The Maiden Name Dilemma: Keep, Drop or Integrate?
By Laurie Scheuble
I have been working on marital naming research for 25 years. I study what names women choose when they marry and what surname they give their children.
Twenty-five years ago, I would have predicted that at least a quarter of women in the United States would keep their maiden name as their last name when they marry. I expected this because there was a tremendous amount of social change occurring and an expectation of equity in the treatment of women was becoming the social norm. On the contrary, the most recent data shows that only about 9% of women do keep their maiden names or hyphenate them with their husband’s last name when they marry.
Another 20% keep their maiden name as a middle name and change their last name to that of their husband. Women who keep their surname as compared to those who don’t are more likely to have higher levels of education, get married at a later age, be more vested in their careers and be less religious. Even women who keep their maiden name as their own last name when they marry overwhelmingly give their children their husband’s last name.
So, what does this mean?
The surname that women take when they marry appears to be a nonissue for many people in the US, the expectation that women will change their last name to that of their husband remaining strong. Also, compared to other issues like equal pay for equal work, childcare equality and other gender issues, naming has received far less attention in the popular press and by academic researchers.
In my more cynical moments, I think that this is the last area of socially approved sexism. We don’t expect men to change their last name when they marry to that of their wives. In fact, when I suggest this to a classroom of students, many of them look at me as if I have lost my mind. We also socialize women into investing less in their maiden name. Girls in middle school still try out their first name with the boy they like’s last name.
There is nothing legal or special about the way we do marital surnames in this country. In other countries, women keep their maiden names when they marry as do men. They still manage to know to whom they are related and women don’t get lost in history because they’ve changed their last names when they married. Their children still know who their parents are even though they have different surnames.
We hold on to this tradition of women taking their husband’s surnames when they marry because it is just that, a tradition that continues to function simply because it has always been that way.
As a researcher and a woman, I think women and men have the right to have whatever last name they choose when they marry. Given this, I know that the majority of women will decide to change their last name to that of their husband when they marry. This decision meets societal expectations that everyone in a family has the same last name, that if they love their husband they will change their last name and that changing their last names shows they are committed to the marriage (even though women who keep their maiden names are not at a higher risk for divorce than those who change).
My life experiences are consistent with the research findings. I am a well-educated woman who married at a later age and was vested in my career when I married, so I kept my maiden name. In fact, my husband and I never had a discussion about it. We both assumed each of us would just keep our birth surname. We have a daughter and, consistent with research findings, she has my last name for a middle name and my spouse’s last name as her last name.
But that’s a decision we did talk about extensively.
Where do you stand? Did you/would you change or keep your last name when you married?
Laurie Scheuble is a senior lecturer in sociology at Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests focus on marital naming, adoption, informal parenting and infertility. She is married to a sociologist and they have one daughter.
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on January 4th, 2016 at 12:21 am
I’ve honestly considered keeping my name when I marry. It depends on his last name though, and if it sounds good with my first (and middle). And when we marry, since I want to become a Genetic Counselor, and it can be a pain to change your name on oodles of documents and certifications.
on January 4th, 2016 at 2:48 am
I kept my maiden name and my kids have a hyphenated last name with both of our last names. While I got married at an average age (not so early, not so late), I’m well-educated and have a career that involves more than one degree and several licenses, so it made sense to keep my last name. Though I wouldn’t have a problem changing it, it was more about less hassle for me! We hyphenated the kids’ last name 1) so they would have both family names and 2) because we travel extensively, so having both names on passports also makes crossing borders much simpler.
on January 4th, 2016 at 4:03 am
I will be changing to my husband’s name when we get married in May. If my maiden name was one I liked, I might have been persuaded to keep it. Sadly, my maiden name is horribly to say, always spelt wrong and has unpleasant associations with my father. I’d rather take my partner’s last name and be known by a name I love and am proud to be associated with.
on January 4th, 2016 at 7:00 am
I grew up and live very close the where Ms. Scheuble (the author of this article) teaches. I kept my own name when I married 5 years ago.
I have a BS and married at age 24. My family is religious and conservative.
I felt name-changing was an antiquated, patriarchal custom which had no bearing on my life. I also grew up in a family business, and enjoy the community associations with my last name. I am proud of it.
