Advice for dudes changing their last names

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In the comments to this post about men changing their last names, I got this question:

I don't want to change my last name, and my fiance is pretty open to changing his. But he's got 10 years of work under his belt with his name, and he'll be the first to admit – he works with a bunch of macho types who will probably not be so supportive. So he says, “Show me another man that has done this – let me talk to him, let me learn how he navigated these challenges.” … But I can't find him a single one, except anecdotally. So where are the men who have taken their wives' names? And how do I find them?!

I know a couple men who've taken their wives' last names in two different ways (one got rid of his last name, the other hyphenated), so I pestered them for some answers:

The dude: Will Merydith, CTO of software startup

His maiden name: Will Anderson
Macho cred: Former competitive snowboarder, watches COPS.
Why did you decide to change your name? When we got married, we decided to keep our own last names. It wasn't until Dawn got pregnant that we decided a unified last name was important. We decided to take Dawn's last name for three reasons:

  1. Dawn's father died at an early age, when she was in college. His last name carried extra significance for her.
  2. My father has been estranged from his first family for over fifteen years. His name carried little importance to me.
  3. Hyphenated names are great symbols of unity and compromise, but silly.

[related-post]What responses have you gotten? It's been weird. I think Dawn's friends see it as nothing surprising because they know her feminist past. My friends really never knew what to say. They responded with puzzled looks or statements indicating they would never do such a thing. Taking Dawn's last name ended up revealing that a lot of my male friends are more macho and conservative than I would have suspected.

What advice would you give to men considering changing their names? Don't make the decision lightly. It's been a complete bureaucratic pain in the ass. Government agencies, my work, my insurance company, my credit card company, banks, the car loan agency, anything requiring a credit check … they are not accustomed to men changing their last names. It's been five years now and I still have a stack of photocopied documentation of my name change, ready to send in order to prove, yet again, that I am who I am.

The dude: Rob Rummel-Hudson, Author

His maiden name: Rob Hudson
Macho cred: Known for cave-mannish confrontational outbursts, watches COPS.
Why did you decide to change your name? When we were talking about getting married, Julie expressed hesitation to change her name, and I agreed that really, there was no reason for her to let go of the identity she'd had all her life just because of tradition, particularly one with perhaps some misogynistic origins. At the same time, we wanted to acknowledge our new family with our names, so it just sort of grew out of that, a desire to illustrate our new reality without either of us letting go of the identities that we'd grown up with. (Also, my student loan people lost me for about three years. Woo! Maybe I should change it to Hudson-Rummel and see if they lose me again.)

What responses have you gotten? Responses have been mixed, largely depending on where we are. When we lived in Connecticut, it was less of a big deal than it has been in Texas, but even here, it seems to be less of a big deal than I thought it might be. Our families are both pretty conservative (surprisingly, since we're both such liberal heathens), and my family in particular isn't in love with it (my brother is like, “I guess it's up to me to keep the family name going now”), but honestly, I don't think either of us care much.

What advice would you give to men considering changing their names? Balance out how you feel about the traditions that seem to suggest you should keep your name and leave the changing to her. Do you value those traditions? If they don't resonate with you, then really, they're not so much traditions as arbitrary rules without reason. Keep in mind that you're sending a message to the world, and while some people may react negatively to that message, I suspect that if you're considering it in the first place, you probably don't give much stock to those kinds of opinions. In the end, it's about how you identify yourself, in the context of your marriage and your new family.

I'd love to hear from more men who changed their last names! Feel free to share your story in the comments.

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Comments on Advice for dudes changing their last names

  1. This whole issue is so strange to me. I’m Puerto Rican, and the only woman I know who had to take her husband’s last name is my grandmother; my grandpa was in the army and the US military pretty much forced her to do it.
    Of course, we’re all used to having 2 last names to begin with, and for families to share the kid’s last names: The “Father’s First Last Name”-“Mother’s First Last Name” Family. Is this really sucha big cultural/legal issue in the States? Will I have to change my name when I move back there?

    • It's not really a big deal for women, here in the states. You will absolutely not have to change your last name. The issues come for the men. It is not as culturally acceptable for men to change their name as it is for women. Men will just have to prove a lot more often that they are who they say they are when women do not.. This is just because men change their last name when they get married far less often when women do.

  2. This is also a hot topic at my house… My future husband refuses to keep his last name. He said he either wants to take mine, or change his name to his mother’s maiden name and I can take that. Under no circumstances does he want to carry on his father’s name. (Insert years of pain and abuse here) In conversations we came up with a hybrid version of our names, since they are both Italian we can take the “Di” prefix in his name and add it to mine. This way we each get a change. We have gotten such mixed feelings from friends and family, from “that’s dumb”, “what happened to tradition?” to “that’s awesome he wants your last name.” I think we are pretty settled on it, but given my parents are in their 70’s explaining this does not come without issues. Not to mention I started researching males changing their names and I can’t believe the red tape you have to go through! Grrrr… Thanks for sharing the above stories it is nice to have some reassurance that you are not crazy!

  3. Thanks for your continued attention to this issue. My fiancé is considering changing his name to mine, and luckily California is now an equal name change state, so it’s easier than it could be!

    Our concern is that it seems like virtually every man who changes his name says something like, “and I had a poor relationship with my father/family anyway.” my fiancé has a strong attachment to his family and is a little weirded out by this. From my perspective, I find it odd that no one expects women who change their name to have trouble with *their* family of origin! I wish we could talk to some men who changed for other reasons, like aesthetics or somesuch.

    • Thanks for this comment! I am changing my name to my fiance's when we get married in September. Forst of all, it was my idea, not hers, and secondly, I have a pretty good relationship with my dad. Here are my reasons:

      1) Why should I need a reason? I've heard tradition cited, but "TRADITION" is the same BS argument that CA has been using to keep same-sex couples from marrying, so screw that. I have also heard that I would be insulting my family, but why wouldn't she be doing the same if she changed hers? For the record, I told my Dad far in advance, told him my reasons, and he is (at least I think) not insulted.

      2) She is an only child with no male cousins. If she drops her last name, it's gone forever (and it's a beautiful name too: Farren), I on the other hand, have 4 brothers, and our last name is Johnson. Is our name really in danger of going extinct? Please.

      3) I'm tired of having a generic name. When someone has to look up my account by name, I'm usually one of 40 billion "Greg Johnsons" in the system. Her last name is cool. I like it.

      The only thing that pulls on the strings of my masculinity at all is the phrase "maiden name." But if enough people like me say "screw it" to tradition, maybe that word will become archaic.

      • Just start using the term “birth name” or something like that. “Maiden name” isn’t even an accurate term for most women, anyway. 😉

      • You should ask your father again how he feels.My son just did the same yesterday on his wedding.I feel he did this due to the fact his mother and I divorced when he was young and never really accepted it.
        It ripped my heart out.

        • Do you mind if I ask why? Did he tell you that was his reason? Do you and he have a bad relationship otherwise? There are so many step-people and fostering/adoption in my family that I’ve never really considered a name a connection to my family. If your relationship is otherwise good, what is it about his changing his name that hurts you?

    • My Fiancé has a very strong relationship with his family, but always wanted to change his name. He just didn’t like the fact that he has a long last name that most people cant spell or pronounce. Where as I have a very easy very short last name.

  4. (To clarify: not that these other dudes who changed names didn’t have many other primary reasons! We just wish we could hear from guys who changed their names entirely for whom family history was not a huge factor. I just don’t understand this fixation on Your Relationship With Your Father!)

  5. Jess, I think it’s less of an “I hate my dad!” thing and more of a way to reason through the issue. If the name is passed down through patrilineal channels, it makes sense to consider your father when considering his name.

    I totally agree that it’s a weird double standard that women don’t typically think about these things, but I don’t think it’s odd that when men consider taking on a new name, part of what they think about is their relationship to their existing name … that they got from their father.

