To Keep Or Not To Keep Your Maiden Name

One of the tangents in the comments of last week's Ann Richards' blog tackled keeping or discarding your maiden name once married. Although not as significant as childcare, pregnancy discrimination, equal pay or other profoundly important working mom issues, I always find the highly personal-equally public decision about what name a woman uses to be fascinating. I've done both -- I didn't change my name during my brief, miserable first marriage (good move there) and I did change my name when I married husband No. 2 six years later. Mostly, I changed my name because my feminist zeal had faded and it mattered more to me that my kids and I had the same last name than what that last name was (although gee, I wish I lived in a world where the man agonized over giving up his identity).

Did you change your name when you married? How has this affected your personal identity, your professional life, and your family? What are the pros and cons? Do you regret your decision now or are you happy with it?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  September 22, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Free-for-All
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I changed my name for the same reason as Leslie -- I wanted my family to have the same last name so it would be less confusing for the kids. I have never been sorry. My husband and I did discuss changing his name to mine or picking a completely different name, but in the end, because he had a daughter from a previous marriage who was certainly old enough to understand and be affected, we stuck with his. I didn't care so much about ditching my last name when I got married -- it's not like I came from an important family where name recognition could get me somewhere or had published or anything like that. One of my sisters kept her maiden name when she got married, the other one is hyphenating. I think it causes unnecessary confusion sometimes, especially with the children, and that is the last thing I need in my busy life.

If I had been asked to change my first name, now, that would have been a problem!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 22, 2006 7:22 AM

Didn't change name. (father quietly thrilled; mother moderately concerned: married in 1982).

But, walked around children's elementary school happily answering to Mrs. X, the name of my children. Easier to have same handle, clearly.

Didn't ever make a big deal about it, but was surprised recently when my sister wrote a check to me as Penelope X. She didn't know that I kept my name. Giggle.

Be sure to send the memo to your family, too.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 22, 2006 7:46 AM

I changed my name as well, also so that every member of my family would share the same name. We discussed having my husband change his name or selecting a new joint name together, but unlike me, he has been published and it would have hurt him for business reasons. It was not a problem for me. We did plan to have him change his middle name to my maiden name, but for a woman to change her name all she needs to do is show her marriage license-- for a man, it requires a court order (at least that's what they told us when we tried, in Virginia).

Several friends have selected a new last name together, and I think that's great. I felt like keeping my last name in particular was not as appealing since it was my grandfather's grandfather's name-- and out of the 32 great- great -great -grandparents I had, the one who had his name passed on was the only one who had abandoned the family, causing my great-grandfather to have to go to work at the age of 13 to support the family and plunging them into poverty.

For those who kept their name, I think that's just fine. But every single woman I know who kept their name has given their child the father's name. Why is it automatically his name, not yours? You're the one who gave birth to the child, but you don't have the same name as him or her. I'm not judging, I'm just curious about the rationale.

Posted by: Ms L | September 22, 2006 7:51 AM

I changed my name (well, I still have some paperwork to do -- it's only been four months!). I got a name that's one syllable vs. two, it's easier to pronounce, it's totally vanilla/non-ethnic, so I don't spend most introductions answering questions about "where" I'm from (ummm, America?), and it's the same as my husband's and our hoped-for and planned-for future children.

I had considered not changing it, but it seemed like a good idea. I moved my maiden name to my middle name and go by all three names -- a la Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Posted by: Alexva | September 22, 2006 7:52 AM

I happily changed my name when I got married. We were starting a new family unit and felt we should all share a name. Given that my parents are divorced and my mom has gone back to her maiden name, I felt no tie whatsoever to my maiden name. My mom says she never saw anyone take to a new name so fast, except maybe my 2 sisters, who also changed their names upon marriage. And I was a 30 year old lawyer when I married, so the idea that it is too "difficult" to do is baloney. If you don't want to change your name, that's fine - most of my friends didn't - but don't blame it on logistics. TGIF - everyone!

Posted by: Changed Name | September 22, 2006 7:55 AM

Agree with College Parkian's attitude--I kept my name but understand when people call me by my husband's or kids' last name, if that's who they know me through. I don't expect casual acquiantances to keep track of who is who. Most of the time at school I'm just "X's Mommy" anyhow.

I never saw any reason to change it. I like my name. My husband would have been happy if I'd changed it, but he knows what kind of woman I am ;) I know I never would have married a man who insisted (or even just pouted about it). His mother was quite offended that I didn't want to take their name.

It bugs me when people say "but you still have a man's name--your father's." Um, no, my father has a first and last name, and I have a first and last name. We have the same last name, but the combination is all mine.

Posted by: Arlmom | September 22, 2006 7:55 AM

>>But every single woman I know who kept their name has given their child the father's name. Why is it automatically his name, not yours? You're the one who gave birth to the child, but you don't have the same name as him or her. I'm not judging, I'm just curious about the rationale.>>

There was a flap in DC a few years ago because they forced you to use the father's name on the birth certificate, even if both parents preferred the mother's.

We gave our kids my last name for a middle name and my husband's for a last name. I kept my name because it's mine, but I don't really care if the kids follow the tradition of having the father's last name.

Posted by: kids' last names | September 22, 2006 7:59 AM

My wife didn't change her name. I wanted her to so the kids wouldn't be confused. She is ok with getting called Mrs. "My Last Name" and knows it will happen alot. She also tells people that wedding invites etc. should be addressed Mr. & Mrs. "My Last Name." Our return address labels are The "My Last Name" Family - majority rules and 3/4's have my last name. Heck, the bank will let me deposit checks into our joint account that are made payable to her first name but my last name - even though that name isn't on the account.

Although, I do hate getting called Mr. "Her Last Name". When phone calls like that come in, I say "He doesn't live here" since my father-in-law doesn't.

While I accept (although do not agree with) her decision, she agrees there are 2 possible future issues which will cause her to change her name. 1) If either kid starts getting identity/confusion issues as they get older or 2) either kid wants to change their last name to hers. If either happen, she will change her name to match ours.

Posted by: Father of 2 | September 22, 2006 7:59 AM

No, I didn't change my name when I married.

I just identified with my name and wasn't interested in having a new one. I'd always been known by that name. I married between college and law school, so I didn't have much of a professional identity at the time. But it just didn't feel right to change my name.

Now I have a son, and I feel a little sad that we don't share a last name. Sometimes I think about changing it, but I think it would be complicated now. Plus, aside from wanting to share a name with my son, I still don't want to change my name. My own name and I have always gone together.

My husband would have changed his name to mine if he thought I felt strongly about it, but I didn't want him to in part because he is the last in his family who bears his name - no siblings or cousins share it now. Choosing a new name would seem to cut both of our family histories off, and I didn't want that. And hyphenating always seems like a one-generation solution, because when Mary Smith-Jones marries John Allen-Johnson, something's got to give for their kids!

I don't mind being called "Mrs. [husband's last name]," so I am hoping that will minimize any confusion with my son's school and other contacts.

Posted by: PA mom | September 22, 2006 7:59 AM

Good question about why the name-keepers tend to give kids the father's last name.

I don't know why other people choose that, but for me, it was because I come from a large family, while my husband is the last who bears his name.

Posted by: PA mom | September 22, 2006 8:04 AM

My sister did something a little different, she kept her last name and her daughters have no middle name and a hyphenated last name. Good for them is my thinking, but it could get confusing later on. What happens when my nieces get married and/or have children? If they choose to do what my sister did, then their children will have 3 last names. Possibly 4 last names for the next generation? I took my husband's name for simplicity's sake. Not that my choice was "better" than hers - just easier.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 8:07 AM

Just to add some more rambling thoughts:

Whenever my wife calls someplace regarding the kids (doctors, daycare, etc.), she has to say "This is Jane Smith, John Doe's mother." Me, I can simply say "This is Tom Doe, John's father."

I've had problems picking up prescriptions for my wife when she can't (i.e. pain meds when recoving from childbirth) because of the different names. She - to my knowledge - hasn't had problems getting the kids' meds. Could be since she carries a copy of our marriage license.

Also, out health insurance cards all come in my name (why, I do not know). She was very concerned about being refused medical care since her name differs so much. Hasn't happened and likely will never happen.

Posted by: Father of 2 | September 22, 2006 8:08 AM

My husband-to-be is the last of his family and I am the last of my family, so I am keeping my name (plus I'm almost 40 years old; I don't want or need a new name) and we've agreed our children would carry his last name and mine.

Posted by: Still thinking... | September 22, 2006 8:10 AM

Kept my name. People have called me by my last name my whole life and giving that up would have been as odd as giving up my first name. Even my husband calls me by my last name. I'm the only one out of all my friends who kept my name, which I sometimes find a little odd.

We haven't decided what name the kids will have, but it will probably be mine. He's got a brother to continue his name, and I am the last chance my family has, as my sister can't have kids and all my MyLastName cousins - all women - changed their names.

My husband gets called Mr. MyLastName about as frequently as I get called Mrs. HisLastName. Neither of us gets bent out of shape about it.

Posted by: Lizzie | September 22, 2006 8:10 AM

My mother got divorce when I was a kid and I kept correcting my teachers. Today divorce is more common (unfortuneately) and teachers may not be so quick to assume. But I think it would be nice to share the same last name with my kids. I may hyphenate in the beginning as a form of forwarding address but as most woman seem to do eventually I would probably drop the hyphenation.

I have met the rare couple where the man took the woman's name. I forget what the reasoning was, but there is a thought. And I met a few couples where both partners hyphenate thier name, and so did their kids. And saying their full name was a mouthful.

Posted by: KB | September 22, 2006 8:11 AM

I hyphenated my name, but I only use my maiden name unless I am dealing with something to do with my daughter. I am Mrs. X at school and the doctors only know me by that name. My name is hyphenated because my mother in law gave me so much crap about it when we were about to get married. My father was absolutely thrilled that I was keeping my name. My mom and all my other relatives still address everything to my married name, which upsets me. My brother said one time that once you get married you should take your husband's name, I told him like I tell everyone else, that my name is my name, and he didn't have to change his did he?

I have a great deal of pride and identity wrapped up in my name. Without getting anyone one a tangent (sorry if it bothers you so much skip my post), my family is Irish and every since I was little I learned that my dad's grandpa carried that name across the ocean on his back to escape oppression. It really has nothing to do with being a feminist really; it has to do with family pride.

I'll tell my daughter to do what she wants with her name and I'll tell my son to let his wife do the same. :)

Posted by: scarry | September 22, 2006 8:11 AM

I don't feel like giving up your name is "loosing your identity" as Leslie says. And why would you wish someone "agonized" over anything - particularly your husband?

I kept my maiden as my middle name - that way it is still there. I don't care whether people change/add/hyphenate - whatever - it's all good.

Some of the discussion on the Ann Richard column posts related to women who changed their name for political reasons - and there was an arguement - like Hillary Rodham Clinton and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

Posted by: cmac | September 22, 2006 8:11 AM

I always thought it would be neat to let any boy children take a husband's last name and let the girls have my last name. I like my last name and my middle name is pretty special to me too. Current boyf has a nice last name and his mother kept her maiden name, so I don't know that it would occur to him to ask me to change mine.

My neighbors kept their own names when they married, but the only reason he didn't take her name was that his middle & her last name combine to form a well-known American city.

Posted by: Still single | September 22, 2006 8:15 AM

I also did not change my name. I was in my mid-30s when we married, had never really wanted to change my name, had quite a few publications in that name, and my husband has a silly-sounding name. Some relatives and neighbors call me my husband's name and I don't mind. The name Mrs. X is just as correct as Ms. B since it only means "wife of".

Our daughter has my name for her middle name and my husband's for her last. It was a battle I did not wish to fight. My husband sometimes wants to change her name to mine so she won't get so much teasing, but I figure kids will find something to pick on anyway. I also figure that she can easily change her middle to last if she wants to once she is an adult.

I guess I am just surprised that I am one of the only women I know who did not take her husband's name. It really is pretty uncommon these days and that makes me a little sad.

Posted by: MaryB | September 22, 2006 8:17 AM

cmac - where did Leslie say changing one's name is "loosing [sic] your identity"?

Posted by: ??? | September 22, 2006 8:18 AM

I just work both sides of the fence.

I use my maiden name professionally (and anything to do with our two older children who also have my maiden name) and use my husband's family name in private circles (and anything to do with our youngest child who has his name).

It's has worked out quite nicely. Depending on how they address me it quickly narrows the field on how I know them.

Posted by: Tracy | September 22, 2006 8:19 AM

I've seen lots of variations in my time as a professor, and my current Dean has a hyphenated name (but his wife does not!). I've talked about it with my partner and she, like me, shares the publishing dilemma concern. It is likely that she will maintain her maiden name professionally and perhaps change to mine when we get married, but I'm not going to force her to change. I like my last name too much to change it, so why in the world would I even ask her to change hers?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 8:20 AM

i grew up with a hyphenated last name. it's the biggest pain in the world - you will never fit into any computer system invented. i actually had to keep a list of who stored my name which way (which company had me as X Y-Z, which had X Y, which had Y Z and on and on). Getting to take my husband's name was a joy. don't hyphenate your kids' name, it just complicates things.

Posted by: anon | September 22, 2006 8:22 AM

I changed my name nineteen years ago when I married my husband, thinking long and hard that in the end it would be best to have everyone in the family with the same name when we had kids. At the time many women were keeping their names. But I changed it back after about a year because I had started to feel that I had given away my identity. The clincher was getting mail addressed to Mrs.(husband's first and last name)from my father! Now it's many years later and I have three kids and I find I answer to all kinds of salutations socially (short of "hey you"). It IS easier to all have the same name, but I do wish society asked the man to make some kind of change too. Hyphenating both your names is probably the fairest way but they can be an awkward mouthful unless you have names that work great together. The best solution I came across was a couple that picked a brand new last name for themselves! By the way, when I changed back to my name my mother-in-law was miffed but my husband was very supportive. He said he'd never change HIS name so why should I? So all along this was something I struggled with much more than he did!

Posted by: DC native now in Vermont | September 22, 2006 8:22 AM

I didn't change my last name. It was a decision I made way back when I was a teenager. I realized that I wanted to have the same last name for my entire life, no matter what happened in terms of marriage (or remarriage). I don't mind being called Mrs. (husband's name). I do think it's funny when people call me Mrs. (maiden name). It happens quite a bit. Sheesh people--I didn't marry my cousin! Ms. seems to be disappearing from the lexicon.

Posted by: MaggieMay | September 22, 2006 8:28 AM

I have been married a little over a month and I have gone through the lengthy process of changing my name. I have found that having the same last name has made it much easier to do many small insignificant things that happen when you get married. I don't feel as though I've lost my identity because I changed my name. It's just a name. My identity isn't just a name and I could think of worse things to be called than my husband's name.

Posted by: Newly Married Name Change | September 22, 2006 8:28 AM

What about aesthetics? My sister decided to hyphenate when she got married. Unfortunately, the two last names, while sounding reasonably ok by themselves, just don't go together at all. The new name is just one long, awkward-sounding mess. Oh well.

I kept my own name when I married because my husband's last name is just too weird! In fact I think he'd like to switch to my name but worries that people would think he is odd for doing so.

Posted by: randommom | September 22, 2006 8:30 AM

"The best solution I came across was a couple that picked a brand new last name for themselves!"

Yes, I have three sets of friends who did this. One couple searched their ancestry, on both sides, for a name they liked; one picked the word "faith" in the language of the country in which they had met; and the third changed their name to "Walker" since hiking is their passion. Obviously this would not work for everyone, but I think it's a great idea for some.

Posted by: Ms L | September 22, 2006 8:32 AM

I took my husband's name and didn't really agonize over it at the time. The one thing I didn't expect is that our last name is readily identifiable as belonging to a certain ethnicity, and it's one of those ethnicities that's more like a tribe in America. In other words, anytime you meet anyone else of that ethnicity, there's this instant bond. Or at least there's supposed to be. And then they always look at me and say, "But you're not (insert name of tribal ethnicity here.)"

But since I started paying attention, I've also met women with Chinese and Japanese last names who aren't Chinese and Japanese and so forth. They've told me that from time to time they get the strange comments and looks as well.

Personally, I think it's just a wonderful reflection of the diversity that's America (like Caitlin O'Shaughnessy, the adopted Chinese girl in my son's kindergarten class.)

Posted by: Armchair Mom | September 22, 2006 8:33 AM

During my first marriage, I ended up changing my name because I married someone with the same last name but different spelling. At first, I was going to keep my last name but I got tired of the confusion it caused. The reaction I got from people made me really begin to think most people are totally stupid.

For my second marriage, my husband asked me to change my name. I think it was because he knew I changed it the first time and there was some type of weird male competition thing. I HATE my husband's last name. (He does too.) He has told me a couple of times, had he not had such a professional reputation when we married; he would have taken my name.

I didn't want to change my name because of the work involved. My maiden name was adopted by my dad's family so it isn't their real last name. Last names haven't really held much importance with me. I know many feminists care, but if your family just adopted a last name, what difference does it really make?

Posted by: alex. mom | September 22, 2006 8:33 AM

You're the one who gave birth to the child, but you don't have the same name as him or her. I'm not judging, I'm just curious about the rationale.

Posted by: Ms L | September 22, 2006 07:51 AM


It is an English/German/French tradition, I think. Plenty of other cultures do it. In Spain and India for example, babies get either both parent's last name or mom's.

Posted by: alex. mom | September 22, 2006 8:35 AM

Married late, kept my name for both career and personal reasons. Wonderful husband supported, then wished he'd changed his name to mine. Beautiful daughter has it as a middle name, helps for things like passports. Husband and I answer to all permutations when it suits us. Found it also works for sales calls (no, there's no Mrs M here). Was bemused when asked to provide custody papers for my daughter because her last name was different from mine. Mostly, it's a non-issue or a source of laughter for us, especially when we opt to Winnie-the-Pooh it and live under the name of Saunders.

Posted by: Military Momma | September 22, 2006 8:35 AM

Scarry...you're Irish? I never knew that!!! ;-)

Mrs. Do2 is the second iteration. The first took my name after we got married. There was a lot of gnashing of teeth and a lot of compromise on my part as well on other issues. When we got divorced about 12 years later, she asked if I minded if she kept my name....she liked it better than her maiden name. The second and current Mrs. Do2 kept her maiden name but answers to "Mrs. Do2" at school, the doc's, etc. Her first name doesn't sound good with my last name anyway, and it makes her happy, so it's small potatoes to me. Oops, there's another Irish reference to tick off the Scarry-haters......

Posted by: Dad of 2 | September 22, 2006 8:36 AM

Newly Married Name Change -

I don't think most women who keep their names fear they will "lose" their identity. They just LIKE their identity, and aren't interested in changing one aspect of it (their name) just because they've gotten married.

Whether a person feels that his or her name is a key part of his or her identity is probably a function of personality and family history. It's great that you're happy with your decision, but I hate to see the misunderstanding that women who keep their names "fear losing their identities" perpetuated. That's a misnomer, IMHO.

Posted by: Sage | September 22, 2006 8:39 AM

I changed my name when I married for the first (and only) time at age 35 - I figured I know who I am, so no identity issues there, and I wasn't getting married just so I could be Ms Maidenname! My three sisters and I have all adopted the First Maiden Married version of our names, thus keeping the attachment to our dad, who died when I was very young.

Posted by: anon | September 22, 2006 8:39 AM

For my first marriage, I took my husband's name but by 1972 I'd incorporated my maiden name-hyphen-his last name. Second and third marriages, I automatically included my maiden name (no hyphen) and their last name. Oddly enough, this causes great confusion. Had I included a hyphen, my name would be alphabetically filed under my maiden name. Without the hyphen, some people go by my maiden name OR my husbands. I tell people, blank blank" IS my last name.

For me, it's the family history thing. Some of my family came here in 1620, other family members were here to greet them. A few others came over later. That history is part of who I am and through it I feel grounded. For me, I think keeping my maiden name is part of that.

Posted by: northcountry | September 22, 2006 8:39 AM

dad of 2,

Geez, I didn't know you were still married. There goes all my plans down the drain. :)Just kidding, I like to see a man or a women who is happy when their spouse is happy.

My husband couldn't care less about my name. I was going to give my daughter my maiden name as a middle, but it didn't sound good with her first name.

Posted by: scarry | September 22, 2006 8:40 AM

My wife of 26 years kept her "maiden" name. When our son was born we decided that he and any future sons would have my last name and any daughters would have my wife's last name. The daughter (now 21) came along in due time and we have never had any problem with name confusion...it was even more fun for the kids when they were in the same school because they could avoid the automatic brother-sister connection. Ironically, my brother-in-law, who has four daughters, all with his last name, lamented that he had no one to carry his name into future generations. duh!

Posted by: two-name family | September 22, 2006 8:41 AM

I didn't change my name, and my husband was ok with that decision. (I think he had hoped I'd change my mind, but he never pressured me to.) If we have kids, we'll give our kids my name as their middle name and his name as their last name. The reason I'm not arguing for them to have my last name is because he's the only boy in a large immigrant family with a very unusual name, and the name will die with him if his children don't carry it on. I have brothers who can do the same with mine.

I get questions sometimes, but I work with a lot of men whose wives did the same thing, so it's not entirely unusual. What bothers me the most are people who act like their concern over my decision is on behalf of possible future children - "won't this be bad for your kids? how will they understand that mommy's really a member of their family?" - when it's pretty clear they're really saying "why won't you just be like everyone else?"

Oh, and we never considered hyphenating because my husband's name (he's Irish too!) already has an apostrophe, and no last name needs more than one punctuation mark!

Posted by: lily | September 22, 2006 8:43 AM

I kept my name because my I grew up with a neat ethnic last name. My husband's last name really -is- Smith. We agreed that my name is much more interesting and he actually offered to change to my "Z" name. It would have taken too much court time, so we stay the way we are.

Like other posters, I get called Mrs. Smith all the time. It doesn't bother me, nor does it bother him when mail comes to him addressed to Mr. "Z".

The only time I get annoyed is when mortgage companies send offers to him as Mr. "Z" to re-finance. Ummm...the house is in my name only (his preference), so someone has made the assumption that -he- must be the owner of the house.

But then I realize there are SO many other things in the world that are more worth my time than corporate chain-letters.

Posted by: Last letter of the alphabet | September 22, 2006 8:46 AM

"Was bemused when asked to provide custody papers for my daughter because her last name was different from mine."

And what if the person asking didn't take your "word" of it and took temporary custody of your daughter until you could proof mothership (is that a word). How could that have traumatized your daughter.

Think about it.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 8:47 AM

to ???
" (although gee, I wish I lived in a world where the man agonized over giving up his identity)."

Leslie's word's from the above column. Apparently she agonized over giving up her identity.

Posted by: cmac | September 22, 2006 8:48 AM

I find it interesting that some people say "it's just a name." For me, a name is an important part of my identity, so deciding to change mine was a part of how I thought about getting married. I also do the "Hillary Rodham Clinton" thing, because I still feel a strong tie to my maiden name but I do feel the new tie to my husband is important -- I do have a new identity. (Though I considered the "Helena Bonham Carter" model -- too aristocratic ;) )

But I also agree with everyone who wishes the men had to worry more about these matters themselves. Doesn't marriage affect their identities, too?

Posted by: Newly wed | September 22, 2006 8:48 AM

I am glad I found this forum. I am trying to decide if I will change my name when I get married in two months. I like the symbolism of starting a new family together all with the same name (whatever that name is). However, I am just starting my career as an academic and I am worried that if I change my name, my previous record (grants, publications, conference presentations) might get lost. Any advice on how easy it is to continue your professional identiy using your maiden name while in your private life using your husband's name would be appreciated. It seems to me that the best option would be shifting my maiden name to my middle name, that way I can still use both.

Thoughts?

Thanks

Posted by: k8 | September 22, 2006 8:50 AM

to ???

True - Not to be too corny but the kind of person you are matters much more than your name. You could be named "Happy Smith" and be a real SOB.

Posted by: cmac | September 22, 2006 8:50 AM

Give it a rest. If you continue with the taunts, everyone's going to assume you miss the fights.

Posted by: Enough already | September 22, 2006 8:50 AM

Took my husband's last name, still use the maiden name as a middle name because I'm in a high-turnover industry and want to make sure my professional acquaintances know the email is still coming from the same person. :)

That said, I never really saw keeping the maiden name as some sort of feminist statement. I mean, keep it if you want to keep it, but most women got their last names from their fathers, who had legal authority over them for 18 years, which their husbands will not have. I chose my husband, so I chose to take his name as well.

But ultimately, what to call oneself is a deeply personal choice, and my philosophy is, "I don't care WHY you choose a name, but tell me what I should call you and that's what I'll call you."

Posted by: Tiffany | September 22, 2006 8:51 AM

My husband's last name is Jones. My last name is frequently misspelled and mispronounced.It's been a real hassle for most of my life, so I gave my children their father's last name. My MIL was furious that I wasn't changing my name and told me that she was "proud" to assume her husband's last name. I told her it wasn't 1953 anymore and to MYOB.

I didn't change my name for the convenience of technically being a Jones. I didn't need to. People at school and the doctors' offices call me Mrs. Jones and I don't have a problem with that. The children aren't confused. There are 2 last names on our mailbox; the postal people can figure it out.

How can this lead to kids getting identity/confusion problems?

I had several friends whose fathers went through midlife breakdowns and dumped the wives and took a powder on their families.
Real skunks (yes, women also do this).As soon as legally possible, my friends changed their last names to their mothers' maiden names.

What about all of the children born out of wedlock? Are they confused when their parents have different last names? What about blended families where there are a bunch of different last names in the same household?

Posted by: Marlo | September 22, 2006 8:51 AM

I changed my name when I got married. I actually didn't have a hard time doing it, either - I'd never liked my last name because it was short, plain and at the end of the alphabet. I was thrilled to "trade up", as I told myself, to a name with 2 syllables and not quite so far back in the alphabet.

Fast forward a couple years - I got a job where I spent a lot of time on the phone, and left a lot of phone messages for people. I'd given away a short, easy name for one that was complicated to spell, and not so easy to pronounce. I started to wonder what on earth I had done, but it wasn't that bad.

Now I enjoy my last name, although obviously I don't forget my roots. I like having the same name as my husband and daughter.

My sister, on the other hand, married much later than I did and kept her last name. She had more of an internal debate than I did (thankfully we both have husbands that completely left the decision up to us) but I think felt it was an important part of her identity and wanted to hold on to it.

Posted by: LivingInVienna | September 22, 2006 8:51 AM

As a guy, I really don't understand the anguish in taking the man's name would cause you to lose your identity. My POV is that you are assuming your new identity as a married couple. (I do understand a maiden name for professional purposes.) My wife was VERY happy to have a new name. Leaves behind a lot of bad memories about her parents. If we ever were divorced, I would want to take a different name for the same reason as I was happy to she took my name.

BTW, I know of a divorced woman who elected to keep her ex's last name for professional reason. She is in real estate and the name Helwick really stands out among all the Smiths and Joneses!

Posted by: Fred | September 22, 2006 8:52 AM

cmac - OK - I see the reference now. Sloppy writing. She should have said "name," I think, since a name is but one facet of identity.

Posted by: ??? | September 22, 2006 8:52 AM

When I married 8 years ago, I readily changed my name to my DH's last name. However, I liked the name that had been uniquely mine for the previous 36 years... so I simply added DH's last name. I now have 4 names: FirstName, MiddleName1, MiddleName2, and LastName. It is not a hypenated last name, and I do not have two last names... I go by "Ms. LastName" both professionally and personally. (I am still thrown for a loop when someone refers to me as MRS. LastName, though I guess I'll start getting used to that since my kids are now in school.)

(The only place where I still use my maiden name as my last name is for dealings with my law school, since my maiden name and the law school name are the same!)

Posted by: Shepherd Park | September 22, 2006 8:52 AM

Ms. L

But the groom lost his freedom!

Posted by: Bob | September 22, 2006 8:53 AM

I kept my name, but I must confess that it irritates me at weddings when, say, Mary Doe marries John Smith, and the DJ announces, "introducing Mr. and Mrs. John Smith!!!" It basically says to me, here's this dramatic, life-changing event that has taken place and nothing has happened to the man but the woman has completely lost her identity-- both first and last name.

I know it's tradition, but it just bugs me.

Posted by: Ms L | September 22, 2006 8:54 AM

The amount of people who kept their names around here is hard to believe! I thought and still think that it is extremely rare!

I am going to speak for most of the rest of us and say, that I changed my name not because it was easier, but because I WANTED to.

I think that is all part of uniting with your husband in marriage. Who cares if it's his over yours??

Posted by: gjp | September 22, 2006 8:55 AM

to ???

True - not to sound too corny but the way you live your life is much more important then your name. You could be named "Happy Smith" and be a real SOB.

And Ms. L - announcing a new bride and groom by the husband's name makes me think of their new life together as a new family. Why is the woman completely loosing her identity if she takes his name? She is still the same person, isn't she?

Posted by: cmac | September 22, 2006 8:56 AM

I didn't change my name when I married seven years ago because I find it a bit archaic. Although we discussed that I didn't want to change names, my husband assumed that I could "soften" and eventually change it. Umm, no. Even at times when I considered it, I was exhausted by the paperwork.

He and I work for the same corporation, so it was very important that I maintain my well-established professional identity. And though I was adamant that we don't share a last name, I have been given business cards, e-mail and phone lines with his last name.

But none of that is more annoying than when coworkers say "oh, you're Husbandswife." To which I always reply, "yes, but my name is..."

It works conversely. People call and ask for "Mr. Mylastname," which leaves husband in a huff. And my in-laws feel slighted when I introduce myself without their last name.

We don't have children. If we ever have any, they would likely receive both names, with my last name as a middle name.

Posted by: kingstowne | September 22, 2006 8:56 AM

cmac - I agree that a person matters much more than the name, but the name by which we identify ourselves is something associated with US -- our private and public persona. It's not really about what it says to other people, IMHO, but about the tie it has to our sense of self.

I certainly don't think it's the end-all and be-all of identity, but it is nonetheless a part of our identity.

Posted by: ??? | September 22, 2006 8:57 AM

I find it interesting that some people say "it's just a name." >>>

For some it has a long family history. For others, it was a name adopted to fit into the Anglo-American culture.

Here is an interesting tidbit I hear regarding family and keeping one's maiden name, my husband had a private tour of the Pentagon about two months ago. He told me there is a memorial inside along the wall where the plane hit. On the wall are the names of everyone killed in the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. All are in alphabetical order, except one. A woman who kept her maiden name was hung out of order so she could be along side her husband and child(ren).

Posted by: alex. mom | September 22, 2006 8:58 AM

I was debating whether to change my name when my then-fiance had to be admitted to the hospital while I was travelling on a two-day business trip. I did not find out until I called from the airport while changing planes that he had gone to the hospital. I agonized over whether I should cancel the trip to be with him (first work/life balance of many I'd run into through the years). I opted to go through with the trip, but felt so guilty that I dreamed that when I returned to the hospital his ex-wife was there with him.

Two days later, he's had an emergency appendectomy, I get to the hospital and, sure enough, his ex-wife (who kept his name after the divorce - no kids, though) was there. It was the first (and so far only) time we'd met. In passing, I mentioned how when I called the night before the nurses did not want me to talk to my fiance/now husband until I pushed by telling them we were engaged. She got a funny look on her face and said they must have wondered what was up. Because she had the same name as his, they assumed she was his wife, and she let them keep that assumption so she could stay.

That made the decision for me. On the off chance the three of us were ever in the hospital again, I wanted there to be at least a 50/50 chance that the hospital staff would know which of us was his current wife.

I use both my maiden name and married name (no hyphen) on business documents. I have no regrets. It's easier as a family to all have the same last name.

Posted by: Sam | September 22, 2006 8:59 AM

To the people who don't understand why this is an issue.

Remember historically women changed there name because they became their husband's property.

The formal way of address is Mrs. John Smith so you are only identified as John Smith's wife, you could be his first wife, his second wife or even his third wife. Not an individual.

Yes it is great that a family is all the same name, but if that was the only goal, why do we not see men changing thier names.

Does any of this mean that in a specific case the woman is any less an individual, any less an equal partner in the marriage, etc. NO. However knowing the history it would bother me

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 9:00 AM

no one is taunting anyone. She just said to skip her post if they didn't want to hear it?

Posted by: ? | September 22, 2006 9:00 AM

I took my husband's last name but kept my maiden name as my middle name. Just an aside, does anyone else feel that the term "maiden" name feels kind of weird? I try to avoid saying it. Anyway, we were of the wanting one last name for the family. Also, since we married only a few years out of college, there wasn't a professional concern about changing it. And my name flowed okay with his last name. So his last name is fine. However, I do have issues when someone wants to call me Mrs. (husband's first name, last name). I actually stopped his best man from addressing me that way in his toast to the bride at our wedding reception, in front of 100+ people. Just couldn't deal with that. I think that's where you're more likely to "lose" your identity. Ick. I do like keeping the maiden name in the middle if one does take the husband's last name. I think everything just seems more tied together that way. Besides my former middle name wasn't that interesting anyway.

Whenever I come across a woman with an unfortunate last name, I figure she can't be married. If it was her maiden name, she would have changed it. If it was her husband's name, she never would have taken it in the first place.

I have two cousins who both kept their maiden names but then their kids have hyphenated names. That just seems very awkward and choppy. Some friends of ours were going to have the husband take the wife's last name but as others have mentioned, legally it's a lot more complicated. Now the kids have her last name while he still has his "maiden" name.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | September 22, 2006 9:04 AM

My husband asked me before we got married if I would change my name. He said he didn't care what the answer was, he just wanted to know (he did care, at least a little bit). I said, "Yeah, I'll change it."

Then, after we got married I realized that I didn't WANT to change it. Why? Well, on the pragmatic side there was all the hassle of changing this document and that account... a PITA that he didn't have to go through.

And on the emotional side, I really did realize that I liked my name and didn't want a new one. I was never one to doodle variations on my name, substitution for whatever boy I had a crush on. I didn't want to just make my maiden name my middle one, because I like my "original" middle name, and carrying four names just wouldn't work (for me). I knew that whatever the legal name was, one of those middles would get dropped.

So five years later, he loves to get me back for my decision-after-the-fact by reminding me that I told him I would change my name and then didn't (I *think* by now he's gotten over whatever hurt he felt). If people address me as Mrs. Him, I don't really mind (he HATES being called Mr. Her, though). And now that we have a kid, I fully expect to be called Mrs. Him more often. My own family, who knows that I didn't change my name, routinely write me checks and thank you notes and whatever, as Mrs. Him. But legally I'm still Mrs/Ms/Whatever Me.

Would a rose by any other name still smell as sweet? Yeah, it would. But why risk pissing off the rose?

Posted by: the Rose | September 22, 2006 9:04 AM

I changed my name, but I use my maiden name for publishing. It was very important to my husband as he was the first boy in two generations and the last with his name (his last name was changed to his mother's after his parents divorced when he was a baby). We talked about it a lot and ultimately he felt more strongly about me changing than I did about me keeping it. I now answer to both, and haven't changed over everything.

Posted by: newlywed | September 22, 2006 9:06 AM

... and I also really dislike being called Mrs. Himname Him. I agree with Rockville Mom complete there. Even unto insisting that I was never called Mrs. Himname Him at any point during the receoption. Burrs my hide as much as when he's called Mrs. Her...

Posted by: the Rose | September 22, 2006 9:06 AM

I changed my name 15 years ago when I married, under pressure (I felt) from my mother. He's Italian, I'm Jewish, so I never felt like his name fit me. Although he didn't care one way or the other before we got married, the suggestion to go BACK legally after we got married was not well received. So, unoficially, I began using my maiden name again. It was great, like putting on an old pair of jeans. So, some people call me "Mrs. Hisname", and some people call me by my name, I use my name at work, I sign documents with both names, and it's all OK. It confuses some people, but most get it pretty quickly.

Posted by: DCMom | September 22, 2006 9:07 AM

My husband and I both hyphenated our last names when we got. His idea. Whenever women hear this, they gush; men seem vaguely disturbed. Yes, our last name is now long and doesn't fit on many forms and is always alphabetized differently - but everyone in our little family has the same last name, we honor both sides of our family, and our kids are learning how to spell a lot more letters because all those just in their names! :)

Posted by: Michelle in Rockville | September 22, 2006 9:07 AM

I work with someone whose wife kept her name, and the children took her name. He has a very common last name, so they thought it was preferable for the kids ot have hers so they wouldn't be one of many Joneses. She quit her job to be a SAHM and has not gone back to working even though her children are both through college, so I don't think there were career considerations.

I kind of wished I'd kept my maiden name once. I was pregnant with our oldest, and my MIL (who I find very annoying since her sons are her only concern) made some comment about how her other grandchildren (who also have her last name) would finally have some cousins with the same last name. I told her that I was considering giving the kids my last name. She bought it for a second, but it would have been more effective had I actually kept it myself.

Posted by: Sam | September 22, 2006 9:08 AM

I changed it when I got married and then when I remarried years later, and I wish I hadn't. Both of my husbands insisted on it, I wouldn't have changed the names, otherwise. Not long ago, I had to get a passport for my son, a minor, and the different last names caused a lot of trouble. I am not American, and I don't understand why a country that prides itself on being so progressive has such sexist custom.

Posted by: MLH | September 22, 2006 9:08 AM

I like my last name and my mother's maiden name, but honestly I'm more attached to my first and middle, the names of my father's two grandmothers (their first names). My parents are fans of family names that Gene Weingardener would describe as "strong names" (I'd love to hear the board argue about that idea, if anyone reads Gene and knows his loathing of the name Madison).

I feel that if your first name has a link to the past your last name isn't as much of a loss for either the husband or wife. I do like sticking with one or the other though, not a real fan of the picking a "new" name.

Posted by: Running | September 22, 2006 9:08 AM

I changed my name when I married, changed it back when I divorced. My daughter has a different name, and it never caused any confusion, it's normal. P.S. We should say, a woman's "birth name," rather than "maiden" name. P.P.S.: My daughter kept her name too. P.P.P.S.: One of my bosses once told me her little son confided to her that he was going to keep his name too, just as she did!

Posted by: J. Spencer | September 22, 2006 9:10 AM

Oh, another reason to change:

When our daughter was born, she was listed in the hospital as "Baby Girl Hername". Before we left the hospital, we filled out the forms for birth certificate with her name - "Girl Myname". About 8 months later, she had a possible intestinal blockage and we were sent by the doctor to the hospital for a surgical consult (words no parent likes to hear). There were delays in some things (not sure if it was just getting paperwork done or actual tests etc.) since they had no records of "Girl Myname" since she was in the system as "Girl Hername".

Posted by: Father of 2 | September 22, 2006 9:12 AM

At my wedding reception I have to admit that I did a doubletake when my wife was called Mrs. [My lastname]. That was what people called my mother. There was a split-second identity confusion on my part as if I had just married my mother. Blech! Anyhow, it appears that my wife took over where my mommy left off.

As far as posting names go, I think the coolest names are Scarry, College Parkian and Lulu.

The name "Father of 4" is really, really lame and I'm still considering changing it to something with a little more kick and punch to it.

Posted by: Father of 4 | September 22, 2006 9:13 AM

Changing my name was a very tough decision. I was named after very, very special people for my first and middle names and there were no boys in my generation so no one will carry on my maiden name. Balancing that against wanting to take my husband's name, I decided to keep all four names. I use the middle two names interchangably and always sign all four names on legal documents.

My initials and monogram are a little more complicated than most but everyday I'm reminded of the family that raised me, the family I'm creating with my husband and the special people I was named for.

Posted by: Emily | September 22, 2006 9:13 AM

chronicle.com/forums/index.php?topic=29047.msg391869

I can't get to this site from work, but wondered if someone else could read it and share with the group. I was wondering if there was a correlation in higher divorce rates and keeping your maiden name??

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 9:13 AM

I tried to do both. Because I'm published, I wanted to keep my maiden name for business purposes, but added his name so that my kids will have and I will have the same name. So, socially I am Mrs. his last name, and for business purposes, I am Ms. my last name. It only gets confusing because works blends into social so easily here in DC -- something I didn't think about.

Posted by: jerseyg | September 22, 2006 9:14 AM

Did not change my name. I'd had it for 28 years, and neither DH nor I felt any need to change it. Additionally, it's a *highly* unusual name (as in, shared by fewer than two dozen people in the whole world); that's not something to drop lightly. The kids have his name; the first was given it partly because of the DC law at the time (and his parents probably would've had heart attacks), and the second was given it to avoid confusion (among their peers for the most part).

The kids aren't in the least bit confused by my having a different name. His parents were mildly curious, when we were first married, about the lack of name change. The explanation of "it's her name" didn't seem to do much for them, but our joking explanation that my end-of-the-alphabet surname made navigating divided-by-alphabet lines simpler (the second half of the alphabet is always less crowded) was treated as entirely logical.

A familiy friend of our parents' generation informed me that school parents and other adults who encountered our mixed-name family probably assume that I'm the second wife and the kids are my stepkids. I had to tell her that no, I'm fairly certain that that is not the case. Interestingly, although I'm the only one in the immediate family on either side to keep my name, I find that *lots* of the families at my kids' schools have the same arrangement. I don't know if that's generational or based on where I live, to tell the truth.