We have given our children only my husband’s last name, just for the sake of simplicity. I didn’t want them (and their future spouses and children) to have to deal with hyphenation, and our society doesn’t cater to wearing two surnames. (My Hispanic friends in this area bemoan the difficulties of trying to live and do business here with multiple surnames. They give their own children one.)
What I was NOT prepared for was the societal backlash. I had open dialogue with my inlaws and parents about my decision well before the wedding. My inlaws encouraged me to hyphenate. My parents tried to talk me into changing my name. I did not.
On my honeymoon, I got multiple Facebook prompts and comments from friends, urging me to change my profile name.
As time went on, I got letters and emails of dismay from relatives who rarely acknowledge my existence.
People directly questioned my values and commitment to my wonderful, supportive spouse.
Credit card companies assumed I changed my name without any indication from me in the affirmative. What a fiasco!
My mother in law made quite a scene when our first child was born, because the baby’s name placard in his bassinet read, “Baby Momsmaidenname.” She wanted to make certain that grandbaby was getting her last name, and her last name only. We had already informed her well before the birth exactly what name he would be getting. A nurse explained to her that it is hospital policy, and state law, that all babies are identified by their mother’s maiden name while in the hospital.
I hope I don’t have a chip on my shoulder from all of this. But this has been my honest experience of keeping a name given me at birth, a name to which I feel I have every legitimate right. Do I not have as much right to it as my brothers, who will sail through life with none of these petty concerns? Why don’t I? Because I was born female? Truly, this has been a disconcerting social experiment. And although the initial vitriol has subsided somewhat, many people, even within my own family, refuse to call me by my maiden name even today. My mail is more likely to be incorrectly addressed to “Mr and Mrs ” than “Mr ” and “Ms. ”
I believe a fundamental human right, to which all people in a free- thinking society should be entitled, is the right to be call by the name of their choosing.
on January 4th, 2016 at 7:02 am
I’m really depressed by the number of my friends (mostly my American friends) who are changing their surnames. In individual cases I can sometimes see the reasoning (difficult relationships with fathers, unpronounceable surnames, etc.) but as your stats suggest, it still seems to be the default.
My mom kept her surname and I always just assumed I’d keep mine (I do have my father’s though). Apart from any professional reasons, they idea of abandoning a name that has been mine for over 30 years just seems bizarre. I’ve never believed that all members of a family need to have the same name…even if my mother had taken my father’s, my family would still have had a different name to my maternal grandparents, every bit as much my grandparents as the paternal ones.
I currently live in a country where both partners keep their own surname and the children receive two — father’s first, and then mother’s (unless otherwise specified). In general, it’s the father’s which is then passed on to the next generation, but my partner and I are planning on giving the kids his mother’s surname, which is more distinctive and more closely tied to the culture he identifies with. It’s also more distinctive and interesting than my surname, which is why we’ve chosen it. There’s a part of me that’s a bit annoyed not to be passing on my surname though, just to make a point (it’s not endangered or anything).
If we move to a country where it’s permitted, I’ll probably give at least some of our kids my surname, or hyphenate for sure. I don’t find hyphenation particularly attractive or practical, but I just feel some of us need to be making a point, and subverting this idea that it’s automatically the man’s name that is passed on.
Again, it’s not about any given couple, any given situation, or anyone’s specific choice. It’s just that… that stats say it all.
on January 4th, 2016 at 9:47 am
Reading about some people’s experiences on here makes me so sad. Currently, I’m engaged to a wonderful man, and I am beyond excited to be known as Mrs. HisLastName. Ever since I first understood the concept of a maiden name, I’ve been intrigued and excited by the idea that my young life would be defined by one name, and my later life would be defined by another, slightly different name.
However, this is my personal opinion, and my personal experience. Every person should be able to make the decision that best suits themselves and their personal lives without worrying about backlash from friends, family, or strangers. It’s wrong to try to insist that women should change, or keep, their last names at marriage. Names, as we all know, are a very personal topic and decision, and no one should make you feel bad for making the choice you feel most comfortable with.
