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*?


*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!


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Denise | 11:18 AM

I've been married twice, and didn't change my name either time. There are all girls in my family, and I don't want our name to die away. My son has his father's last name, and my last name is his middle name. I'm pregnant with our second child, and we'll do the same thing with this one.

Surprised Suburban Wife | 11:26 AM

I had always disliked my hard-to-pronounce-and-spell last name, and was for no other reason pretty sure I'd change my name if I ever got married.
Then I started dating someone whose last name is Braun. And my name is Eva. Google "Eva Braun" and you will see why I couldn't take his last name even though I love it far more than mine. Sigh. Just couldn't go through life constantly being told "Eva Braun? Did you know that was the naem of Hitler's mistress?"

Krystle | 11:37 AM

Taking my husband's last name was somewhat a happy coincidence. Radio personalities often have an on-air "persona" and since my last name was kind of awkward I had decided to use my Dad's middle name as my last name professionally. Coincidentally, my husband's last name and Dad's middle name are the same, so it all worked out!
My Mom is a self-proclaime feminist and, while she took my Dad's last name, she REFUSES to go by MRS. It's MS. all the way. I like it. It still gives an air of independence.

Leenski | 11:47 AM

I did not change my time when my husband and I got married and I'm a total fundamentalist about it. I've even returned mail to my mother-in-law when she sent it to "Mr. and Mrs. xxx" to be cute. For me it's a no-brainer: name change is derived from a patrilineal/patriarchal tradition of women as men's property. I don't want any part of it and neither does my husband. We're still considering whose name our kids will take....

steph anne | 12:07 PM

I'm in LOVE with my last name because it's simple & only 3 letters: Vik. But when it came to marrying my husband, I wanted to take his but somehow keep mine and I didn't like the idea of hyphenating. I'm sad because my Dad is the last one in the family and we don't have anyone else to carry our name on. I'm secretly hoping my sister will!

satakieli | 12:23 PM

I didn't take my husbands name. It was pure laziness on my part. I was going through the immigration process to the US at the time and couldn't be bothered to change all of the paperwork.

My MIL gets mad about it sometimes, but my husband could care less. Maybe I'll change it eventually, his last name is better than mine. When I need to tell people how to spell my name I say "Sims, like the videogame". That gets old fast.

Marian | 12:49 PM

I kept my last name, there was never another consideration. I married at 37, had our first child at 38, now we have 2. They have my husband's last name. He suggested that he take my name when we married, but I thought that was just as silly. I couldn't get behind either of us choosing the names of our two fathers. Someone else said this about the reason for the kids having his last name, but it was very clear to me: they came from my body, they are so obviously mine, the name makes them obviously his as well. From time to time I regret us all not having the same name, but it's fleeting and I wouldn't change it now. Never have been able to think creatively about it, we didn't like the idea of hyphenating, and just didn't have the energy to come up with a whole new name, I guess. I've never had trouble with anyone thinking I'm not the mom, and my kids understand my choice. I hope they choose something similar. Although I really don't want to judge anyone, and I feel strongly that these are highly personal choices, to be honest I am always disappointed when I hear of a friend who has changed her name. I've been surprised that more of my friends have changed than have retained their own names.

A Serious Girl | 12:51 PM

There was no thinking involved. It was in my gut. I wanted his name because I wanted to be a part of him. I wanted to be a part of his family. I wanted to have his name. :)

Marie-Ève | 1:01 PM

All stories are different and so interesting... I believe every woman should do what feels right to them, but I like when it's been thought of, instead of just done.

I kept my name, and my son has my husband's name (we actually had him before we married). And I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who will come up with this reason: believe it or not, women keep their own names *by law* here in Quebec. OK, I would have kept it anyway, but I never had a choice. What do you think of that? Everyone keeps their names, it's just how society works, I've always seen married women around me, my mom, even my grandma, with their own names! This was so normal to me, actually, that when I first started watching TV and movies in English, what seemed strange was I couldn't understand the sheer number of people who had married someone who had the same last name as them!

We were one of the first places to recognize same-sex marriages, and I realized then that the law was well-suited to that, because who's supposed to take the other's name, in this case?

The only compromise I had to make was about my son's name. I would have liked him to have my name as well, but we decided not to hyphenate because 1- his name would have been really painfully long, and 2- there's a whole generation of now grown-up kids here who had hyphenated names, and who all seem to say that it sucks and didn't help them at all during their childhood. So, somewhat reluctantly, I abided...

dubiousMa | 1:06 PM

I only got married so that I COULD take his name. It was way cooler than mine.

Anonymous | 1:53 PM

I just find it interested that women do not want to change their name to the husbands because its THEIR NAME! 9 times out of 10, you got your FATHERS name. So you still have a man's last name anyway.

EMQ | 2:20 PM

When my husband and I first started dating, I told him that when I got married I wanted not only to keep my name, but have my kids take my name as well.

"Sounds about right" he said.

He was he first man I'd met who hadn't had a viscerally negative reaction to what I considered to be a pretty reasonable idea. And that was one of the first inklings I had that he might be the man for me.

