No Shame in a Name

I'm fascinated by the "why or why didn't you change your name when you got married" discussion. I always thought I'd change my name if I ever married. It wasn't until I became someone's wife that I realized I HAD to keep my name.

1. Because I belong to myself first.
2. Because Woolf is a badass last name.
3. Because my husband would never take my name therefor why should I take his?




It's a complex discussion, especially when kids are involved. My children have my husband's last name but in retrospect I kind of wish we would have hyphenated our names for our children. It makes me a little sad that my kids won't be carrying "Woolf" around with them as well as their father's last name and family legacy.

I mean, this is 2009... right?

I'd love to hear from you, ladies. (Gentleman, too, if you care to share.) Did you keep your name? Did you take your husband's? I'm especially interested in hearing whether or not your kids took their father's name(s). Did you hyphenate like I wish we would have? Is the name issue a non-issue for you or has it been something you've spent many months mulling over like I did*?

GGC

*I went back and forth for an entire year before I decided to keep my name, which for me was the right decision. This is not to say that the right decision for me is the right decision for anybody else! I think names are extremely personal things and we all must feel comfortable and happy with whatever we are called!

282 comments:

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Chef's Widow | 11:49 AM

I never legally changed my name. I did add his onto mine on credit cards & stuff and my children's full name consist of first.middle.mine.his.

My mother gave me her name as well as my father's so we carried on the tradition. My husband rarely calls me Amelia and always calls me Zatik (my maiden) so I guess I didn't really make that big of a change.

When asked what Catcher's full name is, he often says it and then sighs loudly that it is a very long name.

Wait till Louisiana has to learn hers...ha ha ha

refer to oem | 11:55 AM

My daughter has my maiden name as her last name. Then I met dh, we married, and I changed my last name but put my maiden name as my middle. We are expecting and baby will be hyphenated. His kids are his last name. So we're going to be a jumble.

Therese | 11:55 AM

I took my husband's last name I gues mostly out of tradition and expectations. I really don't like his last name and still have trouble identifying with it. I really LOVE my maiden name. I did keep my maiden name as well though so most often I refer to myself with two last names. We just had our first child and he has my husband's last name. That doesn't bother me at all. Honestly, if my husband's feelings wouldn't have been hurt, I probably would have just kept my maiden name...

Angie | 12:00 PM

This was a non-issue for me. DS took his father's last name, and after being together over a decade we finally got married about a month and a half ago. Now I have the same last name too. I can totally see why some people don't want to to change their name, and that's cool. I was excited to change mine, though.

Mrs P | 12:08 PM

I took his last name and never batted an eyelash. Not because it was expected or because I felt like I had to - in fact my maiden name is shorter and much easier to spell, LOL. But I had no strong tie to my fathers last name or to any family name for that matter so it wasn't important at all for me to keep my maiden name. It was a symbolic part of leaving the old behind and starting a new life with a new partner.

My childrens geneology is so well documented on my mom's side that no small thing like a different last name will make them unsure of their ancestry anyway. And I have no allegiance to any name - What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet :)

littlerowboat | 12:16 PM

i haven't changed my last name, but then again chris and i are not married. [i won't do it until everyone else can] our daughter has both of our last names. mine is 'love' and his is 'blais.' both of which are badass. ziya love blais. no hyphenation, though. so, that basically gets hairy all the time. no one gets it right.

cait | 12:17 PM

I just had my first anniversary a few weeks ago and after spending the past year going back and forth deciding on what to do with my name - I decided to keep mine. It just didn't feel right (for me) taking his.

When we decide to have kids, we'll most likely give them his name.

TJ | 12:19 PM

I'm getting married next year and taking his last name. I don't in any way think it means he owns me in any fashion, and I have no particular attachment to my own last name. It's kind of just always been there and it's served its purpose.

What it comes down to is - it's very important to him that I take his last name, and I don't really feel strongly one way or the other. As it tends to go with most issues in our relationship, the person who cares least goes along with the other.

I care the least, so I'm going with what he wants. I get why some people aren't into it, though. It just means very little to me overall.

Sarah | 12:20 PM

I kept my last name. It was never even a consideration that I would change it. Though my internal compromise was that I wouldn't throw a fit if someone referred to me as Mrs. HisLastName. I'd just answer... not even correct them. And really that's better than MRS. MyLastName, becuase i'm not married to a "MyLastName", and Mrs. MyLastName is my mom. Well we get married and I even sheepishly tell my MIL, who says she has no issue with it. great i think!
Now.. guess who is the one person who refuses to recognize that I kept my name?

My father. He addresses all mail to Sarah HisLastName.

hah.

Hilary | 12:21 PM

This is a sticky issue. I took my husband's name for a couple reasons:
1. I never liked my last name.
2. I am not close to my father and disliked bearing his name.
3. I really like my husband's last name.

All that said, I think it's a bizarre tradition and clearly as sexist as can be. How eerie that no woman, unless she names herself, has "her own" name. Weird.

I also want to say that Woolf is indeed a badass name.

the bellyacher | 12:21 PM

I haven't changed my last name yet mainly because I'm living in England (I married a Brit) and I didn't want to deal with getting a new passport (amongst other important documents). I think I will change it eventually, though. I'd like to have the same last name as my husband and son.

(Although, I totally LOVE my 14 letter last name...It's part of who I am...but maybe It's time for a new chapter...)

GeminiGirl | 12:21 PM

I never felt comfortable changing my name. I hyphenated, and wish I hadn't since now my name is long and complicated. My girls have my husband's last name- and I'm ok with that.

Kelly | 12:22 PM

I took my husband's name. Mainly because it's less of a hassle and because my maiden name wasn't anything nearly as badass as Woolf.

Melinda | 12:22 PM

I was all for changing my name because my maiden name was a thorn in my side. To most people is was unpronounceable and not one person ever spelled it correctly on the first try. I was happy to be rid of it for a name that anyone could spell and sound out. I am much happier with my new last name and I don't miss the trouble my maiden name caused me one bit. (and I don't feel any less me)

hand.pecked | 12:23 PM

Back in early college, I had met a really cool professor with a great family. I could never figure out why the children did not have the professor's last name but had thier mom's last name. I finally grew courage to ask one day (since they were the resident dean of a residentail college) and his answered wowed me. His reasooning waas that she carried both of the kids for nine months each, natrually, they should have HER name.

Punk Rock Mom | 12:25 PM

I always thought I wouldn't take my husbands last name. My madien name is pretty typical, but it was the fact that it linked me to my family that was important. My Mom, Dad and sisters are amazing and I felt like sharing a last name with them made us the awesome family we are. When I got married my husband and I already had our daughter Sophia. She had my husbands last name. When it came down to making the decision I realized that no matter what my last name is, I will always belong to my Mom, Dad and sisters. Nothing can take that from me. I will always be their daughter. And now I was starting my own family, and I wanted us to have that same kind of pride in being The Lerma family. All together with the same last name. By taking my husbands name I have always helped to carry on the legacy of his family, who are also wonderful people. A part of me feels a sense of honor to be able to take his familys name.

Anonymous | 12:26 PM

My husband and I planned to change our last names together to a new joint one. He died before we could do that, though. I then gave our baby his last name and changed mine to match.

Cait | 12:30 PM

Big issue! I felt very strongly about keeping my own name, mostly for the reasons you mention. Then when we had our daughter the issue came up again. We live in Holland and here you aren't allowed to hyphenate here (booh!!!), so we had to choose either his or my name. In the end we decided to give her his name. At first I was rather hurt by this (even though it was partly my decision) but then the more I thought about it, the more OK I was with it. I'm very attached to my own name, partly because it was my fathers and grandfathers. So this way Lux will have the same connection with her daddy.
Not very feminist I know, but there you have it....

em | 12:34 PM

Well I am not married so I have my OG last name. But our daughter has her father's last name. We both have very long last names that are pretty comical when strung together, otherwise I would have hyphenated. But she gets her middle name from my side and has her dad's last name so it works.

courtney | 12:34 PM

I took my husbands last name, and am glad I did. What I wish I would have done was keep both my middle and last names as middle names. I went back and forth, and decided to just drop my last name. My middle name was my father's mother's name, so I would be honoring his legacy that way, and getting rid of my last name meant seperating myself from my step mother. Now looking back, I am mad at myself that I couldn't see how my last name was more my dad than my step mom (he died when I was 19 and I was his only child).

Billie | 12:36 PM

I took his. I just didn't care. It was easier to change it than not.

Kalee | 12:40 PM

I took my husband's name after a lot of discussion ( I was with you on the if you wouldn't be willing to change to mine why should I change to yours). It was surprising because I had always assumed I would no problem, but it was more difficult (and I don't even like either to be honest, I'd prefer we choose one together that suits us). In the end though, it was important to him, and it wasn't important enough to me, so I agreed to change mine. I'm still working on us changing it though, lol.

Dari | 12:41 PM

I am pretty traditional in the fact that I took my hubby's last name and it was never an issue. That is just how I always knew it would be. So my daughter has that last name as well. But I love my old last name and if I ever miss it too much, I will start using it as my middle initial. That is what my mom does with hers. Good question!

Catherine | 12:41 PM

I got married a little over 3 years ago and kept my maiden name. I've since published under it and there are real reasons why I should keep it professionally. Now we're expecting our first kid and I'm debating. Rebecca, have you run into any difficulties having a different last name from your kids? Has it ever bothered you? Right now I'm thinking we'll name our kids FirstName MyLastName HisLastName to avert confusion but I don't know. I'm feeling wishy washy about it now.

Julie | 12:45 PM

I'm getting married in three weeks, and I'm so excited to take his last name. Not only is mine funky and always butchered (his is about as plain jane as you get), but I see it as us becoming a family. Not that we wouldn't be without the same names, but it feels natural - like starting a new part of life.

I think you just know. I know I want to change my name. Others know they don't. It's whatever feels good.

Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com | 12:48 PM

We compromised. I added his last name to mine and he added my maiden name to his middle name. I'm currently considering moving my maiden name into he middle too so that I only have his last name. After all, my husband and daughter share not only a surname, but also part of their middle name - and I kind of want to share that too.

Rebecca Faulkner | 12:50 PM

I've been married a year and half and still haven't really made a decision. Love the IDEA of hyphenating, but hate it in practice. Besides, like you Rebecca, I have a famous author's last name (and I am a professional writer). Kinda hard to give that up.

Anonymous | 12:53 PM

I kept my 'maiden' name (ha!) when I got married, mainly because I identify with it, like its simplicity, and can't imagine being the person that having his last name would imply (i.e., "the wife", the Mrs.). One thing I'd like to do when we have children is to use a variation of my last name as our first kid's first name and then use my husband's last name. Any others will have my last name as their middle names, and they can choose to use it in almost a hyphenating manner.

ZDub | 12:56 PM

I have been married twice and I never changed my last name. My father passed away and I will be keeping my name, thankyouverymuch.

I also wish I had hypenated my kid's last names. It's never too late...

Heather | 1:01 PM

A few months before we got married I freaked out over changing my name. Our compromise was he changed his middle name to my last name. So now we are both First Middle/Mine Last/His. Miles and Clara both have my last name as their middle, and his as last. Makes things easy because we don't worry about choosing a middle name.

If my last name had been Woolf, I wouldn't have wanted to change it either.

Jeremy and Kathleen | 1:03 PM

I've been married twice.

The first time I hyphenated and it created a shitstorm of confusion everytime I had to give anybody my name(s).

The second time I took his as my own. To me it symbolizes that we're a unit. We come as a package. And our babies will share our name as well. I still have my own identity - my own self - it just doesn't have anything to do with my name. It also doesn't hurt that I like his last name.

