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“He Wants Me To Take His Name, But I Want to Keep Mine”

Marriage

My wedding is in three months and I have serious doubts about changing my name. Coming from a somewhat traditional family, I always assumed when I got my married I’d take my husband’s name, just like my mom and sister, but the closer the wedding gets, the less I want to drop my last name. It’s part of my identity, it signifies my heritage and connects me to my family. I’m not far enough along in my career where I NEED to keep my maiden name, so that’s not an issue. More than anything, it’s an emotional urge – I just don’t want to drop my maiden name. I don’t even want to take my maiden as a middle name, because really, who asks about your middle name? How many people even know what your middle name is? I would like to take his last name in some capacity, but that doesn’t mean I want to lose my last name at the same time.

I’ve told all this to my fiancé several times and mentioned that maybe I’ll hyphenate or have two last names (“Molly Marie Fitzwilliam-Smith” or “Molly Marie Fitzwilliam Smith”). At first, he kept saying it was a bad idea, because our names together sound scarily close to “Frankenstein.” But after we talked about it more, it became obvious that he was upset that I don’t want to change my last name to his. He doesn’t mind if I keep my last name as a middle name, but he really wants me to be Mrs. Smith, NOT Mrs. Fitzwilliam-Smith or Mrs. Fitzwilliam Smith. He said if I don’t change my name, it seems like less of a commitment – like it’ll be easier to back out of our marriage, which is not how I think about it at all! He even went as far as to say that it seems disrespectful if I don’t change my name because I’m not considering his feelings.

Changing my name is not a nice little favor I can do to make him feel better, like making him cookies or giving him a back rub. And whether or not I change my name, I’m the one who has to live it. Other than a few occasions here or there, it won’t really affect him much. On top of that, it makes me kind of angry that if I add his last name, it’s still is not enough for him – he actually wants me to drop my last name.

Since both of our opinions come from very emotional places, I don’t know how to find a compromise. Has anyone else gone through something like this? And if there are any guys reading this, I’d really appreciate your opinion, since it’s much harder for me to see this from a man’s perspective. — What’s in a Name?

First and foremost, changing your name (or not) is your decision to make and no one else’s. You should keep your fiancé’s feelings in mind, but you shouldn’t let him be the deciding factor, especially since the arguments he’s giving you for dropping your name and taking his are sexist, disrespectful, and, frankly, oppressive. If he truly fears that you not taking his name is a sign that you aren’t committed to him, what he’s really saying is that he needs outward evidence that you belong to him. He wants ownership of you and that means branding you with his name. He argues that you’re being disrespectful of him because you aren’t considering his feelings, but what about your feelings? Isn’t he being disrespectful of YOU for not considering YOUR feelings about changing YOUR name?? Or do your feelings just not matter as much as his because you’re a woman and therefore not as important?

There are plenty of good reasons that a woman would want to take her husband’s name: she likes the tradition; she doesn’t like her birth name; she doesn’t like her father and would rather not be tied to him by name; she wants to share a family name with her husband and children. And there are plenty of reasons why a woman would choose to keep her name upon marriage: she’s anti-patriarchy; she loves her last name; she’s built a career/reputation around her name; she doesn’t like her husband’s name or doesn’t like the way it sounds with her first name. Those are all perfectly fine reasons for changing or keeping a name. What isn’t so fine is: being pressured by a husband who thinks his feelings matter more. I’m sorry, but fuck that noise.

You want to compromise? Great. Here’s a good compromise: you keep your name and he keeps his name. Or, you keep your name but agree to give future children his name. Or you can hyphenate your name. Or you create a new last name for both of you so you each change your name. Or you keep your name legally, but take his name socially. Or, if taking a spouse’s name is such a crucial part of commitment, he can take your last name. And if none of those options works for your fiancé and he’s still accusing you of disrespecting his feelings, don’t marry the guy because he sounds like a sexist asshole and you can bet this won’t be the last time he wants to dictate your choices.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

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{ 407 comments… add one }

avatar Sunshine Brite May 16, 2013, 9:06 am

WWS. There’s no clear response here minus that he’s not being fair.

I know right now I can’t decide between switching or keeping and don’t have strong feelings either way about changing my name quite yet, although I know it’ll be a hassle with my professional board as everything’s a hassle with them. It would be a much harder time if the groom was giving me a hard time for it. Wyatt expressed his preference for me switching but understands if I keep and left it at that for me to decide. This should be a discussion complete with pro/cons lists.

avatar TECH May 16, 2013, 9:09 am

LOL. “I’m sorry, but fuck that noise.” Love it.
I like the idea of keeping your name legally, but taking his name socially.
So if you are at a social event with your husband, or a school event with your kids, you can introduce yourself and say, “Hi, I’m Jenny Smith.” So everyone will know you are part of the same family unit. But legally you are still “Jenny Black” and don’t have to give that up.

avatar Christy May 16, 2013, 9:21 am

If both parties in this couple didn’t change their name to Blacksmith, they’re wrong.

avatar TECH May 16, 2013, 9:23 am

LOL

Fabelle Fabelle May 16, 2013, 9:11 am

Oof. I’m not near being engaged yet, but my boyfriend & I have had this discussion already…since he’s expressed similar views that the fiancè in this letter has, Wendy’s response is sort of gut-punching. I hope my dude warms to the idea that maybe I don’t wanna change my name (I’m not sure yet, but I’d like for him to not, you know, CRINGE at the possibility) but, so far, he says things about how ~not~ changing my name to his would seem like I don’t want to be married (???) or that I’m not eager to be a part of him.

I just made this about me, sorry. But I have no advice! LW, update us, please!!

avatar SasaLinna May 16, 2013, 9:25 am

I think there’s a difference between expecting the name change as the traditional default because one has never really given it any thought and still insisting when your wife-to-be states she doesn’t want to take your name and explains why. I would be annoyed by the former already, but it’s still kind of innocent, but the latter is just plain sexist in my book.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 9:31 am

I sorta understand why a guy would think that, actually. The “norm” of a married couple is sharing a last name. Growing up what do you think about most? Usually the white dress and the new name. Like, it makes it official.

I know its her choice, but I don’t think he’s the most self absorbed sexist a-hole ever for it being really important to him.

avatar BreezyAM May 19, 2013, 4:26 am

No it is NOT the norm! Not anywhere outside of England, the US/ English Canada, and Australia!

Copa Copa May 16, 2013, 9:51 am

My ex and I, when we were still together and talking marriage, once started talking (generally) about women taking a new last name when they get married. I said I didn’t know if it’s something I’d ever want to do and that I think there are valid reasons NOT to, from a woman’s career to how sometimes certain last names just don’t SOUND right with the first name. All very general talk. Somehow it snowballed into a fight about how I was ashamed of him, hated his last name, etc. Good times! But my point is really that this is surprisingly touchy subject, and I guess I understand why a man would WANT a woman to take his name, but I’ve never understood why it can come across as such a slap in the face to a man if things don’t go his way. What about what the WOMAN wants!?

So, yeah. WWS. LW, I think your feelings are valid and, like Wendy said, there are ways to compromise so that both of you are happy!

Miel Miel May 16, 2013, 11:24 am

What about other cultures where the woman usually do not change her family name ? I know it is tradition in “anglophone west” countries, and some european countries, but it’s definitely not worldwide. Your boyfriend could be attached to the american tradition (he doesn’t want to be unique, he wants to do like everyone else, he doesn’t want to be asked questions on the street, etc.). But to say that a woman who doesn’t want to change her name doesn’t want to be married is like saying half of the women on this planet don’t want to get married. The love and long-term commitment symbolized by marriage is definitely not restricted by how well you follow other traditions. (It’s like saying a woman who doesn’t want a white wedding dress doesn’t want to be married.) Your boyfriend needs to see the difference between a tradition that comes along with marriage, and the meaning of the marriage itself. (Except if he thinks a marriage is actually when a men takes possession of a woman…)

Fabelle Fabelle May 16, 2013, 11:59 am

We actually got into a spat over the wedding dress thing, too. Personally, I WANT to wear a white wedding dress—white looks good on me (if I do say so myself?? ugh, I sound like an ass, haha), but he made a comment about different colored wedding dresses once that ruffled my feathers.

Anyway, I do love your point about other cultures & will try bringing that point up the next time. His issue is that, while the justifications he gives probably just mask an emotional attachment to the tradition here, he gets stubborn & will defend his views to the death.

avatar Riefer May 18, 2013, 2:05 am

If he actually said that you’re not eager to be “part” of him, then that’s kinda fucked up. You’re your own person, you’re not an offshoot of him. If he actually thinks that way, then it would be better to find it out sooner rather than later.

avatar HmC May 16, 2013, 9:14 am

“And if none of those options works for your fiancé and he’s still accusing you of disrespecting his feelings, don’t marry the guy because he sounds like a sexist asshole and you can bet this won’t be the last time he wants to dictate your choices.”

I <3 you Wendy.

We've debated the whole changing names issue on here before and I hope not to get sucked into another debate (oh Wendy you are a temptress with these topics!) but I will say that for feminist women this issue is really annoying. I want to have the same last name as my theoretical kids and husband, but I don't want to change my name because I like it (and professional reasons) plus the whole feminist thing, but I doubt I'll get a guy on board with changing his name. It's just annoying, I can't have everything I want, it's impossible. :(

avatar bethany May 16, 2013, 9:15 am

This is something I can really relate to, because I’m super attached to my last name and I didn’t want to change it.

My suggestion is to wait a few months after the wedding and see how you feel then. I waited almost a year to change my name, and I think that made it easier for some reason. I also took my maiden name as my middle name, and I still use my maiden name at work or when I sign for a package, or give my name for take out or something. It’s still part of me. I felt like changing my name would make me a traitor somehow, like I was choosing “them” over my family, but it doesn’t, and for that matter, there is no “us” and “them” anymore, there’s only “Us”, because we’re all one big family now.

Also, my husband really wanted me to take his name, for reasons he couldn’t really describe. It was important to him, but he couldn’t really tell me why. Similarly, I really wanted an engagement ring (a diamond, specifically) for the same reasons. It was important to me, and I wanted it. So, I felt like him getting me the diamond, and me taking his name was a fair trade. We called it even (which by the way comes in handy a lot in marriage. We call it even all the time when we’re both wrong about stuff. I recommend it).

But anyway, my point is, you don’t need to decide this right away. Leave the door open to changing your name, the decision you make might surprise you.

Fabelle Fabelle May 16, 2013, 9:20 am

Oh yeah, this is true. Hmmmm.

avatar bethany May 16, 2013, 9:23 am

The engagement ring part?? Yeah, when you think about it like that, like “Why is this so important to me?”, and you come up with no good reason, it’s an eye opener.

avatar kerrycontrary May 16, 2013, 9:24 am

I think it’s OK for people to have things that are important to them for no apparent reason. And a good partner usually recognizes that and accepts it.

avatar bethany May 16, 2013, 9:30 am

Oh, I agree with you. That’s why we called it even :)

avatar Desiree May 16, 2013, 9:25 am

I’m glad that you brought that up, because I think there is a strong correlation. A lot of women I know would say a guy just isn’t committed enough if he won’t buy an engagement ring for his fiance. A lot of guys I know would say a woman just isn’t committed enough if she won’t change her name.

Fabelle Fabelle May 16, 2013, 9:31 am

Yeah, the engagement ring part—like, I would want a diamond ring (despite it being an outdated, & I guess, sexist tradition) (annnd despite the diamond industry problems…but it’s also my birthstone, damnit!) for reasons I cannot justify. (Clearly, haha.)

And so, if I were pressed on the “why” of the issue, I’m sure stupid justifications would come out of my mouth (just like stupid justifications come out of my boyfriend’s mouth when I ask why he’s opposed to me keeping my last name). But, like you said, “calling it even” is a handy tool.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 9:38 am

I think the reason is simply that what you’ve grown to expect. It “means” you are getting married because that’s how it always was to you growing up (the “norm”). Same goes for the last name thing. When you stop and think about it logically, neither really mean anything.

avatar oldie May 16, 2013, 12:10 pm

Frankly, a lot of this comes down to pressure from family and peers who see not having an engagement ring and not taken a husband’s last name as weird and that the spouse-to-be who goes along with such a thing is being taken advantage of and awfully wimpy. The other custom that more directly corresp;onds to the bride taking the husbands last name is the big deal with the father of the bride walking her down the aisle and ‘giving her away’. Traditionally, this was quite literally a transfer of ownership from the days when marriages were arranged and women were little more than chattel. Nothing wrong with not taking a husband’s last name, it is a matter of personal choice. To decide not to on the basis of business relationships, attachment to her name, thinking her first name sounds strange with his last name, etc. is all fair game. Not fair to call the guy a sexist pig for his view on the subject, if you’re also taking the diamond and having your father give you away. In this case the sexist argument falls away, because you are picking and choosing which patriarchal traditions you will honor and not honor and keeping peace with your family but not your husbands.

Fabelle Fabelle May 16, 2013, 12:38 pm

I agree with this—that’s why, to me, the ring & the name change are both on the same footing. It’s hypocritical to pick & choose (unless it’s something to do with the actual ceremony, I guess.)

avatar temperance May 16, 2013, 12:49 pm

I didn’t have a ring for a really long time, and people made me feel AWFUL about it. It got really old and then hurtful when people would sort of intone that he didn’t REALLY want to marry me without the ring.

avatar applescruffs May 16, 2013, 1:40 pm

That’s terrible. What if you just don’t like diamonds?

avatar temperance May 16, 2013, 7:42 pm

Well then I would have been lying to protect his ego / my ego, because clearly I would only say that if he didn’t love me.

avatar applescruffs May 16, 2013, 8:02 pm

Eye roll…

avatar Portia May 29, 2013, 3:04 pm

Interesting point about the engagement ring thing! I had actually brought it up to my boyfriend that I wanted to get him an engagement ring to wear, so I wasn’t the only one, and he was not at all receptive to the idea. Now I joke with him about him having to wear an engagement ring if he doesn’t propose before I do…

avatar kerrycontrary May 16, 2013, 9:23 am

I agree you don’t have to make the decision right this second. I know plenty of women who are ambivalent or undecided about changing their name. My sister wasn’t sure if she would change hers since our family name is more unique than her husbands, and she was almost 30 and had her name attached to her profession/school. She did eventually but it must’ve been a year or two after getting married because she was in no hurry to do it.

avatar Jess B May 16, 2013, 9:24 am

I agree: you don’t have to do anything with your name right now. I also waited a while after getting married to make the final decision about what to do with my name, and I recommend it.
My decision was easier, since I had wanted to be through with my maiden name ever since elementary school (of course, then I married someone whose last name is even more unpronounceable, but w/e). However, I felt a similar pull about my maiden name being my “family” name, and I had the additional issue of being an academic. As my husband and I grew more into a family, I made the decision to turn my maiden name into my middle name. It was the right decision for me.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 9:40 am

Its funny to me when women cite her name being her “family” name as a reason not to change it. I feel like if you said that to your fiance, that would be pretty hurtful since you are supposed to be a new family together, not a secondary family to your old family.

avatar bethany May 16, 2013, 9:51 am

I agree with you on that. I think only after I changed it, did I realize that my main “reason” for wanting to keep my name was actually really hurtful to him. I wanted to keep my name because I felt loyalty to MY family and not HIS family, but really, that’s not what it means. To him, I wasn’t choosing his family over mine, he saw it as us starting our own family.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 9:54 am

I wonder if a lot of women struggle with accepting their “new” family as being their #1 family as opposed to being so used to her old family being #1. I feel like I would a lot. I wonder how long it would take me to feel like my old family is #2 to my new family. I guess you could just prioritize them all until a big issue came up.

I agree with how he felt actually. You’re forming a new family together and families usually share a name together. I’d probably be bummed if I were a guy and my wife didn’t want to share my name.

avatar applescruffs May 16, 2013, 10:54 am

But he doesn’t have to make that decision, you know? He (the hypothetical he) can feel loyalty to whoever he damn well pleases and not have to do anything with his name.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 10:57 am

I guess I just feel like its a marital decision to be made by both parties, not just her and he has no input. Obviously not everyone sees it this way though.
If he feels strongly about it, his opinion should be tken just as seriously as hers, imo.

avatar applescruffs May 16, 2013, 1:38 pm

I respectfully disagree. Her name is her name. He can have an opinion, but ultimately what she does with her name is HER choice. I just feel we’re past the point where sharing a name = family. My mother and I have different last names, I have a different last name then all of my brothers (3 between us), the youngest brother’s wife has a different last name than everyone, but we’re family.

avatar Jess B May 16, 2013, 9:52 am

Yeah, exactly. Part of my problem was that I wasn’t thinking of him as my family before the wedding (and technically, he wasn’t at that point), and it took me a couple of months to make that transition in my head.
Of course, after I changed my name, he made an offhand comment that he should have changed his to my maiden name, because it’s easier to spell and pronounce.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 9:57 am

I wonder if more women waited a year after marriage to decide whether or not to change their name, that more women would end up changing it.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 9:37 am

Wow, bethany. I really liked the idea of the “fair trade.”

avatar bethany May 16, 2013, 9:51 am

I got that from Chandler and Monica :)

avatar Clementine May 16, 2013, 9:56 am

I agree that waiting to make that decision might be a good idea. I have a friend who didn’t change her name until she’d been married for 10 years. Her name, her decision. I know women who hyphenated their names, but use their husband’s names socially. I also know women who kept their maiden names but use their husband’s socially. You have lots of options and don’t have to make the decision now.