When I was pregnant, I wasn't sure if we would actually go through with it. I had kept my name (because you can't give up a name like McQueen. Not for nothing) but suddenly not giving our daughter Dave's name seemed...radical? Possibly very confusing for her? A potential paperwork nightmare? Maybe just plain selfish?

When we filled out the forms for her birth certificate, I had half a mind to bail. The other half had just given birth aftr carrying a baby for nine months, and was like "do it! Especially since you have a daughter! By not taking Dave's last name, your teaching her that love doesn't mean that either party is requitered to relenquish their identity. By giving her your name you'll show her that she can make her own rules, have her own traditions."

And so we gave her my last name.

I will say that it's not a concept that everyone we know can wraptheir head around. Many of the guys I work with still refer to me as Mrs. Sanger, and our family as the Sangers. It doesn't really bother us though. Because made our decision as a family. We made our own rules. And we're cool with the results

Martha | 2:45 PM

I had always, always, always, planned on keeping my last name. I'm from a proud family of five girls, no boys, and I would have been thrilled to find a husband who would a) take my last name and b) pass that name to our kids. My husband was willing to consider it but his parents were NOT. Emphatically NO on that one. They were not pleased with the suggestion and my husband is very respectful of his parents. Because it was important to him that we have a similar last name, I hyphenated with his last name. My maiden name is 11 characters and his name is five characters, so it is literally the only name I could have tacked on to my ridiculously long last name that would work. So now I'm B_________-D____ and he is D_____ and our kids will be D_____. I know it sounds like I compromised it all away, but now, four years into our marriage, I love the way my hyphenated name sounds and I love the way his last name sounds with the kids' names we have planned.

The only downside to my very long hyphenated name is that I've lost my first name on all my ID. So instead of Martha lastname, I'm M. B________-D_____ on my credit card, license, etc. etc. I've stopped signing Martha on most things too.

Candace | 2:50 PM

I changed my name. It mattered to me that my husband was willing to change his name, too, I think it would have bothered me if he wasn't. We both wanted to have the same last name, and in the end we decided that since he was the only child of two only children that we wanted to keep his last name going.

I do think it's too bad that the choice often comes down to keeping your husband's last name or your father's. I've heard people propose passing the mother's last name along to daughters and the father's last name along to sons, that seems like it'd be fair to both genders.

Jane Smith-Jones | 2:56 PM

hmmm. just curious about the whole hyphenated names thing. It is true, why should one person get to carry on their name over the other? But hyphenating is a bit funny to me. Cuz then what happens to the next generation? I mean, if you had hyphenated your kids names, like you wish you had, what happens in the future when they get married and have kids of their own? If their husband/wife has a hyphenated name, too? do you hyphenate AGAIN? Little Jane or John Smith-Jones-Simpson-Black? It could just get really crazy, you know? Maybe the couple needs to make up a new last name, a combo of their 2 names...Smith + Jones = Smones. Or something. I'm curious, what do you think?

Heather | 3:22 PM

My sister and her husband shared a middle name. So, when they got married, they just flip-flopped their last and middle names and now have their previous middle as their joint last.
Made sense to me, but the Grandmas were pretty verclempt. :)

Cindy | 3:32 PM

I kept my name and our first child has my name. The second one will have his. All is fair!

kate | 3:40 PM

aaah! This is a tough one isn't? I've been lurking here for many months now but I wanted to chime in on this one because: my husband is going to take my name!! Isn't he amazing? I didn't take his when we got married (even though, I'll be honest, my last name isn't super) but then I got pregnant and we didn't want to hyphenate (wouldn't have worked with our names) and we thought of choosing a new one entirely, but that felt too, I don't know, too something. So, finally, my husband decided he'd take mine. I was worried that we'd get a lot of: "Well, I guess we know who wears the pants in *your* family" kind of comments. But, on the contrary, people have been super awesome and actually really excited about it.
So, there you go. Maybe more people will go that route?

kana | 3:57 PM

The thing about hyphenating your and your kids' names kind of throws me, because what happens when your child gets married? If they want to include their names and their new spouse's name(s), the names can really add up.
i took my husband's name and changed my middle name to my maiden name, mostly because his last name was more interesting/sounded better (him taking my name would've amounted to him having a very 'john smith' blah kind of name), and we wanted everyone (me, him, kids) to have the same name.
i've had a few friends combine their last names into one new name. (Gallagher + Lee = Gallee) and i love that idea- new family, new name.

Anonymous | 4:04 PM

I took my husband's name. No question about it. I wanted my children to have a family name that identified us all as a unit. I am close to my family and my daughter sees them nearly every day. We do not have to share a name. We share blood, we share traditions. I think hyphenating is a cop out. What will your children do? Hyphenate their hyphenates? To men, getting married means leaving your family of origin to make a new family. Holding on to your maiden name doesn't seem like a great way to signify your commitment to this process. That said, I did follow the traditional Southern practice of dropping my middle name and replacing it with my maiden name. If I felt strongly about giving my children my maiden name, I would do likewise and put it in the middle.

Anonymous | 4:30 PM

My last name means "bad" in several languages and I can't wait to get rid of it. It is also always ALWAYS pronounced wrong so I hate it. My ex boyfriend was Dutch and I would have loved to take his very long interesting last name. My sister is also marrying a Dutchman and it would have been great to both have V last names. Oh well.

jessica | 5:02 PM

cant comment on today's post so i'm commenting here...OMG IS THAT ALICE???? i don't read a lot of blogs but i read yours and sometimes hers and i love her!! lucky you! was she as fun in real life?