It's certainly an individual choice that should be considered and respected.

Rachel Not Smith | 1:04 PM

I struggled for the last nine months of my engagement, trying to decide whether or not to change my last name. My husband was supportive either way. I ultimately decided I wanted to make the change, although I proceeded with a bit of trepidation. I changed my middle name to my given last name and added my husband's last name as my married last name. So I am Rachel Johnson Smith, but I go by Rachel Smith. As soon as I did it, I felt good about it. Now we have a daughter and we all have the same last name and I love it. We are a family UNIT, which would be the case regardless of our names, but it's like we have a team name. The Smiths. That's us. WE are the Smiths.

Anonymous | 1:05 PM

I don't think of my name as being connected to my identity in more than a functional way. I could be called anything and I would still be "me." So it didn't really matter to me whether I changed my last name when I married or not - I ended up changing it and I like it just as much as I liked my maiden name. Not more, not less. I do like that my children and my husband and I will all have the same last name, and as a teacher I know that this will cut down on a lot of confusion and awkward assumptions.

Cara | 1:05 PM

My husband is from a culture where most women don't change their last name, so he was startled when I decided to change mine. Honestly, it was for simplicity's sake. Our names together are too big a mouthful and I wanted the same last name as my kids (and that I think he would have cared more about). When I thought about it, I realized I didn't feel a big emotional tie to my maiden name. I do my family, but our last name is limited to the four of us an my ties are to a much larger family with the exception, ironically, of anyone who might actually share that last name. It turns out I've liked sharing a name, and its helped with some of the surreal feeling that came from getting married 7 years in to the relationship. So, even though I thought it might be hard, it turns out it wasn't and yet again I figure "to each his own." I wonder, though, if I would have resisted it or felt differently if he expected or wanted me to change my name.

Raia | 1:07 PM

I had a hyphenated maiden name; my mother and father's names together. They are divorced now and only my sister and I had the same last name. Until I got married and changed mine. I would have liked to hyphenate my married name, but three last names with 2 hyphens is just too much! I thought about making my maiden name my middle name, but I love my middle name too much. It was a tough call for me, but I also felt like my maiden name didn't mean as much because only my sister and I have it anymore. Why hang on to a hyphenated name from a marriage that ended in divorce?

Nicola Proctor | 1:09 PM

What a fab topic... and dear to my heart.

I took my husband's last name to be traditional, but not with a little bit of heartache. My maiden name will die out with me, as I'm the only surviving sibling in our family as my younger brother died in 1996.

Before I met my husband I =always= said I would keep my maiden name, and force my kids to take it as well to keep our family going; I felt like it was my job, my obligation.

But then my husbands line would die out with him, as he's the only male on his side of the family who has had kids.

Weird. I guess I'm quite sad really, at the thought that my maiden name -- and it is quite unusual as well -- won't go any further. It has died already, I guess, because I have abandoned it.

Having said that, compromising it and hyphenating it was out of the question, it sounded BADONKULOUS.

Anonymous | 1:10 PM

I couldn't wait to lose my last name. I had no connection in my maiden name since my father wasn't around and I barely knew family members who shared the name with me. Sharing a name with someone who genuinely loves me and being a part of a name I have pride in was important to me. Although if I had remained single longer than I did, I would have taken my mother's maiden name and kept that. I kind of wish the light bulb would have went off sooner about the fact that I could change my last name to my mothers. Like, the day I turned 18 would have been good.

Amber, theambershow.net | 1:12 PM

I changed my name after 2 years.

I hated his last name with Amber, so I gave myself a new middle name, and I use all three in a combo I like: Amber Marlow Blatt.

I changed because my parents don't talk to me anymore, and I would have dropped their last name regardless of my marriage at this point. And since I lost my family and had such a nice new one to join, I put their name on mine.

I adore being "the Blatts".

I would NEVER give birth to someone and then let them have someone else's name. No judgment, Rebecca, but I couldn't do it.

I love what Dana said: the feminism is in HAVING a choice.

jillian | 1:13 PM

I always said I would never ever change my name, but I did. In some ways I did it to distance myself from my family. I have my mother's maiden name as a middle name and any potential kids would have the same arrangement.

Laurie | 1:13 PM

I did the same as Rachel Not Smith. When I got married I dropped my middle name and took my maiden name as my middle name. When we had our son I gave him my maiden name as his middle name as well. My husband would have been supportive of whatever I decided for myself.

LJ | 1:22 PM

I avoided changing my last name for almost a year after we got married. My husband expected it, but really, something about the most common last name in the history of humankind isn't appealing.

BUT, as a child, I always looked forward to changing it because NO ONE could pronounce it correctly. NO ONE could even spell it.

Thus, taking a simple, easy to spell and pronounce last name was very appealing.

Anonymous | 1:23 PM

For goodness sake...it's only a name. Ever heard of tradition..take the husbands last name and call it day. Bad ass last name or whatever, you are now married and starting your own family. Having the same last name binds you to your own branch of the family tree. I have never understood the hyphen name crap and quite frankly think it's stupid.

Babies on the brain. | 1:23 PM

I took my husbands last name. I had no great attatchment to mine in all reality. Names are just names to me, and since its traditional and DH wanted me to I changed. I have no problems with my new name. In reality its more common and easier to spell/prn than my old name. The only thing that bothered me was what a pain it was to change ALL my personal stuff and a new signature... Still throws me sometimes.

CJ | 1:25 PM

I took my husband's last name ('cause I thought that is something you should do, wanting to have kids and a family) and I have hated it throughout our marriage. Now, after 9 years of relationship and three years of marriage we have seperated. I was pretty sure about changing my last name into my maiden name again by divorce. It has only just started to dawn on me a couple of weeks ago, that I might just leave things the way they are.

My maiden name became more and more a part of my identity and giving it up felt like I had to change - somehow, too.
Now I feel that these past three years have grown on me, and so has the name. His name.
It still has a lot to do with identity.

Amy | 1:26 PM

I was excited to and ultimatley changed my name BUT part of me felt inclined to not name change, which left me feeling guilty, as if I was not fully committing.

I love that you brought this topic up on momversation...I like that it's just about being a woman and not about being a mom. As married women, we all have to consider this name change option (some more so than others). Ironically, men don't really have to think about it. As woman, we have to consider what we are committing to and what parts of our identities fade away, whether it be verbally or not.

Baby in Broad | 1:30 PM

This is a huge issue for me. I wrote about this exact issue recently.

I took my husband's last name. Four years later, I'm still very uncomfortable with the decision. I want to go back to using my maiden name, but I'm told that in order for the change to be legal, I have to pay a fee and go to court. I'd like to make the change sooner rather than later, but time and money are both in short supply right now.

My son has his father's name. I almost wish we'd chosen a new last name for our children. (But I can also see how that might create a lot of confusion.)

Anonymous | 1:41 PM

I took my ex-husband's last name when we married. After we divorced I went back to my maiden name. As I am entering into a new marriage, I will not be changing my last name, but will go by maiden name-husband's name socially.

sara lou. | 1:42 PM

My husband and I combined our last names and both changed our name to the new and improved double barreled version. It was symbolic of our becoming our own family independent of our families of origin.

I think if he hadn't been willing to change his name, I couldn't have done it. For me, it had to be shared compromise.

And, I love that our daughter has both our names and that my maiden name can live on through her.

Ray | 1:46 PM

"I think names are extremely personal things and we all must feel comfortable and happy with whatever we are called!"

^^If only that were the case with me. I hate my first name.

I'm not married but I think I'd take my husband's last name (don't know for sure though).

Rachel | 1:49 PM

I wondered for awhile what to do and mentioned to my mom that I wasn't sure which name I would keep/take. She couldn't believe I was even considering keeping my maiden name (which is her last name, of course, and is also what she and my siblings always accidentally call me!).

I ended up adding his last name to my whole name, making my maiden name my second-middle-name.

He really wanted us both to add my maiden name to his last, making us the Farmer Jones family. I wouldn't have it--the humor was lost on me :)

MommaJ | 1:51 PM

The entire time I was engaged I kept telling my husband I wasn't going to change my name. I didn't think I needed to. Then when we went to get our marriage license I suddenly wanted his last name. He even asked if I wanted both because I thought of keeping my last name as my middle but I didn't. It is really bizarre that I switched my mind so suddenly and I don't regret it at all. I figure I can always give my children my last name as one of theirs.

BubbleTeaResa | 1:52 PM

I had a hard time letting go of my maiden name so I ended up adding it as a middle name. Now my middle initials are GD ;P I'm the only child for my parents so I felt bad for my Dad since I'm the last of our name.. Fortunately, I was able to continue the name by giving it as a first name to my son.

terri | 2:00 PM

I took my hubby's name, and this was never an issue for me until....yesterday. See, I have no personal attachment to my maiden name, it's not at all badass, and I don't feel sentimental about it, so I changed my name when I got pregnant in an effort to avoid any possible confusion that the insurance company might find (they are hard enough to deal with).
But yesterday when attempting to get back into the freelance writing biz, I realized that I am published under my maiden name and although it's a few newspaper articles aren't big or exciting, I'm kinda bummed that I have to start over...I know I wasn't famous, but I do wish there were some way to make it known that that gal was me...

That one girl | 2:01 PM

Have you met my family?! They. Are. NUTS! I ran from my maiden name like it was a ferocious tiger about to rip apart my flesh.

Mommy Lisa | 2:03 PM

I took my husband's name because I have step-kids and we were planning to have another and I wanted them all to have the same last name.

And I did not much care for my last name, until I realized that B is way farther up the alphabet than S.

Damn.it.

too late ;)

Ruth | 2:06 PM

I am not married and not with my child's father. When I gave birth to my daughter we were still together and I gave her his last name. I have to say that I sort of regret it cause I have a pretty last name and his is downright awful so I may change it back. He has been a huge disappointment as a father so even more reason. I just don't know how she will feel so maybe I will let her make the decision.

erniebufflo | 2:07 PM

I took my husband's name and made my maiden name my middle and ditched my previous middle. My original middle name was my mother's maiden name, interestingly enough, which is a popular thing to do in the south, to give your kid your maiden as a middle. I write my full name on all my "real" writing, and it's the name I use at work, First Maiden Last. I might have been more inclined to just keep my maiden name, except it's synonymous with "perspiration." Not so pretty.

ashleyd! | 2:08 PM

i'm old fashioned, so i took my husband's name. it's also a super kick ass last name compared to my maiden name!! it's french, who can turn that down?! -ashleyD

Samantha | 2:09 PM

My son was born before we got married and I gave my son my husbands name. When we got married I happily changed my name, because for me, it was about just being & knowing that we were a permanent family then. I am happy we all have his name. I wouldn't want it any other way!

Heather Freeman | 2:10 PM

My husband and I picked a new last name that we both changed to. Makes genealogy a bit complicated (we get other Freemans contacting us asking how we're related), but other than that it was a stellar solution for us, since neither one of us had a strong attachment to our birth names.

bluejeanamy | 2:12 PM

always an interesting topic!

i changed my name. why? because i've got a not-good relationship with my dad/that whole side of the family and it felt really good to purge myself of that last...part of him. also, my husband's last name actually fits the other-half of my ethnicity so it felt like "me" if that makes sense.

my mom always had a hyphenated name (half her maiden, half my dad's), but my bro and i didn't. never really thought about it, but i think i would have liked the hyphen. especially b/c the combo of names was easy to say/sounded right.

archer and sage are so lil, you could still do it easily without many bumps! b/c woolf IS a bad ass name.

