11 September 2013

On Changing My Name

I cannot even tell you how mad I was about the hassle of changing my name after the divorce. It was not one of my best moments...haha.  I don't think I was pursuing very many virtues while I sat on the wooden benches for hours at the courthouse.  eeks.  I guess the hassle of that moment seemed to represent to me the overall ugliness of divorce.  It's like an oil spill that leaks onto every bit of your life. Nothing goes untouched by it.  Honestly?  Getting divorced and trying to clean up the mess of it all felt like a full-time job on top of my full-time job (the Brooklyn courthouse is no picnic).  And then I had to seriously breath deep in the months and months (even a year?) following as I worked on getting all my accounts changed.

I also sent this email to friends and family, announcing that I was changing my name....

Dear Friends,

Some of you may remember Mara Papa.
Well, SHE'S BACK!!!  :)

Please make note of my new & active email addresses:

xxxxxx

My home address in Park Slope will remain the same:

xxxxxx

Thanks and love to all,

Ms. Papa
I got the sweetest emails from people after I sent that note.

Once I got my name change straightened out, I was thinking at the time that there was NO WAY I was ever changing my name again.  Nooooo thank you.  It wasn't like I was a 20-year old with one suitcase to my name and one account at my local credit union.  I had mortgages, investments, a business, titles, deeds, accounts galore, etc.  


And then I met Danny.  hahha.  Well, it turns out that Danny and I knew very early on that we wanted to get married. :)  And I think the first time I visited Danny in Boston, he said to me, out of curiosity, "So, do you think you'll want to take my last name?"  hahha.  I was totally in lala land.  I mean, this dream man made it clear left and right that he had full intentions to MARRY ME.  It was seriously the best thing in the WORLD to never have to wonder.  [Sidenote: Even then, Danny and I felt so at one with each other that we actually already felt like a married couple!!  We commented and laughed about it all the time.  I think coming from "married mode" just made it so natural to feel in married mode again.]  Anyway, the idea of sharing Danny's name and having the same name as a family seemed really nice and natural. And so,  I happily decided that I would share Danny's last name.  I'm not quite sure how to write this, but also - I guess for me personally, it's more of a practicality thing.  My strength as a woman or my identity as a woman isn't so tied to my last name and didn't feel threatened by taking Danny's name.  I still feel connected just the same to my heritage, I still feel like me and a true individual, and I have a very strong personal identity. (But I can understand completely that other people may find greater emotional connection to their given names.)  For me personally, in the end, I guess having two last names would have felt excessive and unnecessary (though I support 100% the women who do like the idea of two last names! I think it's wonderful.)  Also, I'm all about simplifying things and I guess the idea of us each having a different last name seemed like it would complicate things (I could be wrong, though.)  I know Danny certainly would have been 100% fine if I had decided to keep my maiden name.  But I think he also liked the idea of sharing a family name with me.

Many, many of my friends have kept their maiden names after marriage or use two last names together. It's certainly wonderful that women get to choose their preference according to what feels more comfortable to them.

What is your preference and why?  Do you regret changing your name?  Do you find it complicated to have a different last name than your spouse or children? Is your identity or sense of self strongly tied to your last name?  Also, do you find you have an internal response or assumption about a married woman who has kept her last name or one who hasn't?  I wish we could all chat in person about this.  I'm so interested in your answers!! This topic fascinates me and friends and I have discussed it a bunch. Most of them wish they had kept their maiden names.  For me, I haven't regretted changing my name again. 

And for the men out there: How do feel about this?  I'd love your thoughts!! Do you like the idea of your wife having your same last name? Interestingly, both of my husbands asked me if I would take their names, making me think it was important to them. My first husband asked me about it in the second after he proposed.    

P.S.  If you do get divorced, you can actually have the divorce attorneys state in the documents your intention to change your name, which counts as an official name change.  This way you don't have to go change it with the court later.  How I wish I knew this when the divorce was getting finalized!

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94 comments:

  1. I didn't have a middle name so when I got married I turned my maiden name into my middle name and my husband's last name became my new last name. I liked the idea of adding to my name instead of taking away. And to be honest, I am not a big fan of my married name. I don't really like how it sounds with my first name. Anywho, I obviously thought a lot about it at the time but that was 12 years ago and I don't associate myself with my name quite so much anymore.

    I do think taking your husband's name is a really sweet romantic gesture, but I also really appreciate women who keep their last name. I'm interested to see what my daughters will choose to do when they get older. I like that there are options!

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  2. i came into marriage with two last names, and though i wish i could have held on to all the names that i closely identified with, i'm super super glad i took my husband's last name and jettisoned both my "maiden" names. The super ideal, i think, would have been to somehow glomb all our last names together--to more symbolize that WE are a family (not just part of my husband's family, or mine), but juggling three names would have been ridiculous.

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  3. I kept my maiden name when I married. My husband and I talked about this before we married, and he supported my decision. I always assumed I would take my spouse's last name, but when that opportunity presented itself, I felt very strongly about retaining my own family name. Our son carries my husband's surname, so far there have been no problems.

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  4. I'm getting married in October, and decided to hypenate my last name. My last name is just too cool to give up, and it was important to me to have that reminder that while I'll be a part of a new family, I'm still very much myself.

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  5. I didn't give changing my name any thought when I married my husband 7 years ago. But a year after we got married, I graduated from college. I stared at the application for my diploma and wanted so badly to have just my name on there. So I actually left my married name off my diploma and had my first, middle and maiden names read off instead. I kind of miss my maiden name since I dropped it on official documents after marriage. It's strange to me that so long after the fact I'm thinking about it. Why didn't it matter when I got married and was making the change?!

    I understand now why some parents don't give daughters middle names. Then they have the opportunity to use the maiden name as a middle if they get married.

