(Closed) So many conflicting thoughts on changing my name

posted 6 years ago in Traditions
Post # 3
Member
11354 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2009

You definitely have given this a great deal of very detailed thought, and you at least know all of the factors you want to consider in making your choice. Since you are the only one who can decide what you would be comfortable doing, I wish you the very best in making your decision.

For what it’s worth, I dropped my given middle name and took my maiden name as my new middle name.  (Example: from Jane Marie Smith to Jane Smith Doe.) What I absolutely love about this approach to women changing their names (besides the fact that it is the formal, traditional manner in which women in the U.S. historically have changed their names) is that it allowed me to keep so much of my existing identity (I didn’t use my given middle name much, just my initial) while still allowing me to show the progression of who I became after marrying my DH. 

Post # 5
Member
4194 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: July 2012 - Baltimore Museum of Industry

I think you’re right- you are creating a new person, in a sense. πŸ™‚ Just think of all the shifts that happen- my (almost) husband will be my emergency contact. It’s already started- when I was laid off from my job last year, he was the first person I called, not my Mom. For me, taking his last name is a symbol of the new family I’m starting. (Versus his symbol of wearing jewelry for the first time)

Like Brielle, I’m making my maiden my middle name- I don’t want to lose that part of me. It’s not an easy decision- I’ve planned all along to change my name, and last week I had an “Oh my God, my NAME is changing!!” freak-out.

It’s interesting- I feel closer to my mother’s side of the family- the maternal line runs deep, but I’ve never had that name. Very thought-provoking post! πŸ™‚

Post # 6
Member
1 posts
Wannabee
  • Wedding: December 1969

@Brielle:  This is what I’m planning on doing with my name. The women on my mother’s side have all used their maiden names as a middle name (at least back to my great grandmother). My mom gave my sister and I her maiden name as our middle names, which tied us to her side of the family and to our cousin. My sister took her husbands last name and changed her middle to our family name. Her son now has her maiden name as his middle name.

I plan to give my children my maiden name as their middle name. They can use it as they’d like, or not. I didn’t use mine growing up, and in college I started using just the initial. But they will always have the name in common with my family and their cousins.

For me, I think it will help me ease into having a new last name. I can start with First Maiden NewLast, until I feel comfortable enough to just be First NewLast, or however I decide to call myself. What made up my mind was realizing how important my fiance’s last name is to him. It’s a compromise I’m happy to make for him.

Post # 8
Member
3697 posts
Sugar bee

Also, for what it’s worth: it’s a cultural convention that we have three names, but there’s really no legal basis for it, and nothing to stop us from having more (or fewer). I know someone who was given only a first and last name at birth, no middle name at all, so when she married she tacked the new one on the end and her family name became her middle name … it would also be perfectly reasonable and acceptable to keep all four and be (First) (Middle) (Maiden) (Last). Basically the same idea as hyphenating, but without the hyphen. πŸ˜‰ And you could decide whether you wanted to use one or both last names as your regular last name.

Post # 10
Member
2254 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

Some food for thought, many Asian women do not change their name. We usually keep our our name even after marriage. Of course, that is changing as some adopt the Westernization practice of taking their husband’s name. Even though my FI has asked me to take his last name, I probably will not. At this point in my life, my name is so entrenched with my identity I couldn’t imagine another name even my future husband’s.

Post # 11
Member
1418 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

My last name is ethnic, and will become much more “American/European” once I get married. It stinks because I feel as though I am losing my heritage by changing my name, but I want my children to have the same last name as me and it becomes more difficult to change your name later in life. I think I will use my current last name as my middle name when I change everything!

Post # 12
Member
11354 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2009

@saron:  That’s great! πŸ™‚ It reminds me of what Katie Couric did with her girls’ names. The full name of her older daughter, Ellie, is Elinor Tully Monahan (Elinor Tully is Katie’s mom’s maiden name), and the full name of her younger daughter, Carrie, is Caroline Couric Monahan, featuring Katie’s (dad’s) last name.

Post # 13
Member
706 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

I had the same thoughts when DH and I got married.  The only issue with moving my maiden to middle was that I am deeply attached to my middle name (named after a relative).  Then, my last name is a woman’s first name also, so it wouldn’t be obvious that it was my maiden, and instead almost seems like a middle name anyway.

I initially told my DH that I wasn’t going to change my name.  It was part of me, who I was and I wasn’t going to take his name “just because” that’s how it’s been done.  Now, he was really wanting to have a family name, but I told him that I wouldn’t change unless he did.

And he did.  We are now Mr. & Mrs. Hisname-Myname.  We put his name first because that way he stays where he is in the alphabet, everything is still under that name when he calls people and it doesn’t sound like a woman’s name first.  When we have kids, they’ll be hyphenated as well.  Perfect solution for us.

Post # 14
Member
5096 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

I love how much thought you’ve given this, and I know you will make whatever decision is right for you in the end.  But one thing you said reminded me of something.

I often get frustrated by the objection that taking your husband’s name is no more patriarchal than keeping your own last name, since it was from your father. I really don’t think they’re comparable situations. Yes, your last name came from your father. But it was bestowed upon you at birth just like it was for your brother. But your brother isn’t expected to shed that name when he marries – it’s HIS name just as much as it is your father’s. And by the same token, it’s YOUR name just as much as it is your father’s or your brother’s. So if it feels like a name is an important marker of identity (I know it doesn’t to some people, which is fine), giving it up implies that your identity changes upon marriage.

That is a sacrifice and an assumption that are simply not asked of men.

Post # 15
Member
1319 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: January 2012

Being black, I find the cultural aspect of this much more interesting. Taking my (white) husband’s last name wasn’t a problem for me, because my name, too, is English. But I don’t think of it as foreign to me because I’m not African. I’m American, as are my grandparents, great grandparents, etc before me who had that name. Taking on a foreign name, regardless of my race, would be foreign in that it’s not American. I guess I don’t understand when you said it’s “your chance to have a legitimately African name.”

That said, if you’re having a hard time with it, just add his last name rather than changing it! Or don’t take his name at all. I feel like that’s a lot more common when one spouse has a foreign name.

Post # 16
Member
368 posts
Helper bee

@shychigirl:  “But then again, the fact that I have my father’s family name as my own rather than my mother’s (though my mother’s is my middle), I mean, is that really any less sexist?  At the very least, it shows our patrilineal view. But that particular sexist bit is not something I chose, it was given to me at birth.  Changing my last name would be me consciously participating in that world view.”

Yes, it is really less sexist. Your last name is not your father’s name; it’s YOUR name. He gave it to you, and it’s yours now. You have had it your whole life and made it your own. Like you say, you did not take that name as a conscious, tacit acceptance of the patriarchy; your dad gave it to you because he thought he was supposed to. And your dad did not give you that name to mark you as his property; had you been born a boy, you would have received the last name, just the same.

Saying “it’s my father’s name” does not cancel out the fact that changing your last name is a sexist tradition, and it does not make keeping your last name a bad or sexist choice. Nothing against women who change their name – I just don’t think that argument holds up at all when you scrutinize it. 

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