The Name Game: Should you Take your Husband’s Surname When you Marry?

Kathryn Underwood was always last to be called in the school register. I’m not sure why it bothered me so much that I was stuck on the end every time, but it did. I felt like an outsider and I longed to be all snuggy in the middle with the Matthews’ and the Smiths’ and the Jones’. “It’s OK though”, I justified to myself, “when I get married I’ll never have to be at the end of a register ever again…”

And then I married a Williams.

When I married, keeping my maiden name was something I never even considered. I’m actually a little surprised with myself that this was one of the few traditions that I never thought to rebel against! I’ve personally never felt that taking my husband’s name had anything to do with me being an oppressed woman, and I certainly never felt it was an archaic tradition that made me somehow become my husband’s possession (just as I didn’t even consider that my father wouldn’t walk me down the aisle. I actually felt this was a really special part of our wedding). I know many people do feel this, but me? Nah not so much…

I love that we have the same name and we often joke about being ‘Team Williams’. I never felt particularly tied to my old surname. I didn’t dislike it but it didn’t define me. I defined me. However I think deciding people should call me Kat instead of Kathryn (when I was about 16) was empowering. I chose to be Kat, just as I chose to be a Williams.

However I really started to think about this topic when I received the following email last week. Charlotte has, without a doubt, the coolest surname ever and is unsure of what to do with it when she marries her boy…

Hello Kat

Firstly may I say precisely how much I love your blog! Barely a day goes by when I’m not pawing over its beautifully designed pages. Thank you for existing!

Now on to my question. I want to make it clear that I’m not expecting a conclusive answer but I want to discuss this issue with someone objective who will share their opinion without rolling their eyes at me and telling me “that’s just the way it is – get over it!”

My fiancé and I planning to get married in 2014. We already have distinct plans and ideas for the day and wanted to get everything sorted as far in advance as possible so we can use our outstanding creativity to DIY the hell out of many many things. However, one detail we’re still confused about is our names. I have a pretty wonderful surname. My surname is Cloud. It makes me smile every time someone tells me how nice a name that is and it’s always bothered me that I’d have to drop it. I decided I didn’t want to drop it a while ago, but my fiancé won’t take mine. Although his argument isn’t that “it’s not the man’s job to take another name” (I have heard this opinion a lot recently!) it still leaves me wondering what on earth we’re to do. His surname (Fleming) is just a general English surname that a good few people will have. It’s not offensive, but it does become so when coupled with Cloud, so double barrelled is right out.

I then thought about each of us keeping our own surnames. I really don’t like this idea. I do feel that sharing surnames is an important part of being a married couple, and if we don’t share surnames then I won’t feel as married as I could. If we have children, I don’t want them to have a different surname to either of us; I want people to know that they’re ours, not just mine or just his.

I have heard of couples inventing their own surnames in situations like this but I’m quite lost now. I’m not really sure what I want to do and the easiest thing may well be to suck it up and drop my surname. Our families will be expecting it and if he drops his in any way they may feel betrayed. This does remind me though that many marriage traditions exist because a woman was property to be traded, and I don’t want to be branded as the property of his family name. I know that attitude might not fit in nicely within the ideals of someone who values marriage, but I’m full of contradictions!

Is this a situation you’ve come across before? I would appreciate some words of wisdom.

Many thanks

Charlotte Cloud

Charlotte Cloud! Yes, she’s right, that is the coolest name ever. It certainly made me smile as I saw it sat there, looking all cute and pretty on the page. Honestly though, I don’t feel well equiped enough to answer her dilemma on my own. My one tiny piece of advice would be that you have to do what’s right for you. In your gut you probably know what the right choice is and just because there are pressures from both camps (to change or not to change) you are the only person who can say what is right or wrong for you. After all it’s no-one’s name but your own!

To name oneself is the first act of both the poet and the revolutionary. When we take away the right to an individual name, we symbolically take away the right to be an individual. Immigration officials did this to refugees; husbands routinely do it to wives. – Erica Jong

Anyway, in order to get a more rounded idea of opinions on this subject, I took to twitter and facebook and asked my wonderful followers to help me out. And oh boy did you! In droves! I had literally hundreds of messages from you all (you can see the ones that were posted directly to facebook here). I wish I could post them all but alas it would equate to the worlds longest blog post so here are just a few of my favourites…

♥ Emily Quinton – I have pretty much always know that I wouldn’t take my husband’s name if I ever got married, and I interestingly so has my sister. I was absolutely sure about it until my little girl asked me why I wasn’t a Lewandowski too and it was nearly enough to make me do it. But no, I have kept my name.

However, we have had several conversations about merging our two names and becoming Quinski. Some of our friends call us the Quinski family and I do really like it. The coming together of two families into one new name. We haven’t done it yet and I’m not sure if we ever will but you never know! There was some objection from family members, so perhaps it might be too political and a step too far. I think the fact I haven’t changed my name is enough for some people!

 Lyndsay Kirkham – I didn’t change my name. Firstly, we were living in Brussels, Belgium at the time and it just isn’t done there, so the logistics of getting name changed on documents would have been a nightmare (and you do not want to do anything administrative if you are an expat living in Brussels).

Secondly, I was pregnant with my son and the idea of him carrying both of our names was really lovely to me. My husband is English and I am Canadian, so I really liked the idea of our son carrying both of his cultures in his hyphenated name.

Third, my name is my own. I have had this sucker my whole life and didn’t see why I should take the name of my husband. It did seem a bit archaic and unnecessary to me. I mean, it is lovely and romantic to think of becoming one family under one name – but that really isn’t what marriage or family is about. It isn’t about the symbols, it is about the day to day respect and love that you give each other and how you treat your marriage in ‘real time’.

Finally, I am a writer and didn’t want to take away the connections to my poetry and articles. Few they may be, I didn’t want to start fresh as a Mrs….

♥ Corinne Hills – When I got married (the first time) I happened to marry someone with the same surname (no, we weren’t related!) so I kept my surname. Now I am remarrying my partner is taking MY surname, this is partly because we have children and I have a son from my 1st marriage so I want us all to have the same name.

Changing your name is a tradition, nothing more and keeping your own name shows no less of a commitment to your lives together. I like that my partner has changed his name, his dad left when he was a baby so he was never very attached to his name which helped. I suppose if you are planning a family it can be nice to share a name.

♥ Clare Waterfall-Hallam – I am a Waterfall by birth. I got stick for it being a child, then Sarah Green (the real one) told me through the telly that it was a lovely name. Something I already knew, but it made a 6 year old me brush off the childish comments more easily. As you can imagine there are not many of us Waterfalls so the name is very defining. On occasions our name ‘sticks’ and can be a hindrance, it can also be a gift.

