The name change issue can be divisive and controversial. The changers and the non-changers too often pass harsh judgement on each other. That’s not right! We should all band together in realization that this issue is TOUGH and puts ALL women in a hard place. I truly believe that what’s most important is that each woman realize the implications of either decision and truly give it some heartfelt thought and discussion with her partner before deciding.
That being said, my own name change journey involved lots of, well, changes- both changes of my own opinions and others’ expectations of me. You see, growing up in a conservative family, I never considered NOT changing my name when I got married. That’s what my grandmothers, mom, and all my aunts had done. Until quite recently, I honestly never even gave it a second thought. Like many of us growing up, I often matched my first name with the last name of whoever my current crush and doodled it in curlicued hearts along the margins of my notebooks.
Even early in my relationship with Zach, I first remember thinking to myself, and later actually admitting it to him, “It’s a good thing I like your last name.” And I do like his last name. It would sound good with my first name, maybe even better than my family last name.
Yet, as the prospect of marriage grew more real, I started to unearth other options…wedding blogs written by women who chose not to change their name, who hyphenated, or even women whose husbands changed their names (gasp!). It was like stumbling into a whole new reality I didn’t know existed. As I started researching and thinking more, I realized how weird/unfair/sexist it was that I had been so cultured into the idea that I HAD to change my name. In so many other cultures, it is completely normal NOT to change your name.
Ultimately, I went through a lot of soul-searching of my own and a lot of discussion with Zach on the name change issue. He (being wonderful) agreed with me that the concept is sexist, paternalistic, and unfair. He didn’t care if we had the same last name or not. He just wanted me to feel at peace with my decision and my name, whatever it ended up being. Also, neither of us wanted to hyphenate; it just seems too cumbersome. In the end, I decided not to change my name. Woohoo not having to do all that paperwork!
- Avoiding this is a definite perk!
Despite our comfort level with my current decision, we are both remembering that “nothing is set in stone.” If kids come along, for example (a very big, and very far away “if”), and my feelings change, I can always change my name then, or we can choose to hyphenate. I can change my name at anytime if I so choose; it’s not a decision that can only be made when I get married.
For now though, we’re happy with the idea that “You don’t have to have the same name to be a family. You just have to be a family to be a family!” (Quote stolen from a wedding blog I read but can’t find now, sorry!)
This issue has been much discussed but it is so important! Did you agonize over the decision?