Subscribe to blog via RSS

Search Blog

I Didn’t Change My Name When I Got Married

Categories: Career, Working? Living?

98 comments

I didn’t change my name when I got married.

There are many reasons: I was in my 30s by the time I walked down the aisle, I already had a career in my own name, with a reputation and bylines and even a book. I owned my home and car and other things outright, and changing my name on all of those legal documents was a hassle.

But, most of all, I kept my name because it was my name — I was used to it, and replacing it with my husband’s made me feel like I was faking it, somehow.

When we were filling out the forms, in our tiny town hall in liberal Massachusetts, I teased my husband, telling him, “This is your last chance to keep your name, you know.” The sweet, older lady behind the counter looked like she might keel over from shock, and I felt like I had written “brazen hussy” in the “name after marriage” spot on the application.

About 90 percent of women take their husband’s name when they marry, and that’s more than before, according to a Harvard University study — in spite of the fact that the societal trends that led to women keeping their names in the past (delayed marriage, higher levels of education, and increased presence in the workforce) are the same.

So, why the change? Are working women, do we feel that’s a way to underscore our femininity? A way to bond with our mates? Or a way to highlight our link to our family histories — or to our children and our futures?

I kept my name anyway. For the record: My husband kept his, too, but I still think it’s hilarious whenever telemarketer’s call and ask for “Mr. Alphonse.”

Did you keep your name when you married? Why or why not?



Subscribe to blog via RSS
Share this on:

98 comments so far...

  • I hyphenated my name when I got married. It was a compromise to respect his wishes that I have his name, while still keeping my own. In retrospect, if I had it to do again, I would simply keep my own. The system is not made to deal with people with two last names. I can’t tell the endless run-ins I’ve had with official offices who tell me they cannot enter hyphens in the computer system, or who misfile my name, etc., etc. And then, there is the occasional person, upon seeing I have a hyphenated name, who feels compelled to say something like, “oh…you’re one of *those*.”

    I don’t mind having the husband’s name for things related to our children or family, but in general, I’ve never liked the concept much. To me it reeks too much of antiquated notions of women as property. I had my own identity before I was his wife. I didn’t feel compelled to give that up simply because I got married.

    Barbara  |  May 26th, 2008 at 12:15 pm

  • I took the indecisive way out and hyphenated :)

    Karla  |  May 26th, 2008 at 3:14 pm

  • I added his to mine. I had a lot of professional contacts in my own name, so I compromised. The end result did give me some awesome initials — O.K.!!

    Daisy  |  May 26th, 2008 at 4:46 pm

  • I kept my name. I am an only child and we don’t have a lot of family in the US, plus I like my last name:)

    Nataly  |  May 26th, 2008 at 9:04 pm

  • One thing about changing your name - get married more than once, and you may just have to keep doing it, since Husband #2 may not exactly be understanding about his wife still having Husband #1’s last name :-).

    I married young the first time and cheerfully changed my last name - and since I was married for 18 years and had built my career with that name, I didn’t take my maiden name back after the divorce. When I married for the second time, I did the same as Daisy - added his name. At a practical level, I answer to either, both, or the combination. It gets a little confusing :-).

    Florinda  |  May 26th, 2008 at 10:28 pm

  • I hyphenated my name when I got married. I was already working and I liked my name. My original plan was to keep my name and not add his, but then I was talked into the addition by family who felt it would be easier for future kids in communications with schools, doctors, etc. Now that I have kids, I don’t think it would matter all that much. I agree with what someone else said, it would have been easier to just keep my name - my files are always being misplaced and receptionists never seem to know what part of the alphabet to pull my file from.

    Jen S  |  May 27th, 2008 at 3:52 pm

  • I took his name.

    Reason #1: Changing it meant more to him than keeping the old one meant to me.

    Reason #2: It gives me warm fuzzies that my husband, kids, and I all share the same last name.

    I did briefly think of moving my old last name to my middle name, but decided I liked my original middle initial better in my signature.

    Unexpected bonus: when I got pregnant, he said that since I had taken his last name, I should get to choose the children’s first names.

    SoftwareMom  |  May 27th, 2008 at 4:49 pm

  • I took his name, without much thought, honestly. He would have been very bothered if I hadn’t, I suspect.

    Since then, I’ve given it some thought and I’m glad I did. To me it’s symbolic of the very real shift in world perspective. When we married, we went from being me (a part of my family) and him (a part of his) to us (our own little family unit).

    FWIW, I don’t think it would have mattered to me WHAT name we chose as the common one, but I’m not one to buck the trend just for the sake of being different. (Also, my poor husband’s parents — it’s bad enough that he married a card-carrying-bleeding-heart-liberal. No need to add insult to injury.) I do know a couple from college who combined their last names into a new one and both changed to that.

    I do wish I had dropped my middle name (wo which I had never felt particularly attached) and used my maiden name (with which I have a positive connection). I think that would have been a more accurate reflection of how I see myself. Jan, first and foremost. A part of the MarriedName family that now includes our two children. But also, maybe under the surface, but still there, a MaidenName.

    Jan  |  May 27th, 2008 at 6:38 pm

  • I was determined to keep my last name because I was also determined to not get married until I was into my thirties and had a great career under my belt. Instead, I fell in love and was married at 25 when I was only just beginning my career.

    A couple of weeks before the wedding, when dealing with many different people over the phone, I became very frustrated that no one seemed able to spell Saucier, let alone pronounce it. That’s when I decided to change my name. When I told my husband I was taking his name he was thrilled. Today I’m glad I did it because he and his family are just as much a part of me as my own family.

    Mandy  |  May 28th, 2008 at 7:37 am

  • I love reading what you all did and why!

    One thing that does come up for me is the issue of my kids, my stepkids, and last names. I never correct any of my kids’ friends if they call me “Mrs. MyHusband’sName,” and both my mother-in-law and my own mother almost always address mail to me that way, but my kids and stepkids all have the same last name (their dad’s) which does make things easier when it comes to pull files at the doctor’s office and whatnot…

    Lylah  |  May 28th, 2008 at 10:27 am

  • wow! i always looked forward to getting married just so i could change my name. i hated my last name! i trade up ever so slightly!
    that said, my hubby i pretty laid back and wouldnt really care one way or the other. I think we both felt it was just whatever i wanted to do. i DID feel weird and a bit of a fraud for the first so many years we were married because i was just not used to the name!
    Lastly, a woman i worked with and her husband had decided that since they would become a ‘new’ family when they got married - they should have a new name. instead of just picking one, they actually made one up and made sure it didnt exist anywhere yet. i thought that was kinda cool too!