Steph | 5:06 PM

Before we got married, my husband and I had a few cranky discussions about this. He admitted that, in a "very 21st-century, totally evolved kind of way" he wanted me to take his name. I said that I could not, my because it would mean betraying some of my deepest-held beliefs. Add to this circus my in-laws lecturing me about how "that name has 1,000 years of history behind it!" (what-EVER, like mine doesn't) and trying to harass me into changing, and any little doubt I had was gone. I dug in my heels and told him I wasn't changing, and if he was going to treat it as a deal-breaker maybe we weren't right for each other after all. He kept telling me how much he wanted us to have the same name. We debated and debated and DEBATED about what to do, and finally came up with picking a new name, since "both of us having the same last name" was so important to him. He didn't like any of my suggestions (combos of our last names, old family names, or random words) so I finally got fed up and left him in charge of picking the new name. He never did get around to it, so five years later we both still have our birth names (I don't like the term "maiden name").
It has been a tremendous pain in the ass sometimes, particularly since moving to the south. Some days since moving here, I consider changing mine legally and still going by my birth name, just to make things easier. Our daughter has both our last names and not a single agency, doctor's office, bureau, or organization has gotten her last name right. She's only 2, but I am starting to regret giving her a two-word-no-hypen, twelve-letters-long, nobody-gets-it-right last name, and whereas I used to be proud to say "We're married but our last names aren't the same," I am getting sick of providing 6 pieces of ID to drawling 60-year-old DMV clerks who insist that I can't possibly live at the same address as my husband, "Y'all's last names ain't the same!"

Unknown | 5:26 PM

I did change my name when we got married (although what a hassle THAT was!). It wasn't a big deal to me then, and now I am so glad I did... I feel it associates me with his family, his roots, which I am soo soo lucky to be a part of.
AND it moved me up in the alphabet. Ha!

ShannonO.P | 5:42 PM

Never thought this would be an issue for me, until, like you, I got married. Actually, through the wedding, I had no issues with changing my last name. Afterwards, I had a strange meltdown about it. I was just 100% NOT ready/willing etc. to change it. It was who I WAS, both personally and professionally. I liked my last name and the history I had with it. And, like you, really struggled with the fact that my husband would never consider changing his last name to mine - why should I feel obligated vice versa? After a full year of marriage I finally settled on "adding" his last name. My last name isn't hyphenated - I just have two that I can go by interchangeably if I want. ie: "I'm first name, middle name, maiden name, married name." After a few years of marriage, I know usually introduce myself by my married last name and use the first letter of my maiden name as an initial when I sign my name. My husband got over my "issues" with taking his name on the compromise that our children would have his last name, and I relented on that. And, today, our daughter has just his last name. I'm ok with that, but I'm happy to still have my name floating around with me...

Franca Bollo | 5:44 PM

I'm not married, per se, but have been in a committed relationship for 25 years. Obviously, I haven't changed my name (nor would I). My comment has to do with naming the children. Am I the only one who thinks it's odd that a woman carries the child, gives birth, nurses it yet the child bears the father's last name? I know the history but am just amazed that the custom is still followed and no one questions it.

Anonymous | 6:23 PM

I kept my name (my husband didn't care), and the two kids have his lastname as theirs (my oldest has my last name as her middle). My husband suggested naming our oldest my last name for her first--but that seemed too confusing to me, having a little girl who went by P-- when that was my last name! I kind of wanted to hyphenate their last names, but what if my daughter wanted to hyphenate hers one day?

It's sometimes confusing now--my husband is a very dark hispanic, and I'm caucasian, and my children are absolutely beautiful, but look NOTHING LIKE ME at all. So, there is always confusion at school pick-ups, camps, etc. because I'm their mother, but I don't look at all like them, and we don't have the same last name.

It seems rather petty that it bothered me, but I've gotten over it (mostly).

Trista | 6:37 PM

I hyphenated my name when I got married (I have my mom's maiden name, and I was 30 when I got married, so it was just too much a part of my identity at that point to give it up entirely). We have hyphenated our daughter's name (my last name-husband's last name), and will hyphenate any future kidlings' names too regardless of gender. People always seem surprised that this was a non- issue for us - or rather, a non-issue for my husband. But it was a very simple discussion, and we agreed on this right from the start. We've had other people tell us our kids should have my husband's last name only (because they live in the nineteenth century, apparently) but this is what works for us, and I love that my daughter has that part of both of us. If she wants to change that when she's older, or if she marries someone with a hyphenated name, she'll figure it out.

Mazhira Black | 6:43 PM

My partner and I aren't married yet but we have this discussion often and it is important to both of us, him because he is named after his father and mine because I have very little family left to speak of. The compromise that we have come up with raises an issue I never thought I'd have to deal with, we have agreed to take each other's last names as a second last name, mine first then his. However, he is black and I am not, but ironically my last name is Black...So as my father died while I was a toddler and his family disowned me shortly after I have decided to take on either my mother's or grandmother's maiden name as my last name and then take his and he will take on which ever of the maiden names I choose as my last name, and drop the Black altogether because as painful as it will be to do all that it would be a million times worse to name any children of ours with the last name Black.

