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

Updated Jan 13 2016
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 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.

Want the opposite perspective? Check this post:

  1. Thank you for this. No one has really tried to shame me about it or anything, but it's annoying when people call me by my husband's name — it's kind of bizarre since it's mostly people I have known since before I was married (like, even people in my own family), so there's no reason for them to assume my name is the same as his. Luckily, most people have been good about it, though!

    • My parents gave my husband and me both checks for Christmas this year (we've been married since May) and mine was made out to "Adele HisLastName". I was like… wut, you guys knew I kept my name, right…?

      Fortunately, the bank was cool about it. 🙂

  2. Agree. The choice is up to the woman and her family. I have even heard of grooms taking the woman's name. My one friend's fiancee is trying to figure out if he wants to hers or his grandfather's, since he had no attachment to his name.

    • My fiance is not taking my name (we are both keeping our own), but he's just finishing teacher training right now, so he took mine on facebook so that our friends would know who he was but he will be that much harder for students to find (obviously he's taken other precautions as well). (Note: I would TOTALLY support him taking my name if he wanted to, and I applaud other couples who make unusual decisions for doing what's right for them.)

      The unintended results have been really interesting. A few relatives have contacted him or his parents to express their support in his name change, while others have made really inappropriate jokes about it. It's illuminated some people who now we want to get to know better, and that more than makes up for the weird comments.

      Accidental experiment aside, NO ONE asks me if I'm changing my name anymore. Any disapproval of breaking with tradition has been displaced onto the worry he'll change his name and I'm being left alone. Now everyone assumes I'm keeping my own, more so than they seemed to believe me when I initially said I was.

  3. First, I want to say that I liked this post overall. But, as someone who DID change my name (I disliked my maiden name and dropped it completely, having spent most of my childhood thinking of the best possible way to rid myself of it!),
    "Even more disappointing is when you start to receive cards in the mail from friends and family addressed to Mr. and Mrs. His Name."
    still sticks in my craw.

    I'm not Mrs. MyHusband! And I feel like friends and family should know better as well, no matter if I took his last name, I still have my own first name, and, last time I checked, I'm still my own person. So it's not just those who kept their names who hate the old-style wife-ownership that the Mrs. His Name wording implies.

    • Amen sister. The first year we started getting Christmas cards addressed to "Mr & Mrs Aaron Finley" REEEEALLY tried my patience. My whole family thought I was nuts when I finally brought this: "I'm not Mrs. MyHusband! And I feel like friends and family should know better as well, no matter if I took his last name, I still have my own first name, and, last time I checked, I'm still my own person" up.

      I had to concede that most of my family would still blindly follow that tradition but SOME of them have actually made an effort to treat me like my own person on invitations and the like since they heard my rant. And I just focus on that and try to breathe through my rage the rest of the time. 😉

      • Totally agree. I like the "old fashioned" thought of taking my husband's last name… but when I get married in 4 months, and they announce us for the first time? I'm making a POINT to the announcer to say Mr. and Mrs. Vance and Shannon Wheeler!!! (For ONE, I don't want to be Mr. and Mrs. Vance Wheeler… I think that's ridiculous for all the reasons you ladies have stated here… but for TWO, I'm excited to hear "Shannon Wheeler" for the first time!!)

    • EXACTLY. My maiden name was so long that going through school it literally would not have fit on all those standardized scantron test forms if it had been one letter longer. I've always disliked it, and thankfully, I got lucky enough to fall in love with someone who's last name is only five letters long. 😉 Changing my last name to his was a complete no-brainer. I swear, signing or writing my name now seems *so* quick.

      But ever since I changed my last name (in July), I've gotten so many things from relatives addressed to "Mrs. Hisname" and that is *so* infuriating. I made it a point to address all our wedding invitations with Mr. Hisname & Mrs. Hername LastName (for couples with the same last name), but apparently no one took notice of how I addressed *them* and figured I'd want to be addressed the same way, like I hoped they'd would. Sigh.

      • I just mailed out wedding invitations and did the same thing! No "Mr. & Mrs. John Smith". It was "John and Jane Smith" (or sometimes I put the woman's name first…basically, I put whomever I actually knew better first, with their +1 second). I even checked on Facebook first to make sure that wives did indeed have their husband's name, otherwise I would have been sure to put her real name too, "John Smith & Jane Doe".

        • I did the same thing with my invites. My mom questioned me at first about putting some of the women first before their husbands but I wanted to put the person I'm closer with first. If I was close to both I just put the guy first. No Mr or Mrs on the names either.

          • When I addressed our wedding invitations to married couples I just put Mr. and Mrs. Smith. I thought it was easier than putting Mr. John and Mrs. Mary Smith and there was no way in hell I would ever write Mr and Mrs. John Smith. I don't care what Martha Stewart or Etiquette Magazine says, I would never refer to a married couple just by the guys full name. Just because a woman is married does not mean she doesn't exist as an individual!

      • YES!

        I addressed all my invites and my Christmas cards and everything as Mr. & Mrs. Him & Her TheirLastName…

        And now when people ask me for my address, I clarify:

        Mr. & Mrs. Him HisLast & Me MyLast

        …but then I get it back Mr. & Mrs. HisName HisLastName. Sigh.

        At least both our sets of parents respect it. They seem to be the only ones.

        • That amazes me that in this day and age, where "proper etiquette" SHOULD be RSVPing to events; yet people refuse to RSVP 'cuz it's "old fashioned"… (um, NO, not old fashioned, just common sense!! You want a seat? Let them know you're coming! *duh*) But where people refuse to follow THAT obvious piece of etiquette, and yet they still insist on following the "SO CALLED" etiquette of writing out Mr. and Mrs. HisName LastName?!?!? Which, (to ME, anyways) ISN'T common sense?!? Doesn't even MAKE sense?!?! Bizarre…

    • This is one tradition that has ALWAYS baffled me completely. Why do people do this???? It just seems so weird, to completely substitute the husband's first AND last name in without even bothering to include the wife's first name. Super annoying.

