5 Reasons NOT to Hyphenate Your Name After Marriage (PHOTOS)

hyphenated last nameBefore my husband slipped an engagement ring on my finger and popped the question, I knew I wasn't going to take his last name. My reasoning was two-fold: One, there are no boys in my family, and two, I just didn't like the idea of getting rid of the name I've always had -- it sort of seemed like I was erasing my old self.

Here's my thing, though: I didn't take my husband's last name but I didn't keep mine, either. I hyphenated.

More from The Stir: How Your Own Name Can Affect Your Marriage

Although my choice not to fully take my husband's name isn't the most common route to go, by no means was my decision trail-blazing. The practice actually started in 1805 when women's rights activist Lucy Stone changed her married name back to her birth name -- and keeping one's last name has (obviously) grown in popularity since then, peaking in the '90s.

But hyphenating your last name is a different entity altogether. It was a wildly popular trend in the U.S. in the '80s and early '90s, but the practice has since waned, due to the fact that, as NPR put it, it became "less of a feminist statement and more of a bureaucratic nightmare." Also, there's the fact that, to put it frankly, most people don't care about your hyphenated name. Laurie Scheuble, a senior lecturer in sociology at Penn State University told USA Today, "People don't do hyphenation because others ignore it. People will just choose one of your last names."

Well, if only I had known that before I spent a red tape-rife day at the city courthouse in order to go from Nicole Fabian to Nicole Fabian-Weber! The truth is: Having a hyphenated last name kind of sucks.

Here's why:

1. Making appointments is a nightmare.


"I'm sorry, who?" "Can you spell that?" Typically, when I make an appointment anywhere -- the dentist, the hair salon, a restaurant reservation -- this is what I'm met with.

Yes, it's a mouthful (and annoying to say), but, every time I utter my first and last name, it's as if I'm the first person ever to walk into said place of business with a double last name. To be honest, I usually just wind up saying, "Nicole Fabian," which kind of defeats the purpose of having it in the first place. Unless, of course, insurance is involved, in which case ...

2. Insurance and other paperwork are the seventh circle of hell.


I recently got a bill that was just north of $2,000, because the doctor's office assumed "Fabian" was my middle name, and marked me down as Nicole Weber. Nicole Weber doesn't have the insurance that Nicole Fabian-Weber does, so it took a mini heart attack and 734 phone calls to resolve the issue. Not fun. And not the first time I found myself in such a situation.

3. The kids usually have different last names.


A mom with a hyphenated last name often doesn't want to give her kids one too because a), it's a personal choice, and b), what if they want to hyphenate their own names when or if they get married? A triple hyphenate? It's just too much.

So, many of us are stuck having different names than our children, and it's kind of a bummer for obvious reasons. How many times do we have to explain that yes, we are Susie's real mom even though she has this last name and we have this other one? And how will we explain it to our kids when they're older? It's not only frustrating but sad sometimes too.

More from The Stir: My Baby Has a Different Last Name Than Me & Sometimes It Bums Me Out

4. Most forms aren't long enough for hyphenated names.


Nicole Fabian-Weber isn't a super long name, but I know puh-lenty of "hyphenates," as we're called, who wind up having their first name as an initial on their driver's license, or their last names cut off because they're too darn long to fit. Then the person has multiple identities and ... it only gets more complicated from there.

5. Plenty of people ignore the fact that you even have a hyphenated last name.


Invitations, place settings, work emails -- I'm always Nicole Weber, as opposed to Nicole Fabian-Weber. I get that writing out both my and my husband's names separately is a pain in the butt and looks kind of weird, but ... my last name isn't Weber.

To be honest, there are plenty of days I consider just dropping the "Fabian" and becoming Nicole Weber once and for all. But when I think about the insane amount paperwork I'd need to go through -- again! -- in order to do that, I just can't muster the energy. Plus, I still like the fact that my name now reflects my old identity along with the one I've adopted since marriage and motherhood.

So "Nicole with the hyphenated last name" I'll stay.

Did you change your last name? Why or why not?


© Tim Pannell/Corbis



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Chris... Christinanass

I agree, keep it simple. Choose yours or your hubby's.

nonmember avatar Jenn

My parents are divorced so from the age of three on I had a hyphenated last name. Sixteen letters and a hyphen in fact. Standardized testing in school? My name never fit. People refusing to use both? Since neither name is traditionally American sounding one or the other was always being butchered, they would pick the one that looked "easiest" to them and take a stab it it. And when I joined the military oh man did it cause me all sorts of issues. They couldn't fit my name on name tapes so they dropped the hyphen entirely and just ran both my names as one long nonsensical string of letters. Even once I had specialized name tapes made I was forever dubbed "Alphabet" a moniker that followed me through five years of service. When my husband and I got married I was ecstatic to drop my supersized last name for his tiny super American sounding name. Even though I'm the last of my fathers line with no one left to carry the name I assuage my guilt by reminding myself that there are likely dozens of distant relations back in the old country where the name is commen to carry it on. And as for the triple hyphen? Only one person ever suggested I do that and it wasn't even a family member. Please people don't put the hyphen curse on your child.

Mrseoc Mrseoc

I always hated my last name growing up. I was happy to take my husband's name. I like the tradition of keeping one family name.. nothing against anyone who chooses to hyphenate... I took my husband's name so that our children would have the same last name as both of us. Its always a personal choice. What do you do with the children's last names? Do you give them they hyphenated name or their fathers name?

the4m... the4mutts

I have a hyphenated last name. My ex husbands, and my current husbands. I have never run in to one, single, problem. Not at the DMV, or insurance companies, schools, or anything else. I have never even gotten a funny look for using my first, middle, and both last names on EVERYTHING. I prefer it that way, and if someone doesn't like it, oh well. They can suck a butt.

jkp-buff jkp-buff

the4mutts - Not a criticism, just curiousity, but why did you keep your ex's name as part of your hyphenated name? Was it to keep the same last name as your kids from that marriage?

nonmember avatar krystian

No, 4themutts is just a fucking dumb ass who thinks she is perfect.

I took my husband's last name, and I would never chose differently. It's so highly disrespectful.

Ad why put yourself through all of that shit?

the4m... the4mutts

Stfu trolly mctrollerson.

Jkp- yes, it was because of my kid from my ex. I didn't want to choose one name over the other, so I kept both. My ex and my husband are friends, we all get along. My ex was even invited to our wedding. He comes to every birthday, christmas, thanksgiving, even the events at my new In-laws house. He is welcome everywhere. He tells my husband how glad he is that our kids have 2 dads to look after them.

He's a good man and an excellent father. We were simply not good together. So my husband didn't think twice about me choosing both names.

the4m... the4mutts

*Kids from my ex. Not kid

luvmy... luvmybubs

Krystain the only person who sounds like a dumbass who thinks she is special is you. Just because you think one way doesn't mean everyone else has to think the same way. There are a lot of reasons that a person would choose to hyphenate. I think the4mutts solution to keep all of her children connected by name is a great one!

TNRCa... TNRCatLady

Before I met my husband I didn't want to give up my last name at all. Not only are there only girls left in my family who chose not to carry on our last name but there's so much history in my name that I hated to lose that part of me. My family name has a town, businesses and all kinds of rich history. I really though I was set in my ways and at most I would consider hyphenating it. But then I met my husband and I changed my mind (having a last name I liked helped haha) and I suddenly became totally comfortable with it. I use my original last name like a middle name and still use it on all my signatures and stuff like that. Even though people don't call me by it I know it's still a part of me and it doesn't make my family's history or my personal identity any less significant.

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