Lauren | 8:14 PM

I struggled with this decision and finally decided that I would change my name. We told the whole family and then when we got married I never bothered to fill out the forms. So now I live a double life. My family figured out that I never changed it and they use my maiden name, but my husband's family addresses me with their last name. I'm kind of pleased to have both options.

I think when my kids go to school I'll introduce myself with my husband's last name so it's the same as theirs. We'll see!

Lisa | 8:45 PM

I really loved the idea of BOTH of us changing our name to something completely different! DH did not really go for it and I ended up changing my name after a brief hyphenated period. I would love for some adventuresome couple to embark on this. It could start a great new tradition.

Missy | 8:58 PM

I just like how you say you're so not a feminist chick!

Elizabeth | 10:11 PM

i've never been a fan of hyphenated names. they seem hard to carry on - like if jane smith-jones marries john perry-liddy, what last name do the children take? smith-jones-perry-liddy? i guess there are ways around it though.

i guess i just like the idea of family sharing the same last name. the only thing that is making me think twice? my fiance's last name is dick. i'm going to be proud to take it though.

Megan | 1:08 AM

We aren't married and have no intention of marrying. So I won't be changing my name anytime soon. Our son has my partner's last name because it is cooler than mine, and he has my last name as his middle name. We didn't want to hyphenate. Two sets of friends have done the same thing as us, coincidentally! Turns out we don't hang out with a lot of marrying-type people. Other friends have given there female children the mother's last name, and their male child the father's last name. And yes, they still feel like a family despite having different names.

lindsey clare | 2:48 AM

i haven't changed my name, pretty much for the same three reasons as you listed above (er, except for the Woolf bit. though that IS a badass name.) also because when we married, i just didn't FEEL like a *insert his surname here*. that's HIS family's name. not mine. know what i mean?

the only place i use his surname (along with mine) is on Facebook, so that people can find me either way. noone i know really cares about my surname, except my mum who is convinced that it is offensive to my husband (it so isn't).

Catherine | 5:51 AM

Someone I respected once told me that she took her husband's name because she could either have the name of the man her mother chose or she could have the name of the man she chose. I took the name of the man I chose (& continue to choose).

That said, I did make my maiden name my official middle name, and anything I do professionally will have all three names. It feels less cumbersome than a hyphenated name, but it retains all parts of me.

Anonymous | 7:06 AM

Great topic!

I changed my last name, and use my maiden name as a middle name (ala Hillary Rodham Clinton or Marian Wright Edelman). The two major reasons:

1) Coming from a blended family where, although I felt more connected to them, my mom, stepdad and stepsister had different last names than me and my brother. Having to explain the connection, etc. etc. I love just signing things "The Brooks Family"

2) My ethnic maiden name constantly created expectations of a language ability that does not exist (2nd generation immigrants do NOT always teach their kids their parents' language), not to mention put me in an ethnic box that does not fully capture my full heritage (I'm a mutt). My new last name is pretty neutral, and I love it! It's also easy to spell. :)

Brooke Trout | 9:09 AM

I had a hard time deciding whether or not to change my name. I had just finished college with a degree in sociology, which meant a lot of classes on feminism and women empowerment. At the time, I felt like changing the name was what you said, making it sound like I 'belonged' to him. But you know what, I do. I belong to him and he belongs to me. What I ended up doing is keeping the maiden name there - I had wanted it to be pushed into my middle name, but the social security office screwed that up. So I have the two last names and am too cheap to go have it corrected. But personally, professionally, whatever - I go by my married name.
I for one, don't like hyphenated names - particularly for children because how confusing! What happens when they get married? And the woman wants to keep her hyphenated maiden name?! Too messy if you ask me!

Michelle | 10:15 AM

This is something I've discussed to hell and back with my friends as I am getting married in less than a year. I finally decided, a few months ago, that I will be taking my fiance's last name. My last name and I have no real affinity since I never really knew my father and the only other person I really loved with that last name was my brother (who passed away 15 years ago). So, I realized that one day I hope to have children and I want to share a last name with those children. I don't want to hyphenate their names (I feel it's cruel, but that's just me, naturally no offense to anyone who decided it was a good idea for their kids.)

I don't know. I don't feel like it make me belong to him. I just feel that it would cement even more that we're going to be a family with at least one thing shared that is superficial and can easily be seen to the outside world. Also, his last name is nicer than mine, haha.

Anonymous | 11:27 AM

I'm one of the few people in this country who not only did not change her name when getting married but insisted that her children have her name. So our children have my last name, not my husband's. My husband couldn't care less and understands that it's important issue for me. None of the powerful feminists I knew who kept their own name gave their children their names. And I always thought - why? Why does it HAVE TO BE his name? It seemed kind of condescending to me, to tell women oh okay honey you can keep your own name but then you have to be separate from your children and the rest of your family. Husbands don't own the children, or have some kind of claim to them. One could say tradition, which is true in a WASP kind of context (in the Spanish speaking world as you probably know people have two lasts names, not hyphenated, one for each parent). Anyway, it's not like I think everyone should do what I did - I just want there to be more women who do. I want it to be a real *choice*.