      • It's just outdated etiquette–even up to the early 20th century you'd be Mrs John Smith; being Mrs Mary Smith meant that John Smith was dead and you were his widow. (Or see, you know, Princess Michael of Kent, because she can't be a princess herself because she's just married to one; also why Kate Middleton isn't actually Princess Kate.) So there's precedent, it's just…old and really not relevant now. Unless you're marrying into the royal family I think you can keep your first name!

        My FH and I are both academics in the same field, so it wouldn't make any sense to both be Dr Hisname, how would they tell us apart? He will stay Dr Hisname and I will stay Dr Myname and all will be well.

      • I just got married two weeks ago, and already the keeping-my-name thing has be tricky to publicize. I didn't want to come out and just yell, "I'm keeping my name!" but when all of the cards we got at our wedding (save one or two) were addressed as "Mr. and Mrs. Evan HisLastName"…..*sigh* I need to find a way to subtley spread the word. When I sent out thank you cards, I used my full birth name on the return address. I've taken to teasingly call him "Mr. Jamie MyLastName" which is really just as valid as people calling me by his full name.

    • I'll be getting married in less than a year. My SO is graduating from medschool soon and the only thing worse I can think of the "Mr. and Mrs. HisName" is "Dr. and Mrs. HisName". I feel like I've been subjugated (which is ridiculous, but it's how I feel).

      PS. (Guess I need to get a PhD after my masters is done!)

      • Agreed! I've joked with my partner that I'm going to do a PhD just so we can be Dr. and Mr.!

        • You may get some trouble with that. I was just reading an article about websites that use dropdown menus to select your prefix. Most do not have "Dr. and Mr." or even "Dr. and Dr." as a choice at all. It's quite ridiculous.

          • heehee – we're a "Dr. and Dr." couple, but with different last names. much confusion for everyone else! but we couldn't care less. these are our names.

            when we made the decision to start a family, we took three letters from his last name and three letters from my last name and made up a completely new name. we each took this as a second middle name and it will be the surname given to our (future) children. sometimes it's nice to have a "family" name.

      • I'm getting my PhD right now, and my fiance is getting his Associate's degree (then plans on stopping). He was (politely) joking the other day about how mad I'm going to get the first time we get something addressed to "Dr. and Mrs. HisName" someday. I'm not sure mainstream society knows how to type "Dr. and Mr."

        • I'll be a Dr. just a few years after we marry, my fiance is a very brilliant with a double masters… but his friends and family have already started making emasculating jokes about Dr. and Mrs still being appropriate….

          I always took a very feminist stance when it came to name change. I was always going to be Mrs. K– (or Dr. K as it turns out). But when it came time to start seriously considering the choice I realized a few things.

          1) it's really important to me that we share a common name for our family and our children (no way in hell am I going to carry them for 9 months and not share their name…he felt similarly about raising them.)

          2) My future-husband will be a stay at home dad when the time comes, and I can see how subverting that norm has already caused waves with his very traditional family.
          Even though he is 100% willing to joint hyphenate our names, I have concluded that this is a blow to my relationship with his family I probably could not come back from. They see steps from the standard as shamefully emasculating to their son and I am already a suspicious outsider with my subversive feminist ways.

          The world we live in will constantly reflect our choices. From what I have read here and in other OBB posts on the subject…no choice on the name change subject is free of conflict. And as my mother always says "pick your battles." So I have decided to fight the battle I have a better chance of winning- my expectations of myself as a feminist (as opposed to his family and some of society at large).

          Just because I will now be Mrs., then Dr. H does not make me any less of the strong individual I have always tried to be. I have many other battles in my nonconforming life. I just decided that keeping my name would not be one of them.

          • GOOD for you!! That's fantastic! Nice to hear a "middle of the creek" point of view. Not extreme to one way or the other. You have your view and opinion on it, but you're willing to let that go for the sake and sanity of your "new" family! I hope you live very happily with your decision, and don't regret it, because it's a very unselfish decision, and I like that you've "chosen your battle", or in this case, NOT to battle. Attagirl!! =)

      • When DH was in the military it was going to have to be 2nd LT and Mrs. Everything was supposed to be addressed to him and his friends that way. He was even given a military etiquette book for me to read to make sure I addressed everyone the "right" way (barf)

    • I consider myself extremely fortunate that I've almost never seen ANYONE addressed as Mrs Hisfirst Hislast or Mr & Mrs His First Hislast.

      Mr & Mrs Lastname I'm ok with because that's still putting both partners equally, but to give the man his full name and reduce the wife to nothing but a title seems incredibly sexist to me.

    • i agree! i really prefer his name over mine. although i also dislike my middle name and like my last name as a first/middle name anyway.. so i have no qualms with dropping my middle name! 🙂

  4. My groom to be and I are still trying to figure this out. I'm not for or against name changing. I did it the first time, but only because my ex was very adamant about it. This time my fiancé is very sweet about it and says its up to me. He likes to joke with it though and use our last names in funny ways to make me laugh about it. I'm not sure what I'm going to do after it took so long to get everything back in my maiden name before, this a great post. Thank you for your view point on it.

    • This is the same exact issue I'm dealing with – changed my name the 1st time, changed it back after the divorce and now I'm really struggling with what to do. I don't want to change my last name but I want to have the same last name as our future children and I don't think it's fair for the kids to be stuck with hyphenated last names… sigh.