As a love struck teenager-20 something, I’d practice my then-boyfriend’s surname as my married signature. After all that is what you do, take his name. Then the bastard broke my heart and I spent a long time not knowing who or what I was. After a long time I looked back at the 6 year old me. What did I want to be when I grew up? So I made big efforts, with the help of a great support team and became who I wanted to be. At 32 years old I was marrying my Rob. He is an awesome man but I had taken a long journey to appreciate that I am an awesome person too. I had been Clare Waterfall for these 32 years, I liked her and wasn’t willing to leave her. My Dad has 3 daughters and his brother is in Canada so our line stops here. It’s not an age old lineage, we adopted the name 3 generations ago when the Birches of Waterfall moved to Manchester. I simply wanted to keep something of my Dad and my Grandpa and of me.

Another thing that bugs me is the assumption that a woman ‘should’ take her husband’s name. Like she belongs to him in the same way your mum writes your name in your school jumper, let’s everyone know who’s it is! This opinion has come with time and experience of a shocking presence of latent and sometimes aggressive sexism that runs still in our generation (that’s another story all together). I decided that I should like to double barrel. I want to share a family name with him and any kids. For my creative work and tv credits I retain Clare Waterfall. For school I am just Hallam, it saves the kids doing Facebook stalking etc. and gives me a very clear separation between teaching and making.

My husband initially remarked that I should take his name as it’s commonplace in the UK. I expressed my feelings and he totally got it! He told me he was marrying Clare Waterfall and that was all that mattered. However he didn’t want to take my name, for pretty much the same reasons, all his tv credits are Hallam, plus I think the latent sexism crept in, a proud and traditional man in many ways. With regards our children, Rob was quite insistent that they be Waterfall Hallam over Hallam Waterfall, which was a relief as that is what I wanted too! I cover all bases because ultimately my heart lies in many camps. I do love it when they call ‘Mr and Mrs Hallam’ to a table. I love being Clare Waterfall and I love sharing my name with my son. I am indecisive and greedy. I don’t know why people are reluctant to double barrel. It is not a snobbery or elitism thing. It is pride in both families heritage. I also cannot understand why it has to be an issue. My friend’s country you keep your name, there isn’t even an equivalent of Mrs. Mrs, belonging to Mr.

I’m still not sure what the correct and proper camp is, perhaps I’m straddling the two or perhaps I’ve created my own. Either way I’m happy with my many names! I would just like to add, when facing protestations from chaps over why I didn’t automatically take Rob’s name, I ask them if they would take their wife’s. Most flat out refuse with many a justification, many of them are the same as mine. Sometimes that quells the issue, other people simply don’t get it.

I wish it really didn’t matter, after all, A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

♥ Jill Blanc – I love my surname “Blanc” so didn’t want to take my husband’s name “McDermott” (Ugggh!), and was very adamant about it, which kind of disappointed him. As it was getting closer to the wedding, we were having hassle with family and stuff so wanted to show my love for my wonderfully supportive husband-to-be, so I told him I would take his name… he actually got really emotional and really appreciated it. It made me happy that I made him happy!

I then decided to start designing wedding stationery and Jill McDermott just didn’t have that creative ring to it so I went back to Jill Blanc. Now in my personal life I am known as Jill McDermott… and in my work life I am known as Jill Blanc… I love the separation of it!

Gilly Rosenthol – My fiancé and I started discussing marriage maybe two weeks after we started dating.  A few days later, I turned to him and said suddenly “I don’t have to take your name, do I?”  He said “Good god, no!”  Even as a kid, thinking about my future marriage, the idea of taking my husband’s name never felt right to me.  Why would I suddenly give up my identity to take on his?  I can see that it’s convenient for a family to have one joint name when there are children involved, but I’ve never felt the urge to have children, and since I’m 42 and my fiancé already has a 15-year-old daughter, we’re definitely not planning on having any more.  So when we marry, we will each get to keep our own names, with all of their history and identity, while we join together to create a new identity as a family.

As to advice for someone who isn’t sure she wants to change her name… I’d say, first of all, try to look at the reasons why you feel you should, or reasons why you don’t want to, and explore the feelings behind them.  And remember that the only choices are not keeping your own name or taking his!  You can hyphenate, you can both take a new name together, you can change your middle name, you can keep your names but come up with a plan for naming future children, you can keep your name professionally but change it personally… you can do pretty much anything you can come up with that feels true to yourself and your partner.

♥ Fiona Howard – soon to become Butler I’m sure if there are 10 brides there will be 10 different reasons why they decide not to take husband’s surname. I’m also sure my story will be a little controversial and the truth is I think I didn’t take my first husband’s name because I wasn’t 100% committed to my marriage – or so I realised when it collapsed.

I always said I didn’t want to change my name for reasons like a) I’m too lazy, b) In Japan (where I was born & my Mum is from) you have to change your name and I wanted to rebel against that heritage, and c) I’m an only child so would be nice to keep my surname. And insisted I was called Ms Howard. But looking back I think I didn’t want to change it because I didn’t want to fully be ‘in’ the marriage. I must have had some reservations. We married after being together for 8 years and seemed natural thing to do. I loved him but I guess I wasn’t in love with him any more (cliché but it’s true) Marriage lasted 2 years, and after I told my mum I’m leaving him, she told me that she always knew I shouldn’t have married him. Mum knows best!

I’ve met someone wonderful now, got engaged 6 months after we met and getting married in 3 months time. And I can’t wait to change my name. It definitely feels different from it was with my ex – I will be so proud to be called Mrs Butler.

♥ Audrey Caldwell – I did take my husband’s last name. Here’s why: I liked it and even if you keep your maiden name, the truth is the maiden name is still your father’s name (or Grandfather’s if your mother kept her maiden name, but it comes from a male head of family eventually). If most women avoid taking their husband’s name for sake of feminism, keeping their father’s name – a symbol of paternal familial ownership – is still not any mark of feminist revolt and thus defeats the purpose of not taking a marital name! So, just thought I would share that, as it helped me make my decision when I wed.

The true goal of the feminist revolution is to allow women choices, so choose whenever name you like and want most!

Vicky Holmes – I am getting married in September and it has been quite a job deciding what to do with my surname.

I work in academia, I have publications under my maiden name and therefore can’t start publishing in another surname (although I know others who have). I have the option of having a work name and a personal name.  However, from people I know who have done this it can cause quite a headache. For example, travelling to conferences – you are invited under your work name, but your passport has your married name.

Plus, after 30 years of having this surname, I am simply just quite attached to it (I did consider the double-barrel route, but “Dyson-Holmes” sounds like a hybrid cleaner). Although, I won’t be offended if people call me Mrs Dyson.