  6. My fiance hates his last name and wants to change his to mine. At first I was into it, but as silly as it sounds, I was always looking forward to changing my name when I got married, and being a Mrs. So and so. Antiquated, sure fine whatever, but I wanted it However, I hate his last name too. It has the word “cock” in it. And not like totally ridiculous like Woodcock, just kinda lame. So, I’m not going to do that. Plus, after all the teasing and crap he says he had to put up with, if we have kids, I don’t want to subject them to that. I thought about hyphenating, but I come from a french-canadian background where all the kids had hyphenated names, and then what happens when 2 kids with 4 names get together? Too complicated. He’s going to change it, but I don’t think he’ll be able to stick to it because that means that he will hae to tell all his old buddies who call him by his last name that he’s now “so and so” instead of “blah di blah” and since he’s still sensitive to teasing, I just don’t see it. Women in our society have been somewhat conditioned to accept the name change, but men are totally foreign to it. I don’t think he understands that he’s not just changing his name, he is erasing his old name. As in he will have to change his signature, all his documents, what he responds to. It’s quite the paradigm shift. I suggested we wait until we had kids and changed it then so it’s more like a family name, but he wants to change it after the wedding. My last name is actually my mother’s maiden name because she was a single parent, so it’s I guess sort of keeping with the tradition to continue to pass this name on matriliarily. which, I must admit is pretty cool since we are the bearers of life, so why shouldn’t we pass our name on. But, it’s not really my beliefs or those of my family and friends that worries me. It’s this stupid soceity that feels it haas to judge and destroy anyone who does anything differently. I love my fiance so much, and I just don’t want to see him teased by a bunch of sexists both male and female. I wish people would just mind their own damn business!

    • Amen to the last two sentences.

      So far I'm mixed. I Like my last name a lot more than my fiancée's, but I wouldn't mind hyphenating it just to stick it to the man.

      Incidentally, I have my mother's maiden name, which wasn't even her birth name in the first place.

    • Amen to the last two sentences.

      So far I'm mixed. I Like my last name a lot more than my fiancée's, but I wouldn't mind hyphenating it just to stick it to the man.

      Incidentally, I have my mother's maiden name, which wasn't even her birth name in the first place.

  7. P.s Why do people feel it is their duty to tell you things like: If you don’t do…(usually a big traditional wedding, or grade 12 math) that you’ll “regret it for the rest of your life” and stuff like that? Who decided what and if I’ll regret something. I’m a little “offbeat”, and I’ve been hearing crap like this my whole life, and so far the only thing I regret is ever listning.

    • HAHAHA!!!! Very true, but I just loved the way you said something I've thought for sooo long. 🙂

  8. This is the first time I’ve seen first person male responses to this issue. It’s a great post.

    My husband would definitely hyphenate if I asked him. He did for his last marriage. 🙂

    But I couldn’t bring myself to change my name, so it was moot.

  9. Ariel your research has shown something extremely interesting – the relationship between watching COPs and taking your wife’s name is clear.

    Jess –
    I’ve asked myself the question, “would I have taken my wife’s last name had I been close to my father?” And that’s an impossible question to answer obviously but I’ve tried. On one hand I’d like to think I’d have had the kind of relationship with my father to still make the decision to take my wife’s name. On the other hand taking your wife’s name is a rebellion the existing instituion of marriage and I would argue to your father (in this paternal system).

    I too would love to hear of someone who took their wife’s name AND has a great relationship with their father. But not finding that individual shouldn’t be of “concern” imo.

    Ultimately men taking their wife’s name is an act of rebellion to the paternal component of marriage. Having a crappy relationship with your father makes that act of rebellion easier. But a man who takes his wife’s name AND who has a good relationship with his father is most likely going to choose this path out of protest to the system or cultural circumstances.

    I could be wrong, but I think it’s pretty early for the process of men taking their wive’s names to be a choice that doesn’t have any of this other baggage or offbeat cred around it.

    One last point of history on my situation:

    My wife and I weren’t even going to get married – out of protest to the instituation of marriage itself. In part because our gay couple friends couldn’t get married and reap the benefits of that contract. I worked at Disney at the time, which offered insurance to domestic partners. When I went to sign Dawn up, it turns out that Disney offers insurance to a) married couples and b) SAME SEX domestic partners. Disney’s attitude is apparently that if you’re living together you either needed to be gay or married.

    • My partner has a relatively good relationship with his father, they’re not super close but they can hang out OK and keep in touch. We’re considering hyphenating our names because I’m not willing to let go of mine and I don’t think his desire to change his second name has anything to do with not wanting to carry on the family name.

      Whereas if I change my name (I already did it once before, to my mother’s maiden name) then it will die out. I’m the last X other than my grandparents and I don’t want my family’s name to disappear in that way.

  10. My parents have friends who did this in the seventies. They hyphenated, one long name one short name. It works out well for them. I think it was mostly professional reasoning behind it- he needed a more “authentic” last name for the museum he curates.

  11. I asked a few of the more traditional guys I knew about this, just out of curiosity- wondering what level of harassment a guy changing his name should expect from these sorts of guys. The usual first reaction was “wtf?? why??”. After I stoped ranting at them, the admited that away from femmenist female ears, they would probabaly give a guy friend of theirs a hard time about it.

    Then I asked “what if he had a really shitty relationship with his dad and didnt want to carry on his name or have anything to do with him?”. That got a much more positive responce. Looks like, from my limited sample, guys with bad relationships with their father may not only have an easier time changing their names for sentimental reasons, but becuase their less likely to catch as much greif over it.

    • See, “wtf?? why??” is my first reaction to the idea that I (a woman) should change my name! 😀

  12. The dude: Mordicai Knode
    His maiden name: Burke
    Macho cred: Three titanium plates in skull from brass knuckle clobbering.

    Why did you decide to change your name? As some people have said, the (potential) little whippersnappers were the root of it. I wanted to have the same last name as them, & I attach more importance to my chosen family than my birth family. So as there wasn’t a new name or a combination that worked, I went with hers.

    What responses have you gotten? Pretty much a “good for you,” & a “uh, okay?” mix. A few “friendly” uses of the word “whipped,” but I don’t really sweat it.

    What advice would you give to men considering changing their names? I am still going through the legal hoops of it. A bit of a pain. Socially, I can only recommend it. New clan!

  13. Can we hear from couples who have both decided to drop their given last names and come up with a new married last name together?

    • I know this is way later than anyone else commenting, but I wanted to throw in my 2 cents. My fiance and I are both ditching our last names. Mine is “Henderson” and his is “Berube.” We’ve decided to change our last name to “Berson” as a fun combination of the two. Over the last few months, we’ve both really gotten in to building the strength of our new Berson family (even though we aren’t married yet), and the new name has helped us feel a connection to the ways in which our lives are intertwined as we work together towards our mutual future.

      • My darling and I are also changing both of our names. At first he was a little hesitant, but when I explained that I didn’t want to join his family but would rather create a new one, he understood. I also explained that women didn’t start taking on their husbands names until the rise of christianity; In jewish culture men still take on the ladys name, as they did in old celtic cultures and egyptian.

        • I didn’t know this about Jewish, Celtic, and Egyptian cultures, and it is wonderful!

      • My partner and I will probably go for a portmanteau (combined name) too: Mattery. We’re a ‘Mattner’ and a ‘Buttery’ at the moment and, while they’re both awesome names, the portmanteau is the best way for us to symbolise the equality that we hold in so many parts of our relationship.

        One problem we weren’t expecting was having to find a way to make the portmanteau work. Mattery doesn’t fit brilliantly with his first name, but he’s okay with the way it works. The other options were Battery, Muttery and Buttner, which are all hilariously awful.

    • Close friends of mine both dropped their last names and between the two of them created a last name that reflected their love of ecology and their mutual interdependence on each other and their community. For their wedding favors they gave each guest a beautifully designed shirt with a definition of their new name on the back. I still have that shirt and those friends because although they live far away, they continue to nurture their relationships in a way that affirms their chosen name.

    • Four years too late on this, sorry! But when we first got married, it was a shotgun wedding situation (long story), so I took his last name because I was so pissed at my family. I regret doing that because I really hate the tradition of it. We ended up both changing our last names to something we made up together: von Blackwood. Much more fancifully gothy that either of us had before! My hubby hasn’t gotten any guff about changing it at all.

    • Hey, all.

      Kevin and I both changed our names to Sagan in honor of Carl Sagan. We both have strong relationships with both of our families, but we’re not into the aesthetic of hyphens, and neither of us felt deeply attached to our ‘maiden’ names. Since we didn’t do a legal marriage, the paperwork was a HUGE pain for both of us. It took a long time, and we ‘gave’ working on it to each other as presents for various anniversaries.

      We explained at the ceremony that we want our lives together to be defined by Carl’s spirit of wonder and discovery. The decision definitely surprised some people, but we’re not exactly normative in any way, so they dealt with it.

      PS, Kevin’s macho cred: I asked, and he purports to be offended by the question 🙂

  14. On another note, I know a lot of women that have changed there married name but kept their professional name (especially those who have gone to PhD and need that degree to have the same name) That way no credit card change. Can a guy not do that too?

  15. This is an interesting issue for gay couples too, who like the legal symbolism of having the same last name, even when the gov’t won’t recognize our relationships. But it presents a problem for us when we’d never consider changing our names if we were marryng men. And the whole kids thing is tricky too.

    It’s nice to hear more perspectives on this!