My husband initially felt very strongly about my changing my name sign of commitment or togetherness. As our relationship matured, it mattered less to him.

avatar Daisy May 16, 2013, 9:56 am

I’m facing the engagement ring dilemma right now, and I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who’s conflicted about it! My boyfriend and I have started looking at rings recently (ie. last week), and I hate that I can’t explain why I really really want one.

avatar kerrycontrary May 16, 2013, 10:15 am

Because they are pretty and sparkly. I feel like a raccoon when I stare at strangers’ rings.

avatar temperance May 16, 2013, 12:50 pm

Because jewelry is awesome!

Also, people are really f’ing rude when you don’t have one. Trust me on this.

Historigirl Historigirl May 16, 2013, 5:44 pm

My fiance and I got engaged in December. I got my ring (a sapphire, at my request, not a diamond) in March. People were shitty about my not having a ring, and since I’ve gotten it, they’ve been shitty that it’s not a diamond. Sometimes, there’s no winning.

But I agree — people are insanely, unbelievably rude when you say you’re engaged and you’re not wearing a ring.

avatar temperance May 16, 2013, 7:43 pm

I’m probably more rude than you are, so I would make comments about a sapphire being good enough for Princess Kate, but I am a jerk. lol

I LOVE sapphires. I have an Israeli non-conflict diamond.

Jess Jess May 16, 2013, 9:58 am

Love this. Traditions are rooted in emotion and not reason. Traditions are also tied up in appearances. The question “why didn’t her husband get her a diamond?” or “why didn’t his wife take his last name?” are questions that make us uncomfortable. Many people are happy to buck tradition when it’s outdated and often, patriarchal. But I think we pick and choose the ones that we cling to and the ones that we shun.

I don’t go to church but I love christian carols at Christmas time and go full out on decorations. I told my fiancee that I didn’t care about a diamond ring but he ended up choosing one anyway and I ended up being really happy he did. In retrospect, I would have felt disappointed if my ring didn’t clearly communicate my status. Is that silly and vain? Yes.

I’m taking my fiancee’s name. Even before we discussed it, I just knew I would. I am 37 and DO have a career established but it’s important to me on a gut level that’s hard to defend. For me, it’s about unity. I want our whole family (us, our future children, and even the pets!) to have the same name. I also feel like it’s symbolic and marks the beginning of a new identity as a wife, and a new chapter in my life. I love honoring a milestone. I will be keeping my maiden name as my middle name for the same reasons you mentioned. It will make things easier at work and at times when I am trying to access an old account, etc.

avatar Daisy May 16, 2013, 10:25 am

We’re not married yet but our dog already has a hyphenated name on his file at the vet. For some reason it makes me really happy!

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 10:38 am

I got a wedding invite that said “Peter X, LBH Y and Family” the other day and it made me really happy too.

Jess Jess May 16, 2013, 10:42 am

So you kept your name? For sure, different strokes for different folks. It’s a really personal and emotional decision, I think.

I’m super excited to see our names together with the same last name. I’m not a very traditional person usually but this is important to me.

Actually, funny story. When we were putting together the guest list, I noticed my fiancee added a “Jessica [his last name]” and I was like, “honey, who is this? A cousin I haven’t met?” and he was like, “Um, no, that’s you.” Woah! Blew my mind! hahaha

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 10:48 am

We’re not married, but my daughter took my name so she and I have the same name, but obviously, Peter doesn’t. I always preferred to have the same name as my kid(s), so if we were to marry, I’d keep my name, but it is kinda sad that I won’t take his. He could care less.

That’s a funny story!

katie katie May 16, 2013, 11:35 am

my friend hyphenated so she would have the same name as all her kids- she had one coming before the marriage, and then they had two together.

avatar BreezyAM May 19, 2013, 4:36 am

he could take yours….

Skyblossom Skyblossom May 16, 2013, 11:03 am

We get those! It really does work if that is what you want and if you change your name it works too. We also send out Christmas cards to couples who have different last names and we put both on the envelope and it is no big deal.

Jess Jess May 16, 2013, 10:39 am

Hilarious! Yeah. I’ve been joking about how the dog and I both need to get our names legally changed next month. hahaha

MaterialsGirl MaterialsGirl May 16, 2013, 5:11 pm

i love how you did this. PS: is this still legal? like will i have to change ALL my credit cards and such if i keep all my names but pick and choose what i use? blarg

avatar MMcG May 17, 2013, 11:19 am

I agree, take it in stages, because the process is a pain in the ass. I discovered its the one area of the world where fax machines are referenced!!

But once you start there are certain things that have to be consistent — social security and drivers license and passport for example. On the other hand a well know retail store still thinks I’m a single gal because their old school mailing it in requirements bugged me and I haven’t gotten around to it. My one student loan didn’t believe me that I made my maiden name my middle so they kept the old middle name and made up a whole different person I have to correct. Its awesome. I did it because I wanted to and my husband has a solid last name… If I didn’t really want to it would have created a lot of resentment when I was filling out all the forms:)

avatar rachel May 16, 2013, 9:15 am

I think no matter what you do with your name, you will still be generally addressed as “Mrs Smith” when he’s around, just because people generally *assume* you will have changed your name. Hyphenating seems like the way to go here, at least to me, because generally you always have Fitzwilliam in your name, but Smith tells people that you are with him.

avatar SpaceySteph May 16, 2013, 12:04 pm

This is true.
My boss asked me right after I got back from my honeymoon what my new name was. Like without asking if I was going to change it (I did, but I still resent the assumption that I would).

avatar a friend May 16, 2013, 2:13 pm

This has not been my experiance at all! In fact, my DH gets more Mr. Mylastname than I get Mrs. (or more appropriately Dr) Hislastname.

avatar rachel May 16, 2013, 9:17 am

It’s funny, because when I was younger, I always thought I would change my name. My father isn’t a part of my life, so I’d be happy to get rid of that part of me. But, now it would be difficult career-wise, so I don’t think I would want to change it.

avatar csp May 16, 2013, 9:18 am

So, I did the middle name thing. My cousin did hyphinated. Here is the thing, once you are a parent, people will call you by your kids name. So she has a hyphinated name that no one uses. She fought it for a few years then gave up. so whatever you decide, think about the kid last names too.

avatar Eagle Eye May 16, 2013, 9:20 am

Whelp, I’m going to go give my boyfriend a big hug for being so damn fantastic.

FireStar Firestar May 16, 2013, 10:08 am

Seriously. It wasn’t even a conversation I can remember having with my husband. It was always assumed we would keep our own names.
For the children, I gave him the choice of picking the first name or the last name… I’m guessing he’s picking the last name – which is fine with me since the first name carries significance in my family.
It works though – the name not chosen for the last name will be a middle name for the little one so traveling won’t be an issue for either of us and I wouldn’t pick a first name he wasn’t cool with.
That said, people call me Mrs. His Name on occasion and I answer to it – it’s not the end of the world. Sears even calls him Mr. My Name – no one really cares.
And no one is less committed because our names don’t match. I had never heard that argument before. Does that mean the husband is less committed since he didn’t want to change his name? Seems silly.

avatar Eagle Eye May 16, 2013, 11:20 am

Yeah, like I said below to Skyblossom, I am Firstname Mom’slastname Dad’slastname and my first and last name are very common so I use my middle name all the time.

My mom also happily responds to Mrs. Dad’slastname, its not a big deal.

Also, even though my mom had a different last name, we were/are a family – its such a non issue that I can’t believe that I’m even writing this down.

avatar SasaLinna May 16, 2013, 9:22 am

I hate that women are still pressured to take their husband’s name. This is a good example of how big the pressure can be. To be honest I would laugh if my bf asked me to take his name. But he would never. Anyway, I think you’re entitled to keep your name, you shouldn’t even need to state your reasons. I can’t imagine having a discussion over whether I get to choose my own name.

avatar Nadine May 16, 2013, 11:56 am

I totally agree! I told my SO I was shocked when someone asked me my opinion on changing names, as I had never seriously considered it before. He said ‘Women are still expected to do that?’
I feel lucky.
(And this is coming from a hyphenated child, and no I dont know what I’m doing about childrens names.)

avatar Desiree May 16, 2013, 9:23 am

For some stupid reason, men have been ridiculously slow to adapt to the idea that women may want to keep their last name. Even guys I know who are pro-feminism in other categories sometimes act like cavemen when it comes to the name-change debate. They see it as a personal affront, which is dumb. I’m not sure why this particular tradition has such a strong hold on them, when so many other “traditions” have fallen to the wayside.

avatar csp May 16, 2013, 1:38 pm

I don’t think they frame it the same way women do. Men say, “We are becoming a family, and families have the same name.” Women look at it as a relic of being sold by your father to your husband. It is two different approaches.

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 9:24 am

A lot of men want their wives to change their names, and it’s completely valid that they feel like it’s not as much of a commitment to them. It’s hard to leave behind tradition when the feelings run so deep, so I really don’t think it’s just an antiquated patriarchal notion that men have.

I don’t think it’s inherently sexist that your fiance would feel slighted without the name change, but it IS sexist if he thinks his feelings are more important than yours. So my question to you is: Have you listened to him and considered his feelings? If we want to say that he’s wrong for asking you to change in consideration of his feelings, we have to know if you actually have considered them. Have you told him that you see the importance to him and that you want to take the steps that are important to him in marriage? If you’re only talking about what you want he might actually feel like you don’t care about what he feels. If you have made your consideration for him clear and he’s still asking you to change your name based solely on what he wants, he’s being unreasonable and sexist for sure. At this point, you should point-blank ask him if he would still marry you if you refused to change your name. This answer might tell you quite a lot.

avatar SasaLinna May 16, 2013, 9:29 am

Well, the tradition is patriarchical, and the reason that the feelings run so deep is deeply entrenched sexism.

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 9:33 am

I’m not saying that the tradition isn’t patriarchal, but I do strongly disagree that men feel deeply about it because of their deeply entrenched sexism. Absolutely not. They feel strongly about it because it’s what they’ve seen. It’s cultural. If they grow up seeing all married women taking their husbands’ names but their new wife doesn’t want to do that, something doesn’t quite add up. It’s part of what they learned that marriage is, and their new wife is wanting to eliminate part of that. Probably in a few generations after it’s evened out more this won’t be the case. I’m not saying it’s right by any means, but the feelings are understandable, and it’s never okay to invalidate your fiancé’s feelings.

avatar SasaLinna May 16, 2013, 10:00 am

I don’t think sexism always has to be intentional, and super evil. The cultural sexism is still sexism to me. For example, my mother’s husband would never even have considered changing his name to hers but her changing her name to his was a real (and I think preferred) option to him (she ended up hyphenating). He wasn’t intentionally being sexist, but the fact that he didn’t even consider some of the options is influenced by a sexist culture, and him following that culture is sexist.
It’s the same with all kinds of prejudice and -isms really. They are ALWAYS part of the culture, part of the tradition. It makes it more understandable why people are under their influence, but not justifiable.

avatar Eagle Eye May 16, 2013, 10:15 am

WSLS
Changing your name is patriarchal, acknowledging that is important, also having your dad walk you down the aisle, having your children take his last name, an engagement ring, heels, makeup for women but not men, etc.

I engage in many things that are products of the patriarchy and some that I won’t, i.e. I’ll probably have my dad walk me down the aisle but I won’t take my new husband’s name. It’s totally okay to engage in all of these practices but I think that being aware of what they mean will actually allow for them to become less potent. As in, taking a husband’s (or wife’s) last name can become more about deciding to have the same name as a family and not old patriarchal notions.

avatar Eagle Eye May 16, 2013, 10:16 am

Oof and patriarchy = sexism, not in a thoughtful misogynistic way but more in a thoughtless “this is how it is done” kind of way

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 10:25 am

I just don’t think of it that way. I guess technically it is, but I think it’s a pretty strong thing to say someone is doing something sexist. I like to reserve it for intentional effronteries. If it’s cultural, I like to think that they’re just going along with the status quo ignorantly, but if it goes beyond that I identify it as sexism. For example, wanting your wife to change your name is cultural, but thinking she shouldn’t work outside the home would now be sexist.

avatar savannah May 16, 2013, 11:08 am

Its not strong, its just structural sexism, embedded in the every day and not an individual action per say. Just for some perspective, structural racism was defended the same way. Culture is not stagnant, its dynamic and it changes way more quickly than we perceive it to.

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 11:09 am

I completely understand structural racism, thanks. I’m not defending sexism or racism. This is just an issue of semantics.

avatar savannah May 16, 2013, 11:20 am

You’re most welcome.

avatar Eagle Eye May 16, 2013, 11:22 am

Thank you for clarifying my point!

avatar Jodee May 16, 2013, 11:22 am

But cultural in this case IS sexist, because it’s an uneven balance, with the power resting in the hands of the (historical) oppressor.

Jess Jess May 16, 2013, 10:44 am

This perfectly describes my feelings on this topic.

avatar iseeshiny May 16, 2013, 11:09 am

This is perfect, and I totally agree. I say this as someone who took my husband’s name. It’s not like they made a conscious choice to be sexist, or to exert their male privilege, but when the otherwise perfectly rational guy thinks his wife must change her name and that’s the way it’s gotta be? That’s sexism. Sure, it’s our culture, but our culture is sexist.

I really, really wanted both of us to change our names to a mishmash of both of our names (Both are ethnic, with recognizably ethnic prefix/suffix, so picture McAfee and Blagojevich becoming McBlagojev) but didn’t push it hard enough. Like Bethany, I didn’t actually change my name until months and months after the wedding and I still use my maiden name pretty much interchangeably.

avatar mf May 16, 2013, 11:27 am

Yes, this exactly. Also, I still use my maiden name interchangeably as well.

katie katie May 16, 2013, 11:41 am

WSLS X 2.

the crazed emotions men go through about this topic dont necessarily mean they are sexist themselves, but its just a product of a still-very-sexist culture, and its a product of people not putting any real thought into things and just doing them because “thats the way you do it”.

and thanks to whoever brought up cultural racism. its the exact same. even casual racism… its just a product of a still-racist society, and of people not thinking about things and the meanings behind them, ect, before they speak or form opinions.

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 11:45 am

I agree with this. It’s a product of not thinking about it, and it comes from cultural sexism. I just refuse to say that my husband is sexist because he wanted me to change my name, because it’s just not true. All of us have thoughts that are biased in some way, probably many thoughts. I have an issue with saying we’re all racist and sexist and ageist and whatever else just because we’ve naturally absorbed culture that we were socialized in. These thoughts are just pieces that we haven’t examined closely to dispose of, usually because they haven’t come up in our lives yet. It doesn’t define us.

avatar Eagle Eye May 16, 2013, 11:53 am

See, that’s where I take issue, casual sexism, racism, whatever is the most insidious and, frankly, evil byproduct of the more overt sexism and racism of the past. Its creepy the way in which we just accept things.

Thinking about the whys and hows of your feelings are the keys towards making our society better. Self-awareness is never a bad thing and is severely lacking in our society!

However, I do believe that the key to doing that is understanding that you’re not a bad person, you’ve just been conditioned by society.

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 12:04 pm

I don’t see where you’re taking issue with what I said, because we’re on the same page about it. Of course it’s important to be self-aware and to overcome those pieces of cultural sexism and racism that we hang on to. But we shouldn’t be labeling people who passively accept it and haven’t thought about it yet the same thing we label people who actively promote it. One person is actually sexist and the other just hasn’t realized yet that some of their socialization is sexist. It’s not fair to label someone that when they haven’t had a chance to examine it and make a decision.

avatar savannah May 16, 2013, 12:00 pm

I don’t think anyone is asking you to do that. You can certainly have sexist thoughts or requests without being sexist. No one, at all times, is going to be without bias. But we still need to recognize where these thoughts come from and address them.

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 12:10 pm

Obviously. Nowhere have I argued against that whatsoever. I’m just saying that on an individual level, we shouldn’t fault men for feeling how they do when they were socialized to feel that way. We shouldn’t grab our pitchforks and charge at men with accusations of sexism and oppression and wanting ownership of us. We should have open discussions about it where we acknowledge and respect their feelings and then state our feelings about these individual topics.

CatsMeow CatsMeow May 16, 2013, 12:17 pm

I’m pretty sure sexism was only mentioned in Wendy’s response because of LW’s fiance’s approach to the discussion – which was to shut it down and not hear her out. The way she wrote the letter made it sound like he didn’t care about HER reasons for wanting to keep her name while prioritizing his feelings (which he could not rationalize) over hers. AND he questioned her commitment to him! It sounded like, “I’m putting my foot down. You will take my name.” Nowhere has anyone said that every single man who feels this way is a sexist pig. (Although, you can’t deny that the tradition of the wife taking the man’s last name is inherently sexist).

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 12:22 pm

I agree (and wrote above) that him disregarding her feelings is sexist. SasaLinna was saying above though that when a man wants a name change, he’s being sexist. That’s all I’m disagreeing with.

Fabelle Fabelle May 16, 2013, 12:42 pm

I know what you’re saying, theattack—it’s like a labeling thing. The desire, as it exists within a patriarchal culture is sexist, but you taking issue with actual ~calling~ people A Sexist unless they’re being more, I dunno, deliberate?

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 12:52 pm

Thank you, Fabelle! Exactly! I was starting to feel like people thought I was the DW sexist or something when that couldn’t be further from the truth. haha Deliberate is a great word to use.

avatar iseeshiny May 16, 2013, 1:08 pm

I don’t think you’re sexist or defending sexism at all! I just get twitchy when we act like calling out racism or sexism (the casual, this-is-how-we-are-socialized kind) is worse than doing casually racist or sexist things. Like, I KNOW I’ve said and done racist and sexist things, and while I don’t consider myself racist or sexist, I only get to keep considering myself not-racist and not-sexist if I can stop doing those problematic things once I realize they’re racist or sexist.