    Kate  |  May 28th, 2008 at 1:17 pm

  • We both changed our names- we now have a double barreled last name. When I said on the honeymoon I was nervous and maybe I should just take his, he said, “You can do what you want, but I’m changing my name!”
    I do like having all the same name, and I’m thrilled he was willing to change his. Though it’s been just 10 years, I can’t remember what it was like when my name was different. He says when he sees his old name, it just looks wrong.

    Kate  |  May 28th, 2008 at 8:06 pm

  • I did not change my last name. I feel that, this is a name I was born with, this is who I am, why should I change that? And one day if/when I become famous, I want it to be with my original name. It does not make sense to some people when I tell them, but it makes sense to me.

    Vera Babayeva  |  May 28th, 2008 at 10:35 pm

  • Lylah — I took my ex-husband’s name when we married, and at the time I was proud to be Mrs. _____. We had three children and divorced 8 years ago. I’ve kept my married name so my children and I can have the same last name, but sometimes it really bugs me….

    BlapherMJ  |  May 29th, 2008 at 3:45 pm

  • I hyphened my name when I got married the first time and spent most days regretting it, so when I married again I took my husbands name. Why? Because I knew I was now married for life. I had found him and this was it and I wanted every one to know it.

    Debie  |  May 30th, 2008 at 7:55 pm

  • I was in my late 20’s before I got married and I was fully immersed in career mode. I’m also one of four daughters to my Dad, who is the ONLY son in his family. I also knew we’d have a family. And I had heard from friends who’d kept their names about how they’d have to EXPLAIN why their last name was different from their children’s. SO….I hyphenated!

    Grace  |  June 2nd, 2008 at 12:28 pm

  • I’m in a delimia, I like his last name, but I don’t want to take it just yet. How do I keep my name, for now, and have the option of swtiching to his lastname later on. He doesn’t care if I take his name or not.

    Mary  |  June 2nd, 2008 at 3:43 pm

  • Mary: You can keep your name for now and legally change it later in life if you want to — apparently, it’s quite easy to do (and not uncommon at all — Hillary Rodham only added Clinton to her name about 5 years after she got married…

    Lylah  |  June 2nd, 2008 at 7:59 pm

  • So I’m guessing here that I leave my maiden name on the marriage certificate, and later on in life I just Pay to change it?

    Mary  |  June 3rd, 2008 at 10:14 am

  • Exactly. As long as you’re over 18, you can legally change your name whenever you want to. Of course, a judge has to agree with your decision, and there are hoops you’ll have to jump through, but it’s not hard — and you don’t even have to go the legal route right away if you don’t want to… you can always start using your husband’s last name socially and make the legal switch later.

    Penelope Trunk has a great post about changing her name on her blog, Brazen Careerist. Here’s the link: My Name Is Not Really Penelope.

    Lylah  |  June 4th, 2008 at 9:56 am

  • “Reason #1: Changing it meant more to him than keeping the old one meant to me.

    Reason #2: It gives me warm fuzzies that my husband, kids, and I all share the same last name.”

    Ditto that. My husband is much more enlightened nowadays, however, and I don’t think he would mind if I had kept my name. In fact, I think he would be thrilled if our daughter one day marries and chooses to keep our last name.

    My sis and BIL both changed their last names to a new one, which I thought was AWESOME. His family threw a fit. And, oddly enough, he had quite a hard time of it at the courthouse in this post-9/11 world. Give me a break! He’s a philosophy professor, not a terrorist!

    Robyn  |  June 5th, 2008 at 9:47 am

  • I was very excited and honored to take my husband’s name. My last name has nothing to do with my profession or with my stage in life.

    K. Cleaver  |  June 18th, 2008 at 1:25 am

  • I am very new to this whole getting married thing… excited but also so scared to death!!!
    So many changes that have to be dealt with… I never really gave the whole name change much thought until recently only because I was always told that “taking your husbands last name was the decent and right thing to do”… I’d love to have his last name, but my goodness!… it sure is one heck of a procedure and can be costly!!! Would love any suggestions anyone has to offer… how can I change my name and do it inexpensively?

    Dana  |  June 19th, 2008 at 8:14 pm

  • Help! …. Can I get my name legally changed to my fiance’s surname but still use my last name on all my documents until I am ready to actually TELL that my last name changed. For ex, my license, car insurance, social security….. ect.

    Talya  |  June 20th, 2008 at 9:48 pm

  • I found this interesting because my mother did not change her name so she had a different last name from me, which I always found weird. I’d make her sign stuff for school with my last name to avoid questions.
    But now that I am getting married I don’t plan to change my last name, and realize why my mother stuck to hers.I’ve been this person 25 years and getting married doesn’t change that.
    I hope my kids will have an easier time than I did though :)

    Uma  |  June 25th, 2008 at 9:47 pm

  • I considered keeping my maiden name when marrying but in the end I just didn’t see the difference. Either way, I’m labelled with the last name of a male lineage of one man’s or another. After all, my maiden name wasn’t from my mother’s family it was from my father’s family - wasn’t yours? I love this new trend of newlyweds creating a name of their own that is neither His nor Her Father’s. But you know the best part? The best part is that we get to choose for ourselves. We have more acceptance than ever before in history to make these types of personal choices. And as we make these choices we set an example of happiness and self respect for our daughters to follow. To me, that just rocks!

    Donna Okronglhy  |  June 29th, 2008 at 11:18 am

  • I kept my name for many of the reasons you mentioned (minus the book!) It was my name, I liked it and my husband really didn’t care. There was a point where my kids thought that if a married couple had the same last name, it meant that they were brother and sister because most of the married couples they knew had different last names.