  16. Both of us changed our last names to something completely different.

    We each have good, though completely different, relationships with our families; there was no reaction to a bad history for either of us. I wanted us to have the same last name as a representation that we were now a team–he & I, not me & the men in his family. He said, “Well, you shouldn’t have to be the only one who changes their name,” which seemed fair.

    I filed all the paperwork and, 7 years later, we still get compliments on the name. The paperwork is a bit of a hassle, depending on where you live. If you are combining lives anyway, you are going to have to change some information no matter what. You might as well change a little more while you’re at it. Of course I kept the copies of the legal documentation–every once in a while we still need to send a credit reporting agency one.

    I was raised very traditionally and yet my conservative family really didn’t bat an eye when we did this. If you have always been a person who did things a little differently, wouldn’t it be more shocking if you followed the norm suddenly because you were getting married? I would guess that negative or critical comments come from people who don’t know the real you as well. No one in either of our families seemed to care, our friends didn’t seem to think twice, and the only ones who gave me any hassle were the HR people who didn’t know how to process the paperwork for him.

    Emotionally has it mattered to both have dropped our given names and chosen a new married name? It’s hard distinguish from all of the other subtle changes that go along with marriage. My husband says, “I hadn’t really thought about it.” So, there you go. He did suggest that it depends on how “pliable” your relationship is to your family and to your concept of legacy; his was pretty malleable. I also don’t think he has a lot of macho friends he had to consider, though I suspect he would have done it despite them, if he had.

    As for the question that generated this comment, the length of work history with a certain name is a very legitimate argument, particularly if you’re building a business of your own or an expertise in an industry. You’ve spent all this time on a brand and now you’re going to change it because one of the unrelated features (your marital status) has changed? That’s hard to argue for either the man or the woman. Deciding to change or not change your name because of the reactions of others is unsupportable as an argument and disrespectful to your spouse (you’d rather avoid comments from others about something that’s none of their business than do what you and your spouse decide together). I guess if I were the guy, I would be cautious about the work thing and ask around to find out how it might have impacted others in his field. And I would drop the argument that “my buddies will give me sh*t” like a hot potato.

  17. Such an interesting topic; I’m glad you posted about it!

    First of all, I don’t know why anyone changes their name if they don’t want to. And I can’t imagine that the kind of guy who’d take his wife’s surname would really care if other people snorted at it. He’s gotta be secure and enlightened and that is sexxxxy!

    I always thought it would be easiest if girls got their mother’s surnames and boys got their father’s. It’s not a perfect system, but at least it doesn’t TOTALLY overrite the geneology of female lineage.

  18. My husband changed his name to mine-his. His family did not understand why, but for us, it was because my last name had major significance, I didn’t want to lose it, and his name also had major significance so I offered the solution to both go hyphenated.

    We’d had numerous friends who had either changed their names to something completely different or hyphenated so it wasn’t too strange for my husband to change his to “mine-his”. It was our way of being equal on the name thing, why should the woman give up her perfectly good name? It’s funny though, because my family sends us cards to Mr. and Mrs. Hyphenated-Last-Name and his sends them to Mr. and Mrs. “His Last Name”, which should irk me, but actually irks him more.

  19. My husband and I decided before we were even engaged that, if we were to get married, we’d both change our last names to a new name. He’s got a great relationship with his family but no particular ties to his last name (it’s only been his family’s name for 3 generations, long story) and I’m neither attached to mine nor do I have a particularly good relationship with my father. We wanted the same last name when we got married, but neither liked the other’s name enough to change to that. Luckily, our old surnames combine quite nicely to make a new one that we both like a lot – Stryker. We’ve been telling people of our plans for the length of our engagement (14 months) and have to get the legal paperwork started, since we got married in CA and there was noplace for our names to be changed on the license, and we live in CO. So we’re both going the court order name change route.

  20. Great reading, but something to take into consideration are the genealogical implications. My parents are the genealogists for their respective sides of the family, and there has been confusion with last names in the past (second marriages, etc). If you choose to do this, make sure the records are very clear so that anyone doing research in the future doesn’t want to get in a time machine and punch you for complicating stuff. That said, a guy I went to high school with took his wife’s last name so her children wouldn’t be confused or teased. I thought that was pretty awesome.

  21. My man and I are both changing our names. I had though, first of all, that I wasn’t going to get married, so changing my name wasn’t an issue. We both, as I’m sure most folks reading this, have issues with patriarchy and state-sponsorship of relationships. Finally, we decided that in order to make marriage into the sort of institutions we want to be a part of, we need to exemplify it. Put our money where our mouths are, so to speak. So,we decided to get hitched. I suggested that he take my name, but changing completely is really a better match for us. We’re choosing a name that is not particularly outlandish and is what my maiden name means in another language. I’ll keep my last name as another middle name. Not sure what he will do with his, but let me tell you there is no way in the nine hells that I would take his icky sounding name! It also helps to marry a feminist; I highly recommend it!

  22. This is an interesting topic. I kept my last name when I married (had to do lots of talking with the husband first…).
    My sister did the same thing. When they had their child the agreement was – if a daughter, her last name, if a son, his last name. Since she had a daughter, the family name has made it down yet another generation on the female side.

  23. “and I’ve been hearing crap like this my whole life, and so far the only thing I regret is ever listning.

    Hear hear ShiloM!

    I have told the boy I will only change my name if he changes his, that seems very unlikely at this stage (I had suggested that i go hisname-myname, and he goes myname-hisname at one point). I would say we will end up keep what we already have and then work it all out if kids happen.

  24. We’re also choosing a new last name (paperwork is already in process). For us, we got jammed in to a tight corner and a new name seemed to be the best way out. Here’s our long story =P

    -FH was born with a hyphenated last name (mother+father’s last names). He’s encountered a lot of problems with paperwork, etc. with it, and wishes it was shorter.

    -FH’s parents have since divorced (not amicably).

    -FH and I want to share a last name (along with any possible kids).

    -I don’t want to take two last names, when neither of them are mine. I don’t particularly want to keep mine, since I don’t have a great relationship with my dad.

    So it would seem the easiest option would be to just choose one of FH’s last names and keep that, which would be fine with me, but his parents were both very adamant that FH did not choose the other person’s name over their own. Very, very adamant. And angry. Not good.

    So then we tried looking at past last names in the family tree. Same problem. Can’t choose a name from the other person’s side of the family either.

    So new name it is. Both of his parents would rather we took a new last name than the name of the other person. My parents sortof thought that I was going to change my name anyway, so they don’t seem to care, though they think it’s weird. I like this better anyway, since I never thought the whole woman-changes-her-name-but-guy-doesn’t thing was very fair.

    We chose our name by using those baby name sites where you can search by meaning. So it has an important meaning to us, and some interesting classical relationships. And, google doesn’t show it to be anything else obvious either =)

  25. So nobody has yet discussed what happens when one party has been married already…I still have my ex-husband’s last name (mostly because it’s cool); my fiance has a name that is most definitely not cool. Naturally, he doesn’t want to take my name, and I don’t want his… Unfortunately, I think he’s too conservative to consider making up a name. ~sigh~

  26. I responded to the last post about this, but I thought I’d tell our story more fully this time around.

    When we were engaged, we both decided to change our last names to a new name when we got married. We were going to combine our maternal grandmothers’ maiden names to make a new name, but my husband just wasn’t that into it. Instead, we settled on changing to his mother’s maiden name.

    My husband began the name changing process before our wedding, but his court date wasn’t until after we got married. Because his old last name is on our marriage license, the Social Security office won’t let me change my name to his new name (even if I bring in the court documents for proof). So we are in the process of trying to amend the marriage license (which is a bureaucratic pain in the ass) or just going through the courts to change mine.

    I think it’s wonderful when men are willing to subvert tradition and take on a new name. I just wish that it had been easier for us.

  27. The mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, combined his last name with his wife’s. He was Villar and she was Raigosa. They’re getting divorced now, but I always like the idea.

  28. Great topic! I am having a hard time deciding what I want to do. When I was married for the first time, I kept my maiden last name as a middle, and took his really cool sounding last name, which is also a very unusual name. I kept the name after the divorce. Fiance’s name isn’t as cool, but it isn’t bad either. And somewhat unusual. But I graduated college with this last name, and have built up a network with this last name. I was thinking about us keeping our own names, because I know he won’t want my ex’s name, and I don’t particularly want to go back to my maiden name. I didn’t think about the kids aspect, though, so I need to have a conversation with him about that. Thanks for a great string of comments!

