Prev Next

The Name Game


One of the issues I’m most passionate about in weddings and marriage is name changing. Not because I think everyone should do it one way (far from it), but because I think it’s an extremely complicated issue for most women (even if the complication is, “I want to change my name and I feel fine about it; SHOULD I feel fine about it?”) and it’s an issue most men don’t even think about. In my most passionate plea on the subject I wrote Name Changing: Don’t Be Quiet About It, trying to get us all to make a personal issue into one our partners, and hopefully society, shared. So, I’m just beyond thrilled to give you Tristan (a huge APW reader!), the groom in last week’s joyful courthouse wedding, writing about taking his wife’s last name. His post goes to the heart of partnership and the real emotional power of names.

The Name Game | A Practical Wedding

Erika and I, like many readers of APW, slid gently into engagement rather than in one momentous display. First came discussions about whether either of us was even in favor of marriage (previously, we were both firmly opposed—funny how finding the right person changes your mind on that subject). We discussed conceptual children and what became very real plans to move across the country. There is still some disagreement between us whether I asked her to take her name (her contention) or if she beat me to the punch (which is the clear memory that I have) but not long after we decided to get married, before we even announced it to the world, we knew I’d be taking her last name. It wasn’t a very fraught decision. I know it’s supposed to be a big deal for the husband to take the wife’s name, but for us it just wasn’t. We wanted to share a name to symbolize that we were a family together, and since we’d both come of age in pretty strong queer communities, we knew we didn’t have to abide by anyone’s rules but the ones we made for ourselves. We didn’t really get any push back from the people in our lives, and while my parents were a little reticent at first, they recognized that there wasn’t any reason I shouldn’t take Erika’s name other than “tradition.”

The whole process was complicated by neither of us using our birth names in our day-to-day lives. Her “last name” was her professional last name (she’s an actor), which she hadn’t yet gotten around to legally changing. This was another reason for me to take her name; Erika had already established a professional identity under that name. For her, that name was her brand. If that been the only issue, we could have just selected her stage name for both of us when we signed the marriage license. But I had been using a different first name for over twenty years (anyone who learned my legal first name tended to be baffled by how wrong it was for me), so clearly, this was an opportunity for us to get all our names changed in one fell swoop. I would change my entire name, first and last, and when we married she would “take” her own professional name.

In California, at least, changing your name through the courts (which I had to do because I was changing my first name as well as my last) is a fairly involved and somewhat expensive process. I got advice from a transwoman I work with, but she’d done it years ago with assistance from the transgender law center, and so some of her experience was glossed over and out of date. In June I filled out the numerous forms. I paid a lawyer to look them over and was glad I did; as with any legal document there was plenty to get wrong. Another $400 and a month later I had a court date, then two months more, to give time to publish my name change for six weeks in a local weekly (another $100). (As late as 2007, this was the only way a man in California could take his wife’s name; at over $600 dollars vs. $80, one could see why it would get challenged under the equal protection clause). However, as I was changing both my given name and my surname, that victory for equality in the California court system did not, alas, help me.

The court date in October was anticlimactic. “This is your old name? This is your new name? Did I pronounce it right? Great, you’re done.” By now we were solidly into wedding planning; we’d decided on a reception venue and were deciding on menus, preparing to send out invitations. We finalized a date, I got fitted for a fancy suit, and Erika asked, “What do you think will be different when we’re married? How will you feel?”

“Like this,” I said. “I don’t think anything will change.” It came up more in the succeeding weeks. I felt like we had a solid commitment, that the wedding was just a party attached to some legal niceties. What could be different? There was clearly a disconnect over this between us, but I couldn’t understand it.

I don’t remember when, exactly, I figured it out, but it was near the end of December. Everything I’d done to change my name I’d done without Erika. Names have a lot of power, so much of one’s identity is wrapped up in a name, and all those things that a person frets about when they change their name in a marriage, I’d already done. I’d signed papers and had a little ceremony, no matter how prosaic, and had done it without my wife by my side. Erika was still standing on the other side of that divide, and she was there without me.