    Marinka  |  June 30th, 2008 at 9:19 pm

  • After a year long fight to keep my maiden name–my husband! :)

    At first I wanted to change my last name, but somehow I let myself convince myself that it was a link to my family heritage. It was a part of my Puerto Rican heritage and I wanted to keep it for the sake of my children knowing this “side” of themselves, but I finally changed it because my children will know who they are regardless, my husband said he would be “honored” for me to have his name–lol and I get a secret pleasure at telling my in laws ha-ha..just kidding. NO, but my decision to take my husband’s last name was because I wanted us to have a whole family unit last name and all…. :)

    shay  |  July 12th, 2008 at 6:06 pm

  • My husband and I had long discussions about this while we were going out. I kept telling him that my name was not his name. I just hyphenated my name. I am glad I did. My brother and his brother married a Debbie talk about a hassle I thought that I left in grade school.

    Anyway, now I mainly use his name on everything except legal documents (those of which are alway hyphenated.

    Debbie  |  July 16th, 2008 at 9:57 pm

  • I have been married for two years now, and had intended to change my name, but then just couldn’t bring myself to do so. I also married in my 30s, had established myself in a career, and the full name that I have been called since birth…..just feels like me. If someone calls me by my husband’s last name, I don’t correct them, and enjoy that they have combined our names in that way for the moment. I think it is also a direct connection to my father’s parents, my parents and sister (who also did not change her name after marrying) that I want to keep.

    natalie  |  July 17th, 2008 at 4:22 pm

  • I’m just confused. I have a son from my first marriage. I want to take on my husbands name since I am married again but worried that people won’t know that my son is my son due to a different last name. I also have a lot of items under my first married name..work, legal docs, etc. Not sure I want to hyphenate b/c my new hubby would really like to see my first married name disappear.. any suggestions?

    Leanna  |  July 21st, 2008 at 2:28 pm

  • Leanna: If taking your new husband’s name is very important to you, then I’d suggest hyphenating. Unless your son is going to be changing his last name, too, your new husband will just have to get used to your son’s last name, right? So why not let him deal with your sharing your son’s last name as well as your new husband’s? Seems fair….

    Lylah  |  July 21st, 2008 at 2:32 pm

  • im filipino and married with korean…my baby got my husband last name but i didnt.my husband told me its their culture but im still confused.

    jane  |  July 25th, 2008 at 10:14 am

  • I married for the second time at age 54. I had changed my name to my first husband’s name but changed back to my maiden name when we were divorced. The second time I had not planned to change my name again, it felt so good to me to have my own name back. But my husband insisted and so I relented, making my maiden name my middle name, intending to use all three. To my utter dismay and frustration, society would not let me. It refused to honor all three name and insisted on reducing my real name, my maiden name, to a mere initial. I was horrified and grief-stricken. It became one of the biggest bones of contention between me and my husband, a grief to me that he refused to understand and had zero compassion for, only feeling peeved and angry that it hurt me so much to lose my identity that was tied up and represented in my own name. To those who question it, let me tell you that my own name represents a thousand years of traceed family history, while his only a couple of generations. He knew that, and still insisted and withheld any comfort or understanding. Not surprisingly, the marriage didn’t last. I am divorced again, and me again, and regardless of whatever happens in the future, I will NEVER again relinquish my own identity and lose my name. And any man who would ask or expect me to, knowing what it means to me, has no right to ask for or expect my love either.

    Chris  |  July 31st, 2008 at 11:42 pm

  • I didn’t change my name when I married - either time! Neither my first husband nor my current husband have any issues with it at all. My first husband’s family didn’t like it, but then again they didn’t like me.

    We have two children that have my husband’s last name, with my last name being one of their middle names. That works for us, but my husband now says he wishes we had thought more about that and had perhaps given our son my last name. (Great guy, huh??)

    rb  |  August 1st, 2008 at 1:44 pm

  • jane: I know in several cultures — I’m thinking about my married friends in Puerto Rico right now — it’s usual for women to keep her name, and for the children to get two last names, one from each parent. Maybe it’s that way in your husband’s culture, too?

    Chris: Thank you for sharing that with us, and giving us a chance to learn from your lesson. What a good point — anyone who can expect you to compromise yourself on a basic level like that should not expect your love.

    rb: Wow, that’s so rare! Cool!

    Lylah  |  August 1st, 2008 at 2:03 pm

  • I kept my name when I married. My name meant a lot to me and my husband was indifferent on the subject. I recently had my first child and she has her daddy’s last name. I was just wondering if anyone has had issues or situations with moms having a different last name from their kids.

    Nicole  |  August 25th, 2008 at 6:20 pm

  • Wonder how many men take their wife’s name when they get married? My ex-husband took mine, and I’ve been regretting it ever since!

    Dana  |  August 27th, 2008 at 9:47 pm

  • So, about my long last name….

    When I got married I added my husband’s name to mine, but added a de instead of a dash.

    So now my last name is Volterra de Saulnier, and yes, the lady at the Registry of Motor Vehicles warned me that it would be a difficult thing as it wouldn’t fit on any card/license/etc…

    No, I was stubborn and didn’t listen, and now I have 12 aliases….

    Oh well, it’s just a matter of time before I become famous, and I won’t have to change my name again…

    Yes, I did give my son my husband’s last name, and not my full last name…I couldn’t bear to give him that torture.

    Gia  |  September 4th, 2008 at 3:43 pm

  • I took my husband’s last name, and kept my maiden name as my second middle name. He is the only son of the only son of his grandfather, so its up to him/us to keep up his family name, so looking towards the future, I want our children to have his family name, so that it can continue in his bloodline. That said, my last name is significant in that it highlights my hispanic heritage and I fully intend to give each of my children my maiden name as their second middle name, so that they may also carry a bit of my hispanic heritage with them. Although, the fact that I have two middle names seems to boggle even the most sophisticated of minds, I like it and it makes me feel special to have 4 initials.

    Christine  |  September 5th, 2008 at 4:45 pm

  • I’m proud that I didn’t change my name. Yes my daughter has her dad’s last name but what I’m still her mom. And she’s not going to get confused of who I am…

    I have my career and that’s who I am. I find no reason whatsoever to change the last name.

