Don’t Like Your Married Name? Change It Back

Trust me, no one else will even care

bride and groom standing together

I didn’t know that it wasn’t right for me to change my name until I changed my name.

I suppose there’s more to it than that. I waffled back and forth during our whole engagement, but eventually decided to add Hisname to the end of my name, giving myself two middle names.

Last June, we got married. At first, I loved signing my husband’s name. Two t’s at the end was really fun to write. It was novel and thrilling.

Then school started (I teach eighth grade), and every day I heard a name that wasn’t mine. I made decisions; I introduced myself to parents. I tried using both names together, but it only worked in writing. We talked about the importance of Ms. I inwardly grinned when catalogs would show up with my old name on them, or when former students or colleagues would slip up and forget my new name.

I tried waiting. I waited three months, then four, for my students calling me Ms. Hisname to seem like it was right. I hoped the time I spent poring over women’s last names online and comparing my choice to theirs would diminish over time. I gave into the idea that it was just something I had to get used to. I had convinced myself that once the decision was made, I had to stick to it. I recalled some of the reasons I wanted to take his name: he and I having a team name, not liking the aesthetics of the hyphen, sharing a name with my future children.

I remembered how I had briefly considered using my name professionally and his name socially. This was what I really wanted, but I had thrown it out as impractical. I thought other people would be confused. I live in a small community, and even if/when we leave this place, I really like teaching and living in the same district. If/when we have children, I feared it would cause confusion if I taught at one school under one name and attended parent-teacher conferences with another.

There’s more, though. I think I had convinced myself that being an eighth-grade English teacher wasn’t a worthy-enough profession to keep my name professionally. That was something doctors or lawyers or published writers did.

Admitting and reading that now makes me more than a little sick. What I do on a daily basis matters. I’m still not sure why I couldn’t see it as enough of a reason.

Something clicked last Friday on our teacher workday: I could do whatever I wanted. People would figure it out. Perhaps it was better to confuse a few other people along the way than to spend the days of my life confused about the choices I made.

Sure, it’s strange to change a name midyear, particularly when I’d just started the year with a new name, particularly in my small town where few students have had a teacher that isn’t Mrs. ______. But it sure provides a great opportunity to discuss identity and choices and changing your mind when you have given something a fair shake and you know deep down it isn’t right.

I talked to my principal and Human Resources (who were amazingly supportive) and students today. (The best response: “This will come in really handy on your next crime spree.”) After school I sent an email to the staff. Everything connected to my work at school is in the process of being changed. I haven’t smiled so much in one day for a long time. It finally felt right.

This post originally ran on APW in January 2011.

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  • SuzyNP

    Great post!
    I have a double barrel name (my mum took double barrelling as her feminist option when she got married in the eighties) and so does my husband (due to following the Spanish tradition of taking both parents names). I wanted to create a family name: one name mine, one name his. I also felt all the excitement of the prospect of the new name, the ‘oh but it will make us sound like a proper family’ process.
    In the end, I couldn’t, Swiss laws are very particular about this kind of thing: I either had to take both his names, or he had to take both mine, or we kept our own. So I kept my own, slightly begrudgingly.
    I. Am. So. Relieved. that I didn’t change my name. It’s been a year now. I don’t feel less married, less united. I feel like myself, like I always have, but with an awesome partner. I almost feel a bit ashamed that I didn’t know outright that name changing wasn’t for me, but hey I dodged a bullet. Maybe I also would have changed it back like you.
    I loved the part about the worthy-enough profession to keep a name. If there’s a worthy profession to have allllll the admiration for, it’s 8th grade English teacher. Good on you.

  • sofar

    I’m keeping my name. I have plane tickets abroad already purchased for about a year from now, and the idea of changing all my accounts, SS card, passport even after that gives me a headache.

    And now a question for married ladies who kept their name: What do most people call you and how does that make you feel?

    Honestly, I figure people will call you what they want to call you. My husband’s family calls me Mrs. Hislastname which causes me to look around for his mom before realizing they mean ME. Some of my coworkers came up to me after the wedding and said, “CONGRATS MRS. Hislastname!” We get mail and checks made out to Mr. and Mrs. Hislastname. And, during our honeymoon (the reservations were made with my card), my new husband got a kick out of getting called Mr. Mylastname by hotel staff.

    None of this bothers me. I’ve probably effed up people’s names plenty. But I admit I do get annoyed when his family asks, “But what about your CHILDREN??” when they find out I’m keeping my last name.

    • Amy March

      I figure people will call you what you tell them to call you! It’s very strange to me to just let people call you by the wrong name. I’m not talking bringing the flames of feminist fury down on them but “hey actually it’s still first mylast” seems useful.

      • sofar

        Except when they don’t. His family, in particular, seems determined to call me by his last name. I politely correct them in person. I sent out thankyou notes with my last name on the return address. I send them emails from my address that has my last name in it. I have RSVP’d with my correct name to their events. Some just forget. Some just laugh it off and continue to call me by his last name.

        In their culture, women do NOT keep their last names. So, I could interpret this as insulting, but really it’s more, “You’re part of our family now yay!”

        • Amy March

          So in their culture women’s rights to determine their own names aren’t a thing that is respected? And, specifically, they’re comfortable ignoring your choices? Eh, if you’re cool with it fine.

          • sofar

            If I were to sit down and say, “Hey, look it really annoys me when you use the wrong name because it is a choice I made,” they’d feel bad. But it doesn’t bother me, and calling me Mrs. is their way of welcoming me and recognizing my “new station in life,” so whatevs. When I entered their house for the first time after my wedding, we also had to do a little ritual with his mom and aunts, in which I was pronounced a “daughter of this house” and covered with jewelry. And then there was a cheer of “Hip hip hooray to Mrs. Hislast name.” Obviously I wasn’t going to correct them and interpret that as disrespect.

            Similarly, when his great-aunt embraces me at our wedding, says a blessing in her language and then looks at me with teary eyes and says, “Welcome to our family, Mrs. Hislastname,” that is not the time nor the place.

            We’ve had a LOT of discussions about “things they do that make me uncomfortable,” and they work hard to accommodate. So, when it’s something that doesn’t bother me and makes them happy, I let it go.

          • Cathi

            I feel the same way you do about this. People aren’t mis-naming me maliciously, and for some of those people (Aunt Mable, Grandpa Joe, my best friend’s parents) it’s done out of excitement, love, and inclusion. Correcting them in the moment just feels kind of mean, since it would definitely deflate the exuberance a bit. I know what they mean, and it’s not a power play to invalidate my choices.

          • Amy March

            I just come down on the side of all of this is the patriarchy, and it’s not mean to own your name as a person at all. They can show exuberance without being sexist. But, again, if you’re cool with it obvi not a problem.

          • S

            A lot of things are the patriarchy. The Bridget Jones films are the patriarchy. Gymnastic uniforms are (probably) the patriarchy. Engagement rings are the patriarchy. It’s not anyone else’s job to come in here and make someone feel weird or bad or anti-feminist for just not particularly caring enough about this particular battle to fight it. She doesn’t WANT to make a big stink, for really respectful and considerate and loving reasons she’s outlined in multiple comments now, and I think that’s as valid the choice you would make.

          • sofar

            Seriously! I do love this community, but I often feel like there’s a lot of scolding the “bad feminists” around here.

            If marrying into a different culture has taught me anything, it’s that you’re all going to accidentally insult each other all. the. time. I cut my in-laws a ton of slack, and I KNOW they do the same for me.

          • LJ

            FWIW, as much as your family (and mine and most of all of ours here!) means well when they misname us Mrs Hisname, sure yes it is disrespectful to your choice – but it is SO respectful in any other way as this their way of saying “you’re one of us now!” (insert chant here hahaha)…. and honestly, it’s the older (one generation or more) people who tend to do this the most – and the new generation, us and those of us younger than us, seem infinitely more aware. As morbid as it is to say, the older people will die out and the assumptions of “Mrs” being more honour-filled than “Ms” will largely die out with them. The cultural shift has already happened at our level and moving forward.

