“I’m Ostracized For Keeping My Maiden Name”

My husband and I have been married a little under a year and we’re starting to actually feel married. However, in all of the adjustments I’ve made, there’s still one giving me a hard time: telling people that I’ve kept my maiden name. It’s a decision I made long before I met my husband; we discussed it at length before we even got engaged, and now he and our immediate friends and families are completely, 100% comfortable with it.

The problem actually arises around other married women. I’ve gotten pretty good at introducing us: “Hi, I’m Carolyn Asaurus and this is my husband, John Smith.” Sometimes the responses are along the lines of, “Well, that’s, um, modern of you…” followed by a shunning for the rest of the evening. Or they suddenly ask questions, like if I have children from a previous relationship, so I have to defend my decision. Or worse, they feel they need to defend their decision to take their husband’s name as if I’m somehow insulting them. No matter how it goes, usually after learning I kept my last name, most of these women become very icy toward me.

Ruling out that I might just have some huge character flaw that’s driving only these women away, what’s the best way to let people know that I’m Carolyn Asaurus, always have been, always will be? I have no intention of ever changing my last name so I feel I should probably try to learn quickly how to handle this before it’s just awkward for the rest of my life. Have you developed a way of assuring new people that you aren’t insulting their decision by defending your own, especially after they ask you about it? So far, it’s only been an issue with random people at parties or old high school friends, but I really don’t want the issue to arise where I could be potentially isolating myself from great work connections or friendships. — Maiden Voyage

I have to wonder what part of the country you live in, because here in New York, women keeping their maiden names when they marry are as common as funnel cake at the Missouri State Fair. In the two and a half years I’ve been married, I’ve never once felt ostracized for not taking my husband’s name, nor have I ever felt the slightest inclination to defend my decision. Even now having a child who does not share my name, I don’t feel weird about it. It’s just so common in these parts, that no one — not the pediatrician, not our babysitters, and certainly not our friends — raises an eyebrow even a little bit. Perhaps my extended family in St. Louis isn’t quite as used to a mother and child having a different last name, but if so, they’re all much too polite to question me about it.

So, maybe part of the problem is that you live in a much less progressive part of the country where women always take their husband’s names. Other than moving, though, there’s probably not much you can do about that except wait twenty or thirty years for things to change a little. In the meantime, I’d address the other part of your problem: the way you introduce yourself. First of all, if you’re at a party or otherwise meeting someone in a casual setting, why do you even need to say your last name? I can’t remember the last time I casually introduced myself as “Wendy Atterberry.” I’m just Wendy. And Drew is just Drew. And even if I did use my full name introducing myself, I wouldn’t emphasize my last name. I wouldn’t be Wendy ATTERBERRY-WHOSE-NAME-IS-DIFFEFRENT-FROM-HER-HUSBAND’S-AND-CHILD’S.

Based on the oddly strong reaction you’re getting from people — “random people at parties or old high school friends” (who likely already know your maiden name, right?) — I wonder if perhaps YOU are the one making a big deal about having a different last name than your husband. I’m not suggesting you mean to draw attention, but my guess is that you, as someone who decided long before you met your husband that you’d keep your name upon marriage and then had lengthy discussions with him about it before you even got engaged, probably feel pretty strongly about your decision. If you live in an area where such a decision is a rarity, you may feel a host of emotions: pride, defensiveness … and perhaps even a sense that you’re more enlightened and open-minded than everyone else. And maybe those emotions are coming through more than you realize when you introduce yourself. Maybe people are a bit put off by your introduction — not that you kept your name, but that you think it’s so important that everyone KNOW you kept you name.

You ask: “What’s the best way to let people know that I’m Carolyn Asaurus, always have been, always will be?” And to that I say: What matters is what your name is NOW. No one cares what your name was when you were a kid or what it will be when you’re old and gray. It seems like the person making the big deal about you keeping your maiden name is YOU. If you’re tired of the reaction you’re getting from people about your decision, quit drawing so much attention to it.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.


  1. I can relate to Carolyn a lot. I got married 3 months ago and did not change my name. I think Wendy’s spot on when she says this:
    “you may feel a host of emotions: pride, defensiveness … and perhaps even a sense that you’re more enlightened and open-minded than everyone else. And maybe those emotions are coming through more than you realize when you introduce yourself. Maybe people are a bit put off by your introduction — not that you kept your name, but that you think it’s so important that everyone KNOW you kept you name.”

    I know for sure that when people call me Mrs. xxxx (married name), I get super defensive and make some snarky comment about how that’s not my name. I know I should just let it go and not address it, but I can’t help myself. Wendy’s right- Most people probably don’t have a problem with it, they are just thrown off for a minute because they assume you and your husband have the same name. The problem, at least in my case, is that I’m so proud of who I am and what I’ve done with MY name, that I immediately get defensive and make it into a big deal. This letter could not have come at a better time for me. I’m going to try very hard to be more aware of how I handle those type of situations from now on.

    1. Escapehatches says:

      I kept my name because, professionally, I’m already published/licensed. When someone refers to me as Mrs. XXXX I try to, in a joking and light tone, mention that Mrs. XXXX is my husband’s mom, and I’m Ms. Keepin-ma-name. When asked, inevitably, why I didn’t change it, I stick to the vaguery, “it was a personal decision that made the most sense for me.” Since I work in an extremely conservative field (engineering) this actually can come up a lot.

      Good luck!

      1. Steelbird says:

        Do you mind if I ask you what engineering field you’re in? I’m also in engineering and I’m getting married in a few months. I’m planning on changing my name but I’m getting a lot of hassle from people telling me I should keep my name. I figured it was a personal decision that was totally up to the couple but so many people tell me to keep my name it’s making me doubt myself.

      2. “I figured it was a personal decision that was totally up to the couple but so many people tell me to keep my name it’s making me doubt myself.”

        The first part is right on….there is nothing more awesome than other people’s unwanted or unasked for advice / commentary on your personal life choices.

      3. escapehatches says:

        Im in civil/environmental engineering. I’m also licensed so changing my name legally was a hassle. It a very personal choice -don’t let others tell you what to do!

  2. I have to agree with Wendy. And as far as people saying you’re being “modern,” where the heck do y’all live? Women have been keeping their birth (not maiden) names here in California since I got married back in the 1970s and probably well before that!

    Besides, if your husband and family are OK with your surname, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. In Japan, if a woman has no brothers to carry on the family name and her husband has brothers, he will take her surname to assure the family name continues. It’s all relative.

    1. I have to add that I was thrilled to change my last name since my birth name left me open to really juvenile jokes. Boo!

  3. I really doubt anybody cares LW that you kept your last name. Maybe this would happen once, meeting some very backward individual, but still, seems unlikely. It sounds more like it is a big deal to you and for some reason you feel the need to make a big deal of it when you introduce yourself. That is probably what is really putting people off, the self righteous, I’m better than you because I kept my last name attitude…at least thats what I get from reading your letter. LW, just get over it. And why are you introducing yourself and even mentioning your last name, wouldn’t you just say “Hi Im Carolyn” and leave it at that? Weird letter to me.