    It’s just amazing how difficult it is for people to understand that….I could wear tatoos, have pink hair and nobody would ask me why I did it. But whe it comes to the last name oh my!….

    Zelma  |  September 11th, 2008 at 10:23 am

  • I kept my name when I got married 24 years ago. I was young and didn’t have a career yet so that’s not my excuse. I just didn’t like a system in which the women always have to give something up. If it were every other person or based on alphabetics or something but I just thought it was unfair.

    My husband did not care. I asked him “Would you like to change your name to mine? ” and he said, “No.” and I said, “then you won’t mind if I don’t change mine.” and that was the last we discussed it.

    We have three children and they all have his last name. It has caused very little problems. I answer to my own last name or Mrs. Ludwig whatever people call me.

    There is no real practical argument to change it–anyone who needs to know knows we are married and the kids are ours. It’s really not terribly confusing for people to have to remember two last names and people seldom ask me about it anymore.

    One fun side-affect…when we travel for his business our name tags have different last-names. I like knowing people are wondering if we’re dating when we’ve really been married for so long. It’s kind of funny.

    Judy Z  |  September 12th, 2008 at 1:11 pm

  • I didn’t change my name because my husband does not own me and I do not need to be “branded” by his name. When people ask my advice on this issue, I tell them to ask themselves this question: Why is it that husbands are not pressured into changing their names?

    It’s because of “tradition”, yes, but it’s a tradition rooted in oppression and ownership of women. Considering it in that light usually makes them think of it a little bit differently.

    Ariella  |  September 23rd, 2008 at 2:51 pm

  • My honey and I have talked about this. Im keeping my name. If we have a son I think he wants him to have his family’s name. To carry on the name or something.

    I see no reason to have his last name. Seems odd to me.

    I changed my last name when I was 25 to my biological fathers last name. My mother’s maiden name was her evil step dads so i didnt want that.

    Its a pain to change your name. Everything from a passport to the title and registration of your car. I have a house now and a masters degree plus a reputation under my current name. What a pain to change it all.

    gwendolyn  |  September 24th, 2008 at 4:55 pm

  • I’m getting married soon and keeping my name I’ve had for 28 years…….. I found this forum because I didn’t know how. I mean…How do you Not change your name? I downloaded a South Carolina form requesting a license…and there is no place to indicate status quo. Am I confused..Yep!

    Charlotte  |  September 27th, 2008 at 7:39 pm

  • Thanks for your wonderful comments, everyone! It’s so interesting to read about all of our different experiences…

    Charlotte: As far as I know, the quickest way to keep your own name is, on the marriage license, to simply write your current name in the space where you’re supposed to put what your name will be after marriage. So, you’re not indicating status quo, per se, but you’re specifying that the name after marriage is the same as the one from before the marriage.

    Congratulations on your marriage!

    Lylah  |  September 28th, 2008 at 11:40 pm

  • I’m so glad to read all of the different perspectives.

    I have a weird situation because I’ve been an athlete all my life, and I’ve also had mostly male friends - the result is that everyone, including my fiance, calls me by my last name. So, in a way, my last name is more my identity than my first.

    At the same time, I don’t want to be the odd man out in our family. I like the idea of my husband and our children and me being the “XXXes”.

    For a while, I considered getting rid of my first name altogether, but let’s be honest: that’s bizarre. Plus, I think it’s nice to honor the name that my parents gave me. At the moment, we’re still undecided, but I’m thinking I might just make my last name my second middle name and be very, very pointed in saying both of them whenever I’m introducing myself.

    And since I’ll be the type of mom who lets her kids’ friends call her by her first name, they’ll just call me “Wiggs” like everyone else.

    Elizabeth  |  October 2nd, 2008 at 1:17 pm

  • I was hesitant when I got married. I was in my late 20’s and very happy with my identity; but I decided to hyphenate especially since my husband was not on board to change his name to mine.

    Yvonne  |  October 16th, 2008 at 11:38 pm

  • I too got married in my thirties, but I took his name. He would have been fine if I kept mine, but I truly like the idea of having the same last name as my children. When my best friend got married her husband felt no connection to his name and took hers. I thought it was great. When I told people I got some raised eyebrows. We should just do what works for us. Legally it is a pain to change it. We also bought the house before we got married, so my maiden name is still on the deed because I am lazy. I better get to that.

    Christine  |  October 20th, 2008 at 12:57 pm

  • Keep in mind that the reason that you have the maiden name that you have is more than likely because your mother took your father’s last name when they were married.

    Just something to think about….

    hbuggie  |  November 3rd, 2008 at 5:46 pm

  • Wow - I’m sitting here with my marriage license application form waiting to be mailed since my wedding 3 months ago and stuck in this name-change dilemma. My husband and I never discussed the name thing until after we were married. Only then did I realize how strongly he feels about my taking his name and also how difficult it is for me to drop mine.

    So there sit the forms and here i am on google, asking the world wide web for help, and here are all these great personal tales!!

    I hear the feminist thing but don’t relate to it. My husband always strives to make me happy, so why should I deny him those things that are important to him? To keep my name despite his feelings would be naive and stubborn. For me it’s not a problem of adding (I’m honoured and giddy about sharing this name). It’s a problem of denying. My last name is a hundreds-year long story. In a way, by adding I’m also adding to that story. But hyphens are annoying and both our last names are long and strange so I wouldn’t want to use both last names. So I’m leaning towards turning my maiden name into a middle name (which I’ve never had) and taking his last name so that I can have the option to use mine when I need to (my career was built with this last name, and that’s important to me).

    It’s not the most graceful string of words but neither is our story and ‘aint nothing wrong with a beautiful disaster like this.

    Thanks everybody!

    Maral  |  November 4th, 2008 at 11:02 pm

  • I eloped in college and had a lot of scholarships to my name so I kept it. I figured I could always change it later if I wanted to.

    Well, it’s been almost 4 years now and I have not wanted to change it. I am very proud to be from my family, and that last name identifies me with everything I have accomplished as an individual, as a female, in my field–software engineering. I do like my husband’s last name, so for the sake of “tradition” I will sign Christmas cards and such with Mr. & Mrs. HubbyName.