    I had this conversation with my fiance shortly before (and again after) we got engaged. I was very up-front about my belief that the ONLY way I would change my name was if we both changed our names (hyphens, new name, whatever). He'd changed his name once already in his life (during legal adoption by his stepdad) and said he had no interest in changing it again, so that's that. He didn't have strong feelings about it either way.

    And honestly? He could have had strong feelings about it, and if he wasn't willing to be flexible, he would just have had to deal with them. My name, my call, end of story.

    • I wasn't willing to change my name unless DH was willing to change his. His parents ridiculed the idea so he never changed his name…so neither did I. Works both ways!

  6. I want to change my name, because the name I was born to is my older siblings' father's name, so I have never really felt like it was mine. However I do have a bachelor degree in my current name, and soon, a Master's, so it would be weird if the two had different names on them…

    • You can get your name changed on your diploma and they will mail you a new one!

      • Seriously!??!?!?!

        This I did not know and is very key. The one thing that makes me super sad about changing my name is that my diploma has my (current, birth) name on it … and one day that won't be my name anymore.

        You've totally just made my day.

  7. I'm absolutely changing my name. I changed it with my first marriage a) just cause and b) my maiden name was long and hard to pronounce so I delighted in finally getting a "normal" name.
    After my divorce, I kept that name rather than going back to my maiden name a) because I have kids and b) cause I like having a name that's easy to pronounce now.
    Now that I'm getting married again, I'm changing my name to his name a) because I don't want to keep my exes name anymore and b) because my new last name is also easy to pronounce. 🙂

      • I tell my fiance I'm just marrying him for his place in the alphabet! Moving up from a W to a H! AWESOME! Though I find it silly that my not too uncommon last name, I never have to spell, but he always has to spell his 4 letter last name because people ALWAYS put an E at the end! Ugh!

      • I'm seriously considering taking my husband's last name and it is super complicated to spell and pronounce! The reason is that my daughter's last name is her dad's and I would like to have the same as future children… His last name is important to him because it is connected to the land that his family has been settled on for 600+ years. It's a unique history and I'm happy to be becoming a part of it!

        • Also, one thing about the "hard to spell" reason to change your name, I worry that we're going to over-Anglicize all North American last names by changing the Eastern European/Asian/African names to Western names.

          • My last name is super hard to spell (includes two C's, two Y's, and a Z) and I am KEEPING it. I LOVE having a crazy unique name, so I never understood changing a name to make it easier…I wouldn't want a homogenized society where everyone had boring Anglo-American names.

          • I changed my rather ordinary, easy to pronounce maiden name to my husband's much more uncommon, "ethnic" surname. I enjoy having a unique name now, and seeing people's surprise when they meet this white chick with an African name. Sure, people seem to have more difficulty pronouncing it (why, I'm not sure — it's entirely phonetic), but they've always butchered my first name anyway. I don't like being called Mrs, though. Oh well, soon enough I will have my PhD and be Dr. instead!

  8. I briefly considered changing my name because my name happens to be long, French and impossible to spell. Now that I'm immigrating to the US (I'm Canadian) and I'm going to teach, I know my students won't be able to pronounce my name and my husband's name is much easier to deal with

    In the end though, I love and need my name! My publications are in my maiden name and I don't want to lose those. My name is interesting and unique and even though I know I'm going to have to endure people butchering it for the rest of my life, I'm keeping it

    I never had a desire to be Mrs. My Husband's Name and I've worked damn hard to be Dr. My Name. In fact, at our wedding reception we were introduced and Mr. His Name and Dr. My Name. And I aims to keep it that way

    • I have friends with a long impossible-to-spell French name. My husband has one of those, too. It can be a hassle sometimes but certainly nothing life-impeding, and it makes them stand out in a crowd of Smiths and Joneses. If you love and need your name – keep it!

    • YES! THIS! Well, not the french-hard-to-spell part (my last name is sort of french, but easy to pronounce), rather the I've-worked-hard-to-be-Dr.-MyName-part. I love how you had yourselves announced. Epic way to head off awkward questions and conversations. 🙂

      I've already had one awkward conversation in which MY dad was disappointed that I wasn't taking my husband's name and that's about all I have the patience for. Why is this anyone else's business?!

      • That was a big reason I had us introduced that way….to sort of make it clear to everyone there that I was, in fact, keeping my name. And it's true that you spend years imagining "Dr. My Name" while you're working so hard. To change that would have made me a bit sad. On the plus side, since I know my students will have a hard time with my name, I've decided to just be "Dr. L" which makes it easy for them, and also seems kinda cool and relaxed like "yeah, I'm THAT kind of cool prof" LOL

  9. I kept my name and made it pretty clear to everyone I know that it was important to me. I still go by ms, rather than mrs, which is neutral on the marital status. My reasons are personal and I take them very seriously, so it makes my blood boil when we receive correspondence from our friends to Mr and Mrs His name. I feel like it would be rude to respond to a greeting card with a "you misused my name and title", so I usually don't say anything, but at some point I'm going to snap and write a bunch of angry letters to these people. 😛

  10. I also decided to keep my name. From the very beginning it just didn't feel right to change it so I thought I would hyphenate. And when I just couldn't get it to look right, I thought I would keep my name officially but use his socially. I went back and forth with this indecision and uncertainty for several months. But when it came right down to it, I knew I didn't want to change it because I wouldn't feel like me. So I didn't. And I'm glad I didn't. My husband, friends and family have been very supportive. His grandmother, however, STILL sends cards and letters to Mr. and Mrs. HisLastName even though she knows I didn't change. While I understand this was the norm in her day, I do feel it's a bit disrespectful to completely ignore my real name. But I pick my battles and let it go since she's the only one. I'm still me to everyone else 🙂

      • I'm in the same boat and clearly write out my name in cards sent to my husband's grandma and I STILL get cards and checks addressed incorrectly. Ugh.