  4. ReginaRey says:

    I tend to agree with Wendy. How often do last names really come up in conversation? Especially at parties? Wouldn’t most people just assume (however incorrectly) that you two had the same last night, unless you said something? There’s really no need to bring it up, unless you’re correcting someone.

    Maybe you don’t want people to assume that you share the same last name. And to this, I say…take it down a notch. I also plan to keep my last name, a decision I made years ago and that will last no matter who I end up marrying. And, admittedly, I often find myself having opinions about women who DO take their husbands names. Sometimes I’m browsing through wedding pictures on Facebook, thinking “Man, she seemed so hasty to get rid of her old name! Her old identity! That’s so antifeminist!”

    But honestly…that’s not the right reaction to be having. Not all women who change their names are “throwing away” their maiden name. Not all women who change their names are looking to do away with their “past identity” as Ms. MaidenName in order to assume their new identity as their husband’s counterpart. Do some? Yes, I do think some women do that. Do all? No.

    Ultimately, no one can know the reason why someone did or didn’t take a last name. It’s a personal, private decision. And it should STAY private, unless you’re trying to correct some confusion. You can have strong opinions, you can feel a certain way, but it doesn’t mean you have to acknowledge or talk about those opinions. If you feel judged, I definitely suggest making a point not to mention it unless, again, you’re correcting someone who verbally assumed wrong. Try that out, and then re-test how judged you feel. You may realize that you’re projecting a bit.

    1. I personally will be changing my last name when I eventually get married as I have a very common and simple last name. I also constantly get asked how to spell said last name to which my snarky side replies “the same as the Crayola crayon”…if I’m going to have a lifetime of spelling my last name might as well get something more fun (and one that is actually hard to spell). Of course now watch me break up with my bf (with a fantastic Italian last name) and marry someone with my mom’s maiden name – the dreaded Smith!!

    2. sobriquet says:

      I’ve never thought of women taking their husband’s name as throwing away their old identity, and I suppose that could be true for a small minority… but this mindset is probably why the LW is getting an icy response from married women. They probably feel judged. Assuming that taking your husband’s name is “antifeminist” is extremely insulting.

      I compare it to my experience with vegetarians. Some vegetarians are extremely uncomfortable to eat with- staring at your plate as if you’re about to eat a puppy. Judging, letting you know how superior their dining choices are. Then there are those who don’t feel the need to announce their Vegetarianism unless necessary. Carnivores feel comfortable eating around them because they are not looked upon with disdain. Vegetarians who have chosen their lifestyle for a variety of different reasons, but don’t expect everyone to share the same ideals.

      If you decide to keep your maiden name, that’s great, but it doesn’t make you better than a woman who goes the more traditional route.

      1. I took my husband’s last name with glee precisely because I wanted to take a new identity; I came from a loving household – my parents are still happily married after 42 years – but they inadvertently didn’t take my partners as seriously until I got married. I was 35 when I got married 7 1/2 months ago, and I was tired of being seen as extensions of my parents. My new last name is a reflection of my new life.

    3. GatorGirl says:

      I’m super excited to take my BF’s last name- his is only 4 letters and mine is 9 currently. I can’t wait to have such a short and sweet last name! (I’m half kidding)

      The other reason I’m excited is becaus I grew up with a different name then my mother; and look at taking his name as us creating a family together.

      I agree it’s a personal decision for every person to make, but try to remember its not an “anti feminist” stance if you do take his name. I plan on being just as independent as I am now!

  5. How common is it to say your full name during an introduction? I NEVER give my last name unless it’s a work introduction…casual meetings are first name only (especially when introducing to multiple people) and that is pretty common around me…maybe they think you have a chip on your shoulder because you make that the first thing they know about you? Not saying you have a chip on your shoulder about it…just saying it might be the perception.

    1. Agreed. With you, Wendy, RR, etc.

      When at a casual party with friends, introduce yourself this way “I’m Carol and this is Tom”. I don’t know you husband’s name. You can add in “husband Tom”, but I also don’t find it necessary. That’s just me.

      When at a work party, introduce yourself this way “I’m Carol Hutchins and this is my husband Tom.”

      Let people assume what they want to assume about last names. Only bring it up if, as others have said, it’s asked or needs to be corrected. And when you do answer or correct, don’t be defensive about it. People will play off your casual, laid back style and you’ll make new acquaintenances. Not alienate them.

    2. The short answer is paperwork. A lot of times, at least recently as a newlywed, the introductions come with paperwork. People either first see our names on paper first and assume because we have different last names that we are not married, just dating or roommates. Or the other side of things is people assuming our last names are the same because we are married and creating a legal mess.

      Legally, it’s easier to introduce with full name, socially it’s easier without. It’s the grey area between that’s been giving me issue.

      1. ele4phant says:

        Well, I guess the upside is that the amount of paperwork you’ll need to do in the future will be less once you’ve settled in (well, they’re always be some), so hopefully the issue will only come up infrequently in a legal context from here on out!

        Also, I am assuming most of the people looking at your paperwork are not part of your daily life, so who cares what they think?

      2. Skyblossom says:

        It’s must be partly due to where you live. We’ve bought two houses with our different last names and no one ever said a word about our names. We also always buy our cars with both names on the title and again, no one has ever commented. My husband ran for a public office (and won) in November and he put my full name in the pamplets he distributed and again there was no comment about the different last name and we live in a somewhat rural, conservative area.

  6. Skyblossom says:

    Carolyn – I kept my maiden name when I got married over 24 years ago and I’ve never felt that I had any real trouble with it. When we’re meeting new people we do what Wendy suggested, we just use our first names and that seems to be what other people do as well. I don’t know anyone who is so formal that they introduce themself with their full name at a party. Sometimes people do call me by my husband’s last name and I don’t correct them because I know that they don’t know my actual last name. As people get to know me they end up knowing my last name and I’ve never had anyone think it was strange. My mother-in-law is English and she has always assumed that my name is the same as my husband’s and so she sends cards to me with his last name on them. He explained to his parents that my name hadn’t changed when I got married but they didn’t think that a name could really remain unchanged. She just doesn’t get it but I don’t make a big deal out of it. The cards, and checks in the cards, are sent with love and affection and that’s what really matters. I did have a few kids at school ask how I could have a different last name than my daughter and I told them I had a different name because I kept my own name when I got married and that she has her dad’s name. Kids really are just curious and just want to know. If an adult asked why my name is different I would tell them the same thing. Because my kids are 9 years apart in age and because I have a different last name from my husband I have been asked if I’m in my first or second marriage and if my kids both have the same father. Questions like this don’t bother me and I answered that I’m married to my first and only husband and that he is the one and only father of my kids. The other interesting thing is that my husband gets junk mail with his first name and my last name which means it goes straight in the trash. Also, he occasionally gets telemarketing calls with his first name and my last name and we laugh and tell them there is no one in our home with that name and hang up.