Posted by: Lurking mom | September 22, 2006 9:15 AM

To gjp, who said, "I am going to speak for most of the rest of us and say, that I changed my name not because it was easier, but because I WANTED to. I think that is all part of uniting with your husband in marriage. Who cares if it's his over yours??"

I say, WOW! Good for you for feeling so strongly. I personally would never presume to speak for a group of women, so I'll just speak for myself. How interesting that you seem to feel that I am somehow less united with my husband of 9+ years because we -mutually- agreed that I would keep my last name.

Posted by: Last letter of the alphabet | September 22, 2006 9:15 AM

This could get really interesting. Suppose Ms. X1 marries Mr. X2 and their kids get the last name X2-X1 (or X1-X2). One of them then marries Y1-Y2; in the next generation, the kids can take the name X1-X2-Y2-Y1. Then their kids can take the name X1-X2-Y2-Y1-Z1-Z2 ...

Posted by: Vienna | September 22, 2006 9:17 AM

to ???

Agreed that a name is only part of our identity - My husband's last name is Scottish and he identifies so much with his Scottish heritage - although truthfully he is only 1/8 Scottish. We named my son after his my father in law - who was named after his great grandfather - so it has tons of significance. However - it would not have mattered to me if we had named him something else. I appreciate my husband's love of his name, but it is not the end all - like you said.

My maiden name got changed at Ellis Island in the early 20th century to a very common last name - thankfully so - it was Stanciwicz (Lithuanian)- my dad's grandfather pronounced it "Stankivich" - imagine that name in Junior High School? We all laugh about it. Funny thing is - my grandfather and his brother came to this country at the same time and got 2 different last names - I understand this was pretty common.

Posted by: cmac | September 22, 2006 9:18 AM

I did not change my name when I got married. I liked my name (I am an only child of an only child - the name stops with me), and didn't see any point in changing it at work. Fast forward 10 years and 2 kids later, the school asked repeatedly if we were divorced, and the other kids and moms always called me Mrs. "his last name". So, just after our 10th anniversary, I changed it, so that as a family - at school, socially, and legally - I am Mrs. "his name". I just added his name to mine (Think Hillary Rodham CLinton) , so at work I am still Ms. Maiden name.

Posted by: Elizabeth | September 22, 2006 9:18 AM

the only problem i have with the whole name issue is that it is still considered "normal" for the children to take the father's last name. it's an archaic tradition, and, in many countries, has contributed to the favoring of boy children over girl children (because they will carry on the family name). i'm just saying it's a throwback and a nod to a history fraught with sexism. i understand and value tradition. i do. but i wish people would question the roots of that tradition a bit more. of course, i have no problem with kids taking the father's name, or the wife taking on her husband's name -- if that's what the couple chooses as right for them. i just wish it were less of an "obvious" decision than it seems for most people.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 9:18 AM

I kept my maiden name. Partly it was for feminist reasons. (I objected to some of the other traditions around marriage that have patriarchal symbolism, walking down the aisle by myself with both parents behind me rather than having my father "give me away", for instance.) It was also because I've never had much desire to tinker with my name- when other kids in school, especially girls, were experimenting with becoming "Jennie" rather than "Jenny", etc., I just didn't want to mess with my name, even the spelling. No kids, but they'd probably get my last name as a middle name and his as a last, since mine is a much more common name than his.

One of the first married women to keep her maiden name was named Lucy Stone, so for a while women of our type were called "Lucy Stoners". I think that's funny because now "stoner" has a very different implication...

Posted by: Lucy Stoner | September 22, 2006 9:19 AM

"The name "Father of 4" is really, really lame and I'm still considering changing it to something with a little more kick and punch to it."

How about Fo4 Kicks (Butt)?


Posted by: Dad of 2 | September 22, 2006 9:21 AM

the only problem i have with the whole name issue is that it is still considered "normal" for the children to take the father's last name. it's an archaic tradition, and, in many countries, has contributed to the favoring of boy children over girl children (because they will carry on the family name). i'm just saying it's a throwback and a nod to a history fraught with sexism. i understand and value tradition. i do. but i wish people would question the roots of that tradition a bit more. of course, i have no problem with kids taking the father's name, or the wife taking on her husband's name -- if that's what the couple chooses as right for them. i just wish it were less of an "obvious" decision than it seems for most people.

Posted by: anon | September 22, 2006 9:21 AM


My wife kept her maiden name but changed her first name to Anthony when we got married. Our son has my last name but his first name is Gloria. People get confused when I send Anthony roses at work, and enroll Gloria in wrestling camp.

Posted by: Bob | September 22, 2006 9:22 AM

"The name "Father of 4" is really, really lame and I'm still considering changing it to something with a little more kick and punch to it."

How about "Fo4 Kicks (Butt)"?


Posted by: Dad of 2 | September 22, 2006 9:24 AM

We've been so happy with our decision, which wouldn't work for everyone, but it's a have your cake and eat it too kind of solution for us. My husband and I are both feminists, so we would both have felt uncomfortable with my taking his name. But keeping my name would have posed problems for naming the children. Luckily, our names fit together as well as we do. My husband had a short, one syllable last name; I had a long, multisyllabic last name before we married. We chopped off the end of my surname, grafted it onto his, and both happily took it as we said our vows. (Note: it's not hyphenated, but a natural-sounding single surname.) Now our son and soon-to-be-second child share our family name, which is so special to us.

But I do want to emphasize that I really don't judge friends and others who make different choices. It's a complex matter and I say hands off what anyone else decides to do.

Posted by: kittkicks | September 22, 2006 9:26 AM

I kept my name because it's my name. Our son is Firstname Myname Hisname. I'll answer to Mrs. Hisname. My sister changed her name the day before she gave birth to her first child, so that they would all have the same name (which caused lots of confusion at the hospital because she was admitted under a name that wasn't her name any more).

I think that there are two historical roots for naming the children with the father's last name: (1) patriarchy generally, and (2) uncertain paternity. The second means that the fathers were never sure if the kids were really theirs, so they made it official by giving the kids their names. As a mom, you're always sure it's your child (except for modern circumstances like surrogacy). Not as much need to make sure the child has your name.

Posted by: NY Mom | September 22, 2006 9:27 AM

i'm not married but have never really been ok with the idea of changing my last name - it's mine! yes, it was my dad's, but it's mine too, i don't care where my parents got it from.

i have more than a few male friends who think not wanting to change my name is akin to heresey ... some have very angry reactions to the idea and say they would never marry a girl who wouldn't take their name. i never understood that, since they're equally indignant about changing their own name (so you would think they would understand how i feel? apparently not, it's "different since i'm a girl"). my reaction is, how is your name more important than mine??

on the other hand i wouldn't care what people called me or how they addressed envelopes (Mrs His Name is fine, it's like a nickname as I see it) but seriously, why the rage because my name and my identity are as important to me as yours are to you?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 9:27 AM

Strangely, this was the first question I was asked after I got engaged. I did not know the answer then. I have been married almost 4 years and we have a child and I am still on the fence, mostly about the issue of having a different last name than my children. My husband does not care. His opinon is: " I wouldn't change my last name to yours, so why should I expect you to change yours to mine." He also suggested giving our daughter my last name because he thought it sounded better with her first name, I objected to that because I think it is nice to have a family last name and I would like to go with his, eventually.

I started to do the paperwork to change my name right after we got married and it is still sitting in my desk, I have had a harder time than I expected letting go of my name and I cannot articulate why.

Posted by: AU Park Mom | September 22, 2006 9:27 AM

I changed my name and it is one of my biggest regrets in life. At the time I thought it was important to share a name with my husband and children, but what I didn't take into account was that I was giving up a link with my father, grandmother, etc. I use all three names, which is ok, but would do it differently if I could do it again.

Posted by: Atlee, VA | September 22, 2006 9:27 AM


My neighbors just got married. Their original last names are both Right. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Right will have the last name, "Right Squared".

Posted by: Bob | September 22, 2006 9:28 AM

To K8

I only published one academic article as a Master's student and then left the academic world. But my best friend is a professor at University of MI (AA) and has published extensively. She was married for a couple of months during her PhD, then divorced and was married again years later. Both times she changed her name legally but retained her name for publishing and work. She has never had any issues.

Posted by: alex. mom | September 22, 2006 9:29 AM

This has got to be the most foolish question yet. Naming conventions in a culture are purely traditional (which is not the same as saying they are arbitrary). They develop over time as generations of people live their lives, and as people find certain conventions useful. They can be useful for a variety of reasons - to help identify family ties, to help build a sense of community, to publicly link generations together.

No one mandated our current system - it just grew (as did the Chinese system, the Russian system, and, in their times, the Greek and Roman systems). Why mention ancient naming conventions (which were different)? Because what works for people changes over time. BUT - and this is a big BUT - any real, long-term change will have to happen naturally, to meet the developing needs of people. There's no use debating what the right way to do things is - changing this kind of social custom based on social theory is about as practical as promoting Esperanto as a universal language.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 9:30 AM

My wife of 10 years did not take my last name (both names are good sounding names). At first I was pretty disappointed but I got over it (if not used to it). She did agree on two points that were very important to me; that our children would have my last name and that she should would not correct non-professional contacts if they called her by my last name. We did discuss the idea that our sons would get my name and our daughters would get hers but agreed that it would be too confusing.

It does create some humor when my nickname with her last name are put together. This happens on occasion with her coworkers and her family friends. (FYI: It is similar to the comedic potential of cinematographer Richard Chew's name.)

It has worked out well but we do have minor problems with some activities, particularly car insurance of all things. The thing I don't get is hyphenated names, especially for children. I know about ten of my family surnames. Should I have ten hyphenated names? In my humble opinion, people should pick a name, any name. Eventually surnames have to be dropped.

Don't get me wrong; I don't look down my nose at people who hyphenate. I just don't understand what the children are supposed to do when they marry.

Posted by: dko | September 22, 2006 9:30 AM

I hyphenated my name. It seemed like a no-brainer to me: Merging families = merging names. I knew I wasn't taking his last name (I'm a feminist, for crying out loud!), so the debate was over hyphenating or keeping mine. In the end, hyphenating was my way of showing my husband I was serious about the marriage (after years of telling him what a crock I thought marriage was).

I have not regretted it, even when his relatives insist on sending cards to "Mr. and Mrs. HisLastName" or when I have to spell out my name over the phone (my name was not short to begin with). It's worth it to me to be true to my beliefs.

This is not meant to be rude, but to the people worried about a name "ending" with you, do you really think yours is the only family with that last name? Do a google search and you'll see just how common your last name is. Or search in the country where your name originates. Trust me, there are other kids running around with your husband's last name. Personally, I would want my kids to have both of our names. Again, a no brainer: They're made from both of us. So the kid will have a hyphenated name. Do I really think my kid would be too stupid to understand? No. I understood that my mom had a different last name than my dad, so I'm sure my kids would figure it out after a couple explanations. And if the kid wants to get married? More options for last name blending.

Posted by: Meesh | September 22, 2006 9:30 AM

didn't change my name with my first marriage and if i marry again i will keep my name then as well. while there were times that it was a pain and i had no desire to change my name to that of someone else. i am not becoming property of my spouse or his family and who i am does not fundamentally change with marriage. i think the fact that we hold on to this archaic ritual shows how backward our 'advanced' western society can remain.

Posted by: amanda | September 22, 2006 9:30 AM

I did not change my name for my first marriage. I wanted to keep my identity for professional reasons as well as personal. My husband was very supportive, and it was easy because we did not have kids. Now I'm about to marry again. When we were first dating, I dreamed of us getting married and me becoming Mrs. so and so...my husband to be was curious..."why would you want my last name?...you are too independent for that" Now that the marriage is nearing, the thought of changing my name never occurs. I guess it is a way for me to hold on to me...

Posted by: Susanne | September 22, 2006 9:31 AM

I guess we have hit upon one of the few topics that I'm 'old fashioned' about.

I'm married to a woman who elected to take my name, and I was glad she did.

Prior to that I did have a long-term relationship with a different woman who didn't plan to change her name if/when we were married. She asked me whether it was important to me, and if so, why?

My response was that in our (American) tradition, so much about the uniting event *seems* to be about the woman -- the dresses, old/new/borrowed/blue, 'here comes the bride', etc. Most guys (as far as I know) could care less about that stuff.

The marriage itself is (of course) highly important to me. But, other than my ring, the one lasting gift that came out of my wedding day was that she honored me by taking my name.

Now, as I said, that was a 'gift' to me, one that she did not have to give. In fact, if she were a famous person or a published author I would have expected that she NOT give it. However, the fact that she elected to give me this lasting gift is part of what makes me Proud.

-Pp.

Posted by: Proud Papa | September 22, 2006 9:32 AM

My name is Worker Bee.
My wife's name is Queen, so she changed her name to Queen Bee. :)

You know, this is really not an issue. Most people take the practical route - whatever works better.

It's the media and feminists that make this a huge identity/status issue, tied up with the age-old male-female power struggle, with consequences of mythic proportions.

Just chill man!

BTW my kids are name Drone1, Drone2 and Drone3. :)

Posted by: WorkerBee | September 22, 2006 9:33 AM

I think ideally, I would like to be know by just my first name... like Cher or Madonna or Oprah.... now that would be cool.

Posted by: alex. mom | September 22, 2006 9:33 AM

didn't change my name with my first marriage and if i marry again i will keep my name then as well. while there were times that it was a pain and i had no desire to change my name to that of someone else. i am not becoming property of my spouse or his family and who i am does not fundamentally change with marriage. i think the fact that we hold on to this archaic ritual shows how backward our 'advanced' western society can remain.

Posted by: sarah | September 22, 2006 9:34 AM

A husband's perspective:

My wife kept her name (and only her name - no hyphenation, etc.). We happen to have given my wife's surname to our first child mine to our second -- not because it was some principled equitable split but because our first child's name simply "sounded" better with my wife's surname, and because the second child was named after a family member of mine, and only my surname would "ring true." We thought that the naming disparities (siblings with names different from each other and from one parent) could be confusing, but guess what? It is utterly unimportant. The kids could care less and have never even questioned it. Nor do I care that my wife and one child don't share my name. Other families we know where the children have taken the mother's name have identical experience. I am convinced that anything works as long as it is satisfactory to the spouses. However it is inevitable in my observation that wives who start out hyphenated and give Dad's name to the kids ultimately give up on their own name.

Posted by: Dad | September 22, 2006 9:34 AM

Just an tangent. How do people feel about Ms. vs. Mrs.? I personally prefer Ms. and have used that before and after marriage as I think, in most contexts, it's nobody's business whether I'm married or not. Mr. doesn't give any indication about whether a man is married or not. Why should a woman's form of address have to have that kind of indicator?

Posted by: Rockville Mom | September 22, 2006 9:34 AM

"This could get really interesting. Suppose Ms. X1 marries Mr. X2 and their kids get the last name X2-X1 (or X1-X2). One of them then marries Y1-Y2; in the next generation, the kids can take the name X1-X2-Y2-Y1. Then their kids can take the name X1-X2-Y2-Y1-Z1-Z2 ..."

Has been done by some European nobility in the past. Resulted in some really, really long names. Not really very practical. If the naming convention is X1, X2, X3 . . . XN, then in real life you end up using X1 XN, or, at most, X1 X2 XN.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 9:35 AM


My sister somewhat changed her last name. Instead of changing it to her husband or hyphenating it, she simply abbreviated it. So instead of Donna MacKenzie, she's simply known as D. Mac.

Posted by: Bob | September 22, 2006 9:36 AM

"Trust me, there are other kids running around with your husband's last name."

Actually, that's not necessarily true. If you go back and look at the surnames listed for English nobility in the 18th century, more than half have gone extinct since then. Granted - the fact that a large number of particular family names are no longer used is no great loss to global society. But it happens. Even a very low rate of families that stop using a particular surname due to sex mix of kids, name changes at marriage, whatever, will result in a significant number of name extinctions over time.

Besides - if you google my name, there are fewer than two dozen people who share it in the United States (there are a few in Canada too). And yes, it is of English origin, and yes, my ancestors came over before the Civil War.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 9:38 AM

I didn't change my name when I first got married. We lived in Texas at the time and it was extremely rare to meet couples with different last names. I had a few comments on it too. After three years we moved to D.C. and I decided to change my name then. It was a combo of things that made me decide to do it. (One thing - we had a miserable time with airlines - with different names we weren't considered the same "party" and one would get bumped and the other not.) Of course when I moved to D.C. it seemed like every other couple I met, she had kept her name! (Though on reflection it's definitely many fewer than I thought at first.) The biggest hassle was telling people (who took forever to understand that I hadn't changed my name originally) that I was now changing it. There are still a few things I find every now and then that still need changing. I do the First Maiden Last thing which has made it a lot easier. I thought it would be weird to have a new name, but actually I had very little problem adapting to it.

Posted by: once upon a time | September 22, 2006 9:39 AM

I changed my name. It didn't seem like a big deal. But my husbands ex, kept his last name. It seemed very strange to me because she was doing her boss, had a lot of nasty things to say about her ex-husband and the divorce court case lasted 5 years. With all that anger, you would have thought she wouldn't want to keep his last name. Maybe she did out of spite.

Posted by: meto | September 22, 2006 9:40 AM

I had no problem changing my name when I married. My maiden name had a hysterial double meaning. I spent most of my youth answering questions about it. I was always afraid that pizza delivery places would think my call was a hox and cancel my order. So I was glad for the change. Although, my hubby's last name is a mouthful (3 syllables, or apparently 5 syllables if you are a telemarketer).

But I am glad that my kids and I have the same last name.

Posted by: dcdesigner | September 22, 2006 9:41 AM

I'm changing my name when I marry my boyfriend simply because he's attached to his name and I'm not attached to mine. His name is a bit difficult for some people to pronounce, but I rather like it, so it's not a huge compromise. There are only two very small problems with this. First, I am planning on writing a couple of novels (big dreams, I know) before we marry, and if they achieve any sort of acclaim, it would be helpful for people to know me by my maiden name. Second, and this is just the feminist talking, I would like for a man to acknowledge that it shouldn't necessarily be the woman's problem to decide how to identify herself. My future husband has agreed to give one or both of our future children my maiden name as a middle name, and I've asked him if it would be feasible for all of us to change our middle names to my maiden name so that we can all identify with both sides. I know a lot of men would not agree to this, but he is a very kind person and agreed to think about it. We have plenty of time to figure it out, but I'm just happy he is progressive-thinking enough to even consider it. Few men would do the same. If he decides he's uncomfortable with it, I won't be upset; in fact, I'll just be happy that he gave it some thought.

The upside is that while, he says, his family is attached to his middle name, they have a strong tradition of passing the father's initials down to the first son, and my last name corresponds with that middle initial. This is why he agreed to give our son that middle name.

I wish more men would be more open-minded about changing their names, or combining or hyphenating names. (Mine would not have agreed to a hyphenation, and that's fine with me. Four names is a lot to put on a child, though I know that happens in many cultures.) It doesn't really make sense for a woman to change her name from Brown to Gerbyzcyak. I made that name up, by the way. I don't know any woman who actually changed her name to Gerbyzcyak.

The most likely course of action is that if, in fact, my literary work has a following, I'll probably continue to write under the same moniker while legally changing my name to his. Kind of like Britney Spears.

Wait...did I just compare myself to Britney Spears?

Posted by: Mona | September 22, 2006 9:41 AM

I'll never change my name. I mean, unless I become a fugitive from justice or something.

And I refuse to 'agonize' over it as some women apparently do - not till men start agonizing over it too, or better yet, even start doing it - changing THEIR names. Until then (not even then, honestly), nope. I yam who I yam, and that won't change if/when I get married. So why change my name? Oh, right, to signify I'm now my husband's property. I forgot. Maybe I should let him pick out a new first name for me too? I mean, maybe there's one he likes even better than my current one!

Posted by: Lilybeth | September 22, 2006 9:42 AM

From Father of 2: "Although, I do hate getting called Mr. "Her Last Name". When phone calls like that come in, I say "He doesn't live here" since my father-in-law doesn't."

Why? Is mistakenly being called her last name more offensive than her mistakenly being called by yours? If she can handle it, why can't you? I don't see what the big deal is.

Posted by: Mona | September 22, 2006 9:42 AM

You don't become the "property" of your spouse, you become a family unit of your own...

Posted by: TO: Sarah | September 22, 2006 9:43 AM

My husband's family is pretty liberal and I got a lot of surprise (if not mild disapproval) when I decided to change my name. For me I felt more pressure to keep my name than to change it.

I think a lot of women do change or keep their names based on how things sound. I remember a friend keeping her maiden name because otherwise her name would be Mary Cary. I changed my name from a fairly common last name (which has at least 12 ways of being spelled--and therefore, misspelled) to an easy 5-letter unusual last name that I frankly like much better.

I still consider myself a feminist, by the way.

Posted by: Ms L | September 22, 2006 9:44 AM

I kept my original name, not for any particular reason other than I'm used to it and I guess too lazy to change it. It's never been a problem. I don't mind being addressed as "Mrs. Hisname" if it happens. I don't even bother correcting people.

Nor have I had any problems with insurance, banks, government agencies, or any other bureaucracy. I think people are so used to blended and remixed families these days that it's quite common for family members to have different last names and no one's ever questioned it.

Kids have his last name. Why? I don't really know. I guess I just never gave it much thought. I don't think it matters much either way. I mean, it's not like they are unsure who their Mommy is just because Mommy has a different last name.

Posted by: 2Preschoolers | September 22, 2006 9:44 AM

Do neighborhood kids call you Mrs. Smith, or Ms Sue?

Posted by: What do kids call you? | September 22, 2006 9:46 AM

I didn't change my name, and my husband didn't mind. I have some friends who changed names & some who kept their names, & our children and their friends are quite able to deal with that. I feel like that while I am "Ms T", I'm also "Mrs P" so it doesn't bother me if I'm called by my husband's name. My dad was pleased. He was an only son, and his only son, my brother, died at 20. My son has my name as a middle name, and my daughter occasionally adds my last name to her name.

I thought it was amusing that my cats, whom I had when I was single, did change their names, and our dogs (who arrived after marriage) have my husband's name also. When I call the vet, I have to remember when I identify myself to state that I'm calling about the "P" pets.

For the person who asked about the correlation between maiden names & divorce, I can only give anecdotal information: none of my friends who kept their names are divorced, while I can think of 3 right off who have divorced fairly recently who had changed their names. My gut feeling is that there is likely minimal if any correlation. If there is conflict about a last name, there is probably conflict about other issues.

Posted by: mary ann | September 22, 2006 9:47 AM

I changed my name as a sign of my devotion and respect for my husband, and because it seemed romantic to me. I love his name. I love that I met him, and I think I deserve a certain degree of fairy tale in my own life.

Does that make me a dupe of the sexist patriarchy? Who cares? It annoys me when "feminists" suggest that there is something wrong with having June Clever fantasies. Well...at least June Clever with her own bank account! (A little closer to the mark). But still...

Posted by: Rock Creek | September 22, 2006 9:47 AM

I changed my last name to my husband's (for the same reason as a lot of women, to avoid confusion). But I also changed my middle name to my maiden name, and dropped the two middle names my parents had given me when I was born - at least in business. Otherwise, I would have had three middle names (confusing!) When my daughter was born, I gave her one of my middle names as her middle name, which had also been my father's middle name and my grandmother's maiden name. (Even more confusing!) So I'm First Name, Maiden Name, (Husband's) Last Name in business, my daughter is First Name, My Middle Name, Husband's Last Name. It works for us!

Posted by: PLS | September 22, 2006 9:47 AM

How do people feel about Ms. vs. Mrs.? >>>

I greatly dislike both. I prefer no title first name last name. Or I am open to Mistress Last Name.... but that is veering off into a differnt tangent unsuitable for this blog.

Posted by: alex. mom | September 22, 2006 9:48 AM

My wife kept her name. We wouldn't have it any other way. We've been married for 20 years. The only dilemna this created was my daughter's last name. My wife decided to go with my last name for pragmatic reasons - my family are all in the area and her siblings are spread out and parents deceased.

When I first announced our engagement to my family, my mother had some struggle with my wife keeping her name until I told her that we were contemplating my taking my wife's last name. At that point, everybody keeping their own name became just fine. She knew that (at that time, but not now, of course) I was just young and foolish enough to go and do something silly.

Posted by: Noel | September 22, 2006 9:49 AM

Yeah to Workerbee and Proud Papa! Beautifully put!

I think there are more out there like you, just afraid of the backlash if they share.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 9:49 AM

Kept my last name, in part because my first name + husband's last name would sound comical, and in part because I just wanted to. Our daughter has my husband's last name, though I threaten that our 2nd might get mine! Seems like this is something that is just personal choice and other's opinions just don't matter.

Posted by: a keeper | September 22, 2006 9:49 AM

I took my husband's name - was happy to and didn't have any turmoil over the decision as I wanted our family to all have the same last name. However, I HATE the term MRS! Is it just me? I feel like why can't I just stay Ms when the man doesn't change from being a Mr, it's like a silly promotion of sorts. That just doesn't sit well with me.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | September 22, 2006 9:50 AM

That's too funny about the "Mrs. John Doe" name. Every time I hear it, I think "Is that John Doe's transvestite alter ego?" It always makes me laugh.

Disclaimer: I'm not laughing at transvestites, I'm laughing at the unintentional result of patrilineage.

Posted by: Mrs. L | September 22, 2006 9:50 AM

When my husband and I married last year, the decision for both of us to hyphenate our names was fairly easy. It didn't seem fair to pick one over the other and we wanted any future kids to have the same name as both of us. While the process was very straight forward for me (go to Soc. Sec. show them our marriage license and poof! new name) for him it required filing with the circuit court, paying court fees, posting the proposed new name in the sheriff's office or newspaper for a designated period of time until finally receiving the court order with the name change.

I'm not sure which step in this process bothered me the most: 1) That apparently women are essentially just property once they get married so their names don't matter to the federal government, 2) The over $100 we paid in court fees for my husband when my name change was free, or 3) The 4+ months we spent in limbo waiting for his name to be changed and holding off on things like bank accounts and passports.

Very frustrating to say the least. This is a federal issue, not state.

Posted by: MD | September 22, 2006 9:50 AM

"The marriage itself is (of course) highly important to me. But, other than my ring, the one lasting gift that came out of my wedding day was that she honored me by taking my name."

Forwarded this stuff to DH, can't wait for his reaction!

Looks like I am a bad wife. Not only did I not "honor" my husband by changing my name, there weren't any rings at my wedding.

As previously noted, the name change has nothing to do with "honor", but everything to do with mens' property rights over women. I learned this in high school in the '60s.

Posted by: June | September 22, 2006 9:51 AM

I did not change my name when I married. I do consider myself a feminist, but honestly the reason I didn't change to my husband's name had nothing to do with political or social views. My name is who I am. Period. We have a daughter, she has my husband's last name--that, solely, because it mattered to him for her to have it. Yes, I considered whether there would be "confusion" over having different names, but there hasn't been. Let's be realistic. In this day and age of blended families, having different names is no big deal. And no, I did not want to subject my daughter to a hyphenate name. Yes, I do answer to Mrs. X at school, etc. and it does not bother me. I think this issue should be a non-issue. I will say, however, that I have many friends who've divorced and faced situations (such as apparently exist b/c of some very old laws in VA) that changing their names back to their original (can we please stop with the antiquated "maiden") name was a *nightmare*.

Posted by: Whatsinaname | September 22, 2006 9:53 AM

I changed my last name when I got married. My husband's father passed away years before I met my husband, and his mom remarried, so I don't have the same name as his mom (I just thought of that when people mentioned their MILs being upset about last name choices).

I knew I would change my last name, but the hard part was deciding whether to keep my birth name as my middle name. In the end, I decided to keep the names my parents chose for me (first and middle) and drop the name my father inherited (and thus even he had no choice about that one).

My problem now is in updating my resume and possibly looking for a new job in the future. If potential employers contact prior places of employment (which I haven't really contacted since I got married) to verify employment, they don't know me by my married name. The only solution I found in my search for what to do about that is to put "(formerly Mrs. X)" in small print below my name on my resume.

I hate the thought that a potential employer now basically knows I'm married before ever giving me an interview (given the length of experience on my resume, it's much less likely that I change my name due to divorce). Even though they're not supposed to discriminate, I know it happens, and now they're thinking "oh, this woman is going to have kids and go on maternity leave or quit in a year or two; we'll look at the other candidates first."

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 9:53 AM

In Iceland, they use a different system for naming children, still based on the father's name, but the first, not the surname. My first name is William. My daughter in Iceland would be called Emily Williamsdottir. My son would be Eric Williamsson. His son would be John Ericsson. If Emily marries Christopher, her daughter is Maria Christophersdottir, etc. Add to this the fact that first name choices are limited by law to approved traditional Icelandic names, and you get an incredible amount of duplication, so much so that in the Reykjavik phone book folks are listed by name and occupation so you can call Eric Ericsson the plumber instead of Eric Ericsson the lawyer or Eric Ericsson the painter or Eric Ericsson the schoolteacher, etc.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | September 22, 2006 9:53 AM

I didn't change my name when I got married for many reasons, and my husband was fine with it. My identity and ethnicity has been an important part of my life, and I would have felt that I was giving up that part of myself--some people aren't bothered by this, fair enough, but I know I would have been. Keeping my name was also a statement against my husband's fairly conservative family.
If we have kids, we'll figure it out. I think in this day and age, with so many women keeping their names for professional and other reasons, people need to get with the progam. We also need to give kids a bit more credit--there are lots of confusing things in the world and I doubt many would be that worried about not having the same last names as their mothers. I would hope if I have a daughter that she would see it as a sign of independence and a reaffirmation that should she get married, she can still have her own identity.

Posted by: dorami | September 22, 2006 9:54 AM

I kept name, intially without thinking twice. I have a 5 y.o. now and while I there are times when I think that the uniformity of us all having the same last name might be less confusing for my daughter, I think she'll will ultimately see it as an act of individuality. I hope that she will appreciate that women don't have to give up that which is integral to them - be it a name, a job or a belief because you made a decision to marry.

Posted by: It's a Part Of Who I am, | September 22, 2006 9:54 AM

I changed my last name when I got married. My husband's father passed away years before I met my husband, and his mom remarried, so I don't have the same name as his mom (I just thought of that when people mentioned their MILs being upset about last name choices).

I knew I would change my last name, but the hard part was deciding whether to keep my birth name as my middle name. In the end, I decided to keep the names my parents chose for me (first and middle) and drop the name my father inherited (and thus even he had no choice about that one).

My problem now is in updating my resume and possibly looking for a new job in the future. If potential employers contact prior places of employment (which I haven't really contacted since I got married) to verify employment, they don't know me by my married name. The only solution I found in my search for what to do about that is to put "(formerly Mrs. X)" in small print below my name on my resume.

I hate the thought that a potential employer now basically knows I'm married before ever giving me an interview (given the length of experience on my resume, it's much less likely that I change my name due to divorce). Even though they're not supposed to discriminate, I know it happens, and now they're thinking "oh, this woman is going to have kids and go on maternity leave or quit in a year or two; we'll look at the other candidates first."

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 9:54 AM

I know a girl who's name was Emily Beach and she married a guy with the last name of Baul, pronounced "Ball", so naturally everybody called her Emily Beach Ball. I'm not sure what her official name is, but I thought it cute.

then there's the old Ima Pigge name which takes the cake hands down.

Posted by: Father of 4 | September 22, 2006 9:54 AM

>>>I changed my name as a sign of my devotion and respect for my husband, and because it seemed romantic to me. I love his name. I love that I met him, and I think I deserve a certain degree of fairy tale in my own life. >>>

Yay, score two for the 'old fashioned.'

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 9:55 AM

>>>In Iceland, they use a different system for naming children, still based on the father's name, but the first, not the surname. My first name is William. My daughter in Iceland would be called Emily Williamsdottir. My son would be Eric Williamsson. His son would be John Ericsson. If Emily marries Christopher, her daughter is Maria Christophersdottir, etc. Add to this the fact that first name choices are limited by law to approved traditional Icelandic names, and you get an incredible amount of duplication, so much so that in the Reykjavik phone book folks are listed by name and occupation so you can call Eric Ericsson the plumber instead of Eric Ericsson the lawyer or Eric Ericsson the painter or Eric Ericsson the schoolteacher, etc.>>>

I think Bush should invade Iceland to give them the freedom/democracy necessary to name their babies our way. Icelanders hate us for our freedom.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 9:57 AM

>>>I changed my name as a sign of my devotion and respect for my husband, and because it seemed romantic to me. I love his name. I love that I met him, and I think I deserve a certain degree of fairy tale in my own life. >>>

Are you a high school student? I predict you'll be in Divorce Court within 10 years. Please don't have any children. There are enough fairy tale airheads in the world already.

Posted by: Irish on St. Patrick's Day | September 22, 2006 9:57 AM

to what do kids call you:

Our neighborhood started with the Ms. Sue and Mr. Tom when our kids were young - it sounded very southern to me. However, I notice a majority of kids call adults Mr. or Mrs. in our area. I just don't like kids calling parents of their friends just by their first name - seems too chummy - but that is just me.

Posted by: cmac | September 22, 2006 9:57 AM

Kept my name. My family is Jewish and I wanted to keep my Jewish-sounding last name; my husband's family is Irish Catholic, and he wanted to keep his Irish-sounding last name. Our children have hyphenated last names. So far it's worked fine, and I think the kids' names make them sound like BBC reporters. :)
After 12 years of marriage, my husband's family still doesn't get that I don't share their last name, but this no longer upsets me. They do tend to get the kids' names right.

Posted by: dc | September 22, 2006 9:58 AM

Changed my name after marriage.

It has not affected my personal identity. Last time I checked, I'm still me....just a married me. Had I kept my name or not, that simple fact remains.

It briefly and mildly affected my professional life - only to the extent that a few e-mails got lost, but not many. No one seemed to bat an eye when I told them I'd gotten married and my name was changing.

Well, wait, actually my professional life improved. My maiden name was kind of distinctive, and my father and I work in professional circles that overlap occasionally. It is nice that when I now make new professional acquaintances, giving my name doesn't immediately elicit: "Hey...you must be xxxx's daughter!" (Older colleagues know not to bring up this family connection in a professional context, because neither my father or I do.)

No big deal in my family, though some of my friends still occasionally forget my new name of 3 years. Understandable, I think, as I married in my mid-30's.

I don't know that there are pros and cons. I know I did it so that when and if we have kids, the name is the same. And with the exception of my rarely used passport, I had all the legal stuff taken care of within two days of receiving my marriage license. It didn't take that long, and helped winnow out the junk mail from the real mail ;)

I don't regret my decision, though for some weird reason a few months ago, I had two weeks where I kept trying to use my maiden name. Not sure why, but I had a good giggle. And honestly...my husband still sometimes uses my maiden name. Silly man ;)

But he does it for one reason: my full name now sounds weird (even to him - he said he'd have understood if I didn't take his name). With my maiden name, my Italian first name flowed great with my Italian last name. Now I have a Polish last name. More than once, I've had people raise an eyebrow then say "and what was your maiden name?" I know it's actually kind of rude to ask, but I laugh instead. It really is so very obvious :D

Posted by: Name Changer | September 22, 2006 9:59 AM

Oh, stop that. That's just mean. Besides, the person said a "...degree of fairy tale." That doesn't mean that they're not in touch with reality. And heck, sometimes there's enough reality in the world.

Posted by: To Irish on St. Patrick's Day | September 22, 2006 10:00 AM

>>>I changed my name as a sign of my devotion and respect for my husband, and because it seemed romantic to me. I love his name. I love that I met him, and I think I deserve a certain degree of fairy tale in my own life. >>>

Are you a high school student? I predict you'll be in Divorce Court within 10 years. Please don't have any children. There are enough fairy tale airheads in the world already.

Posted by: Irish on St. Patrick's Day | September 22, 2006 09:57 AM

You're right. What we need is more grouchy, pi$sy, pessimists like yourself.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 10:01 AM

to Irish - geez that was pretty harsh response to the lady who obviously loves her husband and took his name in part due to the romance factor.

Again - why would anyone wish someone misery such as a divorce because of their OPINION?

Posted by: cmac | September 22, 2006 10:01 AM

I agree that kids should call most elders by Mr. or Mrs. so-and-so as a sign of respect. Some close friends of the family will always be called by the first names, but I think those are exceptions.

I still (at 28) have trouble calling friends parents by their first names when the insist--because I too, am now an adult.

The hardest was when I got married, calling my in-laws by Mr. and Mrs. before the wedding, and them insisting that I call them by their first names.

We would laugh because it was obviously an uncomfortable change for me to make!!

Posted by: to cmac | September 22, 2006 10:02 AM

Looks like I am a bad wife. Not only did I not "honor" my husband by changing my name, there weren't any rings at my wedding. >>>

I think there are a lot of us out there who don't wear rings. My dad never wore a wedding band (married 35 years). My husband never wears his wedding ring. I only wear mine because a lady in this area has to have the bling, right?! Engagement/wedding band the ultimate in VLI!! (I actually didn't want an engagement ring. It was my husband into the VLI.) I think engagement rings are almost a kitsch-like expression of marriage.

Posted by: alex. mom | September 22, 2006 10:02 AM

Still Single: This is killing me. WHAT AMERICAN CITY would be the combination of 2 peopel's last names?

Posted by: Laur Power | September 22, 2006 10:03 AM

>>then there's the old Ima Pigge name which takes the cake hands down.

You probably mean Ima Hogg, a (deceased) philanthropist from Texas. Funny, I don't think she ever married!

In grade school (in Tx. of course) the standard joke was that she had siblings named Sheeza and Ura.

Posted by: Vienna | September 22, 2006 10:04 AM

I have 2 children, ages 25 and 22. I kept my name and never regretted it. My daughters are actually proud of the fact that I kept my name. It is both of their middle names. My mother was distraught at the thought that I would have a different name than my children. It hasn't ever been a problem. At school I would say "Hi I'm such & such, jane doe's mother." I have a wonderful husband and they have his last name because I have the most powerful link to them you can have -- giving birth to them. So he gets the name. My older daughter recently married. I asked her what her last name would be. She was stunned. I'm keeping my name of course she said. So I guess she felt it worked as well.

Posted by: Jane | September 22, 2006 10:04 AM

I actually changed my last name because I could tell it slightly bothered my husband that I "didn't want" his last name. I didn't have to, he would have got over it, but I could tell it mattered more to him for me to change it then it mattered to me not to.

That being said, I wish I had never of changed it now! I went from a C last name to one that began with an O. I never knew the advantages of my C last name until I changed it. Maybe once I'm out of grad school and alphabetical order doesn't matter so much I won't mind! Although for some reason the line for A-L is always shorter on election days then the line for M-Z.

Posted by: Centreville Mom | September 22, 2006 10:06 AM

I use my maiden name as my middle name now, just as my mother chose to do when she was married. My new last name is too long to hyphenate.

Posted by: Meagan | September 22, 2006 10:06 AM

It's a tempest in teapot.


None of the 1-dimensional reasons proferred for each side ("keeping your identity" "uniting with your spouse") really accurate capture what is really going on. My name doesn't change my identity or love for my husband. I don't get the "agonizing."

As for Mrs. -- don't use it for me at work, espcially Mrs. Husband's first name Last Name. From anyone else, it doesn't bother me. I just don't see it as something to get worked up over.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 10:06 AM

I did not change my name, because it's a great name and I was in my 30s when I married and published. My name is my name and my husband did not want me to change it, either. My dad recently died and I am proud to still have the same name as him. However, lots of family members still address me as Mrs. hisname. I patiently continue to send mail with both of our names correctly listed, but it's really not worth getting annoyed about. I do appreciate it when people get it right, but if they don't, so what? I am the only woman in my family to not change my name. However, I have lots of friends who have chosen not to change theirs, either.

Both sets of our parents divorced and his mom still carries his dad's name, though they've been divorced for decades. My mom remarried and then divorced her second husband and still has his name, though she'd prefer not to be reminded of him. My mom, who does not have a relationship with her abusive dad, is considering changing her last name back to her first married name so she and my brother and I will all share a name. My brother's kids will carry on our family name for the next generation (and his wife did choose to change her name when they married).

My husband is a genealogist and the last of his line, so we gave our daughter my last name as a middle name and his last name. It's really not a big deal and we've never had people assume we're not married because we have different last names. People should do whatever works for their family and not worry about what other people think.

As for hospital privileges, having spent the last five years in and out of the hospital with my dad, they don't care what your name is. They do care what your relationship is. More than once, they assumed I was my dad's wife (!) when he was in the ER. It had nothing to do with my last name, but rather, the fact that I was there with him in a time of crisis. Family members have access in the ICU, but unmarried partners, ex-spouses, and close friends, do not. I have single and gay friends for whom this is a big concern, actually, if their families are far away or their families are not the people they want making medical decisions for them.

Posted by: restonmom | September 22, 2006 10:07 AM

I use my maiden name as my middle name now, just as my mother chose to do when she was married. My new last name is too long to hyphenate.

