my most recent life change of getting married. The only thing about it is I went from a name no one could spell correctly (very common last name, but one letter difference from the common spelling) to another last name no one can spell correctly, and is often mispronounced (another common last name, and we have the least common spelling; least common in that I've never seen it anywhere else).

  15. Great post! I had always thought i would immediately change my name – I have one of those impossible to spell, more impossible to pronounce ("Pich-a-what??") names, and fell in love with a wonderful man with a wonderful four-letter, Anglo/Saxon name ("Ohhh"). But during our relationship was when my business actually boomed, and now, my full name ("Karina Pich-a-canyousayitagain?") is on everything, and I can't imagine parting with it. Lucky me, my wonderful boy isn't too traditional, and couldn't care less if I took his name (though my mom will have a heart attack over it).

    1 agrees
  16. I would prefer if FH and I both changed our names to a new family name, but he doesn't want to go through the hassle of changing his name, so we're both keeping our current names. I tried to combine both our names, but it just doesn't work. He has two sisters and they both kept their names, it doesn't bother him in the least. Both of our last names are short, and our kids will get both names. That's another thing that bugs me, even when women keep their names, it is assumed that the kids will have only their father's name. Methinks not!

    3 agree
  17. Amen! I also got married in October 2010, AND I also kept my name as is. I contemplated before and after we got married, and I came to the ultimate decision my name is reflective of who I am. And a lot of that could be because I didn't marry until 35, so I've been going by MY name all those years. It felt weird to think of my name as anything else because it wouldn't be me. It doesn't make me any less of Mr. _____'s wife. I respect all decisions on this matter, but women need to know they DO have a choice and not to feel pressured.

    2 agree
  18. I strongly believe this is a very personal choice, and I've decided to change my name for one important reason:

    My name will not change my identity. My last name represents my family history which comes from thousands of names. When you do genealogy you very quickly realize ALL branches of your family are important, not just the one branch that carries your name, and changing my name does not erase that history. I'm as much a Broughton as I am a Dowling, Smith, etc

    And if you're looking for judgement, there's plenty to go around on both sides. I worry about being seen as backwards and not feminist.

    3 agree
  19. I kept my name. Never considered changing it. I've spent 30 years spelling it for everyone (it's ethnic and unusual) and it sounds like a little poem. His surname doesn't sound right with my first name. There were never any qualms or quibbles about the issue from either of us.

    Two weeks after our wedding, I saw hubby's aunt who said, "How does it feel to be Mrs. T–?" I said, "Well, I'm actually Ms. P–, but now I'll always be a T–in my heart too."

    I do find it weird that some people KNOW I've kept my surname and yet still send mail to "Mr. and Mrs. T–"–especially when that mail comes from ladyfriends who had kept their OWN surnames! Weird. I don't get in a tizzy about it–yet, anyway, since we're still newlyweds–and mostly think it's quaint and old-fashioned. Maybe someday it'll annoy me, but for now it's okay. I mostly think it's funny. I love the joke someone else made about teasing hubby regarding his "other wife." Will need to use that sometime!

    We have, for years now, referred to ourselves as a combination of our last name (a la Brangelina), and many people love it. In fact, we sometimes get mail addressed to Him and Me FAUXSURNAME. His parents even mailed a package to "THE FAUXSURNAMES." I don't know if we'd ever officially change our surnames to the shared one (I've suggested it!), but unofficially it's how we, and many loved ones, refer to us. I love it. Just because it's not recognized by the law, doesn't mean it's not real! :)

    3 agree
  20. I choose long ago to ditch my birth name. I changed it in high school to what it actually should be, so I became a bit attached to my slightly expensive and hard-earned surname. Hyphenating isn't an option since five names would be a bit much so the choice became which to drop. I choose to shed my third name since I was the least attached to it. Not taking my FHs name was never even an option. I'm not exactly Captain Feminist and I quite like the idea of being owned by him. I couldn't think of a person I'd rather give my life to than him and that includes myself.

    1 agrees
  21. Although I praise the direction this post is heading, it's only halfway there. I look forward to the day that women don't *choose* to keep their names after getting married, but rather do so as a matter of course, because a woman taking her spouse's name is not even considered a natural option, just like it's not for 99.9% of men. And a woman changes her name for reasons of pronounceability, bad associations, etc. whenever and however she pleases, without regard to marriage, just like 99.9% of men. THAT is equality.