    1. This is the perfect attitude to have regarding names. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I agree with Wendy and other commenters who have said that it is probably because you introduce yourself by your last name as different from your husbands that it becomes a topic of conversation. I think introducing yourself simply as Carolyn would be appropriate, and then if people later refer to you by your husband’s last name, you say something “Oh, sorry, I’m actually Carolyn Asurus.” Then say something funny, “Didn’t want to have to re-monogram all my doilies” or whatever. (Say something funnier than that. I’m not very clever this afternoon) If they’re honestly curious why you kept your name, then they can initiate the conversation after that, and it can start on a less awkward foot. But I think when you introduce yourself and your husband emphasizing different last names, it makes people feel like they should comment.

    That being said, I totally get the frustration of people assuming your name is your husbands when its not, and I’m not even married! I get wanting to set the record straight on your name being your own. My boyfriend’s fraternity brothers STILL refer to me as “Mrs. his fraternity nickname,” and it bugs me, a) grow up and b)because I have my own identity that is not defined by my relationship status. Hell, if/when we get married, we’re hyphenating, and each taking the other’s name. His father will probably have a heart attack, but whatever.

    Actually, I was really touched, because I made a comment about how we’d having the same initials, and he was like, “But not with middle names. I definitely want to keep my middle name, its my mom’s maiden name and I know its really important to her that one of her kids has it.”

    1. summerkitten26 says:

      a) i think the humor-while-correcting is a great idea! it helps with the potentially off putting or defensiveness of the correction (not that it’s there, but it can be perceived to be there), and i think will help it stick. i know i always remember names after i’ve already mistaken them and gotten embarrassed about it. and then you come across as a witty person who puts other people at ease!

      b) your bf sounds adorably kind hearted.

    2. SpaceySteph says:

      I think “Didn’t want to have to remonogram all my doilies” is actually funny.

    3. how we’d having?

      I….don’t even know. How we’d have. Us having. Either works. Both together, not so much.

      Sorry for my typos.

    4. Something More says:

      First: “Didn’t want to have to re-monogram all my doilies” is pretty funny.

      Second: I’ve been divorced for almost five years and I STILL get called the nickname my ex had in highschool (Ms. Fish Sticks – he is tall and had super skinny legs) except now I’m “Ex Fish Sticks. It’s a joke. I get it. It doesn’t “identify” me to these people. I think you should just let these frat jokes roll off. It’s not (or shouldn’t be) that big of a deal.

      Third (a): Why would he be worried about changing his middle name? and (b): That’s super common in my family (mother’s maiden name as kids’ middle name – Hispanic tradition) so the sentiment is lovely. 🙂

      1. He wasn’t worried about changing his middle name, but when I joked about us having the same initials (I was just referring to first and last names, because our first names start with the same letter), he commented but not with middle names. Since another common thing is for women to drop their middle name, make their maiden name their middle name, and then take their husband’s last name, it specifically came up in the context of discussing name changes.

        And we’ll have to agree to disagree on the other count.

  8. I hope the LW can just relax and stop worrying what other people think. My sister doesn’t wear her wedding ring a lot because she isn’t into jewelry and she frankly just forgets it half the time. Who cares!? She knows that she’s married. And if people do ask you about your choice, keep the explanation simple and short. They are probably asking because they are curious, not because they think you are ridiculous. Say something like “It was a choice I made a long time ago and I’m happy I stuck with it. Aren’t the hors d’oeuvres at this party wonderful!?”

  9. LW, I get how you feel. An enormous portion of the women in my family have kept their birth names in some way, and I’d like to hyphenate my own name when I get married. Even my mom, who day by day just goes by “Mrs. McMinn”, is actually, formally, Mrs. Langley-McMinn. I have a cousin who became Mrs. Langley-Fager, my mother’s sister goes by either name, her daughter plans not to change her name at all, and I’ll someday be Mrs. McMinn-something (trying not to jinx it! :P) I also know several lovely ladies outside my family who’ve kept their birth names.
    We all have some conservative (mostly older) folks in our families who probably think it’s weird that we want to keep our birth names; I’d go so far as to say that there’s probably someone in there who thinks we’re not really committed if we don’t take our significant other’s name. But it’s not been an issue, simply because we choose not to make it one. We don’t bring it up unless someone asks or there’s some kind of confusion, and the only answer I’ve heard given in response to “why did you keep your name?” is some variation on “because I wanted to.” Subject dropped. You don’t have to justify a personal choice like that to anyone, and if you simply neglect to treat it like an issue, then anyone who tries to push you on it will only be showing themselves up as rude.

    1. zombeyonce says:

      Y’all are making me much less apprehensive about hyphenating my last name when I get married next year. I hemmed and hawed and eventually decided that I would like to have the same name as my fiance (because it sounds cool), but I like my birth name too much to give it up, so hyphenating seemed like the best choice. People keep trying to convince me to just take his name, but my inner feminist just cringes at that (no offense to ladies that take their husbands name; it really is a very personal choice arrived at for a host of different reasons).

      I’m hoping he decides to change his last name to the hyphenated version as well, but I’m letting him make that decision on his own. Hearing everyone’s stories of how they chose their name makes me feel like I’m backed up by women around the country/world.

  10. heidikins says:

    I am not changing my name when I get married (in less than a month), and while I don’t bring this up on purpose, it seems that one of the first 3 questions that comes up when someone I know finds out I am getting married is “Oh, so you’ll be Heidi M….how cute/great/awesome!” Is it “defensive” or “emotional” or “prideful” to say “I’m actually keeping my maiden name.” ?!? I haven’t met anyone new that I need to explain this to, but I’m sure it will come up.

    I read an article a few weeks ago that stated that only 5% of women who marry do not change their names. I don’t know how accurate that is, but I really think that the big, more modern/progressive areas of New York and California have a completely different way to look at this concern than the rest of the areas in-between the coasts. I only know two other women who kept their maiden names when they married.


    1. First of all, congratulations on the upcoming wedding.

      I think as long as your tone is light, you’ll be fine heidikins. You could just say “Oh, that would be cute/great/awesome, but I’ve decide to keep my maiden name”. And leave it at that.

    2. It’s not defensive to say that you’re keeping your maiden name, but if you’re anything like me, you might get a defensive tone in your voice when you say it, which is when it becomes an issue!

    3. I think you might be right about the geographical differences. I’m from the Midwest and don’t know anyone (anyone!) who has kept their name after getting married. Not to say that that’s the case everywhere, but it seems to be the norm here. At the same time, I don’t think people would be judgmental about it, either.