    It helped that neither my parents nor his batted an eye at my decision. (^_^)

    renevague3  |  November 4th, 2008 at 11:54 pm

  • I chose to keep my last name. As one woman stated in an above post, “I feel that, this is a name I was born with” and I feel the same way. It never occurred to me that I would ever change it, and I’m glad to have found a spouse who is completely supportive of my decision. If he were bothered by it, I would know that he wasn’t the man I was meant to marry. I recently read an absurd article that said a woman who doesn’t take a man’s last name is not ‘committed’ enough to be married. It is difficult for me to believe that even in 2008 women still face scrutiny and criticism for essentially wanting to keep her identity. I chose to be true to myself rather than give in to tradition.

    Lisa T.  |  November 6th, 2008 at 1:48 pm

  • I was more than happy to get rid of my last name! I liked is much better. Easier to spell and pronounce. The only trouble is that he was married before with four children who all have his name. The ex-wife kept his name too. We were unmarried when I had my daughter, but married when we had our son. So of my husband, his ex, their four children, our son and me, we all have his name….my daughter has my maiden name. She feels so left out and sad about this. Teachers would send notes home saying “your daughter keeps writing the wrong name on her papers, can you talk to her about this?” In her heart and mind, she is just as much a _____ as her dad and I, so she writes it as such. I plan to change her last name before the start of the next school year.

    Jaye  |  December 24th, 2008 at 8:14 pm

  • …And furthermore, I am who I am regardless of what my name is. I don’t believe your name changes who you are as a person, it just changes what you are called. If my name was Jaye or Polly Pocket, I would still be me. It meant a lot to him that I change it, and I was more than happy to oblige him!

    Jaye  |  December 24th, 2008 at 8:18 pm

  • I kept my name when I got married because it is important to me to maintain my identity and I *like* my last name,
    This is especially important to me as I’m the only member of my family alive to carry on the name and I wanted to give it to our children (which I have) so they can (hopefully) carry it on as well. It’s also much easier as a physician to have a easy to pronounce last name!

    Elizabeth  |  January 24th, 2009 at 10:35 pm

  • I’m engaged & this burning issue is really starting to bother me. I don’t see why I should take his name - as others have commented it’s antiquated & realtes back to times of dowries & women being looked after by men so they’d be able to create children. I really think it’s sexist. Plus I don’t want to lose my family history & have no interest in taking his name. Why can’t HE TAKE MY NAME????

    But this (sort of understandably) offends him, because of some underlying issues about me being tied to my family & not being interested in joining his (very lovely) family. Presumably me taking his name would deal with that but it seems like something I’d resent him for.

    We can’t hyphenate as I’ve already got a double-barrel (perhaps that’s why I want to keep it - I like the unusualness of it). Perhaps we could take half my name & add it to his? Or just come up with something new?!

    The only possible reason for changing his name is to have the same name as my children (again, why would they have his name & not mine???). Hmmm… some diplomacy required here I think!

    julietdh  |  January 27th, 2009 at 1:37 pm

  • In my previous relationship I had 2 kids and they have two last names, mine and there dad…but the dad is no longer in the picture and I want to take off his last name from my kids hypenated last names. Would I be able to do that, even though the birth certificate and social security card his both last names?? Would it be too much hassle, also because the fact that schools will ask why the names are different??

    Oulay  |  January 30th, 2009 at 2:38 pm

  • Not married but as a young girl me and my sister said that we would never change our name. As a grown girl lady I think I would hifinate.

    Tenyia  |  February 15th, 2009 at 8:11 pm

  • I am not personally a big fan of hypenated last names - although I know a could who BOTH hypenated their last names so they share the same last name(cute idea)I did a 50/50 I LIKE my maiden name but I really felt that I wanted to take my husband’s name - I’m a bit old fashioned there.
    SO I dropped my middle name and made my maiden name my Legal middle name then added hubby’s last name. And when I have brain fade and sign my name w/ my maiden - I just keep writing and no one is the wiser!

    Pammy  |  March 18th, 2009 at 11:58 am

  • I kept my last name because I was born with it as well. I got married when i was 29 years old and have half my life already established. To me its a big hassle that I dont want to go threw as long as I know I cant get into trouble by the irs and such things im ok with my own name, besides the only thing that really matter about marriage is the fact that you and your spouse went before god and commited your selfs to each other.

    Tawanna Collins  |  March 21st, 2009 at 1:37 pm

  • Amen!

    Signed,

    Angela Harris-Yoosuf

    Woman in Transition  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 11:07 am

  • I took my husband’s name, but often use my maiden name as a middle name. I have a friend who hyphenated, but so too did her husband. He was a Smith (names changed to protect the guilty) and she was a Jones (again, names changed to protect the guilty). She became Jane Jones-Smith and he became John Smith-Jones. All very confusing, if you ask me. The children have Dad’s last name.

    ElleBee  |  May 1st, 2009 at 4:05 pm

  • The custom of a woman replacing her maiden name with her husband’s family name is very auspicious. The custom sustains the strong and sweet feeling of oneness and unity among the family members. It also reveals the adaptiveness, sanctity and sacrifice of a woman. It also helps to recognize a person in the society as “to which family he/she belongs?” or “Is she married or not?”. It is very sensible to have unique family name for all members of the family.

    rameshraju  |  May 21st, 2009 at 5:25 am

  • I never even considered changing my last name. My husband could not care less. Some of his family and the close-nit southern community we live in find it appalling, but I kind of enjoy that :) I actually had one lady gasp and say “Oh Poor (Husband’s name), what did he say?”

    Any children will have his last name and my last name as a middle name. My sisters have done the same and haven’t had any problems so far.

    I find it irritating that some people make a point of addressing me by the wrong name just so I know they think my decision to keep my name is rude and childish….um…pot….this is kettle….you’re black.

    I found some great stuff on lucystoneleague.org to wear around town and for family reunions!