Posted by: Meagan | September 22, 2006 10:07 AM

I changed my last name in my first marriage and our daughter has his last name. I couldn't wait to get it back during our divorce 12 years later!! I am now remarried but have kept my last name. Current dh doesn't mind it one bit and our son has his last name. I recall dh asking me if our son would have my last name or his. He told me that my last name would be ok with him though I could tell that he REALLY wanted his name to be our son's last name. I didn't consider using my last name for our son, I just knew I wanted to keep my last name for myself! :)

Posted by: 2xmami | September 22, 2006 10:09 AM

I supported/encouraged my wife to keep her name. No issues. She has her business and is known by her name. But in some social situations, she's Mrs. H, but others, I'm actually Mr. L. It's kind of fun actually having a social alias.

Posted by: PH | September 22, 2006 10:10 AM

"I think ideally, I would like to be know by just my first name... like Cher or Madonna or Oprah.... now that would be cool.

Posted by: alex. mom | September 22, 2006 09:33 AM"

I considered doing that too, about 10 years ago. I have an unusual first name and a last name that gets mispronounced/misspelled at every turn. I thought it would be cool to have just one name, but from an IRS/workplace/general acceptance perspective as I thought about it it didn't work. So, I'm Interesting firstname, Mispronounced lastname to this day. At least I'm not If Ml the 4th.

Posted by: Dad of 2 | September 22, 2006 10:10 AM

Looks like I am a bad wife. Not only did I not "honor" my husband by changing my name, there weren't any rings at my wedding.

As previously noted, the name change has nothing to do with "honor", but everything to do with mens' property rights over women. I learned this in high school in the '60s.


Posted by: June | September 22, 2006 09:51 AM


June, you may feel free to indicate that you don't think it would be an honor for your husband to have his name.

What you cannot do is tell me that I am not honored by my wife's choice.

I am not taking the position that you and your husband should have done what my wife and I did. I merely state that I am happy and honored by my wife's choice.

Thanks.

Posted by: Proud Papa | September 22, 2006 10:10 AM

I did not change my name and my husband was fine with that he says it was the only name he ever knew me by so why should I be someone different.
Kids: interesting here we made an agreement early on that if we had girls they would have my last name and a boy his name. Well we so far have a girl and she has my last name. He's fine with it (his family thought it was weird but they are over it).
There is no right or wrong everyone has to do what they and their spouse were comfortable with and works for them. This all seems to work for us.

Posted by: My Name's the same | September 22, 2006 10:12 AM

There was no way I was going to change my name. It has been 19 years and I've never regretted that decision (and neither has my husband). I have my father's last name because he acknowledges paternity. My boys both have my husband's last name because he acknowledges paternity. That is a rational reason for having your father's last name. You know who the mother is...she was there doing the birth, however the father has to actually say something...and the last name is a public way of 'saying something.' Also, nowadays, who cares if my boys and I have different last names? The answer is noone! We've lived in several states and abroad. Noone makes assumptions. Also, the boys never gave a hoot about my last name. They knew early on I had a different last name and guess what...it didn't/doesn't matter to them. Last names don't make a family.

Posted by: dotted | September 22, 2006 10:12 AM

oh boy! here's another hot topic!

I think it's terrible for married men or women not to wear their rings daily.

My husband and I talked about this just last night as he was at a networking happy hour event and I was not, and he was happy to be wearing the ring, as to not deal with potentially uncomfortable scenarios.

Posted by: rings | September 22, 2006 10:13 AM

I thought about this long and hard when I was getting married. My husband said it didn't matter to him, although he was not going to change his name at all. I knew I wanted children and preferred that they have the same last name as my own. I had also begun my career before I married my husband and had kids. So I wanted to find a way to recognize my maiden name and my husband's name. So I did what my mother had done when she married in 1966. I dropped my middle name and added my maiden name as my middle name.

I changed my all my legal identification to reflect that and in all business correspondence I go by : first name maiden name last name. No hyphens. I really didn't want to hyphenate, I didn't like how it looked. As a side note a friend of mine kept her middle name and her maiden name and added her husband's last name to the end ( with no hyphens) but that just seemed too long to me.

It did take me awhile to get used to it and I still don't quite feel like a Mrs anything (that's my mother in law :)) I have been married now (11 years this weekend) and I have no regrets. In less formal settings I usually don't use my full name, so I am identified by my last name (my husband's last name). In business settings, I introduce myself with the full name and use it on all correspondence and identification but go informally by just first and last name. It was a perfect solution for me.

After all, my maiden name is my father's name so I never quite got the whole argument that it is feminist to keep the maiden name. I will say that my mom seemed slightly disappointed that I chose her route. She hoped I wouldn't change the name. Of course, when I was getting married she was getting divorced that might have had something to do with it.

Posted by: downtown mom | September 22, 2006 10:13 AM

I've got an amusing dilemma, too - but mine is all in the timing. My partner was (briefly) married to a man long long ago. She changed her name to Mrs. Hisname then. Partner's 'maiden' name was a source of great schoolyard taunting, so no great loss to her. Partner divorced said man, married Ms. Yucky and Ms. Yucky took the name "Mrs. Hisname-Yucky". Then left my partner (who had professional ties by this point to being Mrs. Hisname and never changed it.).

DD is DD Hisname, incidentally.

Now I'm going to change my name, after the Holy Union, to Me Middle Maiden Hisname (two middle names) so all the names are the same for ease of recognition as a family (and it's easier for the hospital to accept us as family that way, so I hopefully won't have to pull out my power of attorney papers just for visitation if god forbid I ever needed to).

Sometimes it's just too complex.

Incidentally, my sister also changed her last name at marriage - and so did her husband! He'd had the last name of a long-departed ex husband of his mom, and it wasn't his original name (he'd been adopted by said ex husband and taken his name). Sister and husband changed their names to his grandfather's last name (one that reflects his Belgian heritage, too). Makes for interesting talk at family reunions. :-)

Posted by: RebeccainAR | September 22, 2006 10:13 AM

It would be interesting to see a study to determine whether married couples with two last names are more likely to divorce.

I'm not implying that the lack of a shared surname would break up a marriage, but I'm wondering if, in some cases, it demonstrates a reluctance to embrace a truly homogenious new life, that may be a harbinger of things to come.

This is an honest question, not an attempt to attack or offend. I'm just curious what the stats would show.

Posted by: Chrisnich | September 22, 2006 10:13 AM

I kept my name and for some reason was shocked when what was my "name" for 38 years was now my "maiden" name. Why was it not called my "maiden" name before I was married? I still have a hard time convincing people it's my NAME. They act as if my real name is my husband's and I'm just playing a little game of trickery. What a screwed-up society we live in.

Posted by: Coleen Hanna | September 22, 2006 10:15 AM

I didn't change my name and have always been proud of that. We have two girls and both have their father's name. Fine with me--it reflects an ethnic heritage I don't share and they deserve to embrace that. (We used to joke that if we had boys, they'd get my last name--which didn't go over well in his family!) We got two girls and both are happy--and by that I mean they don't think about it much--with my decision.)
I don't plan to put any pressure on either the girls but secretly hope they'll choose a name (old, new or shared) of which they can be proud. I think that without saying so, I have sent that message.
As to the bureaucratic problem of not sharing the same name as my husband and kids, who cares? Let that be someone else's issue to figure out. It just isn't that big a deal. --Meg

Posted by: meg | September 22, 2006 10:17 AM

Just wanted to add that I am also a lawyer and it was simple to change my name. The one thing I needed to do that took a little time was get a new social security card. Many women forget to do that and their social security payments get all messed up. NOT that I think I am ever getting any social security payments but that's a different blog. ;)

Also on the issue of women who keep their last name and what should the children's names be. Some of my friends have hyphenated the two names for the kids. One couple I knew gave the girls the mom's last name and the boys the dad's last name. Personally that is not what I prefer but it seems to work for this family.

Posted by: downtown mom | September 22, 2006 10:18 AM

Can't wear wedding rings if you don't have any.

Posted by: Elaine | September 22, 2006 10:19 AM

Fred said "As a guy, I really don't understand the anguish in taking the man's name would cause you to lose your identity. My POV is that you are assuming your new identity as a married couple."

First, a question: How are you displaying that new identity?

Second, a statement: Your identity does not change when you get married. You are still you, just in a legally binding arrangement with another person. It's not as though you've had a lobotomy, or that you've gone through some supernatural soul-blending process. You're still Fred, and she's still Martha.

The fact is that it's a tradition that started out with practical purposes. Now it's a pointless tradition. To explain why it's still around, people ascribe meaning to it (like it shows unity). In reality, it means whatever you want it to. Which is why there is no right or wrong way to do it.

Posted by: Meesh | September 22, 2006 10:20 AM

When I married here in 1992, married women keeping their maiden names seemed much more common than it seems today, especially in cities like Washington, NY, etc. Accordingly, I didn't get many questions when I kept my maiden name.

My husband didn't care one way or the other. However, he felt pretty strongly that our kids should have his last name. Because this seemed to be how most families were handling it, and I was satisfied with the kids having my last name as their middle name, this is the way we went.

I don't correct anyone who calls me by my husband's name. I don't make an issue of it when it doesn't matter.

Last year I read a book to my daughter's first grade class. When I introduced myself to the class, I decided to be proactive in explaining my name and how it related to my daughter's name, and why I decided to keep my name. I got a bunch of blank stares which I interpreted to mean, "Yeah, fine, whatever, could you please just read the story?"

When my kids (4 and 7) have asked me why they don't share my last name, I say, "I was 29 when I got married. I had had the same name for my whole life. It didn't make sense to me to change my name just because I was getting married. But lots of women do change their names when they get married, and I respect their choice. It's nice to have a choice!"

Posted by: Bethesdamomma | September 22, 2006 10:20 AM

Mona asked "Why? Is mistakenly being called her last name more offensive than her mistakenly being called by yours? If she can handle it, why can't you? I don't see what the big deal is."

Don't know. Not rational reason but hey, when are men rational???

I can say "I don't see the big deal about her changing her name" but to her, it is a big deal. We all have our "things". I guess it is family units. My grandparents were Mr. & Mrs. One Last Name. My parents are Mr. & Mrs. MyLastName. Her parents are Mr. & Mrs. HerLastName. She should just confirm and be like our ancestors.

Posted by: Father of 2 | September 22, 2006 10:20 AM

I added my husband's name and kept my maiden name as a middle name and I use the whole thing on just about everything. I'm not thrilled that I did, but I got some concessions in return. My biggest problem is that my cousins and I are all girls. The family name stops with my parent's generation. Also, I hated the name as a kid becuase it's very easy to twist into teasing. As an adult, I wore it like a battle scar and it has alot of historical linkage to my current profession. Still my married name is nice and certainly won't lead to the same level of ridicule on the playground that mine did. However, in a perfect world, my husband and kids would have my name. It builds character.

Posted by: no one's mom | September 22, 2006 10:21 AM

Haven't read the entries, just want to share what we did.

We both have our original names. When we got married and people learned our decision my dad said to me (affectionately), "You're weird!" I said, "Dad, it's YOUR name!"

First children were twins. 1 has my last name, 1 has his.

Next child, we had boy and girl names picked out. Basing the decision on how the first names "went with" the last names, boy would have my last name, girl would have his. It was a girl, so there are 3 (his name) and 2 (my name) in our family. For a while I wanted another baby, which would have evened the score (not that this was my reason for wanting another child!), but for now our family is complete.

Many other women I know kept their names but the children have his name. And some of them say "I didn't want to be the only one with a different name." You don't have to be! You can give your children your name. Or not-- I'm saying what people should do, but it is an option. This is so rare it just doesn't seem to enter into people's thought process.


Posted by: Green Mountains | September 22, 2006 10:21 AM

My wife changed her name for her first time she married because her first husband was insistant on it. When they got diverced it was a major undertaking to change it back to her original name.

When we got married she asked me if I wanted her to cahnge her name. I told her that that was her discision and I really did not have a strong view either way. She decided to hyphenate her last name.

Posted by: Jeff | September 22, 2006 10:21 AM

I just dropped my middle name and shifted everything over. So instead of Danielle R- S- I am Danielle S- A-. Keeping my maiden name as part of my name was important to me. And I think I might make it one of my kid's middle name -- start a little tradition hopefully.

Posted by: Danielle | September 22, 2006 10:24 AM

"chronicle.com/forums/index.php?topic=29047.msg391869

I can't get to this from here, what does it say?

I was wondering the same thing?

Posted by: To chrisnich | September 22, 2006 10:26 AM"

It's about divorce rates relative to keeping maiden names.

Posted by: Dad of 2 | September 22, 2006 10:25 AM

chronicle.com/forums/index.php?topic=29047.msg391869

I can't get to this from here, what does it say?

I was wondering the same thing?

Posted by: To chrisnich | September 22, 2006 10:26 AM

...he was happy to be wearing the ring, as to not deal with potentially uncomfortable scenarios. >>>

Out of curiosity, what is an uncomfortable scenario? My husband gets hit on by women often. In fact, he has had women hit on him IN FRONT of me. I know he would never cheat on me. Is this the uncomfortable scenario?

Posted by: alex. mom | September 22, 2006 10:28 AM

OK, I'm a married guy and I don't like to wear jewelery. But I wear my wedding ring all the time (except to bed and for sports) for the following reason.

I noticed early on that some women who notice a 'ring tan' on your ring finger, but no ring, assume you are approaching them as a married man trying to hit on them. Then, they assume that you are a dirtbag, when all you wanted to know was whether this item is on sale or not.

Wearing your ring every day is much less controversial than having to think, "hey lady don't flatter yourself" a couple of times a week.

Posted by: Random Guy | September 22, 2006 10:30 AM

"It would be interesting to see a study to determine whether married couples with two last names are more likely to divorce."

I kept my last name when my husband and I got married (didn't even consider changing it). Only one person in our circle questioned this decision. One of my husband's friends who ranted for days about how me not changing my name to his symbolized a lack of commitment to or understanding about marriage.

Ironically, he's now divorced while my husband and I are still married.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 10:30 AM

"She should just confirm and be like our ancestors."

Right, and let's bring back slavery too!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 10:31 AM

Both my husband and I are second generation American ethnic minorities - very different minorities.

If I took his lastname, it would probably cause some folks to do a doubletake when they met me in person. And vice versa if he took my name. (And I really like my birth name.)

Hyphenating Hisname-Hername or Hername-Hisname would have been amusing due to the juxtaposition (although a great melting pot example)

Our kids have his lastname, so at school I'm So-and-So's Mom or Mrs. Hisname.
That's then only place really.

Everyone else just calls us by our firstnames!

Posted by: Tied to My Keyboard | September 22, 2006 10:32 AM

Married 25 years ago. I have a father in a field related to mine. He has a "big name." I did not want his name; wanted to forge my own identity. Easier to do this using husband's name. Both spouse and I had last names of 7 letters, ending in "son." Easy to switch. With kids, easier to have everyone using the same name, as well.

Posted by: Married Name: | September 22, 2006 10:32 AM

I kept my married name, which, for some reason, bothers my MIL. For the first few years I was married, it was a real issue between her and I. She knew I preferred my maiden name, but insisted on introducing me as Reston Hislastname, addressing mail to that name, dispite the fact that my husband and I asked her to stop. Finally, my husband kept grabbing mail she had addressed to Reston Hislastname, and writing "no such person--return to sender" on it. She got the hint, but I still think she thinks I'm odd for keeping my name.

Posted by: Reston | September 22, 2006 10:33 AM

I haven't had a chance to read through the entire thread (maybe someone already answered), but am curious about the rationale of changing the name so the kids don't get confused. I am in full support of people making whatever choice they want about their name, but this reason intrigues me. Why would the children be confused? Does it lead to identity confusion or do most kids understand a pretty simple answer? Is is a really hard thing for them to grasp? I have friends who have changed their names and cite this reason for the change. I have other friends who haven't changed their names and have said their kids have no problem with it. I would love to hear from anyone who didn't change their name and and what their kids' experience was. How was that confusion exhibited and was it traumatic? Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: Question-to-group | September 22, 2006 10:33 AM

I feel sorry for future generations trying to trace their genealogy.

Posted by: Oakton | September 22, 2006 10:36 AM

Surely, that is the most common scenario I can think of. I think it's terrible that your husband gets hit on, esp in front of you. The ring curtails that so my husband doesn't even get hit on.

Posted by: To alex mom | September 22, 2006 10:36 AM

My partner and I gave our children our names hyphenated. The discussion on whose name came first was interesting, but eventually, since I was giving birth, we decided my name would come first. Our children were born in DC where at the time if a woman was married, her husband's name is automatically assigned to the child (regardless of whether he is the father) and if a woman is single, the child is assigned the mother's exact name. So I had to legally change my name to the hyphenated combo before the due date. Rather than feeling any loss of identity, I feel honored by our family identity. Now my partner wants her name legally changed, but with 2 kids the cost of the legalities is harder to come by. Many people refer to her by that name anyway.

As for aesthetics, our names flow well, but I'm convinced that you could name your child rump-roast and after the few weeks of falling in love with your newborn, rump-roast would be the most beautiful name you've ever heard.

Posted by: the gay twist | September 22, 2006 10:40 AM

I have a father in a field related to mine. He has a "big name."

Henrietta Einstein, is that you?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 10:40 AM

Sounds selfish to me, those that want to keep their last name rather than take their hubby's name. What is the deal? Are you that insecure that you cannot commit fully to your husband and family. Note: It is not about "I" anymore when you get married, it is about "us" and family. Way to start things off (sarcasm) sounds like an NFL or NBA team that has problems becuase the players are focused on themselves more than the team. The usually have a bad season.

Posted by: Man | September 22, 2006 10:42 AM

Oops--I meant to say I kept my MAIDEN name and it pissed my MIL off.

Posted by: Reston | September 22, 2006 10:42 AM

When my husband asked if I'd change my name, I asked him if he'd change his. We considered merging our names to make up a new one, but all hybrids of our names were a bit too comical. So, we both kept our names. Any kids will get my name as a second middle name, and his as their last name. This is mainly because my last name attracts verbal abuse on the playground, and, while I survived, I would not wish that on my offspring.

Posted by: kept it | September 22, 2006 10:44 AM

Actually, I think the scenario where 'women assume the guy not wearing his ring is a dirtbag' is pretty prominent too.

Posted by: Argh | September 22, 2006 10:44 AM

The mothers of many of my kids' friends did not change their names. My observation is that the kids are NOT confused. O

ne of his friends has lesbian parents and this does not seem confusing to any of the kids either.

I think we discount the intelligence of our children too much.

Posted by: Josey | September 22, 2006 10:45 AM

Someone's post about their cat's last name changing reminded me of one of the practical examples of why I changed my name. A few months before the wedding, I called the vet to make an appointment for my cat. After a circular conversation that took entirely too long to say that I, Jane Doe, was calling to make an appointment for my cat Max Smith, whose "dad" is John Smith, I decided I didn't want to spend my days doing this once we have kids!

And as for last names, mine is also one that is shared by only a handful of people in this hemisphere -- at last check, there were three families, with about 10 people total who had that last name.

Now it's my middle name, so there are only nine, but I think one of the other people with it is a young man, so maybe he'll get married soon and it'll even out.

Posted by: Alexva | September 22, 2006 10:45 AM

I would like to give a somewhat overlooked viewpoint in this discussion. As the child of a mother who retained her last name I was given a hyphenated name. My parents then compounded the confusion factor of the name by giving me a first name that was a relative's last name. I know (we've talked about it) that my parents were trying to give me a link with my past, and indicate my mother's equal role in the child-production process, two intentions that I appreciate, but their choice has been an unending source of low-level aggravation in my life. First, many hyphenated names are too long to fit in computer-based name entry spaces (for instance, on credit card and bank applications). Second, many such institutions do not use software programs that recognize hyphens as valid characters in a name. The previous two problems mean that no two cards, accounts, or certificates I possess have the same name on them. They're all messy variations based on the various parts of my name entered in whatever way I could get the stupid system to accept them. These problems also lead to unexpected computer glitches (I got two sets of SAT scores from one test session, both for incorrect variations of my name). The third problem, independent of those two, is that no person *ever* gets the name right without extensive coaching and explantion. From doctor's offices and pharmacists to DMV clerks and receptionists, every errand that involves giving my name to somebody elicits the inevitable 40-second explanation, either because they're curious, or because they don't understand. I travel every month or so by airplane, and very time I go to the airport, there's the inevitable ten minute explanation as to why the name on the tickets *never* matches my actual name (often given over the phone to someone whose native language is not english). I can sometimes avoid the problem by buying tickets on the internet and putting the name in myself, but still occasionally run into problems 1 and 2 above. Individually, each of these small inconveniences is negligable, but imagine the cumulative effect compounded, every day, two or three times a day, 365 days a year for decades.
Finally, there's the situation in which I currently find myself. I'm getting married in December to a woman who wants (really wants, which is a bit foreign to my experience as the child of a pro-feminist professional) to take my name. So which name does she take? After much discussion, we determined that she would take my father's last name, and I would retain my full name in its current state. I made this second decision in part because I'm used to my name, inconveniences and all, but also because I know my mother would be deeply hurt (although she'd never admit it) if I dropped her name to simplify my own. The result is that I'm going to have a slightly different name from my (future) kids and wife. Hopefully, that won't cause too many problems.
My point in this little rant was to suggest to people making this decision that they look ahead and consider the implications for their children in the future when they indulge in name-juggling in the present. I respect a woman's right to maintain her name and identity, and I understand the importance of acknowledging a mother's link with her child, but please consider what difficulties you're making for your kid down the road when you make a decision like this. I don't mean to sound ungrateful here. I love my mother and dad, who were wonderful parents and role models. Furthermore, I appreciate the uniqueness of my name. But there are times when I'd rather be a "John Smith," than explain my name. One. More. Time.

Posted by: LastName MomsName-DadsName | September 22, 2006 10:46 AM

One interesting example is my sister. She did not keep her name, but did give her (our) name to each of her children as their middle name. She no longer has that name, so the kids don't share it with her. They do share it with their grandparents and with me (a married aunt who kept her name). The kids have never seemed to be confused about this name thing. They understand it is to about their mom and that part of their family, but as far as I know it is never lead to confusion. I support a married woman making whatever choice she wants, but the "kids confusion" rationale seems like a minor reason. I do understand the wanting everyone in the family to have the same name as some kind of bond. (Not a choice I have made, but I do understand it.)

Posted by: Re:Question-to-group | September 22, 2006 10:47 AM

I kept my name and my husband made no objection, but he really wanted the kids to have his name. And I told him that was fine with me, as long as he'd leave me in charge of their religious upbringing.

Weird compromise? Well, he gets what's important to him, I get what's important to me, and it all works out fine. We've never had a problem picking up prescriptions for other family members, by the way. And when he occasionally gets called Mr. Wifesname, he just chuckles. I'll answer to Ms. or Mrs. Husbandsname too if it's someone I don't think I'll be in repeated contact with.

What actually bugs me the most is that my 97-year-old grandma, a remarkably liberated woman in many respects, insists on referring to her descendants' families by the husband's first name. So she'll write that "Steve's" came over for a visit, rather than calling us collectively "AnnieJo's". But at this late date, I don't see that changing!!

Posted by: AnnieJo | September 22, 2006 10:48 AM

To Oakton:

RE your comment about genealogy.

Actually, having ancestors who have the same married name doesn't always easier to trace your roots. There are so many Smiths, Lees, Johnsons, and Chens in the world.

I'm a geneaology buff and have been tracing our kids lineage through both sides of the family. Did you know that in Hindu families in India, it *traditional* for children's lastname to be the first name of their father?

For example, Prasad Murthi's kids would be named Lakshmi Prasad and Raj Prasad. And this in a country with over 800 million people!


Posted by: Tied to My Keyboard | September 22, 2006 10:49 AM

At this point in my life, I'm fine with people doing the names anyway that they want. What I am not fine with is people telling me my children will be victimized by me keeping my name.

One of the reasons I kept my name was because, as a child, when I learned that my mother once had a different name, I was shocked. I don't know what age I was but old enough to tell her that I thought it was very sad that she had to give up her name because she fell in love and married. My oldest child is six and I explained that women have a choice with their name and she completely understood.

Alas, as Shakespeare pointed out, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet."

Posted by: Maiden name, Richmond, VA | September 22, 2006 10:49 AM

I think it's terrible that your husband gets hit on, esp in front of you. The ring curtails that so my husband doesn't even get hit on.>>>

I don't blame him. I blame the aggressive skanky women who hit on him. These broads would be hitting on him regardless of a wedding ring.

As for: Actually, I think the scenario where 'women assume the guy not wearing his ring is a dirtbag' is pretty prominent too.>>>

What?! If people have their own bizarre hang ups, that's their problem.

Posted by: alex. mom | September 22, 2006 10:50 AM

I love my name. So I kept it. When I got married, my best friend told me that it was fine to keep my name now, but I'd want to change it when I had children because it would be too confusing. My mother-in-law told me the children would have trouble in school because everyone would think they had an unwed mother (gasp!).
Frankly, the name thing is NOT confusing. It only seems that way to people who believe husband, wife and children should share one name: the husband's. And that's fine if that's what they did. I decided not to. Will I insist that our tombstone reflect my decision? No. But in my everyday life, as long as I'm living it, my name will always be the same, no matter what other people choose to call me. It doesn't make my family less of a family.

Posted by: Maiden Name | September 22, 2006 10:50 AM

My husband never cared if I changed my name or not - the decision was entirely mine. I noticed, however, that people started calling me called "Mrs. Smith" well before I got married, even though my name was still "Ms. Jones.". I decided I could go through life correcting people - or being called by the wrong name - or just go with the flow. I added his name onto mine with no hyphen. In daily life, I am "Ms. A.B. Smith". When I publish - a requirement in my field - and on all legal documents, I am "A. B. Jones Smith". This way I get to keep my name when it is in the public arena. The interesting thing is how many people have difficulty with two last names with no hyphen, even though it is common in many parts of the world.

Posted by: four names and counting | September 22, 2006 10:51 AM

are you the same cmac who was on the knot a couple years ago??? if you are it's great to see you here...

amfick from the knot

Posted by: to cmac | September 22, 2006 10:52 AM

Busy morning on the blog! I haven't yet waded through all of the comments, but I already have a reply to some.

I hyphenated my name when I got married. I married when I was very young - 22 - and did not yet have an established professional reputation associated with my maiden name. But my name is a huge part of who I am and my family history. The idea that I should just toss that aside because of marriage was and is completely repugnant to me. My husband to be was a little upset at first but after I asked him how he would feel if he had to change *his* last name he understood.

As for confusion with the children - I hyphenated (instead of simply keeping my maiden name) so that I would share a name with my children. Not once have we ever had confusion at a doctor's office or daycare (they're not old enough for school yet), even though our health insurance is in my hyphenated name. In fact, my husband has now been on my health insurance for 11 years now and he's never encountered confusion with my hyphenated name either.

http://lawyermama.blogspot.com

Posted by: Lawyer Mama | September 22, 2006 10:52 AM

and it's amwhite now!!! :)

Posted by: to cmac | September 22, 2006 10:53 AM

My wife never took my name when we married 25 years ago. She never liked my unusual last name, and with her slightly unusual first name, she feared having to spell and pronounce for people both her first and last names forever.
Our kids' last name is my wife's and mine, hyphenated. Together, the name works. It's not the most melodious name in the world, but it's still just four syllables and it's not a tongue twister. They don't mind.
Once, when I was young and the feminist movement was in its flowering years, I developed a system for maintaining matrilineage and patrilineage. When a man marries, he drops his mother's last name and adopts his wife's. When a woman marries, she drops her father's last name and adopts her husband's. So, when John Smith-Jones marries Sue Baker-Swift, they become John and Sue Baker-Jones. Girls would forever carry their mothers' names just as boys keep the father's line going. People, of course, would have the choice to use or drop their hyphenated name as they saw fit.
I sent this at the age of 16 as a letter to the editor to Ms. magazine, then its young and vibrant stage. They sent me a very nice personally typewritten note thanking me for the letter, but they didn't publish it. I'm sure they would have if I was a girl. Too bad. It might have caught on.

Posted by: Md dad | September 22, 2006 10:54 AM

We keep discussing why women choose whether to take their husband's name. With the exception of but a few, most of today's bloggers agree that their children have the husband's last name. This is a very antiquated tradition dating back to a time when identifying one's paternity was difficult (pre-dna testing). The mother was usually easy to identify, since pregnancies are hard to hide. So the identifying the off-spring with the father's sur-name was a big deal, since it ment that the Man identified the child as a legitimate heir (not a bastard) thus eligible for inheritance. This is also a time when all property was held by men. So in these modern times, when women can vote, hold property, and decide their children's welfare, why follow out-dated traditions of naming?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 10:55 AM

I kept my name because it's a distinctive name and I like it and it is part of my identity personally as well as professionaly. My husband didn't care - his first wife took his name and given how that marriage turned out I think he realized that it didn't make an ounce of difference in terms of the quality of the union.

Our son has his name - I knew it was really important to him and his dad to pass the family name on, and this was pretty much the only shot. As much as I'm attached to my name as part of my identity, I don't feel strongly about passing it on, so I didn't really care, and in any event I knew my brother would pass it on. I didn't want to do the hyphenation thing, as that just seems so awkward, and then god forbid he find a partner who also had a hyphenated name - yipes!

At any rate, I think overemphasizing the name choice either way is odd - if you are united in your hearts, does it really matter? Having the same name won't prevent divorce if the marriage is bad, having your own name won't keep you from feeling smothered if that's the kind of relationship you're in. If the marriage is good, what does it matter?

The logistical hassles have been so minor so far I don't even consider them. Having to say, this Megan X, Son Y's mom is really not a big deal, I talk a lot as it is so saying one extra word doesn't really put me out ;)

Posted by: Megan | September 22, 2006 10:55 AM

I think that this is a cultural issue. I was born in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean where children get both the father and mother's last name. My husband is Italian, and in Italy women don't change their husband's name when they get married, so I still have my maiden name.

Posted by: montgomery village | September 22, 2006 10:55 AM

My husband and I both changed out last names when we got married. We are Mr. and Mrs. Myname-Hisname. Our son also shares our hyphenated last name. We like that we all have the same name, I like that I still have my maiden name, and we like that our son has both our names.

Posted by: Rockville | September 22, 2006 10:55 AM

Father of four, how about "F-4 bomber" instead?

As for changing my name, if the last name sounds better than mine, I have no problems. A bro's wife kept her maiden name because she's the only child in her family and as she pointed out, it wasn't really an upwards move in name uniqueness at all which none of us had problems agreeing with.
Who wants to be named Smith when you already have a decent enough name (like Jones) that is spellable?

However, I'm not sure I'd ever change my last name if the alternative was Hornschotzblowsbooger.

Posted by: Confused Godmother | September 22, 2006 10:56 AM

kept my maiden name. when i married his ex wife has his name. i wanted to make sure there was no confusion that i was her. husband was cool with it. both my family & his family think of me as mrs. hisname altho a couple of people hyphenate it. our son has his name. his teacher calls me mrs. son's name. doesn't matter to me.
a friend of mine warned me that while it is easy to change your name when you marry it was very hard for her to change it back when she divorced. that and every company has their hands for a $25 processing fee to file the paper work.

Posted by: quark | September 22, 2006 10:57 AM

(And yes, I would consider saving my maiden name as a middle name, aka Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane.)

Posted by: Confused Godmother | September 22, 2006 10:58 AM

I find this topic fascinating, in part because I come from a culture where women generally don't take the husband's name. It's just not a issue. (I'm Chinese, btw). And I'm not casting aspersions or anything - I just find the cultural differences interesting, especially because it appears that some women really agonize over the decision.

But yeah, if I had to make the choice I'm keeping my name - simply because it's my name.

Also I always wondered about the argument that the children would be confused - I really don't think it would be an issue, it's just the situation they grew up with.

My 2c.

Posted by: curious | September 22, 2006 10:58 AM

My parents went through all these questions when they got married. My mother kept her maiden name, which in 1971 was pretty rare. I grew up with a hyphenated name (first middle Mother's Maiden-Father's).

You all worry about the kids, but they are very resilient. I always thought it was cool that I was connected to both my parents, but still had my own unique identity.

When I got married, I kept my name. We have three last names between the two of us and yet it isn't a problem. We have ruled out the three name hyphenation for our children - that's just too much.

Posted by: Generation Ahead | September 22, 2006 11:01 AM

So, Man, I assume you have no problem changing your name to your wife's in order to show your commitment to her and your children?

Posted by: nutmeg | September 22, 2006 11:02 AM

I have to say, I have never understood why changing or not changing your name is such a feminist touchstone in this country.

I mean, for 99% of women in America, it's a matter of either taking your husband's name or keeping your father's. Not really much of a slap to the patriarchy.

I'm a 32-year-old single feminist (amazing and sad how so many people, including women, see that as a dirty word these days), and I'd kind of always planned on changing my name if I ever get married.

But after seeing some of my married friends change their beautiful/distinctive last names to boring or less attractive ones, I think it's really all going to depend on whether or not I like the name.

Yes, I am that shallow. :-) I'd have no problem "mistakenly" being called Mrs. Hisname though.

Posted by: Divine Ms. K | September 22, 2006 11:03 AM

When I married (what a disaster), I changed my name happily. Upon my divorce, I set land speed records to the Social Security office to get my name changed back. I'd never have kept the name, but boy did it cause problems dealing with things like insurance for my child.

All my health insurance information through work was in my name. My daughter's different last name resulted in claims being rejected routinely. Daughter Y didn't match up to Mommy X because the enrollment forms didn't allow for the inclusion of different last names for children.

Almost every bureaucracy I had to deal with buggered it up. In the end, because of that and my ex's complete disinterest in being a father, I had my daughter's name changed, making her father's name a middle name and my maiden name her last name. I've never regretted it for a minute.

I've never understood the need for people to deem someone's decision about their name inappropriate. If someone doesn't want to change their name, fine, but what gives them the right to judge another woman as antiquated or submissive because she does. It doesn't make a woman chattel if she assumes her husband's familial name. It means she assumed her husband's familial name. That's it.

Posted by: Minding my own business | September 22, 2006 11:03 AM

Funny wedding reception story:

I wanted to emphasize the no-name-change decision from the beginning, so we instructed the DJ at our reception not to annouce us as "Mr. and Mrs. Hisname." Unfortunately, the DJ got my husband's first name completely wrong when he announced us.

Posted by: kept it | September 22, 2006 11:04 AM

The wedding ring thing.

My husband doesn't wear his, my father and brothers couldn't wear theirs due to working jobs that would deem wearing a ring a hazard. It doean't matter, someone who wears his ring can still get hit on and cheat.

Posted by: scarry | September 22, 2006 11:05 AM

Re. "As a guy, I really don't understand the anguish in taking the man's name would cause you to lose your identity. My POV is that you are assuming your new identity as a married couple. (I do understand a maiden name for professional purposes.)"

I hope someone already pointed this out, but I just got to this comment in the blog & had to respond.

When a woman changes her last name to her husband's, SHE is assuming an identity as a couple. She changes from Ms. Something to Mrs. HisName ... the husband's name does not change at all: Mr. HisName stays Mr. HisName for as long as he lives. It's like women (and not men) wearing engagement rings ... women's social status keeps publicly changing depending on her marital status. I'm not at the engagement/marriage point in my life yet, but the whole thing bothers me.

Posted by: young 20something | September 22, 2006 11:06 AM

Amen to Tied to my Keyboard! People, give your children some credit. They can program your DVD player, but you think a name will be confusing??? My mom kept her maiden name, my stepmom took my dad's name and LIFE WENT ON. It's not that hard. Why does everyone default to the man's name? I plan on keeping my last name and passing it on to my children. I'll accept that the name thing isn't a big deal when husbands take wives' names and give their kids' their wive's names as often as women do the opposite.

Posted by: It's not that hard! | September 22, 2006 11:08 AM

The "to change or not to change" debate was a bigger deal to my husband and his family than I ever imagined it could be. I assumed that everyone in this day and age recognizes that a woman's maiden name is significant part of her identity (particularly since women are marrying later and sometimes have their maiden names for decades prior to marriage) and realizes that the name change tradition is completely arbitrary and outdated. I thought the decision should be wholly personal to the bride and was a largely innocuous one. I flip-flopped on the question literally until the day of my wedding, and my bridesmaids and I had a spirited discussion about the pros and cons of the name change during my rehearsal dinner. One of my good friends had just gotten married and was emphatically encouraging me keeping my name if I was at all ambivalent, as she and her husband had combined their names following their wedding. I ultimately chose to take my husband's name (largely for the sake of convenience and clarity), and didn't give the discussion another thought. I was shocked when my husband told me that my future mother-in-law was livid at the end of the evening, as she thought it was disrespectful for my friends to encourage me to keep my name on the eve of my wedding when my husband's family was present. They viewed the decision to keep one's name as a slap in the face and a rejection of both my husband and their family. I should add that my in-laws are educated, liberal professionals-- I never would have imagined that they would react so strongly. Even my thoroughly modern and enlightened husband confessed that he was relieved that I took his name, as he would have considered it (in his deepest heart of hearts) to be a blow to his masculinity if I had kept my maiden name. This whole fracas was eye-opening to me-- there are clearly some residual emotions attached to the decision, even in 2006! Sheesh =).

Posted by: Liz | September 22, 2006 11:08 AM

To answer this: "But every single woman I know who kept their name has given their child the father's name. Why is it automatically his name, not yours? You're the one who gave birth to the child, but you don't have the same name as him or her..."

I kept my name. Giving birth to and nursing my daughter was one of my dearest gifts to her, something only I could give. So, why should I get all the glory? She has her daddy's last name because I wanted him to have the joy of also giving her, at birth, something deeply personal -- his name. Never had any confusion with it. Most of the folks we know have done the same.

Posted by: re: dad's last name | September 22, 2006 11:09 AM

Why is your identity tied up in your name? My identity is in my grandfather's eyes; my great grandmother's hair; my father's stubbornness; my Protestant work-ethic; the three outstanding degrees hanging on my office wall. My identity is in the marriage that I have worked so hard to build; in the fact that I stood by my husband when he was sick; the fact that I am a good wife and a good daughter and a good friend and a good lawyer. When my grandmother was dying and she called me every name in the book--my mother's, my cousin's, her sister's, her brother's, every name but my own--my identity was not in a name at all.

What's in a name? Very little. Doesn't matter whether you keep it--be it a first name or a last name. Get over it already. It's neither a feminist issue nor an identity issue. Your identity is in your sense of self. And if your sense of self is SO fragile that it's tied up in whether you "take" someone else's name or "take a stand," then I feel so, so sorry for you for not understanding the more important things in life.

Posted by: MSL | September 22, 2006 11:09 AM

When we got married, I considered keeping my name, but realized that if I did that, it would be almost hiding that we were married. Hyphenation didn't appeal to me because our last names sound bad together.
I realize that not everyone is going to care if they are mistaken for an unmarried couple, but it matters to me, especially now that we have kids. I wouldn't care about some busybody thinking we were "living in sin", but I am proud of the commitment dh and I have made.

I knew a couple that took on a new last name, and while it certainly seems to be the most fair option, losing the connection to all earlier generations struck me as sad. I did change my middle name to my maiden name. I didn't find the paperwork to change my name difficult at all.

Posted by: yetanothersahm... | September 22, 2006 11:11 AM

So much angst! I kept my last name. My husband kept his. I remember we had some fun discussing all the various possibilities (including dusting off a name in his family that had recently been abandoned) but it was never a big issue.

Kids came along. We gave them my last name because it has more history attached to it.

And it's never every been an issue. Not with the doctor, not at the hospital, not at daycare, not among family members, not at work. Never.

Is it really this hard for people everywhere else?

Posted by: Ms. MyName | September 22, 2006 11:15 AM

I was happy to change my name to Mrs. 'my first name' 'his last name', but I absolutely refuse to be called Mrs. 'his first name' 'his last name'. That's how I kept my idenity. and what ever anyone else want to call themselves, works for me!

Posted by: experienced mom | September 22, 2006 11:15 AM

To K8 --

I changed legally/socially to HisName, but having been practicing law for 9 years preferred to keep HerName professionally.

So far only two points of confusion: (1) my office has to remember to book travel (flights especially) using HisName because that's what's on my government issued photo ID, and (2) after 35 years of using HerName, I still forget sometimes and introduce myself using HerName in social situations (where the plan is to be using HisName). I've only been at it for a year though, so I expect it will come more easily in time.

Posted by: MCMc | September 22, 2006 11:15 AM

Nut,
Sure I'd change my name if that was standard but it's not. So that isn't a good question. Why don't I hear guys complaining that they have to buy engagement rings for the woman? I did it...and loved it. I didn't question why or ask where's mine?

Posted by: Man | September 22, 2006 11:16 AM

Sounds selfish to me, those that want to keep their last name rather than take their hubby's name. What is the deal? Are you that insecure that you cannot commit fully to your husband and family. Note: It is not about "I" anymore when you get married, it is about "us" and family.
----------------------------------------
But men don't change their names are they not committed to their wives and families?

Posted by: to man | September 22, 2006 11:16 AM

My wife kept her family name when we got married. The kids, now 8 and 11, have my family name for a surname and my wife's for their middle name (like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, for his parents' family names). I seem vaguely to remember one of them once asking why mom's name is different from theirs. We explained that mom didn't want to change her name and that they both have our names. I've never heard anything more about it from them. It really isn't an issue-- with us. Now my mother had an issue with it for a long time and was very passive-aggressive about voicing it, addressing Christmas cards, etc. to "Mr. and Mrs. My Surname." Stupid and childish. She finally quit when I chewed her out for it.