Fortunately, it wasn’t hard to come back over. For starters, all the shared anxiety over our impending event was actually a great bond. Moreover, as much as I felt like I’d already changed over, I was wrong. A wedding is different. The ceremony is incredibly powerful, more overwhelming than I could have known. I cried like a baby. I still tear up to think of it now. That party where you cavort around and drink champagne and eat with people who are there to celebrate this impossible leap with you is more than just a party. To come home and hold your new wife in your arms is completely different than holding her the night before. I’d taken Erika’s name, and with it a part of her, a part of her identity, but until I stood up and said my vows I wasn’t truly married, no matter how blasé I’d felt before.

After it’s all done, it doesn’t really make any difference to the world at large. Our rules and promises are still for us, and we don’t care what anyone else thinks; indeed, keeping separate names would be more likely to garner comments, would be more noticeable, now and in the future, than my taking her name. As my best friend pointed out, taking Erika’s name isn’t really any kind of feminist statement, it’s still buying into the normative experience with a minor change. Feminism and a willingness to buck tradition allow for the choice, but one of us is still subsuming some aspect of our identity in the other. Strangers will assume we follow the standard narrative, and anyone we care about will understand.

What would I have done differently? What advice do I have for myself almost a year ago? Take her with you to the courthouse. Yes, it will be inconvenient. It may take longer, since you have to sync up your schedules to choose dates when both of you can put off other commitments. But for pre-wedding Tristan, and anyone else making this kind of change in your life, I say make sure that your spouse-to-be is there with you. Frankly, it’s good advice going forward too. Look out for those important markers, those life changes, and no matter how banal the process is, make your partner a partner. When you change, change together.

Photo of Erika & Tristan’s Wedding by: LittleBat Photography (APW Sponsor)

More in Recent Posts Staff Picks

[Read comment policy before commenting]

  • Carbon Girl

    I love that advice about being there for each other at important life markers. Pretty much the advice I need today.

  • http://www.myhonestanswer.com/ my honest answer

    “Change together” is going to be my new motto (and I think it needs to be on an AWP t-shirt).

    What a great story.

    • http://nickandnoragettingmarried.wordpress.com Annie

      Agreed! I feel like that’s a fantastic summary of marriage.

    • Jessica

      Exactly!

  • Vmed

    “Look out for those important markers, those life changes, and no matter how banal the process is, make your partner a partner. When you change, change together.”

    This. Yes.

  • Ruth

    When we got engaged in March, I told my fiance that I wasn’t going to change my name, which I think is what he expected. I told him that I’d follow a suggestion I’d read (I think on APW?), and keep my name, but fail to correct people who called me by his last name. When he said he would do the same thing, at first I thought he was kidding. But he pointed out that people we meet in the future who know my name first would be likely to assume we had the same name, and call him by it.

    I can’t let go of my name, since I’m the last person who will ever have it and since my dad died a few years ago. But this is a good compromise way for us to experience the “we’re a team” of having the same last name, in a nice, equally discordant way.

    • pixie_moxie

      I love this!

  • Pingback: Reclaiming Husband: The Name Game « A Practical Wedding … | Wedding Reception Party

  • Ashley

    Those last two lines WHOA! You guys always have a way of saying just what I need to hear. Also great post I think you really caqpture what name changing can mean for alot of us.

  • Sarah E

    Obviously names are strongly connected to identity. Interestingly, when I was taking a sociology course from an instructor who researched marriage and family issues, she told us this conclusion: according to research she and others had done, most women who don’t change their name in marriage are simply avoiding the hassle of all the paperwork, rather than making a statement. Another point for “traditions only have meaning when we give them meaning.”

    • Maddie

      That’s interesting, because that is the EXACT answer I would have given when I made the decision not to change my name, because I was just too scared to admit that I really wanted to keep my name. I wonder how many people really do just want to avoid the pain of dealing with name-changing and how many people are like me and have found that to be a convenient way to explain the decision?