      For me, I’ve always assumed I’d take my future husband’s last name. The thought of giving up my birth name is actually a little painful, just because it reminds me that I’m related to my amazing grandparents, but I think the desire to want to share a name with my husband/children will outweigh that. It’s not a very feminist thing to say, but I guess I see taking his last name as kind of romantic. I totally get why a lot of people wouldn’t, though. Like I said, I love my last name, and it will be hard to let it go!

      1. zombeyonce says:

        Since you want to take your future husband’s name but love yours, you could hyphenate. Best of both worlds. Though, if they are both several syllables, it could be a mouthful. But then you’d have his name and honor your grandparents, and still have at least one name in common with your kids. I’m hoping that my fiance hyphenates like I am going to, and our kids will have hyphenated names as well.

    4. Addie Pray says:

      Only two of my married girlfriends did not change their names. They are both from the midwest… but moved to California. Maybe to place they’d feel more accepted? Haha.

    5. applescruff says:

      I know a number of women who kept or hyphenated their names, but all were from my doctoral program, so more likely to keep their names anyway, I think. The program was also in Portland, so that fits with the coast theory. Congrats on your wedding! I’m sure you’ll be fine, and not at all emotional or defensive, if you just politely correct people.

    6. My feelings are it’s totally fine to gently correct them if they bring it up. Sometimes people even use those kind of questions to put out a feeler for what you’ll be called after the wedding without straight-out asking “Hey, keeping your last name or what?”, which is much more difficult to work into conversation 😉

      Pro-tip though, do not post on Facebook something like ‘actually guys my name is Ms. XY, not Mrs. Z, haha you may now return to your xmas card lists”, even if you include like seven winky faces, because some random cousin will then get up in your business about how you should be grateful to even receive Christmas cards. Trust. I may or may not speak from personal experience.

  11. Thank you for publishing my letter. It is an issue that hits very close to home for me and I do fully admit that maybe I am being too forceful with the fact that we do have different last names.

    However, with that being said, I don’t live in some small little town, which was part of the reason I was so surprised by the amount of people who the concept seemed so foreign.

    There was a specific instance where there was a lot of confusion in the neighborhood we just moved into (mainly filled with older retired couples) about whether we were actually married because we had different last names and how to deal with the paperwork. After a year of typos on loan applications, travel paperwork, and a lot of other things where the difference was just becoming a huge inconvenience, I just needed to hear from other people who have dealt with this. I was hoping to hear stories from other people, as I assumed Wendy had a few.

    Just to clarify, I am not freaking out. I am not losing any sort of sleep over this. I am not panicking over the fear of insulting anyone. I just wanted to know how other people deal with this, without waiting decades. Some great one-liners would really help.

    1. I’m fairly certain Judith Martin, aka Miss Manners, has a witty reply to this type of situation. I’ve read her columns regularly for the last few years. Anyway, a quick google search might pull something up. She has a very unique way of dealing with nosy questions.

    2. Temperance says:

      I’m commenting below, but I just wanted to let you know that I am outside of Philadelphia and it is regularly assumed that I will become Mrs. HisName when I get married, and I am regularly asked what my “new name” will be. I’m not conservative, at all, and most of my friends aren’t, either.

    3. My mom never took my dad’s last name, and they got married in ’82. Maybe back then it was ‘modern’, but these days on balance I expect more of my friends now to keep their last names than take their husbands’. I don’t remember whether my mom ever got that many questions about it…sometimes mail would come addressed to her as Mrs. My Dad’s Last Name and sometimes mail would come to him addressed as Mr. My Mom’s Last Name. It might have been annoying for them, but the assumption got made less frequently over time. When I asked her about why she didn’t take my dad’s last name she just said the paperwork was a hassle where they got married, in Montreal. So, lots of women keep their names, for a variety of reasons.

      If someone makes a comment about it like ‘very modern’ or ‘oh, that’s different’ and you don’t really care to defend/discuss it I’d just say ‘eh, I think it’s more common than it used to be’ in a disinterested way and change the subject. If you do want to defend your decision without causing offense, you can say you’ve always felt very attached to your name. I’m guessing people sometimes refer to you by just your last name? Hutchins lends itself well to that. My last name is amusingly dirty, so I get called by it a lot. I couldn’t imagine changing it, not because I have a problem with the idea in general, but because for me it’s a bigger part of my identity than it might be for others.

  12. Welcome to the culture wars. You seem to be living amidst a group of very conservative women, for whom these wars are still a passion. By announcing that your name is different from your husband’s as the first thing you say to them, you are declaring yourself the feminist vanguard into their comfortable little group. Battle on! Now they fear that you will steal their husbands, turn their daughters into liberal-loving lesbians, and bring all manner of unGodly things into their lives. Either associate with a less conservative crowd or stick to “He’s Tom and I’m Jane.”

  13. Something More says:

    I worked with a girl whose male members of her family on her father’s side got into a terrible boating accident and all eight aboard from ages 6 yrs on up lost their lives. Thus, there was no one to “carry on” the family name. My co-woker kept her maiden name for this reason and her first husband actually changed HIS last name when they got married, which I thought was pretty cool. They have two boys who can now continue to carry on the family name.

    There are probably a lot of reasons women chose to keep their maiden names, and altho I wasn’t one of them when I got married, I would never look down on someone who didn’t. You never know the answer you might get.

  14. Carolyn.

    I think it is the way you are introducing yourself. This happens to me all the time for being a vegitarian. I only bring it up when being served food. I hide it at all costs because people start asking the questions… how long? do you eat fish? I could never be a vegitarian? what does your poor husband eat? Then they feel like my husband is so deprived that they give him meat leftovers. I learned that in polite conversation, you don’t bring it up.

    Actually, my name is Caroline, and the Carolyn/Caroline thing brings similar drama. People will say, I have been calling you carolyn this whole time, I am so embarassed. I don’t care, so why do you.

    1. Haha, I’m a vegetarian too so I know exactly where you’re coming from. But you’ll have to admit that there are times when not bringing it up beforehand does cause some issues too. I know that there will be situations where I should bring up my last name and some where I shouldn’t, but there’s no 100% way to know which is which and I still bet Wendy has some great lines about keeping her name that she’s not sharing.

    2. applescruff says:

      I’m not a vegetarian, but I don’t eat pork as a nod to keeping kosher. Also, I don’t really like it. People assume that I’m an Orthodox Jew (I’m not) or super Jewish (not that, either) start justifying their own pork-eating habits, tell me how delicious bacon is, etc. It’s like there’s no good way to bring it up!

  15. Totally agree with everyone else… just dodge using the last names when you intro yourselves and it won’t be a big deal. Most of the girls i know defend themselves for changing their names, but seriously, it’s just such a non-issue either way these days.

    When my husband and i go to parties, he says, ‘i’m dan, and this is my roommate, Jill’. Then people either laugh or look awkward, but it definitely breaks the ice since we’re also married. Certainly no one asks what our last names are!

