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I’ve been deliberating about my married name.

At first it seemed simple. Before he’d even proposed, both R and I loosely assumed I would take his name; I  liked the romance of it, felt my typical longing to belong. It seemed such a fait accomplis that we readily registered Orla at birth with his Irish surname. Even the dog has his family name called out at the vets.

Sometime after he’d proposed, my clarity faded. Perhaps it is simply one of those things you can’t fully grasp in the theoretical, or maybe my feelings have changed over time. Now, when people ask if I intend to take his second name, I start to bristle, a thousand unexpressed considerations jostling for space on my tongue. Most of all comes to mind one very simple question – why? Why should I?

Of course, we all know why; we know the historical connotations of ownership exchange, of women passed between men like fat cows at market, and the steps we’ve taken as a progressive society to escape this system. 
We know now that women are equal, that great marriages are a partnership, that you cannot possess a woman any more than you can capture an ever-rolling ocean wave. We know this, and yet still… Still in the English language we mark marriage with Miss vs Mrs.  Still, when you sign your marriage certificate, there’s no space to record the mothers’ names. In a thousand quiet, subversive ways, women are still disadvantaged and dismissed, however much we’ve cleaned up the surface associations.

Considering the options

I tried to balance the options. The problem is – as it so often seems to be, with any patriarchal bullshit – that every choice you make somehow labels you. In the case of a surname, quite literally labels you, for life.

Double-barelling our names just doesn’t work. Plus, there’s the argument about our children having to join four names when & if they marry, though at this stage I’d be prepared to write Orla off to this for a simple solution.

The most appealing idea for me was to be entirely equal and take a new name together. I suggested this to R with a breezy sort of enthusiasm, but his immediate affronted response and refusal surprised me. CHANGE his NAME? It hit him as a ridiculous idea – this, even before I had chance to offer my excellent suggestions of ‘Snowman’ or ‘Skywalker’.

& that isn’t because he’s a closed-minded, cave-dwelling mysoginist. On the contrary, he’s a bearded, Guardian-reading, Fairtrade-coffee-grinding Liberal. A regular person, then, experiencing a normal reaction to being asked to abruptly change his identity. Because it is ridiculous, when you stop and think about it.

That women don’t have this reaction only speaks to how conditioned we are to the idea. From the time you first try on your crush’s surname in a puffy pink heart on the back of your maths book, we are rehearsing for this change. As adult relationships get serious, it becomes a real consideration; One friend of mine initially hesitated to even date her now-husband because his second name was ‘Wanker’. (They went down the choose-a-name-together-route, FYI. A wise decision, I feel.)

Changing your name is a big deal, & generally not in a good way. A privilege usually reserved for witness protection programmes, family breakups and becoming a porn star, it requires learning a new signature, replacing all your official documents, and my own personal lifetime nemesis, filling in lots of boring forms.
It means changing seats in the roll call of life. As a T, I’ve always enjoyed my comfortable position at the backend of registers and lists. It provides ample opportunity to rehearse my line (‘here Sir’, said with just the right combination of boredom & respect) while the Andersons, Browns and Clarks have to suck it up at the top of the bill. I don’t want to change places. I don’t want to start again.

A fresh beginning

I’m seduced by the idea of a fresh beginning, though. A new name, I imagine, is better even than a fresh Cos delivery or a new planner for a hit of second chances. The name I’ve worn so far doesn’t have a whole heap of happy connotations for me, & I’m sure I’ve my share of google-creepers motivated purely through dated, hopeful spite.
How nice it would be to leave all of that behind. How lovely to be a new person, overnight.

That’s not what marriage is for though, is it? You don’t go home that night and become someone different; in fact, the person you’re marrying is sort of relying on the fact that you won’t. 
& when I think of all that I’ve achieved over the last year, I’m pretty glad it’s tied to my old, slightly jaded full name. When I think about writing a book – an actual possibility for this year, as it happens – it’s my original name I want to see on the cover. I want to walk into a bookshop, pick up my book and see the name I have carried my whole life so far written on the front. Whatever connection I could forge with a new name would be lacking the poingancy and purpose of that original pairing on that day. 

