Take Husband's Last Name, Go Insane


weddingSome women don't mind dropping their maiden names at the time of marriage and assuming their husbands' last names. For others -- including those with really awesome alliterative first and last names -- it's more of an issue.

Unfortunately, women in Japan don't have a choice in the matter: That's because of a 19th-century law that stipulates that married couples must share one surname -- and with the exception of only a few instances, that usually means the husband's.

But a group of four Japanese women (and one of their husbands) is working to change this tradition in the name of equal rights. They're suing to challenge the law and are demanding six million yen ($70,000) in damages for their emotional distress.

Yikes! Who knew taking your husband's name could have such ill effects?

According to the women involved in the case, dropping their maiden name has been tremendously painful for them, with one woman even describing the experience as "like having a splinter in my heart." Another, Kaori Oguni, explained it this way:

It's like losing part of myself ... Marriage is supposed to be joyful ... but I guess quite a lot of people feel agony about losing their names ... I have a one-year-old daughter. I don't want her to have the same feeling.

If these statements seem just a tad bit dramatic, remember that the right to bear maiden names is something we often take for granted here in the United States. For women with an attachment to their names or who are simply marrying a partner with a horrible last name, the experience of forced name change can be downright traumatic.

For their part, Japanese people are split on the issue. According to one survey, 37 percent of respondents said they supported a revision of the law; 35 percent were against -- which just goes to show how powerful something as simple as a name can be.

Was dropping your maiden name painful?


Image via marysecasol.com/Flickr



To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

blueg... bluegfluff

I never thought I would change my name, but I love my husband, and I knew it meant a lot to him that I was willing to be "traditional" in that regard. He is a great guy and does so much for me- I kind of felt like doing something really great for him. Even though my name sounds stupid now (It's rhyme-y)... But I think it should be an individual choice, not a law.

Mythi... MythicMMM

I am still debating changing mine a year later. It should definetely be ones right to choose.


I dropped my middle name, so I sign my name first name, maiden name , and married name.

Joy Higginbotham

Nope. My initials didn't change, either. In fact, I was extatic to go get it changed! :D

steph... steph0411

nope, i have been married for almost 7 years and just got around to doing it a couple of months ago.. LOL. more procrastinating than anything, and hubby doesnt even mind either way..

kathy... kathykate

Been married... 21? 22 years? I dunno. Didn't change my name, and 4 kids later, we're a two last name family. No big deal. KEEP YOUR NAME.

nonmember avatar Christine

I never thought about keeping my maiden name after marriage; I knew I would take my husband's name. In fact, I decided to keep my middle name as my middle name instead of changing my middle name to my maiden name. My maiden name is no where in my name now, but that does not make me any less of who I was. My middle name is Elizabeth and I just could not give up that name, especially since my daughter's middle name is Elizabeth, making her the 4th generation in our family with Elizabeth as a first or middle name. I am "me" no matter what my last name is, but sharing my husband's last name makes me feel closer to him :)

Marsh... MarshaCWP

My name doesn't define me.  I changed from my maiden name to my husband's because it was convenient, people don't ask if we are married, and because I liked his surname more than my own.  Besides, my maiden name was my father's surname, not my mother's, or grandmothers', or great-grandmothers'.  There's family names lost in every generation.  I gave my sons their grandmothers' maiden names as middle names so that they are more aware of the other families they come from.  But I like that all members of our nuclear family have the same surname--it is a good group identifier.

That said, I think it should be an individual decision, whether in the US or in Japan.

Amyin... AmyinMotown

I kept mine and am happy I did....and honestly, I don't think husbands should have such a big say in the decision. It's your name you're deciding about, not theirs. Ideally, we'd hyphenate both our names and our kids would have the blended name as well, but they sound horrible together and are both impossible to spell. So I have a different name than the rest of my family and it's really no big at all.

1-10 of 31 comments 1234 Last