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    1. I can see that it would be really nice to have your maiden name on your diploma - as during all those school years you were likely known by your maiden name. I graduated before I got married, but it turns out I wasn't attached to the college I attended (I spent most of my college days working a full-time job around my school schedule) - and so when I graduated, I actually didn't care to attend the graduation and had my diploma mailed to me. I don't know if I even looked at it. ha! It's so interesting that we all have such diverse experiences and preferences.

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    2. I got married just a few months before I graduated from college. I changed my name with my university and so my diploma has my married name on it. Although I was completely for taking my husband's name, I did kind of wish that I could have my maiden name on the diploma for some reason.

      On a side note...it was kind of funny because I only had one semester in school with my married name. At the beginning of the semester, the professor called my (new) name and it took me a minute to realize he was talking to me.

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  6. In Portugal, our maiden name is the mom's and dad's, so everyone already has a double name. So when people get married it can become much bigger, or you choose to drop some of them. Normally, you drop your mom's and then you have your dad's and your husband's name - which is very patriarchal. I respect any kind of change or no-change anyone does, but personally, I don't like the idea that your mother's family tend to disappear with a wedding or when you have children. And well, it comes from this time, when a woman was considered property of her father until she became property of her husband... My husband feels more related to my mom's family than to his own or my dad's and we find it outrageous that he cannot have my name.because he is not portuguese, we abide to his own country's law...

    On the other hand, I wish that every couple did have a choice to keep on with tradition, or that the husband can use the wife's name, or have a double-triple name, or even and that would be my best choice, that they could create a new family name, since they are a new family unit. We are in the 21st century and we can keep up the ascendant and descendent list even if the names are not equal, we are not in the middle ages anymore, although most of the bureaucracy tends to think we are still there...

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    1. Even guys have double name in Portugal...

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  7. When I was married I decided not to take my husbands name, he was supportive, but I think it hurt him a tiny bit. This was 15 years ago, and not super common for conservative mormon ladies to keep their last names. Well, for a surprise on our 10 year anniversary, I decided to change my last name to his, it was something I felt I could "give" to him. I never regretted either decision, when I married I was young, immature and needed to come to terms with my married self. It took 10 years!! I'm more in love with him now than ever.

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  8. I got married at 21 and changed my name, right away, without thinking twice. I got divorced a few years later and also went through the tedious process of changing my name (ugh). Just a couple years after divorce I found my perfect match and we got married. This time, I didn't change my name, I kept my maiden name. A few thing contributed to keeping my maiden name. 1. I was 28 now, well established in my field of work and had become fairly well-known with my maiden name. I also lost my amazing dad to cancer during my first marriage and at that time I wished I had his name. So when I married the second time, I kept his name because it is a daily sweet reminder of him. I have mixed feelings about not having my husband's name but for the most part it hasn't been an issue and I make it very clear to EVERYONE how happy I am he's mine, even without his last name! :)

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  9. Well, I was thrilled to take my husband's last name. I love his family, I was thrilled to be a part of it, and althought it's not my favorite thing looks or sound wise (Mary Hayes just feels very short and plain compared to Mary Schaubert) I still love it. Also, I love that our kids will never only match one of our names. They'll be "blank" hayes no matter what!

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  10. sometime in high school, i came up with the idea of creating a "new last name" to share with my future husband when we got married. i'm not sure where i got the idea, but it was something i thought would be fun. well, my husband now was not on board! he hated the idea and since i was not completely passionate about it, i ended up taking his last name, and dropping my maiden name altogether even though i don't have a middle name. it took me nearly a year to get used to and "like" my new name combination, but now i love it because it's very earthy! i actually have a hard time saying my old last name and get the strangest reaction when i tell people what it was...and i never before thought it was a "different" name.

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  11. I'm keeping mine for at least a little while. There are so many adjustments - I moved to a new country, we're starting our life together, I'm not working, etc. - With all the changes I just wanted to keep my name really familiar.

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  12. I didn't even think twice about changing my last name, either did my husband. We both just assumed that I would, because that's what "everyone" does (I was a bit naive). I still think I made the right decision for me, but it is kind of sad not being a "xxxxxx" anymore (my maiden name). Hopefully I can use my maiden name as one of my children's middle names or something!

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  13. I was fine taking on Melzer...but it was hard to get used to it at first because everyone always called me Papa and not Kathryn anyways. It took years for friends to get used to it too. But I just decided to embrace it and now try to pass on that new heritage to my girls. I'm always telling them, "Melzers work hard." "Melzers are creative." "We are Melzers! We can do this!" in hopes of creating greater family pride. But I often remind them they are half Papa too! We try to emphasize their heritage from both sides and link them to ancestors through stories. I think it is working.

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  14. Not at this decision yet, but the more years I spend with this last name, the more attached to it I get! I really do like the idea of sharing a last name with my future spouse/family, but now I think it'll be harder to part with my name. I know I'll be grateful for the decision should the time come. :)

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  15. Ha - when I married my German husband last year, I changed my name to his. The only problem is that it can be quite complicated with the umlaut in the name! Stäbler is my official name here in Germany but US passports don't accept accent marks, so I'm Staebler on my US documents. And of course people who don't understand that an umlaut can be changed by adding an "e" next to the vowel, sometimes I get people in the US who write it Stabler. Pronunciation is a whole other issue -- I know you often have trouble with yours, too!

    German laws are a lot more strict on name changes. If German law had allowed it, I would have probably dropped my middle name and kept Gilmour as a middle name. But since I had to keep my middle name, I now have the initials "SMS" - like send me an sms!

    My brother-in-law actually took his wife's name when he got married. They had a kid first and when my sister-in-law was pregnant, they struck up a deal - if it was a girl, they'd give her SIL's last name; if it was a boy, they'd get BIL's last name. It was a girl, so they ended up with Wolf instead.