    1. I knew a guy that refered to his wife as his “first wife” at parties. that is funny

      1. Tee! My friend’s husband introduces himself as “Lisa’s first husband.” Cracks me up every time…

      2. *snicker* Gee… I thought my 2nd ex and I were the only ones who did that! We still go to occasions together (usually family) and once in a while he needs to be introduced. Nothing shocks better than saying “this is my 2nd ex-husband Zem, this is my live-in boy-toy Zog, and soon, my lesbian lover Gloria will be showing up!” and having someone explain that Gloria doesn’t exist (they hope!).

  16. fast eddie says:

    My wife kept her last name from her first marriage for 5 years after the wedding. Nobody had a problem with it and her professional associations didn’t have to deal with it to everybody’s satisfaction. I couldn’t care less and the only glitch was my mother discomfort, but even she got over it. When we moved to a new community she adopted my last name to simplify our financial affairs. We even mused about both of us changing to a different last name. Had that occurred and we’d used Syne, she could have inserted her previous last name resulting in Onnie Lang becoming O. Lang Syne. That would have been a gas on New Years Eve.

  17. I’m never offended if people call me by my husband’s last name. Sears actually sends mail to him using my last name and he hasn’t even bothered to correct them. We just figure there are far worse things to be called. If people ask me outright if I kept my maiden name I say we both decided to keep our names, smile, and then the conversation is over.

    And if the above assumption are wrong and you are not bringing this on yourself consider yourself lucky to have found an effective filter for keeping irritating people away from you. Are you really upset that people who would judge you for keeping your maiden name don’t like you?

    1. theattack says:

      Pointing out that he also made a decision to keep his name is awesome! Love this!

  18. This is an issue my boyfriend and I are dealing with (in a if we were to get married hypothetical kind of way) and its been really interesting to hear why he thinks I should change my name. Basically it boils down to perspective- Within all of his family, friends parents and relatives there is not one couple he could name who had different last names while I had a hard time thinking about any of my friends parents, relatives or people I grew up with who had the same last name. And I’m the one from a small town and he’s from NYC!

    1. My husband and I dealt with this and I caved. I changed my last name to my middle name and took his last name. it meant so much to him that I just let it go.

      1. I’ve thought about that but my middle name is my mom’s last name (she didn’t change hers either surprise surprise) and all of the kids have the same middle name so its not simply elizabeth or ann that I would be dropping. And I know it would mean a lot to him but all the reasons he gives are pretty..well..they make me twitchy and none of them stand the ‘change your last name to mine then’ test.

      2. But if he wouldn’t do it for you, why would he expect you to do it for him?

      3. fo real.

      4. theattack says:

        My bf and I have had this same conversation about our hypothetical future marriage. He wants me to take it. I’m a feminist and have always felt I shouldn’t have to. But eventually I decided that if we do get married, I’ll change it anyway. To answer your question about why someone might do that (okay, that wasn’t exactly your question), sometimes it’s just more important to one person than it is to another. It would feel like rejection to him if his wife didn’t take it, and I’m not particularly attached to my name either way. In my opinion, if there is a conflict about a relationship topic between two committed people, it’s best to err on the side of pro-relationship. Because of this, he’ll also end up wearing a wedding ring that he thinks is stupid, unnecessary, and in the way. Things don’t have to be split right down the middle, as long as the sum of compromises adds up to be a pretty close list.

      5. Temperance says:

        But isn’t he rejecting YOU by not wanting your name, by his logic?

      6. theattack says:

        No, because I never wanted him to take it. If I had a desire for him to take mine then it might feel like that. But in reality, we live in a society (and a part of the country) where wives change their names most of the time, and he grew up just assuming that would happen. I never grew up assuming someone would take mine or even wanting it. In fact, I don’t think I would care for that much at all.

      7. Skyblossom says:


      8. Skyblossom says:

        When I was getting married, over 24 years ago, there were plenty of young men who would say that they would never marry a woman who didn’t love them enough to take their name. They always seemed to be guys who never had a date, wonder why. A last name has nothing to do with love and commitment but a lot to do with identity and family heritage. I feel that my name reflects who I am, at least through my dad’s side of the family, and my husband’s name reflects his heritage.

  19. Buzzelbee says:

    Like oh so many others on here, I also have this problem. I actually use Buzzelbee on here because my husband said he would change his last name if I was willing to change mine to Buzzelbee so we would be the Buzzelbees. I was not willing to risk it and stuck with my birth name.

    I rarely bring this up anymore in social gatherings. I remember it being a bigger issue right after we got married and people were asking but 3+ years on, no one really cares. If it does come up my response depends on what I get from the other person. If I feel like they are being hostile I say he wasn’t willing to take my name. If they are just curious I give the fuller explanation that we are from different cultures and I wanted to keep my identity associated with mine. But generally, people are just not curious and really don’t care other than making sure they have it right for the occasional wedding invitation.

    1. Skyblossom says:

      I think sometimes people just ask so that they know how to address cards to you. One of my cousin’s was married this fall and I sent her a message on Facebook asking whether she changed her last name and told her I was just trying to get her name right on their Christmas card. She changed her name and that’s fine with me. I just wanted to know so that we don’t send cards with the wrong name year after year.

  20. Addie Pray says:

    For what it’s worth, I don’t plan on changing my last name when I get married. My reasons aren’t too profound: I have a weird name and can’t think of any last name that would sound good with it, other than my own; it’s too much of a hassle – my diplomas, SS card, passport, business cards, that cute paperweight a friend gave me for graduation, etc. are all already in my name; my clients already know me as me; and, most importantly, it would just be weird to one day have to use a name other than the one I’ve been using for the last 33 years… So those are my reasons. If anybody were to ask me why I kept my maiden name, I’d give them those reasons. If/when people ask you, have you tried just telling them your reason(s), whatever they may be? Maybe people are icy toward you because you react negatively to their question. I bet most people don’t care; I bet they are just making small talk after you make a point that your last names are different. Or, have you tried joking about it? When they ask why you didn’t take your husband’s last name, you could say, “Ugh, would you take my husband’s shitty last name if you married him??” That would work well if your husband’s last name were Boner or something. I dunno.

    1. Haha. Boner.

      My boyfriend’s last name is pretty cool, and he’s really proud of it. It would sound pretty good with my first name too.

      HOWEVER if I get married, I would still prefer to keep my last name. Addie, you bring up some very practical concerns, and I agree with all of them. ONE other reason for me, though? My stubbornness.

      SO MANY GUYS (not all, but probably most) refuse to either change their name or hyphenate. I had an ex who absolutely HATED his last name and wanted to change it – but when I said, “Hey well if we ever get married you can take my name since I want to keep mine anyway” and he was like “Oh HELL no.” Why? WHY, I ask. My current boyfriend is similar. I know that he doesn’t want to change his name, and I understand why. But why can’t he grant me the same understanding? He said, “You can hyphenate if you want” like that was really generous of him to offer.

