When I let it slip to people that I sometimes regret taking my husband's last name after we were married, a panicked look crosses their face. They're expecting, I can only guess, a diatribe about a good-for-nothing bum of a husband. I'll give you the good news now. We're 12 years in and going strong.
It's not the marriage I regret. It's the name.
I never expected to be here. Twelve years ago, I was excited to dump my 10-letter mouthful of a maiden name for one that was half as long. I was ready to say goodbye to years of having to correct the spelling and the pronunciation of the very German name passed down through my father's family for generations.
My new name was short and cute, and wouldn't you know it, my husband and I now had the same exact initials -- all the way through. And then seven years ago, I gave birth to a baby girl.
She got my husband's last name, and I felt a twinge of sadness. The name I so proudly learned to write out in kindergarten had no business here. It had been erased.
The twinge got worse two and half years later when my grandmother died, and then last summer when my grandfather passed away, I found myself feeling adrift. As a friend interviewed me for a newspaper story after his death (he was a muckety-muck in local politics), I realized I wasn't "an Eschenberg" anymore.
But it's just a name, you say? I'm still "related" to these people? It's true. And yet, having to qualify myself by asking the reporter to add my maiden name, to make sure I "fit" hurt.
It forced me to ask why I took his name in the first place. I realized I didn't think at the time about the consequences. I was excited to show the world that I'd married the man I loved, but I didn't truly consider what the name change meant to me, to my identity.
Twelve years into marriage with my "new" last name, I've established myself in my career as a Sager. People know me as a Sager, even in a small town where they still slip up and call me "Eschenberg" (and I admit I get a secret charge every time it happens). The name links me to my husband and to my daughter, both of whom love. I see no reason to go backward.
And yet, if I had it to do over again, I don't know that I would be a Sager today.
How about you? Do you regret changing your name when you were married?
Image via Natalie Maynor/Flickr