Thursday, September 17, 2009

Should I change my name after I get married?

He drops to a knee, places a shiny ring on your finger and you ride off into the sunset together. Well things can be a little different in today’s world. Suddenly, now that you’re engaged, you’re faced with life questions about combining finances, responsibility for chores, how to discipline your future children and whether to take his name.

After 30+ years of living independently, I am suddenly faced with the question: do I change my last name after I get married? Could changing the woman’s last name be an archaic tradition in today's society? This must have been thought up by men to show possession over their new prize. Hasn’t anyone thought about the engaged couple choosing an entirely new last name for their new family?

OK, I’m done with my women liberation thoughts - the next set of thoughts are a little more realistic.

First, there is something so right about becoming a family after you say I do. Wouldn't it be wonderful to walk along in life beside your partner sharing one name. Wouldn't this also make life a lot simpler? Hotels, restaurants, offices and social situations would all know that you were married, just by being introduced as Mr. and Mrs. R. (Check out this site to help aid in the transition of name changing called MissNowMrs.com.)

If I don’t change my last name then my (phantom/future) children will not have the same name as me, their mother. Will the postman get confused with the two different last names on the mailbox? I understand women wanting to keep their maiden last name, especially if they’ve established themselves professionally. By making the decision to change, you’re starting off with a completely new identity. One that says, "I’m taken. See the bling?"

Finally, women have the option to hyphenate their last name. If I hyphenated, this would mean; my last name would be 14 letters long. I would be going from a 5 letter last name to 14 letters long. I may as well have a stamp made for when I’m signing checks for bills.

Sure, I have a 8 or 9 months to decide if I’m going to change my last name, but I’ve lived with my current one all this time. And don’t tell anyone, but I kind of like it. How do you feel about changing your name for marriage? How did it feel when you changed your name? What route did you do down? ~Signing off Laura A

21 comments:

f8hasit said...

I've been married twice.
The first time I hyphenated my name, which was a hassle. SO many letters to write out when signing things.
The second time I took my husbands name, and we had a daughter. When we were divorced I kept the name. It's too confusing to have your children have a different name than your own.

I'd take my spouses name again, if it ever happens. But if you have a career that you've networked and it would hurt your status to take another name, then I'd add your husbands name on, but not use it unless you were with him.
:-)

JMW said...

I changed my name and I was actually excited about it. It felt like I was embarking on this new life with the man I love and we were creating a new family together. My maiden name still appears on my business cards and other places - it didn't go away. But, like you mentioned, now that we have kids, there is no confusion. Although, I totally respect a woman's decision to keep her name. A person once pointed out to me that you can either take your husband's name or keep your father's name - we live in a very patriarchal society. That's one way to see it. I just chose for the reasons I previously mentioned.

R. Wallis @ TrueBeauty said...

Legally, I changed my last name, but because of my professional and collegiate rep I chose to hyphenate in these areas of my life. It is just less confusing that way for everyone.

WhisperingWriter said...

I have changed my name but I still have my maiden name on my Social Security card. I've never bothered to change it. Oops. But it's fine, when we file taxes, I just use that name...

JewishBride said...

This was a decision I struggled with as well. I had lived with my name for almost 30 years and it was a big part of my identity (and google search!), but I changed it for many of the reasons you mentioned. The hardest part about it is that my maiden last name was much more unique and I only shared my full name with about two other people. Now that I have changed my last name, I share my full name with about 200 people. Three years later it is still something I am getting used to, but I know it really meant a lot to my husband, and it would be nice to share my last name with my kids one day.

Dollface said...

I def will be changing mine... but for businesss purposes you may want to keep it.... let me know the outcome... xxxoo

Debbie said...

I changed it and never looked back. It just felt right to me.

Dream Sequins said...

I changed my name. It strikes my feminist sister as very backwards... but I felt like I was becoming someone new when I got married-- and it made the change kind of tangible. It's nice to be known as Mr. and Mrs. X. If you're going to have children, or even if you're not... I say it's easier to use his. Or, alternatively, for him to change his name to yours. I've known couples who have jointly changed their name to a hyphenated name...

Themis0307 said...

I've been thinking about this too. I'm not sure what I'll do. My last name means so much to me because of my Scottish heritage but I think it would also be an honor to share my future husband's last name. Maybe I'll hyphenate...hmmm.

Life As I Know It said...

I struggled with this decision when I got married 10 years ago. I ended up keeping my maiden name as my middle name and changing my last name. In the end it came down to, for me, wanting to have the same last name as my (then-future) kids.

The Mighty J said...