      1. I’ve always dithered a bit about the name thing. On the one hand, I don’t like the idea of having to take my hypothetical husband’s name just because he’s the man, ya know? And my maiden name has a bit of a story behind it, which is cool. But at the same time, it’s also my dad’s name, and that relationship is a bit fraught.

        For a while, I decided I’d go with whichever one was easier to spell. My last name has been misspelled my whole life and it’s annoying. But if I married, say, Marc Rzepczynski, that would make it even worse! 😉

        Now I think I’ve settled on “whichever name I like better.” Which will probably mean changing it, if I marry my current BF. I’m a huge literature and history buff, and he has a name that has literary and historical echoes that make my geeky heart squee. It’s about on the level of his last name being Shakespeare or Lancaster or something. I may have to convince him I’m not just using him for his name. 😀

      2. My friend uses the line ‘I’ll only ever change my name for a Kennedy’

      3. Addie Pray says:

        If my hypothetical husband had an awesome last name – or was George Clooney, I’d consider switching too. A good friend of mine’s last name is DePersia. I *want* his last name so bad! I told him I would marry him just for that. My first name + DePersia sounds awesome, very Persian, but also kind of porn star-like.

      4. Exactly! I’ve met many men who would rather walk over broken glass than dare take their wife’s name, and then turn around and expect that their wife takes his name. How ridiculous.

    2. My best friend was engaged to Mr.Hooker. Who actually cheated on her with a hooker. It was all shades of bad.

    3. For the record, my last name IS a very common slang term for ‘Boner.’ And I plan to keep my last name…

      1. Addie Pray says:

        ha! oops, sorry about that. but hey, at least a boner is a good thing, right? i say keep it.

        and now let’s play a game where we guess sarita_f’s last name. i’m going with WOODY! i dated a guy named Woody. he had red hair. i love, love, love red heads. i’ve dated 4 red heads. gosh, that should have been mentioned in the confession posts, and not here. so, is it Woody?

      2. Confessing to loving red heads too (side note: I had to type that four times because i kept tying read heads.)

        I’m dating a red head, and my first kiss was a red head. We were 4, it was at pre-school, and then I came home crying because he said kissing him meant we were married, and I liked the kid but I didn’t want to marry him. My parents assured me we weren’t married and told me to stop kissing boys on the playground.

        Fun fact.

      3. Um, probably outing myself here but what the hell… Got it in one, Addie Pray!

    4. summerkitten26 says:

      I work around someone whose last name is glassc*ck. seriously. I don’t even know if I can print that here. and she MARRIED into that name. her birth name was a vaguely ethnic but common Shannon. and while I used to think I’d give up my last name (I got teased for it in elementary school), I think I’d hyphenate like my mom did. my sister got married and her husband actually didn’t like *his* last name, so they thought about both changing to hers, but his paperwork would have been awful (he’s registered for the bar in over two states), so in the end, he kept it and she hyphenated, although casually goes by his.

      im sure im going to hyphen, unless my husband to be has serious, well founded issues with that, but I swear to g*d that if the love of my life had a last name like glassc*ck, we’d be discussing what the children’s last names would be before that marriage.

      1. Firegirl32 says:

        I worked with a Peterlik, Fuchs, and currently have a member named (God, please don’t let them read this) Harry Joules.

        I have the sense of humor of a 12 year old boy…I have to stifle the giggles every time he calls in.

      2. zombeyonce says:

        My mom used to have a client named Warren Peace. And I went to school with a girl named Karen Berbaren. Pronounced burr-barren. Who does that to a kid.

      3. Addie Pray says:

        Haha, Harry Joules!

      4. Addie Pray says:

        I had a conference call with two client reps – Tom and Jerry. Not X rated, but it made me giggle.

      5. Um, I briefly dated a guy with the last name Glasscock. With my actual last name (see above) this would have been a total disaster. Or end up on Leno (does he still do that?)

  21. I kept my last name when I got married. I just really liked it the way it was. I tried not to make a huge deal about it. When we got introduced at our wedding it was “For the first time as a married couple x and y!!” My FIL sent me this huge list of where to change my name and i just replied, thanks but I am not changing it and left it at that. When we meet people, usually it is just our first names. If I the people knew me first and they are meeting my husband, I introduce him with his last name. I only make a point of it if it makes a difference in something we are doing. Most people know I didn’t change my name, but many family people insist on addressing letters to mr and mrs. blah blah or x and y blah. But whatever, I know what my name is and why I didn’t change it. My husband doesn’t care, so everyone that it bothers can just deal. I did have a discussion with one friend who did and it basically centered on … I don’t think ill of your for changing yours, and you don’t think ill of me for not. It was just our choice.

    Now, the choice to not have kids… that’s a story for another day. My poor mother in law. alas.

  22. Married by Elvis says:

    I not only kept my last name, but we gave our daughter my last name too. Now that really confuses people, especially in here in Tennessee. Plus, my mother persists in believing that I only kept my name professionally, but that I’m Mrs. “socially.”

    1. CottonTheCuteDog says:

      well with a last name like Presley, everyone will know you married Elvis!

      1. CottonTheCuteDog says:

        oh shoot – it says Married By Elvis not To Elvis….forget me today, I am sick. 🙁

    2. callmehobo says:

      Yay! Another Tennessean on board!

  23. ReadingIsFundamental says:

    Wendy is right — there’s no need to draw attention to something that’s going to cause consternation. If you look for trouble, you’re going to find it.

    That said, we’re in the same boat and we have several explanations to offer:

    – We’re Yankee transplants — it’s a Yankee thing. (We live in the deep South)
    – It’s was such a hassle with all her publications and licenses that we just said “Forget it!.”
    – I insisted that she keep her name because she’s so damn independent anyway. (True!)

    I will admit that for the few people who are pills on the subject that I relish my wife’s response to “So you’re Mrs. Y”: “No, actually I’m DOCTOR X.”.


  24. I also kept my last name once I got married, mainly because I always planned to, but also because my husband’s last name is Smith.  Whenever anybody asks me about it, I tell them there are enough Smiths in the world.

    Luckily, I haven’t had issues with legal or business situations so far.  Unlike other people who have commented so far, we plan on giving our future children my last name.  I’m sure people are going to assume the children are from a previous marriage or whatever, but we’ll deal with that then.

    I was surprised at how negatively some of my acquaintances reacted when I told them I was keeping my name.  I’ve had people call me Mrs. Smith on purpose, probably because they knew it irritated me so much.

  25. WatersEdge says:

    Carolyn, just so you know, I took my husband’s name, and lots of people have been dicks about that! My best friend is a staunch feminist who “forgets” to call me by my new name. My father took huge offense that I dropped his name. All my extended family call me by my maiden name, and some people take the liberty of hyphenating it when it is not hyphenated at all. People in my life are upset that i took such an antiquated route. You really can’t win.