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  16. I never planned on changing my name, but I did. Twice. I have very little identity wrapped in my last name, so while on one hand, it was the feminist point of the thing, on the other, I didn't really care.

    After my divorce, I kept his name, which everyone thought was...horrible. BUT. I wasn't Tawnya (my maiden name) anymore. Not really. So I kept his last name. It's what felt normal to me, even with opposition EVERYWHERE to change it. It was just a name, in my eyes. I didn't (and still don't, 15 years later!) see the big deal. When I remarried, I changed it again, to my now husband's name. It seemed more seamless to have the same family name. And, it's less difficult to spell and pronounce, so...bonus.

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  17. When I got divorced in Oregon this year, you just check a box on the initial form if you are changing your name - they've made it that simple now (imagine how inefficient is was for the courts with the divorce rate as high as it is!). I guess you still have to go through the DMV and the social security office to change it with them.
    When we got married, my (now Ex)husband and I took each other's last names so we were Kara and Scott Castellano Avery (no hyphens, so we could use one or the other if we wanted) - note, we were both in our late 30's already and used to our own names. Our daughter has both last names too, so when we divorced I just kept mine the way it was, but mostly go by Castellano. I had a different last name as my Mom growing up after she remarried, and HATED it - so i wanted to keep the 2 last names that my daughter has. He dropped my last name at divorce (with just the check mark in one box!) and is once again Scott Avery. I'm finding that I mostly refer to our daughter as Emelia C. at school - I would rather her name be shortened to mine than his when they want to simplify....

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  18. After my divorce I kept my married name because it seemed easier to have the same last name as my children. Then I got remarried and had to decide whether or not to take my husbands last name, it was not a hard decision except for the fact that our family would consist of two different last names. I love my maiden name, I was proud of my first married name, and I love the last name I have now (it's very unique).

    It is a bit frustrating to have two different last names in our family though, especially at church. Not only does it "say something" about our family right away (before people have a chance to get to know us, people can automatically deduce that we're a blended family and judgements can be made too easily) and sometimes it takes awhile for the different auxiliaries to figure out which parents belong to our kids. My kids have a common last name so sometimes there is a different family in our ward who shares their last name which can complicate things. I also feel hesitant to hang anything in our house with our last name on it ('The So-and-So's est. 2008' for example). Most importantly, my kids feel a sense of ownership to both last names, they refer to our family by my husband and I's last name, they don't even flinch when people call them by the "wrong" last name, but they are also proud of their last name. My husband and I are very happy about this and hope they always feel proud of both names. My own personal regret is that I wish I had changed my middle name to my maiden name, which I think is a good compromise.

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  19. I changed my name because I think it will make things easier in the long run (I want to share a last name with my kids, but I don't want them to have a hyphenated last name), but kept my maiden name as my middle name. Honestly? I wish I could have kept my maiden name withouth running into the above issues. I'm not sure why I dislike changing my name so much - my husband's name is great, and I really love him and my in-laws.

    Sometimes I think about giving all of my (future) kids my maiden name as a middle name, which is what my grandmother did, and how my dad ended up with a middle name of "Green" (he still LOVES it).

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  20. I actually was excited to change my last name. As a little kid, I would write my name with possible suitors. However, God has a big sense of humor. My husband and I have the same last names with the exact same spelling. It was interesting to have my last name as being a new identity since I would have taken his last name. It was awesome to not change any documents! :)

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  21. So you hit a question I ponder everyday. I was 24 when I first married and changing my name was something I didn't even give a second thought. I wanted to because I wanted the dream of Mr. and Mrs. I had that for 16 years. We had two kids together. The marriage ended, and it just seemed easier to keep my married name for continuity for my children after the divorce. I have the same last name as them. No explaining and their friends know was as the same.

    Fast forward to now, I've been married 10 months now to a wonderful person. The kicker - I am still using my ex-husband's last name. I'm a professional with a career. Changing my name is no longer easy. I'm known by that name to everyone. And my kids - it was an emotional issue for them when I remarried. I think they thought if I didn't change my name to my new husband's name, I was still their's or they maintained some sense of who we used to be. With all the change they were going through, I just kept my ex-husband's name. It was easier for everyone and it seemed minor to make them feel better. But I feel awful about it. A name is just a name, right? And my new husband says nothing when he is called Mr. Ex-husband's last name but I cringe. At some point, I have to do something. My youngest is 7 so I can't say when he's grown up. That's a long time from now. I think even going by my maiden name would be better than this. Sigh.

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  22. I'm an old fashioned girl and I couldn't wait to take my husband's name. Even though my first name didn't flow as nicely and people would wrinkle their nose when they heard it (really!) I was so excited the first time I signed my new last name!

    We had twin boys at the beginning of this year and we named the first one out my maiden name: Cooper. I had always wanted to do that, if I could, and am so glad we did. :)

    My close friends still call each other by our maiden names! I don't think we've ever talked about stopping ...

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  23. Interestingly enough my husband and I disagreed about this a lot when we were dating. I was pretty adamant about keeping my name and he thought the idea was ridiculous. Once he understood where I was coming from, he actually started to encourage other women to keep their names. Ha! In the end I have never legally changed my name, but all my accounts etc. have my hyphenated name. Truth be told, it is oftentimes a pain because sometimes they turn my name into one or the other which makes finding our dinner reservations a challenge at times. My husband is patient and just kind of gives me the "if only you changed your name this would be easier", but it does not matter to him in the slightest.

    I will never forget one time I was checking at the doctor once and the receptionist in response to my hyphenated name said, "Oh, is this so when you get a divorce it will be easier?" I am happy the majority of people I encounter are open minded and don't judge me based upon my name. For me, hyphenating is a true symbol of two families coming together!