All that being said, my fiancée has actually expressed interest in taking my last name, since it’s more unusual but still easy to pronounce. Unfortunately, due to some negative associations with my paternal grandfather, it was deemed out of the question. So Mr. and Mrs. HisLastName we will be (:
on January 4th, 2016 at 10:08 am
I kept my name when I married in October. My family has said virtually nothing about it; my eldest sister also kept her name so I’m not out of place in my family. My husband’s family, however, is a little trickier to deal with. They are Southern Baptists, truly southern, conservative, and very traditional. The idea that I wouldn’t change my name did not occur to them. My husband’s grandmother is deaf and prone to absorbing only the information that she wants to absorb. To her, I am Mrs. HusbandsName. I don’t even bother to correct her as it’s not worth the hassle or strife.
Children’s surnames, however, is something that my husband and I have yet to come to an agreement on. I want to pass on my name; he wants to pass on his or possibly a portmanteau. Neither of us wants a hyphenated name nor two last names sans hyphen. I can see a future where a child is given my last name and my husband’s grandmother decides that it’s a second middle name and tells the whole family as much. It’s all hypothetical at the moment but I can see it being a problem with both his family and mine if the children are given my name.
on January 4th, 2016 at 10:40 am
Strong, strong, strong proponent of keeping my maiden name. It’s my personal and professional brand. I earned three degrees under this name and have built a profession with it. Many of my other, late 20s, friends have taken on their spouse’s last names, and two couples I know both combined the names. However, it just doesn’t feel right to me to change my name at all. I am quite proud of my name and really like the way it looks and sounds, and I have a deep sense of family pride as well. It’s a very rare last name and definitely in danger of extinction.
I also come from Latin America, where the legal naming is different. My birth name has both of my parents’ surnames, and when married, you legally become “Lastname de Hislastname.” I find that a bit antiquated but I do like the fact that your children have both surnames. It is sad, however, that this country does not embrace those who do have two last names. All of the paperwork and the “security questions” have prevented me from proudly using my mother’s surname as my maternal cousins do.
on January 4th, 2016 at 12:03 pm
Most women do not propose to men, most women wear white dresses to their weddings and most women change their surnames to their husband’s. Why? Because it’s traditional. There’s nothing wrong with bypassing tradition and going down a route that is unconventional (depending on opinion), but claiming that women keeping their surnames is a product of sexism is a bit much, in my personal opinion.
on January 4th, 2016 at 1:59 pm
I’ve seen this issue get blown way out of proportion on both sides of the fence. I don’t think that a woman changing her surname at marriage means that she’s subservient to her husband any more than I think that a woman who keeps her surname doesn’t respect or love her husband. A name change is a personal choice that can be made for a variety of reasons. It is beyond silly for anyone to sit around and judge a woman for changing or keeping her surname at marriage. Personally, if I were getting married today I would keep my surname. I love my surname and how it sounds with my first name. I’ve weighed the pros and cons and don’t see any overwhelming benefits of changing my surname. I intend to give all of my children my surname in some capacity anyway – most likely as a middle name.
on January 4th, 2016 at 2:24 pm
My dad’s father died when I was 12, and he was really into history and genealogy about his family. When he died, my grandma got rid of everything he had researched and threw most of it away, since she didn’t get along with his family. After he died, I told my dad that I thought our last name was super cool, and that I wanted to hyphenate it when I got married. Dad started to cry, gave me a hug, and told me that Grandpa would be very proud.
So here I am, a year into marriage and I am Mrs. MaidenName-MarriedName. It’s a lot to write and sign, but to me it’s worth it. I have an awesome maiden name, and it honors my dad’s family. My married name is also very cool, and it honors the man I chose to spend my life with, and his family as well. Our future children will not be hyphenated, however–altogether my 2 last names have 16 letters, and I don’t want to bestow that upon my poor kids. 🙂
In any case, though I do consider myself a feminist, to me this is more of a personal issue about honoring relatives. I completely support those women who choose to keep strictly their maiden names, however. Thankfully we have a choice in these matters as women, and I love that we are all so varied in our opinions. We can do it indeed!
