Post # 1
Hey bees! I’ve been reading since I got engaged a few weeks ago, but this is my first post.
Is anyone else struggling with feelings of resentment or spite about changing their name? I’ve never cared for the idea that women are expected to change their names, and the jury has been out for years on whether I will do it when I get married. With marriage actually iminent now, I’ve been weighing the pros and cons that are important to me, and I think I’m going to change it. It’s not a decision that thrills me, but I think it’s the correct one for my Fiance and me.
Anyway, here’s where the resentment comes in: my Fiance and I both agree that it would be much easier, as well as a nice sentiment, for us to share a last name and for any children we might someday have to have the same last name as us. (I know that’s not a given or true for everyone, but we both like the idea of sharing a common name within our new immediate family, and I’m not famous or published or established in my career yet.) What gets me is that I have to bear the entire cost of making that happen. I have to deal with the passport office and the DMV and the credit card companies and the post office and social security and whatever else. I have to deal with old friends or acquaintances or work contacts not being able to find me. Most significantly to me, I have to give up sharing a last name with my own family.
He’s unwilling to work with me on this at all. Won’t entertain a discussion of both using my last name. Won’t hyphenate. Won’t even accept my suggestion (which I thought was a great compromise!) to make my current last name his middle name, which I’m planning to do with my own. (Eg John Robert Smith and Jane Anne Doe would become John Doe Smith and Jane Doe Smith, with Doe being a middle name, not part of the last name.) I want him to honor my family and my history the same way I am honoring his by taking his last name. He can’t take away most of the annoyances of my name change, but he can help with the most important one. I really believe he’s listening and appreciates my concerns, but he just doesn’t think changing his name is the right choice.
So it feels like my options are to take on all the bureaucratic/social/professional/emotional costs associated with changing my name, or make a decision (ie, keep my name) that is, in our opinions, not the right one for my Fiance and me. I really don’t want to make a suboptimal choice out of spite, but I’m tempted to keep my name just to stick it to him! What do you guys think? I’m open to suggestions on how to convince Fiance to find a way to work my last name into his name, or on how (or if?) I ought to get over my annoyance that he gets to free ride on my name change. Thanks everybody – these feelings make me feel so immature and petty that I don’t want to talk about them IRL 🙂
Post # 3
I had these feelings. I am the last child in my family to get married of all girls. I’m still a bit upset that I don’t get to “carry the name on” for our children, but a) my dad is ok with this and b) by blood I will always be who I am, no matter what I change my name to, even if I change every name I have 100 times.
I did tell him though that as long as I am working in the company I am at currently, or as long as I am still in this industry, I am keeping the my last name for work purposes. It’ll come with me, changed, when I change industries and jobs. Everything else will be my married name. I am satisfied with that.
Remember – your mom wasn’t aways M Lastname. I’m sure she still feels true to herself.
Post # 4
Making a decision “just to stick it to him” doesn’t sound like a good way to start your marriage. That said, I totally get what you’re saying. I’m also planning to change my name because it was always very important to me (esp when my parents divorced) that we all had the same last name, and I want that for my children. But – like you said – it’s frustrating that the burden is on me. I’ve recently taken to writing my current name in the covers of all of my books, on boxes with my stuff in them and just about anywhere else that it can go. I think the best approach is to see how important it really is to you. For me, I think having little memontos of my old name will always make me smile, but having a common family name in the future is more important to me than mainaining my maiden name. If you place a higher value on your current name than I do on mine, maybe you should be keeping yours.
Essentially what I’m saying is do what’s right for you. If you’re going to do it, do it willingly.
Post # 5
I thought about this… I was not willing to give up my last name in the first place, but I was willing to add his name to mine *provided he did the same.* It was pretty shocking to me that he wasn’t even willing to add a middle name or something to represent the family that the two of us are becoming.
I do think it’s totally unfair that the burden is almost entirely on the woman to change her name / bring the family name together. What I’ve gone to realize is that with that burden comes the choice – it’s 100% my choice and even though I’m not making the choice he wants me to make (I’m not changing a thing about my name – it’s much more important to me than the idea of a shared last name that I sacrifice to create) he ultimately has no say over what I do. He can tell me what he prefers, and he can change his name to his heart’s desire, but he can’t make me do something that makes me uncomfortable.
I agree that doing it just out of spite (though I have to admit it’s satisfying) is not healthy. But neither is doing something that you immediately know is creating a gulf of resentment between the two of you. To me, being married means all the major decisions and turning points in life are things we go through together. If I’m changing my name (to some people, not a big deal, but to me HUGE) and he’s not going through that with me then we’re immediately starting our partnership with a divide and with the resentment that I KNOW changing will cause me. So I’d suggest you think about that, but also think about the positives of both keeping and changing. Remember whatever you do you don’t have to do right away. Plenty of women wait until children are on the immediate horizon before making a final decision.