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  24. I kept my last name largely because my mom had kept hers. It felt like a family tradition that I wanted to keep alive. My sister made the same choice.
    I think that so long as you follow your gut on the issue (and have an understanding, supportive husband), you can't make a wrong choice. Six years later I don't regret my decision and neither do my friends who took their husbands' last names. There are many ways we show the world and eachother we're a family. A surname is one of many lovely momentos to choose from.

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  25. my divorce actually just finalized yesturday. i changed my name when we first got married. i like the idea of it. but it was easy then.. 21, one bank acount.. easy peasy. now i am not changing my name back for right now. i might eventually, but not now. we have two small children 3 and 5 and i feel like it makes life easier if i have the same last name as them for now (and honestly i want to avoid the name change hassle) i might change eventually (definately will if a re-marry)

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  26. Ha! I was just thinking about my situation the other day.

    I got divorced a couple years ago and didn't want the divorce to occur. I held on as strongly as I could and kept my ex's last name. At the time, I was too distraught to take care of things formally. I was in a deep depression and didn't want to realize the reality of the situation. I was hoping to at least remain friends with my ex. Plus, my maiden doesn't have historical/genealogical significance.

    Now, I regret it. My ex and I are not amicable. He has treated me terrible since the divorce and I want nothing more but to go back to my maiden name but I feel like it would be odd to do so now.

    I would love to have a new last name but I don't think I will ever remarry after the last debacle.

    I guess never say never?

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  27. I was talking to a friend the other day about this very thing. She mentioned that giving up her last name was a really big sacrifice. She is an only child, and she's very proud of her heritage. She said that if she was expected to make the sacrifice of giving up her family name, the guy she married should also be expected to make a sacrifice.

    We never decided what a comparable sacrifice would be, but I like the idea of making a mutual sacrifice for each other as a symbol of your new family unity.

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  28. I love sharing a name with my husband, I still love signing my name or being referred to as Mrs Frost. Though, I wish when changing it, I added my maiden name as a second middle name so I still had my name in there. After I lost my dad to cancer I guess it's a way I wish I still had that would make me feel close to him. If I ever could be bothered with ALL the hassle (there's SO many things!) I think I might add it in there again.

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  29. I felt the same way! And my Maiden name and First name were almost a palindrome together- who wants to change that? But when I met my husband and talked about marriage I actually felt honored and proud to be inducted into such an amazing family. My parents hooked me up with no middle name to keep my maiden as my middle, and for all business occurrences I add both since I am known both ways.

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  30. I don't like how the system is set up as it is so anti feminist. I don't like that the woman was transferred to the man as property and thus assumed his surname. I get most people do not feel that way anymore but to have this reminder of the "evil traditions of our fathers" unsettles me. I didn't change my name and I know that my maiden name comes from my father so it is still not as quite reaching the bar of gender equality but I like to think it's something. My husband is fine with it although I think he wishes I could just forget the history and accept what it now means in society. I did allow our child to have my husbands last name but it bugs me... a lot. I would prefer for us to choose our own last name but my husband that was a little too odd. I'm getting agitated typing this all out ;)!

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    1. I totally second you on that!

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    2. I agree. Frankly, a woman changing her last name to her husband's last name revolts me. The practice is a remnant of the historical subjugation of women's rights.

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  31. Funny, I didn't even consider keeping my last name when we got married. I love sharing a name with my husband. My dad's surname will however die out with this generation as he and his brother only have daughters which is a little sad.

    One of my nephew's carries Dad's surname as his middle name though. We are big on family names and each of my nieces and nephews carries a parents, grandparents or great grandparents name as their first or middle name which I love.

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  32. Honestly, I have no regrets about anything because it is what it is, but I would have liked to have kept my name. I wanted to keep it when I was 21 and first got married but my husband kinda never heard of that before, so I changed it. I also wanted to have the same name as my kids, even though now I know I could have hyphenated their names also. What makes me feel so connected to my maiden name is my dad, all the stories he told of the pioneer days and being so rooted, it's almost like an "American Story" and my family are the authors. My husband doesn't have such a connection to his family, his parents never ever have told a single story about their past, no photos, nothing. Now he has a sense of guilt for being a little ignorant, but I still love sharing a name with him and I'm proud to start a new legacy with our own kids with his name.

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  33. I changed my name 29 years ago and went on with life. What is interesting is now that the children are grown and my parents are dead, I have had thoughts of returning to my maiden name. My husband would be fine with that but I probably just won't do it. Interesting though that it has been on my mind after so long of never giving it a thought.

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  34. There was never a question regarding whether or not I'd keep my last name (keep). A long, long, long time ago, I was talking to my grandfather about the fact that I was the last one, THE LAST one with my last name. I decided then, at a pretty young age, that I would never change it. When my son was born, my husband insisted on having our son's last name hyphenated - which I was frankly surprised by but love. Love that was willing to do that and actually suggested it! Any complications I just find funny (like the post office has harassed my husband about picking stuff up for me so now he just brings my passport) but have been fairly minor.

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  35. I changed my name because I do not have a close relationship with my Dad (I had his last name). My parent's were divorced so my mom and I didn't even share the same last name. So I didn't really have an attachment to it. When I got married, I thought of changing my name as a way to start over and finally move on from some not so good things that happened with my dad in the past.

    But if I had a healthier family I probably would have kept it! I think it's strange that we as women are expected to take the man's name. And it's such a hassle to change it!

    Though I have to admit my name sounds much prettier with my husband's last name!

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  36. An ex thought I was 'weird' when I said I'd take my husband's name - i think he thought I was more avant garde than I was!

    Just recently the bank manager asked if I liked my bf's name as we set up joint accounts - totally a weird moment. I do like the name, but we've not discussed it. I would take a partner's name - it's just easier with children, which I fully hope to have!

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  37. Ahhh I've thought so much about this. I'm from Mexico where women do not change their name after getting married. In addition, I have two last names already (paternal surname and maternal surname), though I only have my paternal one on my U.S. documents.

