Chelsea Clinton: Is She a Married Name Changer or Keeper?

Poor Chelsea Clinton is still on her honeymoon, but soon she will have to decide just how much time she wants to spend in line at the Social Security Office and RMV to become Chelsea Mezvinsky.

I feel her pain.

One of the hardest decisions I ever made was whether or not to take my husband's name when we married.

Though she has not said publicly what choice she will make, there has been much speculation as to what the former first daughter will decide. So, let's give her some information to weigh:

  • About 80 percent of brides take their husband's name today, according to an Indiana University study and about 70 percent those surveyed agreed a woman really should.
  • Interestingly, Netherlands-based study indicates women who use their husbands' surnames earn an average of about $1,150 less a month than those who keep their maiden names.
  • Those who did change their names had less education than those who did not.
  • Presidential daughters over the last four decades have either left their names alone or pushed them to the middle.

She has a few options:

  • Hyphenation: Like me (see above), Chelsea could opt to hyphenate, though this decision has its drawbacks. The first being: what do you do with the kids? And then what do they do if they marry someone with a hyphenated name? Plus it is confusing and you have to spell the name and explain yourself to everyone in the world. On the other hand, this is the decision that felt like the best compromise to me.
  • Bumping Clinton to the middle: this is a little more old-fashioned. She could drop her middle name (currently Victoria) and be Chelsea Clinton Mezvinsky.
  • Change altogether: Chelsea Mezvinsky is a bit of a mouthful (like Sasha Worsham), but this is the most traditional route.
  • Change legally, keep professionally: A lot of brides Chelsea's age (30) opt to keep the name they have built professionally, but legally change their name for the family. It is the route I sometimes wonder if I should have taken now that we have kids.

None of this, of course, will answer the really big question, which is: what does she want to do?

The decision is hard. I did not like the idea that my husband got to keep his name. Sasha Brown was who I had been my whole life. So, as you can see, I finally decided not to make a decision and I hyphenated. I don't really think there is an easy answer to this one.

What did you do?


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