on January 4th, 2016 at 2:37 pm
My husband and I both hyphenated our names, HisLastName-MyLastName. I always liked the idea of hyphenating but never even considered my future husband wanting to hyphenate also. My husband was all for it though, more so than me even. I was hesitant because we both have very long, difficult to spell, and very ethnic last names. His is very Italian and mine is very German but I think it works. I love that we still share a last name but that both of our surnames are involved. We did not have any backlash from family but everyone certainly does think it’s odd. We don’t have kids yet but they will have the same hyphenated last name. When they get married they can choose what they would like to do with it. My husband and I were 24 when we got married and both had bachelor’s degrees. We are religious but not at all conservative.
on January 4th, 2016 at 2:45 pm
I would never, ever even consider the remotest possibility of changing my name. My future spouse is welcome to take my name, however. And my kids will either take my name or hyphenate.
None of my married friends have changed their names, except in one case where both parties took a mutually agreed upon surname chosen for its personal significance. Frankly, any woman who did take her husband’s name would be seen as bizarre and regressive. It’s a tradition that’s generally agreed to be about as outdated as corsets, horse-drawn carriages, and women being denied the right to vote.
on January 4th, 2016 at 4:17 pm
I think it depends on what happens, since I’m a while away from getting married, and may not do so at all.. But I’d probably change my name. I’d rather have the same name as my husband and children, and unfortunately my surname works with a very limited selection of first names and is far too long to just tack on, (it’s technically double barrelled already). But I will be keeping the first bit of my surname, which I don’t use everyday anyway, and is basically a second middle. It’s my dad’s and grandad’s name, so it’s not lacking in family significance. I think it’s great when women keep their maiden name, or if their husbands take their name or double barrel, but it just wouldn’t work with mine. I also understand wanting to keep the tradition of taking one’s husband’s surname. I like to think I can appreciate or at least accept tradition even if I don’t entirely understand or agree with it anyway like wearing a white wedding dress haha. What does drive me up the wall is when women do take their husbands name, but are referred to as Mrs husband’s fn, husband’s surname, like suddenly you become defined as Mrs I’m-somebody’s-wife.
on January 4th, 2016 at 4:20 pm
Hmm. Here’s my experience.
When I married for the first time 20 years ago, I had no problem taking my ex’s name. My maiden name, although only four letters long & one syllable, is almost always mispronounced & often misspelled. My ex’s name is six letters long & one syllable, & is often misheard (especially over the phone), but it was a definite improvement on my maiden name. For our wedding, I walked down the aisle by myself because I felt strongly that I wasn’t a piece of property to be given away by a man. It was a pain changing my name, but not insurmountable. On the other hand, when my SIL married my brother, she kept her own last name because, to quote her, she was “too lazy to bother w/all the paperwork.”
Fast-forward to almost five years ago, when I married my current husband. This was a bit trickier as my daughter, who was 13 at the time, had asked that I keep my first married name so that she & I would have the same surname. But I also wanted to have the same last name as my husband, so I hyphenated my two married names. My current married name comes first & my former married name second because the flow of the names is better. All of my important paperwork is now filed under my hyphenated name except my credit card, because it appears I can’t change that w/o a lot of effort & I’m just too lazy to bother.
Incidentally, during our marriage ceremony, the JP presented my husband & I to our friends & family as “Mr. & Mrs. MyFormerMarriedName.” I corrected him right away & my daughter still teases me about how fast my head whipped around to get that out! 🙂 Along w/my husband I acquired two step kids. My stepdaughter is married now & our Christmas card this year, which included pix of my husband, me, my daughter, my stepson, & my stepdaughter & her husband, said “Peace, love, & joy from [in the space where a surname goes] We Have Too Many Last Names Anymore.” 😉
on January 4th, 2016 at 4:57 pm
I don’t mind my last name, but everyone always mispronounces or misspells it. When I get married in the future, I’ll be taking my husband’s name, especially if it’s easier to pronounce.
on January 4th, 2016 at 9:59 pm
I got married young, at 20 and I did change my name. I worked towards both my bachelors and masters after getting married so I never had to deal with any of the changing my name for licensing and degrees. If I had gotten married later in life, after getting my degrees I would have probably hyphenated my name and had my kids have their father’s last name.