  11. Great article! I'm surprised people still get guff for not changing their name but then again I live in California. I actually *changed* my name for professional reasons. My maiden name was so bland and common but my husband's name is the 13,000th most common name in the US! I was still early enough in my career to make the switch.
    We half though of both of us changing our names making a new name. Not hyphenating but creating a new word altogether. But in the end we stick with his.

  12. Interesting, I've never really considered my name as part of my self identity. To me my name is a useful thing to have so when someone sees me on the street they have something to call out. Or on the phone they can identify to whom they'd like to speak. I wouldn't consider myself a different person based on my name or on the name someone chose to use. "Mr and Mrs. John Smith" might just be easier to stick on an envelope and probably has nothing to do with an interpretation of me as a possession of my husband.

    • Yeah, I'm with you on this one. I like my last name because it ties me to my family, but it's not a defining part of who I am. I think my first name is what people think of me as… nobody thinks of me using my last name, except for impersonal relationships, and HR can just deal with the change. 😛 I'll probably keep it as a middle name, but my real reason for wanting my husband-elect's last name is because my name is Kristin N_____. Which, when you say it, blurs into one long word/name. I can't WAIT to have a last name that's phonetically distinct from my first name. 😀

  13. Personally I've always hated my last name. I don't like how it sounds, and I hate, hate HATE having to spell it and correct people's pronunciation. It's annoying. I've fantasized since I was very little about being able to change it one day…

    Unfortunately, my fella's last name isn't much better. And it's hyphenated. Just dropping one half of the name isn't an option, because his family is drama-licious. So, we've decided to change both our names to something completely different.

    We're pretty sure we're going to pick a name that's further up my family tree that I've always loved (and have heirlooms with it engraved on them).

    • My husband and I have toyed with the idea of changing BOTH our names. I'd like to because I have a long, hard to pronounce name, and he would because he's had a poor relationship with his father and just isn't connected to his name. We thought that IF we decided to take a new name, it would be my mother's maiden name. It would be a nice tribute to her and her family, and the name itself happens to be kick ass (it's Scully, BTW) 😀

      • Your mother's maiden name DOES kick ass. If that was one of my family names, I'd totally jump at the chance at changing to that.

  14. I made the decision to not change my name after people starting sending us mail addressed to "Him and Me HisLastName" after we became engaged, thinking they were being cute, and I had a panic attack (rocking back and forth in the corner style). So my decision was pretty easy, and my fiance probably just wanted me to stop crying but he said he doesn't care what I do. In fact, he said that if someone told him that HE had to change his name after marriage, he would tell them kindly go f*** themselves.

  15. Initially I was just going to keep my maiden name. It was a huge part of my identity and I wanted to keep it. When I mentioned this to my then future husband he was not pleased. So I hyphenated as a compromise. It took him a while to get over that too, but I think he finally has. He's such an open-minded, forward thinking person. I never understood why that bothered him so much….

    • I'm glad he accepted a compromise. I have male coworkers who have said that a woman NOT taking his name would be a deal breaker. Seriously? It would be a deal breaker for ME if the guy wasn't OK with me keeping my name.

      • I'm always astounded at guys who say that. Why don't they try to imagine changing THEIR names first, before they insist someone else loses her identity in theirs?

        • This. If I were legally required to change my name upon marriage, I would not have gotten married, simple as that. Yes, it IS that important to me. I am Dr. Me and he is Dr. Him, and so we were announced at our wedding. I also put it in our FAQ on our wed-site, phrased as "Neither of us is name-changing" to hopefully make people realize that if we DID change, it would be just as likely to be him as me.

    • I think it's somewhat of a guy thing. Sort of like how if you have a kid together, (especially a SON), they want their son to bear their last name in order to "keep the family alive" or something. My fiance's brother died, so that leaves my fiance as the only living son with his last name. He only has aunt's, and the only uncle doesn't have any sons. So my fiance made it clear (nicely), that he would be pleased if I took his name, or if not, our son would DEFINITELY have to have his last name. He got all teary eyed about, so it's obviously, for some reason, terribly important to most of them! Kudos to the ladies on here who have guys who shrug and say, "Whatever you're happy with, dear"! =)

  16. It's interesting because I am definitely planning on changing my name (his is so much more romantic sounding then mine) and I feel people judge me all the time for this. Maybe it's the crowd I roll with (the academic crowd) and on more than one occasion people have responded to my decision to change my name with "well you know you don't have to right?" Even his father was shocked I was changing my name because he had thought I was an "independent woman"

    I am an independent woman, and my independence gives gives me the CHOICE to change or not change my name. Don't judge my choice.

    • Yes, as a fellow academic I agree with this. My colleagues are not giving me trouble, but I do wonder if they are judging my choice to change my name. I haven't been published under my last name yet, so there aren't compelling academic reasons to keep my name. His is easier to spell, lacking a capital letter in the middle of the name. Mine has one, and it's really annoying to have to keep telling people to capitalize that letter. I do like my name, but I like his too.

  17. I'm actually having a huge battle with myself over this issue. I want to keep my last name the way it is: I love my last name, it's very unique, all of my life people have called me by my last name more than my first name (aside from family), it has become more of my identity than my first name, my family is the last of our name's bloodline so I'd like to keep it going as long as possible, I don't agree with me becoming part of his family when really we are starting a whole new family….the list goes on. I thought about hyphenating, but that doesn't sit well with me, either. BUT hubby-to-be isn't so thrilled with my wishes. He is leaning more towards tradition…I should take his name. I think he also feels somewhat emasculated that I want to keep my name. I feel like I'm walking on eggshells any time I bring it up and he gets rather depressed. Any advice on how to handle this? I'm running out of time to figure this out :-/

    • I know someone whose husband was hurt that she wasn't going to change her name–until she told him that she figured their kids would have his last name. It turns out he was sort of worried that his own line wouldn't go on. Is this something your husband might be worried about?