Sarah | 2:13 PM

I'm getting married next month. I've been engaged since august of 08. I still dont know what to do. If I was never planning on having kids it would be easy, I wouldn't change my name, but I don't want my kids to feel disconnected to me.
However, the strongest, most influential women I know (I'd put you in that catagory even thought I don't actually know you) never changed their names and while I don't think choosing to keep their maiden names makes them stronger then others...they still have something about themselves that I truly admire and the two things seem to run side by side.
Now, on the other hand, my soon to be husband wants me to change my name because he wants us to be unified. He even came up with a compromise of each of us changing our middle names to each others last names but I know thats not what he really wants.

It's tough but it helps me to know I don't have to decide by my wedding day.

Susheela | 2:19 PM

I changed my name to my husband's when we got married because my last name was hyphenated. Please, people, don't hyphenate your kids' names! My last name was 14 letters plus a hyphen. The very worst was spelling it over the phone for people. It took forever, especially because there were a lot of M's and N's and people can't tell the difference over the phone :P I can definitively say that if my name had not been so long, I would've kept it after marriage.

I think a nice way to keep both names in the family is through middle names or something similar.

beyond | 2:19 PM

i kept my name. it was the only way for me personally. my husband didn't expect it, just like i didn't expect him to change his.
only in western (christian) societies did it become a custom for women to take their husband's name.
no child yet, but it will be Child Me Husband.
(or Child Husband-Me. however, in my experience, kids with hypenated last names drop the second (maternal) one for simplicity reasons)

Katie | 2:19 PM

I took my husband's name but in retrospect I REALLY wish I had changed my middle name to my maiden name. I know I still could, but what a pain... I still may.... When I have the time...

Chanel | 2:21 PM

I am a feminist and I don't care about this issue haha.

I think it's as simple as how cool the last name is (I'm shallow).

So far I have dated 2 guys and their last names have been...interesting. Horner and Butterworth. See what I mean? I can't go around being Mrs. Horner OR WORSE Mrs. Butterworth. With that in mind, so far in my life I have decided to keep my last name.

Oana | 2:24 PM

I changed my name legally (it required a criminal records check and fingerprinting, and took just over a week). I went from First Middle MyLast to First MyLast HisLast. My parents freaked out a little that I had dropped my Middle name and replaced it with MyLast. I'm quite happy with the change - MyLast was difficult to pronounce and I always had to spell it. HisLast is shorter and 100% anglicized.

Anonymous | 2:28 PM

Wow, heterosexist much?

Nora | 2:28 PM

This question really hits a nerve for me! Before my husband & I got married, I subjected him to many long, teary conversations about whether I would change my name or not. He was very supportive of whatever decision I made, but it always exasperated me that ultimately it was MY problem, not his, no matter how supportive he was. HE didn’t have to make any decision about whether or not to change his name, it was never even on the table for him (or for 99.99% of men, I’m guessing)—OF COURSE he was keeping his own name. When I explained my frustration about the unfairness of this, he did get it though, the sexism inherent in the entire surname system, and the difficulty of coming up with a solution.

What did we do? Well, in the end I took his last name . . . but he also legally changed his middle name to my last name. So now we both have the same middle name—Lehmann—and the same last name—Miller. That felt pretty good, and relatively equitable, since in the end I DID want us to have the same name, an outer marker that we are a team, a unit, a family, and I didn’t want our children to have a different name than me, or a tediously long hyphenated one.

All that being said, however, I will say this: I miss my name. It’s been 2 years already, but I don’t think I’ll ever really feel like a Miller.

Kristy | 2:29 PM

I've been married twice. Both times, I took my husband(s) last names. The first time I was thrilled to do so because my maiden name was a nightmare of 10 letter proportions.

I started working where I currently work when I was going through a divorce. I was given a user name for all company systems that included my entire last name. Now here I am nearly 6 years later re-married and I type my ex-husbands last name into my computer dozens of times a day to gain access even though I'm now re-married for 3+ years to someone else and I have his last name now.
(The company will not update or change the name for me)

I have so many times thought that it would have all been so much easier to just keep that nassively long confusing last name throughout my lifetime regardless of my lover at the moment. lol

mountain.mama | 2:38 PM

I could probably write a book on this topic but the short version is the first time I got married I changed my name. When I got divorced, I did not resume my maiden name. I added a middle name of my own choosing and used my grandmother's maiden name because of my respect and love for her and wanting a matrilineal tradition. (I was in a feminist rage stage then. It hurt my parent's feelings.) Before I got married the second time I swore I would NEVER change my name again and didn't. When we had two girls, I wanted them to have my name (remember matrilineal?) My husband wouldn't agree so we hyphenated our names and it has been the biggest pain in the ass ball of confusion for twenty + years. It gets so confusing and people don't understand and the first half gets dropped off and records are all under different names and we get catalogs in 3 names, etc. I have no clue what the solution is.

She Likes Purple | 2:40 PM

This sounds a little heartbreaking, I know, but I looked for a man who was nothing like my own dad. My dad has some very lovely and admirable qualities, but not as a husband. I wanted to be with someone who is the complete opposite husband to me as my dad was to his wives. Taking my husband's last name was easy (for me) because it gave me the fresh start I wanted in starting my own family. Not that I'm not proud of many of the people I came from and my overall legacy/family but the sad truth is that my maiden name reminds me and always will of my father, someone whose lessons on family I had to let go of in order to find real happiness.

Kim | 2:41 PM

I always thought I would take my husband's name, because my last name is at the end of the alphabet and I found that annoying as a child. As I've gotten older, I've realized that my two sisters and I are the only ones left with the "family name" and I've thought about trying to keep it in there somehow, so the name doesn't die out.

My boyfriend's mother changed her name, but gave him her maiden name as well - he has two last names (not hyphenated). So would our kids have 3 last names then? That just seems excessive.

I like the idea of combining the names; a friend of mine kept hers but combined her last name with her husband's when it came to the kids' names.

So...I don't know yet what I will do when the time comes.

Steph | 2:51 PM

I kept my name and I don't plan on changing it. It wasn't a hard decision at all for me.

My husband actually said yesterday that he should change his to my name... I do like the idea of all of us having the same surname, but to me that's not a good enough reason to change mine. It's always been my name, it's a very unusual name and I love my fam so I don't have any compelling reason to swap it.

Our daughter has my name as a middle name. That was a much tougher decision for me. I could have pushed for her to have my name as a last name, but ultimately I decided that as a family unit, more people would assume the kids weren't my husbands if their names were different rather than assume they weren't mine... Kind of a dumb reason because who cares what "they" think, right? But we didn't want to hyphenate our names so it had to be one or the other...

My husband said that he would never want our daughter to ever feel she had to take someone else's name so he would never expect me to change mine.

In my circle of friends it is definitely unusual for the woman to change her name... I actually can't think of any even vaguely close friends who have. We're Australian, if that makes a difference?! (Also getting married wasn't/isn't that big a deal with my peers - I mean, it important when you ARE married, but not something we aspired to).

Doc Horton | 2:55 PM

In a story I wrote, the parents kept their names. Their son was Name (first) Mom's Last Name (middle) Dad's Last Name (last). Their daughter was Name (first) Dad's Last Name (middle) Mom's Last Name (last).

Amanda | 3:03 PM

I wasn't sure about what to do with my last name. I liked that everybody knew me with my maiden name, me and that last name had some good times. When it all came down to it I finally took his name. I simply took out my middle name, which I always hated, and pushed my maiden name in it's place. I carry a bit of my past and present with me now. My son took his last name as well, simply because I didn't want to deal with anymore hospital paperwork bullshit. Enduring a c-section and zero sleep was enough.

I'm pretty happy with my choice. New-ish name for a new-ish chapter in life.

Anonymous | 3:05 PM

If I thought about it and what the argument is really worth, I would say that this issue is not a big deal.

However, in saying that I took my husband's last name and I hate it, he kind of guilted me but I take full responsibility for not being my own brain.

I am sad I no longer have MY name. I am also sad that I don't have my dad's name anymore. I should have hyphenated it...

On another note, when I see kids with hyphenated names I immediately think of divorce and that sucks.

Amie | 3:08 PM

Initially, I didn't take my husband's last name because I was finishing up grad school and the thought of having to change my name was enough to make me want to jump of a cliff---finishing my thesis film while planning a wedding was already way more than I needed to deal with. And then I figured I'd just wait 'til we popped out babies but then ten years passed and well, I'm old and I've had this name a long time. And changing my name at this point would be dangerous to my safety with my impending senility and all.

Oh, and my name just doesn't hyphenate well with my husband's name.

A friend of mine has a serious badass last name. She just had her first baby and I thought it was cool that they gave her her last name as her middle name.

mfk | 3:08 PM

Not married yet but have been w/ the bf for 7 years (we met young) and when we do finally get married, I think I will probably take his name socially and keep mine professionally. I'm in academia which requires you to publish, and since I'll probably have a publication or two out during grad school (aka before we get married), it makes sense to keep my last name for professional use. On the other hand, if I don't publish anything before we get married, I will a) rethink my career and b) perhaps change my name professionally as well. I guess the reason is that I like the tradition, I also feel like (as someone said above) it delineates a long-term relationship from a marriage and provides a bit of a "milestone", and also my last name is kind of hard to spell. I do like the idea of keeping it professionally no matter what just because I feel like my family would like it. They wouldn't care too much either way but I'm sure they would think it was cool.

Anyway, yeah, a lot of women I know in academia have a professional name that they publish under (b/c of the issue above) and then a social name that they use to deal with kids' preschools/ invitations/ mail/ whatever else. It seems to work fine...

Good topic by the way!

Lady | 3:22 PM

I'm getting married in five days and I'm taking his last name. My reasons are: 1. I want to unite us under one family name, and 2. It matters a great deal to him. But it does bother me some.

Honestly, it only bothers me BECAUSE it matters so much to him. I'd rather my fiance was the type of man who is forward-thinking and equality-thinking enough to approach the name issue equally from both sides. But he's not and I love him, so.

Dana said in the video that it's feminist because there IS a choice.

Until it is second nature that the choice is made by both man and woman as to which of their last names they both want, then it's not an equal choice.

Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled that there IS a choice for women.

I just hope that someday, we won't be the only ones who have to choose.

Mary B. (Someday Mary S.) | 3:27 PM

I'm getting married next spring, and I'm taking his name. I love the idea of having a family name, and we'll use a variant of my last name as a name for a son, if we have one. I write and act, so I'll probably keep my maiden name for artistic purposes, but I'll take his last name for everything else.

I will not be a Mrs, though. I will be Ms. Hislastname, but never Mrs. Mrs. Hislastname is his mother (and nanny, too).

The Mommy | 3:29 PM

I changed it and have regretted it almost every day since. I took my maiden as my middle and use my full name. My husband's last name does not connect to my ethnicity in any way and his family is not a family with whom I identify.
My husband really took a stand on the last name and seeing as he very rarely does this, it told me how much it meant to him. He wanted our family to have the same last name. The kids have his last name but I named them both. Both of their middle names are in honor of my beloved, deceased, grandparents.
I may drop his at some point. We'll see.

SJ | 3:46 PM

I like the idea of hyphenating children's last names... BUT, what will those children call their own children when they come (especially if the spouse also has a hyphenated name!) ? It just seems in the long run it won't work out. Furthermore, I do not believe in making up new names. A name is not just a word you can create; it is a historical, familial tie and I believe that should be respected.

thedalyn | 3:55 PM

I kept my last name and our son has my last name. For us, questioning traditional gender roles (and the traditions attached to them) is important and this seemed like a commitment to that. And the fact is we couldn't come up with any reason for our son to have my husband's name other than tradition, whereas the there were at least some compelling reasons to give him mine. Plus, honestly, my last name just went better with the first name we picked out. Aesthetics win.