    20 agree
  22. I kept my name :) We're getting weddinged next year, so many friends and family are just assuming that I'm waiting until then. But I'm not. I get so angry when my husband's brother calls me Mrs. Hisname, saying it like I'm accepted into some sort of cult that I only have access to because I'm Mrs. Hisname. And I've corrected him SO many times and he just laughs at me like I'm stupid.

    -_-

    5 agree
  23. I don't much like my maiden name so I don't really plan on keeping it if I ever get married.
    But I can see why others might want to keep theirs, particularly if you're marrying across cultures.

  24. By the way – another cultural reason – in some cultures, many actually, women never change or add a name.

    I'm doing both! Professionally, I keep my name – that way, everything I publish, continues to be proudly published under the same name. Privately, I'll add his name, and probably, he will add mine, though he wavers about that. I was married once before and never even considered taking my first husband's name. I'm not exactly sure why I'm willing to add my husband's name this time. I think partly because it's a beautiful name :-) And partly because this relationship is so fabulous that I have no fears that the name changes is representative of a deeper inequality.

  25. I think if my husband wasn't okay with my keeping my own name, we would have broken up, end of story. When I hear a story about some guy being furious or worked up about the woman wanting to keep her own name, I start frothing at the mouth.

    If you want to change your name, do it! I don't care what the reason is, as long as you genuinely want to do it. But I would like to slap each and every man who pitches a fit about this (seriously, did you not know she was a feminist/loved her name/etc. during the X amount of time you've known her?).

    Maybe not the most productive response, but it just drives me up the wall.

    I got a LOT of "so are you changing your name?" from people, but at least they asked rather than assuming. His mom sent our holiday present to "Mr. and Mrs. Hisname" and I frothed at the mouth a little, but I think it's just the novelty of us being married that made her do that (since she knows better), so I wiped the froth away and forgave her.

    If I make a wed site for getting weddinged, maybe I'll have an explanation for why I am still Ms. Hername…

    9 agree
  26. Changing my name was never a question I had to deal with- when my mother married my father, she kept her maiden name, so from a young age I was already aware of all the hassles in doing so- and of the possibility of keeping my own name when I got married someday.

    I let my fiance know early on that under no circumstances would I be changing my name. Family is important to me, and my father has two sisters and two daughters- so after my sister and I, there is nobody to carry on the family name anymore- not from my grandfather's bloodline anyways.

    Fiance was fine with my decision to keep my name, less so when I told him that our first-born (or adopted) son would have my last name- it's something that is super important to me and I can't compromise on the issue. Fiance comes from a family of 11 children, with 5 boys, and 1 nephew from one of his brother's already, so that line is pretty safe- my name isn't quite as secure.

    I won't be offended if I get social calls/letters/etc. addressed to 'Mrs. HisLastName' because I know it's the common thing, and like I said, I grew up with a mom who kept her maiden name and went through all those hassles. No harm, no foul, just learn and do it right the next time is how I feel about it all.

    So far I haven't had any issues with people asking about why I'm not changing my last name, but then again I haven't really brought it up into conversation much either. I'm not anticipating many issues from my side of the family (after all, they've gone through it with my mom already, and everybody says we're so much alike). His family, however, will be a little trickier. They're a super religious family (half of them, anyways) who are already less than supportive because I'm the first non-Mennonite to marry in, and because him and I have been living together for over a year already (and I'm very anti-organized religion)- so we'll see what their reactions are when our officiant presents 'Mr. HisFullNAme and Mrs. MyFullName'. Honestly, though? I'm not overly concerned with what they think. I'm marrying my fiance, not his family, and we're both grown adults who can be trusted to know what's best for ourselves now.

  27. Tubsy & I aren't officially engaged yet but we set a date. (I know it is odd.) Since we've been together for 7 years, marriage comes up during his family gatherings. I don't know why they started to call me Mrs. Hisname but they did and it annoyed me. I blurted out that I won't take his last name. His mother cheered thinking it was because I was taking her semi-feminist stance (she kept hers) but I followed up because I don't like their last name. I should've kept my mouth shit because now everyone one is made at me, expect for my Tubsy. I guess I should try to take a more civil or emotional stance that you ladies are putting forth.