I seriously hope that sentence makes sense.

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 1:18 pm

It definitely makes sense, and I agree with you! And while I don’t think it’s more wrong to call someone out on doing something sexist than it is to be sexist, I think it’s imperative that we as feminists are kind in our approaches. Using the words sexism or racism has a way of shutting down what could have been a productive conversation that might have swayed someone’s opinion. On a strategic level, we should be pointing to the content rather than running with labels. We get the feminazi labels (wrongly of course) when we call names or use labels before having an open discussion, and that really damages our cause.

katie katie May 16, 2013, 12:50 pm

“These thoughts are just pieces that we haven’t examined closely to dispose of”

i LOVE that. that is why i tell everyone who is thinking about serious things, like marriage, kids, name changing, whatever- to think very hard about what THEY think vs. what society has TAUGHT them to think. separating your own thoughts from something you have been taught your entire life is really, really hard- but i think, deep down, we dont really all hold the same thoughts that we think we do, and once you take a really hard, objective look at it, you can form thoughts that are uniquely your own and make sense for you, specifically. maybe it will be whats “expected”, maybe not, but at least you will know how and why you came to the conclusions you did.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 12:53 pm

Do you think you can redefine things? Like with the whole dad walking you down the aisle thing, for example. In history, it means he’s giving up his ownership of you and passing it to another. Like you need his permission in a way. BUT, I’d like to think of it like my dad helping me move from a part of my past into a part of a new future. Therefore, I see nothing patriarchal or sexist about it. And I’d be offended if someone said by doing that I was participating in a sexist, society-conditioned expectation.

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 1:11 pm

LBH, we decided to redefine things in our wedding ceremony for this reason. It was important to have our parents involved (and I didn’t want to hurt my dad’s feelings), so he walked in with his parents and then I walked in with my parents to symbolize both of us leaving our families and joining each other.

katie katie May 16, 2013, 1:15 pm

i think you can redefine things for yourself. if you choose to have your dad walk you down the aisle and YOU feel that it is helping you from one part of your life into another, thats great. others wont see it that way. and hopefully you would get the chance to explain your choices, so people can understand how you see it and how you frame it, but if they judge, they judge. you cant help that in any realm of life.

avatar iseeshiny May 16, 2013, 1:16 pm

Can’t it be both, though? For example, I took my husband’s name. I recognize that this is a patriarchal and sexist tradition I am participating in, and I also really like that my husband and I have the same last name and I wanted to do it anyway. It doesn’t have to be either/or, and there isn’t a reason to get offended unless someone was telling you that you SHOULDN’T have your father walk you down the aisle because it’s sexist. That would be offensive – like those “feminists” who look down on stay at home moms.

avatar Addie Pray May 16, 2013, 5:48 pm

I don’t see why you can’t acknowledge that some traditions (like the woman changing her name and having her father walk her down the aisle) is SO OBVIOUSLY sexist without being offended and yet still decide to do it. There’s nothing wrong with doing what you want to do for our own reason. It’s like acknowledging a TV show sucks but admitting you enjoy watching it – go for it, but be honest with what it is. It doesn’t make you a bad person to want your dad to walk you down the aisle or to change your name. But it’s kind of funny to see people defend it as something other than what it is. You can redine it however you’d like to make you feel better about yourself, but … I just don’t understand why admitting the cultural sexism underlying it. I mean, come on, … right?

avatar Addie Pray May 16, 2013, 5:51 pm

* meant to say at the end, I don’t understand why admitting the cultural sexism underlying it is so offensive – if you admit it, and then have your dad walk you down the aisle for other reasons or no reason or “just because it’s tradition”, that doesn’t make *YOU* sexist.

avatar Addie Pray May 16, 2013, 5:53 pm

meh, i’m about 8 light years late to this party. i’m gonna go to yoga. caio.

avatar DG Girl May 16, 2013, 6:35 pm

Bitch please. Can’t you admit it’s a sexist tradition and not take offense at those who say that just because you want your father to walk you down the aisle? There’s nothing wrong with doing what you want but for fuck sake be honest about it! Ironic that your name is “let’s be honest,” it should be “let’s make everything about me and don’t criticize anything I do because everything I do must be perfect by virtue of the fact that it is i doing” Sistine was right, how you view the world is THE right way. And only that. I hope you see this, I couldn’t decide which of your 57 comments to reply under.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 7:11 pm

I was actually asking katie because I was curious what she thought of that concept since she always has an interesting take on this kinda stuff, and provided her with a hypothetical so she knew what I meant. I actually have no intention of having a wedding, therefore, my dear dad would not be walking me anywhere. I’m not even sure I think that it can be refined and certainly don’t have a strong opinion either way.

I was tempted to say Its kinda cute you counted my comments and that I’m flattered, but if I’m being honest, it was very hurtful to read this, practically seeing the venom between your words, words you wrote to a stranger who just enjoys going back and forth debating on a friendly website. Ever imagine maybe someone you spit your nasty words at is already having a bad day? Week? Month? Season? Do you even care about your actions hurting others? Likely not since you were hoping I would read it knowing you would enjoy me being hurt by it. Sometimes people have hard days/weeks/lives and are just trying hard to not break down. And then someone like you comes along. I hope you are never in that position, because I can tell you it sucks. You want to make a comment about me commenting on here a lot (like at least a dozen others, daily). What does it say about you that the one comment you contributed was to tear someone down? None of my comments did that.

avatar GatorGirl May 16, 2013, 7:42 pm

No need to attack people personally. Feel free to disagree, but really keep the rudness to your self.

FireStar Firestar May 17, 2013, 6:32 am

Feel better? If you actually read through her 57 comments you’d realize she is one of the few from ‘her side’ to give credence to arguments made against the need to take your husband’s name as a show of commitment or as a reciprocal grand gesture. And others here have clung tighter to the ‘absolutely not sexist in any way’ mantra than her by far. So it’s not her discussion you have a problem with – it’s her for some reason. In which case, I’m sure you can figure out what oriface to gently place your attitude on your own. No one is forcing you to read her comments. So grow the fuck up. Learn how to discuss an issue without a baseless personal attack or stay silent.

avatar lets_be_honest May 17, 2013, 9:23 am

Thanks GG and Firestar. Being called a bitch and then being told off was the last thing I needed last night. I really don’t think I’m deliberately mean on here to anyone (‘cept Mark when it gets really bad). Idk, clearly others see my comments differently than I do, which is really starting to make me second guess myself. In any event, this weekly ‘tell LBH what an annoying bitch she is’ is starting to wear on me.

avatar iseeshiny May 17, 2013, 11:02 am

wtf? Where is this even coming from? Why the hate-on for LBH? For the most part she is really good at disagreeing without being hateful, unlike you, evidently.

theattack theattack May 17, 2013, 11:07 am

Geez, this was really uncalled for to say the least. LBH is contributing to the discussion, unlike you, so perhaps you should go troll elsewhere.

FireStar FireStar May 17, 2013, 11:39 am

Don’t sweat it LBH. I have a general outlook in my life that it is actually my preference that stupid people don’t like me. It works well for me.

avatar Addie Pray May 16, 2013, 5:42 pm

WSLS x 1,000. Sasa, you’re my new buddy, ok? (Oh? No one cares? I’m super late to this party? Well pish posh. I feel so invisible. Hello? Is there anyone out there? What’s going on? What’s happening? Who’s offended who? Fine, who’s offended WHOM, grammar nazis.)

avatar csp May 16, 2013, 1:39 pm

totally agree.

avatar Christy May 16, 2013, 9:25 am

What do y’all think about a hypothetical where the woman wanted to change her last name to her husband’s but he didn’t want her to? Say, he disliked it as a sign of the patriarchy? Should she change her name to his? What if she didn’t want her old name at all?

Just curious. Felt like an interesting hypothetical.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 9:27 am

Its not that important to me, so if it was to my partner, I’d probably just change it. Sucks that it seems equally important to both so its hard to just give in.

avatar SasaLinna May 16, 2013, 9:32 am

I think it would be odd to change your name to your partner’s when he doesn’t want you to. Would feel kind of appropriative to me.

avatar painted_lady May 16, 2013, 9:35 am

Again, her name, her choice.

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 9:36 am

I wouldn’t marry him, plain and simple. I would feel like that was a rejection of me that he didn’t want to accept me as part of his family. I want the freedom to decide on my own whether to change or not, but I want my husband to prefer that I change but be okay with either. Definitely a double standard, but that feeling is why I can understand the rejection men feel.

Fabelle Fabelle May 16, 2013, 9:45 am

I’m picturing your hypothetical guy as one of those Outspoken Feminist Hipster dudes, so no, I wouldn’t be cool with this (ha). Those kind of guys are still oppressive, only in a different way.

avatar bethany May 16, 2013, 10:02 am

WFS :)

FireStar Firestar May 16, 2013, 10:14 am

I think this issue comes up after a divorce where the man wants the ex-wife to drop his name but she doesn’t want to. I’ve seen it numerous times especially when there is a new Mrs. His Name in the picture but the ex is still Mrs. His Name too and the new wife is furious.
Be careful of what you wish for, gentlemen.

avatar SasaLinna May 16, 2013, 10:22 am

I guess once your spouse has taken your name and lived with it for years and years, you can’t ask them to drop it just because you got divorced.

FireStar Firestar May 16, 2013, 10:41 am

Oh they ask! They demand! They even try and put it in the divorce decree. It turns into a huge thing for some people.

avatar SasaLinna May 16, 2013, 11:01 am

I phrased that weirdly, wasn’t trying to question that it happens, but that it seems pretty ridiculous to me, especially if they insisted on a name change when they got married.

FireStar Firestar May 16, 2013, 11:45 am

ah…Karma….

Skyblossom Skyblossom May 16, 2013, 11:06 am

I’ve seen that. The husband demanding that the wife give up his name when the divorce is final.

avatar Ruby May 16, 2013, 12:33 pm

My boyfriend and I are no where close to getting married but were talking about this and I said I had always wanted to change my last name because I wanted to be part of a family unit with the same last name. He was surprised and and said “that’s weird” and that he didn’t think I should. His mom didn’t change her last name because she didn’t like the one she would have ended up with and that’s what’s normal in his family. I don’t think he’s against it because it’s a sign against patriarchy but it did make me feel a little snubbed. My response was “eff that why am I the only one left out while you and the kids all get the same last name? ” Then I tried to convince him to let the kids have my last name which I knew wouldn’t ever fly.

avatar temperance May 16, 2013, 12:55 pm

My husband did NOT want me to change my last name. (I didn’t want it, either, lol, but just trying to show that there are men out there who think the practice is sexist, his words.)

I would probably say that she shouldn’t change her name in that case, especially if he was uncomfortable with it. UGH, I don’t know.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 12:56 pm

Why didn’t he want you to?

avatar temperance May 16, 2013, 4:45 pm

He thinks it’s a sexist tradition. He dislikes how men’s names are automatically given more “weight” than women’s names.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 4:51 pm

Wow, that’s pretty impressive!

avatar temperance May 16, 2013, 5:22 pm

lol this is the same guy who was offered a TA position for an introductory women’s studies class when we were in college! I am lucky to know a lot of progressive men.

avatar Ruby May 16, 2013, 7:17 pm

How does he feel about which last name to use for the children?

avatar temperance May 16, 2013, 7:50 pm

We aren’t sure that we want any, but we would hyphenate in that case. I know a lot of people freak out and start hand-wringing about the next generation having 4 names, but we figure the kids could just make their own choices, like we did.

He feels that the kids are just as much “mine” as they are “his” (hence the naming thing) – we grew up in a place that was very patriarchal, and very much sort of built on the idea that children and wives belong to their husband/father.

avatar BreezyAM May 19, 2013, 4:51 am

Mine finds it “creepy.” Like “overly attached GF” creepy. To him we are our own people with our own names and that is just how it is. But… he also grew up here, and where I live you cannot change your name to your spouse’s name. There is no mechanism for it, and if you do elsewhere, they will not acknowledge it and you become Ms Roe all over your official documentation (health care card, driver license). You can use his name publicly, but they only acknowledge birth names unless changed by court decree, as in you specifically filed for a name change. Marriage is not a court decree. I know hardly anyone with the same name as their children, no one cares.

avatar oldie May 16, 2013, 2:05 pm

I don’t know, and haven’t even read of, any cases like this. I do know guys who were ticked off, because after multiple years of being divorced from wife #1, without any kids from that marriage and the guy having remarried, wife #1 had kept his last name, rather than going back to her birth name. In one case, she was merely keeping the new last name under which she conducted business, although her ex was still less than pleased.

avatar GabbyCat May 16, 2013, 3:47 pm

This was our situation when I got married 25 years ago. I think back then (80′s) it was actually more common than now for women to keep their own name. I was considering changing to my husband’s name because my last name is constantly misspelled/mispronounced, and he has a very common easy to spell name. Although he definitely felt it was my name, my decision, he really thought I should not change it. He was really into equal rights then, and his feeling was “men don’t change their name when they get married, so why should women”. I think his opinion was the biggest factor in my decision to keep my own name. However, when we had kids he definitely wanted them to have his name! I was fine with that as it felt like a gift to the kids to give them an easy last name.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 9:26 am

I never really have understand the big deal about this issue from either side, but then I’ve never been in this spot and my SO has already said he doesn’t mind if I keep my name.

I don’t think your partner wanting you to take his last name means he wants ownership of you. To me, its just what usually happens and just like you grew up assuming you’d take your future husband’s name, he likely assumed his wife would share his last name. When you spend your life assuming/expecting that, its no unusual to be upset that it isn’t happening.

I personally think the best reason to share a name is so that your kids (if you are planning on having them) have the same name as both parents. But I know a lot of people think that doesn’t make much sense, so I don’t know. Why do you think you all of a sudden changed your mind on this? Is the kid/same name issue important to him?

Fabelle Fabelle May 16, 2013, 9:34 am

I agree about the kids’ thing. My ex’s mom kept her last name, & they wound up giving her last name to my ex’s brother, while my ex has the father’s last name. It was—for lack of a more in-depth analysis—weird.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 9:44 am

That is pretty odd.

FireStar Firestar May 16, 2013, 10:17 am

I’ve seen that too – two sisters with the same parents but with different surnames. Meh. It’s not common but it doesn’t change they are a family.

avatar Nadine May 16, 2013, 12:05 pm

My SO has his dad’s last name, his sister his Mum’s. Happens all the time where I am from. They are a family. You can’t take that away.

avatar applescruffs May 16, 2013, 8:07 pm

That’s my favorite solution – boys get the dad’s name and girl’s get the mom’s, or whatever.

avatar ktfran May 16, 2013, 9:54 am

I’m fairly certain I will only change my last name if kids are involved. I’m sad because my last name is literally dying out. My grandpa had no brothers and his three sons only produced girls. Also, my 11-letter last name is pretty unique. It’s just really, really heartbraking that there won’t be any of us left, unless I have a son out of wedlock and he takes my last name. Hmm . . . .

So, I guess if I was with someone who couldn’t understand why my last name was so important to me, I probably wouldn’t marry him.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 9:59 am

That is sad! Peter is the last of his family, so unless he adopts my kid and we both change our names (which is not the plan) or we have a kid together (also not the plan) he’ll be the last. I hadn’t thought about how sad that is before.

KKZ KKZ May 16, 2013, 11:25 am

My brother will be facing that too. My dad has two sisters, who both took married names. I married and took my husband’s name, not for any special reason, just went along with tradition. But we’re not planning on having kids anyway. My brother is only 22 now, just finished college and is about to start student teaching, and told me recently he’s not even interested in a relationship right now because after student teaching, who knows where he’ll end up (and I am SO proud of him for being s sensible!) so the question of where the family line goes after this is still up in the air.

My dad’s dad did have male siblings so there are still some people out there with our last name, but we don’t know them at all so I don’t really know how far the name has traveled apart from our immediate family.

Miel Miel May 16, 2013, 12:02 pm

Why don’t you give your last name to your kids born inside a marriage ? I know it’s not traditional, but don’t we live in the 21st century ?

avatar ktfran May 16, 2013, 1:04 pm

That’s true too, i would just have to make sure I end up with a guy who isn’t as traditional as others, which will probably be the case anyway. I was never a fan of doing the norm.

avatar Liquid Luck May 16, 2013, 3:09 pm

I REALLY want to do this, but my partner is really not on board with the idea. It makes me so sad.

avatar SasaLinna May 16, 2013, 10:04 am

I dont’ get why we have to be all understanding when someone wants something just because “it’s usual”, even when they can’t give a good reason. All sorts of wrong things have been “common” and “tradition” in history, so just because something’s commonly accepted doesn’t mean it’s automatically right.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 10:08 am

I agree, just an explanation for it I guess. It might not be right in your eyes, but it is still a reason.

lemongrass Lemongrass May 16, 2013, 9:33 am

Since you planned to change your name before and still want to change it in some capacity… is this cold feet? The name change being a symbol of how permanently and completely you are changing your life? Marriage is a huge deal and it is normal to need to process those feelings, it’s also normal to not want to admit to yourself that you are freaking out about it.

avatar honeybeenicki May 16, 2013, 9:44 am

If you don’t want to change your name, then don’t. Although, I think a hyphenated name that sounds like Frankenstein would be awesome. For me, I always knew that if I got married I would change my name. Mostly because I didn’t like my maiden name. And then when I met my now husband and he had 2 kids with his last name, I knew I wanted to be part of that unit and one way to unify us was with our names. As for my husband, he didn’t really care if I changed or didn’t. He just wanted me to pick one. His ex-wife hyphenated and for some indescribable reason, that bothered him so he asked that I either change it or don’t. My maiden name was too long to comfortably hyphenate anyway. Anywho… if you don’t want to change your name, you don’t have to. If you want to, then you can. If you want to hyphenate, there ya go. Changing my name didn’t change my identity. I’m still the same person I was before, but now I don’t have a last name that tends to bring out a lot of soup jokes.

avatar artsygirl May 16, 2013, 9:47 am

I changed my name because I am traditional – but I had not counted on how difficult it would be. My name is tied to my identity and in some ways I mourned the loss of that part of me. As a way around it, I actually continue to use my maiden name at my job. That way I didn’t need to change my email, my work badge, etc. So though legally my name is the same as my husband’s, professionally I use both my maiden and my married name when I introduce myself to someone and that is what is printed on my business cards.

avatar mainer May 16, 2013, 9:48 am

I think Wendy’s response used a bit of hyperbole to paint this guy into a demonizing womanizer and kind of skewed the situation a bit. I have a hard time believing this guy’s true intention is to try and gain some sort of ownership over his wife-to-be, or to some way oppress her existence. I think he probably had an idea in his head that this is what married couples do, and everyone in a family has the same last name, and that is how he viewed a family for his entire life. There’s a chance he may have seen her lack of interest in taking his name as perhaps a slight hesitation in her commitment (since it conflicted with his views of what a “family” is). That does probably stem from a bit of insecurity on his part, but hardly a manipulative playing card, and definitely something that she needs to be sympathetic to (not to say it is a reason for her to change her stance, just something she needs to be aware of in approaching the issue with him).