Maggie T-M-S :-) | 4:07 PM

As someone who grew up with a hyphenated last name, I have to say--it's not too late! Your kids are still young enough to change it without totally screwing with their lives.
There were things that I hated about having a hyphenated last name (my mom didn't take my dad's name, so it was Hers-His) like those damned bubble sheets on standardized tests, having to argue with Social Security over it, getting two different college email addresses (one with, one without...wtf?). But it was also a really positive part of my identity-something that made me and my brother totally unique. Having any kind of unusual name is like that-it becomes part of your sense of self. I did take my husband's name when I got married, and I had moments of really regretting that and feeling like I'd lost a part of myself.
There was even a contingency of people that urged me to triple-hyphenate... I think it was a good decision to ignore those people. :-)

Sharnanigans | 4:10 PM

We didn't marry but did something I think is clever. My last name is Montgomery - my partner's King
we called our boy Monte King !
Solved!

Genevieve | 4:17 PM

I was really conflicted about this leading up to my wedding. I always thought that I would not change my name, but the closer we got the the wedding, the more I felt it was important to me that I have the same name as any potential kids (of which there are now 2 actual ones). But, I didn't feel comfortable being the only one changing my name. We thought about both hyphenating, but our last names almost rhyme, and that seemed bad. So what we finally came to is that I did change my last name, though kept my old middle and maiden names as middle names (so my legal name is 4 names). My husband legally changed his middle name (went to court and everything) to my maiden name, and both of our kids have my maiden name as a middle name. So we are all Firstname.my maidenname.hislastname. I like how this has worked out, as I can talk to my kids about how we all have names that come from both families. But also? I still use my maiden name professionally, which makes me feel like that name is still part of me as well.

Kendra | 4:19 PM

I'm immpressed by all the opinions and interesting reasons for them! For me, it wasn't a hard decision. My mom had spent the last 20 years or so telling me how much she wished she had "been able" to keep her maiden name, and perhaps that pushed me in the opposite direction. But it was easy to decide to change my name. I would never give up my first name; that's me, who I am. My middle name was always sort of secret (few people usually know your middle name) and personal, so I changed it to my maiden name, since that's very personal. My last name was the name that tied me to my family. But when we got married, we became a family. And--probably much more importantly--it was very important to me that everyone in our family share a name, just as we share a life. We knew we would have kids, and I wanted them to feel connected through a family name. Plus, my husband is the last of his line, and it was important to him to feel that the family name was being passed on. My maiden name has no such problem. We have three kids now, and they all share our family name.

Peach | 4:30 PM

my mom didn't take my dad's last name and me and my brother and sister have hyphenated last names that can be quite the mouthful at times, but i've always been thankful to carry a little part of both my mom and dad in my name. of course, now there's the issue of what i will do when i marry and what our kids will use...though i do know i won't completely give up my name and my identity when that happens.

Anonymous | 4:31 PM

UGGH. I hate when this is labeled a "feminist" issue, as if it can never be a family issue or personal issue, somehow it always has to define your level of feminism.

We hyphenated. Not because I'm a feminist, not because he wouldn't have taken my name (that was our first plan), but because I liked the symbolism of each gaining a new name. And it totally and completely sucks. It was seriously the worst idea in our marriage. People seem to magically forget how to read when they see a hyphenated last name. It would be like when reading Rebecca Jones-Woolf (or whatever Hal's name is), people looked stunned and said "Rebecca Janwofdhjakbgitwz?" NO ONE can pronounce it or spell it, even though we both started out with completely common surnames.


We assumed our future children would have our same hyphenated last name, but now are scouring family records to come up with a great grandmother's surname or other lost family name to replace our unreadable hyphenated name. And it will be changed as soon as we can scrounge up the $790 it takes to change a name in court, since our state only gives one free name change with your marriage license.

Seriously, worst decision I ever made.



(Also, I should mention that a lot of official paperwork doesn't accept a hyphen when being typed, which means I get mail for stuff like Mrs. Jones-Woolf, Joneswoolf, JWoolf, Jones Woolf, Woolf Jones, et. all.) Ridiculous!!!

jmsjane | 4:42 PM

I actually love this topic and love hearing people's viewpoints on it. Most women I know these days are not changing their name.

I didn't change mine and it actually surprised me more than anyone when I realized I didn't want to change it. I have a very hard to pronounce, sounds ridiculous when pronounced wrong, italian last name that I spent my entire childhood desperate to dump. But then at 29, when I got married and I was actually faced with the idea of changing it, I realized it was a part of me, as much as my hair or my eyes or anything else. Plus, I worried that the italian part of me that I most strongly identify with would be lost because I look so decidedly irish. I couldn't do it, much to my husband's dismay.

It was always an issue for him but without a lot of foundation. He just always said "that's what you do". Well, it wasn't what I was going to do. It ended up all working out well now that I'm divorced. I saved myself a bit of hassle in the end.

Now I wonder if I was so against it because I KNEW we wouldn't work out. I don't think so but it's interesting to think about now.

Wendy | 4:43 PM

We both hyphenated our names when we got married, and our daughter shares that hyphenated name. For us, it was a very material, philosophical, and romantic representation of what our marriage means to us - two complete individuals choosing to throw their lots together on an equal footing. Interestingly, because we are from different cultural backgrounds, our name has brought up some pretty interesting political questions for some people we've encountered. It seems to challenge certain views and assumptions, which I feel is just an added bonus.

Lola | 5:03 PM

I hyphenated legally but go by my maiden name professionally (as a writer I just had too). My kids have my hubby's last name. My son's middle name is my last name (sounds okay as it is Anderson). And, same as Rebecca, my husband wasn't going to change his name and I feel a strong connection to my family name as I lost my parents when I was very young and often feel it's my only connection-it's what I was left with.

:)

Helen | 5:04 PM

If you have a hyphenated last name, eg Jones-Smith, what happens when you get married and you want to hyphenate? Do you become Jones-Smith-Brown?

Liz T.D. | 5:07 PM

I decided to take my husband's name because I simply liked it better. For me, it was choosing one man's name over another. My father's or my husband's, and frankly, I liked having the choice and choosing his name.

Karen L | 5:07 PM

Three points

1) I changed my name because I wanted everyone in my new family to have the same last name. I might have suggested that we all take my maiden name but since I'm white and my husband is Chinese, going out of my way to give our biracial children the white name seems at least as much about white privilege as switching was about male privilege. I've always found hyphenating ascetically unpleasing and we not really the creative type to find or invent a new name. So, I went with the tradition, despite believing that it truly is sexist. Not a battle I wanted to pick, I guess.

2) I didn't miss my maiden name until about 5 years after we were married. I hardly ever heard anyone call me by my last name. Nobody calls you by your surname any more except for salespeople and students. I became a teacher, so this name sounded unfamiliar, un-me. Also. My maiden name is just nice, imho. Hobbs: cool. Lew: meh. Also, Lew is hard to match with girls' names. Mary? Laura? Emma?

3) A lot of the men in my circle talk a good game about equality of the sexes but "draw the line" or "invoke prerogative" when it comes to the surname of their children.

badassdadblog | 5:15 PM

I respect whatever name decision people make when they get married. I think it will be interesting to see as same-sex marriage become more widespread whether there is any trend toward one partner changing their name. I suspect their won't be much, but am interested to see.

Here's my one piece of advice - don't do what my wife did. That is, make a choice about what your name is, go all the way, and stick with it. My wife now has like four different name variations and it drives me nuts.

- Legally, she is MaidenName-MyName.
- Sometimes she is MainName MyName (space, no hyphen). Notice, this alphabetizes differently.
- At work, she still goes by MaidenName.
- In matters concerning our children or our house, she often just uses MyName.

This makes it quite confounding when picking up prescriptions, trying to use family memberships to anything in her name, etc. When they ask "what's her last name," the answer is almost always "it depends."

So, much as I love my wife, I suggest you learn from her what NOT to do and, above all else, be consistent.

Motherhood Uncensored | 5:17 PM

I completely understand why women would want to change their name, but I do still think it's one thing that continues to represent how ass-backwards society is.

I'd love to have hyphenated our kids' names and I applaud guys who have hyphenated with their wives so that they all share a name. ROCK.

I love my name. It's part of who I am and always will be. My family and his family refuse to respect my decision and still address cards and packages using his name and it annoys me. I think it's disrespectful.

Honestly, my husband would love for me to change my name (the kids have his last name), and overall - at least when it comes to traveling alone, it makes life challenging when they're like, whose kids are these?

But considering my career choice, having my own name separate from theirs has proven to be quite valuable.

And I like being Ms. Kristen Chase and not Mrs. Somebody's Wife.

Blech.

(Completely understand why some people dig that. I'm not judging your choice. It's just not for me).

Jennifer | 5:19 PM
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rebecca | 5:20 PM

I've been married for a year, and am still on the fence about changing it. For me, it's about continuing to be _me_, and to belong to myself, like you said, Rebecca.

On the other hand, I tear up a bit whenever I hear that line in the Avett Brothers song, Murder in the City -- "Always remember there was nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name." I feel that connection with my husband, now, just as much as I do with my family.

On a related note, I have a business contact whose wife changed her name after 13 years. She finally gave up a super long Polish name to go with "Wilson".

Ashley, The Accidental Olympian | 5:25 PM

My last name seems to kick ass to get rid of, 'Knecht.' It's german, and hard to pronounce, and it's always made me, ME. The idea of swapping all that meaning to take another person's name, grab up their heritage seems bone crushingly hard to me.

And yet, I have a feeling I'll do it. Because in my mind, it will make us a team.

Don't ask me why, because I can't even tell ya where that logic came from.

Jennifer | 5:27 PM

I'm a bit of a different story.

I'm not married. I have no boyfriend. I'm not divorced. But I also don't have the last name I was given at birth.

This past year, I decided that I didn't want my original last name, as I didn't identify it with myself, but with my verbally abusive father. I didn't want to carry his last name with me my whole life, but I didn't want to change it to my one-day-maybe husband's name, as I don't agree with the traditional connotations of ownership that come along with the change historically. Therefore, I made my own last name. I picked a name from a mix of names I liked the meanings of and had it legally changed about two months ago. I love it! It's caused family drama, but it's worth it to me.

I also like that this system of naming yourself is not heteronormative, so couples of any gender mix can use this naming system, and so can single people, like myself.

When/if I get married and have kids, I will not take his last name, and my last name will be a second middle name to each of my children. My choice on this issue was a strange conclusion to come to, but it was the right one for me.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 5:28 PM

Interesting point, BadAssDad. All same sex couples I know either kept their names or hyphenated both names (and their children's names) because you're right - when there are two of the same sex deciding on how/if names should be changed, sex is a non-factor.

As perhaps it should be.

NotCarol | 5:28 PM

This is one of my all time favorite topics because there is simply no "right" answer. (I find, however, that there are plenty of wrong ones...just ask my mother! she will give you a list).

I was married very young. I was not finished with college and not deeply involved in a career, so I decided to tack on a second last name, two names, no hypen and I went by both. I only ever got around to changing my driver's licence before i realized that I really, really, couldn't do the two name thing. It simply didn't suit me (and oh dear it was long.)

My ex-husband and had a child. My daughter has her father's last name only, although we had discussed hypenating her name.

Then we divorced and I seriously every. single. day. wish that we had.

Now, I am getting married for the second (Final) time in a few weeks and will not be changing my name. No thank you. Honestly, it was never even a point of discussion.

My soon to be husband has a son who shares his last name.