People reactions to me not changing my surname has been quite surprising.  While others have said ‘why would you?’, others have implied I am not wholly committed to the marriage if I do not take my husband’s surname.

Asking my students opinion (most of whom are 18), both male and females have said they expect that their wives would keep their maiden name.  However, the boys then added that they will expect their children to take their surname.

My advice is, don’t feel pressured into changing your surname, do what you feel comfortable with.

♥ Mandy O’Hara – After I marry in a little over a month, I WILL be taking my fiances name. I LOVE my family name and I’m sad to see it go, but at the end of the day, it’s only a name. I know I will still be an O’Hara at heart and no one can take that away with a legal document. I take my fiances name with pride not because he “owns me” now but because we love and respect each other and for me personally it’s important that our (future hopefully!) children have the same last name as both of us. It may be an ‘outdated’ tradition but I look forward to the day when I can proudly write Beck behind my first name as a sign of our love.

♥ Lydia Stamps – My maiden name ‘Stamps’ is a pretty unusual name, I love it and it’s such a part of my identity – ballsy and pretty strong. So understandably I was reluctant to change my name, especially as my husband’s name is rather ‘beige’ – Evans. In the end however I went ahead with a name change as it was really important to me that as we go forward we have a joined family identity. We plan to have kids and personally, I want us to be bonded and joined by name, to feel like a unit in some way. We did consider going double barrelled, but our names don’t really work together. My husband and his family are also very proud of their Welsh heritage and for his family it was a big deal that I was ‘becoming an Evans’. While I think this is utter tosh, and hate the idea that I’m now part of some kind of clan I do think it’s great that they are so proud of their family and that’s no bad thing to be a part of.

I did draw the line at a family crest ring I might add, and I have insisted that when my passport needs changing my husband will pay for that entirely! It’s his name after all! I would advise anyone who doesn’t want to change their name to stay strong. I’m lucky that my maiden name is still a part of my identity via my business and I’m proud that I still have that part of my roots present in my life day to day. If I didn’t I would have probably stayed a ‘stampsy’. I don’t think people realise the importance of a name until it’s gone it’s not a decision to take lightly if you’re on the fence.

♥ Caroline Baines – I don’t think it’s a case of possession, I think it more symbolisies you becoming a family. Your dad ‘giving you away’ to me is just “I’ve taken care of her for so many years, please love her, and look after her too” not, “she was mine and now she’s yours”. I love my fiance so much, and even though his last name clashes with my first name (I’ll become Caroline Crilly, it sounds like you have a mouthful when you say it aloud!) I’ll be taking it with pride. I’d like our children to have the same name as both parents. I do see why some people chose to keep their maiden name though, one of my closest friends didn’t bother double barreling, because she didn’t want to lose her last name (it’s a very unusual last name, with not many family members to carry it on).

♥ Claire Jackson – After ENDLESS deliberation (and long, agonising chats with my besties) I’ve finally decided to change my middle name to my maiden name and take my partners surname after all. I’ve already changed my surname since I was a teenager through my parents divorce, so it really was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. I sure am glad my ‘CJ’ tattoo will still represent who I am today.

♥ Paloma Murillo Trigo – For me it was a tricky one. In Spain, where I was born, no-one loses their maiden name. Children get 2 surnames, first dad’s and then mum’s (my full name is Paloma Murillo Trigo, Murillo being my dad’s last name and Trigo my mum’s) And this is the way it is, and always has been.

So when I got engaged to my lovely English now husband, it wasn’t an option, I didn’t like the idea of becoming Mrs X, I wanted to keep my name, because this is what I grew up with, this is what I know, and I like my surname (Murillo was a very talented artist!) For these exact reasons my husband was a bit annoyed, as he always thought his wife would have the same name as him.

So I decided to look into it, and see if I could maybe have both of our surnames in a double barrelled one… and it turns out, in Spain, you can only change your name under a number of circumstances, Marriage not being one of them (‘yay!’ I thought perfect excuse…)

Rebecca Paul – I would burn my bra and swing it happily round my head alight, for women’s rights and equality (in both directions, it is a two way street after all), and although I’d have a very cold lady front and be down one bra, I’d do it with the smile of knowing I believed in what I was doing.

I plan to marry next year, and I already know for certain that I will be taking Paul’s (my HTB’s) surname. It isn’t because I feel I should, it isn’t because it is expected of me, it isn’t even because I prefer his surname to my own. It is because I want to, more than anything in the world…

I grew up in a multi-divorce family, my parents are divorced, my maternal grandparents are divorced, and despite that not putting me off marriage, it has meant that I yearn for a single family name. I yearn for my children’s parents have the same surname as they do. Throughout school I hated having to explain that my mother had a different surname, and yes, that my two youngest brothers did too. It made me feel our family was fragmented. My younger brother took it literally and went off the rails, only listening to those in our family with the same surname as us two, clinging and clawing on to his identity, taking years to feel truly like himself. And although I never kicked out, I felt the same.

I want ‘Team Lismer’. I want people to know that we face the world together as a unit, that we are part of something bigger and that we belong to the same family.

So why not have him take my surname I hear you cry? He would in a heartbeat…

But my surname is Paul. And no-one would ever take him seriously again…

♥ Gala Darling – I changed my name to Gala Lumiere Darling when I was 23 years old. The name came to me in a dream, I wrote it down, & made it legal a couple of months later. For me, changing my name was an act of magical transformation. I had never identified with the name I was given at birth, so choosing a new moniker felt like I was establishing my independence, asserting my place in the world. I have always felt like Gala Darling is a big name, one I have to live up to, & I feel like I am becoming that person more & more every day.

I never identified with my birth name. I was always in a class at school with a bunch of other Amy’s, so I’d be “Amy P” or whatever & it was terrible. It just didn’t feel like it fit. I started using the internet in ’96 & the ability to choose your own name or handle was so exciting to me – it felt like I could step into an identify that was more comfortable. I suppose that is what empowered me to make the choice to legally change my name in the first place! Good old internet!

When my husband & I got engaged, I never even considered taking his surname.  Actually, he thinks about officially becoming “Mr. Darling” quite regularly!

I think from these few messages alone, it’s clear to see that no-one can give anyone else a conclusive answer. It’s easy to see why some people find the whole subject such a minefield actually!

What you you think? I’d love to hear more ideas and opinions on this subject especially if you have any advice for Miss Cloud.

Did you take your partner’s name or did he/she take yours? Or did you keep your own individual surnames? Did the thought of having children with a different name to your own have any influence? What do you think about making up your own surname and would you ever do it? (I kinda love this idea…) I’d also really love to hear from any gay couples – what are your plans when you marry?