    I think my husband kind of wanted us to have the same last name based on his strong feelings of having only one bank account (ha!), and I actually really like his last name plus it would have made my life easier. So I considered changing my name to Vanessa [paternal last name] de [husband's last name]. The "de" is pretty patriarchal since it's implying my husband's ownership, but it's also a Mexican thing and I was kind of ok with it ("i'm his!" or whatever)... buuuut I LOVE my maternal last name and was really upset at the thought of dropping it, even though I don't use it in the States.

    End result: I said "I'll decide whether to change it or not when my passport expires in 2015!" (because that seemed the hardest document to change I guess?) and did nothing. Still deciding whether I should do it or not... but with a M.A. under my belt and published writing under my maiden name, it's harder now probably. I'm glad I didn't change it right away though. I had a lot of changes in the space of a month- graduating college, getting married, moving to a new city- and at least keeping my name seemed like some stability. The only place I've had a problem is at church, where the old dudes give me lectures and changed my name on church records without my permission (still trying to get it changed back... sigh).

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  38. having the same last name has helped me to feel more unified and at one with the husby. Also, Dan ls one of the people I most admire on the planet. I love that I get to be called by the same name that I associate with such goodness and love. It's a constant reminder and motivator to be better, more kind and charitable today than yesterday. Also I go by my initials so I'm blessed to carry a little bit of my heritage too.

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  39. This issue has caused so much trouble the past five years (since I got married). I live and I'm a citizen of a country where women are not allowed to take their husbands' name BY LAW!! I always knew I wanted to take my husband's name (or as I would like to think it, our family name) but was obviously not allowed. I fought this, involving lawyers and courts, as I felt it was my right. I pursued it even more fiercely when we decided to adopt - I wanted to have the same name as my husband and kids (otherwise they would all be X and I would be Y- how silly is that?)

    It took me years and I have now finally managed to take my husband's name, albeit a translation/transliteration of it into Greek. It has not been easy and changing my name on other documents is often impossible, as this is not something that happens to women here. We are waiting for a match at the moment, and when we do have our family I will be very happy that we all have the same name!

    Saying that I have received a lot of criticism from Greek women about this decision...

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    1. You being X and your children being Y would not be silly, my mother was never once questioned, neither did she feel worried about having a different last name than her daughters. In fact, she set a really powerful example for my sister and I, that maintaining your independence and identity as a woman is something to be valued.

      No judgement for taking your husbands name but just pointing out that it wouldn't have been 'silly' if you chose not to. I always turn the question around and ask my girlfriends if their husbands would have ever changed their last names? The answer is obviously always no...so in response, neither should a woman feel obligated.

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    2. I totally agree with you but I find it outrageous that the mother can't have her own name on her child's name. I am sorry: biological moms, we carry 9 months the baby, it comes out of our sex in a very unpleasent experience and then it can have your name?!? Even for adopted children, we work so hard to adopt them and then your name doesn't exist? I find it outrageous!

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    3. Sheena,
      A friend of mine, who has two kids, got asked by her five year old "why am I X and daddy is X, as is my sister and you mummy are Y?” A valid question, in my eyes.
      I feel a family is a unit and, for me, the right thing to do is for this unit to have the same name. (It does NOT need to be the husband's name, of course). Especially when a family is brought together by adoption, I think it is a unifying factor. Another friend said to me that names are just a paper - I had to remind her that adoption is only just a paper, but it can mean the world!

      I didn't mean to use silly in a condescending way - but I couldn't imagine having a different name to my kids. As a teacher I also find it very difficult to know what to address mothers in this country, as they have a different name to their child. It is hard enough learning all my pupils' surnames- let alone having to learn another set for the mothers!

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    4. I respect your position Alex but just sharing my experience growing up in a household where I didn't share the same last name as my mother. I always felt a sense of pride in my mother's decision not to conform and continue a tradition that is rooted in inequality for women.

      If I would have asked my mother why she had a different name, which perhaps I did as a child, the answer made perfect sense to me.

      I understand it is perhaps a little more difficult to remember the names of your students parents but that is hardly a reason, in my opinion, for a woman to feel the need to change her name - for sheer convenience. My mother was always addressed as "Ms.xxxx' and my father, "Mr.xxx". No confusion and no different than remembering to address a man by his family name.

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  40. I never have regretted taking my husband's name. I feel connected to him more and to his family (whom I love more than my own family) more because of it. I feel my heart grew that much larger when I took on a whole new name because I was in a way adopting another family and I love each of them now. Taking on a name to some may be something more logical, but I like to think of it as something more intangible and wonderful. It is more than words on a page, it is a bond that goes into the eternities. Of course, like it has already been said it is wonderful that we as women get to choose whether we want to take on our husband's names. It feels more special that way as well than being forced to do so. My thoughts are if you love someone enough you will do anything to come closer to them (even change your own name to match theirs).

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  41. I kept my name and always knew I would, even before marriage came into the picture.

    Though I don't begrudge any woman who decides to take her husbands name, it is a topic that I feel quite strongly about.

    I wonder if more women knew where the tradition of taking the 'man's' name stemmed from, if they would be as likely to do so. Taking on the husbands family name comes from a time in marriage where, as a woman, you essentially lost your independent identity upon getting married. You became property of your husband, were expected to obey him, be a dutiful wife, etc. i.e. back to a time when you used to be introduced as, for example, 'Mrs. John Smith'...because not even your first name mattered.

    Keeping my name has never once been an inconvenience, nor was it ever an issues growing up with a mother who also kept her maiden name in marriage. People don't question you about your marital status when you keep your name. Somehow my mail still finds its way to our home, there are just two last names on the envelope instead of one ;)

    I look forward to a time when more women embrace the significance of keeping one's name. I also look forward to a time when women are no longer asked to reveal their marital status by choosing 'Ms, 'Mrs' or 'Miss'. Men don't have to share this information, so neither should a woman. Whenever I fill out any form that asks for this, I always opt for 'Ms'.