We have decided that if we have a baby the baby will have my last name. In part because my family name is going to cease to exist after my generation where as his family is enormous and in part because everybody else has a kid with their name on them and I want one too ;-).

Alisa | 5:45 PM

I kept my own last name and don't feel any regrets. It never even occurred to me to change it. We are a family anyway. I don't need his nae to make it true. Our daughter is First HisLast(middle) MyLast(last). Yup, she has my last name. We absolutely discussed it and it wouldn't have been a deal breaker or anything. Our daughter is being raised in my family's cultural and religious tradition, so I felt uncomfortable with giving her a different last name. My husband had free reign to pick out our daughter's first name as a trade off :)

Jaci | 5:48 PM

My husband and I both legally changed our name. Both he and I took my maiden name as our new middle name and share his last name. I didn't mind losing my maiden name as my last name, b/c both first and last names were hard to pronounce so it simplifies life 4 me.

The Beckster | 5:48 PM

I gave my son my maiden name as his middle name and my husband's name as his last name. I always thought I would keep my last name, but when it came down to it - I wanted us all to have the same last name (and my original last name is still a man's - just my father's, so I feel there is no way to get around the sexism) I also put my maiden name legally into my middle name so while it is not hyphenated - it's still in there. I didn't want to hypenate my son's because most people I know who have two last names think it is a pain or end up choosing one to make it easier. And, if I have a daughter and her middle name is my maiden name - she can never give it away - even if she gives away my husband's last name! My wierd and kooky logic!!

Brittany at Mommy Words | 6:12 PM

I took mu husbands last name for a couple of reasons. First, it seemed easier than the hyphenating and I had no strong attachment to my last name. Also, my last name is my father's and after he and my mom announced their divorce shortly after my marriage, I decided that I actually did not want his last name. If one can take sides in this for a million reasons I pick my mom! If I had her maiden name I probably would have kept it! I am happy with my choice, even though now my last name is 4 syllables long and is dutch and so it has spaces in it and odd capitalization. Now it is me though and I like that is was easy to decide what the kid's last named would be. Great question!

Erin | 6:14 PM

Didn't change mine. Kids have hyphenated his-mine.

There was never any question about my changing my name. It's my name. I wasn't particularly close to my father or that side of the family, but my name is my name. I don't associate it consciously as having come from him. I would not have married someone who would have insisted I change it, or been hurt if I didn't want to. My husband never expected me to change my name, never asked me to, never even asked me if I was going to. I asked him about it and he has the same opinion of it that I do.

I do think it's a holdover from when women were legally the property of their father until they were married and became the property of their husband. Not for me. But whatever choice anyone else makes is their business and they get no judgment from me.

I had thought before I had kids that I would be fine with them having their father's name, but when I was pregnant with my first, I told me husband that I really wasn't okay with letting my last name be erased. We went back and forth with options, like give one gender my name and the other his, or give the first kid one and the second kid the other. We ultimately decided to hyphenate, and then we had to decide which went first. Sure, it's a pain in the ass when filling out forms and making doctor's appointments and telling people their last name, but we wouldn't have it any other way.

The ILs, OTOH, were not thrilled about my not taking their name, nor were they happy about the kids being hyphenated. I got a lot of guilt and grief over it, but my husband and I agreed, and we were the ones to fill out the birth certificates, so we did what we wanted to.

Erin | 6:18 PM

Oh, and we toyed with combining our names into one. Mine is an Irish Mc name and his is a common Chinese name. We were going to do it, except we could never say McWong without cracking up. Though that's not necessarily a reason not to. We figured nobody would believe us and it would be a pain in the ass long after it ceased to be funny.

Dawn | 6:30 PM

I changed my last name because Dunston is MUCH better than Willenborg.

WonderSpot | 6:37 PM

I took my husband's name because, no disrespect to my family, I have always, ALWAYS hated my name. It rhymes with "Roost" and starts with a "B" and, yeah, you can guess how many puns were made up with that. Especially when I worked at Space Camp. I didn't think too much about traditions or expectations, I just did it for selfish reasons. If I hadn't changed my name, I do think any future kids would have gotten hubbies, or a hyphenated one, just to keep things simple and for the "no, I'm not kidnapping my child" paranoia I have.

Mrs. N | 6:39 PM

I took his.

My last name is my mother's because my dad deserted her when she was pregnant. I'm not all that attached to my last name, and my first and maiden last name together sound like a retirement home (and in fact once google existed, I proved to my mother that it IS a retirement home).

However, I did make a point of moving my maiden name to my middle name and giving it to my daughter as part of her middle name. She, like I have my husband's last name.

I like that we all share the same last name. And while I'm not traditional about much, I like that tradition even as I can go on a feminist rant about property blah blah blah

Deb Thaxton | 6:48 PM

-->Never an issue to take my husband's last name. I bumped my maiden name to the middle and all was fine in the world. Frankly, I think hyphenating is a little ridiculous.
For me, getting married means changing your name to your husband's and starting a family. Of course many don't; not judging.

I used to babysit two boys and their Mom kept her maiden name because of her career at the time. The boys Hated explaining that their parents were in fact married and their mom was their "real" Mom.

~deb
www.WebSavyMom.com

sparsely kate | 7:01 PM

Oh I love your blog!

Great post...I think your 3 reasons are pretty damn spot on.
I got married at 23 to a man who said he WOULD NOT marry me if I didn't change my name...

our marriage lasted three years!!
I reckon I waited a week before I started going by real surname, and I will never, ever change that again.
I was born with this name, I'll die with this name and I have worked really hard to love who I am and my name. I've come a long way from that little girl who used to cringe and hide under the desk when the teacher's used my full name - I used to be ashamed of it.

Great post!

sparsely kate | 7:02 PM

P.s I have 3 children to my ex-husband and they all have his surname only. I'm like you - I wish I had to being stronger and stood up and said I wanted them hyphenated. It does sometimes feel wrong that my kids don't share my name.

Ms. Polkadot | 7:10 PM

I didn't take his name for your reason #3, among other things. That was kind of the kicker.

Our kids have my last name as a middle name, and no, it does not sound like a middle name at all. That was our lopsided comproomise. I sometimes wish I hyphenated it too. I didn't want to saddle them with all the biased comments they'd get about it, but I sometimes wish I stood up against that.

When I was single, I got SO SICK of seeing women keep their names and "automatically" giving their kids the spouse's name. I now realize it may not have been soautomatic, but it's unfortunate that it is so often the end result.

Corinne | 7:14 PM

I just got married a bit over a year ago (a year and three months) and despite being certain I would keep my maiden name previously when discussing the topic of marriage in the abstract, my husband's last name was sooooo much cooler than mine (and it made my name sound like I should be a princess or something) I decided to take his. That was really the only reason. But when one is given the chance to get a princess name, one should take that chance. :)

jjlibra | 7:15 PM

i took the exhole's name even though i didn't want to just because i wanted us all to match (we already had a 1 yr. old daughter together who had his name). i was only 19 and already looked at funny because i had a kid, i wanted to make it clear that we were actually married. now i'm in the middle of a divorce (just the legal paperwork- we havent been together for years)and i cant wait to get my name back!!! i am with someone else and we have a daughter who has his name but if we ever get married i'll keep my own name and then we will be a 3 name household. but my name is my identity and i have never felt comfortable with his name.

Sara | 7:19 PM

I am getting married in December and have decided to go with placing my maiden name as a second middle name and taking his last name as mine. This only changed a month ago when my father passed away and it pained me to think about getting rid of his last name.

So ya, there it is.

Julia | 7:37 PM

I always said I'd change my last name if I liked it more than my maiden name. It wouldn't take much, I didn't ever really like my last name. It sounded too short and harsh for my name, in my opinion. So unless I was marrying Mr. Gulia (Julia Guilia! I still get that all the time), I was very open to changing my name. So when my husband came along with a very formal, British last name, it was really a non-issue for me. I *love* the way my new name sounds - it's longer, sounds more professional, sounds more how I always wished it did. But I did have nostalgic feelings about my maiden name, so it's on some documents (like my college transcripts, so when I'll graduate I'll have both last names on my Master's Degree diploma). My parents helped me pay for my undergrad without loans, so I kind of feel I should honor my education with my maiden name.

sally | 7:51 PM

Hello. I am extremely surprised that no one has said that their husband took their name. My fiance, after much discussion, decided to take my name. We want to both have the same name, especially if we end up having kids, and there's a strong family connection with my name. Also, my first name and his last name sounds silly, like sally sallforth. Is there any one else out there who's husband took the wife's name? Why isn't it even mentioned as an option? strange...

jenifer | 7:51 PM

i'm still trying to figure out why people marry in the first place (other than religious reasons), ha. 13 yrs and no marriage certificate! anyway, i think taking your husband's name is antiquated and weird but to each his own! gus has his fathers but only because 2 hyphenated last names (our 2 are each 11 letters long) are too long and seems semi-pretentious.

Ms. Polkadot | 7:59 PM

I think it's interesting that women often take their husband's name simply b/c they like it more, and yet I've never heard a man do this. Men keep their name whether they hate it or not, whether they like their family or not, whether it reminds them of their father or not. I get why women change for these reasons. I just wish that men did too.

Stephanie T. | 8:05 PM

Yep, I took my husband's name so he, the kids and I would all have the same last name.

For those who feel a close connection with their last names and whose identity is connected to it in some way, I can totally understand wanting to keep it. That wasn't the case for me at all. My last name came from my father who I met, like, three times in my life, so I wasn't all that connected to it emotionally.

Megan | 8:06 PM

I changed my name to my husband's name a few months after we were married. My parents are divorced, and I don't really have much to do with my father or any of his family, so I didn't have any ties to that name. It was who I was for 23 years, but I feel like I am still me even though my last name is different.

Anonymous | 8:06 PM

My husband has an awesome last name, which was the only reason that I was considering taking it when we married. By a fluke however, if I had changed my name, I would have lost my school financial aid (marital status didn't affect it; still confused by this!); so, I kept my name. As time goes on, I'm glad that I kept my name as a means of honoring myself but also because when telemarketers/solicitors call and ask for Mr. My Last Name, we can dismiss the call easily.

We did not want our children to have a hyphenated name (if they married/partnered with someone with a hyphenated name too things could get very complicated); so, instead, they have my husband's last name and two middle names. One middle name is their own and one is my last name; this way they'll always have a name from their mother and a name from their father.

Anonymous | 8:14 PM

Irene Curie, the daughter of Marie Curie, and her husband Jean Frédéric Joliot, both changed their surnames to Joliot-Curie after marriage.

Wanderluster | 8:20 PM

I did the same as you, kept my last name, and gave our daughter my husband's last name. Even though I married late, I still wasn't ready to give up part of my identity...not sure I will ever be ready.

I don't mind that my last name is different from my husband's, but it does bother me a bit that it is different from my daughter's. I mean, she's a part of me too, and since she's of mixed race its not always physically obvious that she is my daughter and the different last name thing is just another thing that confuses people. I still may change my last name at some point. It can be lonely sometimes being an orphan mom.

Allison the Meep | 8:20 PM

I am all for keeping your name, or hyphenating names, or even the cool cases when the husband takes the wife's name and abandons his own. Love it all.

I chose to take my husband's last name simply because I liked the sound of it better. Wilson is one of the most common, white bread sounding names, but it was still better than the one I was born with.

Kelsey | 8:23 PM

I am not married, but this is something I think about with my serious boyfriend. I do not want to change my last name, not as an insult to him but as a nod to myself pretty much. Shedding my last name would be like shedding my identity.