      • katieprue

        It depends on who I’m talking to. If it’s someone that I know will understand, I will just say, “Ya know, it’s just not what my heart wants. This is my name.” But yes, if there is someone that I want to avoid a vexing conversation with, I will just say, “Oh it’s such a HASSLE, you know!” So honestly it’s a little bit of both and I definitely tailor my thoughts on it to my audience.

      • http://gonetobudapest.wordpress.com Emily Rae

        “Paperwork” makes for a really convenient excuse, because of international-paperwork stuff, moved out of country right after the wedding, blah blah. But honestly I don’t know if I want to change my name. I have no set answer either way, I`m really not sure what I want, so I do fall back on the `paperwork’ reason, and probably that’s what I would tell a reasearcher. It’s for sure what I tell my in-laws.

      • Another Meg

        Second time around- changed my name the first time, changed it right back, and not changing it again. And here is my response to that- can’t it be both? After the hassle of changing my name twice already, I would no way do it again. But! I also missed my last name when I was married. If pressed to give only one reason, not sure what I would say.

    • meg

      Yeah, I don’t know if that is actually true, regardless of what people say to researchers. Not taking your husband’s name is a HUGE social statement (sadly, still) that you will have to fight with people over for years. The paperwork is almost painless, if you’re doing a normal name change during the marriage process. So I call bullshit. I don’t know a single woman (myself very much included) who didn’t keep her name because she thought it was gut level important and had her reasons. Though, the answer I would have given right after the wedding (re: not hyphenating) is that “we just weren’t sure yet.” That answer wouldn’t have been accurate.

      • Jane

        What is interesting for me is that it hasn’t really been a big deal at all that I didn’t change my name. Right after we got married, we moved from one of the most liberal to one of the most conservative parts of the country, and nobody has batted an eyelash. Sometimes I get called by his last name (and let it slide) and every now and then he gets called by mine. But oddly, nobody has said a thing to me from day one. I was actually really surprised.

        • cartascartas

          I got A TON of crap, the night OF the wedding from his family. And also since. Even at work. From the HR person! From his family, they insisted that night, even after I explained that it is actually not traditional where I am from and then they implied a lack of commitment to my new family and “wasn’t I worried ppl would think I have illegitimate children?”. (Nope, actually. Children are never counterfeit.) and also made an assimilation argument which was not only culturally insensitive but also so terribly timed.

          But anyway. I explain to most people that I didn’t change my name because that’s not the way it’s done in my culture and also I’ve accomplished a lot under MY name and I don’t want the diplomas on the wall not to match MY name. Recently (and after reading a good amount of APW) I’ve started explaining that WE’ve decided not to change our names. And then we ordered address stamps which say “the hislastname mylast name family” to clear up any remaining doubts! :) I should note that while my husband was surprised at first, because I am fairly traditional in many regards, he’s been very supportive of this choice. And of the address labels!

          • Marisa-Andrea

            When we were engaged (and before I changed my last name), I ran into or knew a lot people who commented that they thought women who didn’t change their names showed a lack of commitment to the marriage and the family. And apparently, a number of men believe this as well. What I have always found problematic with this view is that ahem, shouldn’t my decision to bind myself to a person legally and spiritually be evidence of my commitment?? Does that mean nothing? Why do women have to jump through extra hoops that men do not just to show they are committed?

            I also think that the paperwork IS fairly painless and frankly, I think for the most part, women who want to change their names, change their names, no matter the hassle. In my experience, NOT changing your name is a much bigger hassle because society pretty much assumes you did. That can create a whole set of other issues.

          • One More Sara

            This. “children are never counterfeit”
            I have an “illegitamate” child, and can I get a round of WHO THE EFF CARES ANYMORE!??!! I really haven’t had any trouble with it.

          • ElisabethJoanne

            Eek! Flak from HR?! The people who are supposed to be on your side re: marital status discrimination! *hugs*

          • Class of 1980

            That some people believe that one’s commitment to their marriage is signified by their last name is infuriating.

            Also infuriating are the studies that show that people believe a woman who keeps her name is more intelligent and successful, but less nurturing. And that women who change their name are less intelligent and successful, but more nurturing.