Besides, I rationalise – when I wake in the night in cold uncertain sweats – I can change my name any old time. Who says it has to be on my wedding day? Who says it’s a now-or-never enterprise? 
I could do it on a Tuesday one rainy July, six years from now. I could discover I actually really love filling in  complicated forms, and be so damn glad I saved this opportunity.

What’s in a name? A string of letters, a jumble of consonants and vowels. A sense of identity, a history, the record of every time it was spoken. An entire shady history via Google search.

A new name is no bad thing, but in line with my wabi sabi, minimalist attitudes, I think I’ll stick with the one I’ve got. To be perfectly honest, I’m just not done with it yet.

Did you change your name when you married? How did you decide what would work for you?

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50 Comments

  • Paula Solar

  • December 30, 2016

In Spain we women don’t change our names, it is not expected of us. You are born with your dad’s name and your mum’s next to it (as two separated names, not as a combo or anything like that). You can change it legally once you are of age and you have real reasons to do so, and now your parents can decide whose name goes first as well (which makes it simple when the child has one mum, one dad, two mums or two dads). But basically you have your name, first surname and second surname from the day you are born to the day you die. Also we use two surnames, although not in our daily lives; you usually only give one, but in official forms, school or work registrys, and things like that, you use the two of them.

In most cases a surname is only significant to the person who bears it (unless you are royals or something). For example, to me you are Sara, your surname has no meaning for me, it doesn’t tell me who you are like Sara does. I don’t know if this makes much sense.

  • Ron McQuade

  • October 23, 2016

Instead of double barrel or choosing a new name, I wish people would make a portmanteau of their surnames and use that. That way, in a couple of generations, everyone will have unpronounceable surnames.

  • Hanna_W

  • May 11, 2016

There was no question for me of ever changing my surname – my mum kept her maiden name and I always knew I would keep mine. It never bothered me that my sister and I had different names from my mum, either, which you might think is patriarchal conditioning (of *course* we’d have our father’s name), but I think is part of the point being made by others in these comments that people are quite capable of knowing their own identity and who they belong to without a tidy set of Russian doll surnames. In fact, almost every relative on my mother’s side has a different surname to the rest, due to a series of divorces, adoptions and remarriages, but we know we’re a family!

My future husband had no problem with me keeping my name at all, and I’m lucky to be Dr so don’t have the Miss/Mrs/Ms irritation (why should my title tell you about my marital status?!). I’m also ballsy enough about this issue to be putting a heads-up about the no-name-change on our wedding website, so we don’t get those “Mr & Mrs X” cards which I find a bit sickly. And finally, J agreed with no demur that we should give any children my surname. We did consider his, but decided that since my name is much more unusual they should have that in order to be distinctive. If they grow up and want to be dissassociated from me/other family members, they can always take his name and be comfortably obscure again!

  • Stef Thomas

  • May 10, 2016

It was a little different for me; my wife and I both being female, there wasn’t really a precedent for who should change. We also both really wanted to share a name, to try to counteract the number of times that people just assumed that we were just good friends living together. Our names didn’t double barrel well, and the portmanteau that we came up (Holmas) with got laughed at by our family and friends for sounding too much like hummus. So I changed mine to my wife’s. She was emotionally invested in her Welsh heritage whereas I had no strong feelings for the name Holland. After 3 years it still feels a little odd to be Mrs Thomas, but I like the feeling of our little team having a shared name.

  • Nikki Stark

  • April 28, 2016

My friend had a similar experience with her now husband. She asked if he would change his name and his immediate, determined ‘Of course not’ made up her mind for her and she kept hers.

  • LilBee

  • April 22, 2016

Oh I just loved reading your post and people’s comments this morning in bed with a big cup of tea. So interesting as I’ve been on both sides of the fence. I grew up thinking it was absolutely appalling that women gave away their surnames in marriage; the patriarchal history of the man purchasing the woman from her family horrified me. I vowed I would never change my surname – all my female cousins have their mother’s surname and all the male cousins have their father’s surname. And when I first met my now to-be-husband, I was adamant I would keep my name, the thought of taking on his surname made me feel quite sickly to be honest and he agreed that the tradition was ridiculous (he even agreed to take on my surname if I so insisted).