  29. I’m having trouble deciding too. I always thought I’d keep my name, but I never thought I’d fall in love with someone whose last name I like so much better than mine… 🙂

  30. My fiance changed his name when he left school. He has a fabulous relationship with his father, but his surname had exposed him to enormous bullying at school as it is totally ridiculous. He wanted to lose it before he started university. He thought about it long and hard, and went with his mother’s maiden name, which she still uses.

    I’m not terribly fond of my name, and I’ve always liked the idea of getting a new one when I got married. I quite like his, and I like the symbolism of having the same name. If he still had his original surname, I’m sure he’d change to mine – I certainly wouldn’t be changing it to his!

  31. I had decided to take my wife’s name before I ever met Jackie.
    Subordinating women is a time honored tradition, both through society and the Bible. I think this tradition has less to do with any mandate from God, and more to do with an ingrained sense of male superiority. Since I view men and women as equals, I felt I needed to do my part to tip the balance. Hyphenation is problematic for when you have children and they get married, so I just decided to take my wife’s name. It is a great conversation starter on the misogynistic nature of our society. Usually women totally agree with me, and men don’t want to look sexist in front of the women, so they nod their heads. I also tell people that there are no male Day’s in my wife’s family, but there are male Forsters. Therefore, I also took her name to keep the name going.

    I think it is a private decision that every couple should make together. I have no problem with a woman who takes their husband’s name. But I think we should all consider the history of our society’s treatment of women. That of second class citizens. I am happy to see that we have both a black and a female candidate this year. We are getting there, but we are still behind “less developed” countries like the Phillipines and Pakistan. That is really sad.

    As for changing your name, make sure to get a new driver’s license first with your new name. They usually require the marriage certificate. Then you can go to the social security office to change the name on file w/ the federal government. The person at either office might give you a little trouble, but I think they are getting more used to this type of name change.

    I hope this helps.


  32. 24 years old and about to be married. Going to take the woman’s last name as my first-hyphen, and leave mine as a second-hyphen.

    We like the combined name, except that it sounds a lot like a certain famous hotel scion who made a sex tape. But maybe our marriage will outlast her antics?

    I haven’t told my friends yet – I think I told my family? We have this conversation all the time, and girls are much better at remembering personal details than guys are (generally). We’re both feminists, so in terms of philosophy it’s all good.

    I probably would’ve gone either way, truth be told (hyphenation, combination or the girl taking my last name). It’s one of those things wherein I like to defer to the person with stronger feelings.

    All the credit benefits and headaches seem to be an amusing touch, since I hadn’t thought of that at all – and my credit is outrageous.

    Thanks for starting this conversation!

  33. My fiance and I discussed this seriously for a long time before coming to any decision. We both love our own last names, and have established careers to which those names are attached. But we did want to feel like we were creating a new family, all our own, and wanted a unifying name to symbolize that. My middle name is already my mother’s last name (she never changed it), so hyphenating wasn’t high on my list of ways to deal with it, but ultimately seemed like the best way to not lose our own names, but join together in the formation of something new. So we’re both hyphenating, MyLast-HisLast. So far, there has been a bit of eyebrow-raising about his decision to hyphenate along with me, but nothing overly negative. Most people have been incredibly supportive of our decision, which we’re announcing on our invites.

  34. I *think* I am going to go ahead and take his name, although I am still a little foggy on the logistics. So I’m not all that offbeat, but I did think I would offer my thoughts on the idea of “brand recognition” for those who have significant work product associated with their name. I have a girlfriend with a very long last name, who married a very nice guy with a very short last name. In order to not professionally disappear, she hyphenated (HerLast-HisLast). For about three years, as I recall. Which was long enough for about everybody of interest (at locations across the country, as we both consult fairly widely) to become not only very familiar with the new component of her name, but also very tired of typing that whole hyphenated thing every time we needed a signature or referenced her recent work. Apparently people started suggesting strongly that she could just drop the hyphen and take the shorter name. As far as brand recognition, mission accomplished! She now has his last name. And a compendium of work under a total of three last names, but the hyphenated period does pretty effectively allow you to trace her work throughout her professional career.

  35. I’m thinking of making my last name a second middle name and doing the same for our children if and when we have them, then we will all have my beloved name but also without the stress of the little ones having such a lengthy last name to combat. However the offer for him to change was laid on the table…but backwards his initals spell C.R.A.M and forward they spell his name…how can i mess with his little pleasures…

  36. I am keeping my last name, but doing the same for the kids as atlantis is. They will have my long, hard to pronounce, german last name as a middle name. This may be a good substitute for the asshole comments such as “who will keep the family name going?”

  37. We got married 14 years ago. I wanted my wife to keep her name, which I really like. But she thought it was important to have mine.

    Maybe I should have changed mine. I don’t remember if we talked about this approach. Sounds fine to me.

  38. My former partner and myself wanted to both change our name to Wyrd. That way, when people talked about us, we would be “that weird family down the street”.

    Unfortunately, we didn’t last long enough to do the dirty deed, but what fun would it have been!

  39. My husband and I both changed our last name with a NEW one we created. When the question first came up on what name to use his or mine we decide neither I don’t his father and my last name is misspelled all the time so we compromised. I LOVE his step dad and he was so supportive leading up to the weeding that we decided to surprise the family by using his with a twist. Since my maiden name begins with two L’s and his step dads name is Lamb we added an extra L and got LLamb. The family loved the surprise.

  40. Adding to what Bracket said, I just wanted to throw it out there that people get seriously lazy with what I’ve head called “uselessly long” names. Approximately a year ago I started going by my entire given name (I write or state my First Middle Last names each time) and it has been not quite a logistical nightmare since I haven’t had to legally change anything, but a pain in the ass: some people use my whole name, some refuse to aknowledge my middle name, and me and any paperwork involved get alphabetized in two different places depending on whether my middle or last name was used.
    I wanted to share this because the problems I’ve run into seem similar to potential issues faced by people choosing to hyphenate their names, and personally, I hadn’t anticipated any sort of problems when I decided to use my whole name.

  41. Just to chime in on Amy’s comment, y’all would not BELIEVE how many people think my name is Ariel Meadows. It’s not: My first name is Ariel. My middle name is Meadow. My last name is Stallings. But people get lost somewhere between the second and third and just call me Ariel Meadows. I agree that hyphenation (unless each name was very short) would be equally as much a pain.

  42. Thought you might find this story on Salon interesting — it’s about a couple in CA that went through “two years, a lawsuit alleging sexual discrimination, and a change in California law” for the man to change his name: The groom will be changing his name.

  43. I have a few friends who went through this. My friend Paul changed his last name when he married his wife, beacuse she already had a daughter and wasn’t willing to change her last name or her daughter’s. He decided he was more than comfortable with changing his name to hers to show that he was a part of their family.

    When my other friends got married, the groom already had a hyphenated last name and the bride wasn’t keen on having a hyphenated name when one of them wasn’t her name. So they decided to take only the groom’s father’s name, and both of them changed theirs.

    And one example that has nothing to do with getting married – a couple of my sister’s friends in high school had horrifically long hyphenated last names. Their mother’s name was 10 letters long and their father’s was 9 letters. So the kids combined the two names together to make one that was a little easier to handle. I don’t know if it was an official change, or if they were just known by that name in school.

  44. I changed my name to my wife’s. Part of it was for name-unity, we were planning on having kids, and didn’t want to have to deal with different or hyphenated names.

    Both of us feel it’s important to subvert the Heterofascist Raciopatriarchy(tm). That’s part of the reason. Another part is that I’ve been disowned from my family (for such subversions), so there’s really no need for me to keep my former name. I’m willing to be a force for social change, but that’s just me.

    If you are male and change your name, places will give you a hard time about it! All states in the US will allow a woman to change her last name with solely a certified copy of the marriage license, whether it be a new driver’s license, SS card, or whatever.

    When I first went to the SSA to get a new card, they told me that I couldn’t get one without a court order, and pointed to a place in their regulations that said that a marriage license could be used only if the agent allowed it. This agent didn’t, so that didn’t work. I finally managed to get a new driver’s license in my state’s DMV using just the license, and then used that to get a new SS card, credit cards, and the like.

    Last note, I don’t think it’s fair to say “if he’s not willing to change his name to yours, why should you be willing to change yours to his?” Such a question doesn’t really work in a vacuum, outside of societal pressures. It’s similar to saying “I’m willing to go topless at the beach, why aren’t you?”

  45. Neither of us have middle names. I love (like, deeply love) my (very unique) last name, and don’t so much like his (very plain).

    We’ve agreed to take each other’s last name as a middle name. No hyphen. A new initial in each of our names.

    My future stepson has his mother’s maiden name, and she’s since been married. If/when he comes to live with us, I’ve agreed that I’ll change mine for the sake of family unity, but only if he wants us to all have the same last name.