I am still up in the air about what I will do when I have children. For the issue of simplicity, I may just give them his last name but I would much prefer to have both.

nch | 8:33 PM

My husband is the only member in his family with his last name, they all have different last names, so it was really important to him that we all had the same one. I changed my maiden name to my middle name and took his last name.

KAL | 8:39 PM

I kept my name. I'm a freelancer and my business has my name, which was the main consideration, but it just never felt right to take his.

We did give our boys both our names, at least officially. That is, on their birth certificates they have four names, first, middle, mine and his. But for the every day, they just go by his. As they've gotten older, its become more awkward to NOT share their last name, so sometimes I pretend that I do -- like when I meet their little friends or volunteer in the classroom.

BeautifulWreck | 8:47 PM

I have not legally changed my name and I really do not know if I ever will. I like my maiden name and its mine. I get aggravated that people after sixteen years still put my name down as his last name. Its funny when he corrects them. I will say that on paperwork we fill out about our kids I hyphenate my name. This is to cut out on gossip and lots of nosy questions.

AVB | 8:51 PM

My childhood best friend has her father's last name and her brother has her mother's last name (both her parent's last names were too long to consider hyphenating) so this their compromise. I always liked the idea.

marymuses | 9:00 PM

One of the things I looked for in a partner was a name that was easier to spell and pronounce than my maiden name. It was sort of a joke, but boy was I relieved when the man I fell in love with had a simple last name. I never really identified myself with my last name, and I was sick of having to pronounce and spell my maiden name to everyone. I'm sure if I'd had a badass last name or one that people could spell without adding and deleting random letters, I would have felt differently. As it is? Good riddance!

Desiree Fawn | 9:05 PM

My partner & I aren't married, but if we were I'd keep my last name. Our daughter has my last name (though technically one of her pieces of ID has it hyphenated, we'll never use the hyphenated name.)
Like you, I think my last name is pretty badass -- and since it sounds incredibly German, it makes sense to keep it since my daughter's name is decidedly German as well.

Desiree Fawn | 9:05 PM

I should note that I come from GENERATIONS of women who kept their maiden name. My mother, my grandmother and my oma and I all have the same last name.
Matriarchy! Ftw!

Sarah | 9:06 PM

I am a teacher and my last name is what I hear every second of every day. I went back and forth about changing my name, first I was going to, then I wasn't. My husband got offended when I said I was keeping my name. UGH. I am very close to my family, and proud of my solid background. My husband on the other hand comes from a family that's not very stable. When it came down to it, I just couldn't give up my maiden name. So, I did something I thought I'd never do, I hyphenated. I'm now, Kirby-Gonzalez which is uber long. I'm hyphenated on paper, but my kids still call me Kirby, or Kirby-G. What can I say? It just felt right and now that it's done, I'm happy.

Carlee Ross | 9:17 PM

I don't think I ever considered doing anything else. I was very proud of my maiden name and felt a little sad loosing it. But I was young and traditional and it wasn't until an after thought that maybe I should have kept my maiden name as a middle name.
But I was also proud of taking my husbands last name, and both of them are easy to say generic english and scottish names. At least I stayed within my heritage when changing name.

GingerB | 9:55 PM

I kept my name and have never regretted it. I was a professional for 12 years before I got married, I was buying a home, and my identity is simply that - mine, so I hated the idea of remaking it just because that is traditional. This tradition comes from a time when women legally blended into the husband in every way upon marriage and there is no reason to continue that idea!! However, I did let my Dad walk me down the aisle, which is also archaic, and I did give my kids their dad's name.

Shana | 9:59 PM

I married at 20, and changed my name, because a) I was young and from a conservative family, b) one of very few in my family with my name, which belonged to a man who died long before I was born, and c) my maiden name was common and ultra-boring (Davis).

I would not, however, make the same choice now. Am recently divorced and in the process of changing my name to one of my choosing, which I then plan to hand down in some fashion (hyphenated? alternating-babies?) to my future children. It's not just a name, and the shift from a patriarchal to a more equal society has to happen on all fronts.

Woolf really IS a badass name. Lucky you!

Stacy | 10:08 PM

I changed to his last name. I thought about not doing so, but we come from very traditional families in the deep south and I just think it would have been a big thing if I would have kept my name. Since I'm not super attached to my maiden name (my dad and I kind of have a crappy relationship), and since I like his last name better than mine, I switched. I did make my maiden name my new middle name, so it's still there, and I like having it. But I have no problem going by his last name...now it's our last name, and our son's as well. :o)

And as silly as this may sound, I love buying monogrammed things and having the plaque above our front door that says "The Mitchell's, est. 2006". I smile every time I see it - makes me feel like part of a team.

Stacy | 10:09 PM

P.S. - I swear to Gawd, the word verification was "urnayme". How funny is that?

amyinbc | 10:10 PM

I kept my last name and added his, at 26 it WAS my name, marriage added another. Kids have hubbies last name. But both are named for their maternal grandparents.

I see kids listed with hyphenated names and kind of roll my eyes. Pick a last name already! Yours, his or a combination.

Hypocritical? Maybe but glad I got to choose my last name when I was old enough to do so.

Yes, do sound hypocritical! Very interesting topic :)

AndSoShePaints | 10:13 PM

I took my husbands name. I thought it would be a non-decision, but was actually more difficult than I thought it would be for me.

I always knew I was going to drop my last name the instant I could. My maiden name was Blewett. Pronounced Blew-It. Yup. Fantastic, no?

I did not like that name from the first day of second grade when someone made a farty noise as my name was read during role call. I didn't realize just how attached to it I was until I went to change it after getting married.

My maiden name was my father's last name, and the name I was given at birth. Here's where it gets complicated: My mother has always had her maiden name. My half brother and sister on my mom's side go by my mom's maiden name, though they both went through a period of hyphenating it with their father's name as well. My half-sister on my father's side has her ex-step father's last name, as was her mother's last name at the time of her birth. My three step-brother's have their father's last names.

So basically, I've never had the same last name as any of my siblings, or my mother, and since I only saw my dad occasionally growing up, I wasn't particularly attached to it.

I was always different, I was always "Blew-it"... I was always the odd one out because of my name.

When I went to start changing it on things after my wedding to the much more non-farty sounding "Meliton", I realized just how much my different-ness defined me, and how attached to it I was/am. I will always be a Blewett. I am notorious for blowing it (big klutz, prone to screw ups, etc), and it helped me to grow my thicker skin growing up. Since becoming an adult I have grown closer to my father and his family as well, so I have more affection for the name than I did as a child, when it meant little more to me than fodder for the class bullies.

In the end I decided to change to Meliton anyways, because seriously "Blew-it" needed to go, but since I would always be a Blewett, and it is a part of me, I opted to tag myself with it literally, and permanently, and had it tattooed on my wrist.

It wasn't really an issue of feminism for me, as my husband is aware that I have not taken his name because I am his property, but because I chose to take it for my self, and for our little family unit. He was supportive of whatever decision I wanted to make.

The Grown Up Teenager | 10:15 PM

I'm changing mine, even if its unpronounceable or easy to butcher the spelling. Call me anti feminist but I like the idea.

Hyphenating makes for the mother of all long names sometimes, and its not up my alley. I may, however, pick up my maiden name as a middle name, but just go by first and last as a shout out to my parents, who I love dearly.

Maybe this is the athlete in me, but if you're going to play on the same team, you wear the same jersey. I want to have the same name as my husband and kids. I don't want to be Mizz Smith, when he's Mr Jones and my kids are Jones, "but I SWEAR we're married."

It'll be our name. Period.

Shannon | 10:34 PM

I want to start by saying that this is a totally personal thing, and I could care less what others decide to do since we all have our own reasons. My dad is a loser so I had no desire whatsoever to keep my maiden name. I couldn't change it fast enough actually. LOL Plus, I really like my married name. . .way better than my maiden. :)

I think it makes everything (paperwork, etc.)easier to all have the same last name. I look at it as tradition, and I feel like we too often these days we shun tradition. I don't feel like it makes me any less powerful, but instead more connected to my hubby. Plus it makes it so much easier for people to address mail. LOL I never know what the appropriate way to address an invite or card is when there are more than one versions of a last name in a family.

Woolf is a pretty cool last name. I would have wanted to keep it also. ;)

mommymae | 10:39 PM

i changed mine. i, ultimately would have liked to chuck my middle name & use my maiden name as a middle name because it sounds better, but i didn't want my kids to do the same.

cesca | 10:40 PM

It never occurred to me to change my name when I got married. I LOVED my name! I LOVED my family! I LOVED that cashiers would look at the name on my credit card and say "Oh, are you related to so-and-so?" My name is unusual and my anyone with my name is almost definitely a relation.

My kids have a first name, a second name, a THIRD name (my surname), and then my husband's name (their surname). So they have two middle names, one being my surname.

I'm now kicking myself, as I've ended up with one boy and one girl. I'd always told myself that any boys would get my husband's surname as their last name, and any girls would get my name as their last name. I liked that idea - both sexes would carry down their own names.

But then I had my babies, got caught up in the post-baby hormone fug and just plain forgot. Sometimes though I call my daughter using my surname, it sounds good. :-)

Meemo | 11:04 PM

I tried to hyphenate but that got old real fast.

My husband and I have different cultural backgrounds, so I'm a brown girl with a German last name. Makes things a tad more interesting.

janie | 11:05 PM

I kept my last name, never thought about changing it: my name is my name, it's part of me.

The kids have his last name. My reasoning is that I get them inside of me for 9 months, I feel close to them before they are already born, they are physically connected to me in a way that is unique and my husband cannot share. Having his last name gives them a connection to their father that is unique and something that just they share.

His concern was having a system that made sense prior to birth so we wouldn't have to have a new discussion with every child. (currently we have 2, thought we were done...but if there are more they will have his last name)

Charlotte | 11:15 PM

Kept my last name since the hubs kept his and didn't want to combine and hyphenate. Hence, Little Miss Kickboxer's last name *is* hyphenated--nice symbolism, and she gets to keep my (and her) authentic German crunchiness.

Anonymous | 11:53 PM

My husband took my name when we got married. Totally his idea. (His name was Vile, yes, literally Vile.) He had to legally change his name and go through all the hoops involved as opposed to ticking a box on the marriage certificate if I had wanted to take his name. I have to admit to being quite proud of him for bucking the trend.

Sara | 12:17 AM

Can you please please please tell us what eyeshadow colors you are wearing in the momversation video? Looks different than the video tutorial you did before...To be honest, I had a hard time listening to what you were saying bc your eyes looked so damn cool! Please share!

s.a. | 12:41 AM

I did not change my name- never considered it.

I am currently pregnant with our first child, a boy- and his last name will be hyphenated Husband's Name-My Name.

For me it is an identity issue, and an equality issue. The fact that it is still a no brainer for most people that woman will change her last name is distressing. How many men do we know who would be okay with that?

Anonymous | 1:02 AM

Ugh - I would be such a hypocrite if I took his name after years of feminist ranting! So we're sorted. But where does that leave the child? He's happy for our child to have my name, but surprisingly, I find I want some part of him recognised in name too.

Our names are too long to hyphenate, so we'll take the first 3-5 letters from up and create a new name. Half mine, half his, completely ours.

Shana | 1:18 AM

I see a lot (I'd say most?) of the ladies here saying things along the lines of "we're a unit," "a family should have the same name," "he and I are connected," etc.