          • LJ

            You have an objective point of view in lots of your comments, and you offer some really good insights and advice. You may want to cool it with calling other people’s families sexist when they are obviously and explicitly okay with their behavior. This is not an emotionally, mentally or physically abusive relationship nor is it anything that directly influences your life. Ending your comment with “obvi not a problem” while taking the rest of the comment to explain why you have a problem with it is passive-aggressive and meant to put yourself above the original commenter. This community thrives on respect for multiple opinions.

          • LJ

            That was an excellent reply to a cutting comment.

          • sofar

            Thank you. This community is fantastic (and so much better than ALL the other wedding communities out there), but there does tend to be a lot of “bad-feminist” witch hunting.

            I guarantee you, I have probably insulted my in-laws on their turf without knowing it. In fact, my dad just MAJORLY insulted them accidentally recently and hurt them badly. And they cut him SO MUCH SLACK. And that makes me want to cut them a lot of slack. And save up a bunch of good karma for the times I really do need them to cut something out.

          • Another Meg

            This is a great way to look at it. Yes, if you can bring down fire and brimstone every time, cool for you. But most of the time, it’s about the long game and reading the room. I might need this goodwill capital later when it matters more to me, so I’ll let the name thing slide for now.

            I don’t let it slide if I can avoid it, personally, but there are so few cultural differences that I have to navigate with my husband’s family, so I can spend my capital right now.

      • As someone who has a very frequently mispronounced first name, I’m so used to gently correcting folks that doing the same for my last name would be a natural reaction. At least in person. Junk mail and cards from far flung relatives, not so much.

    • LadyMe

      I’m keeping my name, no regret, but we don’t have a good solution for future kids. They’ll probably get saddled with a hyphenation for lack of a better option.

    • Anna

      I’ve only been married for six weeks so still figuring this out, but what I get called totally depends on the group of people. Our friends are pretty liberal and the vast majority haven’t changed their names after marriage so it hasn’t really been a question that’s even come up. A few of my parents’ friends, colleagues etc have asked what my married name will be and I just give them my “maiden” name (HATE that term) and they tend not to pry any further. When people ask about our future children, I get great pleasure in telling them we plan to have more than one and give some mine and some his last name. People either think it’s an awesome plan or horrendous!

      • LJ

        Just adding solidarity on “maiden”…. makes it seem like your name is temporary….. I have been phrasing it as “not changing my name” as often as possible to switch the balance of power.

        • Lisa

          I dislike the “maiden” name as well. I dropped it and said instead, “I’m keeping my name” or “We’re both keeping our names.”

    • Fiona

      I kept my name and we introduced ourselves with a hypenated name at our wedding and changed our names on facebook. Sometimes we get mail addressed with the hyphenated name, especially from family, which makes me smile. In general, we both use our own last names, and it’s just fine. I have honestly NEVER been called Mrs. by anyone. I work in higher ed though, and I’m generally in a pretty liberal environment.

      • AP

        High five for bosses (and provosts) who get it. When I got married last year, my boss at the time had kept her name AND insisted that her children be hyphenated: all girls with her name last and boys with her husband’s name last. It was SO nice to hear her tell me matter-of-factly, ‘if you want ideas on how it can be done, this is how we did it, but you do you.’

    • Ashlah

      Honestly, people rarely refer to me by full name. But I’d say generally people respect my hyphenated last name. We do get Christmas and anniversary cards from his grandparents addressed to Mr. and Mrs. HisLast (we’re both hyphenated, so it’s wrong for both of us), but since we never interact with them outside of that, we haven’t bothered to correct them. One of my bosses refers to me still as Ashley MyLast when referring clients to me (even though my email and business card have my hyphenated name). It bothers me a bit because it feels like he’s not respecting my choice, but it is certainly better than the alternative of only using my husband’s name. Another co-worker always makes sure to use the full name, which I appreciate, and I can’t help but wonder if she understands because she recently married and didn’t change her name.

      • Lisa

        We’ve gotten a few Christmas cards–mostly from my side of the family–addressed to the HisLast Family. We don’t interact with these relatives otherwise for the most part so I haven’t bothered to correct them. I do love the ones who have checked in to make sure they’re getting the name situation correct though.

    • Lisa

      I made it a point to tell people after we got married that neither of us changed our names, and I made sure that my husband was the one to correct his family when they got it wrong in the immediate after-math. (He was the one who called and thanked his sister for her wedding present AND told her that she shouldn’t address anymore cards to Mr. & Mrs. HisLast.) I’d enlist your new husband to help deal with some of his own people and field their questions. It’s your decision as a couple, and he needs to own that choice, too.

      • sofar

        I bring it up when it’s not awkward to do so, but, really I don’t care that much. My reasoning for not changing my name boils down to “I’m too lazy to change it,” and their reasoning for calling me by his last name boils down to, “Yay welcome to our family,” so it’s whatever.

      • Another Meg

        This is fantastic.

    • AP

      I get holiday mail from my husband’s extended family with Mr. and Mrs. HIS FIRST AND LAST which infuriates me. But I don’t really say anything because they aren’t people I see regularly, it probably won’t help, and that’s how I was raised to address mail too. I’ve only just unlearned that practice in adulthood. Other than that, people mostly call me my real name. I’ve only had to correct a few folks socially, and I usually just say, “oh, actually it’s still Mylast.” I might get a few surprised looks from more conservative folks (especially the ones around town who know my husband’s family and their clannish-ness) but it doesn’t bother me. I kind of like that I’m not just tacitly absorbing into their family culture the way others have when they married in. My husband and I are very different from our families of origin, and we’re kind of known for shaking things up.

      • Jess

        Mr. & Mrs. HisFirst HisLast bothers on a deep level. I have no problem with the name changing, and am planning on doing it myself, but addressing things like that really bothers me.

        • AP

          Me too! My mom was raised to be very formal, and she did the same with me. So it was fancy dresses for family dinner and school pictures, and teaching me to answer the family phone”Lastname residence,” and addressing thank you notes and cards to “Mr. and Mrs. His First and Last.” I didn’t know until I was well into adulthood that being an adult means you get to *decide* what social rules to follow! I know it bugs my grandma (my mother’s mother) to get mail from me addressed to “Grandma Last and Grandpa Last” but I started doing it a few years ago just to make a point:)

        • Jessica

          I hate that etiquette rule, it completely erases the woman as an individual.

        • Jenny

          Even as a child learning that rule I felt it was so unfair and I refused to not at least put my aunt’s first names in there too (especially as a preteen/teen, I mean I knew who was picking out that awesome brand name shirt or cool CD or jewelry for me and that it wasn’t my uncle!)

      • ChristineH87

        Mr. and Mrs. HisFirst HisLast has infuriated me since I was a kid, and made me decide early on that I was going to keep my last name. But based on the stories here, even that won’t stop some people. Oh well…

    • raccooncity

      It warms my heart to tell you that we get called each other’s last names pretty much equally. It makes me smile either way.

      The only annoyance is people from his ‘side’ (usually his parents’ friends) who assume I changed my name. But those people aren’t people we ever really see, so it’s a very very minor annoyance.

      The kids thing though…you’re right. No one actually seems to care what last name we give our kids, but I personally feel some sadness that there’s no easy way to cram both names onto one kid in a simple way. Further, that if a name gets dropped in future generations it’ll be mine. Best we’ve come up with thus far is my last name as a middle name/two last names. Not hyphenated, but sort of the same.

      • Cathi

        “No one actually seems to care what last name we give our kids”–I’m so envious of you!

        I’m pregnant now and we’ve begun spreading the word that our kid will get my last name and you’d think we were announcing that we were planning to sell her to a Satanic cult with the way a vast majority of people have reacted.

        Interestingly enough, the only people who have reacted well have been a) my family of origin and b) the women I know who didn’t change their names/aren’t planning to, but did give/are planning to give their children their husband’s last name. That reaction is almost uniformly complete glee accompanied by a high-five.

        But my husband’s family and the rest of our general acquaintanceship? Abject horror.

        • raccooncity

          In fairness to your life, we aren’t giving our kids my name only. I think people would maybe object to that, or at least be hurt (we live close to my family and VERY far from in laws so maybe using my name would be seen as a massive snub).

          But in terms of the ‘other’ options, no one has expressed any opinions.

          I feel for you that people are being such jerks about it, though. If you can name your child McKynlee or Nayvie and people are ok with it, you certainly should be able to pass on the child’s mother’s family name and have people celebrate it.

