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

Guest post by Ashley Lauren S.
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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.

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

  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 🙂

    • Send cards back, and make sure to put the return address with your real name. 😉

      • 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.

      • Our son has both our last names, unhyphenated. It works.

  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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  54. I’ve actually been thinking about this one a great deal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  67. I strongly believe this is a very personal choice, and I’ve decided to change my name for one important reason:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  80. I almost got married, but then didn’t (and good thing).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  83. I’m a little late to the party here but this is an interesting tid bit I forgot to mention yesterday:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  88. Thank you for writing this. Even in 2012, women’s choices are subject to critique by everyone including Rush Limbaugh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  100. I have a hyphenated last name, given to me by my parents, and it sucks. I absolutely detest having a hyphenated last name, mostly because I didn’t choose to have one.

    It’s hard to spell (there’s a capital letter in the middle of a word, in addition to a freaking hyphen), hard to communicate (people always think it’s one long name, especially since both of mine start with L), and impossible to fit on forms. A lot of people seem to forget how often you have to give people your last name, and how you don’t always want to tell a story about the origin, and people always ask. People also always ask which one to use, and then when I say, “Both, the entire thing is my last name,” they get huffy.

    I feel like I should warn people against hyphenation because it hasn’t been a great time for me. I get asked a lot, mostly in a joking way, what I’ll do when I get married. My answer is always the same: changing it. The second hyphen idea is stupid if only because it would never fit on forms, ever. The US Postal Service “doesn’t recognize the hyphen” as an allowed character. Everything is against you when you have a hyphenated last name.

    If you feel that hyphenating your last name (and/or your child’s) will work for you, go for it. It’s definitely an option that can work for some names and some people! (Mine is a super mouthful, and everyone always tries to pronounce the whole thing as French, since the second part is.) For myself, I’ve lived with a complicated, annoying last name for 27 years, and it’s almost time for it to go away.

    • Gee, I can see how ruff that would be, given your name. I know of two girls with a hyphenated last name. One is an italian-british combination, the other was a combination of one 7 character last name, and one 5 character last name which worked great together. They both loved their last names, but I can see for you it probably wasn’t the best combination of names.

      I think the hyphen is great, but I am sick of spelling it out. So, combining it works well for me.

      You do have options with your name, and if you want to change it, go ahead and do so. And if you don’t have a middle name, You could move one of the names to your middle. There are other options too. Like you could combine your last names. You can even do this before you get married. Many different combinations.

      • I’ll be changing it within the next year and a half or so, to something wayyyyyyy shorter and easier to spell. I’m excited! (Oh, and he’s neat, too.)

        Changing your last name just because you don’t like it seems weird to me… these cultural constructs are strong!!

        • Oh congratulations. Actually people change it upon marriage for exactly that reason, and I’ve heard (reading through various blogs and forums), of people who did that.

          I love my hyphenated name, and changing it now seems weird since I already changed it. It would have to be for a real special occasion like a child and for simplicty’s sake, but it would be a combined name.

  101. I know this is a little old, but I’d like to comment anyway. This has been a sad issue for me, only because it’s the only thing my fiance and I don’t agree on. My last name is unique. Unique enough that every time I’ve met someone with the same name they’ve been a relative – even if a distant one. It’s also long (which I’m less excited about).

    My fiance’s last name is Smith. It’s short…but it’s also one of (if not THE) most common names in the western world.

    I’ve never been a fan of hyphenating or having two last names. My own name being so long, the idea of adding to it just gives me a headache. And I fear a bit that any children you’d have would end up just taking one of the names and either dropping the hyphen or the extra name (and there’s no cultural significance for either of us).

    What I REALLY liked was the idea of creating a new name by combining both of ours. That by marrying we were combining two families into a new one. I got really excited about that idea, until I found out that my fiance was only humoring what he thought was a joke on my part.

    When I brought it up later and he realized I was serious, he was completely against it. And it’s not that he thinks I -have- to take his name…he just doesn’t want to get rid of his (which, I’ll admit, I have trouble understanding since it’s such a common name). I’ve tried convincing him, but it’s apparently a sticking point for him. He doesn’t care what I choose to do with my last name…but he’s not changing his.