Unless this guy is truly sexist and chauvinistic, I think there is a communication issue here where both parties are not really supporting their argument correctly. I think, as others have pointed out, that socially you will most likely be referred to as Mrs. His-last-name. I think that is something that should be involved in your discussions with him. It sounds like both she and he are taking a little bit of a defensive approach to the topic and they are adamant in standing their ground, and that won’t get them anywhere. I think she needs to truly listen to his concerns and why he feels so strongly for her taking his last name. And in after doing so, I think she’ll find he’ll be a little more receptive to truly hearing her out and hearing her talking points. Hopefully some of the other points in the comments here will help her articulate her side better and from a more real-life-situtation standpoint, and hopefully she’ll be able to show him that her feelings are just as important as his and that he needs to hear her out. But if she goes back at him echoing Wendy’s advice that he is a sexist ass who is just trying to control and own her, he’s going to shut down and likely cave out of pure manipulation. Taking on such a defensive and victimized position is not really tackling the issue together as a couple and will not be starting their marriage out on the right foot.

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 9:52 am

Yes! Exactly everything I wanted to say but couldn’t. You can’t always fight to be right and have a good relationship. They’re both invalidating each other, which is a different red flag about this relationship entirely.

avatar savannah May 16, 2013, 10:18 am

“I think she needs to truly listen to his concerns and why he feels so strongly for her taking his last name”
Here’s the issue though, having been through the same discussion with my ex, I have yet to find one man who can articulate a good reason for why women should take their husbands name beyond ‘that’s what is supposed to happen’. The LW’s fiance may not have thought about this issue at all and expected that the LW would automatically do what was *once* expected of her but he has that luxury as a man- to not think about how maiden names affect women. Women, on the other hand think about this long before a proposal because times have changed (and they changed decades ago) and any man who assumes this is a closed issue has been keeping is head in the sand since 1960. I hope everyone makes the decision that is right for them on this matter, but it is a decision. I also can’t help but laugh at all the men who balk at the idea of taking their wives last name. Hi, its me, 2013.

Jess Jess May 16, 2013, 10:24 am

I think the key word there is “concerns.” I’d say this is a talk where each person explains their feelings not their reasons.

Jess Jess May 16, 2013, 11:42 am

eep, I can’t figure which reply is to whom here but wanted to just reiterate that I did not say feelings trump reason. Not at all!

However, I think in a marriage it is critically important that you feel safe and welcome to explain how you feel even if, maybe especially if, it is irrational. We have to be able to help our partners explore their feelings and their causes. Someone below said something about validating feelings vs. actions and this is the heart of it. If my fiancee says, “it hurts me that you won’t take my name,” I can tell him it’s ok to feel that way. I can help him figure out WHY it hurts. And I can offer reassurance. I can do all of that in a loving way without actually DOING the thing he wants. You see?

My point here is that identifying and talking about feelings (geez, I sound like Mr. Rogers now) is so important and those channels should be wide open in a marriage, not open only to the feelings are reasonable. Many, many, many times my partner and I have had talks about how one of us was feeling a certain way even when we knew it was irrational. Talking it out with each other often helps us understand it better and almost always helped to water down the intensity.

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 10:26 am

I don’t think it matters if there’s a good reason for it or not if it’s what he feels.

FireStar Firestar May 16, 2013, 10:51 am

Really? I’m so tired of this. Your feelings are valid just because you feel them. Not really. They exist because you feel them… but that doesn’t make them valid or rational. If I’m being irrational – I should expect people to cater to me – or validate me – just because I’m feeling something? Do people carry me around on a dais too?
How about I just reign myself in? How about I take a moment and acknowledge I have no business feeling like this – even if I do – and change MY approach?

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 10:55 am

I don’t think the feelings are validated, more just that someone’s feelings are their feelings. They can’t help that. Right, wrong or indifferent, they are your feelings and should be somewhat respected/understood.

FireStar Firestar May 16, 2013, 11:27 am

I disagree. You can feel black people are inferior. You can feel it deep in your bones. I don’t have to respect it – I don’t even have to particularly understand it – though understanding you are an idiot might help with my blood pressure. *not you LBH

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 11:28 am

Well you’re probably not in a relationship with someone who feels that way either. Big difference between how to act with random people and how to act with your partner.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 11:30 am

haha, true. I’m with TA below though.

avatar SasaLinna May 16, 2013, 10:59 am

I think feeling things & expressing them is always OK, even if you can’t explain them, but if you want someone else to DO something because of your feelings, then you need to be ready to explain yourself.

avatar Liquid Luck May 16, 2013, 3:15 pm

^This. You can’t control how you feel, but adults should be able to control how they react tho their emotions. The initial gut feeling is ok, but the reaction to force your partner to agree with you (against their own desires) is not.

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 11:02 am

That’s quite a bit of an overreaction. No, you should never invalidate your partner’s feelings. They might not be right or rational, but they exist, and if you want to have a real relationship with someone, you will acknowledge them and have a genuine conversation as if the feeling is valid and rational. Otherwise you’re just stonewalling, diminishing your partner, and getting nowhere.

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 11:04 am

It’s not about who’s right. It’s about having a good relationship. From your other posts recently though, you seem to prioritize that differently than I do.

Skyblossom Skyblossom May 16, 2013, 11:14 am

If you end up giving in on lots of things that are important to you then you will ultimately begin to feel resentment and that doesn’t make for a good relationship.

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 11:17 am

I’m not arguing that anyone should give in at all. I’m saying that you should acknowledge that your partner’s feelings are valid and have an open discussion about it. It doesn’t get you anywhere to say “Well that’s sexist and ridiculous, and I can’t believe you want me to change my name when you wouldn’t consider changing yours.”

avatar SasaLinna May 16, 2013, 11:42 am

This depends on a couple’s dynamic as well, and on their personalities. I prefer being with someone who I can be frank with. Yes, my partner will sometimes hear “that’s sexist!” (if he does something sexist) and I expect him not to freak out at that.

FireStar Firestar May 16, 2013, 11:35 am

Exactly Skyblossom. And since you mentioned it theattack – My approach has been to pick my partner well. To pick someone with similar values so that the conflicts we do have won’t find us so far apart. To pick someone who approaches issues the way I do – or at least similarly. I’m pretty rational in my approach to things. If my partner came at me saying he felt this way – he couldn’t articulate why but he felt it and we should factor those feelings into the discussion the same way as we factor rational reasons in – then there would be a problem. The constant catering to someone else’s feelings at the peril of your own will always result in resentment. And to me – that makes for a poor relationship.

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 11:42 am

I agree with what you’re saying about picking a good partner, but being willing to discuss and acknowledge someone’s feelings doesn’t have to be detrimental to yours, because if your partner is as good as you say he is, he’ll acknowledge and discuss yours too. It can’t lead to resentment when both people respect each other’s feelings. We even put that in our vows actually. No matter how similar your values are, you’ll find some things that you disagree on, so I think respectful conflict resolution (where you acknowledge feelings and don’t diminish them) is just as important as matching values, maybe even more important.

FireStar Firestar May 16, 2013, 12:02 pm

He can have feelings – he can articulate them – but if he can’t justify them then I’m not weighing them the same way I would a rational reason. And I think I would give him an aneurism if I ever suggested otherwise.

Skyblossom Skyblossom May 16, 2013, 11:49 am

I agree Firestar. Picking a good partner is critical! My husband and I both come from the scientific end of things and we both look at things logically much more than emotionally. We’re very matched in the way we work things out and listen to each other and solve problems so we don’t get into a discussion where we are trying to solving things based on feelings. We can give logical reasons and hear logical reasons and that lets us come to a compromise that works.

FireStar Firestar May 16, 2013, 11:44 am

Not a huge difference. I have more patience for my husband – lord love him and his engineering mind – and I would cut him more slack than anyone else…but I’m not interested in hearing nonsense from him either….he has the ability to affect me MORE than some idiot on the street corner rambling nonsense – so in many respects he needs to come with far more than a stranger would.

avatar Eagle Eye May 16, 2013, 11:28 am

WFSS – Yes! Reason! Logic! Feelings are feelings so we’re stuck with them, but I don’t make giant decisions based on my gut, Logic rules the roost in my house – feelings don’t really hold much water.

For example, I would like our children to be raised Jewish, I have many reasons why I believe this to be so, this is not just because idk, I feel like it. My bf acknowledges that and asked that we always have a Christmas Tree, and then explains rationally why that is important to him and to our future children. I consider it logically, then I agree, we should have one for our future children. Do I feel like a Christmas tree? No, but I understand that my feelings are illogical and my boyfriend’s rationale – so I acquiesce.

avatar mainer May 16, 2013, 10:31 am

But here’s the thing – just by asking why he feels so strongly, even after he is unable to articulate why, is still taking an active interest in his views and feelings. Part of tackling an issue as a couple is understanding where the other person is coming from. After hearing “I don’t know why, it’s tradition I guess, it’s just something I always thought would happen” then she can say, “Okay, I get where you’re coming from. But for me, I feel that…” Then it becomes a dialogue, and not just “I want, you want.” Also, she needs to be ready to explain why she all of a sudden, three months before the wedding, changed her mind. Maybe that is what is really throwing this guy off. It sounds like maybe he did think is was a closed issue since she always intended to take her husbands last name, but now it’s back to an open issue. It’d be great if he could just take that change in heart and roll with it, but some people can’t. Despite the fact that it is 2013, changing people’s views, regardless of their routes, is not as easy as flipping a switch to get with the times. As much as you want things to be one way, there is an equal passion for people who want it another way. And to ignore that or to say it is “wrong” is just pretending you’re way of life is “more right” than another persons.

avatar savannah May 16, 2013, 10:41 am

I totally agree that your advice is actionable and will help her deal with this issue. I just think its ridiculous that men have a hard time with this issue-I would hope each couple could decide for themselves what is right and at the same time wished more men understood this decision affects their wives a whole lot more than it affects them.

Jess Jess May 16, 2013, 11:43 am

Could not agree more.

avatar mf May 16, 2013, 11:20 am

“I think he probably had an idea in his head that this is what married couples do, and everyone in a family has the same last name, and that is how he viewed a family for his entire life.”

Yes, this is exactly what he was thinking, even though he had a hard time articulating it. It’s still a sexist assumption (i.e. our marriage will be normal/happy like our parents if the wife changes her name), but it’s not a malicious or controlling one.

avatar shanshantastic May 16, 2013, 9:52 am

I like the idea of hyphenating or keeping your maiden name professionally but being Mrs. HisLastName socially. A very good friend of ours did this and it works out very well.

As far as everything else, WEES. Personally, I couldn’t WAIT to get rid of my maiden name (had actually considered changing it to my mom’s maiden name a few years back) so there was no discussion – though I could see my husband being confused at the very least had I suggested not changing it.

Skyblossom Skyblossom May 16, 2013, 10:05 am

I kept my name but it wasn’t an issue for us because my husband didn’t mind. I’ve been married for 25 years and every time I’ve needed my birth certificate I’ve been glad that I didn’t change my name because my current name still matches the name on the certificate. When I took some college courses a few years ago both my undergraduate and graduate college records were in my name. Every time I need to get documents I’m glad that I’ve had one name throughout my life.

Our kids have my husband’s last name and it has never been an issue that our family has two names. People who don’t know us will refer to me by my husband’s last name and I don’t mind. People who do know us know that I have a different name and I’ve had no problems with it. The kids don’t mind. Being family means loving and supporting each other and the last name of the individual is irrelevant to us. To me, the idea that everyone has to have the same last name to feel like family is silly because I’ve always felt very much a part of my maternal grandparents family and of course, none of that extended family had my last name and we felt, and still do, very connected and very much a part of a family.

If your fiancé feels that you must do something as significant as a name change to prove your commitment I think it is fair and interesting to ask him what he is willing to do, that is as significant as a lifetime name change, to prove his commitment to you. If he feels that there needs to be large gesture what is his? If I was in your position I think I would say that if he can’t feel the love and commitment and know that it exists without a name change then you wonder if the two of you are ready for marriage, and I’m not just saying that to make a point, I do wonder if there is enough maturity to see what really matters. Commitment is either there or it isn’t and a name change doesn’t affect that. If it did, couples who have the same last name would be less likely to divorce than couples where the wife keeps her name (I don’t know if anyone has ever studied that but I’d love to see the data if they have.) If that were true I would have changed my name in an effort to do everything possible to make my marriage strong but the name is really irrelevant in your day to day life. Commitment means working through problems, being supportive and handling what life throws your way and how well you do that has nothing to do with whether the two of you have the same last name or different last names.

avatar Eagle Eye May 16, 2013, 10:09 am

I grew up in a similar household, my mom never changed her last name, we have my dad’s, when she’s called Mrs. Dad’s last name its not a big deal and I don’t think that there was any ever issue over who our mother was.

To be fair, my mom also didn’t get an engagement ring either (too broke) and they’ve been married for almost 30 years.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 10:12 am

Love the point about still feeling connected to maternal grandparents, but never having shared a name with them! That’s so true.

I don’t really love the tit for tat mentality behind asking your husband what he will do for you if you take his last name. Its just sorta sad in a way that one would have to make sure they are getting something in return for giving something to their spouse.

Skyblossom Skyblossom May 16, 2013, 10:25 am

I’m not seeing it as a demand but more a question that highlights that he probably doesn’t feel that he needs to make a large gesture to prove commitment. His commitment is assumed but for some reason he feels that she must prove her commitment. (If they plan to have children she could trade her last name for the right to pick the first and middle name of all of their children. The full final decision of each child’s name being hers.) I think if he feels the need for her to prove her commitment they aren’t ready for marriage because at some emotional level there is a large insecurity. Also the fact that he thinks his feelings take precedence is troubling. Will he have the same thoughts over other conflicts. Will he think that his choices outweigh hers when it comes to buying a home, choosing a vacation or naming children? He sounds too immature to get married at this time. Not that he couldn’t have legitimate reasons for wanting her to take his name but the ones that he has articulated sound immature.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 10:34 am

I feel like oftentimes, his commitment is shown by a proposal and a ring (–his large gesture). So if he does all of that, and all you have to do to make it “equal” is marry him (while he’s doing the same thing!) then you can say what’s he getting in return? What’s your large gesture?

The whole his choices outweigh hers is a tough one. So if we disregard his choices because ours outweigh his, how is that any more fair? Its all about compromise, not whose choice is more important.

avatar savannah May 16, 2013, 10:48 am

But she’s the one who is making a sacrifice while he is doing nothing..should their choices be equally weighted then?

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 11:06 am

I feel like if you go into a marriage thinking that everything until the end of time must be perfectly equal and there won’t be any times you have to give in to your spouse, than you will have a tough road ahead. I make sacrifices for Peter and he does for me. I’m not keeping score though.

Skyblossom Skyblossom May 16, 2013, 10:48 am

I don’t think an engagement ring is equal to a name change but others may feel that it is. Accepting the engagement ring and wearing it while he goes around with no ring so showing no outward sign of commitment is not the same as a name change. In some ways wearing the ring is a mark of being taken (his way of marking her as being unavailable to other men) and is similar to changing a name. He has no engagement ring and doesn’t change his name so there is no outward sign of commitment on his part.

I think that if a marriage is to work the feelings and wishes of both partners need to be seen as equal and you have to find where each of you can compromise. It doesn’t sound like he is seriously considering her side and I can’t tell if she is seriously considering his. When he says that she isn’t being respectful of him and his feelings if she doesn’t change her name it implies that his feelings trump hers. He is saying she doesn’t respect him. Respect and commitment mean spending a lot of time listening to your partner and saying well what if…, then how about…, I see what you mean so maybe…

I guess the question to ask the LW is do you respect him? Is he picking up on a real issue here or is he insecure? Do you love him, respect him, trust him and are you proud of him? Does he love you, respect you, trust you and is proud of you? Are you both committed to a lifetime together.

avatar applescruffs May 16, 2013, 11:03 am

This right here is exactly why I don’t want an engagement ring. If I ever get this far with someone, no ring, no name change.