        • LJ

          My family of origin is stoked that I’m not changing my name. My in-laws were shocked and I do think they’re pretty disappointed, but I can tell they’re trying to be polite and respect my choice. I have no idea how people will react when we have children and I am kind of trepidatious about it, as at this point they’ll take his name but who knows how things could change…. these are some very interesting experiences to hear about. Thanks for sharing, all.

        • JC

          I’m going to stick the phrase “sell her to a Satanic cult” in my back pocket for future use with horrified relatives.

        • LittleOwl

          Hahahaha!! Amazing.
          I just read an article on Cup of Jo about parenting in Iceland. Every generation has a different last name, (i.e. Children have different last names than their parents, both parents usually have different last names) and there is zero confusion!

        • rg223

          I’m sorry you’re experiencing so much pushback!

          My son has my name, and the only people we told in advance was my parents and my husband’s. My parents basically deferred to our judgement and didn’t say too much either way. Surprisingly, my husband’s father didn’t seem to mind. But he is an immigrant and his last name is the Americanized version of his Chinese last name (he also has a first and last Burmese name and his Chinese name is the one he least frequently uses) so he doesn’t seem to feel as strongly about children inheriting names as you might expect. Also surprisingly, my husband’s mom was the one who was most upset, because she was worried what other people would think. We thought she wouldn’t care because we used her maiden name as our son’s middle name. But she moved on, especially since my son was born. And since we didn’t tell anyone else in advance and just announced when he was born, other people have kept their reactions in check. We’ll see how it goes when he gets into school ans is using his last name more. You really can’t predict how people are going to respond!

        • clairekfromtheuk

          Screw them! a) its none of their damn business, b) about 5 seconds after the baby is born, they’ll forget about it anyway because CUTE BABY and c) 3 months down the line, no-one will care/notice

        • ZLMT

          Yes! My son has my last name and I love it. We told our families ahead of time and I was surprised how happy my dad and extended family was (we’ve only got girls in our generation, so it was assumed the name would die out). His fam was maybe not excited, but they were fine. I’d love to see this become more widespread.

      • Jessica

        Military benefits are weird, in that I’m the only one signed up for them in a certain department or program (because his are through a different whatever and whatchamagig and bureaucracy). Whenever we get something from the military that came through the spousal benefits, it goes to the “Mylastname Household” and I LOVE it.

        Since we bought a house with a VA loan, his is the first name on our title and all of the paperwork, which means I can tell if something is junk because it goes to “Hislastname Family.” Also, you get a lot more junk mail when you own a house.

        • Alyssa M

          Ohhhh the junk mail

    • creaminyourcoffee

      I’ll be keeping my name when I get married in two months (whoa), and I’ve heard similar “concerns” about children. I laugh it off because it’s such a silly concern to me and it seems like such a silly way to get my to change my name. I’m sure there will be many bureaucratic and/or annoying scenarios in my future re: children and our differing last names, but I’m pretty sure the world will keep turning.

      However, I do get oddly bothered by the whole “Mr & Mrs His LastName” thing – and I really do fear gifts that have that on it.

      • Lisa

        We fortunately didn’t receive any gifts with monograms on them, but we did receive multiple checks with “Mr. & Mrs. HisFirst & Lisa HisLast.” The bank where we had set up our joint accounts wouldn’t take the check without signatures from Lisa HisLast, which was a pain when we tried to deposit them the day after the wedding. In retrospect, I would have put this information on our wedding web-site and done a better job to make sure the information was communicated to both of our families.

        • Yeah we got signatures from all sorts of different name combinations. We just signed whatever they put on the front of the check and had no problem depositing them, though. (And we deposited them all in my account, which he isn’t even on–even checks that were made out only to him).

      • savannnah

        I’m here to tell you that my mother had a different last name than the kids when I was growing up and there was a total of…Zero insistence of bureaucratic and annoying scenarios in our lives around the fact that we had different last names. Not at school, not internationally travelling and not at the grocery store. This is just one experience but I’m always curious about anticipated confusion. My theory is that its more of a deterrent than reality.

        • AP

          Same. My mom divorced my dad and remarried when I was seven, then remarried again when I was 22. She went back to her maiden name whenever she was single. I think we shared a last name for a total of 4 years? At no point was it ever an issue- not at school, the doctor, social situations, while traveling. I think when I was in elementary school, she signed her name on my school forms something like “First Last (APslast)” but that was probably because she had a lot of issues feeling stigmatized by being a divorced single mom in the late 80s. There were a few years when she was the only divorced person in our social circles, but by the time I got to middle school it was a lot more common.

          • savannnah

            Exactly-different names happen for lots of reasons- I grew up in Vermont in the 90s and I just don’t have one example of a close family nearby where the mom changed her name so its been interesting fully understanding how bizarre that is in comparison to the mainstream idea of what a ‘family’ looks like.

        • Really? Because my mother had a different last name than me and my sisters growing up and it was a huge pain and part of the reason WHY I ended up changing my name. Like it always got sorted out but I remember endless explaining and I was tired of doing that for the first 20+ years of my life. I think it’s probably getting more and more common, but I’m 25 so I’m still fairly young. (And we had both of my parent’s last names in our names, my mom’s was just a middle name).

          • savannnah

            What were the issues? Im genuinely curious about this. I’m 28 and my moms name is also my middle name. I’m also from the northeast and I wonder if there is a difference?

          • I mean, we just had to explain things a lot. And I think there were sometimes problems with using things that belonged to my mom because we had different names on the card. It was all minor things, things that required an extra few minutes of conversation. But it just added up a lot over time and as someone who likes to get things done quickly and has trouble with conversation sometimes (and as a painfully shy child) it was not something that I wanted to deal with again for the next 20 or so years. All minor stuff. But it just made frustrating things even more frustrating by adding that extra minute.

            Actually, almost all of the women that I can think of that I am close to (or was growing up) didn’t change their name. (Although other than my mom, they are all lawyers. So many lawyers).

            Although then, because of SS character limits, I didn’t even end up changing my name the way I wanted to (adding dad’s last to a 3rd middle and just using husband’s last, so now I have a double last name which doesn’t match my husband–although he has dad’s last as a 2nd middle name, so socially we are trying to go by the double-barreled version). (And also it ended up being a double pain bc it didn’t match the version on the marriage license so it took me THREE tries to get a corrected passport.)

      • Another Meg

        The gift thing can only be deterred by word of mouth. Moms and aunties seem to be both the worst offenders and the best guard against any confusion. Do they know?

    • H

      On a practical note, I let my conservative, Southern friends and family know I was keeping my name this way: When they were planning bridal showers for me (yes, showers plural, see “Southern”) the ringleader would call/email and ask me if there was anything I specifically wanted at the shower. I’d casually say, “well we’re both keeping our names, so no “Future Mrs. Hislast” decorations please!” Then those people spread the word (and probably talked a little shit, what can you do) and I have had very few people assume I took his name.

      • AP

        I love this!

      • sofar

        LOL that’s genius! I just attended a friend’s shower, and the amount of “Future Mrs.” stuff she got was astounding. She loved it (bless her heart), but I didn’t even KNOW they made “Future Mrs.” bathrobes!

        • LJ

          :| <– this is me. Like props for the company for filling a niche that was apparently lacking, but was definitely unaware of it hahahah

          • Lisa

            My friend’s fiancé works at a luxury car dealership, and some of his clients gave him wedding presents as a thank you gift, which included a tumbler like this with “Future Mrs. HisLast” on it. That’s one I’d never seen before!

        • AP

          ‘bless her heart’ <— LOL

    • Alexa

      I’m with you on finding a balance between rolling with whatever I get called or gently correcting people

      depending on the circumstance. The only exception was when I heard MY mom telling MY extended family that I hyphenated but “mostly go by Mrs. Hislast.” Nope nope nope. That one I was comfortable being more emphatic about correcting. (And I found it extra bizarre, because she kept her last name when my parents got married, so I have no idea why she thought I was going by Mrs. Hislast. Weird. *shrug*)

    • cc

      I would say that probably 90% of people ignore the fact that I didn’t change my name and honestly lately I’ve been feeling really sad about it. I’m so tired of correcting people and of dealing with their attitudes about it that sometimes I wish I had just changed it (and that thought makes me even more sad/sort of angry to be honest). It’s a sort of an issue for me right now.