            Honestly, all those studies really prove is how many people don’t think at all. ;)

          • kyley

            @one more sara: Ditto! I AM an “illegitimate” child and, good god, I wouldn’t have it any other way. People are so insane to act like that’s a “thing* to be concerned about.

          • Jane

            Its just so weird, because I expected to get a ton of crap like you did. I prepped myself with witty one-liners and everything and then…nothing! We are fortunate to have very open-minded parents on both sides…but even the grandparents didn’t bat an eyelash. And now I live in a very, very politically conservative part of the US and nobody has made the slightest peep. Maybe they are all talking about me behind my back!

            I also have to agree with you on the address labels! Ours say “Myfirst Mylast & Hisfirst Hislast,” but I am really liking the configuration you did.

      • http://www.piecesofanna.com/ Anna

        The paperwork is not painless. Even if changing your name during the marriage process is easy, it’s the part that comes AFTER that’s a huge hassle. You have to change your name on every account that you have, and in almost every case, you have to mail in proof of the name change. Not to mention the whole going to the social security office and the DMV.

        I agree that it’s probably not the primary reason people don’t change their names, it is the real reason for some. I personally do know some women who chose to keep their last names for no other reason than the hassle of the paperwork.

    • Kristin

      I agree – my reason to others is that I didn’t want to deal with the paperwork and that is VERY true. However, the deeply seeded reason is that I didn’t want to give everything up. I already was moving into my husband’s home, giving up my life in the City of Chicago for a short time, giving up financial freedom (because I started a new business). I also wanted to show independance to those around me – I’m still who I am. I’m not defined by being married. However, it sure is nice!!

  • Julia B.

    Thank you!
    We’re in the middle of deciding what to do. My fiancé’s family name comes from his dad who left the family very early, never to reappear before his kids were grown-ups. Their relationship isn’t very close. His name is also a very, very common one (read: there are 5 other employees of his exact name & surname combination in the company my fiancé works at).
    My family name is pretty unusual, and I like it.
    Add to that mix the option of changing his name to his mother’s maiden name (which we both like and identify with) and the law in this country, where we can either both stay with our separate names, or one (but not both of us ) can hyphenate, or one takes the other’s name, we’re in the middle of a conundrum.
    We’re leaning towards staying with our respective names or taking his mother’s maiden name (which would cost about 500€ just for him to do) or him taking mine. It somehow freaks me out, and I sometimes wish we were living in Spain, where people just stay who they are, name-wise…
    I am so very grateful for this post on a man’s perspective of this! <3 Julia

    • Ana Maria

      The legalities of name changing are so intriguing – we live in Latin America where you don’t usually change your name once you get married, and women sometimes use their husbands last names prefaced by a “de”, but as an American I feel a complete rejection towards the patriarchal wording using “of”, like I suddenly became his property. So we are playing around with the idea of him using “de my last name” and I “de his last name”, or using his last name here and mine in America…

      • Julia B.

        See, I find it interesting how you can even use
        ‘his last name here and mine in America’…
        I’ve also heard of people using one name legally, and another professionally, I think that would very easily be misconstrued as some sort of fraudulent behaviour here (or people would think that you have something to hide).
        I’m really looking forward to seeing what decision we come up with, I think that changing to a less common-place name would be good for his career, make him more recognizable in the scientific world :-D
        We’ll see… And then, unlinke in other countries (although we’re planning never to have any, but regardless), we’ll be forced to define a name for any children we might have, before or at the wedding. *ugh*
        But I think that whatever we do, we’re in this together (and we’re long-distance, today, APW is pulling all the cords for me ;-D)
        Julia

      • cartascartas

        It’s funny because it may be due to the fact that I grew up with this (but not my mother! she was “of” no one!) but for some reason the possessiveness actually does not bother me at all (but I’m completely against “losing” a name to take on his). Maybe because it’s a social change, not legal, and because it allows the woman to use it or not use it at will. I sometimes want to make it clear who, of all the people around, is my husband, but I don’t want to have to lose or fundamentally change something to be able to make that clear.