Skyblossom Skyblossom May 16, 2013, 11:09 am

When I was in grad school one of our Egyptian students got engaged and he wore an engagement ring. I thought it was great that both of them went around with a ring stating that they intended to marry.

katie katie May 16, 2013, 11:16 am

ive brought that up with jake too- a guy’s engagement ring. i love the idea. hopefully when we get closer to that point he will go for it.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 11:21 am

I just learned that my grandma bought a guy’s engagement ring for my grandpa after he gave her one.

Skyblossom Skyblossom May 16, 2013, 11:29 am

I love the idea and wish we had thought of it. I would have been happy to get him an engagement ring and it would have been fun to both wear rings during our engagement.

avatar applescruffs May 16, 2013, 8:13 pm

I would go for that. My friend who married a naval officer said when they got engaged he moved his navy ring from his left hand to his right. I liked that. But I also have a personal preference for just one ring.

avatar bethany May 16, 2013, 11:22 am

One of my friends did that, I thought it was sweet that he wanted to wear his ring right away.

CatsMeow CatsMeow May 16, 2013, 11:47 am

Yeah, I think it has to be both or neither. If it’s both, I think I’d like us to wear them on our right ring fingers and switch them to the left at the ceremony.

katie katie May 16, 2013, 12:42 pm

both or neither is the way to go for sure! with a lot of other things!

avatar Matcha May 16, 2013, 5:50 pm

My fiance and I did this. I love that we both have rings, and it was so fun buying them together :)

But the local jeweler put his picture up and captioned it as a ‘mangagement ring.’ Not going to convince any guy to buy one with such a dumb-sounding portmanteau.

CatsMeow CatsMeow May 16, 2013, 11:15 am

Same here! I want neither.

avatar Eagle Eye May 16, 2013, 11:31 am

Me three, too expensive, can’t rationalize it

katie katie May 16, 2013, 10:56 am

an engagement ring is nothing in the realm of commitment- how many men buy engagement rings as a way to actually stall getting married, and just put off the wedding or talks of the wedding? an engagement ring, quite literally, means nothing unless there are actions to back it up.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 11:00 am

I don’t agree with this. To me, its a showing of an intention of major commitment.

Obviously some people use it for reasons you shared, but I really don’t think those reasons are anywhere near the majority.

katie katie May 16, 2013, 11:13 am

but the “commitment” of an engagement ring vs. the “commitment” of a legal name change?

one is a trip to the store. the other has HUGE implications, issues, and repercussions for an entire lifetime.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 11:20 am

I don’t think its just a trip to the store. Its (almost always) a life changing decision.

I really don’t think a name change has such drastic implications though.

avatar Jodee May 16, 2013, 11:31 am

A name change has huge implications, actually, in a larger, cultural sense. Remember when the African-American woman sent out two identical resumes – one with her real name, and one with the name Bianca White (or some other highly Anglicized name)? It makes a difference. People have never pronounced my last name correctly, my entire life, and I know for a fact that I’ve missed out on interviews as a result. Additionally, there are those outside the job realm who will judge based on your name (I have a friend whose last name is Hooker…obviously, she’s had some issues with that – fortunately, she likes to play it up as a joke). There are government issues, too – Dan Smith will never have to deal with the red tape and weeks of phone calls to get his driver’s license corrected. And it’s not just the external implications; I’m getting married soon, and have to decide whether to take the name of someone whose family is made up of pedophiles and thieves. Yikes! And what if you just don’t like your spouse’s parents? There’s a whole lot of baggage that comes with any sort of name change, both external and internal. For my trans friends, taking a new name is a huge breath of relief. There’s enough baggage in names that they’re linked to enormous ceremonies in many traditions (Christian, Jewish, etc). It’s not as “simple” as it seems.

katie katie May 16, 2013, 12:21 pm

really? have you never talked to a divorced woman, a woman trying to access things from in her maiden name, a woman who has gotten things messed up by the gov’t because of multiple names, ect? i mean its not even just about divorce, a name change is HUGE. its easy for women to do when they get married because marriage licensing is structured that way, but the rest of it is not easy. you have to have proof of name change. you have to change over all your other forms of ID, but then if you need something from that “past life”, if things dont match, there can be issues and holding times and lots of yucky complications…

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 12:24 pm

My mom has changed her name 3 times and its never been an issue. She’s also bought and sold properties all throughout that. She’s gotten passports and traveled throughout it. I don’t think its as hard as you think.

Skyblossom Skyblossom May 16, 2013, 3:42 pm

When my cousin got divorced and had legally changed her name back to her maiden name she went to a department store to change her name on her store credit card. This was a card she had in her name and the only other name on the account was her mom’s but not her husband’s name. The man she interacted with at the department store refused to change her name back to her maiden, and at that time legal name, without her ex-husband’s permission. Instead of getting permission from her ex she cancelled the card and quit going to that department store. I doubt this was store policy but some man imposing his opinion.

katie katie May 16, 2013, 12:22 pm

oh and also, in comparing the two, im talking literal actions. buying an engagement ring is, literally, just a trip to the store. people assign all kinds of emotion to it, but the act is just that. changing a legal name is a huge, very big deal. its so not just going to store and buying something.

Fabelle Fabelle May 16, 2013, 11:12 am

I think it can be compared here though, as another example of some ingrained expectation regarding marriage. The feeling of affront women (in general) would get if they were proposed to without a ring is the same kind of offense (certain) men feel when their fiancee doesn’t want to take on their last name. (Again, speaking VERY generally just to make my specific point.)

katie katie May 16, 2013, 11:14 am

yea, i agree- i said below that the social conditioning of both is very equal… i just mean the the literal commitment, or the literal acts are not equal. not at all.

avatar kerrycontrary May 16, 2013, 12:06 pm

I don’t know any guy who has done this or had any friends who have had it done to them (i.e. long engagements with no wedding). I mean people don’t just drop between 2-5 grand to stall a wedding or marriage conversation. And usually the wedding talk is heightened before the engagement, besides the actual planning phases.

FireStar Firestar May 16, 2013, 10:33 am

I think that approach is just to show that it really isn’t about commitment – it is about a emotion. And if it is an emotional issue then fine – let it be that – but don’t try and dress it up by talking about commitment and loyalty and creating a family. That is just a smoke screen. If is really is about commitment then it would be appropriate for him to show the same level of personal commitment too – maybe with a brand new name for both of you. But I don’t think it is about that at all.

Skyblossom Skyblossom May 16, 2013, 10:35 am

Exactly!

avatar Eagle Eye May 16, 2013, 11:32 am

Yes! WFSS!

katie katie May 16, 2013, 11:00 am

ive also found the “family name” argument to be interesting… my mom didnt have our (my sister and me) name after my parents divorced, but i lived with her almost exclusively, and it was never an issue… my friends would call her “ms. myname” and then after a few visits, when she knew them better, she would say, actually my last name is X. and my friends, to this day, call her “ms. x”… i never had issues in school, with other peoples parents, whatever… and i had a very weird and unique court battle to get myself legal documents, and even through THAT it was ok that she had a different last name.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 11:04 am

I think this, like seemingly everything wedding related, varies so much between people. It bothered me that my mom didn’t have my last name, and it bothers me that 2 of my siblings don’t have my last name. I’m not losing sleep over it, but it does bother me.

katie katie May 16, 2013, 11:12 am

that is probably true.. i dont have a family, like a real extended family, so the name of people i love and have loved through my life hasnt mattered to me, because i (and my nuclear family) has gone the friends-as-family route.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 11:18 am

So why do you think your name is so important if no one else’s ever mattered. Its interesting to me. I’d think you could care less.

katie katie May 16, 2013, 12:14 pm

good point.

i guess i mean that their relationship to me is what matter, and their name was just their name. like… this is hard to explain, but if i view you as my mother, if you are my mother, if i treat you as my mother, you are my mother, no matter what your name is. like, their name didnt matter in the sense that i never felt more or less connected to them just because of their name and how that is connected to me.

Skyblossom Skyblossom May 16, 2013, 11:24 am

I have a huge, extended family on my mother’s side and none of us had the same last name and we felt, and still do, very close and very much family so the name isn’t and wasn’t what made us family. On my dad’s side we always called our grandmother Grandma Firstname because the last name was long so we didn’t use our last name with her. Our grandfather had died before I was born so I never called him anything. My dad’s brother had no kids so I had no cousins with my last name and my dad’s sister had kids with a different last name so I had very little sense of a name making a family.

avatar SpaceySteph May 16, 2013, 12:13 pm

“f your fiancé feels that you must do something as significant as a name change to prove your commitment I think it is fair and interesting to ask him what he is willing to do, that is as significant as a lifetime name change, to prove his commitment to you. If he feels that there needs to be large gesture what is his?”

Holy FUCK yes! This actually is why I decided to change my name, because my now-husband made the big gesture first, accepted a lifelong commitment for me.
Earlier in my life, when I was adamant that I would never change my name, I thought of it as “Why should I do something that he’s not willing to do for me?” And I still think this is true. If it’s a big deal to you not to do it, and he wants you to give in, where’s his half of the bargain?
Why do men get off scott free on the topic of “grand gesture of commitment” but women do not?

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 12:17 pm

Isn’t the proposal the grand gesture?

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 12:18 pm

I second LBH’s question, and if the proposal wasn’t the grand gesture, what was?

katie katie May 16, 2013, 12:24 pm

i dont understand how you can put a proposal and a name change on the same level… how are you guys seeing those things as equal?

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 12:27 pm

Deciding to spend your life committed to someone else and deciding to call yourself something different. That’s just how I see it.

FireStar Firestar May 16, 2013, 12:58 pm

erm. Does the “yes” then count as the grand gesture since the girl is deciding to spend her life committed to him?

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 1:14 pm

Idk. The more I go back and forth on this, I don’t really care if there are 2 equal gestures at all. If its a big deal to him that I do X and its not a big deal to me either way, I will do what he wants. If we can’t agree on something, I’d like to think we can still come to a decision together that makes us both happy. Its all too tit for tat for my taste.

FireStar Firestar May 16, 2013, 1:21 pm

I agree with the tit-for tat part.
At some point we veer towards to absurd. According to this thread since my husband bought me an engagement ring, I should have changed my name for him. And since he spent crazy money on it (crazy to me anyway) – does that mean I can’t even hyphenate?
It does all bring home that it is important who you marry. He was driving me crazy this week but I think I’m going home to tell him how much I appreciate him.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 1:31 pm

Oh I don’t think the fact that he got you a ring means you MUST change your name. But yea, all of this can veer toward crazy quickly if you let it.

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 12:35 pm

The name change in a physical real-world sense is just not a big deal. It takes a morning in the social security office, a new driver’s license, and ordering a new debit card. It really isn’t that complicated except for maybe a few instances in your life. I think it’s a huge deal that P spent a long time saving for a ring that he thought was good enough for me and spent several months picking out what he thought was perfect for me, and more importantly that he realized he wanted to spend his life to me and planned the perfect way to ask me and what he would say. I mean, he initiated the rest of our lives together. How is that not a grand gesture? All I’m doing is going down to the social security office. Of course a name change is more of a big deal for someone who cares about it, but it’s still not a physical imposition on your life.

katie katie May 16, 2013, 12:40 pm

interesting, i think i see it almost completely opposite… i mean, i honestly dont want a proposal at all. i think that two people should decide to be married together, i dont think the whole grand gesture part of it should come from the man, i think it should come from the couple. and then i see changing your name as giving up and switching a huge part of who are you are.

weird. lol

avatar AliceInDairyland May 16, 2013, 12:42 pm

Bahahaha, katie same brain.

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 12:47 pm

I definitely think two people should decide to get married together too, but we did that together before the proposal. For us it was more like he initiated the timeline of when it happened (which I actually had a problem with but that’s another story that I probably need to move on from). So the grand gesture part came in for us more in how he tried to plan something meaningful to start our engagement and how he pinched his pennies for a long time to do something sweet for me. I shouldn’t have said that he initiated the rest of our lives. It’s like we decided to shoot, and we decided he would be the one to pull the trigger. He just decided when to do that.

But either way, the name change is clearly a big deal to you, so the comparison looks very different to us. To me I couldn’t care less either way.

Skyblossom Skyblossom May 16, 2013, 1:24 pm

That’s what we did, we decided together to get married so there was no proposal. It seemed silly after we had already decided to marry. The commitment was there and it was mutual.

The idea that the man asking the woman to marry him is all his idea and his commitment and not hers is odd to me. I don’t think he should propose until they have discussed it and decided that they want to get married and are ready to be engaged so at that point it is a formality but it isn’t the commitment because the commitment already exists and if it doesn’t they aren’t ready to get engaged.

avatar applescruffs May 16, 2013, 8:16 pm

Yes. What you said. I’d rather decide together to get married over pizza night or something.

avatar AliceInDairyland May 16, 2013, 12:41 pm

For me though, I want a proposal to be a more mutual decision of commitment (ring totally optional, or maybe we can both get something). I mean, you’ve BOTH deciding to spend the rest of your lives together at that point, and I don’t need my guy to ask me if we’ve already conversation-ed about it. I guess in my relationship I could see myself saying “Hey, lets get married we should spend the rest of our lives together.” just as easily as he could. But then again, he would be just as willing to change his name to my name, so maybe my contribution is on the whole irrelevant.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 12:45 pm

I think most proposals come about through a mutual decision. I’d be shocked if more than a small percentage of proposals were huge shocks to the woman being asked, who has never discussed it at least a little beforehand. With that in mind, I still think the actual proposal with ring is the grand gesture on his part. Obviously if you don’t want a proposal or a ring, then you and I will never agree on this.

avatar AliceInDairyland May 16, 2013, 12:52 pm

Yep, it’s probably just an agree to disagree thing. For me, I think the grand gesture should be mutual. Because the lifetime commitment is mutual? Does that make sense? Like… everything else in our lives together for the rest of our lives will be a discussed and mutually agreed upon/compromised on. Therefore the LARGEST SYMBOL of our commitment to one another should reflect that and symbolize that and be just as mutual. I don’t know if I am articulating that well.

But this is also a girl who says she wants an engagement cow. Lol.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 12:55 pm

That’s what’s funny about all these Wedding Week debates. I think both sides of every argument make sense. I don’t really disagree with either side, just prefer for myself one side.

An engagement cow? Love it. Someone on here got their fiance an engagement sword I remember. I think when I get engaged, I will jut refer to everything as engagement whatever. Engagement toothpaste! Engagement cheerios! I’ll overuse fiance as much as possible too :)

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 12:58 pm

hahaha, An engagement cow would be awesome! The only thing better for you might be a bunch of engagement baby goats.

So Alice, how do you decide when to become engaged then? For us we decided together that we wanted to get married, and then he picked a time and proposed. When you do this mutual engagement thing, do you become engaged when you have the “Do we want to marry each other?” conversation, or do you plan something out where you both ask each other and accept, similar to an informal wedding ceremony? I’m just a little confused about the logistics of how that would work.

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 1:00 pm

LBH, I bought the engagement sword! We attempted to do everything equally, but at some point someone has to initiate a differentiation between “We agree we’ll get married someday” and “We’re now officially engaged.”

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 1:01 pm

Guessing you both decide, then go out and pick a ring together (if you are getting a ring). I always felt like helping to pick the ring takes the surprise/fun out of it, but then again, I hope I don’t have to wear a ring I wouldn’t choose. Plus I think the idea of a “surprise” proposal is just sweet and fun.

katie katie May 16, 2013, 1:02 pm

theattack- an engagement-moon! i want to do that so badly. where we go somewhere to “get engaged”. so its a mutual thing, but still is signified by something fun and happy, like a “formal” proposal would be.

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 1:08 pm

Oh that sounds interesting and fun! So then you openly discuss it and decide together “We will get engaged three weekends from now on our vacation?”

avatar GatorGirl May 16, 2013, 1:09 pm

We bought an engagement shot glass. And engagement fruit tootsie rolls. I still have a few so we can eat them on our wedding day.

avatar bethany May 16, 2013, 1:45 pm

I took my husband on an engagement vacation. I got a ring, he got a surf trip :)

Skyblossom Skyblossom May 16, 2013, 1:52 pm

We decided together that we wanted to get married and we chose the engagement ring together and we decided when we would get engaged. So we decided in February that we would get married, bought the ring in August and got engaged in December. Every step was a mutual decision and I think it helped us set a pattern for decision making in our marriage. Getting engaged meant that I got out the ring and started wearing it and we told our families we were engaged and then we started planning the wedding. We also went together to buy the wedding dress, pick the tuxes, the invitations, the flowers and the wedding cake. We really had “our” wedding.

katie katie May 16, 2013, 1:00 pm

but if its a mutual decision, and the guy just has to “formally” do it (like in front of people, or something? or make a big deal about it on a vacation or something?), then how does that equal what you do in giving up your name? the guy isnt giving up or even changing anything, he is just formally saying what the two of you have already decided?

…so then, is it just about appearances? his big show is the formal proposal, yours is the name change? both are outward signs of the commitment?

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 1:05 pm

I guess in a way it is an outward sign of commitment. But seeing as how I just don’t feel like a name change is a big deal, yes, the proposal to me would be an equal “grand” gesture.
Basically, they are both fairly big decisions.

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 1:06 pm

Well no. We decided we wanted to marry each other probably a year before he proposed, and we weren’t ready to get engaged in a physical sense (LDR, etc). It was a major shift in our relationship, not just a formality. But I still say that saving up for the ring is a major sacrifice too.

