Social Question

kheredia's avatar

Married women.. when you got married did you change your last name? Why or why not?

Asked by kheredia (5561points) February 7th, 2010

What are the pros and cons of changing your last name to your husband’s last name? If you didn’t change it, have you had any problems because of it? Guys.. do you think it’s a big deal if your wife doesn’t want to change her last name? For those of you who are not married yet, do you plan on changing your last name or not? What are your thoughts on this topic?

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41 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

This is my second marriage – I didn’t change my name either time – even though my last name is long and I don’t like it, I like the idea of having to change it out of tradition even less. My husband’s name doesn’t belong to me and even though my name is not super important to me, it is still mine.

filmfann's avatar

My wife took my name.
I remember mentioning the option of taking my wife’s name to my father, and he got super pissed at me.
My brother has now been married twice, and each of his wives have kept their names, which is funny to me, because my brother is much more macho than I.

HTDC's avatar

I never quite understand why women take a man’s last name anyway. Seems to me it’s kind of like the man is taking ownership of the woman. Almost sad really.

kheredia's avatar

@HTDC I don’t think it’s necessarily taking ownership of the woman. I just think it makes things a lot less complicated, especially when they have children. They can be referred to as the Jones family vs. Mr. Jones and Mrs. Smith and their kids.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@kheredia if that was all there was to it, then just as many men would be taking their wives’ last names which is not the case.

Fieryspoon's avatar

Some women like to have the same name as their children and think that a seven syllable hyphenated name is too long.

kheredia's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir They could do that but most of them are too macho or come from a very traditional family. My fiance suggested taking my last name but I prefer his because it’s easier to pronounce. And I suffered enough as a child getting my last name butchered all the time. I don’t want my children to go through that.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Fieryspoon there is no reason a woman’s children can’t have her name – in that there’s no reason children should have their father’s last name..incidentally my own children don’t have my name because it’s such a long last name – my first has his bio dad’s last name and my second has his bio dad’s last name…i’m thinking my third child will have a truncated version of my last name.

Darwin's avatar

I hyphenated my name-his name in order to show solidarity but still be findable, since I had published a number of scientific papers under my maiden name. He wanted to do the same (but in reverse, his name-my name) but the Navy couldn’t cope with the thought. The Navy doesn’t do hyphens, either, so it is always fun to watch corpsmen try to pronounce my name when they call me in for my medical appointments.

In Texas, while it is most common for women to exchange their last name for their husband’s, the cost of the marriage license includes a legal name change opportunity for all concerned. The man can change his, or the woman can change hers, both can change their names to something completely different as long as it is not obscene, or neither can change their names.

The only problem we have run into with names is that my son has two middle names, one from our family and one from his birth family. Social Security was flummoxed and could only permit all of his names if we hyphenated two of them so four names could fit into three slots.

And @HTDC, the tradition came about because marriage indeed was the transfer of ownership of a woman from her father to her husband for many centuries. This past 100 years has made changes to that legally in the US thanks in large part to the various mini-ERAs passed in the various states and such things as granting women the right to vote. However, society changes more slowly in some cases, and many countries women are still considered to be chattel, a form of personal property.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Darwin why doesn’t the Navy do hyphens?

HTDC's avatar

@Darwin Yes you’re right it was the transfer of ownership, I guess only time can flush out these useless, degrading traditions.

Jeruba's avatar

I sure did. My maiden name was as boring as mud, and my husband’s name coruscated. It was the seventies, and a lot of people expected me to express my feminism by keeping my maiden name, but sheer aesthetics (and traditionalism) won out. Anyway I was not and have never been a feminist per se. I am for people’s rights and not just half the people’s rights.

HTDC's avatar

@Jeruba Your answer also brings up another point. But I’m not directed this at you personally.

Women don’t put as much pride into their surname as men do. It’s worrying to see women give away their surname just because their husband’s name sounds better or is simper to pronounce. It’s entirely superficial, they need to be proud of their surname and keep it as something to treasure, not to throw away so easily for such trivial reasons.

