Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What’s In a Name?

Everything, it seems. Throughout my adult life, I’ve always loved the definition of feminism as the right of men and women to make their own choices, rather than having society's norms forced upon them. When it comes to changing my name, I am a feminist, and I am making my own choice. I am choosing to take Stephen’s last name after we tie the knot this June. While I understand the argument that it is archaic and patriarchal for a woman to be expected to take a man’s name, for me, the decision to take Stephen’s last name was an easy one for the following reasons.

First, with the same last name, no one will ever wonder whether I am simply Stephen’s girlfriend, or have a hard time verifying exactly who I am if I need to access his records or medical information. After we start our family in the coming years, no one will question whether I am actually married to my children’s father or whether we are, in fact, part of the same family. Our shared last name will clearly and easily indicate that we are. Plus, Stephen’s last name is far less common than my own, and I’m eager to put behind me countless memories of being confused with someone else. For this reason, we would also never consider having Stephen take my name. And finally, because our last names both start with “W,” I’ll be able to keep the same initials, which I’ve grown quite accustomed to over the years.

So, while that part was easy, the harder choice I faced was deciding whether to keep my maiden name by either creating a hyphenated last name or making my current last name my middle name, instead. On the one hand, I’ve gone by this last name my entire life, and do feel a bit sad to give it up. But hyphenating is simply too cumbersome, and since my middle name, Theresa, is also my grandmother’s middle name and is very special to me, I definitely don’t want to replace it with my maiden name. And having two middle names? Also too cumbersome and confusing.

And there you have it. My maiden name is quickly nearing its final days of use, and I’m not upset in the least, because I know that no matter what my last name, I’m still the same person. Most importantly, I’m a person fully happy with the choice I’ve made. However, as a final note, I must also say that at my wedding, and throughout my life, you’ll never hear me introduced as “Mrs. Stephen…” I may be changing my last name, but I definitely still have my own first name!

How will you or did you handle the issue of changing your name? Did you have a hard time making up your mind?

(Graphic Credit: Google Images)


  1. Ahhh, the great name debate. I'm still really on the fence about this one, but leaning toward dropping my middle name and exchanging it for my last name: myfirst mylast his last. But I don't know . . . I'm choosing to ignore this one for the moment.

    Good for you for making a choice that fits you. That's what feminism is all about, after all: choice.

  2. I was sure that I'd just add his to my last name as I am also my grandmother's namesake. (We are both Hannah Marie) Since Pete and I both have last names that start with M I figured this would be easy, at work I'd go by mine, at home I'd go by his and since both would be part of my legal last name, it'd work. Right?

    Well, it actually got a lot more confusing and I'll be blogging about it soon!

    I'm glad you were able to come to an easy conclusion!

  3. I'm dropping my maiden name and keeping my middle name since it's the same as my grandmother as well! I can't wait to have my new last name!

  4. I'm dropping my middle name (I talked to my mom and she said that Marie just sounded nice with Stacy, so there isn't any family tie in there I would be disrespecting) and making my maiden name my new middle name, then taking Ryan's last name. It's such a tough choice and a very personal decision...I'm glad you made one that makes you happy my friend! It feels good to be at peace with it :)

  5. Hmmmmm, interesting. I'm going to have to ask my wife if she likes being introduced as Mrs. Damien Smith. I've never thought of that.

    On another note, I have clients that are getting married in a few weeks and the bride is wondering whether or not she'll change her name. I'm going to direct her to this article.

  6. I've decided to keep my last name. Personally, I don't think a name makes a family and Mr. Milk doesn't care too much. Its such a personal decision, and I think it comes down to whatever makes you feel good.

  7. I took Mr B's name. Like having the one united name, especially when we have kids. He did offer to take mine if I wanted - which meant a lot. But his last name was his late fathers name - which I knew meant a lot to him.

    Can't stand being introduced as Mrs B his last name either. I have my own first name!

  8. I still don't know. But on our recent vacay since the room reservation was in his name, I kept getting called Mrs. Old Dude...and on a recent dinner outing the reservation was in my name so they kept calling him Mr. Karen. We're cool with it either way.