I think, as @southern.maple discusses, this gets blown way out of proportion on both sides. I too feel that a woman can choose
to keep her maiden name, change to her husband’s last name, hype are, choose a new surname with her spouse, or whatever it is she chooses. It is solely up to her, and I would never judge a woman for her choice in her last name.
It bothers me when people act as if a woman choosing to keep her name is wrong, it’s her choice because it’s her name, but on the same token, it is bothersome when people assume that because you change your name to your husband’s that you are considered outdated. People just need to worry about what works for them and realize that everyone has different opinions and has the right to choose which way they want to deal with surnames.
on January 4th, 2016 at 10:40 pm
My mother took my father’s name when she got married, but she always preferred to called my her maiden name. As a kid, I thought it was strange because I thought once you get married you had to change your name to your husband’s. Growing up, I believe that it was just something women had to do and I was okay with it. When I met my boyfriend and became committed to him, I was more than okay with changing my name to his, especially since his sounds more cool than mine’s (mine is too simple and rhymes with a very unflattering word).
Right now, I’m in college and I plan on writing professionally when I graduate. With that in mind, I contemplated whether I should I keep my name since I want to work in a creative field or hyphenated it with my boyfriend last name when we get married one day. I still don’t really know what to do. My boyfriend doesn’t mind either way and I’m still really young so I have lots of time. But still, I wonder what’s the best choice for me.
on January 4th, 2016 at 11:21 pm
It bothers me that the default is to take the husband’s name. I have a BS and many of my friends/acquaintances have professional degrees. I’ve noticed on facebook that not a single one who has been married has kept her maiden name. Also, my boyfriend of four years is very progressive, a feminist, and not religious, and yet the idea of taking my name is really weird to him.
on January 5th, 2016 at 2:27 am
I personally don’t like the idea of taking a male partner surname because I can’t help but think of the sexist connotations the action implies, especially due to history (the idea of possession, of a man being the head of the family by default instead of being on equal standing, of the “male line” being more important then the woman’s etc etc). Ultimately if people want to change their surnames and don’t associate it with all this, it’s their choice and one I absolutely wouldn’t hold against anyone.
However, I think it’s also notable to mention that the idea of a man taking a woman’s surname instead is generally considered bizarre and unflattering to the man – so the connotations of doing this seem to pierce social consciousness. It’s not unreasonable to ask why the opposite is seen as normal.
I think it really becomes a problem when a man refuses to allow a woman to keep her name if she wants to; that’s when the line is crossed, I think.
on January 5th, 2016 at 2:36 am
It’s coming up to 100 years since women first got the vote (I’m based in the UK). Women’s rights have come really far in those 100 years and it can be easy to forgot that just how sexist and misogynistic the roots of this practice are. Basically, it used to be that upon marriage a woman ceased to exist as a legal person in herself and was only known as wife of so-and-so. It’s all very well to say oh this is just tradition, but so is FGM or child marriage in some parts of the world and I hope I would not see anyone advocating that on these pages (I don’t equate the two, but am trying to make a point about blindly following tradition).
Like many others, I spent my childhood assuming I would change my name on marriage, but as I progressed into my thirties I realised how attached I am to my run of the mill surname and now that I’m actually planning to get married I don’t intend to change my surname. That is my choice. Other women may make a different choice, for all the reasons presented in these comments and I do respect that too. The point is that we can make that choice, when once we had none, and for that I am grateful.
We on nameberry should be more aware than others just how much the naming landscape has changed over the years. Traditionally, men were named after their fathers or grandfathers and women after mothers and grandmothers. It is no longer shocking that John Smith’s son isn’t necessarily named John Smith junior, so why should we be surprised that his wife isn’t named Mrs John Smith anymore?
For those who are interested to read more about the history of surnames, and the tradition of women taking their husbands names in the English speaking world, this article from the Guardian newspaper is very interesting http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/dec/12/im-getting-married-should-i-change-my-surname
on January 5th, 2016 at 3:37 am
Also, one of my reasons for not being bothered by changing my maiden name to my husband’s is because my maiden name is just as patriarchal as my husband’s…both are names passed down through the male line.
on January 5th, 2016 at 5:27 am
IMHO, a totally redundant topic…women taking on their partner’s lastname is highly romantic, traditional and beautiful. 🙂
PS I hold post-graduate qualifications and have no ‘hang-ups’ regarding so-called ‘archaic’ marriage traditions.
on January 5th, 2016 at 3:47 pm
Since getting married I had hyphened my last name. I am proud of my maiden name, it’s my history and my family. I have been identified with it for almost 30 years, I couldn’t just give it up. Maybe I wouldn’t have hyphened it if the 2 surnames didn’t go well together but they do and it works. My DH didn’t care either way, he left that decision up to me. When we have children, they will just have his last name.
