Post # 1
I have all kinds of time before the wedding, but I’ve been kind of getting the feeling that FI would like it if I changed my name, and finally he came out and said so.
Here’s the thing: one, I have a pretty unique name overall, my first and middle names are not common, and my last name is Dad’sLast-Mom’sLast, and Mom’s is not common either, so I’m 99.999% sure I’m the only person who has my last name. Since I’m already hypenated, I can’t exactly re-hypenate, and my name is already so long that I couldn’t possibly keep my last by making it be my middle name.
Then the other part, for me, is that… even with the administrative hassle it can be, 1) I really like my name like it is and identify very strongly with it (like, my last name is my email address. No first, just the last.), and 2) I’m just getting started in my career, and I don’t think the people I do know in my field would know who I was with a new last name, so that feels like a loss too.
FI has suggested things like using his name in personal life and keeping my own for work, but I don’t really think he gets it. My mom has never changed her name and most of the women I grew up around didn’t either. I just never thought anyone would want me to change my name, but I also feel really bad about holding my ground because I can tell it means something to him.
What would you do?
Post # 3
Don’t change it.
It seems pretty clear to me that you don’t want to. I was in a similar position. I love my last name, identify with it, never imagined myself changing it. I’m pretty sure my fiance knew this, and at one point he came out and admitted that he’d actually really love it if I changed it.
I was torn… I really want to make him happy. I love him and want to give him all good things in life. But this was not something I want to do, it’s something very personal to me, and it’s a decision he doesn’t really have to be faced with.
I felt guilty about not doing what he wanted for a few days, but then I realized that if I was doing it solely based on his wants and not my own, it would be a miserable process. I would be upset with myself and with him every step of the way, on some level. I think it’s fine if women do choose to change their names, but it has to come from your wants and not someone else’s, not even your future husband’s.
The more time goes by since those conversations, the happier I am that I’m not changing my name. I did promise not to get super pissed off if people happen to call me Mrs. HisLast (though I suspect he’ll also get addressed as Mr. MyLast sometimes, since I handle all the financial stuff and my name ends up on the bills). You can go a step further if you want and suggest that it’s okay if his family/friends of yours call you Mrs. His Last even without legally changing your name.
After all, he probably has the same desires to give you wonderful, happy-making things as you do for him. While his ideal might be a future wife who would love to take his name and embrace it, he loves you and would rather have you being happy with yourself and happy with the decisions you are making as you marry him, than someone who is full of sorrow and regret as she makes that change.
ETA: Have you considered adding his last name as a middle name for yourself? I thought about doing this, but my middle name is after a relative who died in childhood so I’m pretty attached to it. But maybe something like that would work for you as a way of doing something for him while still holding onto your name. Also, all my advice was written with my interpretation of your post that if he didn’t have an opinion, you would absolutely want to keep your name. That’s the sense I get, and I think it’s really hard to feel positive and excited about making the change in a situation like that.
Post # 4
I think it’s a decision everyone needs to make for themselves, but since you ask “what would you do”… I would change my name, since I did 🙂
I have sort of the opposite feeling about it. I feel that my identity is something I carry with me because of who *I* am, not because of what my name is. My family is still my family, my values still come from them, and I am still me!
At the same time, I place a great value on sharing the same last name with my husband. To me it is a similar feeling to being proud of wearing our wedding rings – something that symbolizes our unity as a family to the outside world. And when we have kids I think I will be happier having us all share the same last name.
So that’s just my way of thinking about it, but if you feel differently and think you would be resentful of changing it, you should stick to that!
Post # 5
@rolling berry: I think of it exactly like you do! My identity isn’t defined by my name; its defined by me and changing my name doesn’t change that or change my family or my values or my ties.
And sharing a name with my husband is another symbol (like our rings) of our unity and commitment to each other.
OP – You certianly don’t have to change your name and it really is a decision you have to make yourself. But personally, I would change it (and I did!).
Post # 6
Thank you all for sharing your perspectives, this is all really interesting.
@rollingberry and FutureKNM: I think this is how my FI looks at it, as a symbol of unity and commitment. I think it’s good for me to try to see it from his point of view.