    You struck a cord with me about the publishing and the degrees. I do want to pursue a terminal degree and if I finish, I would be the first in my family to do so. I would love for that degree to have the name of my family, my heritage because it represents the struggle my parents went through to come to America. So maybe I do have more of a reason than I thought to keep my name, but I don't think I would be so opposed to changing it if he had a cool last name.

  28. My wife just finished up changing her name through the court system in Minnesota. It took months and cost nearly $500 with all the hoops you have to go through if you've lived in other states (finger-printing, background checks for each state). It was worth it though because it's the biggest legal thing we could do to be publicly recognized as a family unit in a state/country that denies us the right to marry. We could have changed our names to the same last name and avoided one of us "losing" our family name but we were both more attached to my family history for various reasons.

    I am honored that she would take my name and amazed that more men don't show total gratitude that a woman is willing to transform her name for the sake of a family with the same last name. We own a wedding venue and I am surprised by how many couples haven't had a conversation about this before it's time to get the marriage certificate. It's such an identity-altering decision!

    6 agree
  29. I loved this. my soon to be wife and I had a very important discussion on this subject. I asked her what we was going to do about the last name thing since I have two last names I can choose from (I was adopted by my father). She thought about it and picked my other last name. I was OK with it but the more I thought about it the more I wanted to know if she really wanted to change her name, seeing as she has no brothers and her dad isn't going to have anymore kids. she told me she hated seeing the family name stop with her but it was ok. I looked her in the eyes and told her that I would be more than honored to take her last name. and that's what I'm going to do (no one but me and her know about it so it's going to be a surprise). I mean here are the choices… My lasts names are Joslin or the one I have now which is George… or hers which is Santamaria. Not a hard choice in my mind.

    14 agree
  30. For anyone who is worried that it is going to be hard when the kid starts school and the parents have different names, let me assure you of this: it's incredibly common for children to have a different last name than one (or even both) parents if you look at it internationally. So basically any school district that has students of international descent (first-, second-, third- generation or whatever) can deal with it. In fact, I work in Seattle, and our student information database has an icon that says "This Is The Mother" (or "This is the Father") next to the name and contact info of said parent. Also, lots of students have two last names with no hypen. Totally, totally not a big deal.

    3 agree
  31. I almost got married, but then didn't (and good thing).

    I realized that a name change is a very symbolic transition to adulthood, and I don't particularly like the names that came down either side of my family because the men who "owned" them were not at all nice people.

    So I decided that when I graduate college I am changing my name myself to something completely unrelated to my family OR marrying into someone else's. I will keep this name if I ever get married. And my plan is that my female children can take my last name and my male children can take my husband's.

    Many people probably think this is strange but it is what works for me!

    5 agree
    • I hope it works for your children…I'd really want to have the same last name as my siblings.

      1 agrees
  32. I've gone several arguments about this with myself. I love my last name, because it's my Grandpa's, but he's gone, and the sperm donor (for the snark impaired, my birth father…) doesn't mean anything to me, so I'm all for taking his last name. That said, as soon as I started seeing my fiance, I realized my name would be nikki little, and alphabetized I'll be little nikki…bwahahahaaaaaa…thus proving I am the spawn of satan! Yay team evil

    2 agree
    • I wish I could meet my sperm donor. I have an equally crappy father…but I actually HAD a sperm donor and I can't legally find out who he is! :(

  33. Can someone please explain to me the varying possibilities of names in the US? I live in the Netherlands, and we have four options here:
    1. Keep your name
    2. Take his name
    3. Yourname-Hisname
    4. And the most common: Hisname-Yourname.
    Gay couples have the same options.
    However, no matter how you CALL yourself, the name you HAVE is your official name. So no matter what, the government will always adress you in official documents such as your diploma and passport with your given name, unless you go trough a very expensive and long process of having your official given name changed by a Queen-issued decree, but that is only possible on the grounds that your given name (first or last or both) is offensive or emotionally burdening. There is however a possibility to ask the government to adress you in a different matter but that's for correspondence only. Children from married couples automaticially are given the father's last name, unless both parents indicate it should be otherwise. The same goes for diffent-sex couples who are adopting. For the other possibilities (for examples non-married couples where the father acknowledges the child as his) the parents have a choice.