    H2O  |  June 9th, 2009 at 5:59 pm

  • I kept my name legally but every now and then i like to call my self Mrs. Z…. i’m muslim so it’s not the norm to change you last name.

    nada  |  June 29th, 2009 at 1:27 pm

  • Boy, am I glad I found this article. I’ll be 2 weeks shy of my 34th birthday when I get married in April 2010 and I definitely wasn’t changing to my fiancĂ©’s last name, but at the minimum I was going to hyphenate, but now that I’ve read everyone’s responses, I’ve decided not to change a thing. I love my name and don’t want to change a thing about it. I’ve been completely independent and self-sufficient my entire life and feel that taking my finance’s last name will take away a HUGE part of me. Both my sister’s names are hyphenated, legally, but they go by their married names socially. I was going to follow in their footsteps, but have now decided not to and stay who I am. My fiancĂ© is the only boy in his family, so I’m fine with our kids (if we have them) having his last name, but as far as me….nothing will change and I’m so glad that I have made my decision!

    Andrea  |  July 14th, 2009 at 12:42 pm

  • I was in my early 30’s, an ind. career girl,and the main bread winner of the household. I had just been promoted and introduced to a large university as the main contact for the PhD graduate program, brochures had been printed, ya da ya da. So, told my hubby I was going to delay changing my name a few months until the spring quarter when the new print jobs would run. He had an absolute FIT. In the course of the resulting argument, he said very angrily “… you BELONG to me, you’re MY wife!!” and tried to bully me with anger. I was absolutely stunned, I am his PROPERTY?!? Are you kidding me?!? A huge tiff over a 4 month delay.

    That was 9 years ago, and I never changed my name because of hte way he treated me. When it came up while we were out, and you know it did, he’d get that pained / angry look and try to guilt me. So I began to tell people truthfully why I hadn’t, whether he was standing there or not. Many women we’re stunned that I would be so honest, but many nodded in understanding and related their story. He stopped doing that pretty quick.

    In my eyes, in this day and age changing my name to his would be the ultimate gift of love and devotion, a sacrifice on my part. Not because he had somehow purchased, and now owned me. This is the 21st century, dowries in America are found in story books, we don’t need the protection of a man or his name like we did 80 years ago+ — and men need to grow up about it.

    Kath  |  September 4th, 2009 at 5:11 pm

  • I kept my name. I had planned on changing it (the priest pronounced us both w/ his last name at the ceremony). But when it came time to change it, I just couldn’t do it.

    I too was in my thirties when I married, and I felt like I was handing over my identity if I changed it. It surprised me that I felt this way b/c I though I’d come to terms with changing it. However, if we decide to have children, I’m not sure how I’ll feel about having a different name from my kids.

    Sara Brown  |  November 9th, 2009 at 1:05 pm

  • I’m 53 and am now in the horrible nightmare of trying to get all my accounts changed to my maiden name. The problem is I never legally changed it to my married name. My husband’s name was added on to my maiden name on numerous documents over the years and no one asked for legal proof. Now suddenly, the Secretary of State won’t renew my driver’s license and I have to make a choice to legally change it to my husband’s or drop his name from my license. If I do that, I will not have proof on all these accounts that I am who I am. I keep being asked for proof of change from my married name to my maiden name, which I can’t provide since I never changed it in the first place! The easiest thing would be for me to just finally change my name to his, but since I go by my maiden name professionally, it just doesn’t make sense for me…especially since my husband has passed. My advice is to pick one name and stick with it. If I had to do it again, I would never have changed my name…and never allowed my husband’s name to be added on to the end of my legal name…..

    Lisa  |  November 29th, 2009 at 7:02 pm

  • I just recently got married and i was torn on what to do. i LOVE my last name but tradition was for me to take his. I decided to take his last name out of respect and to honor my husband. I don’t feel that it is a labeling of “property” and he asked with the proposal if i would do him the honor of becoming Mrs. Stevens. I will always be my maiden name by family and blood but My future is him and being a Stevens.

    I kind of think that not takeing his name is a bit of a slap in the face. It’s like you are good enough but not by association.

    And for the women who have establisked themselves with their maiden name. you can still have business name and have your name be his for all other accoations. Hopefully you aren’t always networking/marketing while you are out.

    Honestly i think the womens lib is great but if we push it to far we will be in the next draft and honestly thats not where i want to be.

    S Stevens  |  December 14th, 2009 at 3:26 pm

  • I did change my name. My problem is that we separated and the divorce has not been finalized. I am about to graduate college now and is my first degree, should I get my degree under my maiden name? Even though I haven’t signed it for over 10 years?

    Dania  |  January 13th, 2010 at 11:49 am

  • I changed my name. I liked his name better than mine and didn’t really care one way or the other. I also, had published several books with my maiden name, but I just continued publishing with my married name and figured people would catch on.

    meg  |  January 22nd, 2010 at 9:43 pm

  • I kept my name for the same reasons as you did. I already had a career, plus it is my name. I feel that the custom of changing your last name is ancient and outdated. We are not our husband’s property anymore :)

    Stickers  |  February 25th, 2010 at 3:32 pm

  • I really feel for your pussified “husband”, if you can call him that by name. You are ‘MS.’ I take it? How embarrassing to not be respected by the woman he asked to marry. There are certain things a man expects from a woman when he pops the question, the first of which, is to take his name in marriage. To give the excuse of ‘oh, I just really like my name’ is a cop out. You really show how much of a pussy he is by makeing this standard, and how little respect you have for the marriage in question. I bet you’re divorced by now. I would be on it. And to hyphenate a name is the lamest thing I’ve ever heard, I would look at your ‘man’ as a lower life form for even agreeing to that. And so does anyone that has to do business with him, or try and see him in any leadership role. You’ve taken everyone else’s respect for him, just because you never had any. Pathetic.

    Bill  |  March 4th, 2010 at 8:09 pm

  • Just saw this post. In response to Bill, a confident man does not feel lessened when he marries a strong women. In fact, the opposite occurs. Why would you need your partner to give up part of herself in order to make yourself feel stronger?

    I didn’t change my name. There are a number of reasons why, but why do we feel the need to justify our choices? When the subject came up, my husband said, “Do whatever you want, but I don’t want to change my name.” I suggested we take a hyphenated name together or a new name entirely so that we had a “family name.” He didn’t want to change his and I understand that. On the other hand, I came from a blended family where I was the only one with a different last name, so I didn’t want that to happen again. Besides, I was willing to be flexible and he wasn’t.