One really great thing about having different surnames is that the phone is in my wife's name. (I have a job that entails making a lot of people mad at me-- I put them in jail-- so my name isn't in the book.) Whenever anyone calls asking if I'm Mr. Wife's Surname, I know it's a telemarketer and hang up!

Posted by: wihntr | September 22, 2006 11:17 AM

I have been married for three weeks and I am excitedly checking the mail
every day for our marriage license so that I can get my name changed to
reflect our new status as a married couple and a family. I am very close to
my parents and a feminist but I never thought twice about what my name would
be, I knew it would be his. I moved my maiden name to my middle name and
will pass on my middle name to my first daughter as my mother did for me, in
what is now a several generations old tradition. I can't believe how many
people are so worked up about this however, it seems you should just call
yourself whatever you want and get over it if someone calls you by the wrong
name and contrary to the popular belief of the liberal leaning Washington
Post readers most women do take their husbands name, it is tradition and
some of us like tradition and don't have a fit about everything. It's one
reason Southern women are prettier than Yankees, we don't spend so much time
scowling about everything, we smile and deal graciously with things, it
keeps the facial lines to a minimum.

Posted by: just married | September 22, 2006 11:17 AM

I grew up in a family with three different names -- my mom took my dad's name and gave it to me when I was born, then took her own back when they divorced, then refused to take my stepfather's when they got married. My mom lived the women's movement first-hand (from deserted single mom of toddler with few prospects to successful Ph.D); for her, taking her name back symbolized finding her own power and identity separate from society's expectations. Plus it really bugged her mother. :-)

I kept my name when I got married. It wasn't a political statement for me, just a matter of fact. My name means a lot to me; I am proud of my Scottish heritage, I have a number of nicknames based on my last name (there's a lot you can do with "Mc"), I have a career, etc. But mostly it was just how I had thought of myself for 30 years, so it never occurred to me to change it.

I don't care if others change their names or keep them. But I do get annoyed at the belief that keeping your name means you're not committed to a true union. Personally, I never expected to get married; I had seen a lot of old-fashioned, patriarchal marriages where the wife was "fully submitted" to her husband (as per yesterday's discussion), and I knew I did not want that. So when I met my future husband and discovered that I could gain this wonderful relationship and form a new family unit without having to give up who I was, it was truly a revelation. To me, keeping my name symbolized my joy in discovering that marriage was about adding to and enriching both partners' lives, not taking something away, or requiring me to give up who I am.

My stepsister, on the other hand, decided to take her husband's name -- for her, changing her name was a way of saying that she was secure enough in her identity to symbolically let go of something that was hers to join with him. (I suspect my stepfather was a little disappointed, but he'd never let on)

Our kids have my husband's last name; he didn't care whether I changed my name, but he DID care about that, whereas it wasn't as critical to me (the whole identity thing isn't as significant when you're talking about someone who hasn't been born yet). (Again, back to yesterday's discussion: how do you compromise when neither party is the final arbiter? The person to whom it matters less defers to the person to whom it matters more. For my name, that was me; for our daughter's name, that was him). My daughter has my name as her middle name -- after all that work, I wanted something of mine there! My son has a "J" first name (after my dad) and a middle name crafted from a shortening of my mother's name (as she's the last with that name). So all of our names are meaningful to us.

Honestly, I never worried about the logistics -- having grown up in a family with three last names, I knew first-hand how little it mattered. The people who matter know, and who cares about the rest. Plus it's a great way to identify telemarketers (anyone who asks for "Mrs. Hisname" must be trying to sell me someting). :-)

On Ms. vs. Mrs., I prefer Ms. Why would I need to proclaim my married state? That's the part that bugs me more than anything else -- like someone else said, the manner in which you address men doesn't vary depending on whether they're married or not, so why should it be any different for women?

Posted by: Laura | September 22, 2006 11:19 AM

I would drop my last name in a minute if I got married. My last name is difficult to pronounce, despite my grandfather changing the spelling to make it easier. No one now knows what the original spelling was, so the name can't be traced, nor is it recognizable to people from that area of Eastern Europe. As far as I'm concerned, there is no ethnic connection.

Of course, I'm assuming that future husband doesn't have a potentially embarrassing name of his own.

Posted by: WMA | September 22, 2006 11:19 AM

On the changing back thing, I have two friends who are married, happily so, but have discovered 5 and 7 years down the road that they just kind of miss their old names. Now, both of them (and they don't know each other, making this extra weird) have talked to me about how they could propose changing their names back without making their husbands think that it is a sign of some greater unhappiness. It's especially hard because to change it back they'd have to go to court, so it's not something they can make out as a really casual deal. I don't know what either of them is going to do at this point, I don't think either of them feel strongly enough to make it a fight with their spouses, but it was really funny to have it happen to them at the same time.

Posted by: Megan | September 22, 2006 11:20 AM

Why don't I hear guys complaining that they have to buy engagement rings for the woman?>>>

I think they should. I have had co-workers tell me they have a carat requirement. I feel sorry for the guys that marry these women. It always seems like a "shake down" instead of love.

Posted by: alex. mom | September 22, 2006 11:23 AM

I never wanted to get married since 12 years old but finally at age 42 I stated to want to marry.
I had already changed my name to distance myself from the identity of my father who had incested me.
I did marry a wonderful man at age 46 and we are very happy. At about three years into the marriage I had a desire to take his name which I did.
I like his name because it's easy even
without kids to be identified as being together for life in a committed relationship by others.
However this brings patriarchal attitudes to my notice that I no longer hold. Sometimes these notions are more than I bargained for and I have recently thought that getting married might not have been the right idea for me.
Anyway nothing's perfect and we all have to take the good with the bad until we're liberated for sure which doesn't look like it's in my time so I'll continue to ...live as I choose.

Posted by: Diane | September 22, 2006 11:24 AM

so identity can be tied to religion but not your name? That makes a lot of sense. How about letting people choose what ties them to what?

Posted by: ? | September 22, 2006 11:24 AM

Oh, another reason to change:

When our daughter was born, she was listed in the hospital as "Baby Girl Hername". Before we left the hospital, we filled out the forms for birth certificate with her name - "Girl Myname". About 8 months later, she had a possible intestinal blockage and we were sent by the doctor to the hospital for a surgical consult (words no parent likes to hear). There were delays in some things (not sure if it was just getting paperwork done or actual tests etc.) since they had no records of "Girl Myname" since she was in the system as "Girl Hername".

That's interesting, but I had the opposite experience. When my son was born at Fairfax Hospital he was identified as Baby Boy MyHyphenatedName. We then filled out paperwork for his birth certificate identifying him as H___ Dad'sLastName, but his hospital records are under MyHyphenatedName. So I guess it can also be a good reason to *keep* your name - if you're really concerned about confusion.

Posted by: Lawyer Mama | September 22, 2006 11:29 AM

well.. I married a wonderful man and thought it only natural to take his last name. Call me traditional. Whatever works for people is fine with me. Whatever one chooses, I think it sheds some light on who they are and how they see themselves within their marriage.

Posted by: devoted | September 22, 2006 11:29 AM

Man, that's cool, but why should everyone have to stick with what's standard? That gets boring after a while.

Also, I haven't seen a single post from a woman who kept her name judging those who did not, but lots of women who changed judging those who didn't. (though there are too many to read them all thoroughly so perhaps I missed something, still seems to be a lot more on side than the other) What gives? If you don't see your name as part of your identity then that's fine for you, but other people do so why not show a little respect to them

Posted by: nutmeg | September 22, 2006 11:31 AM

I changed my name the first time I got married - I had always had to spell my name, and though I would likely have to spell his, it was 4 letters as opposed to 8, and it was cute.
For those reasons, I almost kept his name when we split, but by the time the divorce was over, I wanted my name back, big time!
So when I was looking at marrying again, I was adamant about not changing ever again, even if his name was short & simple. I have been this name most of my life and I like it. My husband wanted me to change, but when push came to shove, he didn't even argue, and I know he loves me as I am, name and all.
As far as kids go, I would have loved to pass my maiden name on as a last name to a boy, however, children were not really ever expected to be an issue, and aren't.
It is a family tradition for my father's family to give kids a past family name as a middle name; it is a family tradition for my sister's husband's family to name the first born son with a particular family name as a middle name. This is a great compromise if you think genealogy is going to be an interest to future generations.

Posted by: round 2 | September 22, 2006 11:31 AM

"To Man"

See comments about engagement rings. Just one example that women don't seem to mind having as a standard.

Why the need to make things complicated?

I think that people that make this stuff a problem, are the problem. Major red flag to me if I had to explain why some things are the way they are every step along the way.

Posted by: Man | September 22, 2006 11:34 AM

to young twenty sonething
well that's the thing ...it's why it's an issue for women...their social status changes on marrying and it's a bad thing and rooted in the origins of her enslavement.
read "The Origins of Patriarchy" by Gerda Lerner

Posted by: diane | September 22, 2006 11:35 AM

It is always interesting to hear about women's experiences with keep the name they were born with. Some have talked about a lot of hassles with having different last names. In the 7 years that my husband and I have been married I have never encountered a single problem with keeping my name. Am I just lucky? I remember one of our first overseas trips together. When they announced they would be passing out the customs cards and if you were a family unit you only had a fill out one we wondered if anyone would question us because we had different names. We didn't have to say a word. The flight attendent looked at us and said "you only have to fill one out because you are married." She didn't even ask us the question.

Posted by: KeptName | September 22, 2006 11:36 AM

meesh - um, yes, there may be people running around with the same last name, but the concern isn't the extinction of a last name -- it's the end of that's name's existence in one's own family tree.

Posted by: PA mom | September 22, 2006 11:37 AM

just married wrote ..." It's one
reason Southern women are prettier than Yankees, we don't spend so much time
scowling about everything, we smile and deal graciously with things, it
keeps the facial lines to a minimum. "

LOL! Tell us more reasons Sugar!!

Posted by: devoted | September 22, 2006 11:37 AM

I have a wonderful, alliterative Irish name that is so much a part of who I am that it would be a very cold day in Hades before I changed it. The person with whom I will spend the rest of my life (whether we marry in the "legal" sense is not an issue for us right now) has a very Italian last name. My ancestory is nothing but Irish and English. Why should I have an Italian name because of some outdated and misogynist social convention? And if some of the men who have made comments here are "inconvenienced" by their wife's choice to keep her social identity, maybe they should take her name! (Something gives me the feeling that they would rather be inconvenienced!)

Posted by: in a modern relationship in takoma park | September 22, 2006 11:37 AM

Geeze, I'm amazed that so many peoples sense of identity are so precarious that it all comes down to a name. You could call me Lolla lee Lou and I'd still be the same person inside. Maybe people should look at why their sense of identity is so weak that it can be "lost" with the stroke of a pen.

Posted by: Kristen | September 22, 2006 11:38 AM

My situation is sort of the reverse - I did change my name when I got married at 21, then did not change it back when divorced, because I had all my publications in that name and didn't want to lose the recognition. I thought about keeping it back then but my husband felt strongly about it and I didn't feel so strongly, so changed it. Now fast forward to after the divorce, my ex husband married a woman with the same first name as me! So there is confusion about who Mrs. his-name is... and SHE kept her maiden name. Now, I kind of wish I had my maiden name but don't feel like going through the change and having people not possibly not recognize my work.

Posted by: Catherine | September 22, 2006 11:40 AM

All these people saying your "identity" is not tied up in your name...yes, in some sense, your personal sense of self is not. But your "identity" to other people is, by definition. I got married at 27, and everyone who knew me the first 27 years of my life knew my identity as Ms. X. I didn't see any reason for that to go away.

Also, I honored my husband by agreeing to marry him. Don't see why I had to take him name on top of that. Isn't promising lifelong love and fidelity enough???

Posted by: Identify theft | September 22, 2006 11:41 AM

"Geeze, I'm amazed that so many peoples sense of identity are so precarious that it all comes down to a name. You could call me Lolla lee Lou and I'd still be the same person inside. Maybe people should look at why their sense of identity is so weak that it can be "lost" with the stroke of a pen."

Case in point - why so harsh, Kristen? Some people have a lot of family history they are proud of, some people have published works they are proud of and that are important to their careers, some people just like it. Why do you need to judge them as being precarious theres a good chance theres something thats important to your sense of identity that isn't important to them, does that make your identity precarious?

Posted by: nutmeg | September 22, 2006 11:43 AM

I do have to say that it amuses me when certain feminists (like my sister) expect a man to propose and provide an engagement ring, while demanding to retain their name on the grounds of sexual equality and removing the patriarchal wife-as-property implications of name-changing.

Apparently it doesn't occur to everyone what an engagement ring is: collateral. Consider the tradition in which the ring is returned if the woman breaks the engagement, but not if the man does. That's exactly like a non-refundable downpayment. It indicates that you're serious, because if you aren't you're going to lose the monetary value of the ring. If that isn't a mercantile transaction, I don't know what is.

So lets review: engagement rings and male proposals aren't sexist, but name-changing is? If women want to maintain their independence and equality in a relationship, they should do so when it's inconvenient, as well as when it's advantageous. Please note, I'm not opposed to feminism here, just hypocrisy.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 11:43 AM

Diane

You have my sincerest admiration for sucessfully surviving incest. Many don't.

God bless.

(Or not, to those who don't believe).

Posted by: Another Diane | September 22, 2006 11:44 AM

Regarding engagement and wedding rings. We were young and fairly poor when my husband and I got engaged. We were still in school so 2 month salary from my husband's work-study would have purchased a cracker jack prize for an engagement ring. I told him that I did not need an engagement ring. His Grandmother did not think that it was proper not to have a ring, so she gave him her mother's ruby ring to use as an engagement ring. I was very touched, I knew that by this gesture, I was being welcomed into my husband's family. I love my heirloom ring. When my husband and I did marry a year later, we insisted on a double-ring wedding. We were promising ourselves to each other, and the rings were an outward symbol of that pledge.

Posted by: dcdesigner | September 22, 2006 11:45 AM

To this guy...Posted by: | September 22, 2006 11:43 AM

Right on!!!

To the feminists he/she is talking about... Boooooooooo! You make me waste time from work having to slap you around and keep my family from wondering what happend to our culture.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 11:45 AM

Man and 11:43, I'm actually with you on the engagement ring thing. The idea that a man is somehow obligated to spend a certain proportion of his income or get a certain size ring is really a gross idea perpetuated by DeBeers in my mind. I told my husband that I didn't want a ring, much less a diamond one, but he got one anyway. I think he liked the tradition and wanted to do that part his way; I wear it because its something he chose for me and that makes it meaningful.

I also would have proposed, but I knew that I was ready to make that decision before he was, so I wanted to wait and make sure he was really ready. It was really kind of hard feeling like I was sitting around waiting for a proposal, but I'm very glad I did.

Posted by: Megan | September 22, 2006 11:45 AM

I personally like Father of 4's name. But if he wants to change it let's come up with a short list of suggestions and take a vote.

Okay?

Posted by: Leslie | September 22, 2006 11:46 AM

OOps, forgot to claim it.

this was me!!!

Posted by: | September 22, 2006 11:45 AM

Posted by: Man | September 22, 2006 11:46 AM

"Even a very low rate of families that stop using a particular surname due to sex mix of kids, name changes at marriage, whatever, will result in a significant number of name extinctions over time."

Well, I'll have to take your word on that. I guess I was just surprised when I googled my unique name and found hundreds of entries. I sort of assumed that most people would have the same result.

Posted by: Meesh | September 22, 2006 11:47 AM

Just an ettiquette note to add to the confusion - outdated and sexist, but correct:

If Jane Doe and John Smith get married, they can be Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.
She can be Mrs. John Smith.
But she can never be Mrs. Jane Smith or Mrs. Jane Doe. She may be, however, Ms. Jane Smith or Ms. Jane Doe.

Apparently "Mrs." is only correct when using your full name.

If only Emily Post moved at the speed of feminism.

Posted by: scr | September 22, 2006 11:48 AM

There's an easy solution for moms who have different last names than their kids:

Hi I'm Jane, Joe Smith's mother

It's exactly the same number of words as Hi, I'm Jane Smith, Joe's mother and works just as well. It does mean that I am sometimes called Mrs. Smith, but as long as I don't get huffy (which I don't), no one ever has a problem.

Posted by: nyc | September 22, 2006 11:50 AM

I kept my name. Much to my surprise, this irritated my parents (meaning my Mom and Step-Dad) more than his-- my ex-hippie liberal parents suddenly got all traditional when I got married. I suspect the real reason was that my last name is that of my biological father, with whom I no longer have contact. Guess they were puzzled as to why I wanted to keep his name and had been hoping I'd take the opportunity to purge the family of the last connection to him. But to me it was just my name-- I couldn't imagine suddenly changing the name I'd gone by for 27 years. I am a feminist, but to me it wasn't a big statement about patriarchy-- changing it didn't feel right. (Both of our names sound fine with my name, so that wasn't a factor.) If it turns out to be some giant deal when we have kids (which I doubt, since I know plenty of kids who grew up in 2-name families with no confusion or trauma) I reserve the right to change it later if it feels right then. Recently read an article, however, that said fewer and fewer women were keeping their original names when they married (it peaked in the 90's I think).

My husband was hoping I'd take his name-- he said he thought it would be "cozy" for us to have the same name-- but he's totally fine with me keeping it. People call me Mrs. Hisname and his fam calls us "The Hisname's" but it doesn't bother me. Interestingly, in his native country (Turkey) surnames were not used until the republic was founded in the 20's-- all of the nine siblings in his grandfather's family chose different last names! So there are tons of cousins with different last names, but everyone manages to keep track anyway.

Posted by: JKR | September 22, 2006 11:51 AM

to another diane
thanks,that's true, and being assertive with name change helped

to the woman with feminist sister who wanted an engagement ring
I never cared about an engagement ring until I actually saw mine up close
so then I said gimme here

Posted by: diane | September 22, 2006 11:51 AM

I wear both my engagement ring and wedding ring everywhere.

In my experience, men are not deterred by the rings. I still get hit on wearing my rings. I get hit on by men wearing their rings, which blows my mind.

I don't take it too seriously. It's just harmless flirting.

Posted by: Meesh | September 22, 2006 11:51 AM

Both my husband and I took each others names, hyphenated, but our children have his last name... mostly, the name change was important to us but we wanted our kids to make their own decisions about married names when the time comes. Our kids are the only children on his side of the family, so they took his family name. We have never had any confusion with schools, health insurance issues etc... You only have to expalin it once in general.

Posted by: working mom of two | September 22, 2006 11:53 AM

Megan,

I think it is cool that you waited. I personally think that if the guy isn't committed to asking you, don't force it. You'll end up with problems. I liked proposing. I think most guys like being chivalrous. It's ok to let us be.

Feminist Liberals...don't try to take that away from us. You'll look silly.

Posted by: Man | September 22, 2006 11:53 AM

Also, I haven't seen a single post from a woman who kept her name judging those who did not, but lots of women who changed judging those who didn't.>>>

Nutmeg, I changed my name but my mom hyphenated during the 70s. I don't think I have judged anyone. If fact, whatever works for people, is fine by me. Ultimately, it is a personal decision and therefor, my opinion is really irrelevant. I think it makes for an interesting blog topic. I am surprised it caused this much posting.

At least it wasn't about breastfeeing, which is a hornet's nest. Eeeeek!

Posted by: alex. mom | September 22, 2006 11:54 AM

i may have some of the details mixed up but does anybody remember the case, i think it was in new hampshire, of the couple that lived together in a small town. weren't married. had a son. broke up. son had mom's last name. father went to court to force the mom to change their son's name. court sided with mom. father went home shot son and then shot self.

for some people (men & women) what name their children have is a big deal.

Posted by: quark | September 22, 2006 11:54 AM

Man, are you Father of 4?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 11:56 AM

I moved my maiden name to my middle name and took my husband's last name. This is a very common thing among 20 somethings.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 12:00 PM

I am looking at the contact list for my child's preschool. Of the 15 student, 11 have a mother and a father that do not share the same last name! Of those children whose parents do not share the same name, 7 of the kids have just their father's name, 3 of the kids just have their mom's last name and 1 child's last name is hyphenated with mom and dad's last name.

therefore, the "typical" arrangement for these kids is for the mom to keep her name and the child to take the father's name. that is what we did-- I didn't want to give up the name that my career is associated with, but geneology is a big thing in our families and giving our child the mother's name would look "unseemly" for geneology purposes. If geneology weren't such a big deal, then i really like idea of combining the names to create a whole new name. It is possible that the parents of those four lonely (wink!) kids in the class who share the same last name as both parents did this and they are creating their own new dynasty.

Posted by: eastern market | September 22, 2006 12:00 PM

No why? Who are you? First day blogging.

4 kids would be sweet, were working on #1.

Posted by: Man | September 22, 2006 12:01 PM

Are people flattering themselves too much with the, "I get hit on even when I wear my ring," comments. Is it just possible that you are misinterpreting another's friendliness and gregariousness with flirting? People like to meet other people, ask questions and show interest in what they have to say. It is called conversation. Unless someone actually comes right out and asks if I want to "fool-around" "get nasty" "go up to their place to view some etchings," or [insert random euphemism here], I don't really take the talk that seriously.

Posted by: get over yourselves | September 22, 2006 12:02 PM

just married wrote ..." It's one
reason Southern women are prettier than Yankees, we don't spend so much time
scowling about everything, we smile and deal graciously with things, it
keeps the facial lines to a minimum. "

You may be pretty, but where's the ol' Southern Charm that goes with it?

Posted by: Frowning Yankee! | September 22, 2006 12:03 PM

actually the abbreveation mrs means wife of so you can never be mrs jane doe or wife of jane doe. well, never if you live in virginia anyway. so technically, a divorced woman is not mrs john smith because she is not married.

Posted by: quark | September 22, 2006 12:03 PM

Man, I'm glad I waited too. I make decisions faster than he does, and this was definitely not one I wanted to force - like you said, I wanted him to be committed. And, I can tell he really enjoyed coming up with the perfect place, the perfect ring, etc - I think it really meant a lot to him, and therefore it really meant a lot to me too. That day is an incredible memory for me.

I am amused though that you don't want us to propose but agreed with the person who called us hypocrites for NOT proposing! We can't win! But then, neither can the men sometimes, so I guess it all comes out in the wash. ;)

Posted by: Megan | September 22, 2006 12:04 PM

I'm not really surprised that some name-changers have questioned the "commitment" of name-keepers. Sad, but predictable.

People have their own ways of showing love and devotion. Why is it that people think they can know someone else's mind based on a choice that can stem from so many different reasons? People who aren't *really* ready to commit generally don't get married. keeping one's name isn't the red flag some people would apparently like it to be.

Also, I'm glad to see so many non-ring-wearers! We don't wear rings, either. I don't see any need to do so, and in 10 years, it's never caused a problem.

Finally, to the people who say how feminist is it to keep your father's name -- keeping one's name is not about "sticking it" to the patriarchy for most women. It's about maintaining the name they've had since birth, and not giving it up just because they've married. It's about keeping *our* names, regardless of where they came from.

Posted by: PA mom | September 22, 2006 12:04 PM

My wife never ever wanted it to be a topic of discussion, she opted to take my name when we married. Her reason, we were now a family and families have the same name.

Many months later, we met one of her co-workers who had just announced her engagement. My wife asked if she was taking her husband's name, she emphatically replied in the positive and they did a high-five.

I always feel a little sorry for guys whose wives have a different surname.

Posted by: Rufus | September 22, 2006 12:05 PM

I have been married for 15 years and have kept my name. My husband has never had any issues with it. My husband and I grew up in India, a much more man-dominated society. But i met my husband in the US and made my decision because my last name was so much a part of who I think I am. As my husband and i worked together before we got married (when our coworkers sometimes called me by my last name), he even now sometimes calls me by my last name. No issues.

We now have two kids who have my last name as their middle name. Yes, ther are inconveniences and awkward monents when dealing with my kids friends. But that is OK. I do not mind being called as Mrs. Husband's last name but i always introduce myself as my original name or "Jane, mother of Kevin Smith". Also, there are some confusing moments when we are dealing with customer reps. on the phone and forget whose last name did we order the service on etc. But that is OK. For my husband, it is not an issue and for me I just like my name and want to keep it till I live. As simple as that.

Posted by: Ilikemyname | September 22, 2006 12:06 PM

I didn't change mine, and won't. It isn't my "maiden" name. It is just MY NAME.

Our children will be hyphenated.

Posted by: Melissa | September 22, 2006 12:08 PM

somehow I was able to not ask my husband out or ask him to marry me
I knew to wait and have him do the asking
I long for my former freedom and it's consequences

Posted by: diane | September 22, 2006 12:09 PM

Wow, all these comments. I was going to say, "what happens when the hyphenated kids get married?" but DKO and Vienna beat me to it. :)
Seriously, what's all the fuss for? If you're marrying a guy, don't look at it as some sort of control issue- if you honestly feel that way, then maybe you shouldn't marry him. If the system changes gradually over time, then great, if not, great. It's convenient as is and the world has much bigger problems to deal with at the moment. :)

Posted by: Chris | September 22, 2006 12:10 PM

"I don't see the big deal about her changing her name" but to her, it is a big deal."

>> that is not parallel. parallel would be 'to her it would be a big deal to change her name but to me it would not me a big deal to change my name'

maybe that isn't clear, but you really don't seem to be able to see the disparity here

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 12:11 PM

I didn't change my name because it honestly never occurred to me to do so. Nor did it occur to my husband. Neither my parents nor my inlaws cared. I have never had trouble convincing an airline that we are truly husband and wife, and if some random person calls me "Mrs. X" instead of "Ms. Y," it doesn't matter to me.

If it poses enough of a practical issue once we have kids, maybe I'll change it, but probably not. I'm pretty sure my kids won't be "confused"--Mom and Dad having different last names must rank pretty low on the scale of life's great mysteries for children.

I don't really understand the rancor surrounding this issue. I think that women who choose to change their names do so because it is meaningful to them in a good way--at least insofar as the posters on this board seem to be concerned. I think that's nice. But if it's not going to be meaningful to you in that way--as it obviously wasn't for me, although I do love my husband very much--then it's a perfectly reasonable choice to keep your name. I do know some couples who have taken a brand-new last name, had the man take on the woman's name, or gave the children the woman's name. It's all fine and dandy with me.

Posted by: Chicago Lawyer | September 22, 2006 12:12 PM

Megan,

Good point on the hypocrite calling guy, I said I had his back, but not for that. To clarify I don't think that women should do the proposing. I liked what you said about your situation. Similar to mine, I loved doing it, planning it, making it special for my bride etc. It is a good thing to give to each other.

Posted by: Man | September 22, 2006 12:12 PM

Meesh, I forgot to add your name to one of my favorite posting names, Pittypat, you too.

I see a political trend coming on from the name thing. I think that democratic candidates or wives thereof will use part of their birth name in conjunction with their husbands, or just keep their birth name to signify that they are ultra liberals. republican wives/candidates will change their last names to their husbands to show their traditional mindset. Cool! In the next few years you'll be able to identify the political affiliation of a woman soley by how she chooses her name.

Posted by: Father of 4 | September 22, 2006 12:13 PM

I had any easy time making the decision. As the child of divorced parents, each of whom has remarried and all 4 have different last names -- I took my husband's name. I also have a large extended family and my husband's is small. I figured his team needed some more players. Also, although he's not Jewish, he has a Jewish sounding last name (and I am Jewish), so it seemed like a nice fit. Finally, I have a *very* unusual first name, so my identity seemed to come more from that and I didn't really care about my last name.

My friends, husband, and mother were all cool with my choice either way. My father, on the other hand, has yet to stop harrassing me about the choice. He frames it in a way of comparing his generation (boomers) to my generation and how strange it is that women these days are all changing their names, the demise of feminism, blah blah blah. It's getting old fast.

Posted by: Unusual Name | September 22, 2006 12:14 PM

Whenever I hear someone ask, "What if two people with hyphenated names get married?" I always say, "Well, they can always lop one or two off. Merging law firms do it all the time."

It's funny if you're a lawyer.

Posted by: Chicago Lawyer | September 22, 2006 12:16 PM

My parents are about to celebrate their 42nd anniversary next month. My mother does not have an engagement ring. They were very young and didn't have any money when they got married. They only have matching, gold wedding bands and my mother is proud of the fact that it has not left her finger since my father placed it there 42 years ago.

The raised 5 children (we all went to private schools and top colleges), they are paying for their grandson (my nephew) to go to a very expensive private school because my sister cannot afford it. After 42 years, they are still very happy and I am lucky to come from a large, loving, non-disfunctional, open-minded family! I think if I called up my mother right now and asked her if she regretted not having an engagement ring, she'd tell me that there are far more important things in life. As a matter of fact, I'm sure that's what she would say. I think that having them as an example has allowed me to have found the kind of love and joy in my relationship that (even after 6 years) makes me wake every morning with a smile on my face without the "benefits" of an expensive ring, or a piece of paper issued by the government, or giving up my name and social identity. To me, there are more important things in life. But hey, if it makes you happy, then I completely support your choice and viewpoints. This "man" person and others who make judgments about the personal choices of others really to focus a little more closely on themselves. There is not a lot of happiness coming from their comments.

Posted by: in a modern relationship in takoma park | September 22, 2006 12:16 PM

"well that's the thing ...it's why it's an issue for women...their social status changes on marrying and it's a bad thing and rooted in the origins of her enslavement"

Don't, please don't, ever marry a woman who views marriage as enslavement. Family is too important to let it get tied up in some sort of gender politics.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 12:17 PM

Father of 4: Too true, I took my husband's last name and I feel more closely akin to the Republican party. But alas, I live in the Socialist-republic of Maryland, so I vote AS a Democrat, but just to screw them up in the primaries of course.

Posted by: republican living in a blue state | September 22, 2006 12:17 PM

to chris
yes it's probably marriage that's the problem
no more marriage it's too loaded with problems
oh what about that ERA thing that would help
and access to daycare and equal opportunity
and equal access to doctoral education
with all this marriage would be unnecessary

Posted by: diane | September 22, 2006 12:18 PM

I did not change my name when I married. I have always had a strong opinion on the topic and never considered changing it. I think that the tradition of women changing their last name to their husband's immediately creates imbalance in a marriage. I understand why people change their name, since their is a tremendous amount of pressure from society and family, which I also experienced. I do, however, think that this practice is harmful to women's place in our society and in their own families, and I am contantly disappointed in my generation's (I am 25) lack of concern about gender imbalances that persist today. I think that attitudes about name changing are a perfect example of why things still need to change. My children will have hyphenated names and for myself, I can only say it has been much easier NOT to change my name.

Posted by: Bonnie | September 22, 2006 12:18 PM

I never had a middle name growing up, in a family of Debra Jo's, Norma Jean's etc. (southern), so I took the opportunity and moved my maiden name to the middle position.

We had some friends in college who had impossible, multi-syllabic names who put them both together with a hyphen when they married. A lot of us went, 'You all could have made your lives easier and changed it to something simple.." And the kids (who are grownups now, come to think of it...) probably had a hard time learning to spell it.

Posted by: dragonet2 | September 22, 2006 12:19 PM

Re. "Are you that insecure that you cannot commit fully to your husband and family."

Why don't YOU change your name? Or are you that insecure that you cannot commit fully to your wife and family?

Posted by: To Man | September 22, 2006 12:19 PM

I kept my name and it has never been a problem. I've been married 12 years now. Kids not confused because it is just life to them. Kids don't get confused as much as people think! It seemed silly to change it, so much paperwork on so many levels by that time in my life. People are used to things these days. We answer to anything nice. But the thing is, my aunt when we married she pitched a fit. Said it society tries to pull you apart and by taking his name you are binding yourself to him..... Well, a year later guess who got divorced? My aunt, married 40 years, very traditional -- SHE had an affair and asked for a divorce and it had nothing to do with society pulling them apart! Names aren't all that important, it is how you behave, your honor.

Posted by: virginiamom | September 22, 2006 12:19 PM

Kept my name. He had a bit of angst, but got over it.

Only people confused are the tradespeople who do work around the house. I have to say "I'm Herfirst Herlast, wife of Hisfirst Hislast" so they know what house I'm referring to.

I'm most amused when he gets mail addressed to Hisfirst Mylast. That annoys him to no end. I tell him it's my revenge.

Posted by: FillyinPhilly | September 22, 2006 12:23 PM

We got married in 1982 and my wife insisted that she keep her name, which was fine with me (we both have short, easy names). Almost 25 years later, I am still amused at the sheer number of people who seem shocked (and sometimes even confused) that our last names are different and a little surprised that virtually all of the young wives we meet these days so eagerly changed theirs.

Posted by: BigTex | September 22, 2006 12:26 PM

alex. mom, I didn't mean to imply that all the posters who talked about changing were judgmental, just that there was a lot more harsh comments from that side. Like this one from Chris: "If you're marrying a guy, don't look at it as some sort of control issue- if you honestly feel that way, then maybe you shouldn't marry him" harsh! Someone on the other side could just as easily say that if you think that your name is the ultimate symbol of commitment, maybe you should rethink the meaning of marriage. I don't think that, and I don't see anyone else saying that, so again, lay off, peeps!

Posted by: nutmeg | September 22, 2006 12:28 PM

Easy, "Man." I appreciate your support, but I don't want to get roped in to anybody's agenda here. My only point was that there is a logical inconsistancy in the behavior of certain women who want to selectively espouse advantageous aspects of female independence and equality while ignoring or repudiating others. If you want to endorse a certain coherent worldview (women are exactly equal to men in all aspects of life and should be treated accordingly) than you have to accept the negatives as well as the positives inherent in that view. That's like wanting to be able to vote and be treated as a US citizen but not wanting to pay taxes or be drafted to serve in the military. Oh wait... ;)

Posted by: 11:43 | September 22, 2006 12:30 PM

to 12:17
marriage is tied up with gender politics
otherwise why would you bother to get married in order to have a family together

Posted by: diane | September 22, 2006 12:31 PM

I find it hard to believe that people are having so much difficulty having a different name from their child and/or husband.
After divorcing my mother took back her maiden name even though my six year old brother (the only one still at home) and my other brother and me had my father's last name. In the 30 years since there has never been any problem with paperwork, insurance, legalities, doctors, hospitals, etc. And people have managed to address all of us by the correct last name. Occasionnaly we have to correct someone but it has only taken one time.

Posted by: rrg | September 22, 2006 12:35 PM

"So lets review: engagement rings and male proposals aren't sexist, but name-changing is? If women want to maintain their independence and equality in a relationship, they should do so when it's inconvenient, as well as when it's advantageous. Please note, I'm not opposed to feminism here, just hypocrisy."

But:

Re: proposals: "Feminist Liberals...don't try to take that away from us. You'll look silly."

I'm not getting this. If women don't propose and want a ring, we're hypocrites, but if we do propose and don't want a ring, we're taking it away from the guy? Nice little Catch-22!

I like Megan's response. Personally, I have an engagement ring because it was important to my husband that I have one; I love it and would never trade it for anything, not because it has a sparkly in it (ok, that's definitely pretty), but because he gave it to me. But he gave me the opportunity to choose it, because he wanted to make sure that I was happy with something I would be wearing every day for the rest of my life. He wears a wedding ring because it was important to me that we both had a visible symbol of our commitment. I waited for him to propose because he wanted that moment, and I didn't want to take that away from him. Again, all about trying to make your partner happy and deferring to the person to whom it matters most, not about conforming to social expectations or making some big political statement one way or another.

Posted by: Laura | September 22, 2006 12:37 PM

My wife never ever wanted it to be a topic of discussion, ....

If your wife doesn't want it to be a topic of discussion why is she asking other women about their choice?

Posted by: to rufus | September 22, 2006 12:38 PM

to laura

trying to be consistent and politically correct in one's personal life is exhausting
burdensome and people pleasing
everyone does what they can to be consistent but no one keepng score
oh unless you are?

Posted by: diane | September 22, 2006 12:39 PM

Like so many other 20-somethings, I changed my name, and kept my maiden as my middle name. Not a problem - why would it be? I certainly didn't feel I was losing my identity. I'm still my parents' child, and I'm my husband's wife, and my son's mother. What I go by has nothing whatsoever to do with any of that.

But if a woman doesn't want to change her name, why is that a big deal either?

Seems like this is a pointless topic for all but the anger-mongers.

Posted by: dancingrabbit | September 22, 2006 12:40 PM

All these people saying your "identity" is not tied up in your name...yes, in some sense, your personal sense of self is not. But your "identity" to other people is, by definition. I got married at 27, and everyone who knew me the first 27 years of my life knew my identity as Ms. X. I didn't see any reason for that to go away.

Also, I honored my husband by agreeing to marry him. Don't see why I had to take him name on top of that. Isn't promising lifelong love and fidelity enough???

Posted by: Identify theft | September 22, 2006 11:41 AM


Yes, you had a certain "identitiy" for the 1st 27 years of your life. But life is long, and that's exactly, why an explanation regarding "identity" is adequate. What about the next 27 years? Then you would have been married for half your life? What about when you pass away -- hopefully a very very long time from now? Who would you be then? What does that last name mean in that context?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 12:40 PM

Laura, you're not getting it because you're combining two very different opinions and viewing them as a coherent whole. "Man" wants to espouse traditional values and maintain the tradition of men buying rings, delivering proposals, and giving out names. I, by contrast, proposed that women who want to keep their name and their independence should not necessarily expect to recieve a ring or a proposal, since logically speaking true equality would place the burden of asking (and buying rings) on both partners. Man agreed with the "feminism is contradictory" part of my post, but not with anything else. His views and mine are more in disagreement than harmony. That's the reason for the apparent contradition you observed.

Posted by: 11:43 | September 22, 2006 12:40 PM

And just on another note, I work with two people who are in a same-sex relationship and have children. Their children (in both instances) have hypenated names. I have no doubt that there will be some sort of legal recognition of same-sex relationships in the next few years (whether or not it will be called "marriage"). Not all children are the result of heterosexual, nuclear families. Not all parents are married, whether or not they share a name or a gender. No one can make assumptions about family structure based on surnames anymore, and the assumption that all children are the product of a "traditional" nuclear family is completely outdated. So the choice of a surname should not be based on a soon-to-be-nonexistent nuclear social structure. It really is just a personal decision. Nothing more and nothing less.

Posted by: in a modern relationship in takoma park | September 22, 2006 12:41 PM

someone tell just married that smiling causes facial lines too

Posted by: another Southern girl | September 22, 2006 12:41 PM

"It would be interesting to see a study to determine whether married couples with two last names are more likely to divorce."

I thought about this too. I also wondered if people with divorced parents were more likely to not use their maiden name and/or care if their spouses kept their maiden name. Out of all the couples that we have as friends - only one wife has kept their maiden name - and both sets of their parents were divorced. Strangely enough - all the rest of our friends that are couples have parents that have remained married. Could mean nothing but I just thought of it.

Posted by: cmac | September 22, 2006 12:42 PM

Marriage is a sacrament, a bond between a man and wife and God.

In the bible, it states that a "man shall leave his family and the two shall be as one." How can we live according to God's will when we aren't willing to share a name?

Too many of us are hung up on our self-centered worth.

Posted by: nellie | September 22, 2006 12:42 PM

We wanted to have the same last name a new family unit, so we both changed our names. We now have a two word last name of the format [my last name] [his last name].

Posted by: double barrel name | September 22, 2006 12:42 PM

As a 60 something, I remarried this spring more than 35 years after my divorce from late husband #1 (whose name I had taken). I happily and quickly took my new husband's name as his family ties are very strong, and there are no longer any ties to #1's family, except for my 36-year old son who encouraged the name change. Am now part of a strong family, with strong family history, and quite happy with it. Friends, co-workers and other business associates have embraced this happily with me.

Posted by: RGM | September 22, 2006 12:42 PM

Leslie:
Off-topic, but I just thought of a blog topic.

Some background: I went to back-to-school night last night and some parents were concerned about whether the school was serving their little achievers appropriately. There were lengthy discussions about reading groups and reading and math levels. Then a parent wanted to know how they could impress upon their child how important it is to get all "I" (completes tasks independently) on their weekly progress reports. The teacher had to quickly explain that it was not the overall goal to get an I in all the categories, since children (even adults) have great days sometimes and "off" days others. What was more important was that the overall trend was towards improvement.
At this point I could see that some of the parents were clearly lost.

Silly me, I was just wondering if my son had any friends with whom he enjoyed spending recess.

My topic/question is: at what point is a parent's/society's sense of competitiveness and focus on "achievement" (more aptly put, "being the best") harmful to their child's development. How much is too much?

Posted by: dcdesigner | September 22, 2006 12:42 PM

I was just married in August and have not/am not changing my name. I love my husband and have joined my life with his, but I wanted to retain my name. Why do women have to change their names? If we have children, they can have my husband's last name, and I don't think it's a big deal if my last name is different from theirs.