While I don't care if other women change their names or don't, I have to agree with Shana above that I am also troubled by the idea that because I didn't take my husband's name we are not somehow a "unit" or "connected" or that I love him less as a result. I just want everyone to know that my decision has nothing to do with the incredible love and respect I have for the man I married.

Dr. Charrier | 11:31 AM

My husband said he felt as though I was stealing his identity to take his last name. A good demonstration of my ambivalence is evidenced in my framed doctoral diploma. We got married after I had to submit the paperwork for that but before the degree was conferred. It carries a different name than I ultimately decided on.

M.B.Walker | 11:57 AM

I was all for changing my last name. My maiden name is hard for most people to pronounce and I was eager for something less exotic sounding. What I did do, when i filled out the social security forms changing my name was take my maiden name as my middle name- b/c I do feel a connection to that name and didn't want to lose it entirely.

Anonymous | 12:20 PM

Didn't change my name and we weren;t entirely sure we were going to have kids so didn't work that through til later.

When we did, we went with the Icelandic approach - daughter has my last name, husband's last name as middle name, son has the opposite. Confusing for some but works for us. Also since both names show up on passports it doesn't cause any problems with travelling with one parent.

TheGirl | 2:32 PM

i recently went through this since i was married while 7 months pregnant. i made my maiden name my middle name and added my husbands name. my husband offered to add my last name as his middle name as well but i said he didn't have to, the fact that he offered was what mattered. Our daughter has both names, my maiden is technically a second middle for her :)

Anonymous | 5:49 PM

My fiance will be changing his surname to an old family name that I don't mind - at the moment his surname's very long, and vowel-less in unexpected places. I'm planning on keeping my own surname as a second middle name, though. I don't want to lose something that has defined me all my life.

BB | 6:45 PM

I love this topic because it is something I have felt very strongly about. I was never going to change my name and I really couldn't understand why any woman would.

I got married and kept my name. When I fell pregnant we had big discussions about whose surname the baby would take. My husband was open to our child taking my name and I felt very strongly that I wanted to pass my (rather unusual, very rare) surname on. We decided we would have two children and one child would have mine and one his. Right up until my baby was born I was going to give her my name. Then on the day she was born I just couldn't give her my very unusual surname. I had grown up absolutely hating my stand out, unpronounceable surname and suddenly I couldn't give my little baby girl this awful name. I realised in that moment that my father's very unexpected death had made me very attached to my surname - it was something of his I still had. I also got used to it's unusualness and started to like it. But I couldn't give my baby girl this name I had despised as a child & teen. I don't want her to suffer. So I gave her my husband's easy, normal surname. And now I've taken an about turn and I am seriously considering changing my name to be the same as hers. I want to be as connected as possible to her. I have changed my name at a couple of places but I am finding it hard to make the decision to change it everywhere. It is MY name. It is who I am. It is me. It is a connection to my father. But I have this new life now and I want to embrace it as fully as I can. I am her mother and I want the world to know it.

It is a hard decision for me.

Emilee | 6:49 PM

It was a pretty simple choice when it came to the name change.

My Entire life my last name was said wrong and the way people tried to spelling it was even worse. Going from a uber Italian name which had 9 letters. To my husbands last name which is super easy to say and spell, since it so common. so it was simple for me.
Even tho I have still yet (over a year since we got marred) had my ID changed

Now if I could just get people to stop saying "she is a mann" I would be more excited about it even more. I guess you can't win them all.

Leslie | 9:51 PM

This was a huge deal to me when I got married.

We both changed our names. We were going to combine our maternal grandmothers' maiden names but in the end, we both changed to his mother's maiden name (and the name she uses now, again). I refused to take his father's name because his father is a rotten bastard. And I am not close with my father, so I didn't feel the need to hang onto his name.

But we also wanted to have the same name, and I also felt like I shouldn't be the only one to change my name. And luckily, my husband agreed.

Erin | 5:20 AM

I took my husband's name because I was okay with it, but my doula (who is one of the coolest lady's ever) and her husband did the neatest thing. They've been married for at least 30 years, so they were ahead of their times, but they both took each other's names, so they have a hyphenated last name with her maiden name and his last name. If my husband and I didn't both have godawful long last names, I may have considered that!

iamme | 7:59 AM

I didn't change my name...well, ok I tried his out for a month. I knew alot of my cards and id's would be expiring in a few months so I tried his out just for fun. When people would refer to me as Mrs. X, I wouldn't even look. I didn't realize they were talking to me. Why? Well, because it wasn't me. I reclaimed my maiden name a month later and never regretted it. Actually I feel more empowered with it. My girls have their father's name but I do wish there was a part of me in their name too.

Miz Kizzle | 8:00 AM

I changed my surname when I married because I wanted some anonymity. My last name is very recognizable and I got tired to being asked, "Wow! Are you related to THEM?"
Sometimes I lied and sometimes I admitted the truth that yes, they were my relatives but I prefer starting off with a clean slate rather than being judged by who my ancestors are.