Supporting Cast

150 comments

  1. Jessica

    I like the idea of having the same last name as my partner, but I resent that I’m “supposed” to take his last name. My last name is way more unique than his! Also, I was adopted when I was 9, so I’ve already changed my last name. One name change is enough for me! I

  2. Elli

    I completely agree with Jessica!
    I am Swedish and astounded that the only two options for everyone seem to be to either take his name (or double barrel) or to keep your maiden name. I agree that it is nice for a couple to share a last name (the symbolism of becoming a unity etc., especially when you have children together!), but why does it have to be his name? I’m not saying that I never would, but just as I would consider taking his I would expect him to consider taking mine. Also, these days I would never assume a marrying couple to take on the husband’s last name – amongst my married friends, I’d say about half of them have chosen to take the bride’s name…

  3. Kerrian Burton

    I have been worrying so much about what to do with my surname when I get married! I always thought if my fiancee had an exciting surname I’d take that, but he’s turned out to be a boring Williams (Sorry Kat!!) I know I want us to have the same surname, as personally I think I’d feel more like I was married, and I’d like our children to have the same name as us. Also we’re both actors, and I like the fact my real name and stage name are the same, and wouldn’t want the confusion of changing my stage name. Double barrelling into Burton-Williams or Williams-Burton seems far too much of a mouthful, and combining them into something like Wilburt is too comical! My fiancee’s family haven’t been very supportive of our relationship, so becoming a Williams doesn’t sit well with me. So after much non-conclusive discussion I suggested just creating a completely new name, but my fiancee doesn’t like the idea of completely losing his family name (I have always had a different surname to my mum and sister anyway, so don’t have the same sort of attachment) Are there any other possibilities? Maybe throw a load of names into a hat and decide our future from there?

  4. Carla

    This is an issue I am passionate about and feel I regularly have to defend! I have been married for 4 years and I never even considered changing my name for a second.

    To start with my last name is SO much more interesting (it starts with a Z!), his is also difficult and German but clashes with my name (too many hard consonants). Also I would have to get a new passport/bank cards… I am inherently lazy.

    And really why should I have to change my name? We know we are a family. Neither of us want children so that is not going to be an issue. I had that name for 27 years before I got married, it was part of who I was – that difficult name nobody could pronounce or spell. Many of my friends did not change their names, one couple took on a shared middle name instead which they subsequently passed on to their daughter.

    I have a male colleague who has refused to marry his long-term partner until she agrees to take his name!

  5. Vania

    So, if I understood correctly, the question is if Charlotte should drop her surname (?). Why doesn’t she keep both, if she doesn’t want to break the tradition? I’m from Portugal and according to it, brides just add fiance’s last name (if they want to, of course) and they pass on both last names to their children. Or, as someone suggested, they could make up a new one! (By the way, I think Cloud is a wonderful surname!)
    But in the end, it’s her decision ;)

    Good luck with everything and let us know what you decided! :)

  6. Kelly

    I’d always assumed I’d take my husbands name without any real thought but as the big day got closer I did have a wobble – I was a chubby kid (now a voluptuous adult!) and my first name rhymes with lovely words like jelly & belly but no one had ever been able to think of anything to go with Pearson and I loved all the things I had attached to it, the ‘Pearson’ sense of humour, the ‘Pearson’ in jokes I wasn’t sure I wanted to let it go easily and i wasn’t that keen on my hubbys surname ‘Potter’. We did talk about a name change and said he was happy for me to keep my surname if i wanted but he was really attached to his surname as he’s from a small family – even dangling the ‘Skywalker’ option didn’t work which did surprise me (as a joke I might add).

    Ultimately I wanted the same name as my husband and so relented and changed my name, the lovely bit about this story is on my wedding day, I was talking to my dad and I said to him “I’m not a Pearson anymore” and he said to me “You’ll always be a Pearson just like your mum will always be a King” and I immediately felt better because he was right, yay dad :)

    In the last month since our wedding day I haven’t felt any different and i’m not sure what I was expecting, work has been interesting as my customers never know if they’re going to speak with Kelly Pearson or Potter! Incidentally I work in the film industry and am a massive Harry Potter fan so now my surname is Potter it has brought about much entertainment which pleases me although my colleagues do believe I specially hunted down my hubby for his surname!

    As always, after a lengthy story I get there in the end, my point is changing your name doesn’t have to mean losing yourself, I’m still me although I did pray Kelly Potter would have more will power around a biscuit tin and as usual you should do whatever feels right for you, it may be a bit hard at first but ultimately you know when you have because it just feels natural to you xx

  7. Emily Sunshine

    My surname is Lavender and my partner is the last male in his family, so we are both reluctant to lose our names. It isn’t that I have a particular connection to my name because of family, or that I am against women taking their husband’s name, I just love my name! We are considering changing to Lavender-Johnstone, which we think has a nice ring to it, and will be like creating our own new tribe! Neither of us will lose out and our future children can carry on both names.

  8. Andrea

    I do know of a gay couple who hypenated their names, and both changed to that double last name. I plan to take my fiance’s name in October. The only rational reason is that people always mispronounce or misspell mine, and I’d like something a little more simple that won’t confuse people.
    ~Future Mrs. Quick~

  9. Very

    I can’t believe how many old-fashioned and/or hippy comments there are here. Then again, it is a wedding blog… To all of those who feel that it’s “nice, real, shows true commitment etc” to have the same name as your children and your husband, really, grow up! I got my father’s name at birth because that was what my parents decided to do and that has always been and always will be my name. If I would change my name then to smth I personally choose. I would never consider taking my husband’s name, unless he would want to have both of our names hyphenated (I’m not sure if I would like to do that though). My children will get both mine and my husbands name. Which is most natural to me. However, things get complicated when two people who both have two surnames will have children of their own :D.

  10. My husband took my name and we are still having to spend most of our lives explaining why. Too few people consider this as an option and I still don’t understand why. I just fancied keeping mine and he fancied having it so job done. Just wanted to put it out there as many forget it is an option.

  11. Post author

    ‘Very’ – we respect everybody’s opinions here, whether they want to take their husbands name or not, ‘old-fashioned’ or ‘hippy’ all are welcome. its about doing what’s right for you and everyone is entitled to their own opinion on the matter. you are too of course so there’s no need to be insulting.

  12. Laura Bates

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time!! As i am getting married in September i have been mulling this over for a while now. As a ‘Bates’ by birth, my other half is a Barnfield….(despite being half Colombian he has the most British name ever!!). I am not in love with his name to be honest…and i like being a Bates. Some friends don’t bother with my first name and simply refer to me as Bates which, whilst not being the most glamorous tag – i kind of love it. It’s my dad’s name, it’s my name and i am not sure i like Bates-Barnfield? My other half, Fernando, doesn’t want to change his name, which i totally understand so we are stuck in the middle. I don’t think it is old fashioned at all to take your partners name – just not sure it is for me. I think it’s mostly superficial!! For if he were a Rodriguez….or something a bit, dare i say, cooler – then i might do it! For shame, i am a shallow creature. I think it will have to be Bates for me.