      • sofar

        Yeah, I imagine it might wear on me more and more, too.

        Every time I address an invitation to a couple, I do my best to ask them how they prefer to be addressed. But there have been times I’ve had to take a shot in the dark and I’m like, “I hope I don’t ruin their day.”

      • Another Meg

        I’m really sorry to hear this. I went through a period the second year when we were married, when I was getting hit hard with mail addressed to someone who doesn’t exist. The only thing I can say is you aren’t alone, and life is long. Some people will get used to it, some people will never change their address books, and some people secretly admire you for keeping your name.

      • Leela

        I don’t blame you. People are calling you by a name that is not your own. It’s okay to be angry, and it’s okay to correct them.

    • Another Meg

      It’s been a mixed bag. His family, for the most part, was actually better than mine. I gently correct anyone who calls me Mrs. HisLast. He gets Mr. MyLast at hotels, too, because I typically reserve them, and we both get a kick out of it.

      I’m pretty firm about it in person, but if I get a piece of mail addressed to Mrs. HisLast, I typically ignore it.

      I’m very newly pregnant, so we haven’t told the whole world yet. But we told his parents this weekend and there was a weird moment. They asked about names and I said, well, we’re not sure, but they’ll have your last name! And my MIL, who is normally great, said of course they will. And I had to remind her that it’s not an assumption. It was a discussion.

    • rg223

      It annoyed me a little when people would address mail to “Mrs. Hislast” at first, but after two years of marriage, I don’t even notice it. In conversation, I can’t even remember the last time it came up. I think Facebook has helped – I think some family members have remembered I kept my name from it! I use it as reference for my friends too.

    • Jenny

      My husband and I both changed our last names to hislast mylast (at least on Facebook, and on the marriage license, but we haven’t gotten around to legally changing them with the SS office). Honestly, I’ve mostly been surprised at how not often it’s an issue. One, almost no one I know calls me Ms. last name. I rarely get mail other than bill (which are all correct) or junk mail (which I don’t care about and they get it wrong equally for my husband and me). Overall, people get it right which has been a nice surprise!

    • Leela

      Aside from the “Mr. and Mrs. HisLast” cards that we got at the wedding, it’s been a non-issue. Anyone we knew from before the wedding knew that I was keeping my name, and anyone we’ve met since then met me as Leela MyLast. My husband had no expectation of me changing my name, which is good. I should add that I have an almost laughably ethnic full name that I couldn’t part with for the world — let alone for his much less interesting last name.

      Nowadays, it only really comes up at hotels. I usually make our travel reservations and I love it when the hotel staff says “welcome, Mr. and Mrs. MyLast!”

      I respect all name choices, but I admit that “Future Mrs. HisLast” stuff makes me barf a little.

    • J.J.

      Most everyone calls me the right thing, which is awesome! His parents will address things to ‘Ms. Herlastname-Hislastname’, but I’m not bothered by it. As far as I can tell, calling me Ms. Herlastname (what I go by) feels really weird and uncomfortable to them because he is their only son, they love both of us, they love that we’re married, and they want to acknowledge somehow that we’re family. It’s not my first choice, but I don’t find it at all offensive in the context of our relationship.

      It’s funny, because if I had a different relationship with my in-laws, I think this might bother me a lot. It helps to know that my husband has always been supportive of my decision to keep my name. I know that if it came down to it, he would have no problem initiating that conversation with his parents.

      The only interaction I’ve had surrounding my decision to keep my name that made me uncomfortable was at work when a former supervisor very pointedly demanded my ‘rationale’ for not changing my name in front of our whole department… :|

      • sofar

        Exactly — knowing my husband would have no problem having “a talk” with his parents (If I wanted him to, which I don’t) makes all the difference. He assumed form the beginning I’d be keeping my name. For my in-laws, they are just so happy I’m part of their family, and I’m happy that they’re happy.

  • honeycomehome

    “I could do whatever I wanted. People would figure it out.”

    This is such a solid sentiment when it comes to all naming choices: changing your name, not changing it, naming your kids, whatever. Do you what you want. Everyone else will figure it out.

    • Leela

      My husband and I have a long-running joke that if we have a kid, we will all change our last name to “Is’Ausomme.” Because we’re awesome.

  • Amy March

    My boss did this! Started using her husband’s name, after a semester of law school hated it, and changed right back again.

  • C

    I kept mine. He changed his middle name to my last name (and kept his first and last). Very few people have been confused or guessed that I took his and they didn’t care when they found out I kept my name. Our response to “WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?!?” is this: “Any kids will be adopted and may be of sufficient age that they might wish to keep their last name(s) and if that is not the case, they get her (my) last name.” This is usually met with a “Oh.”

    • LittleOwl

      Love this!! I encouraged my husband to take my name, but I never thought about his taking my last name as a new middle name! Thanks for sharing!

  • Mary Jo TC

    I’m a teacher too. I would argue that names are MORE important to a teacher than to people in other professions, because children are yelling your name at you all day! It’s so important to feel comfortable with what people are calling you, and teachers probably hear their own last names more than most people do. I changed my name because my husband’s name is mispronounced a lot less frequently than my maiden name, and thus it was more comfortable for me to hear from students. But I did the double barrel thing. I always enjoy all the different stories about name-changing and name-keeping on APW!

    • Amy March

      Such a good point!

    • Keri

      I thought about changing mine for that reason too – I started my school psych internship two weeks after getting married, and my husband’s name is so much easier than mine. But in the end, I just couldn’t pull the trigger. Didn’t feel like me! I could only picture my husband’s grandmother when I heard Mrs. … lol

    • Abby

      As a lawyer, can confirm that nobody cares what my last name is (using both, unhyphenated, to make sure my professional reputation follows me into my married name). Fully agree that it’s far more important to be comfortable with your last name as a teacher who has to be called Ms./Mrs. Lastname all day. You do you! People will figure it out.

    • E.

      That’s what I was thinking! During the year I joke that I stop being E. and am only Ms. MyLast because of how frequently I hear it

  • Fiona

    This is fabulous! I didn’t change my name when we got married, but we changed our names on facebook and started using both socially, but as time has gone on, instead of moving towards my “married” name, I realize how much I like MY name. I intended to change it legally at some point, but I’m starting to think I just won’t. I’m glad others are grappling with the same thing! The hyphenated name is just so long…

    • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

      My name on Facebook is my mom’s maiden name — in part because I didn’t want customers at work looking me up on social media, and in part as a way to assert myself as part of that family clan, in the same way my legal name makes me part of my dad’s family. The result was that 1 friend thought I had disowned my father, and at least half of the people I’m friends with in real life don’t actually know my name. Changing your name on Facebook is a powerful thing.

  • Rhie

    I had kind of the opposite reaction, which I wasn’t expecting–I hyphenated to Mylast-Hislast but kept my maiden name professionally. Now almost a year later, I really want to start using my hyphenated legal name at work and since I’m currently looking for a new job, I’m planning on making that change if/when I find something else. I guess a year in I feel like I went to all this trouble to change my name (to a pair of names that are very nice together if I do say so myself) and no one even calls me by it! And then in non-work situations, I feel silly insisting on being Mylast-Hislast because I’m still Mylast to most people who use a last name for me. I just need all my names to be in alignment, basically.

    • I had a similar reaction to yours, I hyphenated and about 9 months after the fact I decided to go ahead and start moving to the hyphenated name professionally. The reaction out of our HR rep (who is also hyphenated) was the sweetest most affirming sentiment I received about the choice. When I made a crack about it taking nearly a year to figure out what I wanted to do she said “No, you took exactly the right amount of time! It was the amount of time you needed to feel good about it!”

  • steph

    I didn’t change my name. My husband has a “really cool” last name so i often got asked “why wouldn’t you want that name?!?!” Well, because i love my name and its who I am.

    We refer to ourselves (and our friends naturally do as well) as the MyName-HisName family and its no big deal. We are on baby number two and both children have or will have my maiden name as their middle name.

    • rg223

      I am SO curious about what this “really cool name” is! Storm? (I tried to come up with other ideas but nothing is cooler than Storm).