We got pregnant and in the haze of the newborn days the hospital assumed our daughter would have his surname Smith and wrote down in all her files with the name Smith and we never really got around to talking about what surname our daughter would have and it just stuck. I was horrified when I was always assumed to be the nanny/childminder wherever we went as we had different surnames; this made me feel so sad and even though ‘it’s just a name’, I think deep down it did affect me. And whenever I flew overseas with my daughter I had the same issue other people mentioned and that was not cool! I have a friend with a grumpy teenage daughter who will regularly make taunts to her for having a different name from her, her sister and their Dad – my friend who is an amazing and radical feminist gets so upset at this…a name can really be powerful when it comes to horrid teenagers! I was about to publish my first academic paper and my manager asked if I’d be changing my surname once I got married. I had a long and hard think and at around the same time I realised the full force of my family’s dysfunction and I decided that taking on his surname wouldn’t be so bad after all; it helps that his family are so lovely and supportive and they were very teary when I told them I’d take on their name. I didn’t want to get married on the spur of the moment (my paper was due to be published in two months time) so decided to change by deed poll (took me a grand total of fifteen minutes online) and now years later we’re finally getting married this year; both with the same surname – I had to reassure the registrar we weren’t related!

I do love signing off cards with ‘the Smiths/the Smith clan/the Smith tribe’ etc and we have a Whatsapp group titled The Smith ChitChat with the parents in laws, the brother in law and his wife, the sister in law – and it’s such a lovely thing to have and we regularly call ourselves ‘The Smith Gang’. No regrets whatsoever – changing my surname was therapeutic and cathartic. Yes it was very healing to finally have the family I needed and wanted for such a long time but changing my surname definitely cemented that. Gosh – longest ever comment I’ve ever written I think! Thanks for writing such an insightful post, has made me reflect all morning. L xxx

  • Rachel

  • April 21, 2016

Finally got round to reading this Sara. I like your way of thinking! Hear hear. If the men aren’t doing it… x

  • Nicole

  • April 21, 2016

I think you should both change to “Ofthenorth” and make a real impact… that or “Ofinstagram” – sorry, I’m not taking this seriously am I.

I was stuck, didn’t like my old name much, probably not keen on my new one either (there are so many Clark’s and the you get the boring “with or without an e” all the time…). I’m also not keen on essentially being my mother-in-law – that weirds me out. I suggested being Klark instead but that was (probably thankfully) shot down…

The point is, it’s just a formality and doesn’t really mean a lot when it comes down to it. It only really becomes a symbol and a label if you let is and ascribe that meaning to it. What everyone else thinks it means… Who cares?

  • Äiti

  • April 19, 2016

After 23 years we haven’t married, but I wouldn’t change my name if we did. The kids have our surnames double-barreled, but I feel I am my name. It’s connected with my career as a writer and how I see myself beyond Mummy. If I had to change, I’d double-barrel it like the kids and expect him to do the same.
I also don’t get this 4 surnames argument that always comes up with double-barreled surnames discussions. You chose to double-barrel your kids’s names, they can decide how to name their kids with their partners, which name to get rid of and which to keep. I doubt anyone would decide to keep all 4.

  • Amy Elizabeth

  • April 18, 2016

My husband had the exact same reaction when I suggested that we choose a new name together. His stubbornness over the matter (despite usual feminist leanings) made me even more sure not to change mine – I didn’t want to subsume my identity to his but would have happily gone for a new family name altogether. Since that’s not happening, I’ll stick to the one I’ve got. Of course, if we have children, that may all change (or it may not) but it’s a lot easier not to have to do all the paperwork!

  • Helen McG

  • April 18, 2016

We got married 18 months ago and I’ve done the same as you Celia. I have kept my maiden name in work and still have my passport in my maiden name and on some bank accounts, but have changed my drivers licence, GP, dentist etc. It works for me, although can get confusing when signing things lol! I’m happy with that compromise though, I both a Ms and a Mrs!

  • Carmen

  • April 18, 2016

Every time somebody writes a post on changing or keeping you maiden name there’s a Spanish person commenting how civilised a system we have. Let that person be me. We don’t change our last names (unless you’re on a witness protection programme/have been abused by your father/other good reason). And children have two surnames and pass on the first one tho their offspring (you can choose the order of surnames, but you MUST have two).