I am really not a bra-burner but it irks me that in western society you have to change your last name coming from a culture where you don't. I hate being called "Mrs.x" too - I am married and will gladly announce it to anyone who is interested but I don't see why the woman has to be called "Mrs". Why don't we have anything for men to distinguish them as "taken" too? As for having children which we don't plan on, but if it did happen, we'd go for an hyphenated last name for them. There was a trend from where I am from to give daughter the mother's name as last names which is not a bad idea IMO. Ask most men if they would take the woman's last name then I suspect it would be mostly "no"s so why should women be pressued to do that? Anyway I ranted enough - it should be your decision and not anyone else's, not even your husband-to-be. Contrats on the upcoming wedding and best of luck with your decision :-)

The Good Cook said...

I took my husband's name. It meant so much to him and it really made me feel like a "wife" and part of a whole new team identity. Our children have my maiden name as their middle name, keeping it alive!

Kerrie said...

As many other's have said I also took my husbands name when we got married. I hated to lose my middle name so now I just have 2. I use both of my last names for resumes and my business cards but for all personal items I use my married name. That is who I am now, and who I want to be.
It is a very personal choice for you and your future spouse to decide. Good Luck, whatever you choose I know will be right for you.

If you give your children a hyphenated name what are they to do when this decision is at their door?

June Saville said...

I was faced with a similar decision Laura - after my SECOND DIVORCE!

It's different I know from your dreamy state at the moment, but I vowed to change my name from that of the man who plagued me at the time. My solicitor said she'd do it as a gift (by deed poll even before the divorce was through).

Then I thought: I can be anybody. What to choose? After soul searching, I went back to the name I had at birth. I believe that's as close to 'me' as anything could be. And although I doubt that there'll ever be a 'number three' my name will stay that way from now on.

Duchess of Tea said...

Hello darling, please forgive me for not visiting your lovely blog this week… life was very hectic at Rose Tea Cottage!!! Hopefully things will calm down this coming week.
I am going to read your posts now...Have a sweet and lovely weekend.

Love & Hugs
Duchess ♥ ♥ ♥

Meagan said...

Lost of comments on this one. You have a lot to think about. I am getting married in a few weeks and am so excited to change my name. It is weird to think that my children and people I meet in the future will only know me by my husband's last name. That the name that is my identity will slowly disappear. I plan to keep it around a little on magazine subscriptions or library cards. I am changing it because its a tradition and if you are doing the tradition of getting married I think you should go all the way with it. I want to be announced that day as Mr and Mrs. I also feel like changing my name is putting trust in my husband to take care of me and our future children. Be the head of the household. Good luck!

Sarah said...

You do realize that your children are not required to have your husband's last name, right? They can have yours just as easily. Heck, make one up for them if you want.

Also, I grew up with a different name than my mother (she remarried when I was five, but I didn't change my name). Guess what? It was no big deal. Ever. No one ever got confused or thought that she wasn't really my mom. Maybe fifty years ago it would have seemed odd, but it certainly doesn't now.

If you don't want to change your last name, but want your children to have yours, then give them yours. If you don't want to change your last name, but want the kids to have Daddy's name, then let them have it and don't worry about it. If you want a new name but don't want to fall into the patriarchal trap of being known only by your husband's name, come up with a new name for the whole family and make your husband go through the whole name-changing mess with you.

Think outside the box! You're not limited to your grandmother's traditions.

Jennifer said...

I think many women have these same thoughts. When I got married, I made my last name my new middle name. It was the perfect option for me. You get the best of both.

Holly Ann said...

Good post - very thought provoking... i have two children by two different men... we all have different last names... in this day and age it is never poses a problem...

when i divorced my husband i took my maiden name back... i didn't get out of the relationship what i had planned so i no longer wanted to share his last name... which led me to how i now feel...

i gave up a huge part of my identity for the marriage that wasn't... my last name identifies me however it doesn't define who i am... i don't need to give up this part of me to become a wife and a mother...

i am all over the place on this one :-) good post...

jheng said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Ever since I was about 10, I have been very adamant about keeping MY name. I got married, and kept MY name for 5 years. Then I finally changed it, as I was often confused with someone else in my city with the same name - I was afraid of mistaken identity leading to potential credit problems. It took me about a year to change all my documents, i.d., subscriptions, blah, blah, blah. Then 2 years later, we got divorced. So, I spent another year plus changing my name back, and it ticked me off that I often had to provide MORE proof of divorce to go back to my birth name, than I had to change it when I got married! Two years passed, I met a better man, got married, and told him I will not changing my name again. (MY name has 5 letters, is easy to pronounce and spell - his name is 10 letters long, and no one ever seems to pronounce it correctly). He was a bit put off, until I reassured him that I wouldn't flip out if someone called me Mrs.TenLetters instead of Ms.FiveLetters. As long as he didn't flip if someone called him Mr.Fiveletters. :-)