OPEN THREAD: Is keeping my ex-husband’s last name disrespectful to my fiance?

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0040I married young and divorced my first husband over five years ago. After the divorce I retained his name out of convenience and also because after five years, it felt strange reverting back to my birth name.

Now, I am getting ready to re-marry.

The problem I am encountering is that most of our relatives assume that I will change my last name to my current fiance's last name. I feel greatly conflicted. I would prefer to retain the name that I have had for the last decade, even though it is my ex-husband's. I feel like I would be changing my name to make others happy. My fiance supports my decision.

How do I respond to others who feel that retaining my current last name is disrespectful to my fiance?

-Conflicted Bride

Have any of you faced this conundrum? If so, how did you handle it?

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Comments on OPEN THREAD: Is keeping my ex-husband’s last name disrespectful to my fiance?

  1. If you are each okay with it, then do what feels right for you. Names can be deeply personal topics and I know that I am struggling with the idea of taking a new last name after I’ve had mine for 35 years. And I know that whatever I chose, I will hear from someone about THEIR opinion on my decision. However, I am trying to keep in mind that it’s THEIR opinion. Not mine. And I am not living my life for them. If you are still uncertain about your choice, think about this: in 5 years if you decide you DO want to take his name after all…there’s no law that says you can’t.

  2. Eek, that’s tough.
    Well, first off, I think you’ve successfully pointed out the one person who SHOULD get a say in the matter, and that’s your intended. If he’s okay with it, and supports you, then you’re a long way towards making a decision that is respectful to you both.
    I can see both sides of the coin, though, and the only suggestion I have towards changing your last name might be a conflation of yours and his – that way you get something completely new, he likes it, you like it, and the oppressing people who are demanding that you change your name may feel some releif.
    If you are totally against changing your name, don’t. You already have the blessing that you need from your partner, and it’s not up to anyone else but you. But if you do decide to change it, it might be fun to play around with combinations that suit you and your partner. Good luck!

  3. Do what you want and make no apologies. In a year or two, no one will think twice about it.
    You’re not the first person to make this decision and you’re definitely not the last.

  4. If your fiance is totally cool with it then i think you could just tell the truth when people ask; its easier, it feels right, hubby-to-be is cool with it, and go ef yourself if ya dont like it hahaha. (Ok maybe not the last part hehe)

  5. I’m going through a similiar situation. I was married young (21) and kept my ex husbands last name when we were divorced 5 years ago. Now I’m two months away from getting married again. I decided ti change my last name to my new husbands name. Not because everyone wants me to, but because I want to. I don’t want to look at my last name and think of my first husband, I want to think of my fiancé and our future together.

    I say, do what you feel is right. For me, it’s changing my last name, but for you it could be keeping your last name. Good luck in your decision!

    • I definitley agree with this. Im not into caring what other people think but i would be concerned that your fiance really would like you to take his name, not stay with your ex husbands name.. He could be keeping quiet to make you happy.

  6. I have to go with yes it is. To me, it would appear as if you are still “holding on” to that relationship for more reasons that you are admitting- even if that’s not the case.
    I sort of feel like keeping the ex’s last name just because its easy gives the message that you don’t want to put too much effort into the new marriage (again, that’s the message even if its not true)
    If it’s an identity issue your facing then I would suggest you use the new marriage as a chance to go back to your maiden name. It’s YOURS. Its not a name you ever have to feel like you have to give up or not give up.

    Of course in this case I think the best and possible least offensive option for all would be when you change your name to hyphenate them all. So you are madien-former-spouse. For me this is like the best of both sides. you get to honor the places you have been and the names that got you there without failing to acknowledge the places you will go with your new husband and a new name.

    • I don’t think this comment takes into account the career implications of changing one’s name.

      While the bride doesn’t bring it up in her question, many people’s careers are based on name recognition (politicians, real estate agents, etc). If she’s had her ex’s name for most of her career, changing to her maiden name could hurt her business.

  7. Usually, I tend to be open minded about nearly everything. However, I honestly do think its disrespectful, even if he is okay with it. I definitely understand not reverting back to your birth name. But I don’t think you should be keeping your EX’s name now that your getting remarried. Between the constant reminder of a failed relationship and someone you are no longer with, and having to explain it to future children and your whole family with no real reason besides it being easy that hasn’t been changed. I just don’t feel its right.

  8. I would just say, “I’m keeping my name as is,” and if anyone says, “but that’s your ex’s name!” smile (or not…) and reply, “after a decade of having it, I can assure you it is MY name.” The End.

    • I second this, and that is a great way to respond too. Your past is part of your identity.

      I suppose a related issue would be if you were healthy friends with your ex. Would getting married mean you have to give up that relationship? Not at all! Would it be anyone’s business but your own? Nope! Same deal with the name.

