To Change Your Name, or To Not Change Your Name, That Is the Question

ringsIt was Billy Shakespeare who asked "What's in a name?" and women the world over have been trying to answer that question ever since. Should we take our husbands last names, or shouldn't we. For some, it's an easy of course! For other's it's an obvious aw hell no. And for those in between, it's a back and forth with the pros and cons list. The weird part about the whole this is that people have a strong opinion about what you do. They judge you for taking the name, or not taking the name, or hyphenating the name, when really, it's none of their business.

And the judging, apparently, is getting worse. A survey asked 250 college kids at a small Midwestern college what it meant if a woman kept her own name. In 1990, only 2.7 percent thought it meant she was less committed to the relationship. In 2006, that percentage had increased to 10.1 percent. Gulp.


I'm not sure what's happening here, but there are some that hypothesize that this indicates that the polarization when it comes to family and gender issues in America is actually widening. I mean, sure that's a possibility, but more generally speaking, I'm just kind of disheartened that as the years go on, we're getting more judgey about strictly personal issues than less.

Getting married, as in, who you marry, and having a baby are probably two of the most personal decisions you're afforded to make in your lifetime, and it would be nice if everyone would just leave each other alone. It doesn't matter if you keep your name, or change your name, or hyphenate your name, or create a whole new name -- what matters is that you're in love and ready to start a life together. Whichever path you choose in the name game doesn't indicate how committed you are, it's just an expression of what you thought matched with your personal ethos and convictions.

In other words, to each their own.

Hopefully when they do the survey again, say, in 2022, we'll see that 0.0 percent of the students think keeping your own name is a sign a woman's not committed to her marriage. If it goes up, then Canada, here I come.

Was it a hard decision to either take, or not take, your husband's last name?


Photo via drew and merissa/Flickr

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