“So, what’s your new name?”
After a word of congrats, or a request to see photos, this is the question I’ve been getting for the past 2-ish weeks. I married my wonderful husband at the beginning of this month. We are brand-newlyweds, and it’s pretty great so far.
I usually reply “It’s still Marshall, I didn’t change my name.” For those who need extra time processing, they’ll ask if his last name is Marshall too, and I’ll have to repeat that I didn’t change my name. Then some form of shade (side eye, scowl, head shake, etc.) follows. People have demanded an explanation on my choice (sorry, I left my Powerpoint presentation at home.) I’ve been told that I should change it. The first couple of times I dismissed this direct order, but then I started asking people why. I didn’t hear anything beyond a “because you should” or that it’s tradition. A lot of things were and are tradition, but that doesn’t make them correct or a one-size-fits-all for everyone. I’m sorry, but “because” will not suffice for an answer.
During our engagement, I brought the name change thing up to my then fiance. I told him my thoughts, which included compromising on a hyphenated last name if that’s what was needed. He told me that he wanted to marry ME, and that he will support what I wanted. Aaaand, that was the end of that conversation. The only two people that this deals with are already in agreeance, and everyone else is just being informed. We were set a LONG TIME AGO. According to one article, more women are keeping their maiden names for a variety of reasons. I’m the last child and if I change my name, it disappears. Plus, I like my name and I want to keep it.
One person said “Are you a feminist or something?” I don’t think I’ve ever directly labeled myself as a feminist. I’m a “support whatever a choice a woman wants to make about her body and her life” person. If that’s a feminist, sign me on up. If a woman wants to adopt her spouse’s name, hyphenate, keep her birth name, or create a new name, I’m here for it. To be COMPLETELY honest, I really don't care. Everyone’s relationship is unique, so why expect everyone to do the same, exact thing? Both of my parents walked me down the aisle. The awesome minister who married us respectfully left out the “who gives this woman away” part of the ceremony at my request. Still married. Still chillin.
What I find most disrespectful, is when people ask my husband’s last name, and say “I’m gonna call you Mrs. Thomas anyway”. I expect for my choices to be respected, like I do for others. That’s in an ideal world I know, but it’s still annoying when MY life decisions are judged or dismissed. This is where the conversation go alllll the way left. I did not ask for anyone’s opinion on this, because I was clear on what I wanted.
People are also concerned about my children (whom don’t yet exist), and what their last names will be. Everybody calm down. The kiddies will be fine. They will not collapse in despair if they have to write a few more letters at the top of their assignments.
Me choosing not to change my last name does not make me any less married, less in love, or less committed. It does not mean that I do not trust him or marriage. I realize that new people who meet us and know we’re married will assume and call me Mrs. Thomas. And I won’t be offended. As a society, we assume they folks follow the same path. But, if you DO know, I expect the courtesy of calling me by MY name.
I expected SOME changes after getting married. But this? I wasn't ready!
If you are or were married, how did you approach this topic? If you changed your name, what are your reasons? If you are not yet married, how do you plan to navigate this?
9/15/2016 01:28:09 pm
I'm married and we had a conversation when we were engaged much like yours. I asked him how he felt about the name change thing, and he basically said "Whatever YOU want." That was that. I told him my thoughts and, for me, MY choice was to change my name, and only after I made my decision and changed it (like a year later), he told me his preference was to change my name. If I hadn't changed it, he never would've told me that. Doesn't matter. Here we are, three years later - deeper love, more respect, just as close. You do you - I'll always respect that!
I've been married for 17 years now & I took my husband's name. I really didn't want to, but it wasn't because I didn't like his last name. Basically it was because I didn't feel like filling out all of the paperwork to change it. I was being lazy. When my husband expressed to me how important it was to him, I sucked it up & did all of the paperwork. It really didn't matter to me, so I didn't fight him on it. We're both happy & doing well. As for you, keep ignoring all of those unsolicited opinions. You continue to do you & what's right for the both of you. Like I told you, marriage is what you make it.
9/15/2016 01:48:44 pm
Thanks for sharing your story. I am currently working this same concern as a future bride. I solely chose to keep my last name and in addition, add his. I am my father's only legacy and once he transitioned, I wanted to keep what mattered most to him.
9/15/2016 03:46:11 pm
I have a unique name last name (Strand) compared to his 'regular' name (Clark). I have considered making the change so that our family, future children and Mommy, can have the same name, but then I start to think "What is wrong with my maiden name that it is not good enough to make my children aware of it?" I've also considered how it will affect my identity. Although I am welcomed in his family, I will never truly be a Clark. I was not raised with his family values so to call myself a Clark would make me a liar. Up until this article I was leaning towards tacking it on the end of my current name, but now I'm feeling I'm closer to hyphenation. I guess I'll just have to see how I feel after I'm married lol
9/15/2016 06:19:37 pm
This subject is always the concern of other people who are insignificant in your marriage. Those people should go sit down and worry about their marriage or worry about why they aren't married. I had this same issue about changing my name. I have been married for 2 1/2 years and my name is still not changed. I'm not against it I actually agreed that I would because he really wanted me to and it didn't matter to me because I have brothers that will carry on the name. What I tell people who keep harassing me about is when I get ready I will. As long as my husband is ok and our marriage is great there is nothing you should be worried about. Girl do you and enjoy your marriage and husband!!
9/16/2016 01:24:22 am
I believe that many 'traditions' of weddings are oppressive holdovers that we must get rid of if we are to be equals in marriage. We usually already have one man's name: our father's. Do we really need to add another? The kids will be fine. Last names dont make you a family. I think if one person changes their name then both should. Why should the woman construct a whole new legal identity while he keeps his? Is he not also married? It's bad enough they don't have engagement rings and they don't get passed on like property from father to husband. Symbolic equality is important to having real equality in a marriage.
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