  46. My partner and I have been together for 5 years, and at my family reunion earlier this year, I told him I’d like to keep my name when we get hitched…or even get him to change to mine (his first and my last sound better than me with his last name). Didn’t go down as well as I’d hoped..

  47. My fiance said he would be willing to enter into discussion about me keeping my last name, but I don’t think he’s offbeat enough to ever think of taking mine. Unfortunately, I’m last in the *Italian-name-here* line, which makes me totally sad that I can’t “pass it on”, and also totally bummed to lose my sweet last name which totally jives with my first name.
    That said, I consider myself quite offbeat, but also a little lazy and not willing to fight real hard for something that isn’t really THAT big of a deal to me. So the Italian with the sweet opera-star-sounding name goes plain old Irish…and another one bites the dust.

  48. I have grown up in a feminist household, yet I feel that honoring tradition doesn’t have to equate with opression of women. I am about to be married, and I would never take my soon to be wife’s last name. For clarity, I work in a female dominated field, and I probably wouldn’t receive any negativity if I did take her name. That being said, the guys on here saying that most of their friends didn’t hassel them are delusional. I know almost all of my friends, liberal or conservative would hound me about how “whipped” I am. I guess I feel it is okay to be a man and hold onto tradition…it’s just a name, I am not putting her into servitude.

  49. I didn’t even consider changing my last name when I got married. My husband said he would consider changing his, but I thought why should either of us have to change our names.

    I’m the only person left with my father’s rather unique last name and my husband can trace his family name really far back. It seemed important for both of us to keep our names. The funny thing is we don’t know if we even want kids. I guess the point of carrying on the name is moot if we don’t have kids.

  50. my husband and i both changed our last names dramatically. he used to be andy smull, i was ingo wurl, now we’re pixels! we told people about it all along the way, as we were working on choosing a name and when the wedding was rolling around. we even invited our friends to help us choose (though we took suggestions with a grain of salt as this was a very important decisions) we had some hilarious party discussions over cocktails about possible silly names. when it was all said and done no one was surprised and it just worked perfectly!

  51. Jack White of the White Stripes changed his last name to that of his bride’s. Orginally named Jack Gillis, when he married Meg White in 1996 he took her last name. Does not appear to be any “father issues” involved, although he was the youngest of ten in a heavily catholic family – read into that what you will. But it could not have worked out better for him in any case.

  52. I had two friends who got married and couldn’t decide on the name thing. They ended up deciding to both change their names and in an unusual twist they let the guests decide. They picked 3 names with meanings they liked and put them on the RSVP cards. When guests sent the cards in they also voted on the name. The couple then announced at the wedding which name they were taking.

  53. Hi! My husband and I got married 4 years ago and he took my last name. I’d love to talk to you about it if you are still interested!

  54. Hi,

    I think it’s a fascinating discussion. I about to get married this winter and I refuse to change my name, and my fiance and his family are very mad about it. His mother thinks I’m terrible. Who cares, right? Hey, I just read a funny article about this exact topic in a funny new blog called “Amy vs. John” on Anyone interested should definitely check it out.

    Good Luck.

  55. I’m still undecided about taking my future husbands last name, keeping mine or hyphenating so all of the comments are so awesome to read. Immediately this post reminded me of John Lennon… when he and Yoko married they both hyphenated their names: John Ono-Lennon and Yoko Ono-Lennon. One of the first couples to do this perhaps? In any case, their names sound amazing together… me and my future hubby’s? Um.. not so much. 😛

  56. So, I asked this question back in April. And whoa…did it start a LOT of discussions between HTB and me. Reading the comments from men and women about their names being associated with their fathers brought up a lot of stuff for him. His father died when he was very young, and he has gone by his mother’s name since…

    We’re getting married in just over a month, and we’ll be keeping our own last names. When it came down to it, he doesn’t have the courage to put up with the crap that he’ll get, and I’m too stubborn to change mine because it’s expected of me. I hate doing shit because it’s expected.

    It was important for me because I want my children to have my last name, and he says that’s what will happen. I can see counseling for this in our future…(I say with a sardonic smirk)

  57. I’m personally very affected by this whole issue. My fiance has always wanted to take my name– he loves it and feels like it would fit our new identity best. I also don’t have any brothers and he does, so it would keep the name going in my family. I was thrilled with the idea of us both taking mine. It seems however that everything is against us. Our priest had a very strong preference against it. The women at my church were very upset at the idea, because to them it was like shirking some kind of ritual I needed to go through. My parents kept throwing out the whole thing about how it threatened his masculinity. The legal details were also against us– we would have had to go through a formal court name changing deal that would have cost money. We were going to go through it– it was worth the fight for us, but then the deal breaker… his grandma said she wouldn’t come to the wedding if he took my name. As much as we want to fight this fight, we can’t break our families over it. Sometimes the system is too big, and I just feel crushed by it.

    • This is really interesting. I know that families can be extremely contentious, but as a gay person if my grandmother wouldn't have to to my wedding – just a party, but an important one- I wouldn't have (literally) been able to make a decision to get her to come. Sometimes I think it is important to call family on their ultimatums as in – you are willing to miss your grandmother's wedding because of a decision about her name, you're not going to support the marriage for this? I completely realizes this sounds like a judgement, and I don't mean it to – in any case I'm sure you're already married as that comment was left over a year ago. It's just sometimes metaphors help – and to think about what is critically important to you and have pride to do it, live it and stick with it at all costs reaps amazing awards, and generally people will come around and follow your example.

      • sheesh, that is rife with typos, sorry! I meant "grandmother wouldn't have COME to my wedding" and "you are willing to miss your grandDAUGHTER's wedding" and realize not realizes…oh dear – you get the idea

  58. I am thinking of changing my name. I can’t hyphenate because we both have long, eastern european jewish last names and it would come out something like Steinburg-Weinstein. Which I don’t want. I like my name but it means so much to my fiance that it seems harmless to go by Mrs. Hisname. I don’t want to legally change it. Is that too much of a cop-out?

  59. This is a great article, but I need your advice Ariel; My fiance really wants me to take his name, but I don’t want to and although I’ve explained my reasoning, he feels like it’s not fair to him. His very traditional mother is also on his side and has expressed that it is “very important” that I take his name. I don’t want to back down now and regret it later. Help!

  60. Rachel, I might be able to give some advice, as a guy who changed his last name.

    He feels it is unfair to him because he believes he is entitled to a certain privilege, one that he probably can’t quite put his finger on. To them, it is very important, it’s tradition, it’s what you do… none of these kinds of answers actually explain to you how it seems important to them. In contrast, I could explain to anyone why anything I find important is important to me.

    He should understand that in a relationship of equals, it is, by definition, unfair of him to expect something of you that you cannot expect of him. There’s no way around that. It seems perfectly OK to him for you to change your last name, but not for him to do so. (Or not OK for you to keep your last name.)

    It would help to know some of the reasons he gave, and what your reasons are for not wanting to change your last name. Is it a strong familial bond in both cases? Does his name sound unattractive? Or is it the general issue with women being automatically expected to change their names?

    What my wife and I did, having just married five months ago, was combine our last names into a hybrid name. Hers was Haro. Mine was Mogel. We took the German “von” meaning “of” and made it into Haro von Mogel.

    Interestingly enough, my wife’s mother was against the idea of not taking MY original last name! She thought it was disrespectful to my wife’s FATHER not to take MY last name! Weird, isn’t it? And also weird how the women become the defenders of the patriarchy.

    But, as we explained to her, we were instead affording her father even more respect, because our combined last name continues her father’s name, when it would have otherwise been lost.

    That is one potential angle with a combined last name of some sort – that it combines each family line and gives each no more or less respect than the other.

    In your situation, without any more information to go off of, my suggestion is to first understand that his attitude is probably not a rational one. Even so, a lot can be gained by helping him to understand that for every reason he may have to ask you to change your name, you probably have the same exact reasons not to. Ultimately, a compromise may be a good idea, such as incorporating his name into yours, or both changing your names to the same combination name.

    Above all, if he loves you, he should accept your decision about your own name.

    • I'm late to the party on this, but for the record, "Haro von Mogel" is an awesome name. Like, supervillan awesome.

  61. During my younger years, when I enjoyed a much more hostile relationship with my father, I never gave a second thought to taking my future husbands last name. (Then again, I also wanted to have my name legally changed to my mother’s maiden name before I had ever hit high school.)

    Now that I’ve had ample time to grow-up, simmer down, and build a positive relationship with my dad, I’ve come to the conclusion that, no matter who shares my last name, it’s still a part of my identity. Unfortunately though, while I think it’s an awesome last name, it’s also regularly slaughtered both in spelling and pronunciation. My fiance’s last name is refreshingly easy to pronounce and the idea of someone reading my name off a list and getting it right excites me in ways I can’t describe.

