What’s in a Name?

This has been a really hard post for me to write.  It has sat in my drafts folder for weeks and weeks. What’s in a name? Everything!

I know I’m not the first to have to make this decision.  To change my name or not.  The Boy is more than supportive either way – change it, or hyphenate, or just keep my name – whatever I want to do, he’s cool with it.  Of course that’s not to say he doesn’t have a preference.  He would prefer that I take his name, drop mine and presumably never speak of it again.  Okay, maybe I’m being a little over-dramatic with that last part.

Sista thinks someone should do a sociological study on women who don’t change their names.  It’s the small traditional side of her coming out I guess.  She has a theory that their is a correlation (NOT causation – she’s always clear to point that out) between women who do not change their names and divorce rates.  She thinks that by keeping your name you are not fully committing to the marriage subconsciously.  Deep deep deep down you are prepared to cut and run – you kept your own name for that very reason.

I doubt it.  I think our divorce rates are so ridiculous because we live in a disposable society.  If something doesn’t work – throw it away.  I also think that the Boy and I have been together for SO long that we definitely fit into the category of those that will stay together because we have not truly experienced adulthood without each other.  His problems are my problems and vice versa.  We’re in it to win it, and have been long before my left hand acquired a sparkly companion.

I do like that my parents have the same last name.  Obviously I can’t imagine it any other way.  I really don’t think of my Mom as ever having had another last name.  When I asked her about the weird feelings thinking of yourself as a different last name she said it never goes away.  It still feels weird and whenever someone calls her Mrs. W she STILL does a double take and looks for her long since deceased mother-in-law.

I like the idea of having the same last name as the Boy, we will be our own little family after all.  And I’m excited about that.  AND I did come up with a compromise – perhaps we could take each others names.  We would both have both last names – but we could go by his.  I still think it’s a beautiful sentiment.  I am taking him and his family, and he is taking me and my family.  Equality.  Feminism.  Beautiful.

He didn’t go for it.

“I don’t want to change my name” he said.

“Of course you don’t! That’s the point – we’re both taking on each other, we both get to keep ourselves, but add another!”  I argued.

“If you don’t want to change your name, then don’t do it – it’s fine.”

It’s fine?  I know “it’s fine”.  I’ve perfected “it’s fine.”  “It’s fine” means I don’t want to tell you what to do, so if you could just come to the realization on your own that would really be helping me out.  “It’s fine” means, I have an opinion, I won’t be MAD if you don’t agree because that’s not the type of person I am – but I DEFINITELY have a preferred outcome here.  “It’s fine” does NOT mean it. is. fine.

I have come to a decision.  I’ll tell you about it tomorrow.

For now, weigh in – did/will you change your name? Why or why not? Did you find it strange to adjust to?

11 responses

  1. I’ve always thought I would keep my last name, I love it, but having the same name as my family is the way it’s turning out, and it’s pretty nice. I have been called Mrs. Dooner so many times since Leah has been born (regardless of whether it’s what I want or not). Totally a weird feeling but it does give you that “family” feeling. AND if Leah and I ever go over the border together without Bryan, it will make life a little easier having the same name, lol.

    • Oh the kids! Katie you are so right – it’s when I think of the kids that changing my name holds more weight. We’ll be a family and familys have the same last name. Right? That said, the change and thinking of someone calling me Mrs. M – (Mrs. ANYTHING but that’s a different post alltogether) it’s just plain weird. And then there’s the effort of correcting people all the time – “oh actually it’s Mrs. W – I didn’t change my name” what a hastle.
      Thanks for leaving your thoughts – I was pretty sure this post would get people talking!

  2. Dear Roar,
    As a coach that helps couples pre and post marriage..It seems like by changing your last name., you feel you are losing someting..what is it? You can carve out an individual identity even if you change your name or not. Once you figure out what that is, it won’t matter. My wife didn’t change her name, and we have both been called by each other’s last names in our 14 years of marriage.

    • Thanks for reading and weighing in! I think part of it might be the feminist thing – why do I have to give up my name because I’m a girl, the other is really I just LIKE my name. It’s not common, I have to spell it for people, it’s at the end of the alphabet which means sometimes you’re last for everything but sometimes they reverse the order at school for pizza lunch and then you get to go first! My kids will never experience that. They’ll be in the middle. I know my name doesn’t make my identity – but c’mon I’ve spent a long time with my name and it feels plain old weird to think after September 10 at 2:00 I will forever be known as something completely different.

  3. My wife and I were married in October and we had very similar conversations to the ones you and Boy are having now.
    It was important for me that she take my last name. Being one of only 3 males in our entire family bearing our last name places a certain responsibility to ensure the family name continues through to the next generation. Let’s face it- a kid with a hyphenated last name just isn’t the same.
    For my wife, she had mixed feelings. She was happy about jumping into the marriage head first which included taking my name, but also reluctant that she would be losing a piece of her identity.
    Luckily for us we were able to reach a compromise. Her line of work requires her to create a brand name for herself. After being in the same line of work for over 10 years, her name was truly her brand and a very real part of her professional identity. The easy compromise was obvious. She decided to keep her maiden name for everything business related, but personally she would take mine.
    This has seemed to work for us- 7 months later and we’re still married. I will add also that even after the compromise was struck, she still felt a little hesitation about the new last name. What really cemented the deal was after the fact when she started getting mail and her new ID with her ‘new’ last name. That for her made her realize just how significant an event had just transpired. That she was now officially “one of us” (and I “one of them”) changed her perspective on the name thing. The weight of the committment and the significance of it was reflected in the new last name and really the start of a re-definition of her identity that now included not only me, but her role in her new family.

    • Well said, but I still vote guys get the easier deal here. What about my family name? Who gets to carry that on if my brother doesn’t have kids? It definitely is a tug-of-war situation for me, and a lot of young women I think. On the one hand I’m thrilled to be a wife and an equal partner and an official family, on the other – I’ve spent 29 years with this name. Sigh.

  4. I will change my name when J and I get married. It’s a non-negotiable point for him. And honestly…after ten years, a lot of people call me Mrs. F anyway. However, I will probably keep using my last name at work. Everyone knows it and it’s a pain to change it.

  5. The main part is creating the family if you change your name or not. It’s about the values you want to establish as a family, jointly. If you change your name, it won’t matter if you haven’t both come together in spirit. Because, you will just have to change it back.

  6. I have not changed mine :); no other reason than ‘It does not matter to us, we are still the same persons… There’s nothing in a name’ and my feelings of pro-equality too- I must admit.

    I have had people judging my feelings for my boy for this reason though, saying I’m not committed enough blah blah- but well, I’m rather stubborn I guess, those people don’t matter to me.

    My mother changed her name, the Boy’s mum did not. One look at each of those pairs and you’ll know whose marriage has been more successful- and you won’t it’s my parents whose is.

    Been with the Boy for 12 years now, happily- and the fact that I did not change my name mattered only to the outsiders :). We could not have been happier just to have each other forever and more :).

  7. Pingback: What’s in a name 2.0 – YouTube Friday « The Twenties Roar

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