Either way, I don’t really think these things have to equal out in a tit-for-tat kind of way so I don’t know why I’m trying to argue that they do. haha

Skyblossom Skyblossom May 16, 2013, 3:49 pm

That sounds like the attitude I had. Do you think it comes from being practical because, I’m assuming, you come from a farming background?

avatar AliceInDairyland May 16, 2013, 4:36 pm

Bahaha, yes I am very practical. My parents didn’t farm, but my grandparents did and maybe there’s just some Midwestern Sensibility in there. I think it also comes from a strong need to be autonomous and in control of my life at all times sort of a deal as well. This is my life, this is OUR life, so it should be OUR decision every step of the way. And I don’t really wear jewelry or like to be the center of attention. :)

Skyblossom Skyblossom May 16, 2013, 4:52 pm

I’m very similar but did grow up on a farm. I believe in it being our life and our joint decisions and that is how we handled the entire engagement and it is how we handle our marriage.

I also don’t wear jewelry. The only jewelry I wear is my engagement ring with my wedding ring and I only wear those when I go out in public.

avatar AliceInDairyland May 16, 2013, 5:54 pm

Skyblossom you are awesome and I want you to be my honorary InternetBFF. :)

Skyblossom Skyblossom May 16, 2013, 7:05 pm

@Alice :)

avatar Addie Pray May 16, 2013, 7:52 pm

This is me not being jealous of the love you two are sharing for each other!

Also, I skipped yoga tonight and came home to drink wine on my front porch. I feel GUILTY.

avatar AliceInDairyland May 16, 2013, 8:04 pm

@AP, if it makes you feel better I have been subsisting on smoothies and beef jerky for the past 5 days sitting on my butt memorizing crap. I went to bikram on Saturday after like a month long hiatus and thought I was going to die. :( Why does it seem SO MUCH MORE HOT if you take time off?

Skyblossom Skyblossom May 16, 2013, 8:08 pm

@AP We love to sit out on but right now we’re sitting in because our son is mowing the lawn that it’s not the same sitting out listening to the lawnmower. Now we have a tough decision to make because our daughter is practicing the flute and so we can listen to sixth grade level flute inside or go outside and listen to the lawnmower.

avatar Addie Pray May 16, 2013, 8:16 pm

Haha, that’s a big decision to make, Sky. Apple, I hear ya!

My choice is to sit on my front porch and listen to sirens and cars — music to my ears — or sit inside and hear the same stuff only muffled a bit, ha.

I can’t stop eating. I have just eaten my weight in beans and rice. Hey at least it’s vegan!

avatar SpaceySteph May 16, 2013, 1:10 pm

Depends how established you are in the world.
Mine is still ongoing, because I still have my mortgage to deal with, and my car, and some other financial things. It’s not as easy as you say if you’ve been out on your own putting your name to shit for years.

My name change process officially began March 22nd with a morning at social security. I’ll let you know when it’s over.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 1:12 pm

This is odd to me. I said somewhere else that my mom’s done this 3 times (all with mortgages, cars, etc.) and it was never difficult, not even slightly.

avatar SpaceySteph May 16, 2013, 1:20 pm

Who knows. I admittedly don’t spend every damn day trying to change my name on something, maybe like once a week I’ll call some place and be like “how can I change my name here?”
Sometimes they just type it in the computer for me, and sometimes they’re like “we need this, this, and this documentation.”

The most annoying thing is one financial institution which is an online-only bank where I have a savings account… they require a notarized copy of my drivers license to make the change. Notaries keep short hours and my space station was falling apart (you may have seen it on the news, it was a big deal) so I’ve been working too hard to have time for that crap.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 1:31 pm

I guess when you are super busy, anything can be a huge pain in the ass.

avatar temperance May 16, 2013, 1:00 pm

Agreed. One of these things is not like the other.

FireStar Firestar May 16, 2013, 1:14 pm

love.

avatar SpaceySteph May 16, 2013, 1:16 pm

The proposal could be the grand gesture. For me, I didn’t feel like the proposal was really a gesture because we decided together to get married.
For some maybe it was a grand gesture and they’re good with that. For some maybe it doesn’t need to be even. And for some maybe the name change isn’t a grand gesture at all so it doesn’t matter.

I’m just saying that IF you feel like changing your name is a huge deal, then a great way to demonstrate it is by basically saying “you want this huge thing from me to demonstrate my commitment. Would you be willing to do this other huge thing for me to demonstrate your commitment?” Even if the point is not to get that grand gesture, it helps to reframe the conversation in terms of how much it matters to you.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 1:19 pm

wSSs

avatar thenbeckysaid May 16, 2013, 10:09 am

I struggled with this. I told my fiance up front that I didn’t want to change my name. I could tell that he would prefer for me to change it, but he never pressured me to do so whatsoever. So, over our engagement, I tried to psych myself up for it. Doodling my first name his last name, to see if I could even remotely get used to it. I am a professional, my clients knew my old name, my degrees and licensures have my old name. I had a tough time. But, in the end, I wanted to do it for my future family. I want to have the same last name as my kids, and I want to show that committment to my new husband. So, I changed. I did wait until 6 weeks after our wedding to do so, but I haven’t regretted it. The paperwork was the worst part. I actually didn’t tell him I was changing it, I wanted to surprise him with it. So, I took care of it during or after work, and surprised him when I had to pull out my new license one night when we were going out. He was really happy with my decision, and I was happy that I was able to get there on my own that it was ultimately mine to make.

avatar painted_lady May 16, 2013, 10:16 am

Look, if he wants so badly for you to have the same name, you should suggest that he change it. When he says no, then ask if it’s because he loves you less or is less committed. Walter and I had a conversation once where I expressed that I liked what John Lennon had done, where he changed his middle name to Ono, so they were John Ono Lennon and Yoko Ono Lennon. He said he liked that, too, but his middle name was too closely tied to his identity (his first and middle name are the first and last name from a movie his dad liked. And I pointed out, yes, there’s your history and your family and much of who you are tied to your name. So if he couldn’t bear to part with that piece of his identity, how could he possibly ask me to do the same thing?

I get what people are saying, that there’s a similarity to the logic behind engagement rings and name changes, but with an engagement ring, no one’s being asked to give up part of who they are. If it were tradition for the groom to give away his most prized possession to the bride’s family, or required to quit his job, then the argument would make more sense. But it’s not about the fact that giving up your name makes no sense – because it doesn’t – but rather the sacrifice of identity that’s made when you change your name.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 10:32 am

If you can say your maiden name is a “part of you” then why is that? I bet a lot of the reasons would be a good argument for sharing a name with your spouse. If its part of your identity, then aren’t you changing parts of that identity when you marry? If its because it represents your family and background, wouldn’t it be the same for your new name/new family too?

katie katie May 16, 2013, 10:41 am

to me, its just who i am. my name is this, its me, its been that way all my life, and a marriage doesnt change who i am. a guy is marrying me, with this name, not a different version of me with a different (his) name.

avatar Amber May 16, 2013, 11:21 am

It DOES change who you are though – it changes who your primary family is.

katie katie May 16, 2013, 11:30 am

well, i dont think that changing my primary family changes who i am. and i dont think a marriage changes who you are either, not completely, at least. i will still be me after a wedding, just a me who has a spouse/who is a wife.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 11:32 am

Interesting. I definitely feel like my family is who I am, or at least a huge part of who I am.

avatar bcamber May 16, 2013, 11:56 am

I don’t mean it changes your personality, but it does change the reality of your day to day life, your priorities, future plans, etc.

Skyblossom Skyblossom May 16, 2013, 3:53 pm

A family name reflects heritage to me and my name reflects my heritage and where I come from and my husband’s name reflects his heritage and where he comes from and my heritage didn’t change when I got married. The commitment and marriage are separate from that.

FireStar Firestar May 16, 2013, 10:45 am

I didn’t change my identity when I married – I changed my marital status.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 10:50 am

Right, but by being married, you changed a (arguably big) part of you, don’t you think?

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 11:05 am

I would consider adding on a new title (spouse) a big identity changer. Just like becoming a mom changed a big part of my identity. I’m not talking about erasing my identity and starting fresh, just adding to my identity is a good way to put it I guess.

katie katie May 16, 2013, 11:09 am

see, but with becoming “mom”, you didnt legally change your identity to that. yes, you are mom, but you are still you- so just adding on, like you said. so im ok with the “spouse” part of it, so i guess the “mrs” part of it, but im still me, so my name stays the same.

i guess maybe this is part of the “mom” identity problem when mothers cease to be people and are just mothers? same issue. you are taking the individual (LBH) out of the idenity (LBH, mom, sister, daughter, lawyer, ect). adding onto an identity doesnt negate everything you have had up until then.

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 11:14 am

I find your argument interesting because it seems so odd to me that your identity is attached to your name period.

katie katie May 16, 2013, 11:23 am

yea, i dunno. its weird. like, its just who i am. i dont want to change it. its not even that i particularly like it, or am really attached to it, i just really dont want to change it.

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 11:36 am

Just curious – have you ever had to go by a different first name? Like if there were two Katies in your class or something? I had to completely make up a new name for myself (Echo) for Girl Scouts where you’re not allowed to use your real name around the kids at camp. It’s a really interesting experience to suddenly have a new name, but you get used to it and it becomes a part of you too.

katie katie May 16, 2013, 12:11 pm

oh there have always been two katies in my classes, lol, its so common. and whenever that happened i was katie s., sometimes with my full last name, sometimes with just the initial, so no, i havent ever had to answer to anything other then my name.

maybe thats a part of it too. and like, my dads nickname for me is just the spanish pronunciation of my name, so its still my name in a way. and no one else has ever had any other nickname or anything for me.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 11:16 am

I’m surprised you feel like your name is such a big part of your identity, but cannot see why he would feel the same and want you to share in a big part of his identity, and therefore you future “couple identity.”

I knew you would bring up ceasing to be people when you become a mom :) That’s not at all what I was saying. I said I was adding another role to my identity. I wasn’t deleting anything, replacing anything or starting with a new identity. Like you said, I have many roles/titles. Good point that adding the mom role didn’t require me to change my name, but becoming an attorney does a little (sorta kinda?) when you add something to your name.

Anyway, yea I think adding a new life role does change your identity. Its adds to your identity. I wouldn’t say I’m a daughter, friend, chef and mom, but leave out a huge chunk of my identity by not saying I’m also a spouse. It is who I am (or would be if I married).

katie katie May 16, 2013, 11:28 am

i guess i dont get the “couple identity” having to have the same name. i dont understand that logic. but like i said above, i have never understood the “unity” of names within families or whatever either, names have never mattered much to me.

and, i dont want to “share his identity”. thats like, the worst thing, in my opinion.

and you make a good point about the lawyer thing- but again, id say, you dont have to change anything, you are just adding on. adding onto my identity is fine. adding “spouse”, adding “wife”, adding “mrs” before my name- all that im ok with, because then im still me, im just a new upgraded version of me. but if i change my name that all stops. then im not me anymore, im this other version of me. im not adding to it, im changing it all together.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 11:33 am

Would you go by Mrs. Yourlastname? That’s kind of a cool compromise.

avatar GatorGirl May 16, 2013, 11:49 am

In etiquette land, Mrs. WomansLastName would not be correct. She would be a Ms.

katie katie May 16, 2013, 12:08 pm

oh yea! i think that is exactly what i want- i want to be a spouse, be a wife, but still be me.

ill have to mention that to jake. ill be mrs myname so ill still he his “mrs” or whatever, lol

katie katie May 16, 2013, 12:26 pm

and damn it, GG, everything i do is against etiquette. why is mrs. myname against it?

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 12:28 pm

Its not etiquette at all. The terminology is miss = unmarried, mrs = married and ms covers both. Its just using “correct” terms and if you were married, mrs would be the correct term.

I think GG is saying its etiquette related bc of how you would address an envelope to you. Technically, I think she is wrong on both fronts (etiquette related and terminology)

avatar rachel May 16, 2013, 12:31 pm

I think because Mrs katieslastname is supposed to be your mother’s name. Though it’s not. So..who cares haha.

katie katie May 16, 2013, 12:36 pm

and rachel- thats not my mothers name either!! so the joke is on etiquette!!

haha

and i do get the ms/mrs thing, but i thought that GG was saying that if i kept my last name but went with mrs, that is against etiquette?

i get ms all the time, though, doesnt everyone nowadays? because its the neutral one?

avatar GatorGirl May 16, 2013, 12:39 pm

what I gather is that Mrs. Hislastname reads as “a woman married to the man with this last name”. Mrs. Maiden name doen’t make any sense as you’re not married to yourself.

theattack theattack May 16, 2013, 12:39 pm

Yeah, Mrs. Yourlastname is against etiquette, but really beyond etiquette I think most people will just be confused. It’s an okay thing to do, but that’s not at all a common way to use Mrs.

Am I the only one who really wants to use Mrs. but gets pissed that men don’t have something similar? I want to have a different title as a married woman, but damnit so should he! Can I call him Mrr or something?

FireStar Firestar May 16, 2013, 12:16 pm

But why can’t you be a spouse – as part of your identity – without changing your name? Part of my identity is that I am a wife – I am no less of a wife because I don’t share the same last name as my husband. My husband is no less of a husband to me because his name is different. Why must someone lose something in order to “share” in something else? I share a married/couple identity with my husband – it has nothing to do with our names – it has to do with our commitment to each other.
My daughter will not be any less of my daughter because her last name will be different. If you married and changed your name – to join in your husband’s identity – would your daughter be any less your daughter because her name was different should she choose to keep her current name?

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 12:20 pm

Of course you can. And yes, my kids and your kids will still be our kids regardless of their name. I just personally feel like its connecting in a way. Letting the world know. I’m not saying I’m right at all, just how I see it. I don’t really disagree with what you’re saying at all, its just not my preference.

But, I do think many times one has to lose something to share in something else.

avatar ele4phant May 16, 2013, 1:50 pm

Meh, if you got a new job would you change your identity? What if it wasn’t a new job but a new career entirely? Personally, I don’t think that changes your identity or who you are.

Same thing with marriage. It’s a big change to how you live your life, but ultimately you are still you.

avatar SasaLinna May 16, 2013, 10:45 am

It’s the consistency that matters. If you’re not ready to change your own name because it’s an important part of your identity, then you can’t demand it from your partner either.

avatar painted_lady May 16, 2013, 11:14 am

True. And I guess it depends on how you view marriage – whether it’s more important that you retain your individual identities within the marriage or you prioritize your couple-ness, and I think both are valid choices, though I think knowing me, you know which I would choose. And neither choice is wrong, but if it’s more important to one half of the couple than the other to have the same identity, so to speak, as their partner, then that person should do the changing of names rather than expect the other person to do the changing. But the mentality that his name is more important either as the man or just as a selfish jerk is unfair and probably sexist. If Walter wanted me to get him something physical that cost the same as an engagement ring and also symbolized our commitment, awesome. If he wanted to change his name to mine when we get married, I wouldn’t stop him. But I love my name and feel like I can be every bit as committed to him with it as I could with his.

Skyblossom Skyblossom May 16, 2013, 11:59 am

I prioritize being a family above being independent but I didn’t change my last name. I am who I am and part of who I am is my name and part of who I am is someone who is very committed to family.

avatar savannah May 16, 2013, 12:15 pm

I agree with this. My mother having a different last name than my father *is* a huge part of what makes my family, my family. The idea of what signifies ‘coupleness’ is totally subjective as I could not imagine my parents having the same last name, its just not part of what makes them a couple.

avatar painted_lady May 16, 2013, 7:29 pm

Yeah. It really is very subjective – I stated that badly. But ultimately my point is, if the same name is *such* a big deal to one party and not the other, then the party who wants the same name should be the one who changes, either his name or his expectations. If it’s a big enough deal, you have to be willing to make the change; you can’t just throw your weight around and force someone to do what you aren’t willing to.

Skyblossom Skyblossom May 16, 2013, 7:51 pm

What you said was fine and I agree with you 100% that the party who wants everyone to have the same name should be the party willing to change their name.

katie katie May 16, 2013, 10:45 am

i very much agree that the engagement ring/name changing is not the same thing- its not on the same playing field, not on the same level, AT ALL. but, i do think that the social conditioning of men and women with regards to engagement rings and naming changing is on the same level. just as women are conditioned to want/need an engagement ring, men are conditioned to want/need their partners to take their name.

i think that young men need to start to be taught not about name changing, but about a marriage or a partnership in general. maybe if we taught our children the correct way to do that, they would be more willing to understand their partner’s feelings when they are very against it.

avatar Ladidah May 16, 2013, 10:37 am

I’m actually surprised at the number of folks who seem to find his position reasonable. If he feels that changing names is a significant sign of commitment, he is totally free to change his name. Or maybe he could just use her name socially….

As far as the “new family name” thing goes, yes, he’s joining a new family as well, so there’s really no need for him to carry his old family’s name, and should really show his openness to joining a new family by adopting her name. Or choosing a new name together.

Of course if everyone’s on board with anything, folks are free to make whatever name change decisions they like. But people being “OK” with other people choosing their own names should be standard, not an extra-special benefit.

avatar Marie May 16, 2013, 10:43 am

I live in Québec and you cannot change your name when you marry. I’m not married but I don’t think that married couples feel less like a family or less commited to each other because they have different names. It may be tradition in some place, but you shouldn’t let tradition dictate your life.

Miel Miel May 16, 2013, 2:23 pm

Hey, une compatriote !

Caris Caris May 16, 2013, 3:27 pm

yup

avatar GatorGirl May 16, 2013, 10:46 am

I find this “debate” intersting. I’m firmly in the camp of taking his last name (but other’s are free to do what they want). My last name has already been changed once (from sperm donor father to step fathers) so I have little attachment to it. I’m very excited about taking my new last name and creating our family unit with a cohesive name. Also new name has 4 letters, current has 9- up grade!