      • SuzyNP


    • Caitlyn

      ME TOO! My husband also has an awesome last name… such that when I told him I wanted to keep mine – he said (without thinking) “every girl I’ve ever dated has wanted my last name!” (and immediately heard himself and backtracked). But yup, I didn’t take it. I love it for him… but it’s just not me. I have a super common first name (that I hate), but my last name is very unique (but easy to say and spell), but his is (slightly) more common. So when I put my first name with his… I just feel lost. That’s not me. But I’ve definitely heard “but how could you not want his last name!?!” more than once. And of all the responses I’ve gotten, it’s honestly the only one that bugs me.

  • Alyssa Andrews

    Glad to see this — as someone who works in a school, I think changing your name would be a complete nightmare, since you are involved with so many people from teachers to students to parents.

    I want to keep my last name and my fiancee wants us to have the same last name so that we are a “team” but there are a few problems 1) our names are too long to go the hyphenated route (in my opinion) 2) My last name is already one of his two middle names and 3) if he changed his last name to mine, he would not only have his middle name twice but would also end up with my dad’s first and last name (yes, my fiancee and my dad have the same first name). SO. We are coming up with a brand new last name that combines the first part of both of our last names and it ACTUALLY sounds good and is something we’re both happy with. Problem (I think) solved!

    • Her Lindsayship

      Love it! My fiancé and I joke that we’ll do something similar. In our case just a joke though – our names DO NOT merge well haha! The combination would end up very similar to a name for a type of Turkish meatball, so now we have this little inside joke where we’re the Meatball family.

      • Alyssa Andrews

        Meatball family — I love it! You could even serve turkish meatballs at your reception :)

      • LJ

        Bwahahahhaa the first half of both my and my fiancé’s last name (we both have 2-syllable names) are both words in the English language so we have also jokingly referred to our selves by that mock name! But it sounds like mad libs/something an 8 year old boy would find hilarious so it’s not a “real” option… but jealous. :)

    • Oh hey, we had the–it would be odd for my husband and my father to have the same last name issue! It makes for very confusing conversations with my mom (especially now that we are out of the house so she has started referring to my father by his first name again instead of Dad when talking to us, since mostly she just talks to him).

  • Meg

    I am weirdly the reverse! I did not legally take my husbands name and have been meeting to get around to (2 years later D:) legally changing my name to the hyphen…but now I like how clean my sisters names are who just took the name. He doesn’t care either way. I think I might do it at my next job just to be easy.

  • Lisa

    Since I feel like there are so few stories of “good” reactions around name changing, I feel like I need to share this story! I had just met a new classmate of my husband’s, and we decided to check out a free yoga class together. When she put my name in her phone, she looked up after entering the first name and simply asked, “What’s your last name?” I could have kissed her for not automatically assuming that my husband and I share the same last name! I told her such, and she couldn’t understand what the big deal was. However, as someone who is used to having to correct other people, it meant so much for someone else to make that initial step for clarification and not automatically assuming something about me based on my marital status.

    • Another Meg

      This is one of the best things I’ve read today.

  • Bethany

    I’m getting married in a month and I’ve really debated the name thing a lot. Ideally I’d want to just add his name at the end of mine (giving me 2 middle names), but my initials would be kind of unfortunate so I just can’t bring myself to do it. They wouldn’t be HORRIBLE but it would spell a word and I’d rather not end up with a stupid nickname as a result. I’m reluctantly just going to take his last, for the sole reason that I do think it will be easier for us all to have the same name when we eventually have kids. It’s weird though, I’m having way more feelings about it than I thought I would, and it makes me wonder if all my married friends had the same inner debate, or if they just took their husband’s last name without a thought. It’s a really interesting topic!

    • LittleOwl

      I wondered the same thing! Very few people talk about it, and all my friends were the type who changed their names on Facebook right away and seemed really excited about it. I did what you are considering (I now have to middle names, my middle name and my maiden name). I wouldn’t ‘be been so sad to lose my last name completely. Have you considered doing first middle hislast yourlast? I spent many hours at the SS office and the one thing I learned is that they will do anything that you fill out on the form. For some reason I thought they would have a formula I had to use or something, but they didn’t ask me any questions at all!

      • Bethany

        I hadn’t considered that option, I’ll definitely have to think about that one! Ideally I’d like us all to have the same last name, so it doesn’t quite solve that problem but it would certainly fix the unfortunate initials situation. I had a friend do First HerLast HisLast and dropped her middle name, but that just seemed sad to me. That’s good to know about the SS office too, I definitely thought they would ask questions about the name change / order.

        • Lisa

          My SIL did the same thing, and I couldn’t imagine giving up a part of my name so easily. My middle name is the same as my grandmother’s, and I would hate to it!

          • Bethany

            I would hate to lose mine too, and it has no other family significance at all! It seems so sad to drop my middle name, which my parents specifically choose for me, than to drop my last name which I basically just received by default.

  • The “change it later” advice goes both ways – after much angst I decided to keep my maiden name legally but add his last name to mine socially. And I found that I really liked it, so I made the decision to change my name about 6 months after we got married. Because I didn’t do it on my marriage license, I had to pay $300 and take a few hours off from work to go to court, but I’m so glad I didn’t rush myself into a decision for my marriage license.

    I actually didn’t change my name at work though so everyone is confused at how our baby girl is going to have a different last name than what they know me as, but they’ll figure it out.

    • Kara E

      Depends on your state/locale. MD doesn’t have the “new legal” on the license, so you just have to work directly through social security. My new state was really nice about the change.

      • lady

        I was married in Florida and I wasn’t even given the option to change my name on our license! I need to work with social security and the DMV. t would have been easier in some ways, but I’m also glad that I have to actually make the effort to change it – it makes me consider and reconsider the option over and over again.

    • TheOtherLiz

      I have a friend whose mom kept her last name, and when she was born, they gave her her mom’s last name (the joke was that with her dad’s last name she’d have such a generic Jewish name, like, the world doesn’t need another Rachel Stein from New Jersey); when her younger brother was born, he was given their dad’s last name. And you know what? It didn’t make things weird, even though the siblings had different last names. Also, the dad was the stay-at-home parent when they were younger. I really appreciate the out-of-the-box egalitarian thinking going on there. Then my friend got married and took her husband’s last name, but it didn’t make me think she was less feminist because everyone knows her and where she stands.

      • Lisa

        I had a friend in undergrad whose parents did something similar. They both have professional careers under very long Greek names, and when they had kids, they joked that the names together sounded like the name of a disease. So they decided to just pick words they liked to be their kids’ last names. The kids share the same initial, but everyone in the family has a different last name. My friend said she loved having a name that was chosen just for her.

        • I’m surprised that this is legal! In any jurisdiction that I would be likely to have a child in, the only options are Motherslast, Fathersland, or a combination of both. If either parent has a hypenated name, i believe you can cherrypick what you want from it to create the new name, but you definitely cannot just invent a name haha

          • Lisa

            It definitely depends on the state here in the US. Some states are more lenient with their laws than others. There was a case in Tennessee a couple of years ago where a couple had created a new last name for their children out of their last names (Sarubbi + Abramson = Sabr) and had named their first two children in another state where that was legal. Then they moved to Tennessee and had a third child, but Tennessee’s laws are like what you mentioned, where at least one parent’s last name must appear in full in the baby’s last name. They ended up suing the state for the ability to name their child what they wanted.

  • raccooncity

    Random story about my life with names:

    I used to work with new babies and their families and thus was subject to seeing a LOT of family name setups. Tens of thousands of families over my time there. Here are some things I learned:

    1. Globally, our naming traditions are one of many. In fact, I’m pretty sure that our way of doing it is probably not even the most common (not referring to patrilineal naming, just our particular method). So don’t let anyone make you feel like it’s not possible to imagine another way because literally most of the world is doing it SOME other way.

    2. That said, where I was working it was still most common for everyone to have dad’s name. However, not as common as I had expected beforehand.

    3. I got to be pretty cool with whatever people did, but the one thing that REALLY pissed me off for some reason (i mean, feminism-wise it’s not the worst scenario) was when it’d be Mrs. X-Y, Baby X-Y, Toddler X-Y and Mr. X. Like…why is the entire family participating in this hyphenation thing and not you, dad? It was so weird to me.