    I don’t really want to keep my name, as I feel like we’re supposed to be starting a family (and the surname is, after all, ALL about family). And I’m not completely sure what I’d want to do with our children’s surnames. I don’t want to be Brooke Myname, and Kenny, Jane, and John Smith. Or some other combination that doesn’t make it clear that we are a family.

    I’m probably going to just take his name since I can’t think of any way to convince him and I don’t like the other alternatives much better….but I am still really depressed that the love of my life had to have such a generic last name (it would be easier to stomach if HIS last name was unique or important to his family too…but I think he’s just used to it and doesn’t want to bother with changing it).

  102. This is a subject very emotionally filled for me. I don’t really have much family left. My sister died 4 years ago, my father died two years ago and my mother died this year. The only person other than me who has my name (other than very distant relatives) is my other sister, but she’s a drug addict and I don’t talk to her AT ALL. I’m only 29 and my whole family has basically been wiped out. I’m more or less the only one left to carry on their legacy and their name.

    At first, my fiance was a bit annoyed by my “silly” insistance that I keep my name. I also am choosing to wear my ring on my pointer finger because I NEVER wear rings on my ring finger (they never seem to fit right on that one for some reason). Also, when I met him he pushed me for a relationship for several months when I didn’t want to be in one and he really had to wait a long time until I was ready for him to come into my life and be my boyfriend. So, with all of this he had questions of ‘do you really even want to be married to me?’ and ‘how will anyone even know that you’re married to me if you don’t take my name and you wear your ring on the wrong finger?’.

    Though, during my mother’s wake when he was talking about getting married to me, I broke down in tears and said I couldn’t because he only wanted me if I would change my name. I really could never get rid of one of the only things that ties me to my now all deceased family. He seems to have changed his mind back, as long as any kids we have keep his last name. I don’t know… time will tell if he’s really committed to it and if he lets me “have my way” as he puts it. And if he doesn’t, when he knows how much it means to me that I don’t abandon my family identity, then perhaps he’s not the right one for me. Time will tell.

    • Alright, I know you might not be looking for advice or opinions of your relationship here…..but, wow. I’m really sorry for all of the losses that you’ve gone through, and I’m even more sorry that your fiance felt that a good time to pressure you about marriage was during your mother’s wake. I’m also anxious that he pressured you for a relationship when you weren’t ready.
      I know we’re only seeing one side of your situation here….but I’m alarmed at how you’ve described your relationship. It really seems like he doesn’t have a lot of respect for your situation. You’ve lost three important family members in less than five years…the guy can back off a little! My husband was initially a little confused by me wanting to keep my name, but once I explained about how important it was to me, he understood and was OK with it. Future kids will have his last name, and mine as a middle name. Not only is he OK with this now, he openly defends it to other people who question. If your fiance is seeing this as you “having your way” then I think you have a problem. He should not only fully respect your wishes, but knowing all of the grief you’ve dealt with, he should be 100% embracing your decision to keep your name in remembrance of your family. Heck, he should have put his foot down and refused to let you even consider changing your name. Argh! I’m a little livid right now, can ye tell?
      Ok, you can take my opinion or leave it, but if a guy says that you’re “silly” for wanting to keep your name when he KNOWS what you’ve been through, maybe you need to do some serious thinking. It’s YOUR name, from YOUR lost family, and dammit it’s YOUR wedding ring so you can bloody well wear it on whatever finger you feel like! I’m worried that in years to come, this will be one of those things that he continuously brings up in every fight, along the lines of, “This is just like with your name! You’re not happy unless you get YOUR way!”
      I know you’ve been through a lot, and he’s probably been there during most of it and you might not think you’re strong enough for another loss….but I think you already know the truth, and you said it in your last line, “And if he doesn’t, when he knows how much it means to me that I don’t abandon my family identity, then perhaps he’s not the right one for me.” Honey, you need to tell him (now, before marriage and definitely before having kids) that when the time comes, there is no “letting” you keep your name. You WILL keep your name, and it doesn’t make your marriage any less of a marriage. If he doesn’t get that, and if he doesn’t make a complete 180 turn to embracing your decision whole hearted….you need to move on. If his past attitude is any indication, he will ALWAYS see this as a divide, as a lack of commitment on your part, as a silly quibble for you to get your own way. Seriously, do some major MAJOR thinking, and then have a deep conversation with him. But, I think you already know in your heart what the outcome needs to be.