I’ve been thinking of going by OldLastName NewLastName lately, but I can’t pin point why. I should go ahead and decide since the wedding is in 9 days!

avatar bethany May 16, 2013, 11:24 am

Woo Hoo!!!

avatar Christy May 16, 2013, 11:29 am

Oh dude your Firstname Newlastname sounds so good together. You could use Oldlastname as a middle name?

avatar GatorGirl May 16, 2013, 11:59 am

Thanks!! I’m pretty pumped about it. There are a couple other Firstname Newlastname’s in the world…which is freaking me out a little. I’m definitely keeping current last name as a middle, but I might use it for work.

Fabelle Fabelle May 16, 2013, 12:01 pm

I just looked, & second Christy. That is a cool new name you will have! (And whoo-hoo, only 9 days away!)

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 12:05 pm

Are you dumping your current middle name?

katie katie May 16, 2013, 12:28 pm

oh i wonder this too! what do women do with their middle names?

avatar bethany May 16, 2013, 1:46 pm

I dumped mine. It was Lynn. My parents just picked it cause it sounded good all together, so they didn’t mind. If I had a family name or it was of some significance, I might not have.

avatar GatorGirl May 16, 2013, 12:45 pm

I am dumping my middle name, it’s just as generic as my first. Also cool thing is we will have the same 2 letter initials (which are awesome) and our married monogram is pretty funny. And sometimes we go by the first letter of our names squared- so B2 for example. I’m such a dork.

avatar mf May 16, 2013, 10:50 am

So… this is my post from last summer. If I had known Wendy was gonna post it, I probably wouldn’t have included such specific information about my name. But anyway, here’s an update.

My husband and I ended up talking about this issue a couple of times. He’s normally a very rational person, so it surprised me that he couldn’t make a logical argument for why I should take his name (since his reasons were really just emotional ones). Once I pointed this out–that he didn’t have a logical argument–he was more willing to listen to my side of the story. He’s a left-brained engineer so sometimes I have to speak his language to get him to listen :)

Anyway, I had to explain that his feelings were inherently sexist, which was shocking and I think maybe humbling to him. As for the whole “disrespectful” thing, that was easy: I just asked him whether the fact he wasn’t changing his name was a sign of disrespect or lack of commitment towards me. Obviously, it’s not, so what could he possibly say to that? It also helped when I told him that what was really bothering me was the assumption and expectation that I would change my name. When you’re a woman getting married, EVERYBODY assumes you’re changing your name. Nobody even bothers to ask whether you will or not–it’s just a given. And that really upset me. It still does actually.

What I really wanted at the time was the space to make the decision without him (or anyone else) assuming or pressuring me to do the traditional thing. I wanted to make that choice in my own time and in my own way so that I could be sure it was the right thing me for me. Once he understood that, he backed off. We agreed we’d wait and see how I felt after the wedding. (And if I decided to keep my name, I promised I’d reconsider if/when we had kids.)

Anyway, fast forward to after the wedding, and I decided, sort of out of the blue, that I wanted to take his name. I felt like I wanted everyone to know without question that we were married. I go by my maiden name at work though, because it’s easier and because I still don’t feel like his last name is my last name. I ended keeping my maiden name as my middle name, but I ALWAYS use both of my “last” names: Molly Mylastname Hislastname. And if he jokingly calls me Mrs. Hislastname, I immediately correct him: Listen mister, that’s Mrs. Mylastname Hislastname to you.

I do have a slightly uncomfortable relationship with his last name. It still feels like somebody else’s name, even though we’ve been married almost a year. But overall, I’m happy with my decision. Though I will say, it does piss me off when we get mail addressed to “Hisname and Myname Hislastname.” Because I was right, people tend to forget your middle name.

avatar bethany May 16, 2013, 11:28 am

I’m glad things worked out for you! Your situation sounds a lot like mine. I’m happy that I changed my name, but I am still attached to my old name and use it as much as possible.

Skyblossom Skyblossom May 16, 2013, 11:38 am

Congratulations! I’m glad that the two of you were able to discuss it in a respectful way and that it all worked out and that you are happy!!!

FireStar Firestar May 16, 2013, 12:25 pm

Oh my God – you know how to speak engineer? Like, fluently? Or are there some key phrases I can learn – like the equivalent of ordering in a restaurant? and asking where the bathroom is?
Just enough to get by some days…

avatar temperance May 16, 2013, 1:05 pm

Cooking for Engineers is a great way to learn how their brains work. Seriously, that website has changed how I present things to Mr. Temperance.

avatar Eagle Eye May 16, 2013, 2:18 pm

Please, help me! I’m having some difficulty with ‘scientist’ over here – much like engineer but weirder…

FireStar Firestar May 16, 2013, 2:25 pm

I think we should start a support group…

avatar Eagle Eye May 16, 2013, 4:52 pm

oof, I don’t know if you saw my forum posting a while back for articles about fertility and everyone was like “your boyfriend doesn’t just respond to declarations of feelings…”

um, no, that is not how we have discussions with my dear mad scientist…

avatar mf May 16, 2013, 4:46 pm

You have to have a well-planned rational argument for everything. Preferably formatted in Excel or Powerpoint. A cost-benefit analysis is also encouraged.

avatar mf May 16, 2013, 4:49 pm

Whenever I try to make an emotional argument, he’s all, “Feelings? WTF are those?”That’s probably why it was so hard for him to communicate his feelings about me changing my name. He doesn’t have a lot of experience in interpreting and vocalizing his feelings and instincts.

MaterialsGirl MaterialsGirl May 16, 2013, 4:53 pm

whatever, i’m an engineer and my finance is an engineer, too, but he’s SO MOODY. dear lord, engineers have all sorts of feelings that pile into this black hole of who knows what.

i work with ‘engineer scientists’ too so it’s.. well it gets interesting the office

avatar Eagle Eye May 16, 2013, 4:54 pm

I swear to god my boyfriend made a pro/con list before asking me out. Its tough, I understand!

MaterialsGirl MaterialsGirl May 16, 2013, 5:06 pm

pro con lists are how to get through life!

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 5:09 pm

I live by them. I have a whole rating system for each pro and con also.

FireStar FireStar May 16, 2013, 5:12 pm

My brother created a MATRIX in excel before proposing…
and he clearly did it wrong too because the girl is sheer evil…

katie katie May 16, 2013, 10:51 am

so, im not changing my name. ever. i just dont want to, like this LW. i dont have a “real” reason- its not about my family, its not about my career, i just, quite simply, dont want to. and when i told my boyfriend this, he was pretty angry. he, just like every other boy, and especially boys that come from “traditional” families, was told that name changing is life. its what happens. he told me that his family would be very mad at me. and i told him i dont care, but im not changing it. one thing i did tell him that i think helped him is that i’d never be mad, or offended, or whatever if someone referred to me by his last name -that actually happens now, i get mrs. hisname AND he gets mr. myname frequently- but i just dont want to legally name my name. i dont want to go through that process. that seemed to make him feel a little better, and i think now a couple years later he has just accepted it.

in general, name changing will not cease to be a sexist thing until men can do it just as quickly and seamlessly through marriage as women can- did you hear about the guy in florida who was arrested for fraud against the state for changing his name through a marriage? completely sexist. so i am against the practice in general until that happens.

avatar mf May 16, 2013, 10:58 am

Yeah, see this is exactly what bothered me about my husband’s point of view. A lot of men assume their fiances will change their names after the wedding. Which is insulting frankly. Shouldn’t I get a choice in what my name is and will be? Don’t my feelings on the issue matter at all?

katie katie May 16, 2013, 11:05 am

well, it was the way of the world. you, as a woman, were bought and sold to a new family and your identity was changed- those women really and actually didnt have a choice. many women still around the world dont have a choice. but we just live in this weird transitional world where women do, now, but society and parenting hasnt caught up, yet. so i understand it. i get it, i was never mad at my boyfriend for believing what he did. of course he did- when have you ever heard a parent say to a little boy, well when you get married you will have a nice discussion with your fiance about who’s name to change, or if you will change names at all, or if you will make up a new name.? that has probably never happened. we are still in the mindset of telling little boys, when you get married and your wife takes your last name. its no different then any of the other social conditioning women go through regarding children, weddings, and engagement rings.

avatar bethany May 16, 2013, 11:31 am

I agree. If you’re going to change your name, it should ALWAYS be a choice. It should never be forced or assumed.

avatar SasaLinna May 16, 2013, 11:07 am

I think you’re mentioning an important point here, which is that many men probably want the wife’s name change because of the expectations of family & friends.

avatar SpaceySteph May 16, 2013, 12:39 pm

I agree this is likely a huge motivator for men. They probably never thought about their own feelings because it is very clouded by “what will people think?!”

Which actually applies to quite a few things surrounding marriage planning.

bittergaymark Bittergaymark May 16, 2013, 11:09 am

My sister kept her name. The kicker was she looked up what “new” name would be and there was iver one hundred women with the same exact first and last name. That was the end of that… Our last name is beyond unique. If I google it — I am directly related to anybody that comes up. More, I know them quite well. Her husband could have cared less… My nephew now has her husband’s last name. Hyphening the two named would be rather absurd as both end in “son.”

As a gay man I would never change my name. I have several recently married friends that have hyphenated though… But to me isn’t that awfully messy for the very next generation? It’s going to be alot of “Hi, I’m Anthony Hamill-Lucas-Ford-Fisher… Yikes… What a mouthful…

katie katie May 16, 2013, 11:20 am

so, this is neat, apparently that is already what happens in mexico! in mexico the name-giving tradition of children go something like that, and thats why some mexican people have such long names. it goes, if i remember right (my boss is mexican, he tells me all about this stuff), firstname/maybe a middle name, but my boss doesnt have one/mothers maiden last name/fathers last name. AND if the mother and father have both had this naming, they already have a last name like smith-johnson, and so the kid can end up with a huge mouthful.

i think its a neat tradition though. and i like that it is a tradition to include the maternal side, and tie the kids to that side of their family too.

avatar GatorGirl May 16, 2013, 11:56 am

I have family that is Mexican, children are often given both parents last names. So if Mom is Maria Smith and Dad is David Jones, child would be Sally Jones Smith. The mom’s name goes last. But, based on what my family has done, it’s the fathers name that gets passed down. So when Sally Jones Smith and Joe Blow have a kid, their name would be Baby Blow Jones. Confusing.

katie katie May 16, 2013, 12:31 pm

oh yes you are totally right- the mom’s name goes last. also cool and different from americans!

Skyblossom Skyblossom May 16, 2013, 11:44 am

My family last name is also unique and very rare so I’m related to everyone in the world who has my last name. I’m the only person with my first and last name so I don’t even need to use a middle name on documents. My kids have their dad’s last name and it is one of the ten most common American last names so no matter what we named them there are lots of people with the same full name. I realize now that we should probably have given them my last name as an extra middle name so that they would have something totally unique in their name that differentiated them from all the other people with the same name.

avatar Christy May 16, 2013, 11:47 am

See and I like it when the gays change names! I think it’s cuter than when straight couples do it.

That said, I don’t know that I would.

avatar Steeze May 16, 2013, 11:36 am

just find this discussion so fascinating. where im from, women arent expected to change their names when they marry and if anything, if you want to, its a bit complicated.

i could never imagine myself with my husbands last name. mine is very ethnic and matches my first name perfectly. fist and last name have so much tradition and culture tied to them. my husbands last name and first name are on the other end of the spectrum, so common where we live.

anyway, the children will take his name but finding first names that reflect my culture and his will be super fun…

anyway, keep your name if you want. and he should understand its a tradition you dont believe in…

avatar Anna May 16, 2013, 11:45 am

This just reminded me of Marshall and Lily’s wedding on How I Met Your Mother when they were talking about the fact that she wasn’t changing her name. They joke about making up a new last name that they both use. “How about Awesome? We can be Mr. and Mrs. Awesome. I’d like you to meet the Awesomes, their son Totally and their daughter Freakin.”

I think it’s a little skewed to say that a man wanting his wife to take his name is a horrible sexist pig who is going to be a controlling husband. The way I think of it, it would be an honor if a man wanted to share his last name with me. It would mean he loves me so much and is so proud to be with me that he wants to proclaim it every day in every form possible for the rest of our lives. That’s pretty romantic and it’s a positive thing. This is 2013 and I honestly don’t believe it has anything to do with ownership or control in the vast majority of cases. Of course there are still a few religious whackjobs who legit think they own their wives…we’re not counting those (if you marry a Baptist you should know what you’re getting into). Just because it had a different purpose or meaning several years ago doesn’t mean it still has that meaning. After all, marriage itself was basically a business transaction between two fathers at one point in time, but feminists still get married in 2013. The meaning, symbolism and execution of the marriage/family building process have evolved greatly over the years. Maybe it’s time to start looking at it in the modern, positive light that has been accomplished through years of progress.

CatsMeow CatsMeow May 16, 2013, 11:57 am

I’m going to tell my future-hypothetical husband that he should feel honored to take my last name and see how that goes.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 12:04 pm

haha, I just asked Peter if he would feel honored to take mine…he said YES!

Skyblossom Skyblossom May 16, 2013, 12:05 pm

Nice!

Skyblossom Skyblossom May 16, 2013, 12:04 pm

Yes. Definitely!

avatar Anna May 16, 2013, 12:22 pm

I used to work with a guy who took his wife’s name. There’s nothing wrong with that either. Or you can choose a totally different last name and both of you change it to that. Mr. and Mrs. Badass-Motherfucker? You could name your first child Ima. ;)

CatsMeow CatsMeow May 16, 2013, 12:31 pm

haha, good thinking.

avatar SpaceySteph May 16, 2013, 1:23 pm

Ugh I wish that were true, but i work with a woman who’s husband and her both hyphenated. People tease him behind his back.

I wish they didn’t, but they do.

FireStar Firestar May 16, 2013, 1:29 pm

My friend and his partner both hyphenated their names – and they are common law. I thought it was perfect. No one teases him.

avatar bethany May 16, 2013, 1:50 pm

I (jokingly?) tried to get my husband to go for a hybrid name. He said no :(
It was funny and rhymed!

avatar AliceInDairyland May 16, 2013, 11:52 am

Oooh I remember this post. It made me go ask my guy what he thought about the whole thing, and he basically said he didn’t care in any of the directions. I could take his last name, we could keep our names, OR he would take my last name if it was important to me. He didn’t really care about our kids last names either. I guess I wasn’t surprised, but was kind of amused at how nonchalant he was about the whole thing. He basically said that if he was going to spend the rest of his life with me the least of his worries was what his or my last name was ;)

I don’t know what I will do. My whole life I have been dreaming and waiting to be Dr. Dairyland (not my last name, but perhaps we can both change it to that). I’ve scrawled it on stuff since I was five, and the closer I get the more excited I am to have that be a reality. I don’t have a really strong need to have the same last name as my partner/children, but I don’t really have a problem with it either. Also the boyfriend is the last of his family line with his last name so although he doesn’t care I think it would be nice for him to keep it. Since our last names rhyme hyphenating isn’t really an option.

What’s probably going to happen is I’m going to be just as nonchalant about the whole thing and not change it. Maybe when I decide to pop out a kidlet I will change it, or he will change it, or we will flip a coin or most likely I will continue to be apathetic about the whole thing and just leave it. I would have no problem being referred to as Mrs. Hislastname socially.

Anyone else just really indifferent about it? I’m a very strong feminist but for some reason my name has never really defined me and therefore what happens to it is of very little concern in the big picture of marriage.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 11:54 am

Totally indifferent if I didn’t want to keep the same name as my kid. Still mostly indifferent though. If it was a big deal to him, I’d probably just change it.

avatar Eagle Eye May 16, 2013, 12:01 pm

Hmm, I guess, for me at least, I feel like I just want to be an advocate for thoughtfulness? Like, considering why you have the these feelings for or against? Understanding where they’re coming from – its not that all men are sexist pigs, its just that its important to recognize these casual signs of racism/ sexism and think about them. And then, if you want, make an empowered decision? One that you can own for whatever reason? Eh, I’m just babbling…

Ugh, I can’t express myself well today…

avatar AliceInDairyland May 16, 2013, 12:32 pm

No I get what you mean! I like to think that we are both kind of “meh” about it BECAUSE we have moved past the reasons behind them and find it insignificant. Does that make sense? Like, I feel like whatever decision he/I/we make will be empowered because we aren’t letting society/tradition/patriarchy dictate it.

avatar Eagle Eye May 16, 2013, 2:26 pm

:-) I think that makes perfect sense, FWIW, my boyfriend and I are similarly meh about the whole thing

Skyblossom Skyblossom May 16, 2013, 12:03 pm

It sounds like you’ve found a great guy!

avatar Married by Elvis May 16, 2013, 12:09 pm

I not only kept my name, but we gave our daughter my name too. Surprisingly (since we live in the buckle of the Bible Belt) nobody has ever said anything. I thought they would because our daughter looks exactly like my husband, which takes out the assumption that he’s her stepfather. The only person who ever tries to use my husband’s name with me is my own mother. I have no idea why she does that.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 2:07 pm

Wow, how’d you come to that decision? You almost never hear of that happening.

avatar Married by Elvis May 17, 2013, 9:25 am

She was the first opportunity to carry on the name. I was afraid my brother wouldn’t find a woman to have sex with him let alone marry him. It meant a lot to my dad and grandfather and my husband didn’t care. Plus he has a ton of cousins with his name, so his name is well preserved.