      • I meant to add this too; my fiance felt better after I also assured him our kids could have his last name since this isn't a feminist thing to me, it's just a me-wanting-to-maintain-my-birth-identity thing.

    • My fiance was similar…he was sort of quiet and didn't want to talk about me keeping my name, even though he's always known that was my choice. I made him perk up considerably when I suggested that we take each others' last name as a middle name. We haven't decided whether or not to also keep our original middle names, and have TWO middle names…..but basically I would be Jamie HisName MyName, and he would be Evan MyName HisName. This way we BOTH have a name connection to each other, without either of us losing the FirstName LastNAme combinations that we've been our whole lives. We may just start out with putting the changes just on our marriage certificates, and then later when we have more money we can get it official through probate court ($80 per name change).

      • I meant to add that the BS thing about name changing (at least in Maine) is that a woman can legally change her name when she gets married just with the simple act of writing it the new way on her marriage certificate. For a man to change his name, even at marriage, he has to go through probate court. AS long as the woman's new name is some combination of her name and his name (ie, not adding random stuff in there) she can change it for free just by writing it on the certificate. He has to pay $80 to change his. Reverse sexism, sort of?

        • In Iowa both partners can change their name to *anything* during the marriage signing.

          I think with more and more states allowing same-sex marriage (hopefully all soon) they'll just have to make this standard for everyone!

    • My family is also the last in our bloodline, which is a big factor in my decision. It may not seem like a big deal to some, but my family is very small & if I do not have a child to carry on my last name it will stop at my generation. I also lost my father when I was young, and I was very close to him so I feel like if I take my fiance's name I will be losing that connection to my father.
      On the other hand, I do want to share a last name with my FW, which is why we've decided to hyphenate. We are considering keeping our respective maiden names first, and taking each other's last names second though. So I will be Mrs. R********-H**** and she will be Mrs. H****-R********.

      • I had similar reservations about changing my name. In the end we both wanted to keep our names, but we didn't want to have different names. We decided we would both hyphenate, with my last name first and hers following second (I really wanted to keep the order of my initials). We are both Mrs. R*****-T********

  18. "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."

    This was my favorite part. When I have my PhD my diploma will read the name I was born with, and all my hard will reflect back on my family's name. The best part of it all is that it was my soon-to-be husband's idea. I suggested hyphenating my last name to avoid offending him, but he told me that I was being silly because it was my PhD, not his.

    • AMEN to this. A very small, sneaky part of me partially wants a PhD so I can just be Dr. and people can stop speculating about my marital status – HOW RUDE!!!!

  19. Some of my FH's family has adressed me as mrs.FHname for a few years now, even though we weren't even considering getting married at that time. Guess they were just too lazy to find out my last name when sending christmascards and such and now think they won't have to learn, since we're getting married anyway. Well, I got news for them. I'm keeping my own name.

    Why? I just don't see why not. It is, after all, my name and I don't see any reason to change it. I have no issues with my last name, we have no children (which was my sister-in-law's reason to change hers)and I won't feel less married (which a friend of mine felt).

    I don't really have a problem with changing it either though, and would consider it if my FH really wanted it, but he doesn't. I can have his name if I like, but he said he'd probably find it a bit weird at first "because it's just not your name." Quite the feminist, my man…it's a good thing he's not a women in the fifties :p

  20. For many of the reasons already stated, I am definitely planning on keeping my last name. But, I have one lingering question that I don't know the answer to: what name do you give to your children? One kid gets my name and the other my husband's? The kids get a hyphenated version of our names? Or do we just choose one of our names?

    • We discussed this when the whole keeping my name thing was brought up. Our children will have his last name, but my last name will be a part of their middle names (so they'll legally have 2 middle names). My cousin did something similar because our last name likely won't be passed on due to fact that there is only one male able to and he may not have more children (he has one daughter).

      • Ditto to this. They can have his last name, and mine as a second middle name. When they get older, they can change to mine if they wish. For me, the importance is just about keeping the name I've always had, not about being all feminist, so I don't care about the patriarchal implications of them having his name.

      • I did this with my two kids – they each have my last name as one of their two middle names. So you're definitely not the only one 🙂

        • But aren't you constantly referred to as Mrs. HisName by teachers, school staff and anyone else who assumes that your last name is the same as your children's?

          • This happens to me very occasionally. I just smile and correct them. It's just not a big deal (and certainly not a reason for me to change my name). I suppose it varies by region, but in my area, there are a LOT of kids who don't share one of their parents' last names for a LOT of reasons including blended families, mom keeping her last name, etc. People are learning not to make assumptions about last names, but it's not a huge inconvenience to correct the few that assume incorrectly.

    • We've decided that *if* we have kids, we'll hyphenate their last name.

      And then you get the argument "But what if your child has a hyphenated last name and wants to marry someone else with a hyphenated last name? what do you do then?" and the best answer I've heard so far from my boss is, "Let them decide. It's their name, their choice." Which I thought was brilliant! 😉

    • This is exactly why I'm probably taking his name, while keeping my maiden name as a second middle name. I love my last name now and think his is a little generic, but I feel INFURIATED when I think that my kids won't have the same name as me – I feel like my husband is getting all the credit for our kids in some way, even though I'm the one that "baked" them for 9 months. I know this is a silly way to look at it, but this hits a nerve with me. It irks me more than having to lose my original name. Even though I will still have it as a second middle name, I know my dad is disappointed that I'm not keeping it. I feel like I'm disappointing somebody no matter what I do – I don't even know what name would make ME happiest anymore. BLARGH!