    Anyway, when I'm getting married I'm going to keep my last name. I'm going to be a public law notary one day and we start every official document with our own name so it would only confuse my clients. And other than that I want to keep the name my father and mother have as a sign of respect and our bond. I told my future husband that the only time I would consider changing my name to hisname-myname is if he also changes his name. He said no but it's not a big deal for him.

    And about the whole adressing issue: that galls me everytime. We're not even engaged yet, only living together, but my FIL and his wife are adressing all their mail to us with Hisname & Myname Hislastname. It annoys the crap out of me. Fortunately the Dutch don't have that weird habit of adressing mail with 'Mr and Mrs Hisfirstname Hislast name'. I think I'd explode.

    3 agree
    • Name options in the States are pretty much the same (though you can also both take a completely new name, or make up a combination of the two). The actual transfer of names vary by state. Some allow you for either person to change their name simply by writing in on the marriage certificate. Others(like Maine, where I live) only allow the woman to change hers upon marriage and the man has to apply through a probate court if he wants to change his. A name-change on a marriage certificate becomes your legal name, and you have to go through the business of updating your passport and social security to your new name. I am going to keep my name in order to avoid all that hastle.

      1 agrees
  34. I'm a little late to the party here but this is an interesting tid bit I forgot to mention yesterday:

    in the book "101 dalmatians" Cruella De Vil is married, and made her husband change his last name to her last name because she was the last in her blood-line. It was mentioned in a way to show just how *mean* she was! Talk about vilifying not fitting in with society (I know I know, she wanted to turn puppies into a coat, but still!)!

    3 agree
  35. I wanted to feel like we were on a team together so I'd originally asked him to make a new name, just us together. A name that merged both our names. He said he liked his name and it didn't matter to him if I changed my name or not but he wasn't going to change his.

    I tried to change my name to his. Nothing official, but I changed it. Then I realized I couldn't remember my new name. Doctors would call it and I'd sit there like, "wow, I guess Mrs. So and So left the room or whatever." It would only be after that I'd remember that that was MY name now. This, of course, resulted in a sort of loss of identity feeling. I wasn't ME anymore. I was HIM. Him and his family.

    So I decided not to officially change it. Even though there are some less than desirable things floating around on the internet with my "maiden" name, and the fact that it would be a smart business decision to change it, I didn't. I still feel like me and I know we're on a team, even though we have different names.

    1 agrees
    • I'm a pre-everything trans guy, my fiancee is a feminist studies major, we both like our names well enough as they're familiar, we don't want to hurt our dad's and pick one family over anothers, I considered taking her name which I think surprised her since I'm pretty traditional in some ways, she considered taking mine which surprised me since she's pretty fierce when it comes to female empowerment and not being someone's property, we face the harsh reality of maybe not being taken seriously without a lot of social cues to say, no this is a real thing, hyphenating didn't feel right because any future children might name some other kid with hyphens then their kid's would have up to four hyphens… so we blended. We took the first 3 [but it also worked out to be 4] of my 6 letter lastname, and the last 3 of her 8 letter lastname and have a 6 letter lastname, I'm only changing 2 letters but its still a compromise we made equally. My mother thinks it's lovely and said that it makes us like vikings… the whole erik's offspring becoming erikson, the scottish thing of donald's sons becoming macdonalds, you can make a nod to your families and branch off and become your own start of a family.

      We even thought of just things we liked as names, like birds and leaves and empowerment words, my bridesmaidish type person's lastname is HOPE, we could be an inspirational word too maybe? Or the lampwicks or the wrens or the turquoise..owl..vase… Honey what else do we both like? "equality?" "no no for a name" "oh…narwhals…no…reading…do we like characters? or places?" And just blended our actual names and it's going to be fine.

      3 agree
  36. I'm already Hilary (with one L), Ann (with no e) and my very common last name is a sweet relife when i have to spell out my name, i really dont need to add "Cutcliffe" to the mix!

    i know his family may not cope, but i don't really care.