I debated on even changing it at all, but I like that I was able to represent both my family and my new family.
on January 5th, 2016 at 9:01 pm
I considered keeping my maiden name, but I decided to just keep it as a second middle name. I wanted to keep our family surname simple, and hyphenating our surnames just sounds like a joke name. I don’t have a good relationship with my dad. So, it was nice to be rid of that direct association.
on January 5th, 2016 at 9:05 pm
I think if my maiden name were matrilineal, I might have wanted to keep it more.
on January 5th, 2016 at 10:15 pm
1. While it is fine to choose to take your husband’s name, I would think it was more fine if more men chose to take their wife’s name. It’s the same way I feel about cheerleading — it’s fine, but I would like it much better if men cheered at women’s games too. May the nicer surname win!
2. I’ve known women who changed to husband’s name because their fathers had been abusive or absentee. That makes sense to me.
3. I am struck though by how many of my high school students are flabbergasted that I kept my own name. “Why aren’t you Mrs. O’Hara?” a senior boy demanded, to which I responded, “Why isn’t he Mr. McDermott?” (names changed slightly). Not sure he got the concept!
4. I do think this is something parents should talk about with their children as they are teens. Not directing them one way or another, just mentioning the options. For me, I assumed I would take my husband’s name but when I married at 30, his last name was Smith and no way was I going to lose my Scottish ancestry for Smith. I added Smith to my name and when we divorced 3 years later, I just deleted the Smith.
5. When I married again at 40, I asked my husband to add my name and I would add his, to which he said, “No Way!” to which I said, then I’m my name and you are yours. I’ve no regrets about it. I value my ancestry and my father is really into genealogy (sp?). In that field, the man’s name is everything and it is insulting. It would be so much easier to trace our ancestry if no one had changed her name!
6. I think it does depend a lot on age, education, career, self-certainty. If I had married as a young college kid, I probably would have taken the man’s name, but as a fully grown professional woman the thought seems ludicrous (for me, not necessarily others).
7. However, I would definitely have used both last names. Not hyphenated and not as middles, just John Roger McDermott O’Hara. The child is a mix of both parents. Where I come from many European American and Latin American students have two last names and it works fine.
on January 5th, 2016 at 11:02 pm
I chose to take my husband’s last name, and I love it. For me, it just wasn’t something I was too concerned about. I really wanted us to have the same name, and I am not too attached to my maiden name – I love my family, but the name has no associations for me. In Australia, it is so much easier for a woman to change her surname than a man, and I was married just as my career was beginning, so hadn’t built up a reputation to my maiden name. (I might feel differently if I was getting married now – I’m not sure). It was a decision that I discussed with my husband, but not one we argued over. In the end it was completely my choice, and I’m sure he would have supported me whatever I decided to do with my surname.
on January 6th, 2016 at 4:25 am
I am certainly a supporter of women keeping their maiden names after marriage. However, I did not make this decision when I got married. My father was horribly abusive growing up and changing my name was a way for me to separate myself from him. The name was also very uncommon and often mispronounced. My husband has a normal (though incredibly popular) surname and his family has always been so incredibly kind and welcoming to me that I always wanted to take their last name and be a part of them. So, I suppose it all comes down to individual experience.
on January 6th, 2016 at 4:12 pm
This is very interesting topic. I’ve enjoyed reading everybody’s opinions and experiences, so thanks for sharing, fellow berries!
As many of you said, growing up I thought changing your surname is something you just have to do after getting married. But I must admit I’ve never dreamt of having a wedding, and seeing my mother getting two marriages and two divorces really put me off from the idea. I had mixed feelings about it and imagined that as an adult I would just change my surname to my grandmothers and stick with it for the rest of my life. The idea of taking your husband’s last name just never appealed to me as it feels a bit sexist. And while I see why it can be romantic it was just never something I wanted for myself.