    I’ve decided that there’s no way I can feel good about “giving up” my maiden name and hyphenation is absolutely not an option. So now the remaining options are keeping my maiden name or keeping my current name (first, middle, last) and tacking on his at the end. I’ve always been a fan of using my full three names for big projects, announcements, etc. so my current thoughts are that having four names would be even cooler. As atrocious as the hyphenation would be, having them as separate names, but back-to-back makes me sound like even more of a badass. I’d also have a name in common with any potential offspring.

  62. An acquaintance of mine and his wife decided to each take a completely new name, albeit not a completely original one. They decided to name themselves after the adorable children from The Chronicles of Narnia – and so became “B. & E. Pevensie”. Neato!

    As for me, my fiance and I are both going to add my maiden name as each of our middle names. So, each of us, once KMO and CJK, will now be KMOK and CJOK, but no hyphenating for us.

  63. What a great post, and what great comments! This is such an interesting topic, and I’m glad that so many people think and feel the same way my fiance and I do.

    I find it frustrating that this aspect of our still very much patriarchal society goes unnoticed by so many people. Like other commentators have said, the woman changing her name is something that many men (and women) take for granted; they don’t even bother to imagine what it would be like to change their names! I think this, along with many other vestiges of sexism in America, needs to be brought to light. It isn’t easy for ANYONE to change their names, whether they had a good relationship with their fathers or not! Our names are, to a huge extent, who we are, especially since so much of our lives is bureaucratic. Our legal identities are tied up in our names. But even more than that, our names represent who we are to the world. Of course, there’s more on the inside and all that, but our names are our outside representation, even down to the specific spelling and pronunciation. Further, this “tradition” of the woman taking her husband’s name reeks of the gender discrimination that was the norm for thousands of years! It illustrates clearly the idea that women were, until VERY recently considered property. A woman passed from her father’s home, (and his name), to her husband’s home (and name). She was thus passed like a piece of livestock, something to be owned and named. Thus, when she ran up a debt, people knew to whom to apply to get it repaid. She never had her own name.

    Now, perhaps one could argue that no one ever has their own name; that we all take someone else’s name at some point. And that’s true, but men have always been able to take their father’s name as their own eventually, if only with marriage and children. I’m sure everyone has heard some man, at some point in time, say something like, “Mr. Jones? No, Mr. Jones is my FATHER; call me Fred.” Women never say that. They go from Ms. Smith, to Mrs. Johnson.

    I think it’s fascinating, the ratio of men willing to change their last names, to men who have bad relationships with their fathers. It’s a little disappointing that such a relationship is sometimes the impetus for a man to change his name, rather than the, I don’t know, equality of the idea. But, I guess it’s a start.

    My fiance has a bad relationship with his father, and he is willing to hyphenate. It would read mine-his. My name is German, and impossible for almost everyone to pronounce right the first time, and his is ultra-bland American (sorry baby! I love you!). I don’t want to take his name for several reasons. First, I don’t want to be a piece of property who passes from my father’s home to my husband’s. Second, I don’t like my fiance’s father, and I have no desire to have the intimacy of sharing his name, and thus, symbolically belonging to him. Third, I love my mom and dad. And finally, I just love my name. I hate the idea of having to change who I am, who I have always been, just because I’m getting married. Marriage is, in my mind, a way to be even more YOURSELF than you are individually – for both partners.

    Anyway, we’re looking into the hyphenation thing, but if it’s too much trouble, we may just wait until we have kids and then decide. We’re also thinking about just keeping our own names, and then, when we have kids, giving them the hyphenated name, mine-his. That way they would literally be half him and half me. I like that idea.

  64. Gosh, I feel bad for the people who’ve been through really rough times regarding this!

    I have a pretty “good” name — fairly easy to pronounce, not too long, common but not painfully so — but my fiance has a COOL last name, with an awesome meaning, and also an obvious ethnic heritage which matches my single biggest chunk [1/4, that I know of]. (Although the pronunciation/spelling does get messed with on occasion!)

    And my full name, with my original middle name, and his last name, sounds very royal, I think. (and only one google hit, with another last name appended to it, for what my first-last would be!)

    So I will *probably* take his name. And yeah, there is some ‘father stuff’ at work. ;p

    I was at a friend’s baby shower earlier this year [she kept her name, their baby has the dad’s name]; and there were a fair few other feminists there who’d kept their names, or were pondering the name game. Someone brought up that it is your IDENTITY that you are changing, beyond just a name. I hadn’t thought too hard on that before!

    I know a couple to combined their names into a new, made-up name, and enjoy it. I haven’t asked them if he got any flak for it, but they are definitely part of an alternative subculture, so I think the reaction trends towards, “cool”.

  65. I know people who have gone the "Scrabble" route, (My uncle and aunt) and it worked out pretty well for them. My guy is pretty set on me not taking his name, but I don't care either way. We have played around with creating a new last name. I like the meaning behind it; you are creating a new family based on two separate ones. However, it all depends on what you can spell. So far we have come up with Maureen and Carmine Viper -pretty kick ass I know, and Carmine and Maureen "The Pervert"……We're still working on it.

  66. Maureen– I vote for Viper, although "Tarantula" might also be kind of fun. 😉

    I decided when I was a little girl that there was no way in hell I was changing my name if I got married. I am not property, thanks. (Please note: if you want to change your name, that's cool with me. This is only my stance in regards to myself.) It's not even really a matter of family legacy or anything, although I get along well with my family. It's that it's *my* name.

    Of course, there are complications, especially (in my opinion, at least) if you're gay. Kids, legal recognition, and the fact that I love my fiancee more than I ever imagined and want to show that she's part of my family. Neither of us really wanted to hyphenate kids' last names (it would be fine for the first generation, but what if they married and wanted to hyphenate, or what about their kids?), but we wanted our names to mesh with the kids' names. (This is especially useful if potentially dealing with a court system/federal bureaucracy that may not choose to recognize a domestic partnership, a Canadian marriage, and the fact that you're raising children together as proof of any type of connection.)

    So our solution is that my fiancee is going to hyphenate Herlast-Mylast, and I'm going to add her last as a second middle name. Her logic is that she already goes by two first names, she might as well go by two last names. My logic is that my first (nickname) and last go really well together as is. Hyphenated? Not quite so much. So our full names will both look kind of like this: Darling Wife Herlast Mylast, with the kids getting her last as second middle names as well. If they want to hyphenate when they get older, that's totally up to them. In either case, we'll be the Herlast-Mylast family, which is just fine with me.

    The inconvenient thing is that while Oregon considers a Registered Domestic Partnership sufficient to change your name without legal fees, what we've been told is that the federal government does not. So we'll have to pay extra (I think a couple hundred apiece) for the privilege. Thanks, feds! I guess we'll just add that to the extra we pay for health insurance, huh? (Not that I'm at all bitter about the de facto queer taxes.)

    I think that really it should come down to what the couple in question wants and feels comfortable with. And everybody else should either be supportive or politely quiet (much as I was when a friend changed her normal last name for her new husband's kind of dumb name. Nice guy; dumb name. Her choice, though.). Although I guess I would be okay with maybe delicately suggesting they think a little more about it if, for example, they both spend a lot of time drunk, and think that changing their last name to "Vomit" is an excellent idea or something. Although if "Vomit" makes them happy, more power to them.

    Oh, and for the record, I'm also in favor of the "girls get their mother's last name, boys get their father's" system in general, although obviously that wouldn't quite work in our case.

  67. When my fiance and I got engaged, I was adamant about not wanting to change my name. However, he grew up with a mother with a different last name, and often ran into issues at school or with his friends. (People were confused as to who his mother was if they had not previously met her, or they assumed that his parents were divorced and were shocked by the fact that they are actually married.) I am also planning on going to grad school, and so it would be harder to change my name after I have published articles… but I understand his argument about the usefulness of having the same name as your kids. So we went round and round about how to combine our names (he refuses to hyphenate because my father is more than a little on the skeezy side and my fiance doesn't want to be associated with him), before finally settling on the idea of creating a new last name out of the both of ours. I was so blown away by his willingness to change his name (but really, it's not fair that only the woman has to change her name, and I won him over with that argument) because he likes to put up the front of "I'm a man's man" (whatever that means). Anyway.. people are doing it! It is just disappointing to read about all of the legal hassle that men have to go through just for a little equality.

  68. My FH and I are also both changing our names when we get married. We intend to take his mother's maiden name. Apparently in CO all you have to do is sign your marriage documents with your intended name.