Having married an English man, a lot of people assume I’ve changed my surname and that really pisses me of. It feels like I have been bought (which I guess, is the origin of the name changing practice). I even refuse to open letters addressed to Mr & Mrs A. because that’s not me. And our children have both our surnames. Everybody happy.

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 17, 2016

Y.E.S. Seeing R’s unfiltered response took me aback, and made me look at it with clear eyes. No red-tinted vision ;).
I’ve heard from quite a few mothers today of families being stopped where a child has a different name, which has really surprised me! Perhaps I was naive, but I assumed we didn’t rely on surnames to determine parentage in emergencies. Isn’t that why we link passports? I can understand how mixed race is only an added concern when travelling around.

I’m v pleased with my decision too, and it feels right. I relate to all you say re: rebranding, but this isn’t the time or the reason. If I want to do that, I can do it by myself, for myself – right? 🙂 x

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 17, 2016

hahaha! I mean, I’m not sure that’s quite what I meant to say, but sure – let’s go with it! 😉 x

  • Maria Lavender

  • April 17, 2016

Ha! I enjoyed reading this. I just got married last year, and initially, I was going to change my name—because I literally thought I had to, by law!

Another OG-name woman set me straight on that. She’s 5 years into a marriage and definitely has not changed her name. My husband had no issues with that. Neither one of us was interested in him changing his name: he’s the third in a line of male firstborns, all with the same name. I’m not interested in changing mine because my birth name is beautiful. I love it.

Honestly, neither one of us cares about it a bit, but let me tell you: other people sure do. Family members never fail to mention it once or twice any time we visit, and strangers as well, like to give their two cents about the matter.

We were trying to buy a car once, and when I gave my name, the salesman noticed that it was different than my husband’s he asked why. I said, “Oh I’m just not interested in changing it right now.” He said to me, “Oh you will. You’ve got to. You can’t not take his name.”

Well. Thank you, sir!

Haha, it’s so silly. I, like you, rest on the fact that if I decide eventually to change my name, I can. But it will be because I want to, not because someone else thinks I should.

I like hearing other voices regarding this topic. Thanks for sharing!

  • Esther Pulcipher

  • April 16, 2016

Such an interesting post! My mom had kept her maiden name as her middle name, because she didn’t have a middle name. My dad wanted all of my siblings and I to have both my mom’s maiden name and his last name as our last name, but my mom thought it would be so long. But I think his suggestion was more based on the idea of his children identifying with both backgrounds. He was very proud of my mother being German and him being a Pacific Islander. When my husband and I got engaged, I remember being excited about getting his last name, because it sounded German. Haha! I’ve been married for 2 years and have yet to go through the process of officially changing my last name. The paperwork and the added costs to updating different identification pieces (i.e. passport, social security card, etc) just felt too time consuming, so I’ve continued to procrastinate on it.

  • Simi Atanda Lindgren

  • April 16, 2016

Yes exactly! Essentially our children will have his surname, and I will keep my maiden name as middle name, with his surname as my new surname!

  • Abigail

  • April 16, 2016

Sara Skywalker has such a good ring to it! ? X

  • Mark

  • April 16, 2016

Totally. Though the Phoenix’s makes us sound like we should be a crime fighting duo.

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 16, 2016

I love this, Mark, & your reasons make a lot of sense! It must have helped that Pheonix was such a cool name too 😀

  • Mark

  • April 16, 2016

When my wife and I got married we both changed. I’ve only met my dad once, wasn’t a fan, so having his name didn’t seem right. My mum had changed back to her maiden name, Phoenix, so my wife and I both decided together to take it when we got married. We’ve never regretted it.

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 16, 2016

This is a nice alternative to double barrelling that I hadn’t considered! Is that the middle name in your profile here? Thanks for sharing Simi.

