Monday, March 19, 2012

Name Game

I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned it on this blog, but when I got married in October 2009, I kept my maiden name. This was not something I had always thought I'd do, but like many things in life, when I decided not to change my last name, it felt like this was a decision I'd always known I'd make. Does that make sense? I remember tell my now husband, "I think I want to keep my last name. Is that something that would bother you?" He responded, as he often does, that I could do what I wanted. He then added, "But if we ever have kids, they can have my name, right?"

See, my husband and I are quite traditional in our roles in this relationship. We both gravitate toward traditional roles, and he makes his life's mission (or so it feels to me) to make me happy every day. His agreeing to allow me to keep my name is just another example. I say "allowing" and have to laugh though, because he knew if I brought it up, it was important to me, and it wasn't something that was really important to him, so of course he "allowed it". Had it meant a lot to him we share his last name, I'd probably have changed my name, or made my maiden name my last name. Who knows? What was cute was thinking about fictional children, and imagining trying to tell him that our child would have to have my name....Even I'm too traditional for that. And I hate hyphenating. No judgement to those who hyphen, but it's not my thing.

So I never changed my last name. When I order Christmas cards, I sign them as if we have the same last name. I don't want to confuse people. I don't feel like explaining. But for the first year of our marriage, I did have to explain. And I sometimes felt badly, like maybe I was missing out on the final step in cementing our relationship. I had and sometimes still have mixed emotions about it. Yet, I am me. My name is my identity. I'm no feminist, far from it, but I don't identify with his last name as my name. I'm so glad I have a husband who gets that struggle. If we ever do decide to have a baby, I might change my name. In the meantime, I know I'm committed to our marriage. I know I'm his wife. And I can be both me, and Mrs. B. That works for us.

I'm bringing all this up because I just read this post on Reclaiming Wife. This guy is taking his soon to be wife's last name. This got me thinking. That blog often talks about name changing and the editor has a whole hyphenating system worked out she favors. I guess the point is that people should be able to do what works for them. B changing his last name never once occurred to me. I have struggled with other people's perceptions of our marriage because we don't share a name, but like I typically do, I realized I care not what others think of me. :) And I wouldn't like B taking my name. To me, I am SWE and he is RGA. And his family shares a name and so does mine. Our little family (the cat has his name....) is two people coming together and last names have nothing to do with it, for us, for now.

I'd like to know if any of my readers struggled with this. I can't say I've struggled, but we talked about it. And I did question myself. Like I said, had it been really important, I'd of compromised, because sometimes that is part of a relationship. Though, I feel compromise is overrated. If you are in a relationship with the right person, you don't actually need to compromise because you already agree. So let's talk, did you change your name happily, grudgingly, did you hyphen, ect.? I'm curious, and if you read that article, let me know your thoughts. That guy is pretty progressive, and I think it's interesting he took her name so easily.


Suburban Princess said...

I just dont like the new gender roles. It has worked for thousands of years...why suddenly now is this an issue? Why does some man changing his name make the news?

I didn't legally change my name, for no reason other than it took almost a year to get the marriage certificate and by then I was over it. I use my husband's name except for legal purposes like medical, passport, banking etc. Everyone knows me by my husband's name otherwise. No one ever bats an eye if I have to use my maiden name tho sometimes I forget to answer to it!

Our son has my last name as his second middle name and husband's name as his last name. Mostly because I didn't want my last name to end with me.

Mrs. Type A said...

I changed my name when I got married and was very excited to do so. I had no problem with my maiden name, so it wasn't like I was glad to "get rid of it." My husband and I were high school sweethearts and dated for almost 10 years before we got married. We lived together for three years before getting married. Changing my name was one of the things that really signified to me that we were man and wife (in addition to combining our finances, that is!). I was excited to take his last name so that I could publicly signify to the world that we belonged together as a family. I wouldn't say my marriage is based on totally traditional gender roles-- i.e. he is the primary cleaner in the house, we are both lawyers and I make more money then he does.... but something about this just felt "right" to me. I really think it's a personal choice, though!!

LPC said...

I think it's dopey that women are supposed to change their names. So, I'm with Meg (Reclaiming Wife), on this one.

Brandy said...

Actually, I was excited to take my husband's name. No judgment on those who choose not to, or who hyphenate. But for me, it was just another way of showing him I loved him and embarking on our marriage adventure. It might have been weird at first, it takes a little getting used to. But I was willing to get used to it. I love that we have the same last name.