Neighbors: What’s In A (Married) Name?

Jun 24, 2008

A wedding will soon take place in Poplar Bluff, and, not surprisingly, the bride is busy seeing to the arrangements for the couple’s simple gathering for family and friends.

The major bits of the ceremony are coming together nicely; but there are things apart from the wedding itself that require thought and action as well. Taking a husband’s surname—when you are already well-established in professional, medical, insurance, government, credit, banking, and bill-paying circles by another name entirely…

That would be one of those things.

“It’s a second marriage,” the bride-to-be begins, “so the name that I would otherwise be keeping would be my daughter’s father’s name. I’ve had that name a very long time, and I’m just ready to let that go.

“To me, the new name just symbolizes part of my new life, and I am pleased to take it, ” she says, adding, “I think the only thing that would have kept me from doing it is if my daughter was still small. I would have kept her father’s name. But she’s a big girl now, so…”

When asked whether there might be a political or social aspect to her choice, the 40-something educator responds, “I don’t have any political feelings about keeping a name or not keeping it. There are people who hyphenate the two names, but actually, I think that’s stupid,” she confides, citing the potential confusion for others regarding the surname of any children of the marriage, since this can differ from family to family.

Too, she notes, “I teach and see children with long, long names that are difficult for them. And the names change, too”.

Well, what of the now-common option of a bride retaining her own family name upon marrying? Our teacher sees this possibility as “a cool idea; I understand the thinking behind it. But it’s not practical, I don’t think. Again, you have to determine what you’re going to call the kids…I do have a friend who kept her name, but the children carried her husband’s”.

Ironically, in deciding to go with long-established tradition, this bride-to-be has found herself up to her eyeballs in paperwork issuing from the many offices that will need to update their records. But she’s philosophical about the effort involved.

“If I’d wanted things easier, I would have kept the name I’ve got. But I guess I’m just sentimental about this change.

“For me, taking my husband’s name was symbolic the first time, and it is now as well. Symbolic of starting the new life.”

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How do other people see it? These days, are American women, for the most part, going with their own family names, sticking with custom, or choosing to “hyphenate”?

Above is a link on how some women are retaining their own family names after marriage for reasons of ethnic identity, rather than the feminism that led many to do so in earlier times–keeping-the-last-name.aspx

My fiancee wants to keep her ex’s name! What do I do!?

Different couples; different strategies; different reasons for choosing as they did…

Another real-life story, followed by blog comments representing a wide range of views on “To Change, or Not to Change”