  69. For me and my fiance, it was a case where we are both strongly attached to our family names. Since there is no one on my dad's side to carry on my surname, I didn't fully want to give it up. For my fiance, there is a lot of family pride in his surname, he definitely wanted to keep it, but felt I shouldn't be the only one to change names.

    We decided to both hyphenate to show unity and a blending of families. I definitely wanted to take his name while keeping my own, and he felt the same. (Plus his name is like a backwards name, so now we're convinced that people will finally get it right!) This has definitely met with some raised eyebrows, and his brother insists that the hyphen portion is just plain stupid, but we like it. Although judging from people's responses, it looks like we'll have some fun red tape to deal with!

    I am happy to have someone who understands my name is part of my identity and who wants to honor that by making it part of his own as well – just as I honor his family.

  70. For me and my fiance, it was a case where we are both strongly attached to our family names. Since there is no one on my dad's side to carry on my surname, I didn't fully want to give it up. For my fiance, there is a lot of family pride in his surname, he definitely wanted to keep it, but felt I shouldn't be the only one to change names.

    We decided to both hyphenate to show unity and a blending of families. I definitely wanted to take his name while keeping my own, and he felt the same. (Plus his name is like a backwards name, so now we're convinced that people will finally get it right!) This has definitely met with some raised eyebrows, and his brother insists that the hyphen portion is just plain stupid, but we like it. Although judging from people's responses, it looks like we'll have some fun red tape to deal with!

    I am happy to have someone who understands my name is part of my identity and who wants to honor that by making it part of his own as well – just as I honor his family.

  71. To be honest…. I think we both totally would have been for it, if not for the fact that a) the paternal side of my husband's family (with the exception of – ironically – his father) are WONDERFUL people, and b) there's one person in the whole of the USA that has the same last name and ISN'T related to him. So it's pretty unique, and there's the feeling that his family line is "dying out," so to speak.

    Plus, I'd always looked forward to changing my name – my first, middle, and maiden names were all super mundane, and I get a sick kind of kick out of having to finally spell my last name 🙂

    But – if there weren't such strong connections to his last name, I think we would have tried for a blended last name… to me that holds the egalitarian appeal of hyphenating, without the possible spectre of a 14-syllable surname for little ones to try and spell. :p

  72. We're going to hyphenate: Jen and Mike HisLast-MyLast. My name is a part of me, simple as that and I love my whole family. He only wants his name in there for his dad who passed away last year suddenly, but his dad's side of the family isn't invited to the wedding because…they're bad. We expect some people will make comments, but we have no problem telling them "Our names on our terms, back off".

  73. My husband and I have been married 15 years, and went through this whole thing back then. We considered almost all of the different options mentioned above! We both have simple, pleasant, 2-syllable Scots/Irish surnames ending in "man." Ultimately we each kept our own surname, and went along happily for a few years — until the first pregnancy brought the subject back to the forefront.

    We went back to the drawing board looking for solutions that would make it clear we were a family. We pondered combining the first syllable of his name and the first syllable of mine, in either order; both combos would have sounded completely reasonable. My sister joked about "Manman." My father, only half-jokingly, suggested using the first syllable of my name and the second syllable of Spouse's. (There are no male descendants with our name within fourth-cousin-hood.) We never seriously considered giving girls my name and boys his name — which was good, because we have two boys!

    Finally we settled on a three-syllable last name for children: Minehisman. Still Scots/Irish-sounding, still fairly simple and pleasing, and clearly related to both of us, even if my two syllables aren't contiguous. However, at the last minute (seriously, LAST minute — filling out the birth certificate on checking out of the hospital), Spouse had a tiny conflict between his feminism and his id. His father had passed away only a year before, and Spouse suddenly NEEDED that capital W at the beginning of his name. Perfectly understandable, in my opinion.

    So the boys' last names are both hyphenated: Mine-Hisname. Only my first syllable is there at the front, but they're alphabetized with me, and it's pretty clear that we're related. It doesn't make me nuts to be addressed as "Mrs. Mine-Hisname" by the kids' friends. Also, we squeaked in under that 12-bubble limit for standardized test forms!

  74. I changed my name by deed-poll 13 or so years ago to my mothers maiden name so I have a very strong attachment to my name. When our Daughter was born I was already decided that she should be a double-barrelled girl, as is our second child, a son. In line with this, when my chap and I get married he wants us all to share the same last name so he is joining the double barrell revolution. This is actually a bit of a pain though, if I chose to take his name after we married I could do that with very little admin, however for us to join our names requires another visit to the solicitor for more deed-polling!

  75. I was never a girl for pairing my name with my crush's last name. Fiance and I are hyphenating our names, so it will be myname-hisname. It's going to be a five syllable last name, but I have to say, I love the way they sound together. My name shows my ethnicity, which is super spicy Latina, and his is an elegant French name. For our last anniversary before we get married and have to reset the clock, fiance got me a set of gorgeous stationary with our new name on it. I got him a handmade bookplate with our new name lol, so it's something we've thought a lot about and it's very special to us. I think especially to me. As far as kids go? We'll have a unified family name that respects both of our family histories. They can make their own decisions when/if they get married, as we did.

    I think the most important thing about this name-change discussion is not the outcome (whether you decide to keep different names, hyphenate, take his, whatever!) but how the conversation goes. Both parties need to be patient, open minded, and respectful, as there is a lot of cultural baggage that comes with any "coming of age" tradition that one considers balking. Few things make me angrier than a partner feeling forced into something because the other party was unwilling to respect them enough to listen properly.

    Once your decision is made, be prepared to stick with it whatever comes. Nothing stops teasing or raised eyebrows faster than your own polite smile and a "so what's your point again?"

    GOOD LUCK EVERYONE! Follow your hearts!

  76. my boyfriend is wanting to change his last name completely. it will not be his birth or adopted name nor my maiden name. is such things possible if so where do we get the documenttaion to apply?

    • My fiance is planning on doing the same thing. We are taking the first half of my name and the last half of his last name and combining the two. Our wedding is four months away. Do you have any advice for the legal procedures?

  77. My partners last name is "Incognito"

    You can bet our last name isn't going to be changed to Palmer…

  78. I tried using the name change kit linked on this page, thinking that since it was recommended here it would be legit. Trouble is, I entered some info and saved it for later, and now the website won’t even load at all! Has anyone used and been successful or had problems like me? Please let me know, thanks!

    • Kelley, thenamechanger folks have been having technical issues lately, and we have ended our partnership with them. That said, they’re solid folks — I’ll have them get in touch with you about issuing a refund.

  79. Can I tell you, my Groom and I are hyphenating, but now I feel ill to my stomach after a fight. I am doing this for lots of Reasons. I don’t have a good relationship with my father, but my last name is cool. I’ve gotten lots of good comments on it. I like it. And nobody who knows me knows my Father (who hasn’t been much of a father, mother and him are divorced). I also have a Firstname, Middle name, Mom’s maiden as middle, patriname. And I have a spanish heritage (half Puerto Rican to be exact) and its the heritage I most identify with. Having a lot of names in a Spanish naming system is not unheard of. So I agree with Elizabeth. From that angle, it just seems to me to be cool. From the Angle of us both hyphenating, I am not the only one changing my last name. I wanted to do the Whole Le, or De thing with his name, but he didn’t like that. So I have decided to keep my tremendously long name, and screw tradition. He had a little trouble with it since our wedding is in two weeks. Took me for an emotional roller coaster ride.

    He finally said “I am writing down (mylast-hislast) okay? I will do that”. I still feel a bit sick to my stomach.

    I loved this article. Can we hear more? (and by the way he has a decent relationship with his father, I really don’t want him to go through all the hassel of being teased, and I’m sure he would be, but I told him that what matters most is our marriage, not what anybody else, including family, thinks. I was already called sexist by my Grandmother for wanting him to hyphenate. Yeah me sexist. LIke the whole tradition is rooted in sexism. Okay just a tad bit bothered still about that).

    So in the end we are still hyphenating.

  80. Oh I have to add, that we have been talking about this before we where officially engaged. And have agreed to it, as the best compromise for us. It has been a long talk, so last night took me completely by surprise with his question of us just keeping our birth names just because of how many times I did ask him if he was okay with it.

  81. A little contribution from someone who isn’t married yet, hasn’t decided yet, and has a fine and happy relationship with his father:

    I think the idea of my future wife taking my name and losing hers is a bit odd, because misogynistic tradition etc, and because my mom didn’t change her name. Also, I like future wife’s name.

    But I also like my name (my parents’ names hyphenated), and I’m the only person in the world (actually; they’re both that rare) that has it. And the half of my name that comes from my maternal grandfather is the only chance his name has to continue.