    Great post Kat – love reading what everyone else thinks too.

    Laura x

  13. I work with a man whose last name is San Vargas. I found out after a couple months that his last name used to be Sanchez. He and his wife combined their last names (Sanchez and Vargas) when they got married and became Mr. and Mrs. San Vargas. I thought that was so lovely.

    I also have a very good couple friend in a situation where the Mrs. LOVED her maiden name of Lovio. Her family had only girls so she didn’t want the last name to die out. When they got married, they both took Lovio as their middle names, so now they are both a Lovio Sanchez.

    There’s always a solution and I think if you’re with the right person they’ll understand. :)

    xx Anika

  14. Amy

    I’m taking H2B’s name, it’s just right for me. All the reasons to keep a maiden name don’t hold up for me. (I have a brother to carry on the surname, I know the people who use ‘Chisman’ as a nickname for me will call me that even after I marry, and I don’t feel a sense of identity based on my full name.) Also, all the reasons to take his name are persuasive! (Griffiths is easier to spell and pronounce for a start off!)

    However, I don’t think this is the right course for everyone, and nor should it be! It takes all sorts to make a world.

    One of my dad’s middle names is his mum’s maiden name, so the connection to her family name wasn’t lost. However, my favourite surname solution is in the case of a couple who were Scott and Pimble respectively. They married and became MacLeod – like on Highlander!! They and their children love being the Clan Macleod.

    Really hope Charlotte Cloud finds a solution she’s comfortable with! :)

  15. Lucy

    Great article! I’ll be changing my name from ‘Smith’ to ‘Vadhir’ when i get married later this year, and I can’t wait! It definitely helps that i really like my fiance’s name, and also that life as a ‘Lucy Smith’ hasn’t been easy (i’ve met SO many people with the same name as me, I even got offered a job and would have had to have a different ‘work name’ if i’d accepted as there was already a Lucy Smith in the team of 10!). Although i’ve never felt particularly attached to my surname, for me changing my name will be a big part of being and feeling married, and i feel really honoured that i’ll take my husband-to-be’s name. I can definitely understand most of the arguments for not changing though – this is proving to be a very personal topic!

  16. Charlotte Cloud

    Thanks Kat and everyone! I’m glad that so many people feel really passionate about this! I can see that it’s definitely a deeply personal decision. I do want us to fully belong to each other in a loving family sense, and can’t wait to be his Mrs. I just wish his name went a little better with mine!

    I really like the idea of adding his name to mine, but that would either make me a Cloud-Fleming or a Fleming-Cloud. Both of these sound like a cloud with a cold. I guess Cloud Fleming doesn’t sound that bad though. I have tried to see if he’ll go over to his Mum’s maiden name of Dallimer as Cloud-Dallimer sounds pretty spiffing indeed, but that’s out of the question. Combining is an option but I can’t think of a mixture of the two names that I like. Clouding? Floud? Cleming? No thanks! :p

    One idea we had recently was to create our kid’s full names from scratch so we would be a family full of differently surnamed individuals. We could name our kids after people we admire or just generally have full autonomy over what sounds great. We wouldn’t have to worry about sound or syllable clashes, and we’d be like a little rainbow of names. That might be a bit hippy of us but I quite like the idea!

  17. Charlotte Cloud

    I’d also like to make it clear that the whole “it’s not the man’s job to take the woman’s name” was something I’ve heard a lot from male friends and associates recently and felt deeply offended by. I am a little sad that my partner won’t become a Cloud but he has some very valid and personal reasons for that and thankfully they don’t include sexism! This really is a deeply personal decision and I know everyone who has posted has had very good reasons for making the decisions they have made. Above all I don’t feel alone in my dilemma any more, which is very comforting!

  18. I have never had a good relationship with my surname (Wayte). I have spent years spelling it out for people twice as they always think it’s WaIte and, once I’ve spelt it to them and repeated it several times, they refer to me as Sarah Wyatt. Grr! Others that understand it sounds like ‘wait’ have given me lots of stick over the years (Sarah Wayte/wait a minute! Heeheehee!). So I always knew I wanted to get rid of my surname and hoped I would marry someone with a better surname than my own. Oh how things have turned out. I am marrying a Woolley!! He has just as many problems with spelling and pronunciation and the possibilities for mickey-taking are endless.

    I am very indecisive, at the moment, about the name issue. It’s something I’ll have to think seriously about before we marry next year. And then there is the matter of my little photography business now up and running which uses my current name. I have no intention of changing that so is it worth me changing my name at all? Who knows, I’ll have to get back to you on that!

    Great article x

  19. Gemma D

    Ahhh Cloudy how you made my day when this little gem popped up on my computer! You may (or may not) know that my daily ray of joy comes from reading this blog and I can’t believe we have the same views on this topic and yet it hasn’t come up in discussion! Brownlee and I are still in negotiations on the surname debacle. I dont have anything against his surname, I just really like mine. Its by no means special, Davis, is as common as surnames come but for me It just works.
    For me, the decision to change my names comes down to two main issues…As someone who has already changed their surname once in their life, due to the divorce of my mother and biological father, do I really fancy going for a 3rd surname?? Seems a little bit greedy lol.
    It’s not just the obvious hoohah of paperwork to alter once the name change has occurred but the fanarkle of explaining to various authorities and institutions that yes, Gemma Davis, Lawrence and Brownlee are all the SAME PERSON! Phew.
    But mainly, and rather sentimentally, I’m not sure I’m ready to ‘give up’ Gemma Davis just yet…shes done some pretty awesome things.
    For now, a least, I’ll keep smooshing our names together in a bid to find some middle ground.
    I hope you and The Flemming find a solution. I do love the idea of you guys having rainbow children, if anyone could, you could!!
    Also lulu – Cloudlings…pure genius! :-)
    Such a good topic, between this and the previous one about children I am finding comfort knowing I’m not the only nearly-married with these worries! Big loves and thanks to kat, blog lady extraordinaire!

  20. Gemma D

    Also as Brownlee just pointed out, Fleming -one m, not two- doh. That’s why he is an editor, not me…

  21. Wiccabasket

    My surname is Uren. It’s a sodding NIGHTMARE. I can spell it phonetically and people STILL pronounce it Urin. Sometimes they chicken out and pronounce it Wren. The only place where people pronounce it properly is Cornwall (where it is from).

    I love the history of my name. I love the background. I love my heritage…but I hate the sniggering that comes with it – which is why I am taking my fiance’s name (which is the more sensible ‘Porter’). It will be nice to be able to give people my surname without having to spell it.