    • If I’d had time this week to write a response to this question, this is what I would have written. 🙂

    • This, absolutely. If your fiance is okay with it, then what anyone else thinks is irrelevant.

    • This a million times. I am about to change my last name to MY NEW NAME. Not his name. MY NAME. It belongs to me now. It’s who I am choosing to be. And after watching my mom change hers 3 times… I am only doing this once. Plus, if you have kids, wanting to keep your last name the same as theirs can be a reason as well.

      Also, if in the future you decide you would prefer new partners, you can change it. Or hell, he can change his to yours. There is no time limit (in Canada) for assuming your partners name.

    • Very well said! I’d also suggest that you consider A) if you have/plan to have children, B) what last name you’d like them to have, and C) if it’s important for you to have the same last name as these potential children. I certainly don’t think it’s a necessity, but it’s important to some people.

  9. You know, that is a fascinating question. I would offer you one piece of advice: do you think you are gonna stay married to this guy forever? Because, if so, at some point you’ll have his last name longer than your ex-husbands. Also, I would ask that if you plan to have kids, will they take your current husband’s last name or your EX-husband’s last name?
    Names are such an important part of our identities, and I understand how much yours is wrapped up in this last name you have had for a decade, but if you do choose to have children, wouldn’t you rather they have the last name of their father, and not a hyphenated name of not even your birth name?
    That said, it is really no one else’s business, but this may require more thought than “I don’t wanna change my last name”, after all, it has only been yours for a decade. Even if you married young you still had your birth name longer and if you stay married for 50 years do you really want to look back at your 50th wedding anniversary and have carried your ex-husband’s last name all these years?

    • “Do you think you are gonna stay married to this guy forever?”

      What kind of question is that? Who gets married with the notion that they won’t last? Yes, in reality, many marriages end in divorce, but I don’t think anyone goes into a marriage planning to fail.

      • I can assure you, some people do. They have this weird sort of skewed world view. I am acquainted with a man who, at this moment, is searching for, “The next ex-Mrs. So and So.”

      • I don’t think she was implying that it wouldn’t last. I think she was just trying to make the point that BECAUSE it’s going to last (longer than a decade) that her new name would become just as solidly a part of her identity as her current name is now (and most likely more so). Let’s please not take comments out of context.
        Don’t get me wrong. If FH supports the decision, I don’t really feel there’s a lot more to be said about it.

    • Of course, your children don’t need to take any particular man’s last name. We gave our children my last name (the one I’ve had and kept since birth). Other friends have chosen a last name for their two children that were completely different from their own, just as if they were choosing first names. Head on over to off-beat mama to check out lots of naming options if that’s important to you.

  10. I, too, had the same dilemma when I remarried. I got married the first time at 21, so I had been “Jane Smith” for my entire adult life. I also have three children, and we always identified ourselves as “The Smiths.” When I remarried at age 36, I was conflicted about changing my name. My new husband didn’t care either way, so the decision was mine with no pressure.

    I considered hyphenating but decided that was too pretentious for me and would cause more problems than it solved. I considered keeping “Smith” as my name because I was known professionally, and since I had been a Smith for 15 years, it just felt comfortable. I also thought about taking my new husband’s name, but a small part of me felt like that would be abandoning my kids in a sense, as well as dismissing the previous 15 years of my life.

    After much thought, I ended up taking my new husband’s last name. I had reflected on my current name Smith, and I decided that at the root of it, I got that name from my ex-husband, and since that chapter of my life was far behind me, I decided to close the book on Smith and forge ahead with my new husband as a “Jones.” It is a decision that I have never regretted! The only thing that was a little bumpy was having my kids adjust to me being called Jane Jones instead of Jane Smith, but we all worked through it nicely. They even tease me about it now 🙂

    You have to do whatever is right for you, and it’s great that your fiance supports you. Don’t pay any attention to the naysayers. If someone confronts you about it or makes a rude remark, simply respond, “Wow, I didn’t realize that my personal decisions were any of your business.”

    • It took me almost a year to change my name to my first husband’s (did it right before tax day!), and I’ve had that name for over 15 years + I have an 11 year old daughter with the same last name.

      I got married again this past May (after being together for 7 years to the day 😉 so I intend this one to stick, thanks!) and …. yeah, well, haven’t gotten around to changing my name yet. When I do, it will be hyphenated (Smith-Jones). 99% because I don’t want my daughter to feel left out (although she did ask if she could change her name…she would like her new FIRST name to be Danielle, please LOL) / .5% because it’s easier for schools, work, banks, everything / .5% because Smith is what I have built my professional reputation as, and don’t want to lose that.

    • My best friend’s mother went through the same dilema when she mairied her second husband. She ended up changing her name. My best friend ended up changinng his last name when he was 18 to his step-father’s last name because his step-father is who he thinks of as his dad.

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