Posted by: Kate | September 22, 2006 12:43 PM

Proud to be a southern woman who never changed her name. I've never thought the custom was necessary to show someone else that you love them (I would never ask my husband to change his identity for me), absolutely not intereted in giving up my name for the convenience of strangers, and I've never wanted to change who I am or how I am addressed, it's just that simple. Any man (or woman) that thinks that selfish or stubborn, is entitled to their opinion, as I'm entitled to mine. I've always felt that it was a good way to filter out small-minded insecure men from my dating pool. Worked out pretty well, after 10 years my husband is still my knight in shining armour and my best friend.

Posted by: rumicat | September 22, 2006 12:43 PM

I decided to hyphenate my last name with my husbands. My reason was my husband's ex didn't go back to her maiden name after their divorce. My last name is now twice as long as it was before. It is a bit of a pain filling out paperwork though. Sometimes there isn't enough room for my whole name. But I have the option (in my opinion when it's convient for me) to go by Mrs. Y-X or just Mrs. X if want.

Posted by: SuperGlam | September 22, 2006 12:44 PM

Call me hopelessly anthropological, but I thought the solution was obvious when my husband & I married. I am a child of divorce who grew up in a family wherein I was the ONLY ONE with my last name (which was just awful), so the hub & I decided that since it was at least possible we'd someday have a child (if totally out of the question, we might have just kept our own names) -- we each took a compound name. Yes, unfortunately this naming style does need to include the much-maligned hyphen (in this country) in order to not have the first surname overlooked - & sometimes it still is, but not often.

Here's how it works for us: Say my last name had been Smith & his last name had been Parsons; now we'd both be Smith-Parsons! (Say it was the order that sounded better to us, due to the double-s.) Now as it turns out, we probably won't have kids - but if we ever do, the plan was always of COURSE to be cool with a child doing whatever it wants with its own last name once it's an adult &, say, marries or has kids of its own - or just wants a change.

But our SUGGESTION to them would be what's (again to me, the anthropologist) the obvious solution of ***matrlineal/patrilineal*** names: A girl passes on her mother's mother's mother's name (etc) & a boy his father's father's father's name (etc). Kids'll do what kids'll do, tho, & relatives must accept that. The sole exception in our case: We told everyone but his frail grandmothers when we merged our names. Why angry up their set-in-old-ways blood, y'know? ;)

PS - I'd love to know if anyone else has used this naming method. I know I've seen more men's names with hyphenations lately, so I'm hopeful the surnames-getting-equal-respect is sweeping the nation!

Posted by: Matriline+Patriline =TRUE LOVE | September 22, 2006 12:48 PM

I find the whole engagement ring thing a little sickening. Why would a woman want to have to wear a symbol saying "I belong to someone now" or "Look what I caught"? The guy buys the ring essentially to brand the woman as "taken." What's wrong with an old-fashioned pledge to one another to get married? Why does there need to be this demonstration of ownership?

Same thing with last names. Why can't she and he join together and make a unit without her having to allow herself to be subsumed under his name?

Both of these actions are fine for those who wish to pursue them. But some of us have different values -- that is, we value the relationship, not the symbols.

Posted by: pittypat | September 22, 2006 12:52 PM

Wow, my wife is liberal, Ivy-league, feminist, has a great carrer, comes from a nice family and she took my name without making fuss.

Lucky me!

I have the feeling that there will be a lot of "Mrs. I took his name"s who will be getting big kisses and maybe even had dinner cooked for them tonight.

Posted by: lucky husbands | September 22, 2006 12:53 PM

When I had a brief, unhappy marriage in the 1980s, I took his name because he "made" me do so. But I got my own name back in the divorce and I promised myself I would never change it again. (It's quite a rare last name -- there are maybe a dozen people with that surname in the whole U.S.) Of course, I've never gotten remarried, so it's never been an issue.

I will say that I have a practical problem with the "maiden name professionally, married name personally" bit. I manage the membership database for a professional organization and it really messes things up when I get PayPal/credit card payments for a "Jane Doe" that doesn't exist in the database (because we have her listed as Jane Smith). Whatever name you choose, please pick ONE (even if it's a combination) and stick to it!

Also, my previous job required me to visit people in their government offices, and with all the post-9/11 ID requirements, I might have had a lot of hassles if they were expecting "Mary Jones" and Mary Smith presented her photo ID.

Posted by: Greenbelt Gal | September 22, 2006 12:53 PM

to dancing rabbit

why are you on if it's pointless?
many people had to fight battles to allow your nonchalance to be possible
it used to be that the whole topic was unthinkable

Posted by: diane | September 22, 2006 12:54 PM

I kept my name when I got married. I never understood why the woman only is expected to change her known identity (and point of contact). I was 37 when I got married, and established in my professional career under my name (though that is not the only reason I kept it, it was a matter of principle to me). I told my husband I would hyphenate with both our names, but only if he did it too and we both had to change our names (we have friends that did this). He wasn't interested in changing his name, so I didn't either. We had no children, as it turns out, but I had already made up my mind that I would NOT automatically give them his name, as I would be the one doing most of the work. They would have gotten my name. The only problem I have had is with businesses like insurance companies that can't handle the two different names, but even that rarely happens anymore with all the blended families. And when my husband's mother was alive, she didn't understand it and always referred to me with his name. Also, I have one acquaintance that for some strange reason adamantly refuses to acknowledge that I kept my name. One of my major pet peeves is at the end of wedding ceremonies, when the newly wed couple is presented as "Mr. and Mrs. Joe Smith" and her name is entirely gone! Even if the wife is changing her name, I think it would be better to say presenting "Jane and Joe Smith".

Posted by: CJB | September 22, 2006 12:55 PM

Great post today. I have the Hillary Rodham Clinton model but with a twist. My husband changed his lastname to his mother's birth name before we married. His mom had no brothers and the name would have died out as my MIL's only uncle only had girls who took their husbands' names. I wasn't too fond of my husband's original last name so change was good for us both. I like the fact that I'm the only Mrs. XX in the family. MIL's uncle never married and MIL is Ms. X since that's her maiden name.

Posted by: MBAmom | September 22, 2006 12:56 PM

Oh come on Pittypat, there's nothing wrong with a girl wanting (or getting) a nice engagement ring.

Posted by: lucky husbands | September 22, 2006 12:56 PM

Since we're discussing this again, I'd like to reiterate something from an earlier post. Whatever you do to your name, please don't hyphenate your the names of your children. I have a very long hyphenated last name that doesn't play well with computers, and necessitates constant explanations to strangers. I can imagine the responses I'm going to get here "'my name is my mother's last name and my father's last name combined--' see, how hard was that?" Take that simple little sentence, and repeat it five times a day, 365 days a year, for the next thirty years. Then tell me it's trivial. Whatever the politics of it, the practical consequence is a constant pain the buttocks for your kids. Their only choices are to live with the annoyance or upset their parents by changing their name; not a choice a good kid who loves mom and dad is going to want to make.

Posted by: Lastname Momsname-Dadsname | September 22, 2006 12:57 PM

"If your wife doesn't want it to be a topic of discussion why is she asking other women about their choice?"

It wasn't a topic of discussion for her because becoming a family was a given. She might ask another woman because she curious.

Posted by: Rufus responding | September 22, 2006 12:58 PM

I kept my name. Partly out of a notion of identity, but mostly because I was marrying a Venezuelan and moving to his country.

In Venezuela, children are given their father's last name followed by their mother's last name - this naming system is part of the legal code. Wives have the option of keeping their maiden name (well in this case the double name), and/or going by "Sra. de Whosits", the equivalent of Mrs. Whosits. I used "Sra. de Whosits" a lot because no one could pronounce my English surname. I used my legal surname for work and legal purposes.

When I registered our newborn daughter at the US consulate, I put a hyphen between the two surnames because I wasn't sure what to do with a double-barrelled last name. Would one get lost in all of the paperwork and if so, which one? The result is that her US passport and US birth certificate read "First Middle Last1-Last2" while her Venezuelan passport, Venezuelan birth certificate, and US Social Security Card (go figure) read "First Middle Last1 Last2" with no hyphen.

We've been living in the US for 8 years now, and my daughter says that she likes her hypenhated name because she is the only one in the world with that name.

I have three sisters:
One kept her name
One hyphenated
One changed

Two of my good friends kept their maiden names for years, and then changed them to match their husbands' when they felt like it.

In this area, all things are possible.

Posted by: cotopaxi | September 22, 2006 12:59 PM

My husband's name is full of vowels, Rs and Ls. I work in computers with a number of people who have difficulty with Rs and Ls. I keep my name at work, use his solicially.

Posted by: Cleo Hanlon | September 22, 2006 12:59 PM

man, there are some seriously insecure husbands if they think their wives choice about her name threatens them or their marraige. Good grief.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 1:00 PM

"Marriage is a sacrament, a bond between a man and wife and God.

In the bible, it states that a "man shall leave his family and the two shall be as one." How can we live according to God's will when we aren't willing to share a name?

Too many of us are hung up on our self-centered worth."

Well, if a man is to leave his family, maybe god is telling him to, you know, leave his family and take his wife's name.

My marriage has nothing to do with god. We are atheists.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 1:00 PM

'...the assumption that all children are the product of a "traditional" nuclear family is completely outdated.'

But it remains a fact that all children are the product of a man and a woman. Not even living in Takoma Park can change that one, LOL!

Posted by: Normal parent | September 22, 2006 1:01 PM

the old testiment is the written patiarchal lay out of women's oppression

Posted by: diane | September 22, 2006 1:02 PM

A lot of comments have suggested changing the woman's last name as a way to avoid confusing the kids. Just how stupid do you think your children are? How is a person's name confusing in the least? Just because you have a different last name doesn't mean you're not family. And if you have the same last name as someone that doesn't MAKE you family either. The millions of Smiths out there aren't concerned that their children will be confused that they're ALL related.

Posted by: Kids Confused? | September 22, 2006 1:03 PM

Wow, I didn't have time to read all of these...

I kept my name during my first marriage, which really confused some of my husband's fellow infantrymen in the Army. Second (and current) marriage, I took my husband's name. You could draw an interesting conclusion about my emotional maturity and readiness for marriage based on my willingness to part with my last name. That said, I think anything anyone wants to do--hyphenate, pick a new one, etc.--is groovy. It's a personal choice.

An interesting observation I've made in the past two years: since her husband's death, my grandmother-in-law, who always used to address letters in her own name, has begun addressing everying as "Mrs. Him H. Himname." We wonder if she does it because she misses him, or because she now lives alone?

Posted by: niner | September 22, 2006 1:03 PM

To Lucky:

"Lucky me!"

Why? What is it about your wife taking your name that makes you lucky?

"I have the feeling that there will be a lot of "Mrs. I took his name"s who will be getting big kisses and maybe even had dinner cooked for them tonight."

You cook dinner for your wife only to reward her? Sounds like a real balanced relationship.

Posted by: pittypat | September 22, 2006 1:04 PM

Kept my name. In 1980, when I married, I was a newspaper reporter. I'd actually been a reporter since fifth grade, when I got my first byline in the gradeschool mimeo sheet! I tried using both names -- birth and married -- in a byline and it looked, and sounded. and was just ridiculous. Took up tons of space and it wasn't me. I also wasn't Mrs. So-and-So. At 22, no one should be or probably can be a "Mrs." And there already was a Mrs. So-and-So and she lived in Ohio and was my husband's mother.
One was quite enough. Although years later, when my son's -- he got his father's surname -- friends came around it was OK with me that they called me "Mrs. So-and-So." It was simpler for the kids and that usage didn't make any difference to me. When I divorced in 1999, there was nothing to change at that point so it was a breeze. I'd never change my name. This is who I am, who I've always been, who I'll always be. I have learned that much, anyway!

Posted by: SF Mom | September 22, 2006 1:07 PM

Sorry - haven't read all the comments, so forgive me if I'm repeating someone else's comments.

My maiden name, though I love it, is UNBELIEVABLY diffcult to figure out how to spell. Had to spell it out all the time for teachers, folks on the phone, etc. I jokingly swore that I'd marry someone named SMITH just so I could stop having to spell out my last name on a daily basis.

Didn't marry a SMITH -- but married a JACKSON! Not that it helped -- I still am asked how to spell my last name!

Posted by: Happy I'm Jackson | September 22, 2006 1:07 PM

pittypat, sorry that life appears to have made you so bitter that you have to vent your spleen at us happy guys.

Posted by: Rufus | September 22, 2006 1:07 PM

"Wow, my wife is liberal, Ivy-league, feminist, has a great carrer, comes from a nice family and she took my name without making fuss.

Lucky me!

I have the feeling that there will be a lot of "Mrs. I took his name"s who will be getting big kisses and maybe even had dinner cooked for them tonight."

I'll get a big kiss and dinner cooked for me. What does that have to do with names?

Fortunately, my husband's masculinity, self worth, and love for me are quite strong. They aren't shaken by the fact that neither of us changed our names. A man who is so feeble as to be bothered by his wife having a different last name would be of no interest to me.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 1:07 PM

"Normal" (geez, what a sad way to identify yourself),

Biology is not family. Wake up and smell the new century. It's been going on for almost 7 years now, in case you didn't notice.

Posted by: in a modern relationship in takoma park | September 22, 2006 1:08 PM

regarding the engagement ring thing: sweetie and i (both 40-something) knew we were going to get married, but weren't formally engaged. i told him that i didn't need an engagement ring, didn't make us more committed to each other, and i hate the whole DeBeers/diamond industry racket. i basically was comfortable just declaring ourselves engaged so we could get on with the actual planning. however, the ring (and surprising me with it) was very important to him. so we didn't get officially engaged until he secretly searched for and found just the ring he wanted me to have, and then surprised me on his birthday with the proposal. So this ring, because it was so important and symbolic to him, is very precious to me. Are the origins of the engagement ring rooted in the need to brand a woman as belonging to a man? i spose. but that's not what this ring means to me or to him. and for what it's worth, he's very excited about getting his very own wedding band.

Posted by: justengaged | September 22, 2006 1:09 PM

This entire conversation is very interesting. I kept my birth name (I was never a maiden after all!) when I married in my early 20s during the Reagan Administration. The reason I kept my name? A long story but here's the short version:

when I was 19 and working in a university department, I wrote a note to a grad student (older) who had just married a professor. "Best Wishes, Mrs. Smith," I wrote. She came to me and said, "Thank you. By the way, I kept my name." (This was more to let me know for practical purposes because I took phone messages for her - yes, back in the days before voicemail and email!)

In any case, I CASUALLY mentioned to my then-boyfriend (Naval Officer) at the time (now my husband) that when I marry, I wouldn't mind keeping my name. I didn't insist on it, I was just fascinated that I had that choice in life. My name is also a nice-sounding one and I have no middle name.

Fast forward five years: without telling ME, my then-fiance informed his very conservative Republican Italian-surname father that his soon-to-be daughter-in-law was not changing her name.

My then-fiance NEVER told me about this conversation.

On a Christmas visit months before our wedding, my father-in-law cornered me while no one was around and interrogated me, yelled at me, berated me, take your pick.

Well, as the young Irish-American lass I was (and my name reflects it), I had no choice but to keep my name ;-)

Now I don't mind if you call me Mrs. M. or Ms. O. But, my teenaged son corrects ANYONE who calls me Mrs. M. He's really funny.

I do have one regret, that my father-in-law is long gone and we can't now talk about it.

My husband's family history is quite interesting. His mother's family arrived in what is now the US in the 1600s. His father's family is the traditional Ellis Island Italian immigrant story. The Italian side has a lot of very intriguing aspects to it, particularly during the communist witch hunts of the 1950s.

If only my father-in-law were here now to talk about it rationally, and allow me to say "I understand."

Back then, I reacted to being attacked, but I wasn't experienced enough to understand that the source of his anger wasn't just me, it was a history of people stereotyping the name and relating it to the mafia and the Communists.

Posted by: Kate | September 22, 2006 1:11 PM

if i had changed my last name, but kept my middle name, my initials would have been A.S.S. i actually didn't think about that till after i got married, since i had already decided i would keep my name. no big deal for us... our son has his last name, but my father's first name as a middle name. because we both think our fathers rock. whatever...

Posted by: does it matter? | September 22, 2006 1:11 PM

Rufus --

Lovely thing to say: "pittypat, sorry that life appears to have made you so bitter that you have to vent your spleen at us happy guys."

As it happens, I'm married to an extraordinary man whose integrity I admire and whose respect I'm happy to have. He's the finest man I've ever known, and he continues to surprise me daily with his love and sensitivity.

He would have been hugely surprised if I had even suggested taking his name, and we both find the idea of ownership jewelry to be repugnant. We both wear wedding rings as a symbol to each other of our commitment.

Stop being a jackass.

Posted by: pittypat | September 22, 2006 1:12 PM

I think the judgments back and forth blow this out of proportion. Like Laura said, I think for the vast majority of women the decision is not a political statement nor is it any indication of the quality of the relationship - it's about that person's history and identity and that couples' ideas of love and commitment, which as we all know, will vary. It seems awfully narrow minded to think you and your spouse are superior based on this one decision.

Posted by: Megan | September 22, 2006 1:13 PM

My husband took my name. It wasn't really much of a discussion. Even though we are not planning on having children, we still very much wanted to have the same name. We just liked my name better - it's not that big of a deal. I am still surprised at the shocked reactions we get from people when they find this out.

A woman says her "maiden" name was....but what's the equivalent term to "maiden" for a man? Is there one?

Posted by: happy union | September 22, 2006 1:14 PM

"I kept my name, but I must confess that it irritates me at weddings when, say, Mary Doe marries John Smith, and the DJ announces, "introducing Mr. and Mrs. John Smith!!!" It basically says to me, here's this dramatic, life-changing event that has taken place and nothing has happened to the man but the woman has completely lost her identity-- both first and last name.

I know it's tradition, but it just bugs me."

Yes, maybe tradition, but some women choose that, with lots of thought. The women who are getting married and DON'T want to be annouced this way make sure the DJ (or whoever) doesn't do it...It's not your wedding...relax a little. Women can choose to follow a tradition with naming that you've decided against. There's no reason this should irritate you.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 1:16 PM

pittypat suggests: "Stop being a jackass."

It's your suggestion, you go first! ;-P

Posted by: Rufus | September 22, 2006 1:18 PM

"Lucky --

Read my message to Rufus. Apllies to you, as well.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 1:18 PM

"Lucky --

Read my message to Rufus. Applies to you, as well.

Posted by: pittypat | September 22, 2006 1:18 PM

Oh pittypat,
ringless pittypat,
ringless have to make your own dinner pittypat.

Yes, I consider myself lucky my wife took my name. My kids are lucky we are a family and share a name. We say corny things like "We're Team X" and they enjoy the bond.

She took my name as way to show she loves me, I make her dinner because I love her. We have other healthy ways to express and demonstrate our love too.

Posted by: lucky husbands | September 22, 2006 1:18 PM

"I think the judgments back and forth blow this out of proportion. Like Laura said, I think for the vast majority of women the decision is not a political statement nor is it any indication of the quality of the relationship - it's about that person's history and identity and that couples' ideas of love and commitment, which as we all know, will vary. It seems awfully narrow minded to think you and your spouse are superior based on this one decision."

Unfortunately, I think women mainly change their name simply because that is what is usually done in our society. People build up all sorts of other excuses and explanations around why they change their name to give it more significance, but after all of that, I have had many of these same women express jealousy over the fact that I did not change my name. There is immense pressure in our society for women to change their name and that plays no small role, despite other explanations.

Posted by: Bonnie | September 22, 2006 1:20 PM

"Lucky" --

Read my message to Rufus. Applies to you, as well.

Posted by: pittypat | September 22, 2006 1:21 PM

Takoma, I have some really bad news for you, the new century hasn't changed biology one bit.

Oh yeah, and we're only 6 years into the new century as the year 2000 was the final year in the 20th century, not the first in the 21st.

But history seems to be as elusive to you as biology.

Posted by: Normal parent | September 22, 2006 1:22 PM

"Ownership Jewelry" Man, if we could get the young guys to get the young women to buy this, the young guys could afford really cool sports cars.

Posted by: ring | September 22, 2006 1:22 PM

In China women don't change their last names and obviously it hasn't cause a billion plus kids to have identity crises.

My wife changed her last name but now wishes she'd dropped her middle name and used her surname.

My daughters will never marry because they are daddy's girls so I don't have to worry about this issue for my daughters. Pheeewww!!!

Posted by: Mr. EstrogenCentral | September 22, 2006 1:25 PM

"There is immense pressure in our society for women to change their name and that plays no small role, despite other explanations."

So what? Look, you can't have it both ways; either you decide that keeping your name is important to you and you suck up any static, or you decide that you don't want to rock the general societal boat and you take your husband's name. Either way, you take the bad with the good.

Where did anyone get the idea that they should give a damn about what "society" says? Last I checked, parents don't often say, "Oh, the peer pressure is getting to you? Well, then, you should probably start smoking dope. You know what? I'll pick you up a dime bag on my way back from work tomorrow." Why should grown women say, "Oh, but society makes it so haaaaaaaard" and expect to be taken seriously?

Anyway, I disagree that there's "immense pressure" for women to change their names.

Posted by: Lizzie | September 22, 2006 1:26 PM

I always thought that I would NEVER change my last name. But I married a tradition-minded german guy who was hurt by my initial refusal to change my name. The "why should I change my identity because I get married / feminist pride" angle didn't work on him. So I added his last name to my name (it's a mouthful) but still go by my maiden name at the office. Our kids won't get my maiden name or a hyphenate - they'd have to learn half the alphabet just to write their own names!

By the by, I have a very good friend who kept her maiden name and her kids, who are in college now, were never confused.

Posted by: belgie | September 22, 2006 1:27 PM

To the 0847 poster: in the context that the custody papers were asked for, I was surprised by the request (first time I'd ever heard it) and somewhat put out that my word as a senior military officer wasn't considered good enough, not to mention the fact that she and her father were on my orders. However, this was protection for the member and child to combat parent-kidnapping incidents and I had her birth certificate at the ready. Leared from SIL who kept her name to carry the birth cert with me (in addition to the name we do have in common), makes me sad to have to do so. Interesting 0847 and I were the only two to bring up this possibility -- issues with kids having different last names and custody being called into question. In this day and age of blended families do you just naturally carry all your birth certificates and custody papers with you wherever you go?

Posted by: Military Momma | September 22, 2006 1:31 PM

I took my husband's last name when I married him 4 years ago so my future children and I would have the same last name. However, I also kept my maiden last name because it is rare and I'm the last generation using it but I received a MD court order to use it as a middle name. I also kept my original middle name so I actually have 4 discrete names (first, middle 1, middle 2 and last) but they are fairly short and it hasn't been a problem.

Posted by: JMBB | September 22, 2006 1:31 PM

"Normal",

WOW! That point about the new century, which could not have possibly been gleaned from thousands of news sources that may or may not have circulated around the time of January 2000 has shown me that your supreme intelligence must be superior to my liberal and open-minded ways. You are obviously so much smarter than me, that I have decided to sign up as a Republican immediately, give up all claim to independent thought, snub my lesbian co-workers and their children, and run out and get a marriage license right away and stop living in SIN! Gosh, I better go find myself one of those fundamentalist churches too. I bet you can point me in the right direction. Thank you so much for showing me the error of my ways. There is no room on this planet, or in this country, for diversity and respect for alternate life choices! What was I thinking? Well now, thanks to YOU, Normal, I am on the righteous path!

Posted by: in a modern relationship in takoma park | September 22, 2006 1:32 PM

I kept my name, and he really doesn't care either way. I don't care if someone calls me Mrs. HisLastName. He has been called Mr. MyLastName, and we both found it funny.

Of our friends, the ones who changed did so mostly for the opportunity to get a "better" last name (easier to spell, pronounce, etc.) My cousin got a PhD with her birth name, and kept it after she got married. My sister-in-law changed her name right after they returned from their honeymoon, because her name was ridiculously long and she couldn't wait to change so something shorter and easier. :-) Another couple is getting married soon and they both have hyphenated names. They're planning to pick two of the four to give their children, but aren't changing their own.

Do what you, as a couple, feel is right for you. The rest of us are just bystanders in the naming game :-)

Posted by: Cory | September 22, 2006 1:33 PM

Pittypat is right. It's a silly thing for a man to get upset about. All of my husband's friends couldn'believe that he was letting me keep my name. He told them he wasn't letting me do anything, I did what I wanted.

Father of 4 keep your name! Why becuase I said so! :)

Posted by: scarry | September 22, 2006 1:33 PM

Good points, Lizzie. So much of life really ought to boil down to "make your choice and then live with it."

As to men being "hurt" by women's decisions to keep their birth names -- geez, guys, get over it! And geez, girls, don't pander to it! If a man is going to be hurt about such a trifling thing, think what you'll have to put up with when real issues arise.

Posted by: pittypat | September 22, 2006 1:34 PM

When we married I added my husbands last name on to the end of my existing name. Professionally I went by my maiden name and personally I went by my married name. This was partially for professional reasons, but also because my family is very small and my only sibling is female. Plus, my father was very important to me and had passed away 10 years earlier and I suddenly felt like he was becoming even less a part of my life and history.

This continued for about 7 years. Then I started working closer to home and I found the separation harder to make. So now I am known more by my married name, even though my legal name involves all of my names.

My husband supported all of my naming decisions. Now I have a daughter named after my dad and she looks so much like him. My whole naming quandary seems to be of little consequence for me, at this point.

Posted by: NoVa Mom | September 22, 2006 1:35 PM

If you see in the newpaper, class list, etc. something like:

John Smith, son of Jane Doe and Fred Smith are Jane and Fred:

1) Married, but she kept her name
2) Divorced and back to birthname
3) Divorced and mom remarried
4) Never married, child born out of wedlock

You don't know.

If you see John Smith, son of Jane and Fred Smith, you know Jane and Fred are married.

Otherwise, you are trying to confuse the public on your status.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 1:35 PM

My mom never changed her name and it wasn't an issue with my dad. Kids all got our dad's name. I would just to say that, 1)I was never confused as to who my mother was, 2) I was never confused as to what her name was, 3) Explanations to others, when necessary, are very easy ("my mom didn't change her name when my parents got married").

Posted by: neige108 | September 22, 2006 1:36 PM

"Anyway, I disagree that there's "immense pressure" for women to change their names. "

Lizzie, apparently you have not been reading the other posts, because they detail numerous examples of women facing pressure from society, family and even the men they are going to marry to change their names. Most women don't whine about it, because, like you, they do not recognize this bias for what it is.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 1:36 PM

To Pittypat

Lots of "trifling things" add up and turn into big problems.

Posted by: GJP | September 22, 2006 1:36 PM

Military Momma, I'm 8:47.

"In this day and age of blended families do you just naturally carry all your birth certificates and custody papers with you wherever you go?"

When our first got to be almost 3, we went to MD DMV and got a state issued ID card - only cost $5. Needed birth certificate and my driver's license. This way, if need be, wife's driver's license and kid's ID card have same address. A bit better than nothing. We take it whenever we go out.

When travelling, we take kid's ID card and birth certificate (has both our names on it).

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 1:38 PM

Just an ettiquette note to add to the confusion - outdated and sexist, but correct:

If Jane Doe and John Smith get married, they can be Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.
She can be Mrs. John Smith.
But she can never be Mrs. Jane Smith or Mrs. Jane Doe. She may be, however, Ms. Jane Smith or Ms. Jane Doe.

Apparently "Mrs." is only correct when using your full name.

If only Emily Post moved at the speed of feminism.