  22. Juliet Wallace

    I’ll be getting married soon, and have had the name discussion with my fiance. I’ve decided to add his name to mine, seeing as am working toward being a published writer and I think Wallace-Crotts has a nice ring to it. He has a daughter from his last marriage who has her mother’s surname (a joint decision) and was actually shocked when I told him I’d be taking his name. His brother’s wife kept her maiden name and his younger sister didn’t change hers for years, so none of his family will care. However, my dad and I are proud of our heritage, so Wallace HAD to stay (not to mention I’m an only child). Before meeting my fiance, I wasn’t even going to change my name if I got married, so this decision shocked me a bit too!

  23. Nicola Jude

    What a brilliant article! It couldn’t have come at a better time for me as this is EXACTLY what we’ve been discussing for the past few weeks.
    I have always been attached to my name. In the telephone directory of my hometown the only people who have our surname are relations. Going to my first tap class I had to curtsy to the pianist and say, “Thankyou Mrs Jude” which was weird because the only Mrs Judes I knew were my Mum my Auntie and my Grandmother. It came to light tha old pianist Mrs Jude was indeed a distant relative.
    I was raised on the lie that “Hey Jude” was written for us (a lie but a damn good one) and it has always been “our” family song. I never practiced my signature with a boyfriends name tagged on the end. I never imagined wanting anyother surname other than exactly what I had.
    Like many have said here, I wouldn’t mind as much if there was somebody to carry it on but I am very aware that our family tree gets cut off to a stump if/when I take on my partners name. There are no cousins, or brothers to carry it on, it will wither on the vine and die after centuries of being routed in our city. It’s found in very few places outside of there, where it is found it can be traced back to our small town.
    It’s not a spectacular name, it’s just four little letters but like that other series of four letters starting with L and ending with E they have great significance.
    My partners name is – not to be too rude, bland – Russell. He blew me away when he said that he’d considered changing his name to mine and then sucked the air out of me again when he said he’d decided against it. We’ve toyed with combining, Jussell anybody? I don’t think so – and the alternative is ridiculous Nicola and Simon Rude? It does suit our stupidness as a couple – we were the Zombie Engagment people you featured last week – but would we spend our whole lives with people sniggering at us, maybe that’s not a bad thing?!
    So we are left with the double barrell option which seems like a half-way house that will gradually disappear when children come along.
    Our wedding is in October so a decision needs to be made soon. I love my partner dearly but I’ve never imagined being anyone but me – Nicola Jude

  24. Aspen

    ergh this has been the baine of my life (aside from the actual wedding planning) this past year.

    i do have an attachment to my surnames, but only because my father passed away and nothing more. i always thought i would change my name to my husbands, but didnt factor in that, like myself, my future husband also has a double barrel name, and its a croatian german one at that. i would end up having a quadruple barrel surname consisting of 26 letters Aspen O****-C*****-B**********-G***

    maybe i will just change my name to a totally diferent one like Gala.

  25. To the lady who said that keeping your maiden name was hardly feminist anyway…..yes your right that in most cases a woman’s surname originates from the male head of the family. But I think that’s over simplifying the issue.

    Surely part of what we’re addressing and wrestling with here, is that regardless of where your name originates from, it’s YOUR name. My understanding is that feminism is about the right to an identity as a woman, as a man, as an individual. So the expectation that becuase you have married a man you will change your name to his stands in the way of this……

    Similarly the idea for me that by not changing my name I’m less invested in the relationship is a little insulting, (and calls up arguments of what about men…are they less invested becuase they infrequently change their name!). It may well have been the circumstances for the lady who mentioned it. But as Kat said, we need to respect each others choices….My choice is that, while it’s fun to toy with other peoples surnames, I would struggle to change mine to another families.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that if you do you’re selling our women all over the world, I’m saying that for me, the expectation is the problem. Therefore a discussion like this is imperative. As many other people have pointed out, what’s right for you is the most important.

    Personally I’d go for a combination, or an entirely new name, but that’s me, I don’t think I’d give up the surname Cloud easily….Cloudling is incredibly cute though!

  26. I always planned to keep my surname when I married; It is my name, I have always been Emma Robinson, I have grown into it and it fits – there was no way I was going to change my name to go under my future husbands wing……but then I met Mr. WILD and the change was way to good to give up. So in 2 months and 4 days I will no longer be Miss Robinson, but Mrs. Wild, and to be honest I can’t wait to grow into this new name.

  27. Aneta

    I always knew I would keep my name – I know Im in the minority, but I accept that. My name is my life, its my “brand” (horrid word but its the best I can find at the moment to describe what I mean), its all my past experiences – it is a key part of my identity. Yes, I know of course that you do not become a different person, but what are the real reasons for changing? In the past, women could not own property, they could not vote, they had no voice – marriage was one way of achieving status. In the modern world, this just doesnt seem to be a necessity, albeit of course it is a lovely sentiment to your future partner. One major bigbear of mine is that it just doesnt seem fair that us as women have to give up our previous identities when men dont – and just look at mens reaction when you ask them if they will ever change their names to their partner’s. Its considered unmanly and shameful amonst the majority of men (although I do know men who have changed to their wife’s name or double-barelled). And when my partner asked if I would take his name, I did asked him the same question – the answer was a resounding NO. Nevertheless, my partner is hugely understanding of my background and all that I have been through, he loves me and respects me for sticking to my guns (despite the friends and family pressure to conform for the both of us) – and you know what, I love him even more for accepting me for who I am. I love the fact that he is man enough to say to the world that “you know what, my wife may not have the same name as me, but she is my wife, she loves me, she cares for me, she adores me and she would do anything for me, and that is all I need”. I love and hugely respect that he is his own man, he is not worried about upsetting and breaking traditions and he doesnt see it as a challenge to his masculinity.
    In summary, its each to their own and I dont think there is a right and wrong – I just dont the world to continue thinking that name changine is a “must” – its simply a choice – something women have had to work very hard for on just about every front.

  28. Christine

    My boyfriend and I are getting married in 3 weeks and, although we had decided straight away on what we wanted for surnames, our situation is a bit complicated:
    Jesper is Danish, I’m French-Maltese, we are getting married in Malta and here, the rules are very strict: I can either take his surname or keep mine, I can’t take both, not on The Paper at least. I can always ask to hyphenate when I change my ID-papers, but it won’t be official and will not show on the wedding contract.
    I don’t feel particularly attached to my surname (which was actually my Grandmother’s artist name -she was a painter, so it is completely unique) and I really don’t feel close to my dad (who decided to change his surname to his mum’s artist name when he was a teenager as he hated his dad), but it still is who I am so I don’t want to lose it.
    The thing is that Jesper wants to take my surname too, and actually have it before his own as it sounds weird the other way around and that is impossible here. A man cannot change his surname, only the woman can which is really frustrating!
    We both want to have a common surname, but one that represents the both of us and we want our children to share this same surname so Jesper’s decided that as soon as we go back to Denmark, he’ll change his surname to my surname+his which he is actually looking quite forward to!

