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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Kwiat2 Kwiat2

Kind of. My last name clearly shows my heritage since my parents are immigrants. I used to feel unique, as I'd never met someone with my last name. Now I have a very common last name, but it would've felt weird not to share the same name as my husband and my children. Since I don't work it really affects me less than it would have for my husband to change his name. And honestly it doesn't make a difference in my life. I think it's superficial to be concerned about it so much.

Dontribi Dontribi

I'm not a fan of they hyphenated name.  that's like you are setting yourself up for when you are divorced.  Today your husband is here tomorrow he is not.  I know there are professional reasons to keep your maiden name but then your kids have hyphenated names and that's just crazy.  For me, call me old fashioned but I wouldn't have married my wife if she didn't take my name.  Its more of a symbolic thing.  She's perfectly fine with it.  She wanted to get rid of her name anyway (Too many characters, mine was much shorter) .   Different things work for different folks but if it were me it would have been a deal breaker.  After 20 years together its worked!

JennyNY JennyNY

I decided to keep my maiden name and haven't thought twice about it! When I was pregnant with our son, a lot of people asked, "So are you going to change your name once you have the baby? You don't want to have a different last name from him, right?" Wrong! It really hasn't been a problem since I'm pretty laid back about it. At the pediatrician, I'm Mrs. -- and I'm sure that will happen a lot when he starts school.

Keeping my last name has nothing to do with my relationship with my husband. I liked my name as it was and aside from "it's tradition," I couldn't think of a reason to change it.

Nicho... NicholasMama608

It was hard for me because I have one son from a previous relationship and I want more children with my fiancee.  I don't want to change my son's last name(which is my maiden name) and we didn't want our kids to have just my maiden name.  We also didn't want our kids to have his name and me have just my name and I don't like the name hyphenated.  So what we will do is keep my last name and add his to mine but not hyphenate it.  This way my last name with match my son now and our children when DF and I have kids.

Fortu... FortuitousWife

I didn't take my 1st husband's last name (the Italian translation was truly horrifying), but I took my 2nd husband's last name (kept my middle & maiden, just tacked on the new one).

Guess I should have taken that "no new name" thing as a sign that things were not good before we even said " I do", but it sure did make the divorce transition easier.

I know couples that cover the spectrum - no change, change, hyphenate...I even know couples that blend their names (he takes her maiden as a middle, she takes his as a last)...I say "live & let live".

nonmember avatar LauraRB

I kept my last name, and haven't thought twice about it. My two kids have my husband's name, but my daughter has my last name for her middle name. I married relatively late (29) already had been living my own life, building my own career, under my own name. If my husband had been any sort of troglodye ("dealbreaker") and tried to pressure me to change my name, I would have said adios. Any man who is uncomfortable with a woman keeping her own name is not comfortable with a woman being herself.

nonmember avatar Sonia

If my husband had insisted I take his name, I wouldn't have married him. Period. Anyone who has to dictate such a fundamental aspect of my identity is no man I'd want to be married to.

He didn't want to "give up his identity" when he got married, so he was not down with adding my name to his name (and my adding his to mine, so we'd have been for example Bill Rodham Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton). Since I felt the way he did about changing my name, I didn't. We even, gasp! have been married going on 13 years now! The fact that I think expecting a woman to change her name automatically is the absolute height of patriarchy has nothing to do with my relationship with my husband.

eleph... elephantmamaof2

I feel very honored to carry my husband's last name, but I do have to say that at first I missed the power associated with my maiden name- but that was NOT a good enough reason not to change it.  I changed my middle name to my maiden name, but the only time I use it is for "official" things like banking and what-not.

Melis... Melissa042807

No, it wasn't hard. It was something I always figured I would just do. I have three brothers to carry on my family's name, so that wasn't a concern. I like sharing a last name with my husband. It's fun. :-) And I got to move from the back of the alphabet to the front! Woo hoo!

mande... manderspanders

I think the results of the survey are interesting... Perhaps the reason that more people see it as a sign that a woman is less committed is because they are tired of hearing women "roar". Life is pretty good for women these days compared to the seems to be another thing that women have found to whine about that really shouldn't be an issue. Getting married means having a common name with your spouse and children... My impression of women who don't take their husband's name is that they aren't truly family oriented, are self-centered and thus less committed to their relationship.

Also, I'm tired of the whole "don't judge" attitude - everyone judges everything and you wouldn't complain if the judgment were one of praise and approval.

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