My questions: with different last names, how are you less "connected?" Less of a "unit?" Are you less of a family, somehow, if you and your husband and children don't share a name? There were a lot of comments "excusing" (for lack of a better world) knuckling under to societal pressure for a family to share a name, but IMO, that remains the case -- you're caving because you feel it to be easier. Wouldn't it make just as much sense, if it's TRULY a case of being a "unit," for your husband to change his name to yours, and for the kids to take YOUR name? But no, that's not how we do it in America. And there's a reason why we do it. And yeah, it's easier not to swim against the current, but if our mothers hadn't, people would still think it was crazy for a woman to keep her maiden name, and we'd not be able to have this conversation. By caving in to the pressure to take our husbands' names because it makes things seem smoother socially, are we delaying the wheels of equality for our daughters?

I don't know. I just feel like I see a lot of rationalizing here. I changed my name at 20, but what I've learned and experienced since then has taught me that that was a mistake not to be made again -- if for no other reason than that I have younger sisters I'm modeling behavior for, and someday perhaps daughters of my own.

Megan | 2:32 AM

I kept my name - no question. My name is heaps more interesting than his, if it hadn't been maybe I would have thought more about it. when we lived in the US for a couple of years I hyphenated because that seems to be an acceptable way to do things (I'm Australian, where double barrelled names are seen as very snobby. I had to go back to being me as soon as I came back home. Our son has his dad's name, that was pretyy east too, though I'm not sure why?

Sarabei | 3:35 AM

I took my husband's last name because he had kids, and we both wanted all of our family to have the same last name. Now, looking back, I wish I would have at least hyphenated, because it's definitely not a big deal (to me, at this point in my life) to have a family full of different last names. It's not something I would go back and change now; it's not that big of an issue to me at all, just one of those things that changed over time. And like most people, I certainly don't think there is a best way for everyone!

mary catherine | 4:29 AM

i kept my last name for the exact reasons you kept yours, and like you, also wish we'd either hyphenated our daughter's name (she has my husband's) or made my last name her sole middle name. Instead it's her 2nd middle name, still on the birth certificate and in there somewhere, but not her middle initial which I now think would be a heck of a lot cooler. i'm continually surprised by the instant name-changeroo, and am very interested to hear about how everyone comes to their individual choice.

Rob Rummel-Hudson | 4:46 AM

My wife and I both hyphenated, but we intended to give our daughter my last name, for simplicity's sake. The hospital screwed that up and we were too distracted at the time to make a big deal out of it, so she left with our hyphenated last names on her birth certificate.

We called her by the single last name for a number of years, but then a funny thing happened. She decided when she was about six that she wanted to use the hyphenated name as well, so now that's what she goes by. She has something of an unusual first name as well, so she's flying her little freak flag proudly, I guess.

Michelle | 5:16 AM

I took my husbands name as it was very important to me. Its not that I needed to say that I 'belonged" to him but that we share a unity together. Im proud of both my names but love my married name.

Kelly | 5:23 AM

I was hellbent on keeping my last name, since I would be the last person (dun dun DUN) in my family to ever have the name. BUT (and prepare yourself for how horrible this is) my husband has a Hispanic last name, and I was told by a former employer that it would be a good thing for me to change it as it relates to job searching. *Winces*

I also wanted my son and I to have the same last name. Just felt right.

Jessi | 5:53 AM

I took my husband's name, because my father and his family and I don't get along. I was disowned by most of the family at birth. I would have liked to hyphenate, but I just wanted free of that name.

On a side note, I used to babysit for two families where the kids' names were hyphenated, we used to joke all the time that two of them would get married and be Abbie and John Taylor-Schmidt-Wiebe-Junke.

Lisa | 5:59 AM

I legally changed my name to my husbands last name. My ultimate decision was based on that I already had a child with a different last name than me. I knew we'd have one child together and that child would be given my husbands last name. So, after much thought I decided that I should take it on as a sign of family to us. My son has a different last name than we do and we didn't need two of us with totally different names. (I did not have my sons last name, he shares his last name with his father.)

It was very hard for me to do that. I loved my last name, now I have a last name that is so common that it annoys me. But I love my husband and daughter and it felt like family to change it.

doahleigh | 6:02 AM

This is my favorite topic in the whole world. I've written and generated many discussions about it at my blog, and my fiance and I just wrote about it on our joint blog (www.shanandmike.wordpress.com). I find it absolutely fascinating, and I love hearing from other women who are making or have made the same decision as me.

I'm getting married next year, and I will not be changing my name. I love my last name and what it represents, and I'm very attached to it. I always knew I'd keep it. My fiance is completely supportive, and even considered taking my name. In the end, we're each keeping our own, and it's really the best thing for both of us as individuals and a couple.

As for kids, well, we'll figure that out when the time comes. But I think we'll find a way to incorporate bits of both of our heritages in their names.

Also, have you noticed all the vitriolic hatred that is spewed on this topic? I wrote about that once too - how people actually get really ugly and angry about this topic. It's scary.

I've always wanted to do a study on this topic, write a book, something. We should partner up! :)

Allyssa | 6:17 AM

My husband and I BOTH hyphenated our last names, thereby taking each other's last name. Which is a pain in the ass in practice, but it feels good to know we share that. When our son was born, he got both our last names, but without the hyphen (because really, why make it even more difficult on a kid?), so he only goes by his father's "maiden" name; my maiden name is an extra middle name for him. Later on, he can choose to use it if he wants to match us.

Rachel | 6:35 AM

Um. Wow! A lot of people have things to say about this.

I kept my name. It was a big deal to my conservative culture, in the "she's so odd" kinda way. So it was wierd to people, but I kept it because....it's my name. I didn't feel the need to change my name.

Our son has my husbands name as it was important to him (my husband) and we both have longish names so the hyphen would be unwieldy. That was not a battle I felt I needed to fight. Our general rule of thumb is that the person who feels the strongest gets the deciding vote.

My name is my name, but if things come home from my son's school with "THe (husbands name) Family" on them, I don't find it neccesary to correct anyone. Same thing goes for christmas cards from elderly family. I guess what I am saying is I don't use my husbands last name, but if other people do, I'm not offended. After all, we are a family.

Wendy | 6:46 AM

It's really interesting reading all these comments. It seems like the common factor is that the choice to change or keep or hyphenate your name is a complex response to a number of personal factors (how much we like our own name, how close we feel to our family of origin, how much we have established ourselves career-wise under our maiden name), only one of which may be political, and this again seems to be colored by personal history. It reminds me of the decisions we make as parents - no matter how much theory or philosophy get ascribed to them, our parenting choices are in the end most strongly motivated by our gut instincts, which are based on our personal histories and experiences. As many other commenters have said, feminism (and indeed democracy) is about ensuring and protecting each individual's choice to pursue their happiness however they see fit. That this sentiment should be called feminism rather than humanism is an unfortunate testament to the fact that we still have so much structural inequality between men and women in this country, particularly with respect to those issues that impact our choices around how we run our households - unequal pay, unfair hiring practices, lack of affordable and adequate childcare, inflexible work hours, and poor maternity/paternity leave, just to name a few.

feastafterfamine | 6:47 AM

It's not too late to change your children's names. We did it when my oldest was almost 4 and the twins were 2.
I posted a comment at Momversation but I'll write briefly here. I thought I was OK with giving my children my surname as their middle name -- and giving them my husband's last name as their last.
But, in reality, it just never sat right with me. Their name felt incomplete. LIke it only told part of their story.
We hyphenated our children's names despite the fact that neither of us liked hyphenated names. Now, it seems natural. They're a blend of both of us. Their name represents that.
The process to change the names was free and super easy -- probably because they're so young and didn't have a long paper trail established with their former name.
If your son hasn't started school yet, I think you can do it too. If your family decides it's best.

Momma B | 7:26 AM

When I was in college, I got pregnant and gave birth to my oldest daughter. Her sperm donor was a jerk and was never around for me or for her, but he refused to sign her birth certificate unless I gave her his last name. I did, because I thought at the time he would come around eventually. He didn't. Two years later, when I met my wonderful husband, he became the only father my daughter had ever known. When we got married, I happily dropped my maiden name and took his, keeping my middle name. I was heartbroken because my daughter did not share our last name, so I asked her SD if he would let us add our married name to her name so that things would be less confusing with school and insurance issues and things like that. He agreed and she became First Middle Last Last no hyphen. We regarded SD's last name as a second middle name and started calling her by our married name. When we had our second child, she also took our married name. Then SD decided he didn't want to pay child support any longer and terminated his rights to our oldest daughter and my husband was finally able to adopt her. We dropped SD's last name from her name and we've all had the same last name for several years now. Being a teacher, I know how confusing it is when kids don't have the same last name as their mother or father. I think there's something special about it too, being able to say we are the Lastnames, all of us, not just my husband and my kids, but all of us together as a unit.

Writebrite | 7:40 AM

I've been married twice, with a child from each marraige. I changed my name the first time, got divorced, had my son who took my maiden name (which I had taken back). When dad decided to pop back into his life around 10 months after birth, we hyphenated.

I hyphenated my name with the second marraige (for that "belonging" thing with my son) and my daughter got her father's name only. It was a HUGE thing with him. He was pissed because I hyphenated mine, and no way in hell was he going to "allow" his daughter to do that. Yeah, it was like that. Post divorce, I dropped the hyphenation.

Now I'm getting married again, eventually, and we've already agreed that I'm keeping my name. I'm just over it all. The paperwork, credit cards, banks, work, schools, doctors...it's amazing how many places your name actually ends up! He's cool with it. We're just "honey" or "babe" around the house anyway, so who cares what our last names are!

kittenpie | 7:41 AM

I was never going to change my last name - I have my mom's maiden name, as does she, and it's the same as my fave relatives, my aunt and grandma. As well as the fact that everythign I had ever done was in my name. All degrees, all jobs, all people I ever knew, knew me with that name. ON top of that, Misterpie's last name is even more boring than mine and sounds awful with my name. So a no-brainer.

He was a bit disappointed at first, though he got used to the idea, but I told him we could give the kids his last name, and just find first names that would work with it. That made him happy, and mostly, I don't care. My mom had a different name from my sister, ti never mattered. Every now and then I think it might be cool for pumpkinpie to have my name and Bun to have Misterpie's but I think that might be even weirder, like they weren't true siblings or we were splitting the family in half in advance or something.

So me, maiden name, evenyone else, Misterpie's name. And here, all pies all the time!

Anonymous | 7:44 AM

I have to say I am a little disappointed to not see more mentions of husbands considering taking the wife's last name. I think the street should run both ways. It shouldn't just be the woman decided should I take his name or not, but the man also deciding.

In my case, I kept my name. I didn't even think twice about it. It was a given I would keep my name. My husband kept his. He has agreed that he would change his name if we both changed to a new name combining our two last names, but I like my name and am sticking with it. Now we are trying to figure out what to do with the kids we plan to start having. He is all for the made up combo name for them. Neither of us like hyphens. I feel like they should at least have one name that connects them to their past. I think we should do FirstName Hislastname Mylastname (with no additional middle name). We will see how things shake out.

Anonymous | 7:46 AM

I have a reason for keeping my maiden name that no one has mentioned yet. I kept it for my mother. I'm biracial and, when my parents divorced, my mother kept my dad's name, even though he had physically abused her, so that people would understand that we were a family (didn't stop people from asking if I was adopted, though). So when I got married, I realized if I changed my name, my mother would still be carrying my dad's name, but for no reason at all. It meant a lot that she did that for me and I didn't want to throw away her sacrifice just because I got married. I originally assumed that we'd just give my kids my husbands name but, the more that I think about it, the more I'd like to hyphenate, or at least use my last name as a second middle.

Anonymous | 7:46 AM

I took my husband's last name. My parents are divorced & my Mom took her maiden name back, so I've always had my father's last name even though I've never really had a father. So I felt like I never really identified with my own last name, so I took my husband's.
If I had always felt strongly about my own name, though, I would have kept it...