FM | 10:01 AM

I took my hubby's last name for no other reason than I DESPISED my maiden name. I won't horrify you by saying here. Suffice it to say, by the fourth grade, I was ready to marry my best friend to change it. A name is a name is a name is a name... the significance of it being 2009 is that it is OUR choice! Taking his name didn't make me feel any less me - it just made me feel closer to him.

kallie | 1:27 PM

Rebecca, i find your logic a tad disconcerting. Especially #3: 'he wouldn't take my name so why should i take his?' Forgive me, but it sounds very petty, which i don't believe you are. 'He wouldn't take out the garbage so why should i?' A side-by-side comparison of who would do what for whom never seems to work out well.

"I belong to myself first." That would make more sense if you chose your name, but you didn't (i'm guessing?), your parents did. So if a name determines who we belong to, wouldn't we all belong to whomever named us in the first place? i think i'd still belong to myself if i was suddenly named Jane Doe or Mildew McGruber. Minor sidebar, but it's sooo American of us to think of this in terms of 'ownership', like we're capable of being traded or sold. Blerg on us all.

The idea (culturally speaking) that taking his name makes you 'his' or less yourself is ridiculous, so wouldn't it be just as ridiculous to say that keeping your name makes you wholly 'yours' or truly yourself? Yes, it's fun to shirk tradition and boldly declare things on legal documents, but let's be fair about it and not make things more or less sacred than they are.

Thanks for the forum :) (FTR, i took my husband's (much cooler) last name and made my maiden name my middle name. No kids yet.)

sweetb | 1:32 PM

But FLI would not be the same FLI if it was FLWI... thinking monograms here. ;) love you!

Anonymous | 7:58 PM

I feel like women should be allowed to choose what happens to their last name. I have friends with hyphenated last names, friends with shared last names, and even one couple who kept their own last names and will give all girls the wife's last name and all boys the husband's last name. For me, the choice was easy. I like consistency and a sense of belonging to a larger group. I took my husband's last name because I wanted everyone in my immediate family to share a name. I want to be able to call us the [blank] clan like my parents used to call us with their name. It's pretty silly, I know. But, I have no regrets about my decision nor do I think I compromised my independence at all.

pamela | 6:30 AM

i didn't read all the comments, so sorry if i repeat. the first recorded woman in US history to do this was Lucy Stone. so from then on women in the early 1800s that didn't take their husbands names were known as "Lucy Stoners".... you Lucy Stoner you.

me too.

Feministy | 7:54 AM

After six or so years, I'm not married to my partner. We're not really into that sort of thing, but I would never, ever take his name. I already have one.

We have a two-year-old daughter, though, and she has both of our last names, and it goes like this: His-Mine. I decided to put my name last because I've noticed that, among kids with hyphenated last names, the Mom's is usually first and is usually the first to be dropped. If my girl feels like only using one last name, I'm hoping/assuming it will be mine.

I'm absolutely a hard-core feminist and do NOT understand why any woman would change her last name to a man's simply because she marries him. It's an old-fashioned, out-dated, sexist "tradition" and it's always surprising to me that more women are not as outraged by it as I am.

I faced so many raised eyebrows and comments about how my kid will have a ridiculously long name when people found out it would be hyphenated, and my response was always, "Yeah, but her dad doesn't want to drop his name, and mine is not optional."

Il Fornaio | 9:10 AM

I swung back and forth but at the end of the day, I kept my name. Taking my husband's name would be infinitely easier, but I spent 28 years spelling my name out for everyone, I'm used to it. And my name gets us more respect when I make reservations at Italian restaurants. But mostly, I was raised by a single mom and I have her name, not my father's, so I kind of liked keeping that.

dxeechick | 11:08 AM

I keep reassuring my husband that I'll change my last name - its been 3 year since we got married.

Simply, I'm lazy.

Lisa | 11:18 AM

I took my husbands last name. Gladly. Not that I didn't like my last name - it was just too common. Williams. There were two Lisa Williams' at my pharmacy and it got confusing at times. I got phone calls all the time for the wrong Lisa Williams. I didn't mind it - I was just ready to end the hassle. To each their own, I say.

nadia | 12:35 PM

i'm so glad you posted about this, i think about it quite often and have no clear conclusion when it comes to childrens' names. there was no question that i was going to KEEP my last name (though i had actually always thought growing up that i would happily change it). i love my last name SO much and have such a strong identity with it and my entire name (which is fairly unique). in contrast, i actually don't like my husband's last name at all. it's hard to spell/say and it's long and harsh sounding. he was absolutely fine with my keeping mine but is not fine with our children having my last name. he's concerned about the tradition in his family and also maintaining the legacy of his last name. and unfortunately our last names are both way too long to hyphenate. i don't have children yet but constantly wonder what we'll do?

Anonymous | 9:23 PM

I wonder what will happen after a few generations pass and people have to figure out what to do about having like eight hyphenations. It seems tedious and a hassle, to me. I like the idea of taking one name together, whether it's his or hers, and how it can represent the bond that you share and becoming a family, whether you have children or not.

Anonymous | 1:47 PM

I took my husband's last name without much thought when we got married, his is actually significantly cooler than my own, but I quickly regretted my decision. Four years later when we decided to get my son registered as a Peruvian national (my husband is a Peruvian citizen) much to my surprise his Peruvian birth certificate came back showing his name as FirstName PaternalLastName MaternalLastName, as is standard in Peru. I also noticed that my name no longer included any reference to my husband, but was my father's last name followed by my mother's maiden name. I was quite thrilled with my and my son's new identities!