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 16, 2016

I agree – though I can understand why to some, a name change is a wonderful opportunity for change. Plus of course, when all the children with two names grow up and marry, their children end up with four names, and so on!
Right now Orla calls herself both of our names depending on when you ask, and sometimes just calls herself ‘Orla Pie’. I like all of these options! 😀

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 16, 2016

Thanks for sharing, Sara! It is funny how much it’s assumed – I had thought it might be a generational thing, but of course it isn’t nearly so simple as that.
I’ve always been a Ms – started as a contrary teen and never looked back. It helps that I sort of enjoy giving people that moment of surprise, and an excuse to spout my feminist explanations I think! haha! Thanks again x

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 16, 2016

hahahaha! Jenna, this made me laugh, and relate. It’s possible that’s my main reason too, and everything else is just me justifying my terrible laziness! ?

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 16, 2016

I like this! It’s definitely something I’ve changed my thoughts on over time – and perhaps will continue to! Attached is the perfect word to describe the way we come to feel about ours names, i think. That said, I could *definitetly* get attached to becoming a Sara Skywalker.. ?

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 16, 2016

yes, this! Surely passports should indicate parentage, not names. Of course it’s important to do anything we can to stop children being moved around without their parents knowing or consent, but this does seem to put families with different names under necessary suspicion!
Thanks for the tip. I’ll get that sorted for Orla asap!

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 16, 2016

hahahaha! Oh dear Fiona. This made me giggle! ?

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 16, 2016

Haha! Yep! It took seeing R’s reaction for me to get it, I think, and understand what I was doing by changing my name. Social conditioning is hard to shake.

I like the idea of reviving your mum’s maiden name too! Saving another woman’s name from obscurity. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience. It’s such a brilliant conversation to be sharing!

  • Victoria P.

  • April 16, 2016

I got a certified copy of Aidan’s birth certificate when we realised, and when Molly was born we got one at the same time as we registered, and I leave them in their passports, so no longer an issue. I’d like to think they’d still check, to avoid kids being taken by non-parents, but the problem occurred when trying to get back into the UK!!! (Also wonder what’s the point of them having my passport number when I apply for theirs, if they don’t link them up)

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 16, 2016

I’m hearing this birth certificates when abroad thing a lot today – perhaps I was v naive but I had no idea! I wonder if this will become less of an issue as more and more families stop sharing a name? I don’t fancy another bit of important paperwork to remember every time we go away! x

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 16, 2016

Eep! Love that you’re already arguing about it in the hypothetical! ? I’m on your side though – his argument is that because he’s had a life of assuming he is entitled, he should be allowed to continue to feel entitled? HA! Team Lilly! xx

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 16, 2016

Thank you for sharing your story Chrissie! Such an interesting slant to hear how you look back on it after a number of years, and how it aligns with your work. I agree with all of your conclusions. All we can ever do is make the best decision we can with what we have at the time – and fortunately, with this decision it doesn’t ever have to be permanent! Romance v practicality is the story of my life, btw! haha x

  • Rachel Percy

  • April 16, 2016

My maiden name is tied to a lot of family history. We, bizarrely have a very detailed and well kept family tree and knowing all of that meant my name was very important to me. I look back at all the women who married into my maiden-name-family and how they were happy to be part of a great group I thought the least I could do is join my husband’s.

Am I conditioned? Do I just do what society expects? So what? I got married – that’s one massive tradition right there that in this day and age you don’t have to do; there isn’t even a tax break any more! I wear two rings on my left hand; another tradition I don’t have to do. And I prefer to be referred to as Mrs! Something ELSE that is being phased out! All in all if I want to shove tradition into moving traffic there’s a lot more I need to stop doing on top of changing my name.

  • Abigail

  • April 16, 2016

I’ve always assumed I’d change my name at the first chance, as I haven’t got a particularly flattering name. I looked through ‘top 100 British last names’ to just… choose. In fact, the older I’ve become the more and more attached I’ve felt to my name. Especially as a feminist, I don’t think it would fit my ideals to change my name purely for marriage purposes. Then again, if your husband-to-be had the last name of Skywalker I’m sure feminist ideals could be put to side for the sake of being awesome..!
x