        Also, about it being construed as fraudulent–I think that is not a concern because most people have two last names, but don’t use them both all the time. For example i’m cartascartas dad’slastname mom’s last name but I normally go only by cartascartas dad’slastname. everyone would know I’m the same person. adding the “de husband’slastname” would not confuse anyone. It’s clear you’re just saying you’re married to your husband.

      • http://medeamaterial.com Jules

        Also chiming in from Latin America, couldn’t agree more with what Ana Maria and CartasCartas. Funny all the traditions and pressure around a name. Although we don’t have name change issues when a couple gets married (it is a non-issue, actually) the flack comes when kids roll along and everyone expects them to get religiously baptized as the tradition to them getting a name…

  • http://www.piecesofanna.com/ Anna

    Oh how timely. We went to city hall today to fill out the marriage license application, and I finally, officially wrote out my soon-to-be new last name. We struggled a lot with what to do with our last names, and in the end we decided that he will keep his last name, and I will take his (many, complicated reasons behind it). Seeing my new name gave me jitters that I can’t quite explain, but I am confident about this choice. What irks me is that people will mostly assume that I just went the traditional route, which I guess I did, but the road to that decision was anything but simple.

    “When you change, change together.” Thank you for this.

    • http://thebigkidlife.wordpress.com/ E

      Yes to this! We ultimately decided that I would take his last name, but it far from a simple decision. I always find myself explaining to people that we examined many other options before going the traditional route, as if I need to prove that I’m still a feminist (ridiculous, I know).

  • http://www.3upadventures.com Beth

    Wait, so when you got your marriage license, did you already (legally) share the same last name? Did you have any issues with that?

    • meg

      There wouldn’t be any reason for there to be issues with that! I mean, among other things, I can’t even tell you how many Kaplan’s I knew dating Kaplan’s in New York (which, I guess is the Smith of other places). Lots of people get hitched who already have the same last name.

      • Tristan

        Funnily enough, because Erika was already using her professional name on Facebook before we married (or met), after I changed mine some FB friend of hers noticed we were engaged and wondered somewhat confusedly whether she was really marrying some guy with the same surname.

      • http://www.3upadventures.com Beth

        Good to know! We’re moving shortly after our wedding so I’d like to get the legal piece of my name change (not just last…first and middle too!) taken care of ASAP.

      • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

        I just recently found out that my father in law’s parents shared the same last name before they were married. (That’s Newfoundland for ya!) Lots of names are so common that it shouldn’t be surprising that it happens.

      • Class of 1980

        Those lucky Kaplans. ;)

  • katieprue

    Love this post all the way through. It’s such an interesting perspective and I’m glad you shared. The name game… you can only win by doing whatever makes sense for both (and that’s hard to figure out with the buffet of options we have these days!) Also, I think it’s an awesome reminder that it’s okay to rearrange your lives a little to do something meaningful, like changing your name, together. That’s what partner is all about!

  • AJ

    This was a hard one for me. I’m just reaching the tail end of name changing paperwork over six months after getting married (EVERY student loan, your university, your car, arrrrrgh). I had no desire to give up my last name when we got married. My name is cool and very rare, and even more rarely easy to spell and pronounce. His name is five letters, not very common, but bleh — and shared by a pair of in-laws whom I violently loathe. But it’s his name, too, regardless of how horrible his parents are. So I went JRR Tolkien style and turn my last name into a second middle name, so I have four names that are a mouthful. That way I wasn’t losing any of myself, just adding him to me.

    • Ashley

      That’s what I did too! I’m still working on my paperwork (just realized, upon getting my student loan bill, that of course that was another place I’d need to contact, ugh).
      My name is pretty long now, but I definitely didn’t want to give up my maiden name, and I do like having his too. A good compromise, I think.

  • Laura

    Love that this conversation is being continued.

    With 4 months to go until the wedding, name-changing is weighing heavily on my mind. I think in the end I WILL change my name…but it’s going to be really, really hard for me to do. I like the idea of having my partner come with me to make the change–I think I’ll feel more confident in the decision if we’re doing it as a team.

