General Question

Ame_Evil's avatar

Do you think that the reason why when people get married the wife takes the husbands last name is down to a repressed Oediplus complex?

Asked by Ame_Evil (3041points) August 7th, 2009

I just realised this when I called my (pretend) wife Mrs <insertlastnamehere> which freaked me out because it was my mums name and reminded me of the Oediplus complex (quick recap: man having sex with his mother). Am I overreacting or onto something here?

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16 Answers

Resonantscythe's avatar

The idea for the name change is historically just to indicate the wife was now part of the husband’s family.

Also i think I heard once that in japan the groom takes the bride’s family name so it could go either way.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Taking the husband’s last name is a mos from a time when a wife (or wives) and children were considered the property of the husband and that way the land/money/whatever stayed within the man’s family.

An Oedipus complex is a Freudian concept where a little boy “competes” with his dad for the affection of his mother.

Overreacting, but s’OK. You don’t have to take every thought that floats by seriously!

marinelife's avatar

It has nothing to do with that. It is all about the patriarchal nature of our society. If you are comfortable with it and your intended is as well, she can keep her last name. I also know of couple who have chosen a new name they both take or combined their names.

I have been married 26 years this month and have kept my own last name.

syz's avatar

Actually, it was a matter of property. Women were consider chattel and the property of their husbands. I’m not sure your concept of Oedipal Complex is correct.

samanthabarnum's avatar

Yes, yes you are overreacting. Like @syz said, it was a matter of property, and has carried on for reasons unknown to me. (i.e., tradition.)

dynamicduo's avatar

I think you’re reading into it quite a bit, and incorrectly.

The last name exchange historically has been done to signify a transfer of possessions and associated wealth if that’s the case. Because you see, daughters were traded or negotiated with, to help with an agreement, or included in a deal that included land and cattle. In some households, including royalty, they were an object to use when sealing a treaty or combination/division of land. In others it was simply the father who decided “you are marrying So-and-so”, likely because of an agreement with the boy’s farther.

Now that this form of “love” is no longer applicable in most families, women no longer have to take their husband’s names, although they are free to do so. We are seeing more hyphen names, or new names created for both people.

Personally I love my last name, it just suits my first name so nicely, thus I will be sticking with it for life. Plus my name acronym spells a word, so it likely wouldn’t make one if I changed it :)

fireinthepriory's avatar

Well everyone else covered the answer to your question, but I thought I’d add that I know a few people who feel the same way. I once had a teacher who got married and told us to call her “Mrs. S” instead of “Mrs. Smith” because “Mrs. Smith” was her mother-in-law, not her. And I agree, it would be weird to call my future wife by my mothers’ name (not that I assume the person I marry will take my name, especially as I’m female). Luckily most people very rarely refer to their spouse by his or her last name. :)

Jayne's avatar

Check out the new OediPlus™ complex: now 75% more twisted than before!

ratboy's avatar

Real mofos insist that their brides take both their mother’s given name and surname.

Darwin's avatar

As others have said, yup, you are overreacting.

And actually nowadays (in Texas at least) when two people marry, each person gets a free legal name change if they want it as part of the package when paying for the marriage license. Either, both or neither can change their names at that time, and you don’t even have to stick with tradition and use existing family names. You could make up a whole new name if you want. You would, however, have to take the license down to Social Security to change the name on your retirement account.

Zendo's avatar

That’s why she is referred to as “my wife,” and he is, “my husband.” It is all about ownerhip and property rights.

Bri_L's avatar

@Marina – congrats!!!!

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i don’t really put much weight on freud’s theories, but hey, you never know.

Jack79's avatar

It has absolutely nothing to do with the Oedipus complex, and everything to do with traditions that date back to early patriarchal societies. Women were treated more or less as property, and therefore belonged to the man’s “family”. More importantly, the man’s children, representing his lineage and often a hereditary hierarchy based on it (as well as claims to property), needed to have his name. Therefore, it made sense that the wife of mr.X, who was also the mother of the next mr.X, would be called mrs.X.
There are many societies where the man takes his wife’s name, which in a way makes more sense (since you always know who the mother of a child is, and women have traditionally stayed at home, so societies where the lineage and inheritance is maternal actually follow a more practical system than ours). Personally I would have no problem if this tradition was changed (though I’d hate to take my ex wife’s name now).

Darwin's avatar

@Jack79 – But if you did take it, you could always put it back.

filmfann's avatar

@ratboy My brother is a real mofo, and the toughest person I know. Both his wives kept their names.
It has nothing to do with Oedipus. It is tradition.

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