On the other hand, my father was absent from my life and his family did not care about me, so I felt like I don’t want to be associated with them. Once I thought that changing my surname to my partners will be an easy way to get away from my maiden name… but I didn’t like the thought that I would be just changing my surname from one men’s to another, and while we never know what future holds for us, so far I am not planning on ever getting married.
I am currently in a process of changing my surname and it is long and takes a lot of hassle. I really wanted to change it to my mother’s last name as she now has her mother’s maiden name (and her grandmothers and great-grandmothers) so it is of a big significance to me. On top of that, my under aged sister got her surname changed so I thought we could finally be known under the same name all together… but my mum vetoed it and expressed her thoughts as I should keep my father’s surname. I felt betrayed and misunderstood at some point, but I came up with the idea of creating a completely new but still legitimate surname for myself by dropping the last 5(!) letters from my old last name. That way I’m going to be known by my very own, original surname that belongs only to me. All that being said, I think whether a woman chooses to change or keep her maiden name, it should be a decision entirely depending on her, same as if she would like to keep her hair long or short, what music she is listening to or where she wants to live. After all we are the ones living with that last name and signing and seeing it on a daily basis, so that should be a choice each of us is comfortable with.
By the way I have no idea what surname I would give to my future children – all I know is that I’d like to pass my soon-to-be new maiden name and would not feel comfortable with them getting only their father’s last name.
on January 10th, 2016 at 12:33 pm
I thought very seriously about changing my last name, predominantly because my husband is Japanese, and I am Canadian of European (mostly English) descent, and we live in Japan. I have a hard enough time with my first name here, and I thought it would make me stand out just a little less if my last name was written like the rest of my co-workers. But, I also find it a very antiquated tradition that doesn’t have any place in modern society. There is also a fair amount of paperwork to be done when one changes one’s name. I talked to my husband, and he wasn’t concerned about it either way. He pointed out to that he fell in love with Taylor Jones, and his nickname for me (TJ) wouldn’t work if I took his last name. I decided against taking his name, because I’m happy with the things my names represent. My first name is my mother’s maiden name, and my last name is shared with my father and my three brothers. It is something I have passed on to my son, as it is one of his two middle names, and it is something he will have in common with his future siblings. It’s not a very exciting name, but I keep it on the principle that I don’t belong to anyone, even my delightful husband. Sometimes I wish that we all had the same last name, just to make things a little less complicated, but it doesn’t bother me too often.
on January 3rd, 2018 at 2:24 pm
Before my parents had me, they both changed their last name to that of my mother’s maternal great grand-mother. That solved the problem about who was taking whose last name, and gave them their own name, free of families (which I think especially my father wanted). My father’s last name was also an incredibly common one, as was my mother’s. When my parents divorced, my father kept the name even though it was technically my mother’s. I do think however it’s viewed a little different here(less stigma about not changing it/a man changing his), though I can not say how relatives reacted (as I wasn’t born).
I am so happy with my last name. There’s less than 200 people with the name here in Denmark. It’s unique and ties me to my country, my closest family and my maternal ancestry. There is a lot of times where I have to spell it , to make sure people get it right, but it has never bothered me. I was just happy I never was one of three Smiths in a class (just an example). No matter who I end up marrying one day, I’ll keep my “maiden” name. It has a big personal value to me, and is the only connection I have to a part of my family I never knew. It is also the name I intend on giving my children, when I have them some day, and unless my future spouse has a last name as special and uncommon as mine, that decision can not be skewed.
I think it is right that it depends on your education, age and other indicators. Most my friends would (currently) never think twice before taking a man’s name once they get married. H*ck I even have a few friends aching to get rid of their last name. Mind though that they’re all between 16 and 20. Maybe, like many other commenters, if they get married later in life, with an established professional life, their outlook on the subject will be diffferent. (I certainly hope mine doesn’t).
However I loved reading the different stories told here, and the reasoning behind keeping/changing your last name, and every decision is equally right. In the end it’s 100% our decision what happens with OUR name.
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