      • You have every right to be infuriated about your kids not getting your name — it's something women have been unfairly denied since the dawn of time in most cultures! They are no more your husband's children than yours. Stick to your guns and keep your name. And when your kids are born, give them both last names (hyphenated or not; some people just have two last names). Other people can deal with it. And the more women that do this, the easier it will be for our daughters to do this, and their daughters.

  21. I wrote a reply and then deleted it I think! Duh. I have no problems keeping my name as one of two girls who could carry on our name I would love to do it but I don't know what i'd do if I had kids.

  22. I kept my surname – it's quite a boring one, unlike my husband's, which is very cool. But it works well with my first name (alliterative) and people can spell it, unlike my husband's name.

    The kids have his surname because it's cool and they'll just have to deal with people's inability to spell it 😉

    We barely discussed either of these things in advance – neither of us minded at all.

    It does feel a bit weird, as though there's not much proof we were married, other than me deciding to use the title 'Mrs', but, y'know, I could have decided to use it without being married if I wanted to, it's just what I put on forms. I know as the kids get older it'll be a bit weird, as, for example, if phoning up the kids' school, I'll have to explain whose mum I am because I have a different name. But overall I'm glad I kept it and think I'll remain so.

    • I've never had the same last name as my mom or brother. It wasn't a big deal for us. I actually never thought about it until I started reading blogs about changing last names after getting married.

      • I think children where I lived might have been meaner than most. My brother was from my mother's first relationship and had his father's name and I have my father's name. My peers called our mother all type of nasty things for having kids with different last names. They made me feel like crap for not sharing a name with my brother. It was a shitty time until I changed schools.

  23. Thank you for writing this and not apologizing for it. I am getting married this year and all involved parties are keeping the names they walked into the relationship with.

  24. I kept my name when I got married, as did my husband. Most people get it, but there are a few that address me as "Mrs. Hislast" but I correct them. The only concession I've made is that I won't verbally correct his (older) parents and grandparents. I mean, I use my last name on everything from address labels to Christmas cards to Facebook, but I won't call up my in-laws when I get a card with the wrong last name. I do give my husband shit about his "other wife" though. 🙂

    • LOL at the "other wife" part. I tell mine, "your mom sent a card to your drag-queen persona!" since that's the only possible way there's a Mrs. Hisname at our address. 🙂

  25. I really liked this post! When I got married back in June 2011, I couldn't make a decision. Do I keep my name? To take his? Do I hyphenate? I was stressing and stressing, and even more so after the wedding when people came up to me and asked, "So what are you doing with your name? Are you changing?" I felt so much pressure to make some sort of decision. When I wasn't thinking about it, I felt no pressure, and gave my own name when people asked for it…I didn't hem and haw over it.

    So finally, my husband asked me a few weeks ago, "So are you ever going to make your name official?" I hemmed and hawed again, and he said, "You know…if you like your name the way it is, then there's no decision here. Just keep it. You like it. I like it. Who cares?"

    And that's when I realized…there was no decision to be made! I wanted my name, I kept my name, I feel happiest with my own name. I stressed over nothing.

    Now I have to make sure his relatives address me as such…

  26. Good article. In my case I won't be changing my name either because my fiance doesn't want me to take his last name. He wants to change his last name to mine as it is his adoptive dads last name as well. Just one more reason not to change it.

  27. I didn't change my name when we got married in July 2010. Mostly because when I was 12 I changed my name from my alcoholic-absent father's name to my mum's maiden name, my grandfathers' name, my uncles' name, men who shaped how men should treat their wives and sisters and daughters and granddaughters and friends. My whole family did it together and it means so much to me.

    Additionally, I am Australian with an anglo-saxon sirname and my husband is Turkish-Australian with a Turkish sirname. I also don't get along with my husband's parents. Mostly because I believe women are equal to men. (how modern is that!?) That's not to say all Turks or Turkish-Australians are like that, just his parents. I have never felt a part of his family, never felt welcome.

    Another reason was I have an unusual first name and a common last name. My old name was, well, weird, so going back to two names nobody can pronounce wasn't appealing either.

    This was a massive factor in deciding to keep my name. I love my husband, so much so I'm willing to be tortured by his parents, but that's another issue. We all have our reasons for choosing what we do with our names, and people should respect that. But at the end if the day, if they get it wrong, well they just don't know you or your husband/wife well enough. I used to get upset when people called me Mrs Lydia HisName. Now I don't even think about it. Only my very conservative acquaintances and my great aunt Coral call me that. And well, my great aunt Coral is an absolute star, so she can call me whatever she wants.

    What I do love is my husband and I have made up words as pet names for each other. We refer to each other as this and we are The PetNames, our kids will be The Little PetNames, our cats are our PetNames. It's like our secret family. Also, some people think my name is my husband's name. It used to make him upset, but now he just finds it funny. People make a lot of assumptions when you get married, mostly they are people who don't know you very well. Or idiots.

    I used to get upset, especially before we got married but now I just realize they very clearly don't know me or us very well.

    Not a very constructive post but I just wanted to share … 🙂

  28. After having gone through a marriage and taking his name, then divorcing after ten years and going back to my birth name, I discovered that I feel more comfortable with my birth name, and have no intention of changing it when I marry again.

    Thank you for the article. It and the comments following are reassuring that we're proud to make our own choices in identity.

