Your name is something you have from the very beginning. From that first breath, you enter the world with an identity, a name. After six years of marriage and two kids, my name is still a little riddle that stumps many family and friends. I made the decision to not change my name after we got married, and it was met with a lot of commentary and even more raised eyebrows.
I could have gone the hyphen route, used my last name as my middle name or some combination of the two, but I didn’t, and it’s simply because I didn’t want to. I had spent, well my whole life, establishing an identity and didn’t see a reason to change that. My husband and I discussed this beforehand and he completely understood, so this wasn’t an all the sudden “nope, not doing that” kind of thing.
Even in today’s modern world it seems that a woman not changing her name after marriage is still met with a dash of controversy. But why?
Here are five reasons I chose to keep my last name.
- It’s my identity.
This is what I have been called my entire life. It’s a reflection of who I am and it’s part of the niche I have carved for myself in this big ol’ world. I didn’t really understand why it was expected that I just go ahead and change my name simply because I fell in love and decided to get married. We don’t expect men to go ahead and alter their identity when they get married, right?
- I love him, but I don’t want to be him.
We dated for five years before tying the knot; I knew that we complemented each other and brought out the best in one another. This balance is what makes our relationship work. I married my husband because I love and respect him, not because I want to be more like him.
- Tradition isn’t convincing enough for me.
I understand that tradition is the driving force behind changing your name after marriage, and I think it is a sweet sentiment, but it wasn’t convincing enough for me. My dad and my stepmom (though writing the word ‘step’ seems a bit odd because that’s never what I have referred to her as) have been together for over twenty years and never tied the knot. My husband and I lived together before marriage and ended up eloping while we lived in Hawaii. It’s safe to say that tradition wasn’t at the forefront of our lives. For me, just because something is traditionally done doesn’t mean that it makes sense or must continue on.
- It’s not a big deal to us.
This whole last name thing has been more of an issue for everyone except us. My husband understands my reasons and it isn’t an issue in our marriage. When our children were born we decided to give them my husband’s last name (because hyphenating a last name that is already fourteen letters long, just seemed a bit excessive). It doesn’t bother me that my children have my husband’s last name. I carried them for nine months and have been here every single day of their lives. They know I am “mama” and that’s the name that I like best.
- I’m snubbing convention.
A bit of it is that I haven’t run into a truly compelling reason. I was a strong woman before meeting my husband and I am a strong woman in our marriage. I don’t see a reason to follow convention in every aspect of my life. At the end of the day, I have the last say and it’s my decision.
My husband and I do have a running joke regarding my last name, and that is, on our fiftieth wedding anniversary I will go ahead and take his last name. We will be in our mid-seventies and at that point I will march on down to the social security office and fill out those forms. Wait, is that even where you go? Luckily, I have decades to figure out the process.