    • LJ

      Re 3 – this confuses me too. It’s a mix of societal expectations and men not realizing their privilege yet, in my experience… there are a LOT of men out there who are initially quite offended when their wife won’t take their name, but wouldn’t even consider as an option (“of course not!”) that they could take someone else’s. I also know that there are social jabs towards men who change their name after marriage in some social circles – it shows a lack of masculinity to some people. Soooo weird/foreign to women…

      • raccooncity

        I think you really hit the nail on the head about why that one in particular bothered me more.

        • LJ

          Yeah. Step by step…. feminism moving forward…. hyphenation is a nice step but yeah, it’s definitely still only the halfway (or worse) point, definitely not the endpoint insofar as true equality. (speaking for how it’s used in society today)

    • Ashlah

      #3 would piss me off too. One of the discussions we had around name changing was that I wasn’t comfortable doing something that he wouldn’t also be doing. Obviously not everyone follows that rule, and that’s fine, but I was not going to be the only one to change my name, whether to his or to a combination. We both hyphenated.

    • We’re totally going to end up being that scenario that you hated. Here’s my take. I chose to hyphenate because I liked the idea of sharing a name, but wouldn’t give up mine. He originally was going to take my last as a second middle but it won’t fit on a SS card. I want our future hypothetical kids to have both our last names, so they’ll be hyphenated (bonus, their hyphenated last name is actually my chosen last name). If later down the road he decides he doesn’t want to be the only “Hislast” and not a “Mylast-Hislast” like the rest of us, he can still change it. I see it as a nice reversal from families where both parents keep their last name or mom hyphenated, but “of course they’re getting their father’s last name”.

      • Alexa

        I’m with you on this. I actually grew up with a hyphenated last name (mom was Ms. X, dad was Mr. Y, all of us kids were X-Y). I shifted after we got married to a new hyphen (Mrs. A-B, where A was my old middle name/an old family last name and B was my husband’s last name), because I wanted our kids to have last names that reflected both of us and X-Y-B didn’t appeal. In theory my husband said he was totally willing to hyphenate his last name as well, but in practice he wasn’t nearly motivated enough to do all the necessary paperwork.

        As you say, I’m still happier with it as a solution than what I feel like I see so much more often which is that whether the mom keeps her name or hyphenates the kids are all named to match the dad. *shrug*

    • Her Lindsayship

      This is sorta making me wish I could get my FH to hyphenate or take my last name, even though I’m not willing to change my name at all. Just to take one away from the patriarchy. :P

      In all seriousness, I of course don’t expect him to change his name if I’m not willing to change mine – but like why can’t everyone understand that that’s a ridiculous assumption??

      • E.

        I have a new line that someone posted here a few weeks ago whenever anyone asks if I’m changing my name I say, “Ideally I’d like D to take my name so we can have a shared family name, but he wants to keep his name and I respect his decision.” It’s bringing me so much joy

        Also- Thank you to whoever said that earlier! It’s brilliant

        • Sarah

          It was me! I’m so happy that someone else is doing this too, hopefully it will catch on. This comment has made my day!

        • KateP

          I said something like this a lot too! For what it’s worth, since I’m more stubborn than my laid back husband so we gave our daughter my last name :) It feels nice to push back a little bit against the expectation that dad’s name should win by default and it’s been totally fine. We sent birth announcements shortly after she was born and no one cared, which was a pleasant surprise. There were definitely some raised eyebrows among his relatives when we got married and I didn’t change my name and lots of letters addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Hislast but I tried not to mind and I think the baby announcement cleared that mostly up.

          We jokingly use a mashup name for our new little family but unfortunately we didn’t have the guts/tolerance for hassle to both switch to that new made up name. So he kept his for now and if he wants to change it to match me and the baby he’s knows he’s welcome too :)

          • AC

            We did this too! I cared way more about my name than my husband. Now our son has my last name, it’s awesome.

    • Another Meg

      As a pregnant person who will not have the same last name as the baby, this is so heartening to hear. I am actually crying right now (again, pregnant!).

      • raccooncity

        I’m also pregnant, and still deciding the name thing myself. I cry about not having the same last name as the baby (possibly) sometimes, but I also remember the bond I have with my own mother (different last name) and the bonds I have seen with children and their adopted parents who share zero DNA, or grandparents who are doing the primary care for whatever reason, and I try to remember that love and showing up is the thing that makes the family. Not the name, not the DNA.

        But the name thing is hard to swallow for me sometimes. Especially when it feels like so many people are saying that it’s important.

        • Amy March

          Well, if it helps here’s one person saying its not important at all. I find it really strange people care so much. You’ll be just as much Mom no matter what your last name is.

        • Another Meg

          I get that. We’ve been married for 3 years and my parents are still confused about the fact that I don’t have the same last name as my husband. It will likely get worse once Peanut arrives. But they get confused about things like sushi and “weird” food like Ceasar salad, so I take their worldview with a grain of salt.

        • This is something I have also thought about for hypothetical future children. I’m not changing my last name when I get married, but what last name do we give future children? Tradition would say the father’s. My brother and I grew up with my dad’s last name, but my mother kept hers, and you pointing this out does make me realize: I’m no less her daughter (of course) just because we don’t share a name. I guess the only other solution I’ve seen for this question if you’re not hyphenating (which our last names are both way too strange and hard-to-spell to hyphenate), is to give one child one parent’s last name and another child the other parent’s last name. Food for thought.

        • Rose

          I had the same thoughts, about names. Not that we’re there quite yet, but I was thinking about our names and how neither of us personally really likes hyphenated names enough to want one, so it may be that the future babies will only have one last name. And I was worrying about it, but I finally got to thinking about my mom. We don’t have the same last name. I don’t think any of us felt like our relationship was less for it, or anything. That let me make peace with the idea of kids having her name, not mine. Not sure what we’ll end up with, but I think I’m with it now. (of course, both my last name and my mom’s are also first names for boys, so that might be a possibility too).

        • thebeadedkusudama

          I wonder if it is having the choice about the name is what is causing you anguish? I live in a place where women are not legally allowed to change their last names to their husband’s names. They can use their husband’s last names socially if they choose, but their driver’s licenses, health cards, etc. will always be in their maiden names.
          I’m pregnant now and I won’t have the same last name as my child, but I honestly hadn’t given it any thought because every other mom I know is in the same boat. I’ve also lived in a country where women don’t share family names with their children. People may tell you it’s important, but I don’t believe that true. You’re still the mamma and nothing can change that.

          • raccooncity

            Well, the way I see it, even in your situation I would have some control over it because baby could have my name. Or a hyphenated name. What upsets me is the fact that those options are widely seen as non-options, or silly or extreme or whatever.

            And in my part of the world where people can change their names, the constant refrain of “but I care about family togetherness so we will all have the same naaaame” is frankly also upsetting.

            I know it’s not IMPORTANT, because I am extremely close with my mother and her last name is her maiden name while mine is my father’s. But the imbalance of the thing and the very real judgements of other people do sting. Quite a lot, sometimes.

        • Sarah D

          We gave my baby my last name as her middle name, then her father’s as her last (no hyphens). For me it was just because I wanted my name to live on. But, I travel a lot with her alone across Africa, and it’s helped enormously as I cross borders for them to see my name reflected in her name–somehow makes it more legitimate in their mind that I’m traveling alone with her. Probably not a consideration for most people, but it’s definitely made my life easier!

      • Anonymous New Pregnant Lady

        Just found out I’m a few weeks pregnant (yay!!!) and already started thinking about the name thing. Both husband and I kept our maiden names. Don’t know what last name the baby will have. We might give them MyLast HisLast (or the other way around); it’s what my best friend and her family did, and seems to be working well for them :)

      • Jenny

        Well if you give birth in the hospital in the US, at least while you are there your baby will be tagged as BB (baby boy) or BG (baby girl) yourlast because they tag them under the mother’s name (I assume because the baby is covered under the mother insurance), so you’ll have that for at least a couple days (at least this is what it has been like for my friends who have given birth in several hospitals/states). It gave me a small thrill to see my kiddo tagged with just my last name, even though the kiddo’s last name is husbandlast mylast (which is what we both go by socially).

    • AmandaBee

      We will probably be #3, but it was my preference.

      Husband wanted to keep his and assumed I’d keep mine, and we’d hyphenate future kids names. I also liked the idea of hyphenating kids names. Except I found that I actually like the way the hyphenated name sounds for myself so…if I ever get around to the paperwork, I plan to switch my name to that. My name, my choice. His name, his choice.