    1. Skyblossom says:

      They should leave you alone. It’s your choice and none of their business.

  26. theattack says:

    It’s not a “problem” to live in a part of the country where almost everyone changes their names anymore than it’s a problem to live in a part of the country where no one does. It just requires a bit of social navigation. Neither way is right or wrong.

  27. landygirl says:

    I kept my name as well. My husband didn’t care and I’m way too lazy to do what it takes to change it. I’ve been me for 47 years, no need to change now.

  28. Hmm I live in the south where I think most women change their last names when they get married. I did eventually change my name, but not for two years. My sister waited five years. When people found out i didnt change my name, they never really questioned me or treated me differently. I was just lazy and didn’t get down to the social security office to do it for 2 years so that was my excuse. But my sister didn’t want to change her name, so that’s exactly what she told people, “I like my last name and dont want to change it.” That line seemed to work fine for her. Before I changed it, I let people call me Mrs. “husbands last name” and it didn’t bother me. It’s something different from the normal, so you’ll have to get used to a lifetime of ppl accidentally calling you Mrs. “Husbands Last Name”. I would just gently correct them or let it go if it was someone you’re rarely going to see. My opinion is, if you don’t make a big deal out of it, no one else will either. And I think you can still be proud of your last name and not make a big deal out of it being different than your husbands. The good news is, if this is the biggest problem to come out of your marriage, then you are in for a very happy life!

  29. i am pretty sure that his is going to be an issue with me and my boyfriend. i want to keep my last name, i just like it, and its not like i dont like his… i dunno, i just want to keep mine! and he was raised very traditionally in a little town and he said that it would just crush him if i dont take his name. i dont even know how to approach it…

  30. I took my husband’s last name with glee precisely because I wanted to take a new identity; I came from a loving household – my parents are still happily married after 42 years – but they inadvertently didn’t take me as seriously until I got married. I was 35 when I got married 7 1/2 months ago, and I was tired of being seen as extensions of my parents. My new last name is a reflection of my new life.

    1. Temperance says:

      It’s weird to me that a 35-year-old woman would be seen as an extension of her parents. It’s kind of sad, actually. A 35-year-old woman should be seen as her own person.

  31. Temperance says:

    I am really surprised by all of these comments about how LW must live in a conservative area. I live in the Philadelphia suburbs, and it comes up ALL THE DAMN TIME.

    When people meet Mr. Temperance, or hear about Mr. Temperance, they ask me what my last name will be when we get married. My stock answer is my own last name, which I love because it’s Irish and a common Irish name, so there are a lot of us out there, but it’s not as boring as Jones or Smith.

    I have told people, when really annoyed with the question about WHY I don’t want to become Mrs. Mr. Temperance (if the people are being douches about it) that just because Mr. Temperance was lucky enough to be born with a wang does not mean that his name is better than mine. I do not recommend that in a business setting, Carolynasaurus, but it works socially.

    1. I’m also in the Philly ‘burbs, and it comes up a lot for me too!

      1. Temperance says:

        I’m glad that I am not alone in this! I expect it when I visit friends/family in Scranton, but not here!

    2. Umm, most of the Philly burbs are a conservative area, especially Montgomery county.

      1. Temperance says:

        I live in Delaware County. I expect it not to be conservative out here because it’s not like NEPA, where I grew up. I spent a lot of time in Philly, and get the question from Philadelphia people as well.

      2. Temperance,

        I am in Delco too and I totally agree with your assessment. I think folks in our corner of PA assume a certain amount of progressivism because we aren’t like Pennsyltucky. However, there is definitely an undercurrent of conservative thinking and it is always a little jarring when it pops up.

  32. BriarRose says:

    I usually just give people the benefit of the doubt and assume they’re not being malicious. In my situation (divorced, went back to my maiden name at my ex-husband’s behest) most people assume that my daughter and I have the same last name. We don’t, so if I get called by her last name (what was once my married name) I really don’t let it get to me. People aren’t trying to make some big statement on who I am as a person, they’re just confused. I realize this situation is a bit different than the LW’s, but I guess I’m trying to say it all comes down to how you view it. If it’s truly no big deal to you, you’ll come across that way when you find yourself in situations where last names are required. You know who you are. And yes, I’m one of the women who would (and did) take my husband’s last name, but I certainly don’t care what other women decide to do. However if a woman made a huge point of pointing out her difference in last name, and then defended her choice to me, I’d probably walk away with an “okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay” look on my face.

  33. I agree with all of Wendy’s points, & like that she pulled out this line from your letter: ““What’s the best way to let people know that I’m Carolyn Asaurus, always have been, always will be?” There’s really no need to let people know your full name (& that it’s different from your husband’s) immediately upon introduction. Obviously, it’s important when filling out paperwork and for legal matters, but in casual social settings I don’t see a reason to emphasize it. And if people mistakenly refer to you as “Mr. and Mrs. _________”, I’d just roll with it & not make it a point to correct them unless it comes up again– but that’s just me. It could just be that your emphasis & desire for clarity is reading as defensive, or even judgemental of women who decide to keep their name.

  34. Another letter that is a real cultural issue. Where I live it´s assumed that each person will keep their original surname upon marriage. Now it´s quite common for kids to use both of their parents surnames, mine don´t, because I already have 2 surnames, and because neither of them went at all well with my husbands!

  35. Something More says:

    Ok, since this is somewhat related, I have a question:

    When I got married, I took my husband’s last name. We had two duaghters and are now divorced. My mom’s side of the family is wrought with badly ending divorces so everyone reverts back to their maiden names. I didn’t. The divorce was hard enough on the girls, I didn’t want it to seem like I didn’t want to have the same last name as them anymore (they were 5 and 7 at the time). Plus, I’ve had it all of my adult life (married at 18) so changing it would be too much of a hassle. But, if I were to get married now, I would want to change my last name. My predicament: I don’t want to have a different last name than my girls. But if I *don’t* change my name, I’ll have my ex-husband’s name and I can’t imagine that would go over very well with new hubby.

    Any advice? Suggestions?

    1. My parents divorced when I was five, and it was pretty hard on me, too. My mom has never remarried, but she took back her maiden name when I left for college. She and I talked about it when I was old enough to understand and she told me that she would do it in the future. I left for college the same year she left her job of 20 years, so it just seemed like the appropriate time.
      Unless your second marriage is coming up soon, your daughters will probably be old enough to understand you changing your name when it happens. And you never know, maybe you’ll marry a man who is completely fine with you keeping your current name.

      1. Something More says:

        Thanks! Yeah, no plans in the making now, just something I’ve been thinking about. My girls are now 11 and 13, so I’m sure they’d understand. They’ve even asked if me and my boyfriend get married, if their names would change. I guess it’s more of a concern for me because I don’t want them to feel like they are part of a life that I’m trying to get rid of by changing my name. But like you said, they’ll be old enough if the time comes, so I am probably* over thinking it.