    The result? I kept my last name and the kids have my last name as well. I’m their primary caregiver, the one who gave birth to them and the one who takes them to doctor appointments, etc. My husband doesn’t care either way, so it has worked well for our family. My more traditional relatives insist on calling “Mrs. His-Last-Name,” which I find pretty bizarre, but such is life. He also gets “Mr. My-Last-Name.” =}

    Christy  |  March 15th, 2010 at 9:43 pm

  • I’m from Vietnam and when women get married, we don’t change our last name. I find it very interesting that American women are more independent than are Vietnamese but Americans adopt their husband last name. I’m U.S citizen now but I did not change my last name. I work hard to earn a high education and a good career with my name, why change to something else! However, it is totally acceptable and cool that women change their names because they want to.

    Tran  |  May 19th, 2010 at 12:50 pm

  • I liked your article and your reasons for not changing your name. You are the first woman that I have heard of (sad to say) that came up with several logical and sound reasons for not changing it. I applaud you ( I am totally sincere when I say that). I am choosing to change my name (just married about 2 months ago) because I choose to and no other real reason than that.
    When I have heard this argument in the past why not to change your name, it is mostly because the woman involved doesn’t want to be seen as her husband’s property. That argument has no merit because your maiden name comes from your father in this society (at least usually), so for it to have any validity at all means you must be your father’s property since you are keeping his name and not changing to your husband’s name.
    I am of the opinion that women should do whatever makes them happy when it comes to changing their last names, but if you offer an argument (not that it’s required…their choice after all) make it a reasonable one.

    Kimberly  |  July 12th, 2010 at 4:20 pm

  • It’s funny, but I ended up keeping my own name more or less by default. When we were engaged, I asked my husband whether he wanted me to take his name, and it turned out that neither of us had strong feelings about it one way or the other. And since we knew we didn’t intend to have children, and thus there wouldn’t be any hassles about their surname being different from mine, I decided that the simplest course of action was just to keep the name I was born with and avoid the paperwork of changing it. Of course, now that I’ve done this, I do run into the occasional difficulty with paperwork anyway–e.g., forms that provide only one space for a last name, so I can’t include both my husband’s name and my own, or having to give my husband’s name instead of my own because our health insurance or car registration is in his name. And yes, I do get the telemarketers who ask for either “Mrs. Hudson” or “Mr. Livingston”–but I simply tell them, quite honestly, that “There’s no one here by that name.” (Hey, if they can’t even bother to find out our real names, why should I make it easy for them?)

    haverwench  |  August 15th, 2010 at 10:33 am

  • i got married at 40 and added Hirshland to my name. I kept Poppink, which I’d grown rather fond of after all the years of my life! When I fill out forms for my music career, I am Deborah Poppink. When it’s for school and doctors, I am Deborah Hirshland. My daughters actually have five names (first name, middle, spirit name, Poppink Hirshland!) and they have given my husband and I spirit names as well… (mommy moon and David Sunshine). My chidren’s music name is DidiPop so it gets pretty confusing around here! But I love knowing that the girls are connected to Poppink, which has been such a strong energy for me. The only real drag is when we refinance and sign tons of papers… Then I’ve got to sign 4 names when my husband only has to sign two

    Deborah Poppink Hirshland  |  January 8th, 2011 at 3:35 am

  • I am not only keeping my last name, but my fiance will be changing his last name to mine. He never expected me to change it in the first place. We both knew each other and what each other valued by the time we got engaged. So when we mutually agreed to get married, it was already known by both of us that I did not want to change my name and he was was not too fond of his last name. He is not changing his last name over to mine immediately, though. He currently has a semi-professional career and doesn’t want to change his name immediately. As soon as I get my career up and going after college (just months away), then he is quitting his job and going to college for a career change. At that point he will legally change his last name. We want to have kids someday and it is important to us that we all share the same last name, at least during the rearing years. It’s of course, their decision whether they a) get married and b) change their last name.

    LoveMyLastName  |  May 13th, 2011 at 12:27 pm

  • I’m getting married in 5 months and trying to make this decision. I’d always planned to keep my own name, and since I’ve been engaged for 2.5 years I figured my fiance was okay with it. I love my name, I didn’t change it when my mom got married when I was ten, and all of my legal documents are in my last name (and are incredibly complicated to change). However, my fiance just revealed to me that he’s offended that I’m not taking his last name because it seems like his family isn’t good enough for me, and because his friends are making fun of him for it. Now I’m not really sure what to do. I have nothing against his name, I just prefer mine, and I know he’d never consider changing his.

    Kait  |  May 29th, 2011 at 1:59 am

  • Lylan,

    I am planning on getting married this year and I am keeping my last name. My question is, if my husband dies does this effect me collecting his benefits. I believe the answer is no because I would think all I need to do is show my Marriage License to the Social Security Office.

    Pam Champagne  |  June 1st, 2011 at 4:13 pm

  • Pam, it won’t affect things at all — you’re still legally married, no matter what your last name is.

    Kait, I’ve heard a lot of people say the same thing — the husband thinks his family isn’t “good enough” for you if you don’t take his name — and I always say that if that were the case then you wouldn’t be getting married, right?

    Lylah  |  June 1st, 2011 at 4:22 pm

  • I am engaged and planning on keeping my last name. It is my name and i love it. It is part of who I am and quiet frankly i do not like his last name so much. I have to say that it is just one of those things that I won’t give up for anyone. When time comes for kids, I am considering giving my children my last name in addition to his. What can I say, your name is not just a name it is a brand and I worked very hard to make mine shine and reputable so obviously I am not changing it. Finally, why doesn’t he change his?

    MySelf  |  September 17th, 2011 at 9:47 pm

  • New to this blog and reading through some old posts. LOVE THEM! If I could write just as eloquently, I would have said the exact same thing…I too got married in my thirties after establishing my career and publishing papers under my maiden name. These were the reasons I gave my husband, but truthfully, I just really like my name and don’t see why I should give up such a huge part of me. My husband brings it up occasionally but really only gets upset when he’s called “Mr. McCann”.