  29. While I don't know if my near-fiance will have a problem with me not being very willing to take his last name, I bet his family will. Since my dad died when I was very young, and people have always commented on how much I remind them of him, I've felt a very strong connection to my last name. It's cultural, it's unique (his is quite the opposite), and I feel like it's a big part of my identity and I don't want to give that up any time soon. I'm sure, however, that his family won't understand my decision.

    A friend of mine was going through this same decision, and solicited her friends' opinions via Facebook. While I posted a comment that cited several of the same reasons in this article to keep your last name (advanced degrees with your name on it, Social Security issues, etc), I added that at the end of the day, I would still love my man, regardless of what my last name was. The groom's family chimed in and blasted me over my comment. The bride ended up agreeing with me, but chose to hyphenate, which is cool, too. The only people whose opinions really matter are the bride and groom.

    • I have this same view. I lost my dad in 2003. He had no sons, and there are no grandsons. I am a HUGE genealogist and I am extremely proud of my name and my heritage and all the family members that came before me to build this name in our then fledgling young country. So I will not be changing either. Its a way for me to honor my father and my family.

  30. I am a divorced professional artist. I originally changed to my ex's last name because I hadn't talked to my parents in two years and wanted to distance. I have two degrees with my maiden name and one with my ex's! And my family is now a set of best friends, btw 🙂

    My current fiance is amazing and told me that he wouldn't care if I had kept my maiden name and wanted to continue with it, but any vestige of my former life would be in conflict to what we are creating.

    As an artist, I was torn. My career has been built under two names already and I didn't want to lose fans or clients by having yet another name! My solution, as proposed by a programmer friend… I re branded. I made up a cool identity and have all previous sites redirecting to it. I found all old articles about me or by me and worked my butt off adding links getting people to the new identity. People love it, it's easy to spell, and it's way more memorable than any last name I've had. I've been building my search engine presence for six months already. And now I have the freedom to choose for myself what last name I want, with no career attachment to anything else. I'm changing it- for me its another separation. And he's not changing. It doesn't bother me in the slightest.

  31. We were married in June 2010, and although I intended to change my name within a year (for social use; I'm keeping my maiden name professionally), it kept getting put off.
    One thing I've been firm about, though, because I grew up in very mixed-name families — at one point there were five people living in the house, all related, all with different last names! — is that I would change it before I needed to put it on a baby's birth certificate. I want any kid of ours to have parents with the same last name, for both practical and emotional reasons.
    That's now pending, so I've started the change process…I just wish the closest Social Security office was less than an hour and a half away!

  32. I'm not bothered either way however awful that sounds. I'm going to flip a coin on our wedding day and go from there. I never had a chance to choose the other three names I've got seems strange that I can now.

  33. Yes! THIS exactly! I've been struggling with this decision. FH doesn't care one way or the other. I will be 43 by the time we get married and it's my first marriage. My name is MY NAME. I've had it for over 40 years. I've tried saying MyFirstName HisLastName and it just doesn't feel right. So, I probably won't change it. Besides, the paperwork involved in changing it is a pain. IF I had gotten married for the first time in my 20s, I probably wouldn't have had a problem changing my name. But now? It's part of who I am. We aren't having kids so that's not an issue. But whatever works for you is what's best. Glad this issue was addressed!

    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.

    I've always wondered why it has to be the woman to change and not the man. and yes i know that's changing too.

    Another annoying thing? getting CHECKS written to MR and MRS HUSBAND'S NAME. Banks won't allow me to cash it!

  35. I've been using my own name professionally, and my married name socially, but I've honestly been thinking about just keeping my maiden name. Mostly I held onto it because of clearances for working in schools, and I HATE how much of a pain it is. Even though it was a terrible last name for being a teacher (Cox) it was my name. And I miss it. So thank you for this.

  36. My already long name is going from 15 letters to a ridiculous 21 letters. I can't even sign my "new" name without feeling like I'm back in 2nd grade cursive. I've already decided to keep my maiden name for work but I'm undecided on socially. I just really really like my maiden name.

  37. Completely agree, names are very personal things. I don't think society should dictate what we do with them.
    I've been married eleven years, and, for various personal (but all happy) reasons we changed our family name back to my maiden name 18 months ago. The kids too (we asked them first!). I just wanted to be me again, but I still wanted to have the same name as my husband. He says we should have changed to my name at marriage, if only to confuse people 🙂 The best bit though? The look on the estate agent's face last week when we handed back our forms and hubby had filled in his "Maiden name" and I hadn't! Priceless.

  38. A lot of stuff is effed up about my country, but the gender equality here in Sweden makes me PROUD! No one would ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER (!!!) assume that you, as a woman, would take your husband's name. Some do, of course, but it's also common for the man to take the wife's name, or for each part to keep their "old" name, or for the couple to make up an entirely new name. IF they get married at all, that is. Most couples under the age of 60 that I know aren't. And if a couple decides to get married, it's usually after +10 years together and a couple of kids. Like someone realized it's a good excuse for throwing a big party. No sex before marriage? HA! 😉

    • I think I read somewhere that Sweden ranks #1 in gender equality and womens rights. America has a lot of catching up to do…This latest contraceptive debate has me tearing my hair out.

  39. I've always felt that my first name was me, I didn't care about my last. I took his name but find that I'd rather see Geoff & Rhea Lastname rather than Mr. & Mrs. Geoff Lastname. But oh well… I usually throw the envelopes away anyway and RSVP or sign both names when writing it, so I can still see my name.

  40. Ironically, I'm actually changing my name to make networking more easy, because his name is very unique. Meanwhile, there are many, many females name "Angelica Aguilar" out there. He never has to deal with any google doppelgangers because "Milik" just isn't a common name.