  37. I always wanted to keep my own name! It's awesome and is of Croatian origin, and it's part of my identity. However, my husband's last name, he is middle eastern, is pretty awesome, too. If I would have changed, it would have been because it's a cool name and would be unexpected. In his culture, women never take the husband's name anyway, so it was normal to him for me to keep my name.

    However, I was SHOCKED about how my co-workers reacted. They were like…well you could hyphenate you know(which with our unusual names would have been pretty dang cool, but REALLY long!). Or they said I should keep my last name as my middle name.

    One person even said, "Well if you're not taking his name, what is HE getting out of it?" ….UM…an AWESOME wife?!?

    14 agree
  38. i'm very attached to my last name. it has helped me trace the origins of my family to the spanish missionary who gave out his name to christened babies. its got a great story. and it took me forever to learn to spell as a kid.

    my love's last name is pretty similar for him. extremely irish, O apostrophe and all. the funny thing about it is that oftentimes forms will not count the apostrophe as a valid character, resulting in him sounding japanese. this was good once as it secured him an awesome job, but it's never been a problem since he's a bit of a japanophile anyway.

    our names are pretty reflective of who we are and i'd like to keep it that way. but i have joked that i will only take his name if we drop the apostrophe, that way we will both shock people who've gained an image from the name (and again when we retire to japan)

    2 agree
  39. Thank you for writing this. Even in 2012, women's choices are subject to critique by everyone including Rush Limbaugh.

    I may have broken the most terrible name taboo EVER – by remarrying and retaining my ex-husband's last name. Why did I do this?

    Well, I had this last name for about a decade. It became part of me and who I was. I'm an academic with publications and my current partner (second husband) understood 100% why I would not want to alter my name at this point in my career.

    My feminist and awesome friends respected my choice but I got raked over the coals by family members. They made me feel like the wicked witch of the west but I only felt this way when I LET OTHERS MAKE ME FEEL BAD.

    Women are often accustomed to making others happy but at the end of the day, you must do what is best for yourself.

    6 agree
  40. My FH has two older sisters, both married and one is in a lesbian relationship, who decided not to change their last names. While they are willing to accept my decision to change my last name they both find it "fascinating".

    I have come to this decision for a couple of reasons: I am not really attached to my current last name and do not believe that by changing it I will no longer be myself, conveniently my initials will not change, and I do not have any current public accomplishments under my current name (among other reasons).

    One thing I am looking forward to is to finally stop having people associate me with Raquel Welch.

    1 agrees
  41. We are getting married in a month and surprisingly to everyone I know – I am changing my name. this is not my first marriage and didn't change my name back then, I just never saw the point… but really there is two factors to it now.

    1. Is simply – i feel closer to his family than mine. its a pretty big reason to be under their name.
    and 2. We have children together, and when the first one was born we decided to give him my partner's last name as we wanted to share a name and for the above reasons, marriage always being intended, we went with his name. If i had turned around to him and said 'im really close to my family, i want to keep my name, can we change to mine and share that one instead?' he would of. We want to share then same name. It doesn't make us less individuals, but we are a unit and we love it :)

  42. I changed my name to his. There have been a couple of moments where I mourned the loss of my old name, but for the most part I'm psyched. Our kids will have slightly-more-common and easier-to-spell name, my intitials are now K.O (rad!), and we have the same last name. All fine by me. I also like that my past is a little less easy to find online now. Also, when I toldmy workmates I was a little freaked out about getting used to my new name, they made a special effort to call me Mrs O for a week or two so I'd get used to hearing it.

  43. My situation is unique, so I thought I'd share: I am very much looking forward to changing my name. Not because I don't like my last name, but because of what it represents in the back of my mind. My father was very dissapointing as far as fathers go, and is no longer part of either my mother's or my life. To further detach myself from this man, my mother chose to be artificially inseminated in order to have me, after my dad had gotten a vasectomy after 3 children in a previous marriage. So I am not truly related by blood to my last name. Neither will I be by my husband's, however, if we are blessed with children, I look forward to sharing a name with a family I chose/created, that is my blood, and will cherish each other in love.

  44. Not too long after the FH and I were dating he asked me, "you're not the name change type are you?" I told him I wasn't and asked if it was going to be a problem. To my suprise he told me it was one of things he liked about me was my independence and that he didn't mind that I didn't really want to change my name.