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    1. I totally second you on that!

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    2. sheena, you bring up such a great point! i'm also a firm believer in retaining your maiden name. i wrote about the topic here:
      http://catherinegacad.com/2012/08/09/born-identity-the-injustice-of-patrilineal-naming/

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    3. Thanks Catherine and Anonymous!

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    4. While I think that Sheena's strongly held views are perfectly valid, I think it is also worth considering that traditions accrue multiple meanings as they continue. In some societies, women took their husbands' name (though not as many societies as people seem to think. In the Scottish clan system, for instance, a woman was always able to choose to retain her own name and clan tartan.) Although this initially was a reflection of a patriarchal society, adopting a husband's name has taken on different resonances in the meantime, and could now reasonably signal security or romance or a respect for family history to individual women. We don't make all of our decisions about contemporary behaviour based on the origin of a tradition, or the reference to the rape of the Sabine women in the gesture of carrying a new wife across the threshold would not continue to flourish.
      I absolutely second the comment about the Ms/Miss/Mrs choice on forms, however. For me, one of the great pleasures about having a different prefix (Dr) is that it avoids all of these distinctions, but better still, obscures gender too. I love the privacy it gives me. Marital status isn't the only issue: I get much more respectful letters these days. Perhaps we need a gender non-specific title too!

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  42. Is it possible in the US for a husband to take his wife´s name? Here in Germany it is not all too common, yet, but it is possible and happens more and more. When my husband and I got married, we both kept our names. Adding kids to the mix we will need to pick one of our names as the familyname. Which one this will be and if the other one of us will decide to also take it, we don´t know yet.

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  43. Hi there - I have loved reading your blog. It is blogs like this - written by inspiring, witty intelligent women which has inspired me to start writing my own blog. www.mypotl.com is a dating experiment I am taking part in - hoping to find my potential one true love. I am going on thirty blind dates set up by thirty cupids. I would love if you could help me out and give me some blogging tips. I am so new to this world! It would be great if you could follow and we could talk. Thank you

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  44. I loved changing my name...the significance, the fun it is to re-learn how to sign it on paperwork, even the actual process (and all the congratulations from normally cranky federal/state employees). And I still don't regret it. I also disliked my maiden name, and like my married one. So it all worked out nicely.

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  45. I have been happily married for five years next month. I still haven't changed my name. Oops.

    It's been hard for me to decide. We have no children yet, and I think when we are ready for that I will want for us to have the same name. But at first I thought I would hypenate, but now I think I will take my maiden name as my middle name. For that reason, I am happy I have waited. (My husband... not so sure.) But won't that be such a romantic anniversary gift?!

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  46. I kept all of my names. My middle name is my mom's maiden name and I felt a strong identity with my last name. I guess that means I have two middle names. Of course, in my state, there are only three spaces on your drivers license, so I had to combine my middle name and my maiden name into one word. When people look at my drivers license and see my middle name, they will ask me "Where did THAT come from?". I think its funny.

    I did wait a while to change my name though. I didn't feel ready to change it at first, but when I did, I changed it. Or added it I guess. I am glad I waited.

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  47. I think that the question missing here is why is it usually (not always - there are some awesome egalitarian-minded men out there for sure - but usually) assumed that women have to be the one to change their last name if a heterosexual couple decides that they want a shared family name? Even if there's no bad intention (which I don't think is the case most of the time), it's an important thing to consider. Why are those assumptions there? Why do we keep choosing to uphold them when they represent a history of inequality? How can we make this a more egalitarian process so there are no differing expectations of either partner?

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    1. A big AMEN to that Steph. I completely agree, why are women so enthused about continuing a tradition that is steeped in inequality. Why can't everyone just keep their name and be done with it?

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  48. I have only been married for a little over a year, I was 35 when I got married so I'd had my maiden name a long time. It was who I was, I couldn't imagine changing it. My husband didn't have a preference either way.....Then we had a child. Game changer for me, I didn't want to have to explain why I had a different name than my husband and son. I changed my last name and kept my maiden name as my middle name.

    The process was (and still is) a pain in the butt. I have some certifications for work that I still haven't changed. I finally just changed my passport. I never remember if Doctors offices have me as my married or maiden name. My car and house loans still have my maiden name. It's a hassle for sure, one that I wouldn't have done for anyone other than my son.

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  49. From what I've experienced men are very hesitant to even consider changing their last name to that of their wives. Why can't it be the other way around? The patriarchy society that we live in, especially if you are Mormon like I am, makes me want to scratch my eyeballs out. I think I could use some of your energy flow lessons Mara ;), you know, to help me manage. From my experience this society where men 'preside' even though man and woman are suppose to be 'equal' does far more harm than good. I hope for change every day.

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  50. I wanted to feel connected to who I was growing up and my family history, and didn't feel like I had any connection to my first name with my husband's last name. It felt like somebody else. So I added my maiden name as a second middle name and we share his last name. That way I didn't lose anything but could still share the same name for practical reasons (although it sounds like it works just fine to keep your maiden, too). It's kind of fun to get to have 4 names now instead of just 3.

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  51. I got married about a month ago, and I have decided to change my name. While I was (and still am) a little bit hesitant about it -- I haven't yet worked up the willpower to actually go do it -- we decided that we wanted to have a name uniting our family. I do plan on going by both in professional settings, though, since many people only know me by my maiden name, and because I'm not ready to give up that part of my identity.

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  52. I assumed both my maiden and husband's family names and, aside from making my full name exceptionally long, I like the affiliation to both my own family/personal identity and our new, shared identity as a couple.