    • http://minnesota-chic.com PA

      “If I’m going to change my name, you’re going to come stand in the lines with me,” were my exact words. He agreed pretty cheerfully.

      I’m in the same boat. What happened with me was that I isolated that I wanted to keep my name to honor my family history. Then I realized that I was leaving out the names of a large bulk of my family (mother’s maiden name, mother’s mother’s maiden name, father’s mother’s maiden name…well, you get the point) and that, if honoring my family was the important part (which it was, to me), then I should find some way to do it that included everyone.

      I think I’m going to make a book for our kids about all of their grandparents and ancestors I can find information on – their lives, major events, how they met their spouses (if they got married; not all of them did), etc.

      • Laura

        What a great idea! Love this.

        • http://minnesota-chic.com PA

          Yay!

  • Jane

    For what its worth, I want to make a possibly liberating proposal: the name change issue doesn’t HAVE to be a big deal. You don’t have to think though every angle and come up with a decision that you can support with a logical argument that is true to your principles. My husband and I discussed names for all of about 15 minutes. I thought about it for a minute and then said, “I don’t feel like changing my name.” He briefly toyed with taking my last name and then said, “You know, I don’t feel like changing my last name either.” So neither of us changed anything.

    • meg

      Yeah, that’s how it was for us too. But that doesn’t mean the whole thing has been easy. Three years later, there are still family members who pointedly call me by the wrong name, which hurts. And the kids last name question has never been simple for us.

      But. The initial decision was never fraught.

  • Amanda L.

    Oh, APW, you continue to be so profound… I was especially struck by:
    “But for pre-wedding Tristan, and anyone else making this kind of change in your life, I say make sure that your spouse-to-be is there with you.”

    I always planned to change my last name, was looking forward to it, actually. With a maiden name like ‘Miller’ there wasn’t much reason to hang onto it. Or so I thought. Once I changed it, I had an enormous emotional response that I wasn’t expecting. My husband wasn’t as bowled over by my new Driver’s License, or my social security card. I couldn’t stop staring at them. Who is this Amanda L? I’ve heard the name said out loud in several situations over the past two months, and it is still hard to raise my hand and say ‘that’s me!’ I’m proud to have his last name, and be his wife, but I think the transition would have been easier if I had had him there to lean on when I was actually going through the process, rather than after the fact.

  • Tegan

    We need more Reclaiming Husband posts — APW focuses a little too much on the female side of life. Yay for diversity!

    • meg

      Well, I mean, YES. But we NEVER GET THEM EVER. So until we get them, we’re not going to run them. Everyone complains that we don’t have them, but never actually gets a man to write in. With an all female staff, we are not going to write them ourselves!

      • Tristan

        Well, gimme a topic.

        • meg

          Watcha got? You’ve got an open invitation to write about whatever you want. Maddie will countersign.

          • Tristan

            Ah, no! The pressure to think up my own topic! Uh, I’ll get back to you, tout de suite.

  • suz

    I always just assumed I would change my name when I got married. I’m the only one in my family with my last name and since I don’t have a relationship with my father it doesn’t hold any historical meaning for me. My sister changed her name to her husband’s as soon as they got married and to my knowledge had no angst about it.

    I’ve mentioned it several times to my partner and she always sort of glossed over it. We finally sat down to have a talk about it and.. she not only doesn’t understand why I would want to take her name (“It’s your name! the one you’ve always had! It’s how everyone knows you!”) but actively doesn’t want me to take her last name. I’m still not sure how I feel about that revelation! I think she feels a little possessive over it, like it’s hers and I’m trying to take something away from her?

    I’m feeling a little lost about the whole thing. We talked a bit more and it’s not a rejection of me (of course, that was my first thought!) but more a claiming of herself and her identity (she’s very independent and struggles a bit with the combining of lives). But it’s left me feeling a little like I’m hanging in the wind on my own. I always had my twin sister to share a name with growing up. Then when she changed her last name I assumed I would too and I’d have a new person to share with. And now I’m realizing that it might just be me as the only person (well, in my family!) with this last name. So I’m trying to put on my big girl pants and own it, this is my name and I’m going to do it proud, but it’s harder than I thought.