  • Suzie

  • April 16, 2016

This is something I think about from time to time, I was talking about it with my sister only last week. Me and my husband had our 3 children before we married, and they took his name Chaney because that’s what the hospital assumed when our first was born. My name is Evans and I don’t really like it much, Chaney is much more interesting so I went along with it. By the time our 3rd was born we married and I felt a bit left out having a different name to the rest of my family. I felt like we could be our own little clan if I opted for their name, so I did. Fast forward 18 years and I often miss my Evans. It’s who I am deep down, it’s my roots. I think years of raising a family and being Mrs Chaney, So-and-so’s Mum robbed me a little of my personal identity. So when I went to art school 15 years ago I wrestled again with changing it back. I didn’t. Then we moved to France and my name sounds a little French so I’m yet again choosing to hang on to it. Besides, my daughters vow to keep their names Chaney forever so it keeps our little family intact still. In my head I’m Suzie Evans and Suzie Chaney, the sum of both parts. Sorry if that was a bit rambling!

  • Jo

  • April 16, 2016

I took my husbands name for myself, it felt like I was evolving into my own person. My upbringing was difficult and my family situation is tense but my husband’s family are the most wonderful caring people I’ve ever met. It gave me a whole new perspective on life with a new name and a new clan I can actually rely on. It felt cathartic to have an opportunity to legally change my name and move on with my life cleaved from a surname that brought so much negativity. I felt like I had some control, the choice to choose my awesome husband and the choice of a new name (options many women are never given). I did it for me. Plus, my new name is eerily similar to the pen name I gave myself in the fifth grade. All that being said, I wouldn’t change my name again if I ever remarried because I now have my true name.

  • Jenna Richards

  • April 16, 2016

I kept my maiden name for a lot of reasons. Mostly, I couldn’t be arsed with all the paperwork.

  • Sarah by the Sea

  • April 16, 2016

This is a fascinating article. My fiancé and I have been discussing this topic at great length, so it’s great to see a blog post from another point of view – it sort of helps me balance my thoughts on the matter.
To be honest the last line really resonates with me – Am I done with my name yet? I don’t entirely think so :/ Marriage is already a big change – a transition from my current “lets pretend I’m still a kid even though I’m twenty four, I can totally get away with this” to the “oh damn, I’m now a proper grown up” feels. I’m not entirely comfortable with my complete detachment from childhood (which lets face it, in reality ended when I started being a grumpy teenager). I’m not sure what I’m really trying to say – I guess I’m talking myself into holding onto the last connector I have to the tiny me, the me that was read bedtime stories and the me that threw cereal on the floor. A name is the real proof that although we’ve morphed physically and mentally over the years, we are still the same soul/consciousness inside this human-suit 😛

  • Lulu

  • April 16, 2016

This is a great post, so nice to see topics like this being discussed on a lifestyle blog and being debated thoughtfully. I personally would not change my name – it’s a part of my identity (though that’s a whole new minefield if you get your maiden name from your dad, as I did and most do) and I have done things I am proud of under my name. Just as your partner wouldn’t want to change his name suddenly, neither do I – and I think it’s generally personal choice. It’s just when people unthinkingly change their names as it’s the done thing that it makes me sad about the way we are conditioned. Whereas weighing up the options at least means you’re making a considered decision. Bravo!

  • Amber

  • April 16, 2016

I kept mine and our girl has a hyphenated name. My name is too important to me to change. I’m established and it’s my identity. My husband considered changing his to mine but it came down to patriarchy- he’s the last male with his surname. Even though he really doesn’t buy into it he knew it would be too much controversy for his family. Our kids can make a decision on how to be addressed but the legal documents have both. Bonus if I ever travel with the kids alone there won’t be any questions since my name is in there too. It’s a personal decision but you’re right- men rarely ever need to consider it. Plus I resent the hassle and cost associated.