    My mother realized only recently that she had never legally changed her name (although 30+ years of joint bank accounts and married tax filing apparently hadn't been bothered that she used a "fake" name). She is now back in school, still married to my father, and has no intention of changing her legal name now. So, at church/work she is Mrs. N and at school she is Ms. D.

    We plan to give our children names from all branches of our family tree, so I think ways to recognize or honor a family/name are not limited merely to last names.

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  53. I guess I'm a little of a traditionalist, but I never even thought about keeping my maiden name. Growing up I would always put my first name with the last names of my crushes to see how they fit together:). When I got married I was a little sad to give up my maiden name- it is a very unique name and a great conversation starter when we go to the temple- my family is huge so someone always knows one of my relative an has nothing but good things to say:). However, I still changed my last name because I feel like that is part of marriage- you are giving yourselves to each other, and I think by taking on my husband's name we are more united- we are truly one. I love that we have the same last name because I feel I am truly his:). I don't feel there is anything 'unequal' about me changing my name. I am happy to give up my maiden name and take on the name of my husband because he is the man I said yes to. He is the man I want to spend eternity with and the man that I love with all my heart and I am happy to show that by taking on his name. Plus, I can't imagine having a different last name from my children. I ended up just keeping my maiden name as a middle name, since my parents never gave my sisters or me a middle name since our last name was just so long:).

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  54. I also changed my name when I got married. I didn't have strong feelings either way, except that I wanted to share the same last name with my future children. However, I know people who have kept their name, families who all go by the same hyphenated last name, and even families where one child takes the wife's last name while another takes the husband's last name. I think that what name you go by is less important than the relationships in the family! :)

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  55. In Mexico you don't legally change your name when you get married. You always have two last names, your dad's and mom's last names. Sometimes, when you sign a greeting card or a letter you sign with your spouse last name included in your name, you omit your mother's last name and you use your dad's and husband's last names. I always wondered what my second last name would be... I never thought I would marry someone from USA and live here. He would really want me to have just his last name but it's so difficult for me to lose that, my family last names. Also, our kids have only my husband last names which would be a little strange in the future being the only one with a different name. We are considering changing our kids last names now, to include mine and maybe I will have a big last name with everyone's name in it =)

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  56. I've been married for 15 years and have always loved the unity of a family name. My parent's were divorced after 23 years of marriage, and my mother had kept her married name. I honestly never even considered not taking my husband's name even though he suggested otherwise. I felt that keeping my first and middle given names was significant in honoring my family of origin and by taking my husband's name I was honoring my family of creation. For me, having the same last name signifies our unity and love. Each of our four daughter's has a name from each of our sides of the family for their first and middle names. It will be exciting to see how they each choose to identify themselves when they have the opportunity to marry someday.

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  57. I never changed mine. I still don't understand society's expectation for women to do it. My husband has always supported me. I don't see an issue in having a different last name than my children. It's not that big a of a deal.

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  58. I never changed my name after getting married. My two children have my surname (as second name) so we share a surname. When I got divorced I did not have to change a thing... at least it was one less hassle and emotional rollercoaster I had to go through.

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  59. It was a hard decision to make for me because of my strong connection to my maiden name. Lots of stories from my Grandpa about it being changed on Ellis Island when his parents emigrated here. So it is very unique AND it is dying off. (I only have female cousins, as well as only sisters). But I didn't want a different last name from my kids. I did keep it though, and dropped my given middle name and kept my maiden name as a middle name. I had the same dilemma on what to publish under also, and considered dropping my married name in favor of a more unique (and shorter) name. But I went with the same three because after all, they are ALL part of me, and it is who I am, and they all have meaning and are special to me.

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  60. I feel like you don't post as regularly as you used to. Your posts seem different. It's harder to follow your blog. Still love your blog. It just seems different.

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  61. I took my husband's name; then, I missed my maiden name more than I thought I would. When I graduated with my PhD, I had both of my names printed on the diploma. It was a nod to my parents who had given me so much support over the years as well as it tied in my bachelor/master diploma with the new one hanging on my wall :)

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  62. I always loved the idea of taking my husband's last name when I would get married. It was sweet, romantic and cohesive. I always planned to do it. When I got married, I planned to, but held off. Several months later our marriage started to crumble and eventually led to divorce. I was SO SO SOOOO grateful I had never changed my name and had to go through the lengthy process of doing so... and the lengthy process to change it back!

    That said, I am with you on this one; either or works for me. Whatever the woman wants to do, do it. I'm not opposed to ever changing my name (although I am not sure if I will get married again, at this point) but I'm not set on it either.

    Love your post, and your blog (you know that :) and yet again, another great topic! xo

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  63. I always planned to take my husband's name when I got married, and even wanted to.. but after I got married I found it difficult to do. For the first time, I felt like I was relinquishing part of my identity and I didn't like it, often citing the "pain" of it all as the reason. While the hassle was certainly a factor, it wasn't the issue. After about a year and a half I finally changed my name, and made my maiden name my middle name (I didn't have a middle name before). Now a few years later, I really love the unity I feel with my husband through sharing his last name, as well as the independent identity and tie to my past I feel by having my maiden name still very much a part of my name. My maiden name is not one of those that sounds like it could be a normal middle name, so when I was young I always thought I would NEVER keep it. But now I use it often, always sure to include my middle initial and/or middle name on official documents and even my email. :)

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  64. I always thought I'd keep my name and the man I married was cool with it. But it was hard to spell/pronounce and we should all have the same name...yada yada...so I reluctantly changed it. Now, we're divorcing and I can't wait for my name back. It's cultural, it's me, and it's on my diplomas. My future husband (long story, please don't judge) is fine with me keeping my name. And I will.