    I am lucky to come from a family with a fair number of women who did not change their names, so family has been supportive of my decision. As for friends…well they have gotten used to my "offbeatness" and just attribute it me typically going the non-traditional route. Thankfully no one has been too judgemental about it.

    3 agree
  45. Thank you so much for this post! I have had a strong opinion about keeping my last name for as long as I can remember.

    Even as a high school student (long before I met my fiancee and before I even considered having a serious boyfriend), it never seemed fair for a man to expect me to change my entire identity – the name I have had my whole life….the signature I have grown accustomed to signing….the name on my university degree….my connection to my own family.

    Yet growing up in the Bible belt, you can imagine how many guys I came across in my college years that told me not changing my name would be a "deal breaker." No matter how many times I demanded an answer as to "why," I was told it was tradition. It was Biblical. It was a way to show the woman was submitting to the man (yes, I was actually told that).

    But why was I being looked at as selfish? Just for wanting to keep what is rightfully mine? Why should I feel bad about that? I'm not bothering anyone else. How can it be that your average man wants to take away MY name, yet I'M the selfish one? It drove me crazy, and it still does.

    Fast forward a few years and I've met a great guy whom I'm marrying next June. He is 100% supportive of my decision, and agrees that it's not his place – or anyone's place – to try to get me to change my name.

    It doesn't make us any less married, any less close, or any less together.

    I wish more people challenged this tradition (and really, isn't that all it is?) If tradition told the men to take our names, that's the way society would operate. So please, ladies….I ask you to think outside the box…challenge the norms…and do what makes YOU happy.

    11 agree
  46. I have been saying for YEARS that I will be keeping my name, and minutes after he put a ring on it (YAY!HOORAY!SQUEE!) was like "wow you are going to be Mrs HisFirst HisLast." and my response was "NO WAY!"

    8 agree
  47. I kept my last name and it's been an uphill battle! My family and his send mail and things with his last name as mine all the time! It's so annoying! My family thinks everything should be done like it's always been and have no real reason they can give me for changing my last name to his other than If you love him you want his name. I told my husband he could take mine or we could both change ours to something else and he wasn't really down with that so I told him then i'm keeping mine. I think it bothers him sometimes, but that's just the way it is. I love him dearly, but what's good for the goose is good for the gander, so same last names all around!

    4 agree
  48. I'm struggling with the decision of whether to change my surname. I've already changed my name once – I was adopted as a child, but I kept my birth mother's surname as I was growing up. However, I wanted to honour my "real" mother who raised me, so on Mother's Day 2006 (which nearly coincided with her birthday) I changed my surname to hers. While I love my partner, I don't know if I'm ready to sacrifice what my surname signifies to me.

  49. My FH and I just discussed this. I was simply asking an opinion and oh defensive he got. He says that what pops into his head is that I am preparing for it to not work out. Oh, this will be my 3rd and his 2nd marriage BTW. I like my name, it really works for me, no professional reason or anything….i just like it. :) However, for marring this AMAZING man I definitely wanna take his, I know that I do, I just liked the idea of toying around with keeping mine. Point of this….did anyone else run into the same thought pattern from their man? That it means I'm preparing for the worst???

  50. I love articles like this, and read them over and over again. We hyphenated, we got the kids questions, and the future generations questions, and I said "We will give the kids our last name, the hyphenated one", but my husband and I have been talking since we hyphenated about eventually combining it, and I think the best time to combine it is when we plan to have children. We will probably say this "To those who wonder why we don't just use Brockman. If we have wanted to do that, that would have been our first choice, it was not. We hyphenated. Since getting used to the hyphentated name, we eventually decided to combine. It was a great choice and now we will be…" and that will be that. Then we will send out an announcement with the names we have chosen four our child. That will probably considerably melt the heart of the Grandparents to be. To hear the full name. And that will cement it, no changes after that. So I will always have to be 100% certain (Or at least 99.9 percent certain) of that name change. I really don't mind keeping the hyphenated name, but I hate the credit card companies, so changing it to a simpler name, would be great.

    And I'm already doing that, I am going through every possible combination, and have chosen two beautiful names (one girlish, one boyish), and have gone through the whole naming process. So I'm prepared.

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