Posted by: scr | September 22, 2006 11:48 AM
~~~~~~~~~~~

I have to tell you, this clarification makes a big difference to me. If this is really the case then the Mrs./Ms. debate seems to have a lot less sexist overtones. I've never heard a woman explicitly go by "Mrs. Hisfirstname..." so therefore everybody is Ms.

Sounds reasonable and much less-meanspirited a tradition than people make it out to be.

Posted by: Random Guy | September 22, 2006 1:39 PM

Diane, I've agreed with a lot of what you said here, but sorry, I'm not getting your 12:39 comment to me. I was just noting the Catch-22 that feminists tend to face -- if any decision you make conforms to traditional gender roles, you're a hypocrite; if it doesn't, you're not committed to your marriage, depriving your man, etc. I was trying to point out that sometimes decisions can look inconsistent to the outside world without being hypocritical: yes, I kept my name, and yes, I have an engagement ring, but it's not because I want the privileges of equality without the associated burdens -- it's because issue 1 mattered to me, and issue 2 mattered to my husband.

I certainly don't exhaust myself trying to be politically correct or keep score or justify my decisions or live up to some standard that the world sets for me (or defy it for the sake of defying it) -- I was just using personal examples to illustrate a point. In reality, we base our decisions entirely on what matters to us, not on what other people (on this blog or in society as a whole) might think. The irony is I've spent more time explaining the thought process behind our decisions here than it took to make all of those decisions combined! ("Do you want me to take your name?" "I don't care. I know you like your name." "Ok, thanks for understanding.").

Posted by: Laura | September 22, 2006 1:39 PM

I changed my name primarily because of future children. I didn't do it because I worried that the kids would get confused or have identity problems. I did it because I worried that I might be prevented from attending to my children's well-being if something happened to them and I couldn't prove to hospital personnel or authorities that I was their mother. Yes, the simple solution to that would be to carry a copy of the marriage license at all times, but what if that copy got misplaced somehow and wasn't available? What if my child was unconscious and couldn't identify me as its Mom? No way was I going to take that chance. Besides, knowing me, I'd be so frantic to get to my child's side that I might be busted for assault if someone tried to prevent me from reaching my child just because our last names didn't match.

Professionally, I hyphenate my name since I did publish before I married. Nothing got lost there. And as for the name itself, my maiden name is a second middle name for myself as well as my children.

Posted by: MAY | September 22, 2006 1:40 PM

"Lizzie, apparently you have not been reading the other posts, because they detail numerous examples of women facing pressure from society, family and even the men they are going to marry to change their names."

I saw women who got static from their families and sometimes from their husbands. This is not "society."

Back in 1850, yes, "society" did indeed exert enormous pressure on women to change their names, to the point where it was unthinkable for them to do otherwise. Lucy Stone kept her name after marriage and got into legal hot water because of it.

Having your FIL bellow at you during Christmas dinner does not societal pressure make.

"Otherwise, you are trying to confuse the public on your status."

So?

Posted by: Lizzie | September 22, 2006 1:40 PM

Lizzie, you've just dated yourself. The dime bag went out with the 70s.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 1:40 PM

to lucky husband - I think it is wonderful that your wife took your name - it obviously means a lot to you (her as well maybe) and she respects that. I took my husband's name and it made he and I very happy.

Posters such as Pitty Pat can't let happy people be happy without questioning why you aren't happy the same way SHE is. Her way or the highway mentality.

Cheers.

Posted by: cmac | September 22, 2006 1:41 PM

I have a friend (who is still single) and she has grown up with a last name that starts with a "C". She jokes that she will refuse to marry anyone (and take their name) unless she can "move up in line". This means all the Anderson and Brown men should line up...She's waiting for you.

It's really pretty funny bc there's no sense to it. But whenever I'm dating someone she always says things like "Oooh, you can move up with him!". She's twisted...HA!

ps: easy on the fighting...for the love of Friday. it's a discussion not a beat down.

Posted by: funny | September 22, 2006 1:41 PM

Having gotten married very recently, I am "finishing" the process of changing my name. I have been astounded by the number of people who refuse to recognize my new last name. My boss, for one, who continues to introduce me by my maiden name, as does the (female) president of our organization. They both know about the name change, but have told me they think it's "confusing" to people who knew me before and they never intend to use my new name. (Incidentally, I did move my maiden name to the middle for professional purposes.) And one of my doctors was reluctant to recognize the name change because it required additional paperwork . I love my husband and as others have said, I want to avoid confusion for the children we hope to have. Also, his name is much shorter and easier than mine. This should be a win-win situation, so I am really frustrated by the people in my life who act like the is a personal affront to them.

Posted by: Mrs. S in VA | September 22, 2006 1:42 PM

Who knew there were so many people "published". Maybe I'm on the wrong blog. Is this for "published" only.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 1:42 PM

I had my dad's and mom's last names (Jane Doe Smith, no hyphen) as a single. I was close to my dad, and much less so to mom. When I was ready to get married, I was past 35. I'd publishd, built a decent career, owned a house on my own. All in the dad-mom maiden name. I didn't want to try to carry three names, but wanted any future kids to have the same name that I did. So I dropped my mom's name, and now go by Jane Doe Jones. I'm pregnant for the second time, and the baby will get my mom's last name for a first name. Everybody seems happy with this.

And while it has been somewhat annoying to deal with financial institutions with respect to the name change, there was no professional impact. I just published any new work with the new name, and had two sections for publications (one for each name) on my C.V.

Posted by: Former NoVA Working Mom | September 22, 2006 1:44 PM

Yes, normal parent, you are correct in that 2000 was the final year of the 20th century, but you are mistaken if you think that 6 years + 9 months cannot reasonably be described as "going on almost seven years."

As for the rest of you, ignore rufus and lucky. Don't you recognize flamebait when you see it?

Posted by: 11:43 | September 22, 2006 1:44 PM

"Otherwise, you are trying to confuse the public on your status."

So, it's ok for men not to have their "status" clarified publicly but not ok for women?

That's a double-standard.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 1:44 PM

I changed my name in both marriages because of the "so the whole family has the same name" thing.

Having a last name different from your children is a bit of a pita (since my first two children are from my first marriage, their last name is different from mine, my husband's, and our youngest two.) I realize that I bristle more at being called "Mrs. M" because M is my ex-husband's name - I've pretty much gotten over that and will answer to it if it doesn't matter that they know my real last name - but it's often confusing for people. I have to explain that they have a different last name than I do a lot, because people meet them and then meet me and don't make the connection.

Posted by: momof4 | September 22, 2006 1:45 PM

Thank you cmac -- and I'd venture to guess that you, like my wife, have suffered no sort of "identity loss" due to changing your name. As we say about so many of our decisions "this works for our family."

Posted by: lucky husbands | September 22, 2006 1:46 PM

Dude, I'm with you megan. Cut the crap.

My mom took my dad's name, 27 years later he divorced her and married his high school sweetheart/recent mistress. When my husband and I got engaged, she asked me if I was changing my name. I said no. She said snidely, "well, I think a woman who won't change her name isn't really committed and is setting herself up."

I thought this was rich coming from her, given that my dad was her third husband, she'd changed her name everytime, and all three marriages ended in nasty divorces, two of which she initiated.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 1:46 PM

"Lizzie, you've just dated yourself. The dime bag went out with the 70s."

Ha! Not in the tiny out-of-the-way Massachusetts town where I grew up.

Posted by: Lizzie | September 22, 2006 1:47 PM

"I wouldn't have a problem changing my name, but that isn't the standard."

Man, why is it so important to you to maintain the status quo? Is it because it benefits you?

Posted by: Bonnie | September 22, 2006 1:47 PM

Scarry --

Sounds like your husband and mine are among the few on this blog who don't need female subservience to pump up their fragile male egos.

:>)

Posted by: pittypat | September 22, 2006 1:48 PM

"To Man",

I sense that you are pretty argumentative. So I'm sure there is no answer good enough for you.

It isn't a question as to, why don't guys change their name. You are complicating this by being one of "those people" that keep asking this. Marriage isn't "tit for tat". I have ansered this earlier. I wouldn't have a problem changing my name, but that isn't the standard. It's not a problem unless you make it one. The point is marriage is about "we" not "me" if someone is hung up on this standard, then they are selfish in my opinion. Get over it. Let guys be chivalrous, and quit crying every time a man takes a leadership role in anything. It's not about who's the boss or some power trip. What are you afraid of?

Posted by: Man | September 22, 2006 1:48 PM

I took my husband's last name. Didn't bother me a bit, I always assumed I would take my husband's name when I got married. I think of this as a Northern/Southern thing though. All of my Southern friends took their husband's last name whereas most of the Northerners did not. My MIL was surprised I took my husband's last name since all of her friends' daughters and DIL have not (but she is in Toronto...) Every single woman I know that has ever lived in NYC has not taken her husband's last name. I'm glad I did since it is less confusing for everyone and my husband (who said it was my choice) was pleased I took his name as well.

Posted by: D's Mum | September 22, 2006 1:48 PM

Otherwise, you are trying to confuse the public on your status."

So, it's ok for men not to have their "status" clarified publicly but not ok for women?

That's a double-standard.

Posted by: | September 22, 2006 01:44 PM

----------------
How exactly is that a double-standard? To have a single last-named family, one of the couple must change there last name. Traditionally, it is the wife who changes her name. If the couple can agree to a joint name/hypenated/whatever, so be it. However, if they are going to pick one, go with tradition (just like engagement ring, white dress, tossing bouquet, etc. when it comes to wedding/marriage).

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 1:50 PM

I married in 1972 and changed my name. In those days it was expected for a woman to change her name. The females in my circles changed their name. They wanted to be called "Mrs." and for any children born into the marriage. This is a very personal choice. Whether a woman changes her name or not depends on who she is and where she is in her growth process. Name changing has absolutely nothing to do with self identity. You're the same person. I remember saying to my mother after I got married I thought I would feel different. I have a friend who is recently divorced and is having all kinds of issues going back to her maiden name. My youngest son recently married a very progressive, self assured young woman and she decided to change her name, to my surprise. My middle son married someone who is more traditional and she didn't change her name. In the overall scheme of life, I think a woman should do what is comfortable for her. Why should anyone else care! The children will be just fine!

Posted by: luv2sew | September 22, 2006 1:51 PM

"Nut,
Sure I'd change my name if that was standard but it's not. So that isn't a good question. Why don't I hear guys complaining that they have to buy engagement rings for the woman? I did it...and loved it. I didn't question why or ask where's mine?"

I was waiting for someone to bring up the "standard" or "tradition" as a reason to not even raise the issue. Some societal standards are nice and others should be questioned and sometimes abandoned. For example, dowries are a tradition that has been questioned and abandoned in many socieities. Thanks goodness people started to question that tradition and didn't just follow it blindly. It also isn't wrong to explore the tradition of engagement rings. My husband and I looked at many of the traditions of engagement and the wedding ceremony and took time to think about what they symbolized. We designed an engagement and ceremony that incorporated only those traditions that symbolized what we wanted to communicate. For example, when he asked me what I thought about engagement rings as a symbol of our commitment to each other I said it was a nice idea if we both exchanged and wore them. We also modified elements of the ceremony. I think that as long as it isn't hurting anyone else people should choose the traditions they want to follow, but I have issues with the argument that if it isn't a tradition it is cause to dismiss a new idea. This goes for names as well. To each his/her own decision, but don't squash debate with "tradition" or "custom."

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 1:52 PM

Man, you wrote:
"It's not a problem unless you make it one."

Well, it wasn't a problem for my husband and I because he really didn't care, in fact, he seemed somewhat put off when I asked him if he wanted to me to change my name.

However, your first post implied that it means I am not committed, so really, you're assuming it's a problem when it's not. Not all women who don't change their names are causing problems and putting themselves first - many, if not most, are marrying men who don't see it as a sign either way.

Posted by: Megan | September 22, 2006 1:52 PM

cmac:

You said, "I took my husband's name and it made he and I very happy."

That should be, "it made him and me very happy."

See -- I can be petty, too. :>)

Posted by: pittypat | September 22, 2006 1:53 PM

>

It isn't confusing in a "why the heck does she have a different name than they do???" kind of way. It IS sometimes confusing, especially as your children get older, because if a person meets either you or your children, but isn't told that your last name is different from theirs, they won't connect you to them, or they won't be able to contact you by looking up your child's last name, or whatever. I've had this happen many, many times. It's just an inconvenience - not anything more - but it is confusing.

Posted by: momof4 | September 22, 2006 1:53 PM

Man, it sounds like it "is" about a power trip to you. Why not let people choose the option that works best for them? It's ironic that you point out that marriage is all about "we, not me" and then make it all about you and your name. Using appeals to tradition to justify attacks on other people's decisions about their own lives is the hallmark of a small mind. What they choose to do with their names has no impact on you... unless this really is about power and control- for you.

Posted by: 11:43 | September 22, 2006 1:53 PM

"there are a lot of double-standard holders on this blog who aren't honest enough to admit it."

Where do you get that? Maybe they don't care enough about the ring issue to even weigh in.

For the record, I didn't care about getting an engagement ring, never wear the one I got, and my husband and I haven't taken off our bands since the ceremony.

Posted by: Lizzie | September 22, 2006 1:54 PM

For those people offended when mail comes to Mrs. George Bush, Mrs. husband's first name and last name is the correct way to address someone. Mrs. Laura Bush indicates she is DIVORCED.

Posted by: Miss Manners | September 22, 2006 1:54 PM

My wife kept her name for a while. She wanted friends that might pop into town to be able to find her by her listing in the phone book ... until the psychopath called.

Posted by: Working Dad | September 22, 2006 1:54 PM

"Frankly, the name thing is NOT confusing. It only seems that way to people who believe husband, wife and children should share one name: the husband's. "

This is what I was commenting on in my last post.

Posted by: momof4 | September 22, 2006 1:55 PM

"Frankly, the name thing is NOT confusing. It only seems that way to people who believe husband, wife and children should share one name: the husband's. "

This is what I was commenting on in my last post.

Posted by: momof4 | September 22, 2006 1:55 PM

So while we are hearing a few women come forward and say 'the ring didn't matter to me', there are a lot of double-standard holders on this blog who aren't honest enough to admit it.

And jeez pittypat. Now that we have an issue where I disagree with you, I can see why people think you are abrasive and judgemental.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 1:56 PM

Father of 4 please keep your name! Otherwise I'll no longer be able to use the "find next" keyboard function to go directly to your entertaining posts rather than scroll thru all the others ...

Posted by: Father of 4 Fan | September 22, 2006 1:56 PM

"My wife kept her name for a while. She wanted friends that might pop into town to be able to find her by her listing in the phone book ... until the psychopath called.

Posted by: Working Dad | September 22, 2006 01:54 PM"

I'm glad she learned her lesson! Hahahaha.

Posted by: she learned! | September 22, 2006 1:56 PM

Oh Pittypat, please address your Christmas Card to "Mr. and Mrs. Caveman." You've figured us out.

Posted by: lucky husbands | September 22, 2006 1:58 PM

Message to the ladies -- a man enjoys being told to "get over it" exactly as much as you do.

Posted by: Random Guy | September 22, 2006 1:58 PM

I immediately changed my last name legally, but professionally, I did not give up my last name for about 2-3 years.

My last name is unique. I am not aware of anyone else in the world that has the same last name as my family (except a few scattered members of my small family). Thus, it was truly difficult for me to give it up professionally. Now, I have acclimated.

My husband never said anything but would ask me every now and then when I was going to change it professionally to his last name.

My son has my maiden name as his middle name, which my husband agreed to somewhat grudgingly, but I insisted, thinking it important. I think it has more to do with the fact that my family has not been overly kind to him rather than any issues otherwise.

Posted by: Rebecca | September 22, 2006 2:01 PM

My goodness there is a lot of anger on this topic. Obviously the angry, militant feminists who are constantly looking for ways to emasculate men and ultimately create more work for themselves are out in full force. I am a feminist as well and a traditional Southern woman, you can be both I promise. Perhaps some of these ladies should take a lesson from the southern women, we let men do things for us not because we can't do them for ourselves but because it's much nicer to sit back with a cold drink and watch someone else work than to fight about how we can do it better. It's also less confusing for the help if my husband and I have the same last name, bless her heart, that lady whose gardener doesn't know her name could get rid of one more headache in her day if she just changed her name. I also think it's so special to have a big diamond ring and a wedding band as a symbol of our love and I'm sure those women without diamond rings and whose husbands don't wear wedding bands have a great marriage too, in their own little way.

Posted by: just married | September 22, 2006 2:01 PM

to laura
yes i misunderstood you,sorry,
I think we're in agreement

It's important to be at least coherant but not enough to freak out about and try to please some sort of feminist ideology that changes with time and deeper understanding of what patriarchy means to women and men.
Change is not always right or easy so you had best please yourself because life is short and it's important be be happy and experience joy and love

Posted by: diane | September 22, 2006 2:01 PM

"And jeez pittypat. Now that we have an issue where I disagree with you, I can see why people think you are abrasive and judgemental."

Yeah, I do get a little judgmental on the subject of women being commodified -- even when (or especially when) they do it to themselves. And the whole idea of men assuming that they have a part in the decision to keep or give up a birth name is absurd. But today's women allow today's men to to control them in ways that women thirty -- even twenty -- years ago wouldn't have put up with for a moment. I'm sad to see the clock turning back.

Posted by: pittypat | September 22, 2006 2:02 PM

pittypat,

My husband doesn't care too much about what I do. We did have a big fight over the baby's name because I insited on an Irish first name.

I'm just not that interested in what other people do with their names, I'll call you whatever you want. I think it is rude to ask people whether they are changing their name or not, unless you are good friends. My friend just got married and it was a big topic of conversation at work. I mean really, when is it polite to say mind your own business.

Posted by: scarry | September 22, 2006 2:02 PM

Ditto everything Pittypat wrote (rock on, Pittypat).

Personally, I think the gross gigantic engagement ring trend has reached its zenith and is on the way out. Not only is it silly and offensive that so many women demand "the biggest rock he can afford" and that men see delivering one as a way to communicate net worth to their social set, frankly a lot of those bagel sized diamond rings are just downright tacky looking. And DeBeers is such a racket-- but, hey, they have excellent marketing and people have bought into all the "a diamond is forever" baloney. When we were looking at engagement rings, a salesman trying to upsell us gave us the ol' "Isn't she worth the extra money?" line. My then fiance and I looked at eachother like, "Is this dude kidding?" Needless to say, we didn't return to THAT store. It's unfortunate so many people do fall for that crap and let themselves get sucked into the 'bigger is better' mentality.

My engagement ring ended up being clean, modern looking with a small diamond-- it fits my every day life (I'm not the Duchess of Windsor and I don't attend many balls-- I do however love to cook, knit, play sports and otherwise use my hands and need a ring that won't snag on everything). My hubby didn't spend the most he could afford-- and I wasn't offended or hurt at all. We both agreed that an engagement ring is a nice symbol (as are wedding rings and weddings themselves) but not one worth going broke over (ditto for weddings). We chose to go with traditional symbols, but in a form that fit with our lives, our budget and our values-- and I'm proud that we didn't get sucked into the wedding industry racket. By the way, I've noticed more and more women my age opting for less ostentatious, more low profile engagement rings. I say it's a trend: you heard it here first!

By the way, this wasn't an option then, but nowadays they actually make pretty high quality diamonds synthetically and there are companies that market jewelry that's certified in terms of the materials not coming from a war zone and/or being environmentally sound. I recommend it to anyone who wants to avoid supporting DeBeers, but still wants a gemstone ring.

Posted by: JKR | September 22, 2006 2:06 PM

I kept my own name. Our discussion went as follows:

Him: You're going to keep your name, right?
Me: Well, yeah.
Him: OK.

I had already started to do scientific research, and if I had changed my name, all my publications prior to our marriage would no longer link to me electronically. Since my work would suffer, my husband was happy to insist I keep my identity. Sweet man.

I take issue, in particular, with the idea that children become "confused" if Mommy has a different name. It is simple to explain to children that Mommy has her family name because of her work, but they were given their father's family name because that's the tradition. It's different from their friends, but then I'm not doing what is traditionally women's work, either. Children easily accept that both parents can love them unconditionally, and do work that they are passionate about at the same time.

Posted by: MadSciGirl | September 22, 2006 2:07 PM

"When we were looking at engagement rings, a salesman trying to upsell us gave us the ol' "Isn't she worth the extra money?" line. My then fiance and I looked at eachother like, "Is this dude kidding?" Needless to say, we didn't return to THAT store."

Oh, man, this is hilarious. You could have had SO MUCH FUN with this. "Worth the money? Gee, since you put it that way..."

Posted by: Lizzie | September 22, 2006 2:11 PM

Oh Pittypat,

Why do you feel that if a woman takes her husband's name she is being forced by her husband to do so? Why do you view a woman's decision to change her name as a form of subserviance? Do really think that every woman who takes her husband's name do so because they are being controlled by a man?

As I mentioned, my wife chose to take my name. I didn't make her do it. I've tried to make her do many things during the ten years we've been married, and I'll tell you this: I married a woman who does exactly what she wants. (But my ego is still intact.)

So if you assumed she was some sort of Stepford wive because she took my name, you'd be in for a surprise when when you met her at work or a PTA meeting.

Posted by: lucky husbands | September 22, 2006 2:11 PM

The name "Father of 4" is really, really lame and I'm still considering changing it to something with a little more kick and punch to it.

Posted by: Father of 4 | September 22, 2006 09:13 AM

=====

Sorry, haven't read all the posts, but I read this and had to laugh. All I could think of was that Fo4 was going to change his blog name to "Jackie Chan". :-)

Posted by: DadWannaBe | September 22, 2006 2:11 PM

There are many different naming conventions through-out the world. It seems their societies have managed to survive so I suspect a family having two, three, or four different last names will also do okay. But, hey, if boring does it for you, more power. Just don't impose it on my life.

Posted by: whatever. | September 22, 2006 2:12 PM

Hi Pitty:
Thanks for the grammar correction. Perhaps if you watched the tone of your posts as close and you watched other people's grammar you wouldn't be p*****g off so many people.

Posted by: cmac | September 22, 2006 2:12 PM

Oh come on Just Married,

My mother's family has been in the South since my first ancestor immigrated to Virginia in 1664. I was born and raised in the same Southern town in which my family has lived since before the Civil War (and out of which my great-great-grandfather fought in a Confederate Unit). I'm as modern and liberal as they come. I went to private Southern schools and have many friends who are married, took their husband's name, and live in suburban houses in Richmond, Chapel Hill, Savannah, etc. I am the godmother to their children, wore ugly dresses in their weddings, and we remain very close friends and strong supporters of our alumnae association although our viewpoints and lifestyles often differ.

One thing I know for sure. Real Southern women rarely fit the demure stereotype, and those who aspire to the stereotype generally have a Southern pedigree about as long as their big toe. I respect your decision and applaud your defense of it, but PLEASE drop the Scarlett O'Hara act -- bless YOUR heart.

Posted by: in a modern relationship in takoma park | September 22, 2006 2:13 PM

Wow. Lots of fragile male egos on the blog today.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 2:18 PM

"I do, however, think that this practice is harmful to women's place in our society and in their own families, and I am contantly disappointed in my generation's (I am 25) lack of concern about gender imbalances that persist today."

Uh, there are so many larger issues in the whole gender imbalance debate that I feel to criticize women who take their husbands' names as a pretty shallow assessment of their commitment to fixing the imbalance. I would rather a woman continue in the workforce, esp. if she is in a male dominated field than keep her name. But you are entitled to you shallow assessments.

Posted by: alex. mom | September 22, 2006 2:19 PM

JKR, acutally, you should say "Rock off" to Pittypat, since she's opposed to the engagement ring.

I read her post not as a criticism of the huge, expensive diamond engagement ring (VLI), but for its symbolism -- she called it "ownership jewlery."

Posted by: lucky husbands | September 22, 2006 2:20 PM

this is the first or second time I've blogged like this ...this subject gets many people involved and seems to be able to go on all day...best get some work done I'll come back in a several hours and see what happened

Posted by: diane | September 22, 2006 2:21 PM

My husband's last name is VERY popular, in fact, it was so popular that combined with my first name, I discovered that there were 15 (!) women with my first name and his last name (no, not his previous wives) in the city we were planning to move to after marriage. I hyphenated my last name to his to avoid confusion and possible identity fraud.

Posted by: Mrs. Rich | September 22, 2006 2:23 PM

Hey, I'm male, and I think I'm being pretty reasonable. Besides, you should note that given the topic, the only men likely to post here are those who have an axe to grind. For the record, my fiance is taking my name. It was her idea, and I left the decision entirely up to her. Having a mother who retained her own name, I was a bit surprised by her decision, but she made it herself for reasons that make sense to her.
I suspect that you're seeing a specific (and vocal) subset of the male population here: the socially conservative and overbearing element that wants women in the kitchen, gays in the closet, and dinner on the table at 5:30 sharp. Not all guys have the same perspectives on this stuff. Please don't lump all of us together.

Posted by: 11:43 | September 22, 2006 2:23 PM

From one southerner to another, I feel compelled to remind you of your manners, "just married". Didn't your Mama ever tell you 'if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all' and 'pretty is as pretty does'? If you're truly a traditional southern lady, I'm certain she did-- I would suggest heeding that childhood advice now. You might make people on this board start thinking southern women are catty.

Just to provide a counterpoint to the suggestion that women ought to bat their pretty lashes and let the man (or "the help") do all the work, here are some words by another southerner who never had an engagement ring but was but was every inch a proud lady:

"That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?"

-Sojourner Truth

If course, "just married", I'm sure you weren't thinking of people like Sojourner Truth when you were talking about southern women, now were you?

Posted by: JKR | September 22, 2006 2:23 PM

To cmac,

Re, "Thanks for the grammar correction."

You're welcome. Anything to help.

Posted by: pittypat | September 22, 2006 2:25 PM

The combination of his and her names can produce some laughable results. We had a woman working here named "Ursula Brown" who married a man from the Middle East whose last name is "Anhary." Her entire name was "Ursula Brown Anhary." A little too descriptive, since "Ursula" means 'bear.'

Posted by: Childless by Choice | September 22, 2006 2:25 PM

"Let guys be chivalrous, and quit crying every time a man takes a leadership role in anything."

Please give examples of a man taking a leadership role.

For the record, my husband and I don't have ANY rings. No engagement ring, no wedding bands, nothing. You don't need them to get married in my state.


Posted by: Marlo | September 22, 2006 2:26 PM

We keep hearing from people about whether or not it is confusing for the children, however the few children who grew up with different last names seem to say they didn't have a problem. Any children who had issues with this care to weigh in? I would rather hear from them than from someone who says that they are changing their name not to confuse a possible future child.

As for if the names make it confusing in the class list about the parents status Who cares? What difference does it make?
For years school's have been sending things to the parents of Jane Doe, to avoid the issue of not changing names, blended families, even foster children.

Posted by: Divorced Mom of 1 | September 22, 2006 2:28 PM

"Please give examples of a man taking a leadership role."

"Damn it, woman, I am tired of Thai food. Tonight, we're having Italian. No, don't bother protesting. I know you want Italian. Your lips say 'No,' but your eyes say 'Yes.'"

Posted by: Lizzie | September 22, 2006 2:30 PM

I changed my name when I was adopted as a teenager and it was such a hassle I vowed to never do it again. And I haven't, through two marriages. So what if our kids have different last names? That's fairly typical now anyway. When my second husband-to-be expressed surprise that I did not plan to change my name, I asked him if he would consider changing his name, instead. His reply was exactly the same that I received from my first husband 15 years before - certainly not! Apparently many men feel tied to their name-identities but many do not understand that women may feel the same way. Let them be educated, then. It all works out, and if the marriage is good, it doesn't matter what you call each other (or what his family or your family or the world outside think).

Posted by: vje | September 22, 2006 2:31 PM

I can take it when this blog devolves into SAHM vs. WAHM. I can deal with it when we're fighting over "submissive" wives or conservative vs. liberal or traditional vs. ultra-traditional vs. not traditional. But DERN IT - SHUT UP ABOUT THE SOUTHERN WOMEN THING. You're giving us all a bad name.

Posted by: Oh jeez | September 22, 2006 2:32 PM

heh. nice one lizzie.

Posted by: 11:43 | September 22, 2006 2:33 PM

"And the whole idea of men assuming that they have a part in the decision to keep or give up a birth name is absurd."

I don't think it's absurd. If my husband had felt differently than I we would have discussed it like we do all decisions that affect our life together - though I would certainly have suggested both of us changing our names as a possibiity, or him changing his, depending on what his reasons were. If it's something that both people feel strongly about, then having only one person decide seems lopsided and unequal to me (per yesterday's conversation ;) )

Posted by: Megan | September 22, 2006 2:33 PM

to dcdesigner: Your idea on a topic on child achievement and parents is an excellent one. It is something so many parents think of and/or worry about - particularly at the beginning of the school year when you talk with the teacher about grading, expectations and GT programs. There are so many "high acheiver" programs, clubs, awards - aren't most kids average?

I was pleasantly surprised when my 3rd grader's teacher explained grading in the "upward trend" - much to the chagrine of some parents. He told us not to expect a report card with all 1's (1-4 grading scale) and that the school year was a work in progress, the quarterly grades reflecting which way the trend is going. By third grade I think parents should know this.

Posted by: cmac | September 22, 2006 2:34 PM

Thanks, 11:43. You've restored my faith in the modern guy!

Posted by: pittypat | September 22, 2006 2:36 PM

Childless by Choice: "The combination of his and her names can produce some laughable results."

So true!

For a while the mayor of Providence was Buddy Cianci, and his wife's name was Nancy Ann. Try saying Nancy Ann Cianci three times fast! We got a ridiculous amount of amusement out of this during drunken college nights, I'm sort of embarrased to say.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 2:40 PM

My wife - quite understandably, I think - declined to be called Mrs. Fomalhaut and kept her maiden name (or, as the more thoroughgoing feminists call it,her "birth name.").

And in general, I have no objection whatever to wives retaining their maiden names, but I would point out that, as a gesture of her commitment to feminism, it is somewhat misguided. Consider, ladies, that your maiden name is - normally - that of your father, not your mother. Now you could, of course, assume her maiden name but that would be that of your grandfather, not your grandmother. And so on ad infinitum. Unless, of course,you're of the Creationist persuasion in which case one arrives ultimately at The Mother of Us All, Eve. Did Eve have a maiden name? Did she have a navel? I do not know. Perhaps our columnist (whose name, i blush to admit, escapes me) might devote some future column to the question.

Now please don't get me wrong, ladies. I'm all for women retainig their separate identity and autonomy in marriage. So choose any surname you like. Except, of course, Ms. Fomalhaut.

Posted by: Caspar Fomalhaut | September 22, 2006 2:44 PM

As a newly single woman, I would appreciate it if married people wore wedding rings. I would be very disappointed and embarrassed if I hit on a man wearing no ring, then found out he was married. Especially if it makes Mrs. NoRing perceive me as "aggressively skanky," the way alex.mom apparently does. If you don't wear a ring, I don't know, maybe talk about your wife a lot? Those of us who are single and looking would appreciate it.

Posted by: wedding rings | September 22, 2006 2:47 PM

"I read her post not as a criticism of the huge, expensive diamond engagement ring (VLI), but for its symbolism -- she called it "ownership jewlery.""

True, I was just adding to her comments. And I think her viewpoint is a legitemate one. Although my husband and I took the path of taking traditional symbols and investing them with our own modern and personal meaning, there are a lot of people out there who can't get past the negative origins of a lot of these traditions. And I think that's fine. I have a friend who is against marriage for herself because of its history as essentially a property transaction involving the transfer of a woman and her wealth between the male heads of two families-- and she's perfectly correct. For a look at the history of modern marriage, look no further than present day Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia, which are not too far off from the biblical or European medieval interpretation of marriage. Love marriages in which women have any choice about anything are a very modern, perhaps even an American, invention. But this same friend who does't want to join the institution of marriage herself was happy to give me hearty congratulations when I got married.

See, there's room for more than one way of viewing the world. To some people, it's important to break with tradition, to make a public statement of their own beliefs. TO some people, it's important to follow tradition and feel a part of history. And some people just do what feels right and go with some combination of traditional and modern. Luckily we have the freedom to make those decisions (for now anyway).

Posted by: JKR | September 22, 2006 2:47 PM

I don't have time to read all 440+ of the responses previously posted, so my apologies if my response is terribly redundant.

I changed my name when I got married so that my children would not face the same hassles I did growing up with a parent with a different last name. My father passed away when I was 2 and my mother remarried a few years later. While she took my stepfather's last name, my siblings and I kept our father's last name (and rightfully so.) I cannot tell you how many times during elementary school I was asked to explain why the parent who had signed my report card or permission slip had a different last name than mine. My mother finally started hyphenating both last names when she signed anything pertaining to us children just to cut down on the hassle. Granted, I grew up during the 1970's when blended families were not quite so common. Still, it was a trauma I did not want to inflict on my children.

Posted by: MP | September 22, 2006 2:48 PM

Todays blog has been interesting. It seems that many women had a full blown rationale for keeping/changing name. I got married 5 years ago and I didn't make a decision on anything until after my child was born. The only reason I motivated to change my name was bec/ we lived overseas and I was travelling with the baby around the region. I had visions of my baby being seperated from me at some customs someplace. I ended up keeping my maiden name at work.

My first name is very ethnic as is my husbands last name (different ethnicities). I do think my name sounds slightly absurd when people hear my first and last (married) name (too many u's and z's). Oh well- in the end I am not pushed either way.

It is interesting to me that when my sister, a doctor, married this summer (another doctor)-- she insisted that they both keep their own names. I think it is because she didn't want to end up Dr and Mrs. XXX-- after she had worked so hard for her degree. Who knows-- too each their own.

Posted by: UP | September 22, 2006 2:50 PM

I married in 1986 and didn't change my name. We have two children, both of whom have my husbands last name. Other than a very brief time when i was pregnant with our first child, my last name has never been an issue. It was more important to my husband that they carry his last name, so we went with his.

I've never encountered any problem in the school system, with physicians, etc...I think that with the mixes of families today, those in contact with families have just learned to go with the flow.

If I had to do it all over again, I'd stick with my original decision. i don't have a great last name, but it's mine.

Posted by: rammoore | September 22, 2006 2:50 PM

"A woman says her "maiden" name was....but what's the equivalent term to "maiden" for a man? Is there one?"

"Youth" - you find that term used as a parallel to "maiden" in a good bit of older English literature.


Re the Sojourner Truth quote: Sojourner was a remarkable person, forged by terrible circumstances, and the person her people needed at that time. As a general rule, though, relations between the sexes should not be seen as a contest to see who's tougher - and certainly not within a marriage. If you want someone to measure yourself against, take up boxing or extreme sports. Marriage is an opportunity to give yourself to a lifepartner for mutual love and support. If you find yourself wanting to prove you're tougher than your fiance, do him a favor and walk away.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 2:51 PM

To: Modern Takoma Parker/Pedigreed Southerner:

"...wore ugly dresses in their weddings..."

A badge of friendship East, West, North, and South: the ceremonial wearing of ugly garb with dyed shoes to match.

So funny. You made my day, reminding me of a certain pumpkin-spice dress (awful on a redhead, really) that I literally burned within hours of returning home.

She changed her name. Not that there is anything wrong with that....

She ups her Politically-Correct quotiont because her small topaz ring was made by a BIL. Also, she recycles as if it were the 11th commandment. And she is against the war.

----
True stories. Meant to lighten the thread here. Wearing a bike helmet in case anyone throws sludge at me.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 22, 2006 2:53 PM

My birth name (I do NOT use the term "maiden")is fairly unusual, and of the several thousand people in the US who share it, I can probably identify 75% or more as known relatives on my family tree. It's easy to misspell and mis-pronounce, but it's also a part of American history.

I changed to my husband's surname under pressure from him (and my employer, who threatened to withhold my paychecks, claiming it would be illegal to continue issuing them in my birth name), when I married in the early 1970s. His surname was extremely common, like Smith or Jones.

After 2+ years of having people constantly ask if I was related to so-and-so (husband's surname), tearing up checks and making corrections on documents requiring my signature because my hand kept trying to write my birth name, dealing with people who insisted on addressing me as Mrs. my-husband's-First-and-Last-name despite my repeated requests that they use MY first name preceeded by "MS.", and just generally missing the pleasure of having people acknowlege me as an individual, I re-assumed my birth name.

I was able to do this without a court order; that was Maryland common law at the time, if you intended to use the name consistently and for non-fraudulent purposes. Only a state motor vehicle statute required a court order, even if reverting to a birth name. I refused to comply, and for the next several years had a driver's license in one name and all my other cards and documents in another. It made life "interesting", but I managed.

My husband was not happy with my decision, but other issues eventually led to end of our marriage 3 years later. During the divorce court hearing my attorney insisted on asking the judge to "restore my maiden name", at which point I interrupted to point out that that I had already legally re-assumed that name, and was only requesting that the judge include in the divorce decree an order requiring the department of motor vehicles to change my record back to my birth name.

I have lived happily with MY name since then. No apologies, no regrets. I have not remarried, but if the issue were to come up, it would only be after my prospective spouse understood that I will be taking my name to my deathbed. Men feel perfectly entitled to that, and there's no legitimate reason women shouldn't as well.

The "confusion" issue about family names is silly. Children are smarter than that, and if you require adults to adapt to a change in the naming conventions, they will. All it takes is time and patience. I work in a public setting where family combinations with 2 or 3 surnames isn't unusual. And as far as familial contact during health emergencies goes, I have no suggestions except perhaps a combination of legislation and common sense.

Yes, I realize that my surname reflects generations of only male ancestors, but that's a start. I can tell you as an amateur geneaologist that it has been much harder to trace my female forbears because much of the written record refers to them only as "daughter of", "wife of", "mother of", "Mrs. husband's-Last-name". Often the names of a wife's parents were never mentioned, although in my family line, children were sometimes given the birth name of a mother or grandmother as a middle name.

My point is that naming conventions are what a society makes them. Women and children are no longer the property of men in the eyes of the law, and don't forget the adage " Momma, baby - Papa, maybe". Each one of us could have one of hundreds of different surnames, but for the random accident of our ancestors having been born a particular gender. It's the 21st century, so let's move on.


Posted by: Miss C | September 22, 2006 2:54 PM

I suspect that you're seeing a specific (and vocal) subset of the male population here: the socially conservative and overbearing element that wants women in the kitchen, gays in the closet, and dinner on the table at 5:30 sharp. Not all guys have the same perspectives on this stuff. Please don't lump all of us together.

Posted by: 11:43 | September 22, 2006 02:23 PM

Hey 11:43, thanks for doing yourself what you asked others not to....lumping us all together.

Posted by: Proud Papa | September 22, 2006 2:56 PM

My parents both kept their own names. I (the girl) got my dad's last name as a middle name and my mom's last name as a last name. My brother got my mom's last name as a middle name and my dad's last name as a last name. Since we both have normal middle names too, we tend to not use our second, parent-derived middle name on a day to day basis, but it is nice to have it there.

As for "identity issues", my brother and I were never, ever confused. After all, we both have both of our parents names, and if you grow up with something you tend to think it is normal. When I was younger my mom had to do a fair amount of correcting, and my grandmother tended to get confused about what my name was, but it really wasn't that big of a deal. I would probably do the same with my children.

One word of advice-- discuss your plan for your children's names ahead of time. My mom says the plan was to give the girls her name and the boys my dad's name. My dad says he always thought they were going to just alternate. It was lucky they had one of each!:)

Posted by: AB | September 22, 2006 2:58 PM

I'm getting married next April. I am not changing my name. My fiance doesn't want me to. Neither of us understand why anyone should have to change their name simply because they are getting married. MANY kids have a different name than one of their parents and I have yet to hear of any long term psycological damage caused by this.

I've had my name for 38 years and I cannot think of ONE good reason to change it. Not one!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 2:58 PM

I was married young (the first time) and couldn't wait to me a "Mrs." After my divorce, though I didn't want to keep it, I kept the Mrs. name to match my children. Married the second time (much older), I took my second husband's name. Now, after 8 years of marriage, I find I am regretting it more and more. He likes that I have his name and I dread hurting his feelings to change it back. It's nothing personal, really, just a growing need over the years, to keep my own heritage. His name is an ethnicity that doesn't match how I look at all (hence the "looks" mentioned in emails above)-- and I hate having to always explain that. I know someone who changed her name back to her maiden name, on a casual basis, after she had been married for a while. She merely started using her maiden name at jobs and places and asked all her friends to call her by her maiden name, but on paper she still had her husband's last name. This seems like a possible compromise. I might try it, and it might save some hassle on the paperwork thing (passports, drivers' license, etc.) P.S. I am in my late forties and almost every woman I know has kept her maiden name for her entire life-- married (multiple times) or not. I wonder how they knew to do that?! I am a journalist and have writing samples in three names (husband 1, husband 2, and maiden), which really stinks, and is somewhat embarrassing to show prospective employers.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 2:58 PM

I changed my name for purely practical circumstances. Maiden name was of the generic Smith/Brown/Jones variety. There were 3 MyFirstName/MyMiddleInitial/MyLastName in my high school alone. Imagine how many there are world wide? and imagine how many of them aren't paying their taxes or are doing other kinds of things I don't need to be associated with, even mistakenly. Took first husband's very nice less generic last name. Kept it after divorce for reasons named above. Married second husband who has a name that implies "slut". Great. He was not attached to his name as he was adopted, given this new name and then daddy bailed. We considered changing both but he didn't want to take my generic maiden name because he then would have had the name of a cheesy pop star. So we said what the heck, I took his last name and have spent the last six years embracing the fact that I am Mrs. "Slutty Name". It's kind of funny, really.

Posted by: meindc | September 22, 2006 2:59 PM

I kept my last name when I married 25 years ago. It seemed strange to me to consider changing my name. I have 2, almost grown up, children, and have never had a real problem with having different names. A few paper work things, but there's so much of that anyway. My daughters' middle name is my last name.

Posted by: Maryland woman | September 22, 2006 3:00 PM

>>>As a newly single woman, I would appreciate it if married people wore wedding rings. I would be very disappointed and embarrassed if I hit on a man wearing no ring, then found out he was married. Especially if it makes Mrs. NoRing perceive me as "aggressively skanky," the way alex.mom apparently does. If you don't wear a ring, I don't know, maybe talk about your wife a lot? Those of us who are single and looking would appreciate it.>>

Yes, but please remember that it does not make me a bad guy that I am married but not wearing a wedding ring. Please don't assume that I want to hook up just because I struck up a conversation...

Posted by: Random Guy | September 22, 2006 3:00 PM

I wasn't able to plow though all of these, but I wanted to note that I kept my name for the following reasons:

1) My mother in law makes me call her Mrs. X so it seemed weird to call myself that too. (I think it was her way of subtly letting me know I would never be considered a full member of the family--she requires this of all daughter-in-laws)

2) I had published and done many things under my name by the time I married.

3) I just did not understand why I was supposed to do it.

Incidentally, I am now pregnant and am registered at Babies R US and they cannot seem to figure out how to set up a search engine that can search on more than one last name. So I get calls from people who cannot find my registry because they are looking under the wrong name. I feel this is Babies R Us' issue not mine. I plan to just let the baby have her father's name. Which is why I insist on final say in naming the kids--they are already getting something from him (their last name)so their first name is a gift from me.

Posted by: on bedrest | September 22, 2006 3:01 PM

My mother in law and I share the same first name. When my husband's parents divorced years ago, she went back to her maiden name. So part of the reason I kept my maiden name is because if I changed it, I would've had the same name as my MIL, and that felt really weird! As it is, they got our names mixed up on the marriage license and my husband almost married his mother.

I kept my name because I like it. My first and middle names were given to me by my parents, and I'm an only child. I didn't want to give up any of my names, but I didn't want go to four names.

My husband doesn't mind my name, and I don't mind being called Mrs. Hisname. If we had kids, they'd take his last name, but I like the idea posted here of giving them my last name as a middle name. I hadn't thought of that, so thank you.

Posted by: cmc | September 22, 2006 3:01 PM

TO Caspar Fomalhaut:

Your post takes the "funniest post of the day" award. I did actually lol and am still wondering if Eve had a navel. I bet you keep the wife laughing - and I do undersand why she did not take your last name.

Posted by: CMAC | September 22, 2006 3:03 PM

I took my husband's name. He didn't have any expectations either way, would have been fine if I didn't change it but was also happy that we now share a name.

The main reasons for me are 1) My parents didn't give me a middle name (although my siblings have them, long story) and always felt a little weird about that. Now my maiden name is my middle name so I finally have three initials and feel like I have a "complete" name. 2) I liked the feeling of the symbolism of taking his name and us becoming our own little family 3) Not a huge issue, but an ongoing annoyance had been that my maiden name is commonly a Jewish name the way we spelled it but a Christian name when spelled slightly differently -- my whole life people either assumed I was Jewish (I'm not) or misspelled my name. I have nothing against Jewish people but it really was amazing how often it came up and I had to have the "no, really, I'm not Jewish" conversation LOL Once when we were kids my mom offended some representatives of the Jewish women's group because she declined to join (since she's not Jewish!). They just wouldn't believe that she's Catholic. I also was frequently solicited by the Jewish students' group in college. So, I really like having a name with no specific ethnic identification.

Posted by: Anna | September 22, 2006 3:04 PM

" the socially conservative and overbearing element "

Hey - not all of us conservatives are overbearing! In my experience, arrogant vs. humble, harsh vs. kind, control freak vs. easy going is more a matter of personality than ideology. That's how you end up with doctrinaire leftists, and cheerful reactionaries.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 3:04 PM

"Yes, but please remember that it does not make me a bad guy that I am married but not wearing a wedding ring. Please don't assume that I want to hook up just because I struck up a conversation..."

Posted by: sometimes men are dogs | September 22, 2006 3:08 PM

For your information Takoma Park my family, both sides, have been in VA since 1686 and 1694 respectively and we had family in the Revolutionary war as well as the Civil War and it's nice that you have southern friends who let you be godmother to their children despite being a liberal Yankee at heart. I too have liberal friends and I love hearing their reasoning on things it makes for interesting discussions. I am not trying to perpetrate the Scarlett O'Hara method of doing things simply that the appearance of being demure while actually being in control of things is easier and more enjoyable. I haven't had a need to catch flies in a while but I still believe you catch more with honey than with vinegar.