      I don’t see why that’s more problematic than assuming Hislast is the default last name, other than I guess people like to make assumptions about how you night end up there.

  • Annie

    I’m someone who sort of wants to take my husband’s last name (it’s a nicer name than mine, mostly), but I’ve been struggling with pulling the legal trigger. I think I want to keep my options open and while right now I like socially going by his name, it still feels like I rented a sweater I really love, I’m not sure fits exactly right for long term and I feel like the legal option means I can never return it, if that makes any sense.

    Is there any reason I couldn’t socially go by his last name but wait on legally changing, even indefinitely? If the legal change never happens, would that be an issue outside of official paperwork? Or do I eventually need to make up my mind, either way?

    • Lisa

      I know of at least two women who changed their names socially but never did so legally. They’ve been married to their respective partners for two and four years, and it hasn’t been an issue for either of them. I think, since one of them performs with her new name and has received payment as such, there was a box on the tax form she had to select saying that she’d made money under an alias or something like that, but that’s it.

    • Amy March

      Depends a bit on what you do too. In many states, for example, you are required to practice law under your legal name.

      • Lisa

        Fair point. I know a lawyer friend had issues with this when she got divorced but had to continue to practice under her married name for several more months until she could get her name legally changed back.

    • Meredith

      Yeah, just test it out that way. I kind of wish I would have done this. Not because I necessarily regret changing my name. I just wish I would have thought about it more. I just kind of decided I would and then hurried and legally changed it. There’s no rush for the decision though!

    • This is exactly what I did. I changed my name on things that didn’t matter – FB, random website registrations, etc – but didn’t change my name legally. After 6 months, I decided I wanted to keep it, and went through the process of a legal name change.

      Just keep in mind that what you put on your marriage license IS your legal name, so if you keep your maiden name as is, you won’t have anything to do, until you decide to change.

  • Leah

    Only one person has said, “oh, so you have a new last name?” as a way of saying they’d heard I got married – maybe because I’m older. Or, I guess facebook and the explanation on our wedding website that “we considered changing our surname to TeamAwesome but will both keep the ones we were born with” mostly did the trick.

    It makes me happy when folks get to make naming decisions that make them happy, even if it means having to jump through more legal hoops after the ceremony.

  • laddibugg

    I’m planning to change my last name when we get married. I just like the idea of everyone in our little family having the same last name. Right now I feel a little left out lol.
    What really annoys me is that my state is one of the few that will not allow you to make your maiden name your middle name when you fill out your marriage certificate. You have to go through the official name change process to do so. I don’t know the reason why my state can’t fall in line, but it feels like some sort of punishment for wanting to keep a tiny part of your former self.

    • LJ

      BC (Canada) is like that too. I agree, it’s garbage.

  • Ebloom

    My mom changed her name back to her original last name a few years ago. It’s never even phased me that it might be weird for some people, her last name combined with her first name sounds way more glamorous and like her than any of her married names. I think she felt like she needed to take back the identity that she put aside for the men she married, and her way of doing that was taking her name back. I get how that might not work for everyone, and see how identity is more than just a name, but for her it was empowering.

    • TheOtherLiz

      This makes me want to crowdsource a follow up question: anyone here keep a new married last name after a divorce? I know some people who have and it seemed so strange but because they were painful divorces I never want to ask.

      • Ashlah

        My mom kept her married name post-divorce. I should actually ask her about it–it’s always just been her name to me (they divorced when I was a toddler), so I’d be curious to have a fuller discussion about it. But I think there were three main reasons: 1) So she could continue to share a name with me; 2) Because she felt (and still feels, 20+ years post-divorce) closer to my dad’s family than her own; and 3) Avoiding the legal name change hassle. What’s funny is my dad went on to marry another woman with the same uncommon first name! So both my mom and my step-mom have the same name. Because it’s what I grew up with, it’s never seemed that unusual, but it’s one of my favorite fun facts to tell strangers! (If I were in either of their shoes, I think it might bother me, but different strokes and all that)

  • Kelly

    So I saw this headline as I was sitting at the Social Security office about to have my number called. Talk about having mixed feelings at the last moment! But it’s nice to know that with name changing, nothing is set in stone.

  • JenC

    We debated this so much before we got married. I set myself a deadline of deciding a week before we got married. I missed that deadline, I just couldn’t commit. At the wedding the MC asked how we want to be introduced as the first time and I said “just go for Mr and Mrs HisName”. I wished I gone for the bride and groom or just our first names. I was always going to travel under my name for the honeymoon so I wasn’t pressured to make a decision straight away. I’d also said I wasn’t changing it at work.

    After the honeymoon I say I’ll take his name and I’ve filled the form in but I just can’t bring myself to out it in the post. I thought about changing my name on Facebook and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. We talked about it again and we just agreed that I don’t have to change now. If I want to change in the future then I’ll go through the courts and just pay.

    I understand the author’s point of not being in a worthy career to warrant a name change. Just before we got married, work asked me what they should call me when I can back from honeymoon. I replied with that I wasn’t changing my name at work and I received a comment that the only woman they’d known how had done this was someone married to one of the guys and she was self employed under her own name. I felt like I didn’t have enough external clients and had no reason to be a special snowflake by not changing my name. Then again someone at work did refer to a woman not taking her husband’s name as a kick in the balls for him so I should have probably expected that.

    • Alexa

      Honestly, my knee-jerk reaction to that last guy’s comment is that it sounds like he needs to get kicked in the balls more often to give him a little more perspective…(sorry. I know that’s not helpful, but man is that obnoxious.)

      • clairekfromtheuk


    • Lisa

      One of my co-workers at my last job was getting married two weeks after us, and she remarked that her fiancé would “kill” her and definitely wouldn’t marry her if she tried to keep her last name. I’m sure that first part is a hyperbole, but the second part made me sad for what that says about her relationship.

      • Not Sarah

        BAH, this makes me so sad. I joked to my husband that if he wanted a wife with the same ‘ast name as him and one who would bear HisLast children, he married the wrong woman and he agreed.

        • Lisa

          Haha, I love this!

  • flashphase

    I have MomsLast as my second middle name and DadsLast as my last name. We were the MomsLast DadsLast family growing up and never had any issues with it. If people called my mom Mrs. DadsLast she would say, “actually, it’s Dr. MomsLast,” which always cracked me up. When I told my mom I wouldn’t be changing my name, she said, “that just warms my heart!” <3 We will likely have MyLast HisLast for our kids. I would love to have the kids have my last name but he's the last male of his lineage and feels strongly about carrying on the name.

    My fiance's ex-wife took his last name, and when we started dating it drove me crazy that someone was out in the world as Ms. HisLast. Now she's remarried and took her new spouse's last name. I was always going to keep my last name, but the idea of being the second Mrs. HisLast especially rubbed me the wrong way.

    • Sosuli

      “…he’s the last male of his lineage…” This made me smile, because I’m the youngest out of three girls and both my sister’s changed their names so their kids don’t have our family name. So “I’m the last female of my lineage” is kind of my reason for wanting the kids to have my last name (as part of a hyphenated name).

  • TheOtherLiz

    I felt so ambivalent about the decision; when we got to the clerk’s office to get our license, the clerk asked me and I realized I still hadnt’ chosen! My now-husband thought it was weird for me to “lose my identity” and I decided, for now, to keep my name. But I’m actually glad I did because it has ruffled the feathers of some rather patriarchal people in our circles. I feel no disrespect towards people who change their names, but when people ask me if I changed mine, I always have fun saying “nope, actually we both kept our names the same!” just to point out that it’s absurd to only ask the woman that question. We also created a joke hybrid last name, used it as the wedding hashtag, and some people didn’t get the joke and think it’s our new name! Which is kinda fun. I like that we have the choice; all choices are valid, and it’s having the freedom to choose, whenever, and then change our mind, that matters!

  • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

    PADude and I are living in sin (ha!), and it totally throws my mom off when she tries to send us mail. For whatever reason she won’t write out both full names, and ends up addressing the envelope to “HisFirst & MyFirst MyLast,” which just makes it look like a married couple with my name. I’m going to have to break it to her that no names are changing, and I don’t want to be referred to as Mrs. HisFirst HisLast, so she may as well just start writing it out now.