    2. Temperance says:

      I know a woman who hyphenated, so that she was connected to her daughters and the new husband. Her first husband died when their daughter was two, so she wanted to keep her daughter’s name.

      Your new husband might be okay with it. After all, Faith Hill’s husband is just fine with his wife having her ex-husband’s last name. 😉

      1. Something More says:

        Honestly, hyphenating never crossed my mind. That’s a great point. Thanks!

    3. You can hyphenate the former married name with the new husband’s last name.

      I’ve been married twice, and while I don’t plan on getting married again, I did keep my 2nd husband’s last name (it’s a common name, and keeps me somewhat hidden from my stalker 1st husband).

      By hyphenating, you will still share partial name with your daughters, while taking the name of the new husband. If the new husband can’t understand your concerns, then he really isn’t worth marrying, because he can’t compromise on the issue, and the issue of making your children comfortable and included.

  36. Changed my middle name to my maiden name and took on my husband’s name. Never felt fondly of my middle name, and not a fan of hyphenation.

  37. I guess the name thing is a cultural thing. Personally, I don’t think it should be that big a deal unless it is percieved as a big deal. Among the filipino-american culture, when a woman gets married, her married name is already tacked onto the given name and then the children that follow get both her maiden name and the married name. So my name when I was born was S.G. mom’s maiden name and dad’s given name. It is not unusual for a person to have a name that is seven parts long, just to reflect the generations of women that lived before the child.

    So when I got married, I wanted my full legal name to be S.G. mom’s maiden name, dad’s given name AND husband’s given name. Unfortunately, government forms suck and my name legally had to be S.G. husband’s given name. Yet when I sign anything legal, that a government form cannot force me to truncate, I make sure to put the full name that I want as my signature.

  38. I prefer singular names…like Cher…or Budj…no last name to worry about for me…

    1. Holy crap my gravatar miraculously reappeared.

  39. I tend to agree with people above.. it’s bothering you, so you’re projecting. I come from a small town in the midwest, and with my first husband, I never changed my name. No one cared. there might be a question or two, but mostly curious ones, not snarky.

  40. I understand your emotion. I get pissed when I get mail to Mrs. Ms Misery. I get all THAT PERSON DOESN’T EXIIIIISSST RAAAAAAAHGHGHGHG. Even my online handle uses Ms because I have no intention of ever being Mrs. anyone. But I live in the Chicago burbs so admittedly this issue isn’t a problem for most people and the mail is just a mistake 😛

    1. Could be worse – I get called Mr. all the time in my profession – about once a day. Even people coming into my office and see me sitting behind my desk ask for Mr. FireStar. I just tell them my father doesn’t work here and let the realization set in. Gotta love an awkward pause.

      1. BriarRose says:

        Yeah mail is ridiculous like that. My ex-husband gets mail for me (both with my married last name and maiden name) at his apartment, somewhere I’ve never lived nor had mail sent to before.

  41. JerzeeGuy says:

    I think all in all it shouldn’t matter about the last name, I am married and my wife didn’t take my last name, but my annoyance with that is because she kept her ex-husbands last name and didn’t go back to her birth name, so I only ever introduce her by her first name. I wouldn’t have an issue if she went back to her birth name at all.

    1. I can understand that this would be upsetting. Did she do this, because she’s established in a business/profession under that name and would ‘disappear’ from some people’s radars if she changed her surname. The company where I worked had a digital phone directory, but once you changed your last name, you were lost. If I didn’t remember the number, I had to either go to her office in another building or ask around, whether she had left the company, or what. It doesn’t help than some HR departments regard this as ‘personal’ information not to be given out.

  42. I think that her introducing herself with both her first and last name is more of a way to keep people from automatically using her husband’s last name for her in the future. I can understand why she does this, but I think there may be a more tactful way of doing that.

    My mother didn’t take my father’s name (Jones is really common, and she’s decided to keep her less common name to distinguish herself from another doctor working in her unit at the time), and she has no middle name. Now, in her sixties, she still gets mail to Sarah A. Jones, or even Ms. Sarah A. Kuhlman. She tends to just laugh that off, unless it’s from someone she actually knows. I think she feels a bit slighted when people refer to us as the Jones family (which happens more often than you would think). I always refer to us as the Jones-Kuhlman clan, even though I have my father’s name. And when people find out my mother has a different name than me, many assume that my parents are divorced. Fortunately, my dad actually gets stuff addressed to Mr. Kuhlman, too. He’s a stay-at-home dad, and since most people meet him through my mother, the mistake is almost as common.

    It’s an annoying mistake, but people don’t mean anything by it, it’s just not common in many areas. I would just go about it by kindly correcting people when it comes up (and no, I don’t mean calling someone when they address their Christmas letter to Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so), or even having your husband make the correction himself, so it doesn’t seem so defensive.

  43. A little late to the party 🙂

    I got married right before finishing my masters, while I was applying to PhD programs. It would have been a hassle to submit diplomas under one name, and applications under another name, and attach the marriage certificate every single time. (Hyphenation was out of the question – our names are both pretty long). None of my friends talked to me about it, although they did change their names. It was funny though, whenever I would meet someone from his workplace, they would call me Mrs. [hisname], and when he would meet someone from my workplace, they would call him Mr. [myname]. We would both chuckle and explain, but that’s where the discussion would usually stop.

    The other day, I received a work email, where a lady said that, as a ten-year anniversary gift to her husband, she would change her last name to his. Ooookay, lady I’ve never met, whatever makes you happy. Wonder if she’s still waiting for my congratulatory email :).

  44. bittergaymark says:

    That sure sounds annoying, LW. I can’t imagine why you are getting so much flack for keeping your maiden name… My sister kept our family name as well… (She used to be a print model — working in London, Paris, , New York, Hawaii, Morocco, and Tokyo… So she has A LOT of interesting people from her past that she would be open to finding her at some point to say hello and to catch up. We also have a VERY distinct last name — meaning you goggle it and I literally know and am related closely to everybody who comes up… Meanwhile, her husband’s name is Johnson, and glancing through a phone book she realized that if she took that name she would be one of thousands…) Anyway, my sister was always very matter a fact about her reasoning and very few people have questioned it.

    Perhaps it is that you are overly sensitive? Or live in a much more conservative area.

    Another factor though as to why my sister never has said much to me on this issue — is that she simply doesn’t really give a rip what other people think. Never has. Never will.

  45. I’m a wee bit older than most on here (48 – I mean 39) & my name is my first name, unless in a business situation. When I was married I would never have thought to give last names in a casual situation, nor was I ever insulted to be called by my husband’s last name. I am me -my 1st name – not my last name. My response, I came in to this world with this name & I am going out with the same one. No big deal. My kids and grand daughter have a different last name & it has never been a problem. They know who I am – and keep finding me. Sigh. 🙂

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