  • Sara Young

  • April 16, 2016

I got married last summer and never considered changing my name for many of the reasons you have written about. My husband was completely understanding of my choice and I’m enjoying being a Ms! I don’t feel any less united with my husband we are a partnership and don’t need the same name to demonstrate this. I was surprised that everyone young and old pressumed I had a new name and seemed genuinely surprised about my explanation of being a feminist and wanting to maintain my identity with a name I’ve had for 30+ years! If we have children I’m not sure what we will do…..Good luck with the rest of the wedding planning x

  • Chrissie

  • April 16, 2016

I changed my name 15 years ago and thought I was being clever. I was a bit fed up often being asked how to spell my surname, ah I thought Nicholls will be easier, now I find I have to spell it every time, so that didn’t work! I thought about my name and it felt right and I was happy to share the same name as my husband and did so 100% on everything.
However, now I wonder if that decision was wise. I’m an artist so I now find there is an invisible but very present line between my work before, and after, I got married and I’m not sure about how happy I am with that. In hindsight it would have been smarter to have continued using my maiden name to sign my work, but then having two alternative names felt too complicated. I’m sure that changing my name or not would have made no difference to the depth of our love or commitment to our marriage/relationship. Marriage is a vow between two people and really, changing your name doesn’t affect your loyalty, support and love for each other. I’m not against changing names and I don’t regret my decision, but I think if I’d spent a little more time thinking about the practical effect of doing so rather than just romantically thinking about it, I may not have been so hasty.

  • Lilly

  • April 16, 2016

This is so interesting. My boyfriend and I haven’t even discussed marriage but whenever the “name” subject comes up it ends in an argument. He doesn’t mind me keeping my name but our children must have his. His reasoning is that he’s grown up with the thought that his children will carry on his family name whereas I haven’t – he’s in no way misogynist, and just a regular, well-educated man like your R but just can’t stomach the idea of losing his name. even my idea of a new tradition – boys get his name, girls mine – was vehemently refused… At this point it looks like we won’t be having children anytime soon 😉

  • Lorrie Hartshorn

  • April 16, 2016

Oh, this was such a lovely wake-up read this morning. I could totally relate – I’ve had long-term family estrangements, and the idea of a brand new name was reallytempting.

In the end, though, I just couldn’t bring myself to give up my old name, for all its faults – I just couldn’t find any reason that I should. That decision was cemented by my husband’s defensive, ruffled-feathery incredulity when I suggested jokingly that he should take my name – it just brings home how sexist the whole thing is!

When we had our little girl, there was the idea of race to consider with us – she’s mixed race and I’m white, and there are cases where mothers haven’t been allowed to travel alone with their own children because they have different names. So, we gave her both names, but didn’t hyphenate it means she can choose to use both or just one.

Not judging anyone for changing their name, but it’s definitely not for me. I’m not-so-secretly pleased you’ll be keeping yours, but fear not: I won’t be round with the burning pitch-forks if you change your mind 😀

  • wanderwonders

  • April 16, 2016

Great post! And thank you for providing me with two new solid arguments when French people ask me why I kept my maiden name. I’ll just equate marriage with witness protection programmes and a career in the porn industry. 😉

  • Victoria P.

  • April 16, 2016

Didn’t change it, was pretty sure from the get go that I wasn’t going to. I was 29 when I got married, established in my career, just, why?

Kids have his name as we didn’t want to double barrel and it was easier for parental responsibility etc if they have his, though it does mean I have to carry their birth certificates with me if I take them abroad.

It’s never been an issue, aside from a few joint cheques at first. Some relatives send cards to mr & Mrs brown, but even those have gotten fewer as time goes by

  • Jennifer - Knowing The Light

  • April 16, 2016

YES! The same as you, I suggested we create a new joint surname together and he wasn’t buying it, because it was HIS name and why should he change his identity. Well, yes, that is rather the bloody point isn’t it. Why should I change my identity because it is MY name and how I am known. Why should I??

Interestingly I am starting to develop a creative practice and I am thinking about doing that under my mum’s maiden name, and keeping my name for my professional work.

I am so glad I read this today, because many women have two names, so why should this be any different? Hmm, that has given me cause for thought -thank you!

  • fionabailey

  • April 16, 2016

Well… I changed mine straight away. My maiden name was Fiona Hart. Guess what my nick name was ….. ??

  • Celia Hart

  • April 16, 2016

Keep your old name for work and use your new ‘married’ name for family and official things … passport, GP, etc. That’s what I decided to do 23 years ago and still do. I have bank accounts in both names. I’m still the old me, but also I’m Mrs …. . As both names are 4 letters and begin with the same 2 letters I’ve even signed the ‘wrong’ signature and no-one noticed!

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