@Entangled: It’s also a big help to hear from someone with a similar perspective. You’re absolutely right that if he had no opinion, I would definitely not be considering changing my name, and I think I would feel very resentful if I went ahead with it because it would make him happy. I really like the idea of using his last as a middle name! I might not even get rid of my middle name, and my full name is so crazy long already that it wouldn’t be a big deal to have it be a little longer. And it might make him happy to have it come before my last name, you know? That’s definitely something to consider.
Post # 7
Honestly i would change the last name for him. You still get to keep your first and middle name. And if it means allot to him than do it. Also when you have children don’t you want to all share the same name as a family.
Post # 8
@Entangled: Totally agree with everything you said!
Post # 9
I agree with Entangled – you clearly don’t want to change it, so you shouldn’t. If he feels so strongly about having the same name, he can change his.
Post # 10
Also, no TG fan I know would get with a guy who guilted her into changing her name. Come on now.
Post # 11
@Beluga: Hahaha, excellent point.
Great movie, though. We are totally playing the cover of Let’s Fall in Love from that movie at our wedding.
Also, before this becomes a totally useless comment, I’ll say that I get the idea about a shared last name creating family unity. I get how that can seem important to him, and to you and it’s awesome to have that when the person actually making the change is excited about it. I just think there’s other things that outweigh that unity when the woman doesn’t have any desire of her own to take his name. To some women, their name is not a big deal, but to others it is. It’s very much a part of my identity, the same way it seems to be with yours. To me, giving something like that up upon marriage doesn’t feel like unity, it feels like a reminder of historical and regressive family structures. It feels like something being totally off balance between the two of us as we start our lives together.
Just like you’re dealing with some shock and adjustment at his opinion, he may be dealing with some shock and adjustment at your potential decision. To my fiance, that was a big part of it. He’s not so much upset that I’m keeping my last name, as he was somewhat taken aback at realizing that while he’d imagined someday being married to a Mrs. HisLast, he wasn’t going to have that and it wasn’t his decision to make.
Post # 12
@Beluga: Hah, it would be great if he changed his name! And…yeah. I kind of forgot that was my username, I’m not sure how recognized it is around here, but yeah– if he was being guilt-trippy about it, you better believe there would be trouble. I’ve got the self-guilting covered here!
@Entangled: Yeah, as you may have guessed, I also have a fair amount of feminist baggage about the patriarchal stuff. He’s pretty awesome as a feminist, but he didn’t grow up around that viewpoint necessarily. His mom stayed home and took care of the kids…but neither he nor I wants kids and my career is in a field where taking your man’s name doesn’t earn you any brownie points, you know? Thanks for the support.
Post # 13
@roxy_angell13: Well… I get where you’re coming from, but I think it’s not the same place I’m coming from. For one, I don’t want kids, and for two, in the family I grew up in, we all had completely different last names and weren’t any less a family because of it. If it meant a lot to him, I might be more open to it, but I think it’s just that he never thought of anything else happening.
Post # 14
I am not changing my name.
Have you had a discussion about what it symbolizes to him for you to change your name? Why it’s something he wants? If it’s family unity, there are a lot of different ways to go about it. He could take your name, you could both hyphenate, you could take his last name as your new middle name and he could do the same…he could also come to realize that it is a SYMBOL of family unity; but it doesn’t determine family unity.
It’s really hard for me to think of a rationale for women changing their names that doesn’t apply to men too. So if he’s not equally willing to change his…then he shouldn’t pressure you to change yours.
Post # 15
I didn’t change my name. and he wanted me to.
I was on the edge for a long long time but ultimately felt I didn’t want to.
It doesn’t make us any less married, or commited or a family. I asked him if he would want to change his name ( i didnt want him to) and he said no. I told him it was unfair to expect me to do something he wasn’t willing to do and he finally came around—he’s just more traditional and it hadn’t crossed his mind that I might Not change my name.
Post # 16
@mightywombat: Yeah, we’ve started to have a discussion, but at the time I was so not ready to hear what he wanted that we kind of left it for later. I think it will really help to discuss things that could provide the symbolism he’s interested in with more of a shared contribution. Because the “norm” can definitely be a one-way street from my perspective.
@fiver: Absolutely. Like I said up-thread, my immediate family has all different last names–that’s not what makes a family. I don’t particularly want him to change his name either, but I think I might present it as a hypothetical to help him understand my side of the thing.