Jeruba's avatar

Your characterization of the changing of names is only one of many possible views and doesn’t happen to be mine.

kheredia's avatar

A name is just a name. Your name is not who you are. I could change my name to what ever I want to change it to but it doesn’t change who I am.

HTDC's avatar

@kheredia “Your name is not who you are”

You’re right. But it’s what the surname represents that women are giving up.

Nullo's avatar

My mom took my dad’s name, partly for the tradition, partly for the symbolism (in many respects, a married man and woman are like a single entity), and partly because she didn’t like her maiden name.

In Italy, it is common for the woman to keep her name. Their kids take their father’s name.

Darwin's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir – I have no idea why the Navy doesn’t do hyphens. Sometimes the Navy prides itself in doing things “the Navy way” without considering other equally functional choices.

I still remember the time that we had to fax some documents from one office to another, but the second office didn’t have a fax machine. Everyone was stymied until my husband (a chief petty officer, one of the guys whose job it is to get things done in spite of the regulations) solved the problem. He took the paperwork, went from the first office on the ground floor to the second office on the fourth floor, and as he walked into the second office loudly said, “Beep! Beep! Incoming fax!” When the staff stopped laughing they accepted the paperwork as having been faxed and so the red tape was cut.

Jeruba's avatar

I was proud of my surname just as I was proud of a home I used to live in and don’t live in any more. You can love something and be proud of it and yet not keep it forever, and moving on to a new one does not mean throwing anything away. Feel free to object to the act, @HTDC, but it might be wiser and safer not to ascribe motivation.

Rarebear's avatar

My wife didn’t change her name. It was brought up once and I wouldn’t hear of it being changed and it was never brought up again.

acc639's avatar

I always hated the sound of my “maiden name” since it had so many consonants in it, but – when I got married – even though I was marrying a man with a beautiful last name – I did not want to give my family name up. I am one of 3 girls and the feminist in me took over and decided I really wanted to preserve the name.So I hyphenated it – when our children were born we gave both of them my original last name as their middle names. It now turns out, with the advent of the Internet, that 185 of us with my original last name have found each other all over the world, developed a family tree, and had 4 reunions over 12 years. If I had not kept my name in the hyphenated combo they would not have been able to find me.

Rarebear's avatar

@acc639 Neither my wife nor I liked hyphenated names although I know a lot of people who do it. When my daughter was born, we gave her my wife’s last name as her middle name, and my last name as her last name. When she’s older she can go by either (or neither as the case may be). But she has the choice.

KatawaGrey's avatar

I am unmarried and as of now am planning on remaining in this state. If, however, I change my mind in the future, I will definitely keep my name. My name has so much wonderful, rich history to it, I couldn’t bare to lose it. It is my mother’s name and my grandfather’s name, and these are two people to whom I want to be linked. I figure I can just be a terribly mean mother and hyphenate my children’s last names. When they are old enough to get married and have kids, they can figure it all out themselves.

@HTDC: The title of “Mrs.” is actually a way of showing ownership in and of itself. It’s short for “mister’s,” as in “belonging to mister so-and-so.”

Jeruba's avatar

“Mrs.” is short for mistress, the feminine form of mister, and not a possessive.

Analogs: waiter/waitress, actor/actress.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Jeruba: Hm… I had a sadly misinformed English teacher in high school then. I always use Ms. anyway out of respect. :)

gemiwing's avatar

I took my husbands name because we are joined together and I like having a ‘family’ name just for us. Luckily I didn’t have a middle name so when I married, I simply moved my middle name up and added on his to the end. It’s like a chain of my life, in a way. My name, my maiden name (and a maiden’s life) then my new building family name. It’s growth to me and perfectly natural.