  29. Kelly

    I’m keeping my name for the simple reason that I have been married (and divorced) before and reverted back to my maiden name after. I also have a son with his father’s name and don’t want him to feel ‘left out’ if we both have one name and he has another. From a practical point of view, it is SUCH a hassle to change everything (and even more of a hassle to change it back – believe me) and people know me as this name. He will not change his so why should I?

    I will have no problem being called Mrs X or Mr and Mrs but day to day I shall stay as I am.

  30. BritPixie

    My fiance and I are seriously considering changing (well, adding to actually) both of our middle names to “Danger”.

  31. Aneta

    Kelly, such good points! And another reason why it doesn’t make sense for me – seeing SO many of my married female friends regret changing their names after the buzz of the wedding day has worn off – they realise its a painful process, and more than anything, they realise they are no longer continuing their own lineage (especially those that are the only children in the family). Whats even more interesting that so many girls I know didn’t even think that not taking his name is even an option – they just assumed its what has to happen – thats what’s upsetting – the social pressure, the way everyone makes you feel guilty for not doing it or that you are some kind of raving feminist who hates men — that was my point above… its not a must, its just a choice and just because i want to remain as old me, doesn’t mean i don’t love my husband.

  32. Hen

    Kat, as usual you hit the spot with this article. This is a particularly tough one for me; my name is German (well, Czech really) and sounds a little bit like Fridge (which an irate colleague once used in an email), while my boyfriend’s name, though a pretty and botanical ‘Furze’ in English, means ‘fart’ in my native Germany. Talk of caught between a rock and a hard place! Double barrelled is out of the question (especially because of the alliteration). My dad is distraught that I have decided to take the boy’s name, my little cousin was in tears (!). I think it’s entertaining really- a real ice breaker, and people will certainly remember me. I’m a teacher, so there is a risk of hundreds of kids in tears of laughter should we ever move back to Germany (as well we may). Some people think it’s unfair on future offspring since they might be bullied, but in line with Johnnie Cash’s Boy Named Sue I think it’s character building! So Charlotte, your predicament pales in comparism to mine. I think Charlotte Cloud Fleming sounds cool, actually. Whichever way you decide, good luck! xx

  33. Sey

    I just got engaged and my fiance is fond of calling me “Mrs. (his last name)”. Its sweet I think and Im ready to take his last name until I read this article. My last name is not from my dad, its from my mom, actually from my granddad who i really loved and had passed away. My surname is three letters (asian) which works for me cause I have a really long first name. My fiance is an english man who has a long surname hah. Im thinking of going double barrelled after reading all the comments. But Im really tired of explaining why I dont have the same surname as my dad and when mom got married again , she has a different surname from me too. So I dont want my kids to go through the same thing so maybe id take his last name so that we can be a team. I dont think fiance would take my last name. haha Confusing this surname situation. I would ask my fiance’s opinion about this. Thankful I found your blog kat! and this article! I am so worried about how not to make our wedding traditional I sometimes forget theres a marriage after the wedding and this article reminded me of that. :)

  34. ildarabbit

    I did not change my name when I got married and I don’t regret it one bit or feel less committed! Growing up, I did ponder what I might do if I got married. Would I change my name? I didn’t really want to. I love my name! But, I was less attached to my middle name (one which I share with both my sisters). So I kind of decided that if I ever married I would I would change my middle name to my maiden name, so I wouldn’t lose it, and take my HTB’s name. I thought this was a good solution, but didn’t follow through with it at all. And, for me, there were a number of reasons. I ended up marrying someone from Spain where, as mentioned in the post, the tradition is that wives keep their names and children have both parent’s names as their surname. Regardless of those traditions, the main reason I was that I didn’t want to lose an identity I’d for almost 30 years. My simply couldn’t relegate *my* surname it to middle name status. As it turned out my husband was uneasy with me taking on his name. It just didn’t sit well with his modern, kinda feminist, sensibilities. Finally, there was the practicality of it all. We were in the process of moving to a new country and having to change *all* my documents would have been an enormous pain and would actually have delayed our moving significantly. Plus I have publications and degrees in my maiden name – I’ve already started to build a reputation that’s attached to that name. You could say the universe gave me many signs that I should keep my name! Even my mom was behind it which really surprised me. She’s super traditional, but since we’re a family of all girls, she was thrilled that our family name would keep going for another generation.

    I do agree that this is a highly personal decision and do kind of think it would be cool to have a common “team name”. I do envy, just a little, people who share names like that. And it is strange when people call me Mrs now because it sounds like my mom’s name! In the end I think it comes down to balancing wanting to maintain attachment to your maiden name identity and wanting a shared name with your HTB. For me, I decided keeping my identity meant more and being a team was more about how we treat each other than a matter of names on paper. In the end I am happy that any kids we might have will have both our names and will see that their parents are a team with individual identities.

  35. Nick

    Shall we not take time into consideration? A conditional opinion based on the lack of content or hardship in our comfortable lives? What does it mean to believe or know something but not based on one condition. For the history of humanity man has been a protector of his wife and family. The leader. Now conditionally we see men no longer needed as a leader bc of the opportunity to stand by ones self. Hey we can ask all sorts of questions here. Why take your husband’s surname? Why call your husband by his first name? Hey why not just change your name? Why do we really have to call ourselves human beings… The lack of content and confusion in today’s culture is appalling. Remember conditions always change. Will your opinion change as well based on conditions? I think someone who is leveled headed believes and knows something taking into consideration time as a whole.

  36. JoJo

    such a great post kat!

    i am one of two sisters, so i’ve always felt i would keep my surname if i got married as i wanted to carry on the ‘robinson’ legacy. however, since getting engaged my thoughts have changed. i really want to take my fiance’s surname, not only because it’s the best surname in the world (‘rocks’, how awesome?!) but i wouldn’t feel like we were properly married if i didn’t change it. i know this sounds old-fashioned. anywho, my sister has assured me she’s definitely not getting married… so i’ll let her have the responsibility of passing on the family name! :D

  37. Like Rebecca Paul, I come from a multi-divorce family, have had a previous name change already and have always yearned for the unity of family under one surname – family means so much to me. I do have identity ties to my surname often being known by a very fond nickname, even still as I’m older but when I marry my partner, I want to take his name – not because I should or have to, but the thought of becoming Mrs Collier really does send butterflies around my stomach with happiness, knowing that I will fully be part of a super strong family unit to bring my children into. That, and I have got fed up with being called towards the end of the alphabet as an “S” surname :)

  38. Charlye

    I was very intrigued by this article. I am not engaged yet; however, my boyfriend and I have debated about whether to take his last name or not. My own mother kept her last name and my parents have been married for over 25 years now. Thus I felt I might follow my mother’s lead in keeping my maiden name. I do not think having separate names will affect the family or the couple; although, I think it can affect future children sometimes.

