not in Primary anymore

a reason to change my name

Name-changing in marriage is a fascinating concept. Or perhaps just the attitudes around it are fascinating, since the name change itself isn’t (typically) that interesting. It is one of those things where, if a woman were to protest the expectation to change her name, people would respond, “oh, come on, it is just a name, it isn’t a big deal.” But yet some people seem to make a pretty big deal about it if she doesn’t change her name, which leads me to wonder why, if it isn’t such a big deal to change your name, isn’t it not such a big deal to keep your maiden name? I figured out a few years ago that if I get married, I won’t be offended if my spouse doesn’t want to follow the tradition of sharing a last name. It made even more sense to me that my spouse might not want to take my name if she didn’t have siblings that had kept her family name, but still wanted her family’s name to continue.

Once I came to that conclusion, it didn’t take long for me to realize why I might want to change my name if I get married. My mother is one of two siblings, and neither my mom nor my aunt kept her maiden name. My middle name is my mother’s maiden name, and I actually share that middle name with one of my brothers. So, my mother perpetuated her family name even though none of her children carry her family name as a family name—only a middle name. Growing up, my mother frequently told me how much I was like my grandfather, her father. Even though he passed away before I was born, I feel a certain connection to him because of the stories my mother told me about him. Since my grandfather’s name hasn’t been continued by his children, I think it would be fitting and appropriate for me to carry on his family name if I have a family of my own. If my spouse likes the idea, we could even share that name. But, of course, this is all up for discussion.

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8 Responses to “a reason to change my name”

  1. EH

    It was never really an issue for me to take my husbands name because I think it is nice when you have children for all the family to have the same name. I do know a same-sex couple that combined elements of their original names to make a new name, which I think is a great idea as it shows you are starting a new family together.

    Reply
  2. lostamongthecorn

    My wife told me my last name was boring when we were engaged, and I was thrilled. She has her name and keeps her identity; I have my last name and keep mine. We’ll name the children (wife’s name)-(my name), and they can decide whatever the hell they want to do with it when they’re adults.

    Reply
  3. Sandy

    I kept my name when I married, but I didn’t think of it as keeping my “maiden” name, I thought of it as keeping my “own” name. Sorry, but that whole “maiden name” concept strikes me as so very sexist. When people said “It’s still your father’s name,” I responded that “My daughter will be able to say it is her mother’s name,” (My son had his father’s last name, my daughter had mine.) And she does. And her daughter will.

    Reply
    • Asriel

      The whole concept of “maiden name” really is so archaic. Today I was introduced to the term “birth name” (thanks, Wikipedia). This term is gender-neutral, and can be applied in any case of name-change–such as a stage or pen name, for instance.

      Reply
  4. ssj

    I changed my name, and didn’t really think about it. After it was all said and done, it felt really weird. The name wasn’t weird, it just didn’t feel like my name. I wish I didn’t change it. Now I’m too lazy to change it back, so I’m keeping it now. Some good friends of mine hyphenated their name when they got married. Both of them changed their names.

    Reply
  5. gwendolyn

    i didn’t change my name, and my husband was not happy about it at first. but i refused to give in, and he eventually got used to it. i would even say that he had his own feminist awakening, and that it doesn’t bother him much at all now. i don’t know what to do with last names, because ultimately you have a man’s name either way. but it felt weird to suddenly call myself something else because we were getting married, without any symmetry on his side. the best was when my sister in law told me that it made us less of a family because i didn’t take his last name. i think i just told her that her idea of family and mine were different, so she shouldn’t worry about it.

    Reply
  6. Bethany

    My husband was a little hurt at the beginning when I was deciding whether to hyphenate or keep my own name. Now he doesn’t really care, as the OP said “It’s just a name. I am frustrated that the church took it upon themselves to change my name for me as soon as I got married without checking what names I was planning to keep. BYU-I did this also— but no surprise there.

    Reply
  7. Anonymous

    I am not from the United States, and I have seen that the importance given to it stems from a more cultural tradition than anything else. In my culture, women don’t change names when they are married, and children gain two last names, their mother’s and father’s first last names. So each child has a first name, a middle name, and two last names. The parents choose which last name goes first. In schools, in official papers, and in general, everyone writes out all four of their names. It really works great for everyone, and gets rid of the whole “but the children won’t share the same last name as their mother” issue. As I get ready to marry an American man, I find myself wondering what his family will think when we tell them that their grandchildren will have two last names, as I have seen that for some people it is a big deal. I pray that they won’t take it in offense, because if they do, I am afraid because of my different cultural upbringing, I truly will not be able to understand their problem.

    Reply

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