Maybe I should put this in “chat”, but I’m kind of asking for advice too? My boyfriend & I have been dating for 3-ish years, and we talk about marriage & all that (refusing to use the term “pre-engaged, here 😉 haha) so, one night, the last name thing came up. And he implied–sort of without questioning– that of course, I’d take his last name. I haven’t actually thought too much about it, but the way he said it was kind of…presumptuous? I feel like the modern world we live in sort of warrants this topic to be, at least, a discussion, right? It’s not like this is an entirely common practice, anymore (at least not amongst my group of friends/area where we live). And my boyfriend is generally forward-thinking, so I was surprised when he got offended at my bringing up possible other options.
MOST LIKELY, I would be taking his name. I think it lessens confusion & all that. I’m not all “rawrrrr, I’m not your property!” about it. BUT I did always assume I’d have the choice to maybe do something like, use his name socially & keep mine professionally or something. Without him being upset. Basically, we talked about it the next day (we’d both been kind of drunk during the original talk) & he felt like I didn’t “even want to” marry him or something. So I was in a position of needing to reassure him (which I did) & the core of our disagreement kind of got brushed over. This is a problem for the future, anyway, so I’m content with letting it go for now.
ANYWAY, sorry for the jumble of background info. My main point in posting this is…how did you guys (people who are married) discuss it? Did you? Anyone in long-term relationships run into this problem? What are your feelings on it? Is this basically just a non-issue that I’m incorporating societal expectations/feminist expectations into & blowing it all up? (too many questions, I know)
first marriage, i had always assumed i would take my husband’s name. we never really discussed it, but it never *felt* right. so i never did it. in retrospect that was the right decision.
this marriage/relationship? i felt all along that I would change my name. i’ve changed a few things over already, but waiting until we come back from a trip to do the whole shebang (so no passport/identity issues). and with him, there was never really a question, i just knew.
some people (man or woman) feel very strongly about name changing. i think it has to feel comfortable. for me in my first marriage i truly felt like i would lose part of myself if i changed my name. in this marriage, i know that’s not the case.
In my group of friends (I’m mid-twenties), it’s more common to have a mom who kept her last name after marriage than it is to do it yourself. I personally find that depressing–everyone should do what they individually want of course, but it is sad that it’s still so much the default to take your husband’s name. So I’m not surprised or put off, particularly, when people–like your boyfriend–just kind of knee-jerkingly assume it will happen. (People who know me assume I won’t do it, and they’re right, but I’m very rawwwr-ish!)
But that he then got offended when you didn’t automatically agree to it (I think that’s what you said)? I don’t think you’re wrong to be a bit perturbed. He got offended because your last name wasn’t automatically disposable to you? Of course it’s not! It’s your name. It’s your identity; you’ve had it for decades; depending on your profession you may have published articles or had articles published about you under that name. It’s great to change it if that’s what you want, but either way it’s probably still a big deal for you. So I don’t feel like you are making an issue about nothing.
But, it seems likely to me he won’t react that way next time it comes up, if he’s generally progressive. He probably just had never examined his own assumptions about it before, y’know? I mean, for one thing, he never had occasion to think, “Hmm, my name is Bob Goodlastname now, but what if I marry someone whose last name was Cobb? Then my name would sound stupid!” Because we all played that game when we were little… or at least I did. Whereas if he married someone named Cobb, his name would stay Bob Goodlastname. OK I really don’t know how I got on this tangent.
Oh Fab, I love that you won’t use the term pre-engaged!
I’ve been with my bf for several years too and we’ve discussed the name thing. Since I very much prefer to maintain the same last name as my daughter, I won’t be changing my name, but I was open to discussion about it if it meant a lot to him. Luckily, it didn’t at all.
I will say I’m kinda bummed that I won’t though because while I didn’t dream of my wedding dress, I did doodle my first name with every boyfriend’s last name and I think that’s an exciting part of getting married, being Mrs. X.
My husband wanted me to take his name, too, which really surprised me. I didn’t think he would have cared either way, but apparently he did. I couldn’t really get a good answer as to why it was so important to him, either, other than IT WAS.
I jokingly suggested a hybrid last name, which he shot down. In the end, I decided to take my maiden name as my middle name, and take his last name, so I’m Bethany OldName NewName. At work I still go by Bethany OldName, so I still feel really connected to my OldName.
In the end, I changed my name because to him it felt like I was rejecting him, and I didn’t want him to feel that way. I was able to come up with a solution that made us both happy.
My fiance and I have discussed this a couple times, but it wasn’t really a discussion since we want the same thing. I will be taking his last name. I have very little attachment to my current last name (which is my stepfathers last name, I don’t see it as a defining characteristic of my persona. I know tons of people who have kept their maden names, taken their husbands name, hyphenated, even one couple where the groom took the brides last name. I’ve always assumed my whole life that I would take my husbands name, it just feels right to me. I want to be Mrs. His last name. I don’t have a great rational for why.
And bonus for me my last name will be shortened by like 6 letters and I’ll move up to close to the front of the alphabet.
@bethany, We use a hybrid name when talking to other people. That sounds strange, I’ll explain. My bf’s sister got married, took his last name, so now when we talk to him mom, she will say (since they’re newlyweds and gets a kick out of it) The Smiths are coming over. Me, my kid and my bf said we need a group name too, so we mixed our last name with his, so when his mom says The Smiths are coming, we say Team Jones is too. I made a photo album that says Team Jones Spring of 2012 as gift for my bf once too. Silly, but fun.
@gator, my name is stupid long too, so I’m jealous! Just curious, when you took your stepdad’s name, were you formally adopted by him? If I’m asking too much, feel free to ignore.
its just so much more the “norm” to take the husband’s name rather than the other way around. I don’t see that changing any time soon either.
Yeah. It depresses me because no one would ever assume “Oh, my boyfriend will obviously be willing to change his name when we get married, and if he isn’t it’s probably because he secretly doesn’t love me!” It’s those assumptions — and the burden of expectation being placed solely on the woman, and honestly, the sense of entitlement that some men have to dictate what their wive’s last name should be without ever offering the option of changing their own* — that depress me.
*I have a friend’s former boyfriend in mind here. He eventually conceded to, “OK, you can keep your last name, but we’re not hyphenating our kids’ names, because I don’t want them being exposed to your feminist issues.” Shockingly, they broke up.