    • meg

      Oh! I want that post once you finish the experience. I’ve known women who married *men* (where you’d expect it even less) where they wanted to change their names, and their male partners told them “Absolutely not.” So you’re not alone on this!

      • http://fromasmallstep.blogspot.com Kinzie Kangaroo

        Oh, Donnie did NOT want me to take his last name. We talked so much about it, and he never wanted me to take it. He said it was too easy, that it didn’t feel like “us.” Or something. I never quite understood.

        We went through all of our other options (which did not include me staying with my current last name) and nothing ever felt right. The best we came up with was a blend name with all of our families’ names represented (moms’ and dads’ last names all together). We tried it on, and it never stuck.

        So now, we’re both going to share D’s last name. It feels really right, but I don’t think it would feel so right if we hadn’t fought so hard to find the decision that was truly right for us.

    • Hlockhart

      You are definitely not alone! I didn’t want to change my name, but it was moot anyway because my husband was totally opposed to it. Partly he thinks the custom is outdated, but partly there is a kind of possessiveness over his last name which I tease him about.

      • suz

        Thanks so much for saying that! I really thought I was the only person this had ever happened to and I was feeling pretty alone. Once again, APW proves that’s not the case!

  • Michelle

    Very sweet and awesome advice.

  • http://tolombia.blogspot.com Tolombia

    Thanks for sharing, Tristan! I think it helps you both grew up in communities that don’t think that y’all’s decision was weird or out-of-the-ordinary. For many people, unfortunately, there is a lot of societal pressure to not even question the status quo (even if the woman takes the man’s name in a heterosexual relationship, there often isn’t discussion about that decision). So thanks, Tristan, for your story and thanks APW for providing the space to discuss!

  • Another Meg

    Sidenote- Jack White took Meg White’s name when they married.

    BAD ASS.

    • meg

      Indeed. I don’t think it gets more bad ass then men taking their wives names.

  • Chonita

    This was such a lovely post, and reading the comments makes me feel like I’m not quite alone in the question of being very wary of name changing.

    Jumping aboard the LatinAmerican bandwagon, I am Mexican, grew up outside the country but am back in Mexico now. I’ve spent most of my life only using my dad´s last name, although now I am back to using both last names. I’m really uncomfortable with the “of” as are the vast majority of the women in my family (I think the only person who uses it is my cousin´s wife). I’m working hard and making a name for myself profesionally (its helpful to have an unusual name with that, people remember my name and make connections more easily).

    Moreover I am a Third Culture Kid (TCK) meaning my identity is something that has always been questioned or argued or debated, and my name is one of the few identity “rocks” I’ve had that hasn´t been. It really means a lot to me to keep my name – not to mention that changing my name means changing it on ALL my documents on TWO passports in FOUR countries….

    The issue is that it really means a lot to my partner (Italian-American) that a) we have the same name, as a family, and b) for him to keep his (he´s the only one left with the last name – no cousins and his sisters have both already changed theirs)… If it didnt matter to one of us, I can see how this could be relatively easily resolved, but we´re both worried and a little hurt – not at each other, but at facing having to “give in” in order to resolve this…. What a complicated topic, and as always on this site, beautifully, diplomatically, kindly managed! Thank you Tristan!

  • http://www.asafemooring.blogspot.com Kirsty {a safe mooring}

    This always happens with APW. I see a post and think, oh, man taking his wife’s last name, that’s probably not going to be relevant to me because that’s not what we did. And then BAM. The final words almost have me tearing up. I really should have learned my lesson by now…

  • Cat

    Oh, this website just feeds my soul! Thank you for this – My fiance is taking my last name and, as you say, it’s just the right decision for us and has nothing to do with making a statement. We’ve told some people who we know will be supportive but I’m very nervous about our wedding day and while we’ve told people we know will be supportive (like my fiance’s parents), we’ve gone back and forth about whether to announce it the day of. We want to enjoy our day and not have to spend it explaining our decision over and over when it doesn’t really affect anyone besides us.