Posted by: just married | September 22, 2006 3:10 PM

I kept my name for both professional and personal reasons - I am nationally known in my field by my original name, didn't want the hassle, and liked my name better than his. Its part of my identity. And since I shed the man later, it certainly made life simpler. I really appreciated that later when he did some things and his name became very public!

Posted by: keptmine | September 22, 2006 3:10 PM

TO Caspar Fomalhaut:

Your post takes the "funniest post of the day" award. I did actually lol and am still wondering if Eve had a navel. I bet you keep the wife laughing - and I do undersand why she did not take your last name.

Posted by: CMAC | September 22, 2006 03:03 PM
--------------------------------------

I agree this is the best post of the day. Such wit! Hurrah!!

Posted by: alex. mom | September 22, 2006 3:12 PM

" I am not trying to perpetrate the Scarlett O'Hara method of doing things simply that the appearance of being demure while actually being in control of things is easier and more enjoyable. I haven't had a need to catch flies in a while but I still believe you catch more with honey than with vinegar."

Interesting insight. People sometimes talk about the bad old patriarchies and use the example of the Roman paterfamilias, and the absolute power the male head of the family legally had over everyone else. It's fascinating to read Roman literature, though - especially the comedies. It quickly becomes clear that the Roman matron was quite, quite formidable - the totally cowed husband was proverbial. Regardless of the legal theories - nobody messed with Mamma!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 3:16 PM

Momof4,
It is nice to finally read a comment from another mom who has children from different fathers! While it is nice to imagine that all children will be the result of married people who stay together forever, there are so many different types of families now that naming options can get quite numerous. I had a child as a teenager - was never married to the father and gave my son my last name. Am now looking at marriage, and can't see how I can logically use the excuse "to make my name the same as the kids" since I obviously already have the same name as my existing child! I have decided I will probably keep my name, but will give future children husband's last name. Somehow, the idea of everyone but him having the same last name seems more "wrong" than "confusing" my other children by not having the same name as them. (I should add that my son is older and identifies strongly with my brother and father and I am assuming he will not want to change his name to his step-dad's - if I am mistaken, and he does want to make the change, it will open a whole new can of worms!)

Posted by: TakomaMom | September 22, 2006 3:19 PM

"the appearance of being demure while actually being in control of things is easier and more enjoyable."

Gee, and we wonder why some men say women are manipulative...

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 3:19 PM

One side-benefit of having parents with different last names:

My mom and my stepdads were both Ph.Ds. Whenever they wanted to take me out of school and they suspected the school or teacher would not approve, or if the school required a doctor's note to excuse an absence and they thought it was silly to pay for a doctor's visit when we all knew it was just a bad cold, they just wrote a note and signed it "Dr. K" or "Dr. R." Since my last name was M, no one ever figured it out!

On the damage to kids front: If it's all you've ever known, that's normal to you; it's just the way things are, so you don't really spend a lot of time thinking about it (honestly, if that's the worst psychological damage you do your kids, count yourselves majorly lucky!). I still find it a little weird when I visit my in-laws and they all have the same name! Although less weird now that my SILs are both married and changed their names -- now it's back to everyone being different, so it feels more "normal" to me. :-)

Posted by: Laura | September 22, 2006 3:22 PM

Mrs. NoRing perceive me as "aggressively skanky," the way alex.mom apparently does. If you don't wear a ring, I don't know, maybe talk about your wife a lot?>>>

LOL! I only think you are aggressively skanky if you hit on him in front of me. Look at one point, I hit on my husband. I understand that if he isn't wearing a wedding ring it is confusing. But if he is sitting with me, women should assume he's with me.

Hmmm, maybe I should have him wear the "I'm with stupid t-shirt" LOL!

Posted by: alex. mom | September 22, 2006 3:23 PM

Regarding Southern women:
So I have often wondered where a person from Maryland falls. Having lived up and down the east coast during my lifetime. No one in any particular region can quite tell me. Pennsylvanians will tell you Maryland is a southern state since it is south of the Mason Dixon Line. People from New York, Deleware, and Pennsylvania also do not recognize Maryland as a "true" Mid-Atlantic state. Yet just about everyone south of Northern Virginia says that your a "Yankee," if your state sided with the Union during the Civil War "I mean war of northern aggression". I think that the folks around Boston just mumbled something about, "Washington DC, explative, explative politicians screwing everything up." And the folks in the Granite State just called me a "newcomer".

Posted by: Mid-Atlantic, Southern-Yankee | September 22, 2006 3:24 PM

"As a general rule, though, relations between the sexes should not be seen as a contest to see who's tougher - and certainly not within a marriage. "

No duh, 2:51. I was just pointing out that not all southern women are or aspire to be Scarlett O'Hara. And the quote was meant to illustrate that being strong and working hard doesn't make someone less of a woman.

Just 'cause I think Sojourner Truth is a paragon of righteous womanhood doesn't mean I think women have to prove they're tough. Where did you get that? Who said anything about a contest? People are constantly trying to define womanhood and feminity as this or that, or conversely say what is off-limits to women by defining it as either 'masculine' or 'emasculating' of men. All I'm saying (and Sojourner said it better than me) is that a woman living a 'non-traditional' life or somehow challenging accepted gender roles is no less a woman than any other woman.

Why do people keep assuming feminists just marry a guy so they can compete with, dominate and emasculate him? All of the feminists I know, including myself, are in quite healthy, loving relationships with strong men-- all of the feminists I know are loving, caring, nurturing and funny. But all a person has to do is quote a fierce woman and suddenly they're being told to do their husbands a favor and leave them. And they say feminists are the shrill ones. Sheesh.

Posted by: JKR | September 22, 2006 3:24 PM

what ever happened to traditions: marriage is traditional, is it not.? What about family trees, the lineage and historical continuity? What do they mean "I liked my name better?" Lord...this is a preposterous conversation!
If you marry, woman takes last name of husband. Hello! Why do women have to fuss over it..are they SO INSECURE that they must create the already admitted confusion (childre, family do not know what to call her, etc.)Yes, if you have a HIGH PROFESSIONAL profile (movie star, news anchor, and so on) they have kept maiden names (Judy Garland did not become Judy Minelli...)but it has been one way for 10,000 years why, in the wake of so much politically activated change (not to make something beter, but change because they can...) does every tradition have to be scrutinized....get ovet it, girls: if you do not want his name DON"T MARRY HIM> The End.

Posted by: Ms. X | September 22, 2006 3:25 PM

get ovet it, girls: if you do not want his name DON"T MARRY HIM> The End>>>

Ms. X, I think there would be a lot of unhappy men out there. Look if the husband doesn't have an issue with it, who cares? What business is it of ours? Take the name or don't take it, I don't care just love each other and laugh often!

Posted by: alex. mom | September 22, 2006 3:26 PM

to caspar f.
ladies?????
didn't we stamp out this term years
ago
ah well
2 steps forward
1 back

Posted by: diane | September 22, 2006 3:26 PM

to ms X
there are a lot of pariarchal ladies like you about

Posted by: diane | September 22, 2006 3:29 PM

I think my eyes bled as I read Mrs. X's comments. Then I remembered that those most militant about an issue are usually the ones that second guess their own response to it.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 3:33 PM

Hmmm, maybe I should have him wear the "I'm with stupid t-shirt" LOL!

Posted by: alex. mom | September 22, 2006 03:23 PM

Alex. mom, my wife and I got married on a carribean island. Thus I didn't wear a tux (though she opted for the traditional wedding dress). The first time she asked me what I planned to wear. In my best comic voice I hit her with the "I'm with Stupid T-Shirt" line. Astoundingly, she did not think this was funny. I know funny, and I'm telling you, it was exceedingly funny. Slap-nuts funny. She still brings it up. I wish I hadn't done it.

This has been a public service announcement for laughing with your spouse...

Posted by: Proud Papa | September 22, 2006 3:34 PM

Wow! I'm stunned at the number of posts today. I wonder if this much discussion would be generated if joint vs. individaul checking accounts were the topic?

Posted by: ConantheLibrarian | September 22, 2006 3:34 PM

Slight levity moment- a pair of true stories. As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up.

Over 40 years ago the son of the minister of our church in Oklahoma met and proposed to a young lady in the community. This girl had a great fascination and affection for the novel and film "Gone With the Wind" and especially the character of Scarlett O'Hara, and had always vowed that should she have a daughter she would name her Scarlett. She married the minister's son. His last name was Fever. They had a daughter.


Years later I met a woman named Fannie Johnson. She married a man named Howard Wiggley. She changed her name to his.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 3:35 PM

what about Pittypat?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 3:35 PM

Actually, Ms. X, if you'd been paying attention, you'd know it has not been "one way for 10,000 years" -- it has been a number of different ways in a number of different cultures for a number of different years. And we're lucky enough to live in a country that doesn't mandate that everyone have the same beliefs. So even if the historical basis from which a lot of these traditions sprung don't matter to you (i.e., woman as the man's property), in a melting pot like America, why would it bother you so much that other people see it differently?

Besides, I never really saw "because everyone else is doing it" as a real convincing reason to do anything.

Posted by: Laura | September 22, 2006 3:36 PM

I know its a Friday but we're close to 500 posts.

Don't stop now. Keep yammering. Somebody say something controversial.

Scarry and/or F04 are good people at heart.

There. Have at it.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 3:36 PM

Very funny story, Proud Papa!

IMHO, laughing with your spouse is the best thing for a marriage. My husband and I laugh so hard and often that we have actually had our neighbors comment on it.

Posted by: alex. mom | September 22, 2006 3:38 PM

What are people like Ms. X doing reading the Washington Post? Aren't they usually busy with Dr. Dobson's Families-are-only-made-up-of-a-man-a-(SAHM)woman-a-child-a-picket-fence-and-a-dog newsletters?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 3:40 PM

know its a Friday but we're close to 500 posts.

Don't stop now. Keep yammering. Somebody say something controversial.

Scarry and/or F04 are good people at heart.

There. Have at it.

God shut up already.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 3:40 PM

"Where did you get that? Who said anything about a contest?"

From the quote - reread it with fresh eyes. There's a certain agressive (albeit justified) measuring of herself against, well, purt near anyone and everyone else.

But setting that aside - I may have misread it as well - marriage is not an appropriate place to be "fierce"(whether you are a man or a woman. There seems to be much more heat around this issue of who uses which name that it justifies - and most of the heat seems to be coming from people who see this as part of some larger ideological battle. So fine - do what you need to do. No one else is fighting. Just make sure you don't end up fighting friends and family in the process - they're more important than any feminist cause.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 3:41 PM

Are you kidding me???

Ladies?? What is wrong with that word.

You are off your rocker if you take offense to that!

Posted by: To diane | September 22, 2006 3:43 PM

to caspar f.
ladies?????
didn't we stamp out this term years
ago
ah well
2 steps forward
1 back

Am I missing something here? What's wrong with "ladies"?

I don't care if I am called woman, lady, or female. I don't see any controversy here.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 3:44 PM

My husband and i chose the bilineal method. We each kept our last names and managed to have 2 children, a boy and a girl. the girl is named after me the mom, the boy is named after his dad.

sometimes we have to explain and i answer to all names that are polite, but its lovely to hear my daughter's full name echoing mine.

Posted by: feminist, DC | September 22, 2006 3:45 PM

"I think there would be a lot of unhappy men out there. Look if the husband doesn't have an issue with it, who cares?"

Speaking for traditional men, we don't really care all that much. Just please, oh please, don't beat us up with all sorts of feminist fervor. We can strike a deal on who is called what - but if our relationship isn't more important than your politics, we've got a problem.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 3:46 PM

During the height of my feminisim (age mid 20's), I decided I would make my stand against a patriarchal culture and drop my last name, using my middle name as my last name--Leslie. I thought it was a great idea until I talked to my mom, who informed me that my middle name was actually for her stepfather (also middle named Leslie) to whom she had been very close. Go figure! Of course, I didn't change it, and I'm glad. My dad is the most wonderful man and father-- seems so silly to have wanted to make a point on a principle when my dad in reality has always encouraged and supported everything I ever wanted to do or be.

On another note... I had a friend in grad school who was getting married. Her fiance had been adopted as an infant but didn't have a good relationship with his parents. In the years just before their wedding, he'd met and become close to his birth mother. When they got married, they both took his birth mother's last name.

Posted by: What's in a name? | September 22, 2006 3:47 PM

So it's manipulative if women know what they want and the best way to go about getting it but it's smart if men do the same thing. Nice double standard.

Posted by: just married | September 22, 2006 3:50 PM

I would like to make it clear to everyone that while "just married" may believe that one should change one's name for the convenience of the gardener, she certainly does not speak for every Southern feminist lady in this audience. We are also not united in the need to have our husbands waste their retirement money on a big piece of carbon, purchased exclusively so that we can show off to our friends. My friends will know that we are happily married by the way we treat one another and from the way we use our resources for things that improve the quality of both of our lives. I understand some women aren't so much interested in a partnership as finding a substitute "daddy" to spoil and pamper them. My dog has this kind of life, and if it's enough for her, well, who am I to judge...

Posted by: rumicat | September 22, 2006 3:54 PM

"ladies?????
didn't we stamp out this term years"

It's fine to get rid of ladies, as long as we're also willing to do without gentlemen. Personally, I think kindness, courtesy and decorum are valuable for both sexes.

"What are people like Ms. X doing reading the Washington Post? Aren't they usually busy with Dr. Dobson's Families-are-only-made-up-of-a-man-a-(SAHM)woman-a-child-a-picket-fence-and-a-dog newsletters?"

Yes, some of us occasionaly indulge in more conservative news than the Post - stretching your mind can make you a much better rounded person. (Does it really matter whether I'm a liberal stretching my mind with the Times, or a conservative stretching my mind with the Post? - either way, it's a good thing).

In any event, this is a remarkably pointless ad hominem attack. If you really believe "Times" readers are in benighted ignorance, you should be GLAD that they are willing to take a look at what you're saying. Responding with "what the *** are you doing reading the Post" is not going to impress them with the merits of your point of view - or even your good sense.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 3:55 PM

It has always puzzled me why some women are seemingly anxious to perpetuate their fathers name, but seem to totally forget their mother's name.

Any answers?

Posted by: Mr. Ed | September 22, 2006 3:55 PM

Just please, oh please, don't beat us up with all sorts of feminist fervor. >>>

LOL! what?! You mean like ask you for help in raising the children? Or making you read the wikipedia entry on Judith Butler in the middle of an argument (which I made my husband do last night, BTW. LOL!)? What do you mean by feminist fervor? As you can tell by this blog "feminist" has many definitions?

Posted by: alex. mom | September 22, 2006 3:57 PM

When I considered whether to change my name when I got married, I read somewhere that all of the reasons that one woman could come up with in favor of keeping her name were egotistical; those reasons in favor of changing her name were a vote toward a future and a cohesive family unit. My husband already had a son when I married him, and his ex kept her name and re-married, so this poor kid would have 4 parents with 4 different last names! Why would I want to be the only member of my household with a different last name? At the end of the day, what my name was really didn't matter to me all that much. I have a career and found that people adapted quite quickly. Besides, your identity should have a lot more to it than a name, so why such an attachment to it?

Posted by: AMHW | September 22, 2006 3:58 PM

I am a native Marylander, have lived here all my life except for a 20-year stint in Washington, DC. I do not consider myself a Southerner. However, due to its geographical location, much of Maryland is further south than Virginia. Most native Marylanders I know do not speak with a Southern accent. We have our own culture and traditions. We have a lot of Colonial and Civil War history, and our share of grand old families. It's not all beehive hairdos, pine paneled rec rooms and steamed crabs, Hon.

Every time the subject of the South comes up I'm reminded of the comment made by Florence King -- "If you put a fence around the South, you'd have the world's biggest insane asylum."

Posted by: Childless by Choice | September 22, 2006 3:58 PM

I held on to my birth name for a couple of reasons. First, I didn't see why I should change if he didn't, and second, I know too many academic women who "lose" part of their publications if they change names. My son bears my husband's last name, but that is because I wanted my son to share the same last name as his half-sister. Otherwise, we were going to have to have a long discussion. My son has never had a problem with the two last names. What is interesting is that, while most of my students call me Dr. or Professor, some of my students persist in calling me Mrs. Mylastname. I usually say that Mrs. Mylastname is my stepmother. I doubt that they call my male colleagues Mr. Theirlastname. It is as if the Mrs trumps the PhD.

Posted by: AcademicPhd | September 22, 2006 4:01 PM

I have yet to meet anyone who reads Dr. Dobson and is open to ANY views other than their own.

Posted by: TO 3:55 | September 22, 2006 4:01 PM

I should have never changed my last name. That said, at the time I happily changed my last name for two marriages. The first one very positive because of the children. The second time ended badly both personally and professionally. We worked for the same company so made things difficult when he had a very public and sordid mid-life crisis affair. I knew then that I would take back my maiden name for several reasons. I needed to reclaim my self-esteem; I needed to create a clear divide in my professional career; I needed to shed the humilitation associated with the name; I needed to shed my ex, and I disliked (but still must) having to account for any other names used. The use of several last names immediately identifies that a woman has been married more than once whereas the man can remarry endlessly without that stigma. I also wanted to reclaim my maiden name as I was an only child and there would be no more generations with my father's name. I wanted it to be the last way I could honor my father and family.

Posted by: Regrets | September 22, 2006 4:01 PM

Alex Mom - I am with you on the laughing - me and my husband (Pitty Pat please correct the grammar for me) constantly joke around. We laugh about everything and never take ourselves too seriously. Luckily I married a funny guy and I do about 70% of the laughing, but I can get him rolling too.

Posted by: CMAC | September 22, 2006 4:01 PM

It has always puzzled me why some women are seemingly anxious to perpetuate their fathers name, but seem to totally forget their mother's name.

Any answers?

Posted by: Mr. Ed | September 22, 2006 03:55 PM


This has already been answered in two ways, but it seems to me the point is that all my life I have been called "Jane Smith" and I don't want to change it because that's how I identify myself. My father's name is "John Smith," not "Jane Smith." Changing it to my mother's name would be just as much of a change as changing it to my husband's name. I just don't want to have to change my name from what I have always been.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 4:07 PM

"What do you mean by feminist fervor? As you can tell by this blog "feminist" has many definitions?"

Is it really that hard to understand? Don't cast the issue as some sort of stand against the patriarchy, as if I'm the representative (willing or unwilling) of some sort of vast, multigenerational male conspiracy to oppress women. That's a bit overdramatized for rhetorical purposes, but seriously - if we're going to marry and form a family, let's not be using it as a vehicle to make ideological stands. I'm thrilled and excited to be marrying you - that's more important than all the tuxes, rehersals, invitations, and other formalities involved. I'm not certainly thinking about whether the things I do and say carry the flag for men as a gender - that's not just the last thing on my mind, it would never even cross my mind. Let the substance be more important than the formalities for you, too. If they aren't - are we really on the same page with the marriage?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 4:07 PM

I didn't change my last name when I got married. My last name is Chinese and my husband's is German. It it not traditional in China for the woman to change her last name, although she does become known as "Wife (husband's last name)" once she is married. Her NAME doesn't change though. I also have worked in an office dealing with East Asia/Pacific affairs for longer than I have been married, so it seemed more useful for me to keep my Chinese maiden name rather than to change it to a German one. I do answer to "Mrs. (my husband's last name)" when the occasion arises because I consider that a title, like Duchess of York or Ambassador of Country X. But I consider Mrs. (husband's last name) to be a title, not my name. I continue to introduce myself by my name except at my son's pre-school, where I simply introduce myself as "(my son's name)'s mom."

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 4:11 PM

Laura - you take the words right out of my mouth.

Posted by: LGB | September 22, 2006 4:11 PM

My husband didn't spend his retirement on a huge piece of carbon he had more than enough money to buy the huge piece of carbon and still keep his retirement in tact, perhaps your husband just needs a better job. I am certainly not looking for a substitute "daddy" I am a well educated woman with a fulfilling career, my husband is also well educated and has a great career. We enjoy what some of you call VLI, I love my Beemer and my pretty jewelry and if I choose to let him think something was his idea while in reality it was mine to keep the peace and advance my own desires then I will continue doing that. You feel free to keep acting as if it's your job to be the pack mule that does all the work, I'm happier knowing that show ponies are smarter than mules.

Posted by: just married | September 22, 2006 4:11 PM

My fiance and I have discussed this. When we first talked about it, I mentioned that I didn't mind giving up my last name if we both did it. Otherwise, I wanted to keep mine. He laughed about it, and jokingly came up with our merged last name - half his, half mine. But when he realized I was serious, he got upset. So I talked about keeping mine and he'd keep his, but he said that he didn't want the kids to have a different last name than one of us. (My personal take - kids know what they've always known. If they have a different last name than me or him, from the start, then they'll be okay with it.) Even my shrink wondered why this was such a big deal for him, to have his wife take his last name. But it was. And in the end I decided that it was a small concession considering all the things he has done and will do for me in the course of our life together.

Posted by: McLean | September 22, 2006 4:12 PM

"I have yet to meet anyone who reads Dr. Dobson and is open to ANY views other than their own."

You just did. Where in the world did you learn that it was appropriate to judge people in such a stupid, superficial way? Closed-mindedness is not the sole perogative of conservatives - there are just as many Chomsky readers who are absolutely intolerant of competing views. If you want me to listen to you, you have to reciprocate (besides, refusing to do so and throwing insults around makes you look childish and petulant).

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 4:13 PM

MomWannaBe married her high school sweetheart and went from Miss Jones to Mrs. Smith. They were married for 14 years and then divorced. I met her after the divorce as Ms. Smith. When we got married, I told her that I didn't care what name she chose as long as it wasn't Smith. If she wanted to go back to Jones, take my Asian last name, make-up a new name, whatever. I just didn't want my wife to have another man's last name. Especially since I've known her ex since long before they were divorced (we have worked at the same agency for about 15 years). I mean, I like him and all, but I just didn't need my wife having his name. She understood and after several months, she did honor me by choosing my last name. Since she is not Asian and my name is, I felt this was a wonderful gift to me. The funny thing is that my conservative Chinese American parents had no problems if she chose to keep her name. I think they were just happy that I got married to a nice girl since I was a relatively older bachelor (I married in my late 30's).

Oddly enough, it wasn't an identity crisis issue for her as much as trying to decide if/how to handle the questions about her being a predominantly Scandinavian background girl with a very Asian last name. We haven't had many problems. Nowadays, it's getting common enough that we don't get too many questions or even assumptions anymore about her.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | September 22, 2006 4:16 PM

I kept my own name for cultural and practical reasons. I am of Japanese decent and one of a few left in this world with our family name. I want my heritage to reflect in my name. My husband is Western European. We considered hyphenating our names but that would take 17+ characters. Not practical.
I don't think changing one's name is that big of a deal. It's only as big of a deal as one makes of it.

Posted by: Culturally aware | September 22, 2006 4:16 PM

Friends of mine have kept their maiden names because of their aversion to going from a unique gem of a last name to a last name that is listed in the phone book hundreds of times over. This is a dilemma I faced and after a year of marriage being on the fence-using my maiden name at work and my married name at church-I used a cross-country move to mark the official acceptance of crossing over from my distinct maiden name to my very commonplace married name for all settings. Now that my husband and I have a baby, it is nice to all share the same last name.


Posted by: BD | September 22, 2006 4:20 PM

D's Mum - I'm hyphenated & a proud Southerner. (Sorry to bust up your stereotype.) But then I've never lived in NY....

http://lawyermama.blogspot.com

Posted by: Lawyer Mama | September 22, 2006 4:21 PM

Just Married -- It might be soon since you are just married, but I think your new husband is already in the "lucky husbands" club.

Posted by: lucky husbands | September 22, 2006 4:22 PM

Traditions are sometimes followed without regard for the original purpose of the tradition.

Many people celebrate Christmas as a family tradition that has nothing to do with the birth of Christ.

Many women change their name to their husband's based on tradition that has nothing to do with the wife being property, belonging to the husband, being subordinate, etc.

Let it go, people.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 4:23 PM

You know, I was just as close to
my nanny as I was to my mama and daddy but I didn't' chose to take her name
either. I chose my husbands because that's what you're supposed to do.

Posted by: just married | September 22, 2006 4:25 PM

I didn't change my last name when I married and my husband was absolutely fine with that though in-laws had minor issues. My kid has my husband's last name even though I would loved for her to have my name - didn't want to further aggaravate the in laws. I come from an Asian country but much to my surprise I was questioned abut my decision a lot more here than my native country where this is not all that common. There has been some confusion at times but none serious enough to regret my decision. I love my name and would never change it and my daughter thinks it's cool that her mom is a little bit different.

Posted by: Ms. R | September 22, 2006 4:26 PM

Aww Lucky Husband, thank you!

Posted by: just married | September 22, 2006 4:26 PM

More anecdotal trivia:

When my brother married. My SIL was a real estate and apartment agent. She found that when she changed from her maiden Scottish last name to our Chinese last name that she acquired more business. She found a large number of Chinese in Houston called her as a realtor because of her last name. They thought that they were finding a Chinese real estate agent. When it turned out she wasn't Chinese, some of them still stayed. So it turned out (accidentally) to be advantageous for her.

I have a friend I used to work with who when he married it was his first marriage and her second marriage. Since she had changed her name the first time...then changed it back and it was a hassle, he changed his name to keep her from having to go through the name change another time. Some people who knew him from before marriage thought it was weird, but most people didn't blink too much when he said that.

I know another couple who were Mr. Jones and Ms. Smith and gave their children the last name of Smith-Jones. They've always encouraged the children to be free thinkers and they would each have to make decisions with their partners what names to keep/change or give to their children when they were older. It seems to work fine (mainly because both last names are short).

These days, I've seen so many combinations and so has the public that I think that anything goes. Do what works for you and your partner and just accept it. If anyone questions, just say, "This is what we agreed on." and move on. My feeling is that once you as a couple make a choice, it really isn't open for discussion unless people want to discuss the reasons that you made your choice (like the young woman who was trying to decide what to do after her own impending nuptuals). Personally I don't think the decision to keep or change your name is feminist or chauvinist. As long as you each have a choice what to do with your names. It's only chauvinist if the husband demands that the wife change her name (IMHO).

Posted by: DadWannaBe | September 22, 2006 4:30 PM

"so to be a lucky husband your wife must be Mrs. lucky husband? This is why you are getting the angry responses. Not this is what worked for me, but I am luckier than the man whose wife stayed with her maiden (birth, whatever name) and by inference your wife is better or you are happier or you are more loved."

Someone's getting just a bit touchy here.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 4:31 PM

so to be a lucky husband your wife must be Mrs. lucky husband? This is why you are getting the angry responses. Not this is what worked for me, but I am luckier than the man whose wife stayed with her maiden (birth, whatever name) and by inference your wife is better or you are happier or you are more loved.

Posted by: to lucky husbands | September 22, 2006 4:32 PM

My cousin took his wife's name because she has an interesting ethnic name and his is a plain jane English name that every 3rd person has.

He was quite annoyed to learn that he had to pay hundreds of $$ in court filing fees to change his name. While his wife could have changed hers for about $10 with a marriage license. He even consulted a lawyer about suing the state for discrimination. He let it drop when the lawyer pointed out that the outcome would likely be that women would lose the marraige exception and everyone would have to go through the court process to change thier name.

Still it seems wrong that a man can't change his name with marriage as easily as a woman can.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 4:32 PM

I started reading this blog an hour ago and I am only to 9:13 am...

Thanks for the shout-out Father of 4. I like it when people call you Fo4 because it is like a codename and term of endearment.

My name history is circuitous.

My first name is old-fashioned (although now that that is popular their is a celebrity who named her daughter my name). I was named after an aunt who was named after an aunt, etc. When I was in school I hated how it got spelled wrong or mispronounced and so I decided to go by my rather normal middle name.

For years I went by my middle name, but when my now-husband found out my real first name. He begged me to let him call me that (my family never really changed over). He loved the name. During art school I realized I really am more like my first name than my bland middle name and I was in denial that I could be just regular like my middle name.

My maiden name was also unusual and was easily turned into a joke. It made me stronger to deal with that. But when I got married it was easy to just drop the last name that was comfortable but certainly wasn't gonna win any beauty contest.

So now I am "oldfashioned first name, normal middle name-that lots of highschool friends know me as, and husband's last name".

My dad was probably a little surprised I completely dropped my maiden name but probably completely understood why I did keep my original middle name that people knew me by.

Sorry if that was confusing. It would have been much easier to just out myself and use my real names.

Also, I completely consider myself a feminist but I think it is just funny when I get mail addressed to "Mrs. John Doe" from my husband's great aunt who never married. This is the same lady who always wears pants, has never sent my daughter anything "ultra girly", no dresses, and was an early feminist.

Posted by: lulu | September 22, 2006 4:33 PM

It has always puzzled me why some women are seemingly anxious to perpetuate their fathers name, but seem to totally forget their mother's name.
If women don't play along with the powers that be , they don't get rewarded.Life is short and rather tenuous as well


Are you kidding me???

Ladies?? What is wrong with that word.

You are off your rocker if you take offense to that!

It's a class thing baby cakes ...look into it ? The sale of women as property was the beginning of the class system.

Posted by: diane | September 22, 2006 4:34 PM

"Maybe woman shouldn't get married at all."

So don't.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 4:34 PM

The number of lunatics who read this blog is truly astonishing.

Posted by: Yikes | September 22, 2006 4:36 PM

In the past, a woman belonged to her husband because she was married to him, not because she had the same name.

Maybe woman shouldn't get married at all.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 4:36 PM

"It has always puzzled me why some women are seemingly anxious to perpetuate their fathers name, but seem to totally forget their mother's name."

In my case, it's because my mom was one of six and there are about a billion Mom'sLastNames running around in Oklahoma. As I noted earlier, I'm the last chance for my dad's last name - and my own - to make it past this generation. That part of the family was quite small and it wouldn't surprise me if we're the only ones left outside of Poland.

Posted by: Lizzie | September 22, 2006 4:37 PM

Just married said "I chose my husbands because that's what you're supposed to do."

So are you planning on giving up your succesfull career when you have children, because "that's what you're supposed to do."

So if you lived in the Jim Crow days would you not let blacks go to your school "because that's what you're supposed to do"

Do you go to Church because you believe or because "that's what you're supposed to do."

Posted by: to just married | September 22, 2006 4:40 PM

When my wife and I got married nearly 12 years ago, she didn't change her name. I didn't actually care one way or the other, but in retrospect I am glad she didn't. Keeping her own name has, I think and hope, allowed her to keep her own sense of self as an independent person and not as a subunit of me or of our marriage.

Posted by: Tim | September 22, 2006 4:40 PM

I had no choice about the family I was born to.

I did have a choice about creating a new family by marrying. I wanted my family to have it's own name for everyone. It didn't matter where the name originated as long as it was the same. I was more concerned about belonging to the family that I planned to be with for the rest of my life than the one I spent my childhood with.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 4:41 PM

My spelling and grammar errors are too plentiful to correct. Sorry I didn't read it before hitting "post".

How embarrassing.

Posted by: lulu | September 22, 2006 4:41 PM

I changed my name in both my marriages. When I divorced my first husband, my children were young enough that it mattered that we had the same name. When I remarried (best decision I ever made!) they were a few years older and, frankly, I could not wait to take my new husband's name. It was serendipitous as it turned out -- shortly after our marriage, I was given my own column in the suburban paper I work for and "Beeson on Brookfield" still appears every week!

Posted by: Katherine Beeson | September 22, 2006 4:42 PM

Married 21 years ago and kept my own name, mostly for professional reasons. I have never regretted it. My husband was totally behind me and even now answers to Mr. X when those who don't know us assume we have the same last name. Our daughter (who carried her father's name) married five years ago and kept her own name. When they had their first child they decided to use our daughter's last name. Her husband felt it was a better name than his!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 4:42 PM

"ladies?????
didn't we stamp out this term years"

It's fine to get rid of ladies, as long as we're also willing to do without gentlemen. Personally, I think kindness, courtesy and decorum are valuable for both sexes.
But that's not what ladies and gentlemen are about .it's about class

Posted by: agreewithdiane | September 22, 2006 4:42 PM

"so to be a lucky husband your wife must be Mrs. lucky husband? This is why you are getting the angry responses. Not this is what worked for me, but I am luckier than the man whose wife stayed with her maiden (birth, whatever name) and by inference your wife is better or you are happier or you are more loved."

Not at all. In fact, I went off the "name" topic. "Just Married" had just written this nice entry about how they were living their life by their own rules, making no apologies (for being traditional in some respects and unconventional in others), and having a good time together. She just made it sound like they were a pair of nice newlyweds.

I agree with you that it takes more than taking your husband's name (or whatever "that thing" is that he really wants) to make him happy or to be a happy wife.

And much of your post I just don't understand, I think you left some words or letters out.

Posted by: lucky husbands | September 22, 2006 4:44 PM

Its a big decision - personal yes, but also very public and often political. I received all sorts of advice from family and friends. I use all three names. I kept my maiden name and added my husband's name too - but no hyphen; just three names. In effect, my maiden name became my middle name. Having been a professional for over 12 years when I got married, how could I give up that name recognition, and how could I lose all those email contacts who would find me by last-name? My children, boys, each received a middle name of a maiden name: one of my maiden name, one of my mother's. A way to honor the matriarchal side of the family tree. Maybe even a new tradition.

Posted by: Susan | September 22, 2006 4:51 PM

"I chose my husbands because that's what you're supposed to do."

If by "that's what you're supposed to do," you mean "it's what I had always planned and it would have felt wrong to me to keep my own surname," then I totally have your back and think that's an excellent reason to change. If you actually mean "that's what everyone should do and I make negative judgments about those who don't do what I do," then oh, well. I make plenty of negative judgments about people who don't do what I think they should (like use their FREAKING TURN SIGNAL or refrain from heating up fish in the office microwave), so I'm in no position to, um, judge.

Posted by: Lizzie | September 22, 2006 4:52 PM

"But that's not what ladies and gentlemen are about .it's about class"

It was about class in 19th century England, when only the titled were called ladies and gentlemen. That's an extinct world - for the last couple hundred years in this country, "gentleman" has been used to describe personal character and behavior - not parentage.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 4:52 PM

My mother never changed her name, and I have my father's last name. I was never confused. People occasionally call her Mrs. DadsName, and she corrects them. My friends growing up called both my parents by their first names (my parents preference), which eliminated any confusion there. I was taught to call adults Mr. or Ms. Whatever last name they were introduced by until they told me to call them something else.

I think we're underestimating kids when we wonder if different names will confuse. If you grow up with it, that's your normal.

Posted by: FC | September 22, 2006 4:52 PM

>>> If they aren't - are we really on the same page with the marriage? >>>

Nope. And you and I should never marry. DUH! Clearly, you are going to marry someone who matches or at least has a very similar philosophy. My husband would not of married me if he didn't want a feminist nor would I have married him if he was a total knuckle-dragger. Hopefully, you have married a woman whose feminist philosophy is one you can live with. If you haven't married anyone yet, be sure you do marry someone who has a similar outlook or you will hate being married.

Posted by: alex. mom | September 22, 2006 4:53 PM


"For your information Takoma Park my family, both sides, have been in VA since 1686 and 1694 respectively and we had family in the Revolutionary war as well as the Civil War and it's nice that you have southern friends who let you be godmother to their children despite being a liberal Yankee at heart. I too have liberal friends and I love hearing their reasoning on things it makes for interesting discussions. I am not trying to perpetrate the Scarlett O'Hara method of doing things simply that the appearance of being demure while actually being in control of things is easier and more enjoyable. I haven't had a need to catch flies in a while but I still believe you catch more with honey than with vinegar."

I wish you nothing but the best of luck in whatever lifestyle you choose. Go on catching those flies.

Posted by: in a modern relationship in takoma park | September 22, 2006 4:54 PM

I do not plan to stay at home when I have children because I don't think that will be best for "our" children. I am much better with adults and the stimulation that I get at work will allow me to be a better parent because I will not be resentful of the child.

I would have let black children attend school with me during Jim Crow, although if you want to be accurate if I were attending school it wouldn't have been my decision at the time I would have been a minor.

I do attend church because I believe not because I'm supposed to attend church. In fact my family is all several hours away and my granny would never know if I didn't go to church, and she's the only one I let tell me that I'm supposed to go.

Posted by: just married | September 22, 2006 4:54 PM

...your husband just needs a better job.>>>

Ouch, just married!! That's really rude and petty. If you are happy being a trophy wife in a BMW and sporting the bling then don't be so defensive about it. You should be ashamed of your comment.

Posted by: alex. mom | September 22, 2006 4:55 PM

I just thought of another reason I like being Mary Jones (husband's name) instead of Mary Smith (dad's name.)

When I call my husband at work, or have to identify myself as his wife in other ways, I can say "This is Mary Jones" instead of "This is John Jones' wife." Seems like much more of a "keeping my own identity" thing to have a name of my own instead of "John's wife." :o)

Posted by: momof4 | September 22, 2006 4:57 PM

I kept my last name when I married and gave it to my daughter. My sons have my husband's last name. We couldn't hyphenate because the result was too absurd. Even using one last name as a middle name sounded pretty silly. Having two names in the family sometimes flummoxes beaurocrats but I just explain politely and move on. I always know if someone asks for me by my firstname and his lastname that it's a fundraiser or someone I've never met. The children don't even think about whose name they use. It's not a problem professionally. I think it is a nice solution to an admittedly trivial problem!

Posted by: CLB | September 22, 2006 4:58 PM

I kept my name when I got married (more than 22 years ago). Our two kids have my husband's last name, with mine as their middle name. It has basically never been a problem.

If my husband or I am occasionally called by the wrong name (by someone who doesn't know), we simply indicate what the correct name is. It also has been an easy way to screen callers who ask for Mrs. Husband'sLastName.

My kids are fine with it. In a perfect world, it would have been nice for them to have both our last names; however, they simply don't sound good together (my name is an adjective), and I didn't want to saddle the kids with an awkward hyphenated name.

Posted by: Like My Name | September 22, 2006 4:59 PM

Wow! This has to the most responses ever, so why am I bothering?

When we were married 7 years ago, I was most surprised by the presumption by OTHER WOMEN that I would change my name. Men didn't ask or care one way or the other. I had established myself professionally before getting married, so was rather amused (when I was not annoyed) that administritive assistants (in particular) would just presume I had changed my name when printing out name badges for meetings, etc. They never bothered to ask ME. Why would they just presume in this day and age? I still haven't figured that out.

I ended up chaning my name officialy (with the Social Security Administration) and adopting my maiden name as my middle name, and now I use my full name professionally -- first, middle, last. That seems to solve the problem for me. BUT, it really was a hastle to change my name in all the various places (frequent flyer accounts, credit cards, license, passport, banks and financial accounts, etc.) And, my DH didn't have to do any of it!

The one last vestige of my maiden name is my Safeway card. I haven't gotten around to doing the paperwork for that yet...

Posted by: CA Mom | September 22, 2006 5:00 PM

I still have my ex-husband's name on my Safeway card. It's only been 8 years. ;o)

Posted by: momof4 | September 22, 2006 5:03 PM

My mother considers her taking her husband's name to be natural and pretty arbitrary. However, my father's European parents gave him a name in their language but opted to also give him an English first name (this was before WW2; they were worried about discrimination). So he's something like "Robert Andras Horthy", and went by "Andy" socially, even at home, for the first 60 years of his life.

My mother always gets a kick out of it when they get beautifully written invitations to "Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Horthy". Even worse, when she shows up at his office, somehow she has become "Bob's wife"!

Posted by: jakemd | September 22, 2006 5:10 PM

Alex. mom- I apologize if my comment seemed snippy but the insinuation that her husband would have never spent his "retirement money" on a "piece of carbon" was also rude. I was simply offering suggestions on how she could acquire a piece of carbon for herself if she so wanted. I apologize for the implied tone, it was said with a smile and a desire to be helpful.

Posted by: just married | September 22, 2006 5:11 PM

Rufus said - I always feel a little sorry for guys whose wives have a different surname.

And I always feel sorry for wives whose husbands pressure them into changing their names. If the guys want everyone to have the same name, why aren't they changing their names to their wives' last names?

Posted by: Rockville | September 22, 2006 5:12 PM

"Nope. And you and I should never marry. DUH! Clearly, you are going to marry someone who matches or at least has a very similar philosophy."

No - you're completely misreading my point. I don't care what my wife's politics are - and I don't really care what last name she uses. But marriage isn't about politics or ideology - it's about family. And family is much more important than any ideology. That's really my bottom line - my wife can have any philosophy she wants (a Carville / Matalin relationship works fine for me) as long as she puts our family first. What I won't do is is play second fiddle to some theory (and you shouldn't either).

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 5:12 PM

I think one of the reason there have been SO many comments on this is that names are really interesting, and aside from a few posters, most people don't think there's a way this "should" be done - lots of options, and most people don't necessarily think their way is "better", but everyone seems interested in talking about their names and why they made the choices they did w/out being completely attacked by others on this thread. I would consider that progress - both socially and on this blog :)

Posted by: TakomaMom | September 22, 2006 5:13 PM

married in 1981; already had all those degrees and liscensing in my name; he wasn't going to change his; and i didn't.

my daughter has my surname; son has his.

in this day of divorce and blended families, everyone is very used to different names: no big deal.

we refer to ourselves as " the my last name/his last name 's"

my twice-divorced sister-in-law has been through a bunch of name changes: and for what?

Posted by: no name change! | September 22, 2006 5:15 PM

RE 5:12 comment -- Now that would be a very interesting blog: Can couples who have completely different political philosophies really get along beyond a superficial level? Aren't one's values (about how to raise children and exist in a family and community and the world) mirrored in many ways in their politics -- especially in this day and age? I, for one, can't figure out how Matalin and Carville stay together when they disagree to strongly about so many fundamental issues. But that's a blog for another day...

Posted by: CA Mom | September 22, 2006 5:17 PM

I didn't and won't change my name. I hav been married now for 16 years. My kids have both our last names and its just fine. When people call the house asking for Mrs. "M", I kindly tell them she is dead!

Posted by: caviegas | September 22, 2006 5:20 PM

I think taking a husband's name is all about a historically obsolete artifact of 'ownership' and call upon all my sisters to reject that kind of paternalistic labeling.

It seems like feminism has failed. Hillary only took the Bill's name to get votes: not out of any personal conviction. Her personal conviction was to keep Rodham.

Reject long fingernails and high heels as other instrucments of oppression! Chinese women no longer bind feet: why should 21st c. women hobble themselves?

Posted by: opposed to oppression | September 22, 2006 5:21 PM

Opposed to oppression- are you serious? Is it so far out of your realm of thought that women can take their husbands name, wear high heels and have nice fingernails because they want to, not because they are being oppressed? I for one think my piece of carbon looks nicer when I have a nice manicure and I love high heels because they make my legs look great and since I have my nails done and I look great I might as well go to dinner with my new husband and be able to put the reservation under OUR name. A perfect evening, not what I always assumed oppression was.

Posted by: just married | September 22, 2006 5:25 PM

www.m-w.com

Main Entry: la·dy
Pronunciation: 'lA-dE
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural ladies
Usage: often attributive
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English hl[AE]fdige, from hlAf bread + -dige (akin to d[AE]ge kneader of bread) -- more at LOAF, DAIRY
1 a : a woman having proprietary rights or authority especially as a feudal superior b : a woman receiving the homage or devotion of a knight or lover


Gee, that doesn't sound too bad, does it?

Posted by: get the dictionary! | September 22, 2006 5:26 PM

"Now that would be a very interesting blog: Can couples who have completely different political philosophies really get along beyond a superficial level?"

I think so, if 1) the individuals involved are more committed to their partners than they are to political correctness [whatever "correctness" may mean in their particular system]; 2) are fairly flexible on a personal level; and 3) the political views aren't ones that clash too dramatically on a practical, getting through the day's chores level.

So, for a Carville and Matalin, if they are committed to each other and their political aspirations don't class when it comes to deciding where to live or which day care to use, then it can work. If the philosophies mean things like "I can't do that, it's the man's job" or "you have to do that, it's the woman's job" or "sure, it's good for kids to experiement with X - I did" or "I cannot live in a house where dead animals are cooked and eaten" AND they have deep disagreements on those issues, then it's a problem.

Some things are easier to disagree about than others. National politics (e.g., Democratic vs. Republican vs. Libertarian) seems easier than gender politics or religion (for people who really take religion seriously).

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 5:28 PM

How about, Ima Pigge. It sure fits.

Posted by: Suggested new name for Fo4 | September 22, 2006 5:30 PM

Lizzie- I definitely meant that I had always planned to take my husbands name and that was what I was "supposed" to do because I wanted to. I think all women should have the choice I just feel that the women who made a more traditional decision had been attacked today. Thanks for your support and good luck getting people to use turn signal and not cook fish in the office if you find a cure for those please share with all of us!

Posted by: just married | September 22, 2006 5:34 PM

My wife and I have maintained our different last names for professional reasons. One difficulty we run into is that when conducting business transactions the merchant, bank, etc does not accept that we are married. Like traveling with my sister posing as my wife would be an easier relationship to pull off.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 5:35 PM