    AngeM  |  September 19th, 2011 at 11:53 am

  • I like where this blog goes, one person wants to know about her husband dying if she’ll get the money, several others say that they feel empowered. You really can’t see that all this blog does is give you an outlet for your feminist thoughts. Most of you hate men and this is the way you get back at us. When you get married, you change your name to the man’s name or he’s just considered a complete panzy. That’s all there is too it. There is no debate in the eyes of men, only the eyes of women. Do I even make any sense here? Probably not to anyone here, but it’s a stone cold fact that your man is getting made fun of by his friends because you won’t take his last name. It’s been said on here several times. If you don’t like his last name then why are you marrying him? I can understand a well established person in the public spotlight keeping her current name, but even then, you can use any “stage name” you want in that respect. It’s just funny to me that any real man would put up with this lack of respect. But I guess they’re really not men now are they.

    Bill  |  September 23rd, 2011 at 12:19 pm

  • I am getting married this month. I love the way my name sounds but also love my FH last name. I considered hyphenating but also considered joining both names still keeping the second lastname with a capital letter. I.e. SmithThompson. What to do? Hyphenate? Join both and combine as one? Simply have 2 last names? Torn… both names are great and I’ll be happy knowing that my kids will have both their parents names.

    CX  |  October 7th, 2011 at 2:42 am

  • I got married 5 months ago and I kept my last name. I have my mother’s last name (dad wasn’t in the picture) so it was doubly important for me personally not only to keep the name I have always been but also to honor my mother my keeping her last name. It bothers me when people say, “It doesn’t matter because no matter what it’s still a man’s last name!” Not for me :) It is still exciting for me when people call me Mrs. HisLastName…I like that I can go back and forth. Legally, my last name and socially, his last name. We haven’t decided whose last name our kids will have. I had a friend growing up whose mother had a different last name than her father and it didn’t make any difference…her parents were just as married even without having the same last name. My husband was initially hurt that I was going to keep it, but after much discussion, he understood and appreciated it, because I am who I am and he loves me just the same.

    Martha  |  December 16th, 2011 at 4:33 pm

  • “Bill”–If we “hate men” why are we married? It’s arrogant ideas like yours that encourage me that I’ve made the right decision in keeping my name. I shouldn’t have to do something because “society” asserts that “that’s the way it is.” How absurd.

    Martha  |  December 16th, 2011 at 4:41 pm

  • I think I will keep my name

    Sjur Zeiner-Gundersen  |  April 22nd, 2012 at 7:25 am

  • I am changing my name after I get married because I want the same last name as my children. Believe me it is complicated not having the same last name.
    Also I don’t associate with my Fathers side of the family and that’s the last name I currently have.
    I can defiantly understand why someone would not want to change their last name. My grams name is McBain and it is slowly dieing out in our family so one of mu cousins kept that name and gave it to her children.

    tashena  |  May 22nd, 2012 at 12:02 pm

  • I just recently got married a few weeks ago and when you speak of marriage everyone (family & friends) would say “awh your going to be Mrs.(HIS last name) and I would giggle but not till a few weeks before I had to leave for our destination wedding a co worker said it out loud ” oh when you get back Im a call you Mrs.______ for now on and I realize it was real, no more speaking of it and I smiled but it scared me at the same time, b/c your so used to hearing your birth name to then hear it be different felt wierd. Is it a law, tradition from biblical times what is it that women do this and not the other way? I’m not too sure if I like the idea of making your own last name b/c I feel it would cause confusion for people who try to look and find their family tree from going back generations. But combining eachother’s last name as a hyphen by both parties I feel is great. Let guys get a feel of what it’s like to have this happen to them. And with technology today Hyphens should no longr be a problem! Anyways interestingly enough I was born in Puerto Rico and when born the child takes after the father and mothers last name- I love this! I guess thats why we spanish ppl. have such long names but because of this my mother didnt give me a middle name. So I came to the conclusion that even though it scared me at first I still would want to be known as a family unit and take his last name. BUt now I would use both of my birth last names as my middle name. I felt that was free space to slide my birth name down and in a way keep it. I don’t feel weird now and am so glad my mother did this. I still am me my whole name is still on paper and I take it as, thats my life given born identity name I was proud of it and that was me SINGLE and now in union just “added” an addition to “my name” which tells the second part of my life story in UNION.

    Zoe  |  September 9th, 2012 at 10:00 pm

  • I’m getting married in June and plan to have kids in the next few years. I will not be changing my last name and my fiance has agreed that our children will he given my last name instead of his. Those kind of things aren’t important to him and I like the idea of passing my name onto my children. If he wasn’t ok with it I would want to change my name so that I would have the same last name as them.

    Kristina  |  September 22nd, 2012 at 1:00 pm

  • Do i worry about changing my name after 5 years

    monique s  |  December 4th, 2012 at 3:36 pm

  • i had my career before my marriage and after marriage i was not ready to
    change my surname.this was my offence and my husband treated me badly for that.i tried to make him understand that this is my name, my own name and i dont want to change it .but is this the only way of bonding with our partner otherwise i am none to him?

    sutapa sarkar  |  February 3rd, 2013 at 1:49 am

  • Me and my husband have a wonderful relationship. It’s just I feel bad about not changing it. He’s ok with it . It’s me thinking I may get in trouble for not changing it…

    Monique slaughter  |  February 6th, 2013 at 8:57 am

  • I married last year in June and decided to keep my ex-hubands name. Why? Well since I have 3 children, (grown) I felt like i still wanted to be identiified as their mom, my not changing my name would still allow me to do that. Also, since I had so many affairs set up in my ex’es last name I felt it would be a hassel to try to change all of the forms to a new name. My ex nor my husband have any problem with it, and allowed me to make the choice. I am a very independent woman and was living a secure life before meeting my new husband, and changing my name seem to me that all of my accomplishments would somehow be forgotten. So far it’s working out!.

    Mable  |  March 19th, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Work Life Balance Stories

Check out our best tips for balancing work and home life.

Quick & Easy recipes

Browse our favorite quick and easy recipes, perfect for busy moms.

Ask & Answer Questions

What working moms are talking about on our question board!