Sara | 8:17 AM

I "belong to myself first" and I still took my husband's last name. I don't think those two things are mutually exclusive and am a little miffed by the implication that they are, but to each her own. For us it was a matter of being a single, unified, strong "team," both in practice and in name.

Elise | 8:24 AM

I kept my name when I got married because I just couldn't bring myself to change it. It identifies me with my family's country of origin and I didn't want to give that up to be identified with my husband's country of origin (both are very ethnic names from very different parts of the world). Our kids will have my husband's last name becaause it's important to him that they do and not at all important to me that they won't have mine.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 8:24 AM

Sara - I don't think the two are mutually exclusive for everyone. They just were for me.

Mhlia | 8:37 AM

It took me about 20 years to come to like my last name (it is Mexican Indian and so even using Spanish pronunciation it is difficult for most people to spell and pronounce). Given that, the idea of giving it up when I married was very difficult; especially since my husband is white (though his last name is French Canadian). I also was reasonably well known in my profession and my unusual last name actually helped that. So... discussion insued. I felt like giving up my last name meant giving up not only my personal identity, but also my ethnic identity; it was important to my husband to share his last name. So I hyphenated. And I don't really care that it is a PITA for most people. Although eyes do occasionaly start to glaze over when I'm about half-way through saying my name.

As for kids... we'll give them his last name. I'm pretty adament about including mine as a middle name or second middle name though. And I'm glad that I will share their last name, at least in part.

Birdie | 8:46 AM

Kept my last name. My thinking was that I've had this name for the first 20 some years of my life- why change it just because I'm choosing to commit to partnering with someone? Doesn't make sense to me. And he would never have considered taking my name.

Our kid has my last name as his middle name, and then his father's last name. A solution that we could both live with.

Although I will admit, that in my post-partum hormonal craziness, I did temporarily consider adding my husband's last name onto mine. But once I looked at the paperwork headache it would be, I just said screw it :-)

Momma Pants | 9:01 AM

I was all about tradition when we got engaged. However, I was also in university and taking a Sociology class. Following the class about matriarchal societies, I went home and said, "Honey, if I REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted you to take my last name... like it was almost a deal breaker if you didn't, would you?" without even batting an eye, my enlightened 21st century man said, "No. I just couldn't." I said, "Good, then you understand why I'm not taking yours." End of discussion. Our daughter has a first name, a middle name, and both our last names (no hyphen). As a teacher, I know how frustrating it is to get a call from a mom who only leaves her name and it doesn't match any one on my attendance list, "And your child is?..." so I wanted her to have both our names. I know that one day she will have to drop one (it is a mouthful!), but I am ok to leave that decision up to her. I have to say, though that I am SHOCKED at how many people still make a big deal out of the multiple name thing. Seriously-- the computer programs at doctor's offices don't hold enough characters to spell her whole name and so the nurses and receptionists are always sighing and eyerolling and generally annoyed when we come in. And I love my husband's relatives who take issue with the fact that I kept my name and continually send cards with his last name only to make a point. I've considered sending it back with "No one by that name at this address" scrawled across it. Get over it.

sprout | 9:10 AM

I changed my name and was excited to do so. I had one of those last names that people we're always stumbling over and butchering. After getting married I tossed it without a second thought. However, my husband and I have discussed the whole name change business. His stance is that while he doesn't see the need for me to necessarily take his name, he would want us to share a surname. Whether that came from me taking his, him taking mine, hyphenation or creating one just for us. I love him for that mentality.

Lisa | 9:10 AM

I'll be changing my last name. But I part of me wants to keep my maiden name. It's a rare Dutch last name and it's my connection to Holland and my Opa etc.
So maybe I'll make it a middle name. But I guess, in my heart I always have the connection and my last name doesn't change my ancestry.

Professionally, I go by a false last name anyway so it doesn't matter in that area.

Anonymous | 9:31 AM

I kept my name when I got married; husband kept his. Carrying on my last name in our children was very important to me; the first name of our children was very important to my husband. So our daughter is Firstname Middlename1 Middlename2 (husband's last name) Lastname (my last name).
Husband got to pick Firstname -- name is similar to his mom's; I picked Middlename1 (in honor of my grandma). Our next child will have a similar naming strategy.

Bethany | 9:37 AM

I was excited to take my husband's when we got married two years ago. For various reasons dealing with my relationship with my father, I had no emotional attachment to my maiden name, and was excited to have a name that would belong to me, and my family, by my choice.

Had I not gotten married, I would have changed my name to my mother's maiden name, because that is the one I have a connection to.

Anonymous | 9:42 AM

Call me old-fashioned (I guess?) but I happily took my husband's last name when we married over 30 years ago. I liked my last name - I was just excited to become a couple and share the same last name. I do like the idea of keeping the maiden name as the "middle initial", but I was not sophisticated enough to do that when I got married. It's ironic, because I detest my middle name, and wished I would have done that!

kszal | 10:13 AM

I took my husband's name, because it made him very upset to think that I wouldn't. His mom left their family when he was 13 and he has some abandonment issues around that, so I came around to make him feel better that I wouldn't leave, symbolically, by changing to his name. 5 yrs later I am used to it and don't mind that I changed it any more.

Meredith | 10:22 AM

Didn't take my hub's last name, and never had any plan to. He said that he didn't care as long as I kept it fair and didn't expect him to change his name either and that's cool with me. Baby girl has his last name, although sometimes in my head I wish she had my last name. Hub's last name is dorky and mine is cool and I feel bad that she now has that dorky last name.

My inlaws stated that they were "horribly insulted" when I didn't change my name, but I'm pretty much horribly insulted by everything that comes out of their mouths so I guess we're even.

My younger brother passed away 11 years ago and when I realized that changing my name would mean that there would be nobody left in my family with my name, I decided I'd never do it. I'm happy with my choice and I hope that all women can find happiness in their choice as well.

EdenSky | 10:22 AM

My kids have both names, hyphenated. Which I like so long as the names are not too long and don't "clash" If we ever do decide to get married we're both going to hyphenate too, because like you said: it's 2009, and also so potential-hubby doesn't feel all left out as the only unhyphenated one in the family.

Cate Subrosa | 10:28 AM

I ended up changing my name. I had no real desire to give our children my name and knew he would really want to. (We make most decisions based on who feels strongest.) And wanted to have the same name as my children (didn't think it would be a problem if I didn't, just liked the idea) so I took his name. Actually I also quite liked the idea of us having the same name. I was feeling romantic when we got married!

I intended to continue using my maiden name at work but I changed my mind when we got back from honeymoon. I wanted to keep things simple.

Having said all of that... I would never be anyone's "Mrs" - I think it's ridiculous marital status is still clear from a woman's title. So I'm a "Ms". This really confuses some people, how I can be a married "Ms" with her husband's name, but to make it makes perfect sense. I think all women should use "Ms," whichever name they choose to use.

Maggie | 10:30 AM

I never ever thought I would take my husband's last name, but when I got married my husband wanted us to have the same last name. BUT he said that we were starting a new family that was all our own and we should have our own last name that was unique to just us. So he decided that he should take my last name and I should take his as well. So we are both Keegan Gross, two last names, no hyphen (because we don't like the hyphen), and we are the only Keegan Grosses in the world. (But ugggh with the trouble to get his name changed, the laws are unisex, but tell that to the people at Social Security and the DMV because I guess men don't do that kind of thing very often).

And when our daughter was born, she became Keegan Gross too, although I think I feel a little bad about that because she's going to have a big decision to make when she gets married, I mean, how many last names can a girl have. In retrospect I kinda think we should have just made up a new last name.

makyo | 10:32 AM

i initially had no intention of changing my name. i offered my husband three options: 1. we could both hyphenate; 2. we could choose a new name together; 3. he could take my last name. the fact that he wouldn't even CONSIDER any of these options made me feel completely justified in keeping my last name.

cut to 4 years later, we've gone through some really heavy relationship stuff, we're trying to have a baby, and suddenly it was much more important to my husband that i change my name than it was to me to keep it. i think that i needed to be able to prove (to myself) that i could be married and still have my maiden name, and i did that, and now i can move on. it was really important to him that his kids have his last name, and i didn't like the idea of being the odd man out in the family. my plan is to give the baby my maiden name as a middle, which is what my mom did with both me and my sister.

it's still hard though, sometimes. i often introduce myself with my maiden name because i just plain forget.

Kendra | 10:38 AM

When I got married, I changed my given middle name to my maiden name and took DH's last name as our "family" name. We all have the same last name.

Shazanne | 10:41 AM

When Shan and I met, I had recently changed my last name because it was european and difficult to pronounce. Shan wasn't attached her family name as her parents are divorced, her mum is remarried and she doesn't talk to her dad. So when we get married in two weeks Shan will take my new last name, which worked out great for us as it will be 'our' name and not one of our family names. As a lesbian couple, I think we would have ended up coming up with a new name anyway as neither of us would have felt right taking the other's family name, we're not into hyphenated names and we want to have a family name where our children will have the same name as us.

Dina | 10:48 AM

Rebecca,

As the possessor of a hyphenated name (from birth) I have to say it was a great idea NOT to hyphenate Archer and Fable's last name. It's just a bitch. No one can figure out where to alphabetize it, or that, yes, both are my last name, and no, I can't just use one...but, when I got married last year there was NO way I was going to change my name.

This is for several reasons: as you said, I belong to me first; my mother didn't change her maiden name, why would I; I'm not a huge fan of my name w/ my husband's last name, it just doesn't sound right. I am the only one in my group of friends from childhood that has kept their last name, which is interesting to me b/c of how liberally we were all raised, but out of friends I've made as an adult it is far more common to keep your maiden name. (BTW I graduated from HS in '00 so I was born in the early 80s to place me generationally.)

Anonymous | 10:58 AM

I debated for a few months after we got married before I changed my name. My husband did not care one way or another - he doesn't particularly like his last name, but didn't really like mine either. Mine was a unique name that I've had to spell out for people my whole life. Ultimately, I changed my name for two reasons: ease of use, in spelling, insurance, whatever else, and because I had a rather creepy stalker and a common last name was sounding pretty good. Do I necessarily identify myself, mentally, by my new last name? No, but I never really did by my old one, either - I thought of myself in terms of my first and middle names. Thus, I kept my middle name and totally dropped the maiden.

I did get a lot of pressure from my peers not to change it - I used to be in an academic field where most women keep their maiden names (and eventually attach a Dr.). I got a lot of looks and "You're CHANGING your name?" - Probably the opposite of what other women go through. My goal is to be a novelist, though - and I can use an entirely different name if I please. So there. :)

Jills | 11:00 AM

Yay I love this topic! I did change my name legally for everyday junk but as an actor, I've kept my maiden name professionally. My husband really wanted to hyphenate our names and BOTH become Rafa-Wesley which I found very sweet but I find hyphenated names to be pretentious. Just an opinion. My husband has made it VERY clear that my maiden name (Rafa) will be our son's middle name...which I think is extra cool. Names are inherently personal and you have to go with what you like and makes you feel comfortable.

nicolaemms | 11:04 AM

I thought about changing my name for a loved-up second, told one of my friends who said phone me back when you're feeling sane again. But I never would have, my name is really important to me, I remember thinking about this issue when i was little and feeling really sad that I would have to change my name but then deciding I wouldn't ever get married, relief! exactly the same as you though, when I talked about it with my husband, he would never ever have changed his name so he understood my decision. My little girl has a hyphenated name, and that took a whie to decide whose surname comes first, mine does, i bloody gave birth to her!

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