Changing Your Name After Marriage Isn't Always the Smart Choice

bride groom mrs mrWhile recently joining the current century by replacing my tattered address book with an online spreadsheet, I couldn't help but notice that more and more of my married girlfriends were keeping their maiden names. It turns out that my address book reflects a greater trend, as recent reports suggest that 30 percent of women are now keeping their original names, up from just 18 percent in the 1990s.

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Experts note that there are a variety of personal, social, cultural, and religious reasons that more and more women are opting not to change their names. Women who are older when they get married, for example, are more likely to keep their names, often because they are already well established in their careers and community.

Women who have advanced degrees are also often choosing this path, something that Dr. Kate Lockwood of Saint Paul, Minnesota, can confirm. Lockwood, a college professor, states that "I kept my name because I had already started to establish a career. My maiden name was on all my published papers and degrees."

It's also a political choice for women like Roberta Stewart who "never wanted to change my name. It's mine, the one I was born with. I don't like the patriarchal default custom/assumption of the woman changing her name. It feels too much like you are property, and like you lose your identity."

More from The Stir: 7 Reasons I Wish I'd Kept My Maiden Name

Another factor that seems to influence name choices is whether a marriage is a first or second one. Sarah Brown of Huntsville, Alabama, opted to keep her name even though she notes that, "Here in the south, people look at me like I might as well be disowning my husband." For Ms. Brown, whose husband had been married before, part of her decision making was influenced by the fact that "my husband's ex-wife still had his last name and -- quote me on this -- I refused to be part of a harem," she said.

Personally, one of my favorite reasons women gave for not wanting to change their name was good old-fashioned laziness. Changing your name involved lots of forms to fill out, records to update, and the hassle of having to make trips to the DMV or Social Security office. All of these are things that bride-to-be Brooklyn Petrich plans to avoid: "I have already changed my last name once, when my dad adopted me, and do not really want to go through that process again because I really identify with the importance of the initial name change."

But perhaps the best reason for keeping a name was the one given by a newly married wife who asked to remain anonymous: "First, I like my name, and second, his last name is Wang. I'm not mature enough to have that as a last name. The house of Wang? No, thank you."

It is hard to argue with that logic.

 

Image via polinaloves/shutterstock

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