I agree with TakomaMom, and not just because she is obviously my neighbor. There are so many family structures nowadays -- from heterosexual people who make a decision that their family does not need a piece of paper from the government to be valid, to single-parent households, to same-sex households. to those who choose traditional roles and marriages.There was a time in the not-so-recent past when mixed race households were scorned, and now my mixed-race nephew comes to visit me and very few people (I wish I could say no one) gives us a second glance. I think that there are many here who would disagree with me, but I think it is incredible that we as a society are finally able to step out of traditional roles about gender and family structure and define our own family units. I think the current generation of children will grow up in a more diverse and socially conscious world. It is very exciting and hopeful. And I think that the fact that women can and do make a choice about their family names is a harbinger of a new dawn of acceptance and diversity in our social structures. I don't think that anyone but the most close-minded individual could possibly see this as anything but positive.

Posted by: in a modern relationship in takoma park | September 22, 2006 5:36 PM

To 5:28 post: I wish it were so simple as " the political views aren't ones that clash too dramatically on a practical, getting through the day's chores level."

Why would one want to walk on egg shells about fundmental issues like energy use (Humvee 3 vs. hybrid) or recycling (yes or no), or gays in one's family (torance vs. damnation), or whether or not to become involved in "works" as a route to salvation (or, as an alternative, being "saved"). Oh, and don't forget the all-important flag burning and gay marriage. Like it or not, those are the political issues today, or at least our political leaders would have us believe they are. IN short, what if Jimmy Carter were married to George W. Bush. Could it ever work?

Or, keeping with today's theme, would George ever take Jimmy's last name?

Posted by: CA Mom | September 22, 2006 5:40 PM

In my husband's part of the South, they have a tradition where the oldest son is given the mother's maiden name as a middle name. My husband has his mother's maiden name as his middle name, as does his father. So when we married, I kept my name, and we named our son with my last name as his middle name and my husband's name as his last name. I just always sign my son up with his full name, and people can connect him with both me and his father. Either one of us will answer to either last name (although it bothers him a bit, I think, whereas I don't really mind it, since anyone who really knows us calls us by our separate names), and we tend to go by the MyLastName HisLastName family.

I think it is nice to have a tradition where the mother's maiden name is kept alive, so to speak, whether or not the woman changes her last name.

Posted by: cc | September 22, 2006 5:44 PM

When I married for the first time, it was very easy! My first husband and I had the same last name. So I used my name after marriage that I had been using before marrying. Together we had a son; we divorced some years later.

17 years after my first marriage, and 21 years after graduating from law school, I married a man with whom I did not share the same last name. At this point I chose NOT to change my name because: 1) I was clearly established professionally under my maiden name; 2) I did not want my son to feel that he was the odd-man-out by being the only person in the household with his last name; and 3) my new husband and I were not going to have children. I have a strong preference that mother, father, and children have the same last name. Had I been younger when we married, and with the prospect of having children, I would have added his last name to mine, using my maiden name as my middlename.

I do sometimes use my husband's last name in some social correspondence. I always use his last name when we are hotel guests.

Posted by: June M. J. J. P. | September 22, 2006 5:45 PM

I personally find the practice of keeping a maiden name as either a married woman's middle name, or as one of her children's given names to be extremely WASPy.

If I were to marry, I would much rather my wife keep her maiden name as her surname, and I would never allow it to be used as one of our children's given names.

Posted by: jakemd | September 22, 2006 5:49 PM

I plan on changing my last name for the simple reason that I've never liked it. It closely resembles a few more common names, but with one or two itty-bitty variations that cause a frustrating amount of confusion for people who've never heard it before. It has no etymological or ethnic significance (unless you count our suspicion that the immigration officer who processed my great-grandfather at Ellis Island made it up) and it lends itself distressingly well to taunting little rhymes. My future husband's name could turn out to be something I like less, but I'm hard pressed to think of what.

My only worry is that, like Mona, I'll get lucky and write a bestseller before I have the chance to change it, and then I'll be stuck with it. Guess that's what pen names are for.

Switching gears for a moment, one of my friends was given her mother's last name, and her brother has their father's. The arrangement doesn't seem to have caused any stress or confusion for them.

Posted by: fs | September 22, 2006 5:56 PM

Jakemd- Some WASPs enjoy the naming system you have just described and are quite pleased that someone like you would not want to adopt it for yourself. I for one don't want someone sharing this system that "won't allow" their wife input on what to name their child. Thanks for leaving a good thing alone!

Posted by: just married | September 22, 2006 5:56 PM

At the risk of feeding a troll:
"I personally find the practice of keeping a maiden name as either a married woman's middle name, or as one of her children's given names to be extremely WASPy."

I'm a white anglo-saxon protestant. Would you explain exactly what's wrong with being "WASPy"? Or even what it is, beyond describing people who need sunblock and celebrate Christmas?

Posted by: yetanothersahm... | September 22, 2006 5:57 PM

Okay, so this whole thing is making me laugh...despite my concern that "just married" is making us southerners look like idiots!!

There are actually a fair number of us southern women with grit, charm and poise...AND who are non-manipulative as well. I happen to think that "let[ting] him think something was his idea while in reality it was mine to keep the peace and advance my own desires" is DISGUSTING. (Actually, with her talk about her "help," her husband's great job, her BMW, blah blah blah, I think she's massively insecure, but that's another story.)

And, sweetie? I'm not a pack mule OR a show pony.

Posted by: another southerner chimes in!! | September 22, 2006 5:58 PM

to yet another sahm: LOL, I agree with you I would love to know what WASPy means aside from your humorous description. I am all also a white Anglo-Saxon protestant but I'm not sure what it really means when it is obviously used in a derogatory manner.

Posted by: just married | September 22, 2006 6:01 PM

rumicat --

A woman after my own heart!

"We are also not united in the need to have our husbands waste their retirement money on a big piece of carbon, purchased exclusively so that we can show off to our friends. My friends will know that we are happily married by the way we treat one another and from the way we use our resources for things that improve the quality of both of our lives. I understand some women aren't so much interested in a partnership as finding a substitute 'daddy' to spoil and pamper them."

You nailed it right there!

Posted by: pittypat | September 22, 2006 6:02 PM

When I divorced, I kept my ex's last name because (back in 1975), it was my children's last name and I wanted to avoid confusion. But, I remember, about 11 years ago, reading a letter in the Philadelphia Inquirer, from a woman who had been married about a year and was struggling with keeping her "birth name". This was the name she had been known by for almost all of her life, the name in which her college degrees were earned, and the name in which she had earned her professional credits. But the minister who married them, despite their clear instructions, introduced the couple as Mr. and Mrs. (his last name). Forms didn't have enough spaces for her full hyphenated name. Banks and credit card companies didn't even want to hear about hyphenated names. Even her family members, knowing how strongly she felt about this, addressed her by her husband's family name as her last name. It was a very well-written and eloquent letter, reflecting her frustration and the ways in which "systems" and even family members frustrated her desire to keep her birth name as part of the name by which she would be known.
I agreed with and applauded the writer - and then read the signature of my daughter-in-law. To this day, I think I am the only family member who addresses cards and envelopes to her as (firstname) (birthname-hislastname).

Posted by: Virginia Klipstein | September 22, 2006 6:02 PM

Oh pittypat isn't it about time for you to have a fainting spell and be quiet

Posted by: just married | September 22, 2006 6:04 PM

I'm married to a WASP who has five (!!!) names. I told him I wanted to one-up his parents and give our kids six names each. He looked a little sick.

Posted by: Lizzie | September 22, 2006 6:04 PM

I apologize for the implied tone, it was said with a smile and a desire to be helpful. >>>

Saying something rude with a smile is still rude. I am beginning to think your claim of being "highly educated" is dubious. Although, one isn't taught manners in higher education these days. But no one I know who is highly educated would be so nakedly greedy and materialistic.

As for the whole Southern thing, I grew up in Arizona but lived in the South for many years. The South, I think, the home of the warm-cold-shoulder. Your apology above couldn't be more insincere. Grow up Mrs. Just Married.

Posted by: alex. mom | September 22, 2006 6:05 PM

So if you're not a pack mule or a show pony what are you? I was simply making an analogy. And btw I love grit, it's one of my favorite dishes with a little salt and cheese.

Posted by: just married | September 22, 2006 6:07 PM

just married --

Gee, don't think too much of yourself, do ya? Glad you're happy with all your toys and $$$. Don't you ever feel just a little . . . well . . . shallow?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 6:08 PM

To JakeMD -- Thanks for making me laugh. I find the concept of me (the one who used her maiden name as her middle name) being WASPy to be extremely funny. As one with a French Canadian/Italian American (with prominent nose and curly hair) lapsed Catholic heritage with an Irish/Czech lapsed Catholic husband, I have never, ever been called a WASP before. I'll have to ponder that one for a while...

Posted by: CA Mom | September 22, 2006 6:08 PM

Seems to me if you want to make a new family unit and a commitment, you get married in all the legal/social/religious sense of that. Changing your name doesn't make you more or less a unit/married/commited. It's the marriage part that matters not the name.

Posted by: Isn't the paperwork to marry enough?! | September 22, 2006 6:09 PM

just married --

"I chose my husbands because that's what you're supposed to do."

Are you serious? LOL!!!

Posted by: pittypat | September 22, 2006 6:10 PM

The practice of introducing the new couple after the wedding as "Mr. and Mrs. John Doe" honors a long-standing etiquette rule in which there was no such person as "Mrs. Mary Doe". Note that clergypeople (or the D.J.) will now introduce the new couple as "John and Mary Doe" if asked. They will also do "Mary Smith and John Doe", but that doesn't make much sense in the context since in that case the names are the same as before the wedding.

Also, many elderly women do take pride in being called by the husband's name, even after his death. In their terms, they are still "Mrs. John Doe", and calling them "Mrs. Mary Doe" would imply they had been divorced.

Posted by: Oldbee | September 22, 2006 6:11 PM

Forgot to add my own $0.02 to the debate...there's pros and cons to keeping your name or taking his. It's a choice that's personal and nobody else's business. In my case, I'm taking his, and I'm also keeping mine professionally.

I'm going to spare everybody my glowing description of my car, engagement ring, manicure, and heels on the grounds that they're completely irrelevant.

Have a great weekend, ya'll! :)

Posted by: another southerner, postscript | September 22, 2006 6:16 PM

Well I'm heading home to Mr. Just Married, I just wanted to thank everyone for a great day of discussion and I apologize if I offended anyone that was not my intention. The differences in the world and in this region alone make the it a much more interesting place. Ya'll have a great weekend whatever your name is!

Posted by: just married | September 22, 2006 6:17 PM

Oh, and by the way. Another reason I decided to use my maiden name as my middle name now is because my mother did it -- back in 1956. After 50 years, my folks are still going strong. I guess my Dad was way ahead of his time -- and he is definitely not a WASP either (no pejorative intent, just a fact).

I go back to my first point: I've observed that women have more of a problem with other women NOT changing their names than men do.

Posted by: CA mom | September 22, 2006 6:18 PM

Oh good lord. In this context, "grit" is a quality, while "grits" are the food. Most people can distinguish between them.

This is ridiculous...I'm outta here.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 6:21 PM

For those who say that first generated hypenated names (X1-X2) could get very cumbersome for children of hyphenated parents who marry (X1-X2-X3-X4), I say that people of hispanic background have managed it very well for centuries. From a site: http://www-int.stsci.edu/~jmaiz/longnames.html

"The basic difference between the English and the Spanish naming rules is responsible for this effect. In an English speaking country, the son of a man named "John Smith" may be called, for example, "Peter Smith". In a Spanish speaking country, the son of a man named "Juan Pérez Martínez" ("Juan" = First name, "Pérez Martínez" = Family name) and of a woman named "María González Alonso" ("María" = First name, "González Alonso" = Family name) may be, for example, "Pedro Pérez González" ("Pedro" = First name, "Pérez González" = Family name). The child inherits his/her first family name from his/her father ("Pérez" in this case) and his/her second family name from his/her mother ("González" in this case). The second family names of the parents ("Martínez" and "Alonso" in this case) are not inherited (at least officially). This rule can take effect because women keep their last names when they marry."

If the Spanish can do it so easily, why can't we?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 6:21 PM

just married --

Seems like a lot of folks on this blog think you're shallow, self-obsessed, greedy, vain, and not too bright.

You haven't really presented yourself well.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 6:22 PM

I have no issue with women who elect to take their husbands' names by conscious choice (as opposed to "because it's what women are supposed to do"), although I remain unconvinced that it's too good enou"confusing" or complicated for the children and others if a woman keeps her own name. Really, all it takes is patient explanation, and I know quite a few families that have no problems at all in accomplishing it.

I think the very fact that a woman keeping her last name is cause for such emotional and vitriolic debate is a clear indication to me that we have miles to go before women are truly viewed as the equals of men in this society. As it stands, we are still considered addenda to our men -- our careers are less important; our opinions are solicited less often; our value in the marketplace as employees is, in the main, below that of men.

I'll hang up my feminist boots when men must think as seriously as women do about whether or not to keep their last names upon marrying; when a woman's marital status can't be divined by the prefix attached to her name (just as a man's status can't divined by the prefix attached to his); when it's assumed that a stay-at-home parent might be the father, and not automatically the mother.

Until then, my small contribution to the cause has been to keep my name. The act of getting married simply wasn't reason enough to change it.

Posted by: Ms. Adams | September 22, 2006 6:23 PM

To those who took offense at my "WASPy" comment... I was not using that in a derogatory fashion. If you had read my earlier post you would have known that my ethnic heritage is non-Anglo-Saxon, and I'm not interested in having that custom attached to my children.

And, justmarried, do you not approve of a father (or a mother) having the right to veto a choice of name that the other doesn't like?

Posted by: jakemd | September 22, 2006 6:29 PM

"Just an tangent. How do people feel about Ms. vs. Mrs.? I personally prefer Ms. and have used that before and after marriage as I think, in most contexts, it's nobody's business whether I'm married or not. Mr. doesn't give any indication about whether a man is married or not. Why should a woman's form of address have to have that kind of indicator?

Posted by: Rockville Mom | September 22, 2006 09:34 AM "

AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 6:30 PM

I tell people that my husband kept his last name. When they do a double take, I add "it was a personal choice on his part and I didn't mind".

We both work for the same large company, and it has been wasier to keetp our professional lives separate that way. Our daughter has his last name, but respects my choice. My last name is easier to pronounce so that is the name we use for restaurant reservations. His family doesn't like the fact that I kept my own name but after 27 years they are getting the idea that the marriage will last.

Posted by: MaryH | September 22, 2006 6:40 PM

My husband and I decided that it would be better to have the same last name, then flipped a coin to see which one we would pick. He said he would change his name if he lost the coin flip, but I lost, so I guess we'll never know...

Posted by: Lara | September 22, 2006 6:44 PM

MaryH, LOL! My mom used to tell everyone "I didn't want to take his name, and he didn't want to take mine" -- back in 1975, many folks were suitably horrified at the suggestion that he might even have considered changing his name.

I have to say, to all the comments about "it's just a name, it's not that important": when my mom married my dad circa 1965, it was against the law in her state for a married woman NOT to take her husband's name. To her, taking her name back after he left was a very powerful and meaningful statement. So if you choose to change your name, that's fine; just be glad you have a choice.

Posted by: Laura | September 22, 2006 6:56 PM

for someone who "didn't mean to offend anyone" you sure spew a lot of vinegar, just married.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 6:56 PM

Ms. Adams --

Thanks so much for your message. You are so right when you say, "I think the very fact that a woman keeping her last name is cause for such emotional and vitriolic debate is a clear indication to me that we have miles to go before women are truly viewed as the equals of men in this society."

Why is it that so many women (never mind men) just can't see this?

Posted by: pittypat | September 22, 2006 7:33 PM

I have a slightly different name problem. I am 79 years old and getting married in the spring. Do I take the new husband's name? My marriage ended in divorce; his wonderful wife died 6 years ago. My fiance and I have lived in the same town for 30 years and knew each other's spouses. I have been bernice s for 59 years, a lot longer than I had my maiden name. I think of his late wife as Mrs. R, and wonder how comfortable I would be bearing that name. We haven't really discussed it...the engagement is only a week old. Any thoughts?

Posted by: bernices1123 | September 22, 2006 7:34 PM

FYI, in Louisiana, where the state legal system is based on civil (Napoleonic) rather than common law, a woman's legal name is different from in other states. If I remember correctly, she may not use her husband's last name legally once divorced or widowed. I'm not sure if this is the case during the marriage as well for court purposes.

Speaking of common law, that explains why it's so much more difficult for a man to acquire his wife's surname. In most places he has to do it by court order/statute. I suppose this can be risky in states where you can only change your legal name once, or once in a very long time, if you get divorced.

Posted by: jakemd | September 22, 2006 7:38 PM

To bernices1123,

You have many more factors to take into account than most of us on this blog. The very fact of your long residence in the same town and having known each other's spouses -- not to mention your having had the same name for 59 years -- all combine to give you a lot to think about.

The important thing is to do what you think you will be most comfortable with. I think people in your town will understand and respect your choice whichever way you go.

Posted by: pittypat | September 22, 2006 7:49 PM

bernices1123, do whatever makes you feel most comfortable! My aunt divorced her first husband X of 20 years after his adultery, remarried later, and socially/professionally retains her first husband's name, which matches that of her children and her professional history. Only in her email address and stationery does she differ, using both her first and second husbands.

For what it's worth, her second husband Y refers to her as "Mrs. X" when talking to their tailor, maid, or any servicepeople with whom she has an established relationship.

Posted by: jakemd | September 22, 2006 7:51 PM

to bernices1123: I think pittypat is giving you good advice. Try to figure out what you will be comfortable with, and how much that comfort might be affected by people who resist what you decide to (I would think you'd be more like to run into resistance to not changing your name than to changing it, but you know your community better than I do, obviously). But remember, too, that there will be a fair amount of paperwork involved in changing: social security, health insurance, drivers license, credit cards, bank accounts, possibly home titles, wills...

And to lulu, re introducing the couple whose names are the same after the wedding as they were before: why not, "And for the first time as husband and wife [or as a married couple], I'd like to introduce Jane Doe and John Smith."

Posted by: no plans to change (my name) | September 22, 2006 7:57 PM

This will be my last comment of the day.

I know of a couple that merged their names and created a new one: half of her birth surname, and half of his birth surname. I saw the new combination in family member's obituary -- figured they must have gotten it changed legally somehow. And, I suppose, why not!

Posted by: CA Mom | September 22, 2006 7:58 PM

Sorry to be so late to the discussion.
I come from a long line of women who kept their names intact (we don't like to think of it as our "maiden" names) after marriage. Actually, some women through the generations (a lot) kept their names, while others changed them upon marriage. So I think I may have an unusual perspective.
My grandmother, who did keep her name and was one of those old-time feminists before there was such a word as "feminist," recalled being asked about it quite a lot. She specifically recalled being: "What if your husband insisted that you change your name?" Her answer? If he was the kind of man who would have insisted on such a thing, she wouldn't have married him!
For me personally, I never for one nanosecond considered changing my name. Partly it's my own personal conviction, partly it's my way of honoring my own family history, partly it's because of professional reasons and mostly it's because this is just the way I want it to be. Though there's been a little confusion from time to time, mostly it's no problem with the kids. My last name is incorporated into their names.

Posted by: name keeper | September 22, 2006 8:08 PM

One more thing - way, way back in the discussion was a straw-man argument criticizing women for expecting diamond engagement rings and then refusing to change their names.
Not that diamond rings have anything to do with the name decision whatsoever -- there's absolutely no relationship there, so it's a complete straw-man argument -- but I have never owned any diamond jewelry. I wouldn't want any very expensive jewelry like that because, 1. I consider it a waste of money, and 2. most likely, I'd lose it because I have enough trouble keeping track of my car keys and my glasses, and 3. there are some, to put it mildly, moral and ethical implications to diamond mining and marketing that I'd rather avoid. (Siera Leone, anyone?)

Posted by: name keeper | September 22, 2006 8:21 PM

"Oh pittypat isn't it about time for you to have a fainting spell and be quiet"

I thought that is what southern women do?

oops, I actually know some I think it is just you.

Posted by: way to full of yourself | September 22, 2006 8:30 PM

It seems to me that there is just as much "emotional and vitriolic debate" over a woman choosing to take her husband's name as there is over a woman choosing to keep the name she has.

Maybe because I chose to take my husband's name, I see the defense of keeping your own name as an attack against those of us who chose to change.

My choice had nothing to do with how I feel about men and women being equal.

I understand that there are a lot of highly educated people who participate in this blog. I myself have not been highly formally educated beyond high school. Maybe I'm lucky though. It seems to me that it must be quite a burden to live your life by analyzing and over-anzlyzing every single thing that you and others do in order to be ever-viligant to upholding the cause.

I graduated high school in 1974 and actually lived through times of inequality between the sexes that some of you may only have heard about. I believe that men and women should be free to pursue employment opportunities regardless of gender, marry or not marry, have children or be childless, abortion should be legal, have a career or be a stay at home parent. Basically, people should not be limited because of gender. And that includes changing your name. If you want to fine, if not don't. Someone who keeps their name is not anti-men and someone who changes it is not being second class or controlled by men.

Posted by: to pittypat | September 22, 2006 8:34 PM

If Meredith Grey and Derek Sheppard were to marry, should they both change their last name to 'McDreamys' ?

Posted by: smile | September 22, 2006 8:38 PM

It was about class in 19th century England, when only the titled were called ladies and gentlemen. That's an extinct world - for the last couple hundred years in this country, "gentleman" has been used to describe personal character and behavior - not parentage.

coupled with the dictionary definition
reference I guess you're just plain wrong

Posted by: diane | September 22, 2006 8:42 PM

The men who coach my daughters' soccer teams refer to the girls as ladies. The teenage girls like it and so do I. The girls said it makes them feel more grown-up and respected than if they called them "girls". 'Women' just sounds matronly to them.

"Ladies, you are playing great. Be careful with your passes." or "Girls, you are playing great..."

I just don't see what is offensive about this.

Posted by: mj | September 22, 2006 8:52 PM

I changed my name to his. I didn't really think about it; I just felt it was the thing to do.

I like the whole "united front" feel that it has. I guess because we started living together when we were engaged, we had our respective names. Now people know we're married, which of course, I'm very proud of.

I briefly considered doing the hyphenated thing, but the names end in a similar sound, and it would just be awkward. Besides, a lot of signature lines barely give you enough room for two names and an inital--three pretty wordy names would be difficult!

In the end though, I liked the symbolism that changing my name represented. Not in any way losing my identity, but embarking on the most important journey with him. It only seemed right that I share his last name. I'm still very independent and comfortable in my individuality, but the fact is that this is the most important role I'll ever have.

Like I said, united...

Posted by: literarygirl | September 22, 2006 8:59 PM

In terms of the identity thing, I go to a college where everyone is called by their last names. So, I do identify myself by my last name, and there are a lot of people who only know me by by last name.
Besides, I'm proud of my last name and the history behind it. Sure, changing my name wouldn't cause me to lose that history, but it would be something of an identity issue to change my name. I AM Ms Soandso.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2006 9:09 PM

no plans to change (my name) wrote:

You are quoting someone other than me. I never said that or even commented on the introductions.

Posted by: lulu | September 22, 2006 9:53 PM

The system took out a paragraph from my last post.

It should have read:

no plans to change (my name) wrote:

And to lulu, re introducing the couple whose names are the same after the wedding as they were before: why not, "And for the first time as husband and wife [or as a married couple], I'd like to introduce Jane Doe and John Smith."

*************
You are quoting someone other than me. I never said that or even commented on the introductions.

Posted by: lulu | September 22, 2006 9:58 PM

I think the post by to pittypat at 08:34 PM was really quite thoughtful. As someone who does tend to overanalyze many things, it really is a pain in the keister and there are times I wish I could stop.

I do think the level of vitriol on both sides is somewhat remarkable. I think there are a lot of good reasons to change your name and lot of good reasons to keep it.

I certainly don't think a woman who changes her name is "setting back feminism" or any such thing; women who so harshly criticize other women's decisions on the other hand, seem really to only do harm to each other.

Posted by: Megan | September 22, 2006 10:13 PM

I concur.

Posted by: lulu | September 22, 2006 10:25 PM

When my father, a pastor, found out that I had decided to keep my birth name he asked me if I loved my husband and threatened not to perform our wedding ceremony if I did not. We've only been married two years. I renewed my passport in my husband's name but have everything else in my name. My daughter has my husband's name. I'm still considering changing my name but can't figure out how to show my husband the ultimate loyalty without parting with a name that I truly adore. HELP!!!

Posted by: denkpaard | September 22, 2006 11:26 PM

"I personally find the practice of keeping a maiden name as either a married woman's middle name, or as one of her children's given names to be extremely WASPy."

My very much Irish Catholic mother made her maiden name her middle name back in 1967. My sister and I did the same. So have many of my cousins...nothing "WASPy" about it here.

Also, incorporating a mother's maiden name into children's names is common in other cultures. For one, I understand it is the common practice in Phillipino culture -- one of my cousins (Irish heritage) is married to a Phillipino man and all their children have her maiden name as their middle name.

I'd have considered doing that for our kids but instead my son's first name is a derivation of my maiden name and my daughter's names honor other family members.

Posted by: Anna | September 23, 2006 10:00 AM

I also agree with Megan and Lulu about the post to pittypat.

Keep your name change it, whatever. Just live your life and be happy with your choice. :)

Posted by: scarry | September 23, 2006 10:21 AM

"I think the very fact that a woman keeping her last name is cause for such emotional and vitriolic debate is a clear indication to me that we have miles
to go before women are truly viewed as the equals of men"

Let me see if I can think of something equally more stupider than the above quote. I'm not very bright, so it should be easy for me. Umm... Er... Duh...

[A very dim bulb lights up my tiny little head] Ureka, I've just thought of one!!!

The fact that men exclusively hold the world records in track and field events is a clear indication to me that we have miles to go before women are truly viewed as the equals of men

Get it -- "track and field events" and "miles to go". Hee Hee.

I want to get the "stupidest post" award for this thread. Did i?

Posted by: Ima Pigge | September 23, 2006 3:57 PM

The correct spelling is "Eureka."

Posted by: to Ima Pigge | September 23, 2006 10:01 PM

I want to get the "stupidest post" award for this thread. Did i?

You get it every day!

Posted by: to Ima Pigge | September 24, 2006 9:47 AM

Count me in on the group of Catholics with my maiden name as my middle name.

My reasoning - hyphenated names are cumbersome. I have two good friends from college who hyphenated and ended up dropping the first part after a few years because it just got tiring always saying "actually, my last name is Smith-Jones".

By having my maiden name as my middle name, I can call people I know from my single years/childhood (I live near my hometown) and say "this is Mary Smith Jones"...they then know who I am, I have used my legal name, but I don't have to use it except in the situations where it's needed. I certainly don't use it at my kids' school or when I worked, because those people know me as Mary Jones. (I didn't have the kind of profession where I was published or marketed as Mary Smith.)

I think it's rude to correct people if the situation doesn't warrant it - i.e. the poster who said "I tell the caller that Mrs. M is dead!" (I assume that was a joke, but you kwim.) I'm called Mrs. M a lot because of my previous marriage and my children from that marriage. But I don't correct the person unless it's really necessary for them to know my last name is different. I don't think it's a good thing to chastize the person for using the wrong name.

Posted by: WASC momof4 | September 24, 2006 10:46 AM

I had no choice about the family I was born
to. I did have a choice about creating a new family by marrying. I wanted my family to have it's own name for everyone. It didn't matter where the name originated as long as it was the same. I was more concerned about belonging to the family that I planned to be with for the rest of my life than the one I spent my childhood with.
-----------------------------------------
I am perhaps being too sensitive here, but can you imagine your kids a few years from now talking about you as some past history to be discarded.

I don't think too much should be read into a decision to change or not change a name. .. but I wish more people would view marriage as a joining of two families, not just two people. Isn't there a point at which we are emphasizing the nuclear family to an extent that we are losing out on the richness of an extended family.

Posted by: bit snarky | September 24, 2006 3:45 PM

bit snarky -

I didn't mean that I forgot about my extended family. I just thought it was more important to have the same name as my husband and children than to hang onto my birth name. While moving forward with my new family, my old wasn't forgotten.

Many people have insinuated that you are giving up your family history by changing your name. How you feel about your family, and how you honor them doesn't change just because your name changes.

There are many people who come from dysfuntional families who may be more than happy to change their name and avoid any association with them.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 24, 2006 10:36 PM

I kept my maiden name and I"m glad I did, although I noticed it can cause problems: e.g. on an international flight alone with my son, the immigration people looked askance when I said I was his mom. I've started carrying his birth certificate to prove it, which is a pain. My name is common and early in the alphabet so I get a lot of spam. My husband's name is uncommon and hard to spell so he doesn't get any. For that reason alone, I might change my last name to his!!!

Posted by: m | September 25, 2006 12:37 AM

sorry 10:36 PM - I don't care about name changes. It was the family I "was born into" vs "chose" that seemed harsh to me.

Posted by: bit snarky | September 25, 2006 8:33 AM

Wow - glad I was out on Friday...

Late, but, FWIW... my parents got divorced when I was 13 and Mom changed her name back to her former name (sorry, but my mom was never a "maiden"). anyway, this was NEVER a problem, ever. We had different last names and it was no big deal. I actually also chnaged my name to hers when I became more of an adult, since my father's name meant nothing to me. So, now we actually have the same last name.

As for changing it upon marriage - NEVER will. And I would never marry someone for whom it is a deal breaker and I find it quite offensive that it would be a deal breaker for anyone. The whole "if you loved me" thing that I have heard from various men is BS, b/c if you loved ME, then you would take MY name. (especially since the name changes deal started b/c women and children were property - there was no love involved!)

And as for Mrs. Husband first and last name - don't get me started! :)

But, as someone I know that said above, to each their own - I don't think poorly about women that decide to change their name, just about the men who have a chip on their shoulders about it.

Posted by: Arl Lawyer | September 25, 2006 10:03 AM

I thought for a short while about whether or not to keep my name. When I asked my husband if he would take mine, he wouldn't budge. Made for interesting arguments later. I decided that since I was changing professions at the time, it didn't matter too much that I keep my maiden name. I also felt like my maiden name was tied to my identity and felt that a new last name would give me a new start in life and in the working world.

I am a little bothered that the name I took is a Jewish sounding name, even though my husband's family is Swedish and I am african american. For the record, there is NOTHING wrong with being Jewish, but I am a little put off when I tell people that we are not Jewish and they then angrily accuse me of denying my heritage. I"ve gotten a few discounts that I've had to refuse because they gave them to me on the assumption that I am Jewish.

I cannot possibly fathom or personnally appreciate the trials and tribulations that Jewish people as a whole have had to suffer because of their ethnicity, but I find it particularly offensive that anyone would make assumptions about my beliefs and lifestyle based soley upon my last name (and a married last name at that) and not me as a person.

Posted by: tlawrenceva | September 25, 2006 10:05 AM

I dropped my birth middle name and took my maiden name as my middle name and then took my husband's last name as my new last name. This was hard because I have no brothers so my last name is going to die with me. So my husband decided to do something similar - he dropped his birth middle name and took my last name as his new middle name. He got a lot of grief for it from someone at the Social Security office who accused him of being "whipped" but my husband said it was one way he could honor my family and my heritage. It might look strange on our checks but I like the fact that we both gave up part of our names for each other.

Posted by: both changed | September 25, 2006 10:40 AM

Kept my name and hate, hate, hate when I'm called Mrs. His Last Name. I feel like I captulated to social pressure getting married in the first place (never saw the need, we were already 100% committed), can't people leave me this last shread of my own identity?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 25, 2006 10:55 AM

pittypat, you rock! I would have typed all of your responses if I had been reading on Friday. Amen, sister!

Posted by: Meesh | September 25, 2006 11:21 AM

who messed with your cornflakes? please provide another polite term to use besides lady.

Posted by: to diane | September 25, 2006 11:40 AM

Wish I had time to read all of the above, but I have to say, it really never occured to me to change my name when I married. I never worried about having a different name from my kids since this is so common these days. They could care less. I confess that keeping your name seems less and less the thing to do among professional women, and this saddens me. Or I should say, the fact that keeping ones name seems to be considered by fewer and fewer young women saddens me. Consider this, ladies. When the phone rings and someone asks for "Mrs. Your Mother in Law's Last Name", you know you can hang up right away. And it makes rifling through the junk mail a snap.

Posted by: lifermom | September 25, 2006 12:16 PM

Weighing in late. I kept my name and never thought about changing my name for a second. It is who I am. For the men out there who have stated how it's no big deal, I don't see them changing their names. My husband never once asked me to change it and he certainly doesn't care. In my law firm, virtually none of the married women have their husband's last names, although I am constantly surprised at the number of professional women who do change their names professionally.

I don't respond to Mrs. Hislast name, though his family (not his parents) continue to send me mail addressed as such. I don't bother to correct them as why make a big deal over mailing. Most importantly, his parents and my parents and my family have no issues with my name and address things to me correctly. I do make it a point to introduce myself with my last name.

I have a Chinese last name and my husband's is Jewish. Our kids will have a hyphenated last name that will only be 3 syllables long. I think it is important for them to grow up with a last name that reflects their Jewish and Chinese ancestry. Given that my husband and I are of different races, I don't think it will be difficult for teachers, etc. to figure out which last name goes with whom. (Sometimes repair guys come and get confused when they start to say "Mr. Mylast Name" since it doesn't jive with it being a white guy.)
My response to the "what will the children do when they get married" issue is that when they cross that bridge, they will be adults who can decide for themselves what they want to do then.

Posted by: DC in DC | September 25, 2006 12:58 PM

"But marriage isn't about politics or ideology - it's about family. And family is much more important than any ideology."

Excuse me, but tell that to the Nazis who tore apart families. Tell that to the slaves who never knew their children because they were taken away.

Unfortunately, politics and ideology affect every family on the planet. It's a nice thing to say but completely untrue.

And as a married feminist, I'm not rebelling against my husband and subjecting him to my "fervor" because he's a feminist, too!

Posted by: Meesh | September 25, 2006 1:03 PM

To modern relationship in takoma park, glad to have helped you back onto the straight path. Everything in life will just get better from this point.

Posted by: Normal parent | September 25, 2006 1:17 PM

I doubt anyone will read this, but here goes...

I didn't change my name. I was already well-established professionally as a doctor and didn't want the hassle of changing my name. Husband didn't care as long as kids would get his name (he's the last of his name). That was fine, especially because my last name is rather unusual and I got teased a lot when I was a kid. Didn't want my kids to deal with that. That being said -- my patients remember my name, which is helpful now. We regularly get snail mail addressed to "Mr and Mrs HisLastName", "Mr and Mrs MyLastName", "Dr and Mrs HisLastName" (*he's* not the doc, I am), and most amusingly "Dr and Mrs MyLastName". My husband thinks it's hilarious to be Mrs MyLastName. I've never had an issue with my daughter having a different last name from mine, and she doesn't either.

Posted by: neuron | September 25, 2006 1:26 PM

denkpaard, you already showed him the ultimately loyalty by marrying him, right? That's a legally binding document. A name is just a name.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 25, 2006 1:42 PM

I kept my last name and the only person bothered by it is my brother and I don't care what he thinks since he never had to consider changing his last name. I don't mind when people accidentally call me by my husband's last name. I was born with my name and want to keep it. I know people say it is confusing for teachers but I think most people are smart enough to figure it out. And the worse case scenario they call me by my husband's last name. It makes it very easy to know sales call when they ask for Mr. (my last name) or Mrs. (my husband's last name). Then I know they don't know me.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 25, 2006 2:56 PM

"Kept my name and hate, hate, hate when I'm called Mrs. His Last Name."
Me, too. I think that's the only real issue with keeping my name. I have to grind my teeth and/or bite my tongue whenever anyone calls me "Mrs. His Last Name."
To tell the truth, it rarely happens except with some elderly in-laws who are very sweet people otherwise but don't seem to understand the name thing. They also don't seem to grasp that I work full-time and am not a full-time stay-at-home mom (not that there's anything wrong with being a stay-at-home mom), so the name thing isn't the only misunderstanding.
My grandmother used to refuse to answer when addressed as "Mrs. His Last Name" and would reject mail addressed that way. She'd write "No such person at this address," usually in very bold lettering, and often with a one or more exclamation points.
Oops, got to get back to work.

Posted by: name keeper | September 25, 2006 3:02 PM

If a woman's birth name is 'her father's name,' then a man's birth name is also.

Then the question isn't whether a woman should have her father's name or her husband's name, but whether she should have her father's name or his father's name.

People always forget that!

Posted by: Tara | September 25, 2006 5:37 PM

I think it is so odd when someone says that they think it will be too confusing for the children if a parent has a different last name than the child. My parents divorced when I was 4 and I don't remember ever having the same last name as my mother. No trauma there, to be honest. No real confusion that I can remember either. Even when my stepfather was called by my last name. The 2 men didn't like each other, but they cared more about what someone was saying to them about their shared child than the last name that was used when they said it.

Change your name, don't change your name... I'm just happy that I have the choice.

Posted by: me, just me | September 26, 2006 8:30 AM

"Excuse me, but tell that to the Nazis who tore apart families. Tell that to the slaves who never knew their children because they were taken away."

Excuse me - but that's the point. Seriously, I have two profound problems with what you've said. First, your examples deal with what outsiders do that affect peoples families - not the commitment that individuals have to each other within the family. I believe, profoundly, that if you can't put your commitment to a prospective spouse above your political and ideological affiliations, you have no business marrying them - if they're going to commit the rest of their lives to you, they deserve better than to play second fiddle to a cause.

Second, what you have described is the pure face of evil - and what makes it so profoundly evil is precisely the fact that it places politics and economics ahead of people. Neither example suggests that its a GOOD idea to place politics or ideology ahead of family. (How did you expect them to, when both examples completely destroyed families?)

"And as a married feminist, I'm not rebelling against my husband and subjecting him to my "fervor" because he's a feminist, too!"

Congratulations - compatible world views can be a real asset to the marriage. Please ask yourself, though, how you would react if at some point, on some issue, his feminist convictions don't line up with yours. Would you be willing to leave him because he didn't agree with you on an issue concerning how best to achieve gender equality? Would he leave you if you didn't agree with him concerning a difficult social justice issue? I can honestly say that those issues would not harm my marriage - my wife and I have, and do, disagree about some important political and moral issues. Our love is stronger.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 26, 2006 10:04 AM

I kept my last name, but my children have my husband's. He's Jewish, I'm not. We are raising them Jewish and believe that having they're having his surname may increase their prospects of having an active Jewish identity.

Posted by: bemama | September 26, 2006 11:08 AM

t is an English/German/French tradition, I think. Plenty of other cultures do it. In Spain and India for example, babies get either both parent's last name or mom's.

Posted by: alex. mom | September 22, 2006 08:35 AM

This isn't true in my part of India at all. If anything, we take our fathers' first name as our middle name, and have the same last name. I've never met any Indian kid who had his mom's last name, let alone both parents' names. In Spain, yes, this is the norm, but not necessarily in India, unless there is a new trend that I'm not aware of.

Posted by: SPJ | September 26, 2006 12:11 PM

What boggles my mind is that anyone outside the family involved cares whether a woman takes her husband's name or not. It's a very personal decision. My sister took her husband's last name, when I married I kept my "maiden" last name. Neither decision is wrong, it's a personal preference.
As to confusion on the part of children, I think they're confused if the parents are confused. If not, they know what they grow up with. To a child, mommy is still mommy, whether she shares a last name or not.

Posted by: Rachel | September 26, 2006 12:40 PM

I just wanted to say that I never considered changing my name when I married. It was identity in a way, since I lived with me for 30 years, and was so comfortable with my name and who I was. I just didn't see the point in re-naming myself just because I chose to share my life with my husband. (Oddly enough, none of my sister's changed their names either, although I suspect it was laziness more than anything). The real surprise came when my husband insisted on giving my last name to our son. He felt that it was sad that there were no sons in my family to carry on the name, and he admired my very matriarcial family. I consider it the most thoughtful, loving gesture he could have given me, and he doesn't mind at all being called by my last name.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 26, 2006 3:46 PM

This is an interesting one. I'm getting married in three short weeks. My name will stay the same for a variety of reasons 1) my name is just that my name; 2) professional reasons, I'm an attorney and have been for 7 years; 3) my family is quite small and I'm one of the last of my name; 4) to make a point that its perfectly normal to keep one's name when they get married. Husband to be will be know by his name. Children names will be decided when we get there. I'm not worried about people being confused by my name or my husband's name or my future children's name, I'll very kindly explain it until they get it.

Posted by: The Dane | September 27, 2006 4:44 PM

Reasons not to change:
I'm published and have a reputation under my name.
It's my father's name and he's deceased, his family is dying out. My mom, sister, and I would keep same last name.
Too much paperwork to deal with in changing records, accounts, stock certificates, etc. over to a new name.
I won't be having children so no worries about them having a different name than mine.
It's not unusual but it's a "funny" last name -- people remember it.
It's early in the alphabet!

Reasons to change:
I want the same name as my husband -- signals that I've begun a new phase in my life.
My name is "funny" and I'm tired of people doing double takes over it.
I like his last name, it's even earlier in the alphabet, and it sounds great with my first name!

Posted by: Connie | September 28, 2006 10:58 AM

I just got married 2 weeks ago and the idea that I would ever change my name has never even occured to me, even as a child. I think you are born with a name and that it's not really yours to change. And as for saying it causes confusion for children, that is absolutely ridiculous considering how many cultures there are in this world where no one changes a last name to get married, and trust me, they still have children! And even in this country how many children don't have the same last name? Either because their parents aren't married or there were divorces and re marriages etc. and the children are not confused! And while we don't plan to have children, we did dicuss that if it happened, they would have my last name because it is true, the woman is the one who has the children. And while it may be understandable for someone to call me Mrs. X, I am definitely going to correct them. And it bothered me in the one post where the man talked about his wife going by Mrs his last name even though she didn't really change it and then him saying he was offended when it happened the other way around! I did learn from my sister though that it helps with telemarketers. when they call asing for your husband and he's not home and they say "is this Mrs. x?" you can truthfully say no and get rid of them!

My husband also told me something recently that just made it all the more clear to me how perfect we are together. He said that he knew from the beginning he didn't care that I wasn't going to take his name, but he said when he started thinking about it and what a real sexist and outdated practice of ownership it is, he realized he would never be able to marry a woman who would change her name because he could not respect her.

Posted by: Erin | September 28, 2006 11:09 AM

I forgot to comment on the ring part. We don't have rings. That's another outdated tradition. While wedding bands may make some sense in theory, an engagement ring is a waste of money and a sexist symbol in my mind. We got complementary tattoos instead of something that was meaningful to us. And while it has the same symbolism as a ring would, it shows more of a committment to us because we know we can never take them off and we know we never will want to.

Posted by: Erin | September 28, 2006 11:44 AM

I took my husband's last name. Frankly, I hated my old name. Of course I love my family however my maiden name was difficult to spell. I felt I had spent a good deal of my life correcting people - in person, in writing, everywhere. I was glad that I met and fell in love with someone who had an easy last name!

Posted by: tough name | September 28, 2006 2:28 PM

I didn't change my name because I just didn't want to... I, like another poster, don't make a big deal out of it though. My children have my husband's last name (our family name). Everyone refers to me by my family name and I have no issues with it at all. At my children's school, I use my family name... My maiden name is just my legal name that is used for taxes, deeds, investments, social security, etc... No major feminist, identity or personal issues with not changing my name.

Posted by: Terry | October 2, 2006 4:51 PM

I'm getting married soon and have decided to "take" my husband's last name as my social name, but I will legally keep my own last name.

By the way, a tattoo isn't any more permanent than a ring. Ask Johnny Depp.

Posted by: MC | October 2, 2006 9:03 PM

Have to agree with some others.

I never gave changing my name any thought at all. It seemed quite natural not to change it, and my husband seemed (and still seems) to feel precisely the same way. We've never had any "problems" although I do have to explain sometimes to new acquaintances. However, since I treat it as "natural," all of our friends do, as well.

Our daughter has husband's last name for no real reason except it sounded right with her first name. Again, no problems for either of us.

Posted by: took | October 4, 2006 12:13 PM

Dear Brainless Women of America,

Wake up! STOP changing your name! I've read all of your comments and you are NOT changing your name because you love your husbands or feel bad that he's the last in his lineage... it's because you haven't stopped to actually think of this -- the ONLY people who were ever FORCED to change their last names were pieces of PROPERTY of men --- WOMEN & SLAVES! (of which, my lineage was both). Now that I actually have the decision (which I did not as a woman by law, up to 20 years ago..sometimes even more recent in history!!) to keep the name I was born with as well give my children the name of the person who brought them into this world and will most likely instill most of their cultural values in them... They have my last name, not my (male) partner's.

Women, you are not LIBERATED by making excuses and changing your name to your husbands. You may THINK you are really making a choice but if it's really a choice amongst loving couples, what do you think the stats are on MEN CHANGING THEIR NAMES TO THEIR WIVES??? Pretty low.

If you're really a women (or family) who has progressed into this century, you and your partner/husband will either truly blend your two names and your children's, coming up with a unique family name, or each person will happily and without question keep the name they were given, the name that identifies you as an individual of value, worth, and meaning.

Why on this Earth would ANYONE change their name if they actually had some power??? (READ: Men don't because they actually HAVE THE POWER in Relationships and in Society. Women. Wake up. Stop fooling yourselves) Read some Catherine McKinnon and get a clue) Sorry for the anger, but you're holding our sex back from progessing to where we need to be....

Signed,
Tired of the Women Too Scared to Alienate Male Affection in their Lives They Don't Stand Up for What They Want(Just Talk and Write About it!)

Posted by: SabrinaL | October 7, 2006 8:02 AM

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