Post # 1
Happy Tuesday, Bees!
I am a recent Ph.D. and I’m working in a postdoctoral fellowship while studying for my boards. If you were to ask me a year ago (before our engagement) what I planned to do about a name change, I would tell you that I would want to be known by my maiden name professionally, but legally/socially, I would want to take my amazing fiancé’s name. In my line of work, I really value my privacy and my safety (especially after that close call when I was followed by a patient). I thought that, for the safety of my future family, it would be best to be known outside of practice by a different name and to have my kids have a different last name than my professional name. Now that I am actually to the point of needing to make that decision (preferably before my boards), I am realizing that this is much easier said than done.
I’m super old fashioned and if it were not for my Ph.D., I would have had no second thoughts about taking my fiancé’s last name. Taking my future husband’s last name has actually been something that has been strangely exciting to me since I was little (for the really stupid reason of not having to wait and be last for roll call because my last name starts with a later letter in the alphabet… hey- when you are 7, those things matter!). Now that I have degrees, publications, formal positions, etc, in my maiden name, there is a part of me that worries that a name change would be confusing at this point in my career. To add complications to things, my fiance has brought to my attention several times that it would mean a lot to him if I would take his name. In fact, I think that this is something that we talked about on our 3rd date (which was just one year into my Ph.D. program, and so I thought of it as a “we will cross that bridge if we get there” conversation). He brought it up again about a week ago and reminded me that it would make him super happy if I took his last name. Then apparently my mom had a conversation with my super sweet grandma (who never asks for anything), and somehow it came up that if she had any one wish in the world, it would be that I practice under my maiden name. We don’t know why this is so important to her (especially because she and I have different last names), but the woman is 84 years old and as wise as they come, so there is a part of me that feels like I should take her opinion into consideration.
I realize that I can be known socially as Mrs. HisLastName and professionally/legally as Dr. MyLastName*, but are there any repercussions to that? When I make travel reservations, I would make them in my last name still, because that is my legal name. Is that a pain in the butt when it comes to making family reservations? How about making decisions for our family in times of emergency- does it matter if our last names are different? I know that I can hyphenate or change my maiden name to my middle name and be known as MyFirstName MyMaidenName HisLastName, but that feels so complicated and I am afraid of things being complicated in the future if someone only catches one last name. Plus, I just don’t think that our last names sound good together, but maybe that is just because I’m not used to saying it that way. I know that I am probably worried about nothing, but I also wanted to have the same last name as my future children- are there people out there who have married parents with different last names? How was that for you? I just don’t know what to do.
So to change my last name or not to change my last name- that is the question. Any professionals out there with some advice? Are you making the switch or keeping your last name?
Post # 2
This is a very personal decision, but I would offer that hypenating is a bad idea (too many names to keep track of) and option B and D are one in the same (you married name will be your last name).
Post # 3
I think it’d be a bit of a hassle when it comes to kids, traveling, etc. I know for travel (in Canada at least) your plane tickets and travel reservations must be in your legal name, matching your passport and other documents. I think it might get messy and confusing – my fi’s mom kept her maiden name, and while my fi said it never bothered her to be known as mrs. Husband, I think it would be confusing.. If I know someone’s legal last name is her maiden name, I would always address her by that… As would everyone else who knows I think, as to not offend her. Might be confusing with kids too, people who don’t know you might be wondering if youre their mother or step mother. But then again, in this day and age with many people having families without being married, maybe its really not a big deal
Post # 4
I changed my name to DH’s, and am still in the process of updating it with quite a few things. But, I had a friend who hyphenated her name with her DH’s after they got married, but only because she wanted to keep her name in the loop for being a substitute teacher. Had she just changed it to her new last name, no one would have known who she was when they went down the list.
That’s been 7 years now, and she has a different job – but she now just goes by her DH’s last name both personally and professionally. If you are OK with losing your middle name to your maiden name, I’d probably go that route.
I don’t have a job where I would need to keep my maiden name in there, but do sign emails with both names (mainden in parethesis), so people know who I am and don’t question it when they get it. But, over time… they’ll figure out the name change and I won’t worry about it.
Post # 5
I’m a Ph.D. student and hopefully defending shortly before getting married, and I’m currently inclined to go the route of changing my middle name to my maiden name and my last name to his last name. It still feels like an imperfect solution, and personally I would be content to just keep my name as it is, but my fiancé (who is also a Ph.D. student so understands why I refuse to give up my maiden name entirely) really wants me to take his name.
In academia, however, I know of many women who do not change their names and have been able to manage fine with their children having their husbands’ last names. I know at least one woman handled this by keeping her maiden name and then making each child’s middle name her maiden name, so that the kids’ full names as FirstName Mom’sMaiden Dad’sLast. Honestly, my main motivation to keep my name is so that people in the field know who I am but also because the norm seems to be for women to keep their names.
Post # 6
I hyphenated and have not had any problems with it. DH hyphenated as well, as he’s had no problems either. I truly just don’t believe in changing my name, just for traditions sake. And I never got what I determined to be a good reason to just do it. DH really wanted us to have the *same* name, but when it came time to determine what name that would be, we just decided to compromise. It’s worked out for both of us.
Post # 7
I’m either keeping my maiden name or FI and I are both changing our name to the hyphenated MYLAST-HISLAST. I told him those are the only options on the table because I don’t want to give up my name entirely. I’m proud of all that I’ve accomplished in life with it — it’s been with me through law school, passing the bar, becoming a practicing lawyer, etc. And hyphenating for us would be simple because my name is 2 syllables and his is only 1.
FWIW, I don’t really see much value coming from having my maiden name become my middle name based on my experience thus far with middle names — I currently have a middle name that for my entire life, I have specifically listed wherever possible because it’s my mother’s maiden name and I love it, but 99% of the time, people ignore it and just note my name as FIRST LAST. It’s really annoying, but I think the nature of middle names is that they don’t get much use/recognition other than on official documents.
Post # 8
I’m an attorney and though sometimes I have feelings that maybe I shouldn’t change my name I don’t think its that big of a deal. People catch on. Two female partners have changed their last name while I have been here and one attorney and I don’t think they have had any issues. On balance, for me, I would choose to have the same last name as my husband and future kids. I see it as a personal preference not a right or wrong answer.
Post # 9
I have double citizenship, I was born and live in Brazil, but my family is from Italy so I have both. Even though I will take my future husband last name, in Brazil it will be my legal name, but not in Italy.
I don’t know why the hell they don’t accept name changes in case of marriage (my mom got her citizenship after she was married and on all her documents they used her maiden name), but they don’t. So we always have to be careful when booking travels, because if we use the italian passaport it has to be under her maiden name, if we use the brazilian, the married one! It was weird in the beginning, but after a few years we are now used to it.