    Add to all that the fact I like the symbology of a family having only one name, and it’s certainly a complicated dilemma.

  82. My FH offered to hyphenate, but I told him I was fine with us each keeping our own names. I have a daughter with my last name, so I really don’t want to change it (my first marriage I was guilted into adding his last name and keeping mine as a second middle, but I was never happy with it and am happy to have my original name back). FH is fine with whatever I decide, but I am happy knowing that he was willing to be flexible with that. We’re not likely to have any children, but we’ll jump off that bridge when/if we get to it.

  83. Has anyone had both parties keep their last names, and how did you deal with having children? I don’t want to change my name, and I don’t expect anyone to change theirs either, but how do you handle naming kids? I definitely don’t want them to all have just the guys name! I thought about maybe giving girls my name and the boys his name, or giving them a hyphenated name. Any suggestions? Has anyone had to deal with this firsthand yet?

    • I am the product of this dilemma – my mother kept her maiden name and wanted her children to carry it on. They decided that first child, if a girl would get mother’s last name. Second child would get fathers regardless of gender. Third would go by gender again. To attempt to keep the last name assigning balanced. Children then got as a middle name whichever last name was left out. So basically older sister is LGK middle sister is AKG and younger brother is EKG.

      To say the least, growing up with this has been very complicated! Tons of questions about are they your real siblings, real parents, are my parents divorced, etc. It always seemed to divide the family in a way. Maybe just my experience but those of us with the same last name are closer then the ones without. Who knows exactly why, perhaps coincidence?

      Now, as an adult and soon to be married in January – I am taking my fiance’s last name. I like his better then mine and I really want the unity of a single name that I never had growing up.

      Obviously there is no perfect solution, but I would go hyphenate for children if you both want to keep your last names.

      • Thank you! Yours is the only family I have heard of doing this, and it doesn’t sound fun for you kids! I think the hyphenation sounds like a great alternative. That way, when they get older they can choose to keep one if they want to, or change it when they marry.

  84. My fiancee an I are hyphenating “mine-hers,” but honestly since we’re queer we’re doing it more to have the legitimacy of the same last name than anything else.

    After reading this conversation, I sort of wish I’d thought to bring up other family names such as mother’s maiden that aren’t being continued, but I’m not opening up that discussion again.

    I also understand that everyone has their own sense of aesthetics, but really it’s not that hard on a kid to have a hyphenated name. And as for what they do when they get married, well, they can choose one of ours to keep while hyphenating in with the future spouse (like in latin american tradition) or they can change it entirely, or really whatever they want. It’ll be their name, their identity. The point is for our family to have a common name for the time that they are children.

  85. The only dude-friend I know who changed his last name to be his wife’s name had a terrible relationship with his father, so this isn’t a good example for your list of anecdotes. Good luck to the dude who originated this question!

  86. My fiancée and I have decided to hyphenate. As gay men, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal. While initially my preference was to take his surname, it’s more important to me that we have the same surnames. He wants to hyphenate, and I’m cool with it. It helps that our surnames go really well together.

  87. My fiance is changing his name to mine, and I don’t understand why it isn’t more common. Just like women are no longer automatically expected to do all the housework and child-rearing, women shouldn’t be expected to automatically be the one to give up their name, with all of the history, professional exposure, and familial connection that goes with it.

    My guy happens to be trans, but that doesn’t really matter. We’re equal partners, and I would expect a cis partner to be just as willing to figure out what makes the most sense in our situation, not just go with tradition. He’s in the process of changing his first and middle names legally, so it’s easy to change the last name at the same time (even though we’re not getting officially married until next fall) and save ourselves some time, money, and aggravation. He’s not particularly attached to his family, and has been completely welcomed by mine. None of my cousins have children with my last name, and my brother’s kids have a Latin American double last name, so I’m the last one to “pass it on.” My name is more unusual than his. I’m a musician and have albums and websites out under my name, while he is not in any sort of comparable situation. Pretty much the only thing going for his surname is that it’s easier to spell and pronounce. So for us, it just makes sense to go with mine, with the added bonus of being the more feminist, queer, and offbeat option.

  88. We’re both changing our names, too! I’m estranged from my parents, so no connection there; husband has a story similar to Will’s. We decided to take the name of the park where we went on our first date!

  89. I’m so glad this came up! My bf’s (yes bf, not engaged yet) name is the Dutch version of “Johnson” it is really common and I really don’t want a last name that is so… normal!
    My own last name is not very dear to me and I would gladly change my name to his if he only had a more interesting last name. He suggested we both change it to a double name. I’m not all for that, it seems so long. I just know people won’t write it the way I would want and I can’t stand that.
    I would love for him to take my name, just because his name starts with an R and my last name does too. It would sound awesome and his family on his mother’s side thought so too. (I didn’t suggest it, they discovered that on their own) 😀

  90. My husband and I are changing our names to his late father’s last name. Hubby grew up with his mom’s maiden name, and when his biological father passed away, she remarried later and took the stepdads name.

    Reactions have been anything from curious to outright rude and condescending. his mom’s side is very outspoken about the change and has been downright rude about it, but his mom completely understands. Its a weird situation to explain to people and the process has been long. We *WERE* going to get our new ID’s and SS cards next week until the government shut down *F*****CK*. at the end of the day, its our choice and our life, and the people that are rude won’t be around one day.

  91. The way I see it is that if you don’t change your name well then you’re still just keeping your Fathers name. And if your Mother was a single parent and you took her name that’s probably her Fathers name. Regardless it’ll lead back to someone, somewhere who took their Father or Husbands name. So you mine as well just change your name to his and let your husband have his own legacy.

  92. For you gents who have changed your last name, can I ask a technical/timeline-y question?

    My male partner and I will both be changing our names, more of a “let’s honor your grandmother who was a stellar broad and played a big part in your raising” than a “poo-poo on your sire who left when you were 4” (though that did happen). Of course a woman changing her name is assumed and familiar and therefore relatively simple, but a man changing his name requires all sorts of hoops. So my question is: should he go through all the hoops before the wedding, so I make one change from Myname > hisnewname, or should we have the ceremony, me keeping my name whilst he goes through the hoops to hisnewname, and then I change mine to hisnewname?

    Oh, and I have about three months to sort this out.

    • My fiancee and I are both changing our names to my Mom’s birth name. I think what Diamond suggested about me changing my name first and then my fiancee changing hers to my new name after we get married seems like the easier route to go. But I would also like to know whether someone else has gone through the process (especially in Ohio).

  93. My fiance likes his family and his last name, but understands that he can marry the heathen in church, get future children baptized and keep his name. He prioritized and decided that our offsprings’ souls were more important than his last name.
    His father is none too happy , but he got the reasons. His sister has tried to cheer him up, saying she could still have kids under her current name.

  94. Hello, I am writing because I live in Texas. I am engaged and my fiance’ and I want our life to start together sharing everything including the name. We both want our last names to be hyphenated because we are two sepreates joining to be one and for no other reason as that it lets us keep our own individuality while becoming one with each other. The county courthouse is refusing this and saying it is illegal for a man to do so. Can anyone help?

  95. “Hyphenated names are great symbols of unity and compromise, but silly.”

    Will, Will, Will… Thanks for throwing the rest of us under the bus with your insulting comment. (I really had to restrain myself from using other language, in order to adhere to the no-drama comment policy.) Men who are willing to buck patriarchal tradition by changing our names should all be supportive of each other. We get enough problems from the “macho and conservative” society at large. And not all of us have estranged fathers.

  96. I’ve got one for you!!

    My last name is Smith, given to me by my drug addict mother, because the time I was born she was already engaged to a new man with that last name. He’d supposedly promised to adopt me, blah blah blah. I’m now 23 and couldn’t identify him in a line of 10 men. My birth father, whom there is no denying, his last name was Virgin. He was ALWAYS in my life, until the age of 7, when he passed away. His family has always said that I carry his legacy and we all have felt shame that I don’t get to carry his last name due to my mother’s idiocy. (She remarried about 4 times afterward & had 2 more children by 2 more men). So, by birth I should have the last name Virgin. (Yeah, being southern just try to imagine explaining that when people ask which Smiths you’re related to)

    Here’s the kicker. My boyfriend and I plan to marry as soon as financially able. Both having horrible upbringings, we plan to start our own family to make up for our own. He was adopted by a horrible foster family. Beaten, thrown out by age 17 because the family would no longer be receiving a check from him, he has been dead to them since. Also, his last name means nothing to him. We might consider changing both our names to my father’s last name(the Virgin name is a dying family legacy) because my dads family has also taken him in more than his adoptive family ever had. It would probably be something no couple has done before, but it would give so much meaning to a small name for us.

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