Post # 6
I wouldn’t do something out of spite, not a good way to start a marriage at all. Personally, I wasn’t attached to my maiden name and didn’t really have the same dilemma as you are having. I didn’t think it was that big of a hassle though, all my friends knew I was changing it and after changing it with the SSA and DMV everything else was pretty much sending a copy of my license to change it.
Post # 7
i didn’t mind changing my last name to his. i wanted to be a family, and i guess i’m traditional like that. my husband was very supportive and helped me through the name changing process. maybe you can have your husband come with you to a lot of those places and wait in those lines, that way you’re doing it together. and just b/c you don’t have the same last name as your family doesn’t make them any less your family.
Post # 8
I had this exact same problem. I wanted to chose a neutral last name, Fiance refused. Eventually I just chose to keep my own. Our kids names will be hyphenated, as I’m sure Christmas cards etc. will be. I know that “sticking it to him” doesn’t sound right, but to me neither did following a patriarchal tradition.
Post # 9
I feel similar. Fiance and I came upon an agreement: we will both keep our own last name and our children will be hyphenated.
Anyone ask Fiance to take your last name?
Post # 10
Some cultures don’t do this. I am so lucky that my FI’s culture doesn’t do last name changes. Everyone keeps their last names and children have two last names. I come from the states and my mother took my father’s last name. So my name is Julita ” Roe.” Fi name is John Doe Sow. Doe is is father’s last name is Sow is his mother’s last name. When we have kids, they will be Child Doe Roe. Dad’s first last name first and then mom’s first last name. This is how they do it in most spanish speaking countries.
And tradition only goes so far. I am not knocking people who choose to change their names, but if it is something that gives you pause, you don’t have to do it. A lot of other traditions have gone by the wayside and nobady notices. Just because it’s a tradition, doesn’t mean it’s correct. Also, it’s quite machista. Fiance says it all started when a bride’s father gave her over to become ” property” of the groom. In other cultures, name changes don’t happen and the children don’t have any sort of identity crisis.
Ultimately, you need to do what feels right for you. Don’t do anything out of spite, but there is nothing wrong with not wanting to change your name.
Post # 11
we have a few family friends that the woman just hyphenated her last name. or made her last name a second middle name. and took her husbands last name. it is a hard decision to make. i love my last name and the family it belongs to. but i am going to change it because while the times have changed, yes, he is going to be my husband and is taking me into his family and i personally feel that i should take his last name. oh! but what my aunt did is gave her son her maiden name as a middle name. that way they kept it in the family. idk! good luck!
Post # 12
personally i’m a very traditionalist in that i’ve not had any issues with changing. i LOVE my family name and am very proud to be a part of my family – but FOR ME – it’s never been a question, I would (and did) change just my last name.
now. that being said – if it’s “carrying on” of the name you’re concerned with – one thing my mom’s cousin did – instead of doing the middle name thing (which sounds like you’re going to do – which I think is cool) – also give your first child your maiden name as his/her middle name.
I believe that’s an extremely fair compromise – if it’s an option. so your name is right now Jane Ann Doe and his is John Robert Smith…yours becomes Jane Doe Smith and your CHILD’s becomes “Jim Doe Smith” as well.
Just a suggestion. 🙂 now – while I AM a traditionalist – I DO have to say that I agree it’s NOT fair that as far as literal COST goes, the girls are the ones that have to go through the pains of going to allll lengths and PAYING to change our name. the whole process itself is costly and a bit re the ridiculous – it should be easier and cheaper…
good luck in whatever you decide!
Post # 13
Thanks for all the wisdom, everyone. I’m trying to articulate my feelings, even just to myself, and I think this is the best way to put it: sharing a name with your spouse and children definitely has its benefits. For some women, they outweigh the costs (whether it’s the filing fee or the connection to your family or the professional recognition or whatever else) of changing their name, and for others, they are not enough. It’s easy to focus on the benefts when you pay none of the cost. In this case, it’s easy for him to like the idea of sharing a last name with me if he doesn’t have to change his to make it happen.
I think that’s the heart of my problem with the Fiance: it’s not that I want him to “suffer” like me with the name change, but imposing on him the cost of changing his middle name or adding a hyphen or whatever forces him to weigh the pros and cons too. So his refusal to change anything makes it seem like he values the shared name a little bit, but not enough to make a change that could be much smaller than the one he’s asking me to make (middle name vs last name).
All that being said, I still think that I will change my name even if he is unwilling to do the same.
Post # 14
My FH loves that I want to keep my last name and will probably change his name to mine. I was formerly engaged to someone else, who didn’t mind me keeping my last name, but refused to even consider taking mine, hyphenating, doing the middle name thing, etc. I realized that if he wouldn’t listen or budge or compromise on this, it did not bode well for our marriage. Marriage is about compromise, and when my ex refused to budge, I knew it was inappropriate for us to be together