    I also like the Mexican tradition of having two last names, which is the family name. Your maiden name gets bumped back to your second last name, while the husband's name becomes the primary last name (a bit patriarchal, I admit). But that way, families are known by both last names. For example, my immediate family is known as the "Aguilar Fernandez"family back in Mexico, not "Mr. & Mrs. My father's name." I think that's kind of neat.

    • I like this, even if the woman's name plays second fiddle. At least is acknowledges that it's the joining of two families, not just the absorption of one into the other.

  41. I've always known I was going to keep my crazy-Polish last name. I like the history (my great-grandfather came through Ellis Island, barely speaking English and barely literate in his native alphabet. The officials put down what they thought his name sounded like, and it kind of went back and forth on different documents before settling on a consonant-heavy spelling pronounced "decision" but with two C's, two Y's, and a Z). I also know I am the ONLY Jamie MyName in the WORLD because only people directly related to me have this last name (in this spelling, anyway) and I'm the only Jamie in my family. Before Ellis Island, it was spelled in a different alphabet.

    Anyway, my fiance knew I was keeping my name before we even started dating. He is a little quiet about the subject because he is kind of a traditional guy (he is also "quiet" about me filling out paperwork to donate my body to science) but he knew it was just part of the package. To appease his bruised male ego a little, I suggested we take each others' last names as middle names. His middle name is of little consequence to him, but mine has family history, so I'll probably just have two middle names….Jamie MiddleName HisName My Name.
    I'll still me Jamie MyName professionally and socially, but WE'LL know that we have a name connection. This way, if someone calls me Mrs. HisName, it will be somewhat accurate. I may correct younger people, but I won't bother correcting older generations that may have a heart attack from my radicalness. So far, I haven't told his parents yet of my decision….so we'll see how THAT goes.

  42. I love this article! This is precisely why I wont change my name. There are numerous other little reasons but the biggest one is its MINE. Its my name and its who I am and I dont want or need to change that. It does not affect us as a couple or how I feel about him at all.

  43. We're getting married next week, and I won't be changing my name. When I was born my mom gave me her maiden name as my middle name, so that me (and my sisters) could have her name AND my dad's name. The thought of changing my name honestly makes me feel like I would be losing a part of me because of that.
    When we first got engaged I told FH that I didn't want to change my name, and he is completely on board! However, minus my family, the rest of the world is fighting against us. We've gotten numerous wedding cards that are addressed to either Mr & Mrs. D.S. or Mr & Mrs. S…. sigh. And people at work, and wedding places make funny faces when I tell them I'm not changing my name.

    I'm not saying that changing your name is a bad thing at all! All of my friends who are married changed their names, and I don't think any less of them. It's just not for me.

    • Your families no addressing cards properly despite knowing your choice is kind of obnoxious. Be sure to mail Thank You notes back with both of your names written clearly. Maybe underlined…

  44. I personally don't know what to do. I hate my last name but I don't like his either lol. His is easier to pronounce and I get upgraded from a Z to a C but it doesn't have a good ring to it. What to do..

    • Have you thought about combining the two into a brand new name? Like, if his name was Campbell and yours was Zeroni, you could be Zebell or Cameroni or Robel, or whatever. Get some scrabble tiles and play with different combinations. If you can get him into it, then you can both pick a new name together.

  45. I considered hyphenating, but in the end I decided that it's important to me to keep my birth name, so I am. He's now deciding between keeping his birth name or hyphenating with my name, but either way I'm keeping my name exactly as it is.
    As for kids, we haven't decided, but I know that they will certainly have my name at least. As I'm the one carrying them for nine months and then giving birth, I'm pretty sure I'll earn the right to give them my name. We might also give them his name and hyphenate, but maybe just my name. Certainly not just his!

  46. I'm considering changing my name, not sure about it though. I'm not too attached to either name. HOWEVER, I would be going from one weird, impossible to spell/pronounce German last name to another weird, impossible to spell/pronounce German/Scottish last name. Sigh. My recommendation is we both hyphenate and start wearing monocles.

  47. I love that we have hit a time when women are able to openly make this decision for themselves.

    Personally, I am planning on changing my last name to his, but for entirely selfish reasons. I *hate* my last name, because it is the name of my abusive biological father, and his family which turned their back on us (the kids) when my mother got the good sense to leave him. When my mother remarried, she took my dad's last name (yes, he's my stepdad, but he's the only real father I've ever had), while my brother and I had to keep the old ones. I hated it; I've hated being stuck with it for over 13 years, but apparently changing your last name outside of marriage is a pain in the ass, and expensive. So, I'm taking advantage of this situation, and taking his last name. In the end, it's the name I finally got to *choose*. And I love that.

  48. Thank you for this! It's so rare sometimes to see a story about a woman keeping her last name, I got very excited when I saw this headline. I kept mine too – and I could not be more happy that I chose to do so.

    Also, I think the author made a great point by leaving out "liking" or "not liking" the name. There's so much more too it.

  49. I have kept my name for now, since I immigrated four days after the wedding. It seems easier to have my legal name on all the paperwork, since I won't be able to go home and change any of my home id's, yet can't get new id's until my paperwork is approved. I like it right now, as I gave up pretty much everything external about my identity to come live with my partner (job, type of town, country I live in, friends, family). It's one part of me that HASN'T changed in the last two months.

  50. I have a friend who hates her *first* name (and her middle name), so she's taking advantage of her upcoming marriage to change her name completely. Well, sort of- she's debating whether to hyphenate or have her maiden name replace her current middle name. This is because she does want to take her fiance's name, but she's an only child and her father has no brothers let alone nephews (that and her last name is by far the least "offensive" part of her birth name- still plans to use it professionally either way).

    As for me, I'll probably do like another friend and not change my name at all but give any kids we have his name.

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