    When I was little, people had a hard time understanding that I was my mother’s daughter due to our different last names. When picking me up from school or camp, instructors/care takers who were unfamiliar with her, felt uncomfortable leaving me in the hands of a woman who did not have my last name. They found it difficult to believe that she had a different last name from her own child. If I am to wed one day, I think I’ll taking my future husband’s name because I would like to have the same last name as my children.

  39. virginia

    We picked a new one when we got married a few weeks ago! We wanted to have the same name but neither of us felt comfortable taking the other’s name… so we changed them legally! It’s a symbol of our partnership and the new family we have started…and I love it! I am so grateful to my husband for being on board with this.

  40. Interesting blog post.

    As for me, no desire to get married (even though I’ve been in long-term relationships – my current one being 7 years), no desire to reproduce & no desire to change my name.

    Simple!

  41. Akro

    All this talk about getting double-barrelled surnames for children is ok in theory, but has any of you ever wondered what will happen when two people who each have two last names (or more) marry? What will they have and their children have then, 4 last names? Then 8, then 16?? What?

    I dislike my surname and have a bad relationship with my father so I want to take my mother’s name some day but changing your name seems to be something so hard to do here in Canada. Like you can only change it if you come out of prison, or have been the victim of sever harassment, or some reason like that. It seems very complicated, and doubtful that you will be allowed to change your name, even of that is what you want. Which sucks. I would also lie to change the spelling of my first name, but again, I am not sure it will be allowed.

  42. pipsqueak

    When my husband and I were thinking about getting married we were going to make our own surname – a blend of both: Farnoth or Stichell – shorter than double barrelled, but sadly no connection to either of our families. I think his family in particular would have been quite insulted if he’d changed his name. In then end I kept mine, he kept his and our son has his Daddy’s name. If anyone calls me Mrs S. when he starts school, I won’t correct them, and might change my name further down the track. At this point I feel like the real Mrs S. is my mother-in-law!

  43. Louise

    I was glad to read this as I am in a similar, but slightly more unusual, situation. I am thinking of modifying my first name because of my new surname.

    I am getting married next year and have no doubt I will take my fiancees name. I hold no particular loyalty to my name, in fact to me Louise Rigby is someone I haven’t been for a long time. Not since I met M and turned my life around. I’ll always be my parents little girl, whatever my name.

    So my dilemma – My fiancee’s surname is Selo, and Louise Selo just sounds ridiculous out loud! So I am thinking of modifying my first name to Louisa. It’s a tiny change, and M’s family call me Louisa anyway (he is polish and it’s something to do with polish grammar – the reason with polish surnames the husband is -ski and the wife is -ska). I love the sound of Louisa Selo but my mum is quite upset by the idea of it! (I have threatened I will instead go with the polish version of Louise – Ludwika!)

    I know it sounds nuts, and people might say I am bending too much but it means a lot to me to be Mrs Selo. At the same time I do still want my name to sound ok! And no, Selo is not a polish surname – even my fiancee doesn’t know where it is from, even the INTERNET doesn’t know! Very exotic!

  44. Jo

    Having the same surname or even a hyphenated surname does not guarantee a successful relationship, ladies. I have been married to the same man pretty happily for more than 17 years. I never considered changing my name. It never occurred to me as an option. I hear women say that they “like” the idea of changing their name and that they don’t feel “forced” into it by anyone. Here’s my question: If you don’t feel that there is any pressure at all, then why is it up for consideration?

    Name changing at marriage is purely about tradition, nothing more.

  45. As a married woman who did not take her husband’s name, I have to add in that, in my opinion, NOT having the same last name is really not that big a deal! No one’s ever questioned the fact that we’re married, and it can actually be fun to see what happens when one or the other of us makes a reservation – i.e. if I make the reservation we’re referred to as Mr. and Mrs. Brewer, and if he makes the reservations we’re Mr. and Mrs. Homan. Granted, we’re not particularly keen on having kids, so I acknowledge that that helps. But we also acknowledge that our opinions about kids could change. I’m not sure what we would do about our kids names yet, but we figure we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, if we ever do. As for what I would say to a child about not having the same name, I think frank discussions about things like feminism and how life and society are complicated and don’t always give you answers easily.

    Also, it’s not exactly easy to change your name, especially when you have any kind of credit or legal or work history, so beyond the questioning of why a woman should change her name symbolically, there’s also the pain in the ass that it is and that the woman has to do all that while the man doesn’t.

    Finally, to the lady who mentioned that our given names are often are fathers’ names anyway, so it still represents the patriarchy, I have to say that that kind of argument is a great way to not ever take a stand for anything. The fact is, precisely BECAUSE things were that way is why we should question them, and we have to start somewhere. That kind of thinking seems to be to just be an excuse to never start making changes or actively questioning how things are done in the first place.

  46. Alex Carabine

    I always hated my original surname – it had no music to it and, in fact, it got me significantly bullied during primary school. Ever since I can remember I wanted to adopt my maternal grandmother’s maiden name as my own, but didn’t for fear of how my father would feel.

    Dropping my father’s name was an act of exhilarating liberation for me – the family on his side has never been healthy for me and has caused me a lot of anguish. In 2010 I removed myself from that family situation. In 2012 I finally changed my name to Carabine, after almost a lifetime of wishing and longing.

    My name is now my own, no longer will I be “Alex X – daughter of Mr X” and I therefore have no intention to be “Alex Y – wife of Mr Y.”

    I’m Alex Carabine, my own sweet self, how do you do.

    I am incredibly lucky to have a wonderful fiancee who has not only supported me through all the pain I’ve gone through regarding my family, but who also fully supports me in keeping my own name. My name is my victory and I adore it and with it I’m learning to adore myself.

    And I smile every time I sign something!

  47. katy

    I am getting married in September and will be taking my husband’s name. Though I’m still getting used to the idea of my new name, I really couldn’t be happier. I think it really comes down to our beliefs about marriage…this is something whole and life-changing, and my identity with my husband as a family (and in years to come, our children) is the most important thing. WE will be in this life together, not as individuals, but as a couple. So taking his name is exciting.

    I will add that I’m getting married fairly young, in my early 20s, and if I was older (with done under my maiden name,) the decision might be made differently! So in that way, I completely understand women who keep their names when they get married.

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