I do get quite tired of people assuming that because I wanted to share a last name with my husband that I am not a feminist. It’s tiresome and ironic that I battle against those who say women should do whatever they want- and here I am doing what I want (housewife) yet still fight to be respected for my choices.

knitfroggy's avatar

I changed my name. I have always wished since that I had kept my maiden name and hyphenated my last name. My maiden name is not very common and shows my German heritage. My married last name is a very common name, and while I don’t hate it, it’s not mine really. It doesn’t represent the family I came from. I suppose I could legally change my name and hyphenate, but I’m sure it costs money to do so.

thriftymaid's avatar

Of course I did. When you make a lifetime commitment to marriage and a future family you should want everyone in that family to have the same name.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Jeruba back in the 70s, I would have agreed with you, given that generation’s feminism…however times have changed…we, the current feminists (or I, at the very least), don’t only fight for women’s rights…we fight for gender to not be a division and therefore for all people’s rights to be considered…I am just as against stifling gender norms for men as I am against the same for women

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@thriftymaid I understand, but the family name doesn’t have to be your husband’s – could be yours too

casheroo's avatar

I added my husbands name onto mine. I have a very long name, because I kept my long middle name, and my last name. So, I have two last names, not hyphenated. (I don’t like hyphens). So, technically, I can go by either last name..which is good since I have plenty of things in my maiden name that I haven’t changed (a lot of my credit cards, and my health insurance), but I can still go by my husbands last’s on my social and my drivers license…they both put my entire name. It’s ridiculous looking. lol

I don’t think there needs to be any sort of “movement” or whatever when it comes to this. You can change your name or not. No sweat off my back. For me, I like having the same last name as my son, it makes paperwork easier.

sdeutsch's avatar

I didn’t change my name, but for me it was because my last name is so much a part of who I am. Growing up, I always had at least four other girls with my first name in my classes, so we all became known by some variation on both our first and last names (sort of all run together as one word). Now, even though I’m not around as many friends with the same name, my oldest friends (including my husband) still use my whole name a lot of the time. I just feel like it’s too much a part of me to give it up even if my husband’s name is a whole lot easier to pronounce…

That said, our kids will definitely have his last name, and I’ll have no problem using his last name when it’s more convenient for the whole family to have the same name – I just didn’t want to legally change it.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

I sure did. We got married many years ago & it was just the thing to do, for one thing. But part of us getting married, was sharing his name. I was proud to take his name then, & I’m still proud to carry it.

tedibear's avatar

When I got married to Round One, I took his name and didn’t really question why I would or wouldn’t. I just did it.

When I got married to Round Two, I wasn’t going to change my name because I remembered the hassles at Social Security and the DMV. When the subject came up, he looked kind of sad when I said I hadn’t planned on changing it. It was no big deal to me, so I just did it. The only thing I don’t like is that people have a hard time pronouncing it and tend to add an extra letter in the middle. My maiden name was far simpler.

trailsillustrated's avatar

I kept the name of the husband I had children with. it’s alot easier and it would’ve been a real mess when I went to get passports for my children. Plus thats been my name for so long it would’ve been wierd to change it with my most recent marriage.

Cupcake's avatar

I thought it would have been fun to come up with a combination of our last names, but when my husband (fiancee at the time) suggested I take his name that ended the conversation for me. I didn’t care too much one way or another so that was like a tiebreaker vote. His name all the way.

casheroo's avatar

@tedibear39 So, after your first, you went back to your maiden? And I had no problems with the social security office, but the DMV was pure hell to get my name changed. Never again!

jenandcolin's avatar

I kept my name. There are basically two reasons for this. One: I think taking a man’s name is outdated. Two: I am beginning a career in academia and wanted to make sure my publications followed me. I have no problem with women who do take the man’s name, it just wasn’t the right choice for me. A lot of my peers (I study sociology of gender) find taking his name anti-feminist. I don’t really think this specific issue should be at the top of feminist agenda. However, I can see both sides.

CMaz's avatar

“I never quite understand why women take a man’s last name anyway. Seems to me it’s kind of like the man is taking ownership of the woman.”

YEP! And she of him.

A rather nice tradition.

tedibear's avatar

@casheroo – Yes, after the first I switched back. I wanted no association with that name any more. More because of his mom than him.

Darwin's avatar

In any case, whichever name you choose to use, I agree with my husband:

“I don’t care what you call me, just don’t call me late for dinner.”

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