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  65. I actually regret changing my name-- and it has nothing to do with my husband! Because he is awesome, and I am still madly in love with him. But for me, I did feel like I lost a huge part of my identity, and I really miss it. I wish I had at least hyphenated it or something. I'm not sure what I would have done about our children though, because I would want things to be simple for them. Oh well! (I might encourage my daughter to keep her name though, when the time comes.)

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    1. I also regret it! I'm changing it back one day when I have a few hundred dollars to burn. I gave my kids a first, middle, my maiden, and their dad's last name. So, they go by the patriarchal last name, but mine's in there. I plan to encourage my kids to keep their names.

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  66. I always assumed I would change my name however in my mid twenties I realized my initials are SLA (yeah I know it took me awhile) and I could possibly spell a word with them if I kept my last name and added his. So depending on what his last name is I may keep mine just so my initials spell something :) Also doing family history recently I've realized it hard to track down ancestors when you come through the women of the family. We recently discovered family who had lost track of our ancestor through moves and marriage in the 1800's. If she had kept her last name (even as a middle name) it would have made it a lot easier!

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  67. What bothers me about this is the patriarchal aspect of it... it's almost always women who change or women who have to make the decision whether or not to change. It's not two people coming together equally and neutrally on the issue and then choosing from an array of equal options - both taking the woman's name, both taking the man's name, making up a new name together, hyphenating the names, etc. As Danny did to you, it's either you taking his name or not, not him being equally likely to take your name.

    And the discussion is rarely honest about the impact of this. Often when I ask men if they'd ever change their names, they are horrified by the idea. It hits them how difficult and weird it would be to go by a different name, and they come up with all sorts of personal and ancestral and connection reasons that keeping their name is imperative. Yet women are socialized to brush that aside or suck it up and change their names.

    I live in a city where at least some women keep their names now, but even in those cases, the child gets the father's name every single time. That blows my mind. If I incubate a baby for 9 months and then push it out of my vagina, there's no way it's going to have a different last name from me. I'd love to meet the man who is strong enough and untraditional enough to have a baby who takes his wife's last name.

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  68. I couldn't stand the thought of losing my wonderful last name (Salinas) that tied me to my hispanic heritage and ancestors (I'm so so fair with red hair! I love telling people I'm Mexican!). So I kept it. But I just added my husbands name after it. So my social security has 4 names- first middle last last, but my driver's license only has my husband's last name. it's not complicated or upfront, but i know my maiden name is still there, legally, and i'm glad.

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  69. I hyphenated my last name, so I still had to go through all the hassle of changing it, and it is a very long cumbersome name. My husband didn't want me to change my name at all, but I thought that if we ever had kids, I would want to share a name with the whole family. Since I had degrees, published abstracts and an an article or two under my maiden name, I didn't want to just drop it.
    There have been sweet moments with it, times where if I had dropped my maiden name completely I would have run into issues, and times where I was glad I had the same name as our little son. Also I work in a place where lots of women have hyphenated so it doesn't seem to unusual, thought at times I feel I am stuck in the 80's. I'd probably do it again, but if not I would just keep my maiden name.
    It was never an issue for my husband, his sense of self was never tied up in my name. I know some men really care, and I would have taken that into account if it had been important to him. Of course I have some friends whose fiances were a little mean about it - said if they wouldn't change their names the wedding was off. For me, I would have called off the wedding, not over the name, but over the inability to negociate and compromise.

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  70. I’m getting married next year and I will be changing my name to my fiancé’s surname mainly because he is the only boy that carries his family name, Kitchenham (which is quite unusual). I have two brothers and a cousin who share my name so there will be some little Abbotts running around eventually. The only sad thing about changing my name is at the moment my name has awesome alliteration and Abi Abbott just sounds right! We did talk about creating our own surname together using parts of both of our surnames but Abham or Kitchbot seem quite right for us! I’m happy to take his name even though it means condemning our kids to the middle of the register at school :)

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  71. This is funny as I wrote about this myself http://natcatdiaries.blogspot.com/2010/12/why-women-should-not-change-their-name.html.

    I still feel the same way except now I'll write the 'future' husbands last name down a few times before I say 'yes'. I always had an issue writing down my ex's last name, I'd break it up into parts just to dot the i's and it made me despise writing it. I still see the 'married' last name attached to some accounts I cannot change because of security and linkages at work but I'll deal.

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  72. I love your blog and have been following for some time but this is the first time I have commented. I just wanted you to know that your blog helped me through my own messy divorce. I just got remarried and will now change my name to my new husbands :) Loved this post!!

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  73. My husband is from Spain, and there women do not take their husband's name, so he had no expectation that I would. I wanted our children to use the Spanish last-name tradition, which is have the mother's and father's last name together, and we talked about both of us adopting that combination as well, so we'd all be the same. However, you cannot change your last name in Spain (!), so he kept his and I took the same name our children would have. Since there are different combinations of three last names between us all, we informally and for fun call ourselves "the FIGs"- the acronym of all those last names. I love that I have a last name in common with my husband and children without having to give up my original one.

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  74. I didn't have a middle name either so my maiden name is my middle name and when I got divorced I was always planning on dropping my married name, but I ended up deciding to keep it for now (mainly because I didn't want the hassle of changing my name on everything). I have a serious boyfriend and if we get married I will take his name. I have two kids so it has been nice to share a last name with them, but the really, really funny thing is that my former husband married someone with the same first name as me...and she took his last name when they married. Seriously, what are the chances!

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  75. I also didn't think twice about changing my name - having the same name as my husband has no impact on our love or our value as a family, so I kept my full name intact, as did my husband. I fully respect every woman's choice to keep or change her name, but I have been frustrated with the insinuation by some that we are less of a family by having separate names or the assumption from friends and family that I changed my name (isn't it polite to ask before sending correspondence?).

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  77. How to get back your ex husband, wife, girlfriend, or boyfriend,

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    ReplyDelete

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