Dani | 6:11 PM

I hyphenated my last name. My husband was going to do the same until my father said, "I don't have a son." Thanks, dad. Both of our children (a boy and a girl) have my maiden name as a second middle name and their dad's last name. Lots of people think it's complicated, but it makes me happy because we all share a common family name yet my side of the family wasn't left out.

MoreSimplyHuman | 8:02 PM

I kept my name for all the reasons you mention. I also was nearly done with grad school when I got married, and there was just no way that I could put someone else's last name on my PhD diploma! It just seemed WRONG.

I am still proud of my decision. I am glad I stuck with my own name (which is not that cool, actually). But there are also times that I wish I had changed when I'm recording the family answering machine message and I can't just say "hi! you've reached the xxx's..." Instead, I list each family member by their first name.

We have 2 kids, and they each have my name as a second middle name. I would have hyphenated, but hubby wasn't too into we gave them each 2 middle names. What can I say...I needed my name in there somewhere, and I wanted to be SURE my name was on each of their passports, in case I ever travel alone with them.

Great topic. I am fascinated by this, too.

Lindsay | 2:22 AM

I kept mine, which was always the plan, even though I really like his last name. He never batted an eye at my decision, and most people don't. However, we have gotten into a few heated conversations with some of his (active duty military) peers, who insist the world will tumble down when we have children and don't have the same names. Grrr.

Heather | 8:27 AM

I did not take my husbands last name. as of yet, anyway. Funny thing is, he's the one who really encouraged me NOT to! He thinks it's weird and says he wouldn't change his, so why should I change mine? The thing is, my parents divorced when I was young and my mom remarried, taking her new husbands last name. I always felt sort of disconnected by having a different last name. I like the idea of creating my own family with a single shared last name. The hyphenated version would just be way too long and complicated. I'm not a mom yet, so I feel like I still have some time to figure this all out..

Caitlin Carroll | 3:11 PM

I kept my last name. I've always been Caitlin Carroll, and didn't like the connotation that getting married meant becoming someone new (even though looking back, I did become someone new, someone much better but I still want to retain myself as an independent entity as well). My husband is fantastic, fully supported me even though his family is a super conservative Mormon family and still don't completely accept it. My family is a super conservative Southern family and don't accept it either. My own mother still addresses mail to Caitlin Browning, which just looks so totally foreign to me.

My husband toyed with the idea of changing his to mine (we also really considered changing both of ours to a combination name "Caring", which we thought was cool), but we're poor college students at the moment and didn't want to pay for it or go through the hassle. So, we're the Carroll-Brownings as a couple, but still have our last names officially.

Our little boy is Atticus Carroll-Browning. A mouthful, we realize, but it was important for me to know the child that I gestated and birthed was symbolically mine.

It does get confusing, and every time we make an appointment with the pediatrician I have to spell out the whole thing. And both of our families are concerned with his future ability to write his name at a young age. I could care less... he'll learn how to spell it eventually.

Cath | 7:24 PM

I would NEVER EVER take my partner's last name for the very reasons you stated, and I am utterly disgusted that women even THINK about doing it... I mean, if it was a possibility for men, too, then maybe I'd consider it, but if he doesn't have to even think about it, then why should I?

But, it doesn't really matter because taking your husband's name has been ILLEGAL since the 80's where I'm from. Woot!!!

Maude | 7:50 PM

I had intended to change my name, but continue to sign all my artwork with the name I had when I became and artist, thereby hanging on to and being true to what originated with me. My husband wanted me to keep my name because he liked it better than his (but wouldn't change his). I ended up keeping it because I wasn't organized enough to change it. Our child goes by his last name, but has mine as a 3rd name so that I am represented. If we have another, we plan to do the same, so that they share my name too, but aren't bogged down by double barreled names.

the weirdgirl | 11:20 PM

I had always thought that I would keep my maiden name professionally, but that I would hyphenate or add my maiden as a middle name (even though I already have four names on my own). I made this decision before I met my husband. I changed my mind the minute I tried out my potential new signature. I had never been one of those girls who "practiced" their married signatures so I didn't know how strange it would feel. That was my whole identity coming out of that pen, and I wasn't, and did not, change it.

Plus, my last name is already a mouthful and my husband's last name rhymes with penis... can you imagine? "Mouthful-Penis"?

My son, and any future children, get stuck with the penis-rhymer. Sorry kids.

Anonymous | 3:25 AM

I am the kind of woman who would have kept her name, but did not. We married young and I did not really have a professional presence before we got married. I think if I married now I would have kept my name, for professional reasons. (In my job you publish a lot and I do not want to publish under two surnames.) I wanted us both to have my surname and my husband said emphatically 'no'. He is such a mild, easy going guy that I did not press the issue. It was obviously something that mattered to him. I was young and very much in love so I took his surname. (We are still married, 14 years later.) I had aunts who kept their maiden names professionally and went under both surnames. I just thought it was way too confusing to have 2 surnames, and remember who knows you as X and who knows you as Y. I did not want to have to explain at school which kids' mom I was. I wanted to just walk in there and say I am mrs X. And the teacher would know I was child X's mother. And I thought hyphenation was a one-generation solution. You cannot hyphenate for ever, after 3 or so generations names would just be way too long. I had a MUCH cooler surname than my husband though!!! We should both have used mine. Our surname does not travel well, in English speaking countries they just cannot pronounce it.