  103. I am over the outdated etiquette stuff regarding name changing. This is 2012 and a woman is an individual regardless of who she marries. I thought we had moved on, but so many people are so hung up on this… including my soon-to-be husband. I would love nothing more than to keep my own last name… I love it and can’t imagine being anything but. But my fiance told me forthright that he would be hurt if I didn’t take his last name… even went so far as saying that he didn’t want me to hyphenate my last name and his. I’m terribly confused, because if it means that much to him, then I suppose I shall concede (pick your battles right?) but I’m none too happy about it… *sigh* As for Mr. & Mrs. John Smith… that infuriates me!

    • I say keep your name. Do what I did: tell your fiance that your name is very, very important to you, and it’s unfair that you’re the only one changing part of your identity in this way. Offer a compromise: both of you take each other’s last names as middle names (or second middle names). Now I’m Jamie HisName MyName, and once he’s done the paperwork he’ll be Evan MyName HisName. This way you’ll still be Amanda YourName, but if someone calls you Mrs. HisName on accident, they’re still somewhat correct.
      The more of us that put our foot down, the more “normal” it will be, and eventually we’ll get rid of this unnecessary, sexist tradition.

    • There is no reason he should be hurt — you aren’t not changing your name to avoid his, you’re not changing your name to keep yours. He should respect that it’s your identity. If the important thing to him is sharing a name, then he should compromise by hyphenating, combining, using last names as middle names, etc.

  104. I spent my whole life in total agreement, convinced I would never change my name. Then I found my soulmate and after 10 years we’re engaged and he brought up an interesting point: that he thought it made sense for us to have the same last name combo as our future kids. (note: in my country we normally have at least 2 last names, one from our mother and one from our father)
    As changing my identity and my professional name by adding his to the end just wouldn’t feel right, we’ve decided to both take one of the others last names. So I’ll be Mariana mylastname1 hislastname2 mylastname2, and he’ll be P hislastname1 mylastname1 hislastname2. And our kids will be Kid mylastname1 hislastname2.

  105. It’s really interesting to read this perspective and learn about the different ways people denote their identities.
    I myself have been looking forward to changing my name since I was a little girl–and rather hoping that I will get married someday so that it’s cheaper. Ha ha, I guess I have unusual priorities? (There’s nothing objectively wrong with my birth name, I just don’t like the sound.)
    However, I still feel strange reading about the importance of being known by an individual name when I’d just as soon fade into the background. I don’t think I’d be bothered by cards addressed to Mr&Mrs HusbandsFullname because I freaking loathe cards. “I can’t even remember which distant relative you are. Leave me alone!” They can be his responsibility for all I care. Sometimes people comment on how “traditional” I am for being demure and softspoken, but the only reason the inaccuracy of that assessment doesn’t bother me is that it’s better than being recommended for psychotherapy. I am hoping that if someday I am addressed by a name that is more associated with someone else, it will not trigger the adrenaline rush that comes from near-strangers calling my birth name (and unauthorized diminutives thereof).
    (Funny-in-retrospect story: Once I accidentally put an eBook for sale under my real name. I figured out how to fix it, but this was after a fair bit of hyperventilating.)

  106. My last name is the same as my fiance’s favourite hockey player growing up. It also means “The Best” in French. He has always said he wanted my last name, and, quite frankly, who can blame him? When I told my feminist friends this they thought that I had this amazing, progressive boyfriend who was smashing patriarchy and all that but really, it’s because I have an awesome handle and he doesn’t give a s*** about tradition.

  107. I love my name and it makes me sad to think of losing it. I told my FH that either I’ll keep my name and he’ll keep his, or we will both hyphenate, but I’m not willing to change my name just because I happen to be female. The husband isn’t the head of the household anymore. He loved the double hyphenation idea so we’ll both have each other’s names, which I love. I also love that my children will have my name.

  108. My SO seemed a little upset the first time I mentioned to him that I would never ever ever even consider changing my name, until I explained it to him like this: “Michelle is a perfectly fine name. It’s a pretty name and I like it. However, it is not MY name. Why would I change my name to Michelle 30 years into my life? I wouldn’t. Same goes for the last name.”

    The only thing that sucks is that I really do like the idea of having a shared family name, but if I’m not going to consider changing mine, I certainly can’t expect him to change his.