To anyone who does this: if you are married at the time of birth, check your state’s law. I had to fill out a form and have my husband sign an affidavit to make this happen.

avatar lets_be_honest May 17, 2013, 9:27 am

Wow, that is really, really cool Elvis. Sounds like your husband is a catch! What an important role for your daughter too…to carry on her family’s name. Awesome all around.

avatar Emsz May 16, 2013, 3:56 pm

That is so cool, and very much what I want if I were to get married some day :)

avatar Megan_A_Mess May 16, 2013, 12:36 pm

Ok, so I know this letter is a little older, but here are my two cents. I’m getting married in a little more than two months, and I volunteered to take my guys last name. (For the record, he said he didn’t care either way.) But if you were having a really hard time with your fiance, I would suggest that you try a little role reversal. I know it’s not right to play games in a relationship, but I would at least just try this;

Come home one day with some paperwork. Then, tell him that you should both change your names because neither of you can agree. Keep up this pretense all day, and keep reminding him every other second of things you both need to change. Find all the numbers you have to call to make the changes, and keep them on a list, look up other paperwork online, call your parents (letting them in on the situation beforehand of course) and ask them if they know where you can XYZ paperwork or whatever. That part will become a hassle, and eventually, he might even start to feel like “Wait, this isn’t me … I feel like I’m loosing myself … I don’t want a new name, I have my own!” Then just sit back, and let him sink it in. Walk away for an hour. Go take a walk, go get a drink at the bar. Then, let him come and talk to you. Tell him that’s exactly how you’ve been feeling, and hopefully it’ll open up the situation more for the both of you.

For me, it didn’t really matter either way. I had always planned on changing my name when I got married, for a few reasons. 1 – My last name is long, Polish, and NEVER pronounced right on the first try. Even after I tell people how to say it, it still comes out wrong. 2 – I have no real emotional ties to my father. I am slowly but surely removing him and his toxicity from my life. His parents are now both gone too, so it wouldn’t be a slap in the face to them. (Plus they probably would have preferred me to take my husbands name, they were ultra traditional Catholics.) 3 – I am not planning on having children, and neither is my brother (he’s fixed, and I’m getting an IUD, while my guy is also considering getting fixed.) However, we do have two male cousins who want families (at least for now) so the name will be carried on. 4 – I won’t finish my degree for another three years, and in that time, it should be enough time for the Deaf Community to know who I am, without too much confusion. I don’t plan on doing a PhD or anything, so it’s not important for my professionally. Now if I was about to graduate, I might keep my maiden name professionally, and then refer to myself as Mrs. D socially. But, I’m not, so I won’t have to.

So even though it seems like a lot of work (I can think of at least ten things off the top of my head that need to be changed. This is one of those times I am in love with Pinterest, there are some AMAZING lists out there of things that you’ll need to change after getting married.) for me, in the long run, it will be worth it. Plus, I know it’s controversial, but I will actually feel like a little more like his family. I don’t know why I feel that way, I know it’s not popular opinion, but I just do.

avatar temperance May 16, 2013, 1:13 pm

Whenever I see letters like this one, I am so grateful that Mr. Temperance did NOT want me to change my name – as in, he thinks it’s a sexist, outdated practice and he thinks it would be weird for me to have a different name than the one he knows. His brother is the opposite, and considers it a personal affront for a woman not to want his name (his ex was becoming a medical doctor, and wanted to retain her name because SHE did all this work under that name – he thought that she was offending his family by not wanting to bring a doctor to their family).

My first + last name are alliterative and I was called by both names by all my friends growing up, and not being “me” would have been sad for me. Even now, when I visit my parents and run in to old high school friends, they call me both names. Giving that up to be Temperance Booth would crush me.

That being said, I wish people would stop being so fucking hostile about me keeping my name. His family keeps calling me Mrs. Booth, and I have corrected them (nicely!) multiple times. His grandmother did it on a phone call, and HE corrected her … to which her reply was WHY WOULDN’T SHE CHANGE HER NAME, IS SHE ASHAMED OF US? She made this weird choking sound, too, like I had offended her somehow.

FireStar Firestar May 16, 2013, 2:57 pm

Holy. Would it be better if you were ‘ashamed’ of your own family then? There is some logic for ya. But isn’t it nice to know you married the sane brother?

avatar temperance May 16, 2013, 4:37 pm

I’m so happy that my husband is a normal dude – his family is what I generally call cuckoo-bananas, so the fact that they managed to raise an intelligent, productive member of society is SHOCKING. lol

avatar SoCal-Gal May 16, 2013, 1:24 pm

I come from a latino back round and lets just say most of the latino men are “machos” my husband is one of them. We have been married 14 years and I didn’t change my last name I still use my maiden name. He has mentioned that he would like for me to change it but it’s not a big deal. Ofcourse our children have his last name and it’s kinda normal to them when they call me by my last name they kinda giggle when the call me Mrs. Moncada which is there last name.

avatar Elle Marie May 16, 2013, 1:35 pm

I did the whole hyphenated thing. My new last name is still manageable though kind of long, but it’s fine. Trying to get people (like my doctor’s office, credit card companies, etc.) to process a hyphenated name is difficult.

My big thing was that A) I really like my last name, and when my sister got married she changed her name (which is fine! she is happy, I am happy for her!) but it made me sad to think about not sharing a last name any more, B) professionally, it would be a bit troublesome to abandon my maiden name completely, and C) I didn’t like how my first name sounded with my husband’s last name.

Whatever name you decide to use after the wedding, it is also a good idea to think about what name children will take (if you plan to have children). It is VERY important to me that when I have children, they have the same last name as me. My husband is fine with the idea of our children having the hyphenated name as well.

avatar Leslie B, May 16, 2013, 1:51 pm

WWS. I think the wife should only change her last name if she really wants to. My boyfriend and I have been discussing marriage and I’m all for taking his last name except for the fact that it is spelled like the name of an insect therefore most people pronounce it like that. Ugh!

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 1:52 pm

I think I’m strange. I love the fact that I’m a self sufficient person who doesn’t need a man for anything really, yet I have such traditional viewpoints on things like name taking and stuff.

avatar a friend May 16, 2013, 2:16 pm

I didn’t change my name. My DH is fine with that. I did say to him, a number of times before we married, that if it was important to him that we have the same last name that I was open to us BOTH hyphenating. If it’s important enough to him, he can make a change as well.

avatar tinywormhole May 16, 2013, 2:16 pm

Just want to say that (speaking from recent experience) changing your last name is a royal pain in the butt. In fact, I think that’s an understatement for many reasons, from the sheer number of places your name is recorded, paperwork/time involved in changing them, ID no longer matching anything, the confusion of introducing yourself depending on the situation, etc. etc. I really wanted to take my husband’s last name, but if you have an inkling of a doubt, the experience of actually doing it won’t make you feel better about it.

avatar TZee May 16, 2013, 2:27 pm

I waited 2 years after marriage to change my name. I am very Pro -Woman and didn’t even think about it. When i mentioned it to my husband, he told me he only cared about what made me happy. He even offered to take my family’s name (which is very unique). After thinking long and hard about it, I decided to change it to his last name “Jefferson”. The day i was set to go to the social security office i had a mental breakdown because I was so used to having such a unique name, that it made me feel like i was losing my identity (just like the OP). I got over it though and made the change and now I joke about it. It actually feels really good to share my last name with my husband. Another positive thing is I never have to spell out my last name again. lol I really think men shouldnt push their spouse to take their last name. That is out choice, you dont like it , OH WELL!

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 2:29 pm

Where’d you come up with TZee?

avatar TZee May 16, 2013, 2:32 pm

T is the intial for my first name and Z is the initial for my Maiden name. Z sounds like “zee” lol

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 2:34 pm

Cute. There is a bridge named after you in NY!

avatar TZee May 16, 2013, 2:55 pm

Oh cool!! Nice to know!

Caris Caris May 16, 2013, 2:49 pm

Ask him if he would consider changing HIS name for yours. If he says no then why should you even consider changing yours to him. Clearly he doesn’t love YOU enough right?

If you don’t want to change your name then don’t. If he thinks that’s reason enough to call it off, then, well…..

I had this issue with my bf. When I told him I wasn’t going to take his name whenever we get married, he reacted pretty much the same way. Said it meant I didn’t love him,etc. I asked him if he would change his name for mine. He said HELL no. So I asked him, then why on earth should I take yours, if you can’t even consider for a second taking mine. I also explained to him that it was a decision I had taken a LONG time ago, before I had ever had a boyfriend, and that I was not changing my mind fro him or anyone, and if he didn’t like it then I’m sorry. It took him some time but he understood.

avatar LANY May 16, 2013, 2:53 pm

I find this conversation so interesting, and it’s made me realize how incongruous our desires can be. It was important to be to get a big ass diamond (though, I got him a really nice watch). At the same time, changing my name wasn’t ever even a consideration, and I don’t think I could be with someone who felt strongly about it either way (other than, it’s your life and your name, do what makes you happy). If we have kids, they will have both of our names. I’m still dress shopping, but really want a bright green dress. It’s funny the ways we can be traditional, and not traditional.

And for anyone who says that I am somehow less committed to him because I am keeping my name? (and surprisingly I’m already starting to get it) “Fuck that noise” :) I don’t need to prove to anyone but him how much I am his.

Lindsay Lindsay May 16, 2013, 3:00 pm

This pisses me off. I don’t think it’s wrong for someone to want their spouse to take their name, but trying to guilt-trip you and get all pissy about it is really shitty. If having his wife take his name is the only way that he knows for sure that she’s committed, then he’s got a really warped view of commitment (as in, if your wife only chooses to stay with you because it’s too difficult to change her name back, then why do you want to be married to her anyway?). It also bothers me when people misconstrue what it means to compromise. Most people who seem to pull the “compromise card” are actually just asking you to do what they want, with no regard for your opinion, and are not actually wanting to compromise at all. When you’re in a long-term relationship, compromise often exists over the span of the relationship, which doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re always going to split each decision directly down the middle as a compromise.

That said, the idea of taking his name socially and not legally sounds like a good compromise. (I had a friend do the opposite, which might be counterintuitive.) But if his argument is that divorce is too easy for someone who doesn’t change their name, then I’m not sure he’d go for this. Unless that was just a BS reason he gave.

I’d probably turn it around on him and ask what he’s giving up in order to ensure his commitment. Or ask if he’d change his name, just to see what he says. Though that will likely only work if he’s opposed to oppressing women.

avatar Sara May 16, 2013, 3:09 pm

I changed my LN. It was a big-ish deal career-wise. But, I wanted a very noticeable societal marker that I was committed to my marriage, since we knew we would probably have to live apart for a year or two. Now, we’ve been living apart for two years– and we’re moving back together this weekend! I am glad I had a signal to my family and to me that this union was important even though I was living in a different state than my spouse during this time. So far, so good.

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 3:11 pm

Congrats on the reunion!

MissRemy MissRemy May 16, 2013, 3:52 pm

I could use a little input on this one! Recently engaged, my Mr. claims not to be too bothered either way, he would like me to take his name but wouldn’t dream of insisting. (I’d say he’s a feminist even if he wouldn’t use the term to describe himself.) There are so many sides to my reasoning that I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to make a decision!

While I would like to take his name in some capacity I also don’t want to lose my own completely either. It is very distinctive. There are a few variations on the spelling, with mine being one of the longest. If it was shorter it would be a simple case of me or both of us hyphenating but it’s super longgggg. I always joke that you are a very special person in my life if you know how to spell it. So on one hand it would be easier to lose it, on the other hand I’m attached to my pain in the ass name dammit! To keep my own and add his would make my name 24 letters!

My other issue is that I’m not sure I like My name + His surname. It’s not terrible… I could live with it, I wonder if I’m just not used to the sound of it. They both end with N, it sounds really harsh to my ears.

One suggestion I quite liked was both of us taking my maiden name as a middle name, but middle names aren’t often used and he already has one, would I really want to lump him with my long name too? The fact that he would be willing to do that is nice though.

I’ve never had terribly strong feelings on the subject before it became an imminent reality. All the women in my life who have married have changed their names. When we got engaged his mother in particular was really excited about me becoming one of theirs. The family name has always been really important to my father as we are the only branch of our family left with it. I feel like I can’t win whatever I decide. I know I need to make this decision for me but there are just so many factors to consider!

Wow that got long… sorry! Any suggestions greatly appreciated :)

avatar lets_be_honest May 16, 2013, 3:57 pm

Its really not your MIL or your father’s place to give an opinion. Would your dad really be upset if you changed it?

MissRemy MissRemy May 16, 2013, 4:17 pm

I don’t think he’d be upset but he’s really into our name and the heritage. My cousin, who has never had our name, just got married (changed her name btw haha) and used our family tartan in their handfasting ceremony as her own name doesn’t have a tartan and my dad CRIED. He’s that into it.

It wouldn’t be lost if I changed my name as I have a brother. It’s always been drummed into me as a big part of my identity and it’s strange to think that if my brother got married and his imaginary wife followed tradition that some other girl would be one of them but I wouldn’t.

Probably over thinking at this point haha…

MaterialsGirl MaterialsGirl May 16, 2013, 4:59 pm

hey there i’m in the same predicament. when i first said that i wouldn’t change my name, he got pretty huffy, but now he just casually asks if i’m planning to change it or not (to which i respond that i haven’t decided yet).
i found this online
http://www.elegala.com/go/ideas_advice/for/married-or-maiden-name-behind-the-last-name-change/

i think i’m in the maybe use the middle name/maiden name or the ‘have it all’ or the professional? i dunno, but it’s nice to see options

MissRemy MissRemy May 16, 2013, 6:31 pm

Thanks for the link! It really succinctly expressed why I’m having issues with this and the variety of options, very useful :)

Lindsay Lindsay May 16, 2013, 6:11 pm

It sounds like any variation will have its own pros and cons. I feel like the main thing to consider is how big a fixture in your daily life you want it to be. You know? Like do you want to be writing your name with his last name everywhere and having everyone call you that? Or do you just want the special bond between you? If it’s the latter, you could just make his name your middle name or do the thing with your maiden name that you mentioned. Like you said, though, middle names are rarely used, so if adding one of the names gives you (or him) a long full name, it’s not a super big deal. My full name is 21 letters, but I can’t remember the last time I actually had to write it out.

MissRemy MissRemy May 16, 2013, 6:49 pm

You are so right, it’s important to remember that in reality it’s not a super big deal! At the end of the day, we’ll be married and that will be awesome no matter what my name is :D And the day-to-day thing, I will think on that, it’s a great point.

fast eddie fast eddie May 16, 2013, 4:59 pm

The idea of a newly married woman changing her name seems bazaar to me. I couldn’t care less one way or the other. My wife kept her old name, which was her first husband’s last name because she liked it better then her father’s last name and for professional identity. There were no children to be considered and I suggested we both took new last names. She was Onnie Lang, so we both took Syne she’d be O. lang Syne. At new years eve gala’s it would be fun.

His insistence about the issue is very old fashioned and somewhat controlling. On the other hand her reluctance is also. There are many issues to be overcome with marriage and this one is way down near the bottom of the list. She must ask herself if it’s worth fighting about.

avatar Datdamwuf May 16, 2013, 10:39 pm

I’m so sorry, if my fiance were insisting on a name change to show my commitment I’d be all up in his grill. If the guy I’m marrying thinks a name change is all that? Then I’m going to insist he change his name to mine, otherwise how can I trust him to keep his vows to me? Right? srsly?

avatar Datdamwuf May 16, 2013, 10:41 pm

sorry I forgot to add, I keep seeing women here talking about keeping their maiden name as a “middle” name but I don’t see anyone entertaining the reverse. Why not take your husband’s name as your middle name?

avatar lynn May 17, 2013, 12:45 am

I can’t wait to take my future husband’s last name.

avatar ebstarr May 17, 2013, 1:25 am

Yay Wendy! Perfect response.

avatar Portia May 17, 2013, 10:06 am

First, WWS 100%.

And thanks so much for posting this! This is actually very timely as a few days ago me and the boyfriend were discussing this in a heated argument about other relationship things. Basically, I’ve never had any intention of taking my future husband’s name, and I’d told him that before, but he got all traditional on me and actually acted pretty much like the guy in this letter, which surprised me. For him, it was more about me being stubborn on a number of issues, this being one of them, but he wasn’t having any of the throw-it-back-in-his-court arguments (why wouldn’t you change YOUR name? type of things). I’d even told him previously that if he did all the paperwork I’d think about changing my name.

Anyway, my reasons for keeping my name are in a way feminist, but also because I like my initials as they are, my middle name is actually passed down from my mother and grandmother and wouldn’t be replaced with my maiden name, and my last name is tied to my ethnic heritage even if it was changed in the move from Europe (his name is not tied to that same heritage). (Oh, and hyphenating wouldn’t work, we both have -man last names. I’ve joked that I’d take the -man from his last name and switch it with mine.)

So, I have a lot of reasons to keep it. Plus I’m a raging feminist.

avatar Lucy May 17, 2013, 2:14 pm

Holy cats, 400 comments? Chrome protests.

Anyway, fuck yeah, Wendy nailed it. This dude is a sexist, controlling asshole whom you should under no circumstances marry if he can’t check himself.

avatar NikkiMic May 29, 2013, 12:50 pm

Oh for fuck’s sake, who are these guys?

I remember Wendy answering a letter similar to this back when she wrote for the Frisky, and the letter was from the guy’s perspective – he wasn’t even dating anyone, he just felt it was important to him that any hypothetical future wife should take his name and he was basically asking her permission to be able to think that way and not think of himself as a sexist. And oh man, did she school him good.

When my fiance and I first started dating, I was straight with him that I wouldn’t ever take a man’s name. He admitted he wasn’t crazy about the idea but that was all. Over the past couple of years I’ve flipped flopped over the idea of hyphenating but eventually settled firmly back on just keeping my name. My fiance has never tried to change my mind about it and just kind of shrugs whenever people ask him how he feels about it (and also, FUCK THOSE PEOPLE for asking him, as though he’s supposed to get a say).

It’s your name. Not his. Period.

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