Rachel S-H | 3:34 PM

I'm getting married, and I'll take his last name. I am not abandoning my last name by not using it any more, I'm still the same me, with the same genes. It's just time for a new version of me.

That Nora Girl | 6:13 PM

I hyphenated my last name with my husband's. I grew up with that name and could not- would not- let it go. I still took my husband's in addition because I wanted to be a part of his family in name as well. We had talked about him hyphenating our names, too, but he eventually declined. He was in full support of whatever I decided to do with my name and his.

Our son has his dad's last name, but my maiden name as one of his middle names. I use it hyphenated like mine on unofficial documents and letters, and some of our relatives don't even know which is the "right" way. I don't correct them.

I once discussed my decision to hyphenate with my mother-in-law for about thirty minutes. She didn't get it. She said she changed her name for her husband, because that's what she felt was right. That's ok. She's far more traditional and conservative than I could ever be. It was her inability to understand me that rubbed me the wrong way- that my name was part of me. I didn't think it was that far off the beaten path.

Stephanie | 6:32 AM

I hyphenated my last name hisname-myname. I get a lot of funny looks because people always think that my name should be first. Why, damnit? If my maiden name was anything other than Smith I probably wouldn't have even hyphenated but Smith as a last name causes a lot of jokes. My kids both have my husband's last name but we plan on waiting until they are a bit older and then asking them what last name they would like. If they feel that they want us all to have the same name then we will consider that then.

My best friend and and her husband actually both changed their last name to something completely different. His family was Italian but during the war had altered their last name slightly for various reasons. They both agreed to go with the original family name. I always thought it was nice that they reincarnated an old family name.

Veronica Milan | 12:40 PM

Well, just like you, I have a bad ass name. haha

I have been married for 5 years and never once have I even thought of changing it.

1. I am my father's daughter. I was given this name at birth. This is who I am!
2. FOR ME, changing my name is changing my identity, and since society doesn't expect a man to change his, then, I won't either.
3. I will be working on my PHD real soon and changing my name would in a sense, give my husband's family all the fame and glory of my hard work. lol Sounds so lame, but I have worked hard for my degrees and I refuse to give those titles away. Dr. Milan just sounds better!

Anonymous | 7:06 PM

I kept my last name as a second middle name. I took his last name on too because FREE is one totally awesome name.

Leesha | 8:05 AM

It's amazing how emotional it was for me to change my name. I loved my maiden name and my identity with it. My debate with my husband continued for 6 months after our wedding on why I didn't want to change my name and in the end I did it for 2 reasons. 1) He was embarrassed/hurt that I didn't want to take his name 2) I wanted our future children to have 1 last name that we all shared.

Now, I love having the same name as him. I feel united with him and proud. I actually do feel like a new person and it feels good.

PS. I've heard it is common for brainwashing cults, kidnappers, & such to Rename their victims to weaken them.

CecilyT | 9:44 PM

Yeah, this was a sensitive issue when we got married. My mostly-feminist husband felt pretty strongly that I should take his name, and mentioned the whole children-not-having-a-matching-name thing. To this concern I replied that he should take my name. He didn't think much of this solution.

My name belongs to me; it's up to me whether I want to change it.

For people who say that it's just a IS just a name, why would you need to change it?

Jessica | 5:27 PM

I changed my name and found it to be quite traumatic; even to say I was repulsed by my married name almost a year later.

It's gotten much better, but it was one of the most difficult things I ever did (I feel so trivial writing that....)

I wrote a blurb about the experience here:

Amy G | 8:41 AM

I just got around to reading this post. I have been married for 2 1/2 years and have a 10-month-old son and still haven't figure out what to do with my name.

My husband's last name is awesome but I can't seem to let go of mine. My son has my husband's last name. In Latin America, where we have lived and may live again, the baby is legally supposed to put my last name after my husband's. So it's nice that at least there, my name lives on. In fact, in Latin America, it's not traditional for a woman to change her last name, incidentally. That also contributed to my choice to keep it.

Who knows, maybe someday I'll grit my teeth and make all the runs around town and phone calls to get it legally changed on everything...

Anonymous | 7:59 AM

I'd planned to change my name when I got married and was quite...taken aback to learn that my then-fiance would have had a big problem with it if I didn't.

I was like, "Seriously? A guy with your modern education and upbringing?"

One of many red flags that I managed to ignore... I changed it back when I divorced him, although I have to admit I liked his last name.

I've settled back into my old name in a way I didn't anticipate. I expect I might marry again, and the man on the other side of that possibility thinks it's none of his business what name I choose to use for myself. I like his last name and I like simplicity, so I may take it legally and bump my maiden name to my middle name--it's more important to me now than it was in my 20s.

(Virginia assigns the husband's last name to the wife automatically--I wonder how many other states do that?)

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