  109. Janet, your man with his demands sounds unreasonable and (dare I say it) downright mean. All things considered, I think you have all the right in the world to keep your name. Hang in there and don’t give up. Your name is speacial to you and you should be able to keep it. This is 2012 for goodness sake!

    I myself am getting married in December and I’m taking the hyphenated road. In my country of origin, Finland, women still largely tend to favour their husbands names instead of keeping their own or having it hyphenated. I’ve already had a few raised eyebrows because my future name will be somewhat long-ish (with two hyphens!) and will never fit on any signature lines. I don’t care. I love my own name and I’m delighted to have my fiance’s name attached to it.

  110. First let me tell you that I found this post by simply inquiring whether I should have my middle name placed on my college diploma rather than just my middle initial, so that was kind of interesting! 🙂

    Anyway, after reading this, I felt like I might be the only guy out there that actually agrees with you! I’ve never been married, but I’ve always felt like if my wife wanted to keep her own name, I’d be all for it. I’m a huge advocate for personal independence and I wouldn’t expect any less from someone I’m with.

    My only question/concern would be what happens with the children’s names? Do they get the woman’s last name or the man’s? Or maybe some combination of both? Who’s family name gets passed on to the next generation?

  111. My FH is the last person in the world with his name, as far as we’ve been able to find. It was important to him to share his his name with me. I agreed, with the stipulation that I would give our first child my maiden name as a first name 🙂 If there’s no path, or if you don’t like the path, you make your own!

  112. My sister’s godmother kept her name so I’ve never thought of that as being weird. I am sad at giving up the name that helped me to define myself as a child. However, I also have a high respect for defined gateways from one area of life to another.

    When I graduated college, I got a piece of paper and two letters to add to the end of my name. Marriage is a much bigger change in life. I only had to commit to college for a minimum of 4 years (I actually took much longer, but that’s a story for another time). Marriage is a lifetime commitment and, as such, is worthy of more than just a piece of paper to me.

    For that reason, I am choosing to change my name. I have considered having the middle name of my eldest son be my maiden name… if we ever get around to having kids.

  113. This was a good article. I don’t think there should be any reason why a woman can’t keep her name. However, I do think sharing a name makes things simpler down the road with family. Actually, one of the things I am most excited about is changing my name. We already have two kids, and it really is a pain not having the same name as them with all of the paperwork that kids bring about in life. Not to mention it makes me feel less connected to my own family. I might be the oddball here, but I guess that’s ok!

    • I wouldn’t have given my kids a different last name. If I had to carry a child inside of me for 9 months then either painfully push it out of me or be cut open to have it taken out, I would not want a disconnect between us. I don’t understand why it is acceptable for a guy to provide his sperm, yet the woman does all the work and is expected to take the man’s name and give it to her kids as well.

      • For me personally, I gave my kids their father’s last name because it was important to him and it helped him feel more connected to them. But there were more factors at play there, and his very strict traditional family was giving him a lot of heat about us not being married. Being a father means a lot more than being a sperm donor. Also, I don’t see how it’s fair to force that disconnect on him if you choose to keep your last name and then give it to your children as well. If I were your husband, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with that. It’s definitely a decision both need to make together.

  114. Generally I agree with change but is this subject really about getting married or not losing who you are? Marriage is a commitment. Our society decided a long time ago that part of that commitment is taking on your husbands name. I know I will get bashed but is changing a woman’s name about committing to the union or about holding on to self identity? Also realize how this can degrade something special built between two people. Marriage has always been about compromise. I think this is a symptom of why we have so many divorces in our society.

    • Chris, the issue here isn’t fighting compromise — it’s questioning why one person should be pressured to compromise when the other isn’t. If changing your name is about “committing to the union,” then why is it so rare to see men change their names?

      I’m all for people keeping their names, but your suggestion that women keeping their names shows a lack of commitment is totally galling.

      Also: “our society decided a long time ago” is not a good reason to keep doing something that doesn’t resonate for you. “Our society also decided a long time ago” that women couldn’t vote.

      To be clear: I’m all for anyone making the choice to change their names. But I am not ok with the suggestion that it has anything to do with the level of commitment they’ve got toward their partner.

    • Pretty much everything that Ariel said. The definition of compromise is “An agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions.” — What concessions are the groom making in this instance? I far more believe that having all the concessions and demands made of one side and thus making the marriage one-sided is the bigger cause of divorce than wanting to keep your name.

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