    • Eh

      We always laugh at what people write on envelopes at Christmas (or my birthday?). My in-laws are getting much better about writing out both of our names. The stragglers (3 years on) are some very old school people in my family. My SIL works for a ministry and we attend fundraisers they put on for their programs (we are not religious but the ministry does a lot of awesome work in the community so we support them). The ministry is very close knit and my SIL/BIL consider many of them family so we see them often. It always throws them off when they are trying to find our tickets for an event because they are usually under my last name.

    • Lisa

      After being corrected rather publicly at our wedding, my MIL has gone out of her way to make sure that we both feel valued. My favorite were the Christmas presents that came in two boxes, one addressed to “Husband & Lisa HisLast” and “Lisa & Husband MyLast.” She still switches it up occasionally, and it gives me more of a laugh than anything now! It’s become something of an inside joke.

      • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

        That’s kind of charming, really.

  • Anon

    This is so timely- I’ve been really struggling with this myself. During our whole engagement I waffled back and forth, and decided in the end that I would take his name because it meant more to him than me, I have a hard time saying I want to keep my dads name because I want to identify with that family still because when we have kids I want to all have the same name too.. So I’ve been using his name, but haven’t changed any documentation yet because we have a trip booked in January under my maiden name already, and part of me just wants to leave it, or at least leave my name at work the same.. I brought my BA into work to hang in my office and it kind of stinks seeing my name there and realizing that single me accomplished that, and I don’t get to be that person anymore…. I clearly haven’t made a decision yet

    • LittleOwl

      I feel you on the degree!! That was one of the reasons I kept using mylastname professionally, even though I legally changed to Hislastname. It has caused zero problems for me.

      I was in the same situation- I was on the fence and my husband felt really strongly about it. I still wonder sometimes if I should’ve kept my name, but for right now I feel good about it.

    • LJ

      It took me 6 months to decide and more than that long for my fiancé to come to terms with it. These things aren’t easy. Sending good vibes your way.

      • Lisa

        I’m stubborn so rather early on I pronounced that I wouldn’t be changing my name unless my husband changed his in some way, too. It took most of our engagement for him to get comfortable with the idea, and he still wasn’t sold by the wedding. I don’t think he would ever have chosen this, but it’s just a fact of life now for us.

        • LJ

          A month or so after our engagement I told him I didn’t know when or if I would change my name. He instantly got offended/defensive and ended the conversation in a huff. We had sporadic conversations throughout that first 6 months about why I would or would not change my name, and about the unfair pressure on women. Since I was still figuring out what I wanted and making a decision, I think he was more open to hearing pros and cons (it was me thinking out loud more than it was me telling him why I made a decision).

          After 6 months, when I had realized that I definitely wanted to keep my name but I hadn’t told him yet (I figured he would let me know when/if he changed his mind on it)…… he told me that he’s been thinking and he’s ok with it since I obviously felt really strongly about my name and my identity, and it was more cost to me than benefit to him to change it. The gender imbalance thing still evades him a bit. Knowing our kids will get his name helped him hugely to come to terms with my decision. It’s not completely a feminist result, but it’s one we’re both happy with.

          • Lisa

            My husband definitely didn’t understand the gender inequality either. When I finally asked why he’d never consider changing his name, he responded, “Well, it’s my name! And it would be difficult to change all of my documents!” He didn’t understand that I would have to bear that burden if I gave in to changing mine.

            I originally capitulated on the kids’ last names because it was helpful in the moment and stopped some of the arguing. Now that I’ve had more time to process the decision, the more I’ve come to the fact that I want the names to be more equitable. Right now we’re leaning to either hyphenating MyLast-HisLast (not awful at 4 syllables, 11 letters) or choosing a name from the family tree. It was actually easier to revisit the name discussion once the stress of the wedding was behind us. You can totally revisit the decision down the line if you end up changing your mind.

          • Ashlah

            “Well, it’s my name! And it would be difficult to change all of my documents!” He didn’t understand that I would have to bear that burden if I gave in to changing mine.
            Please tell me you just stared at him silently until he realized what he was saying.

            I changed my position after our initial conversations too. When we were first dating, and I brought up the fact that I didn’t want to lose my name, he was surprised. He understood pretty quickly, but still initially disappointed (because, as a man, he’d never had to think about it before). At the time, I said I would make my last name my middle name and take his last name, as would any kids. Over time, I decided that wasn’t enough for me. I was still uncomfortable relegating my last name to an oft-ignored place, and, as I mentioned elsewhere, I didn’t want to be the only one changing identity. It was definitely a process for me to figure out what I wanted, and for us to find the right compromise.

          • LJ

            My SIL did the Mylast becomes Mymiddle thing, and yeah I don’t think it works for me. Who sees middle names? You and the government. No one else, really. I’m glad it works for her and others, but to me it’s 90% erasing my name instead of 100%… there’s still erasing happening. Which can be fine, but one of my principal oppositions to changing my own name is that we are creating a new thing – creating, adding, increasing. Why should I have to cut out something to make room for it? Adding something, sure. But it seems counterproductive.

          • LJ

            “(because, as a man, he’d never had to think about it before)”

            this is hard on the list of “stuff I am hoping changes substantially over the course of my life”….

          • Lisa

            I think I paused for a second before exploding. I have a very strong memory of this conversation. We were on the way to pick up a pizza, and we had just stopped in the parking lot when he said that. My patience gave out, and I was sitting there in the car, yelling about how absolutely ridiculous he was being. Those lines were followed by the gem of “This is just something women do and have to deal with!”

            I love my husband, and he is a caring, compassionate person in many other ways. This was really the first time anyone had questioned his male privilege, and he did not react well to it (obviously). This conversation was definitely not his finest hour!

    • Lisa

      I wish you all the best with your decision. Know that there are many other women who have fought this battle, too. I remember that Meg’s comments to me in earlier open threads really helped to solidify my position and reminded me that my opinions mattered just as much as my husband’s.

  • LJ


    A) our wedding invitations are e-vites, we are sending out JPGS with the important stuff on them so they can save them to their devices, with a personalized email body “intro” to the invite for each invitee.
    B) we are including on said invitation, in very small print, “how to address the newlyweds: neither LJ nor hisname will be changing their names” … this is in the same small print as the dresscode and registry info
    C) our wedding is quite small and not worth the hassle of a wedding website. Most people invited are extended/immediate family, and the remaining 1/3 of invitees are close friends and their partners

    Based on any of your experience, how many people who would respect/notice/acknowledge this request? How is best to tell people to write out any cheques the same way they would have before (we don’t have joint accounts anyways) and to please continue referring to us as they did before? We’ve been together 6+ years so hopefully they’ve formed the habit of addressing us properly hahaha.

    • AP

      I like your invitation wording! I would still expect to receive a check or two made out to the wrong names, since not everyone reads the fine print and some will forget. Not sure the best way to prevent that, except word of mouth maybe? When we got checks made out to the wrong name, our bank let us deposit them into our joint account, but not cash them outright because we have to show ID to cash checks. Could be worth a phone call to the bank to ask what their rules are- you may not even need to say anything to your guests about this? As far as what you’d like people to call you, at the end of our ceremony we had the officiant announce, “For the first time as a married couple, Myfirst Mylast and Hisfirst Hislast.” People got the point!

      • LJ

        Ohhhh good call on bank policy-checking! And yeah, having the officiant literally yell it at people seems effective hahahahha :D

    • Amy March

      I think you’ve done as much as you can. There’s no polite way to explicitly tell people how to address checks, since you aren’t supposed to mention wanting gifts on your invite at all. You just have to go to the hassle of figuring it out with the bank later if they did it wrong. Ditto telling them to keep referring to you as they did before- you’ve certainly done a good job so far, but that doesn’t mean everyone will get it right and they might just need telling again.

      • LJ

        aka “learn patience”…. thanks :)

        • rg223

          I would just try not to worry about it too much also. Most people are aware of how checks work and will write it out to the person whose name they’re sure of, or put both of your names and hope one is right, or ask you. We didn’t have any issues with gift checks.

    • AmandaBee

      About 50% of our guests still made checks out to Hislast even though we included a disclaimer. It was no big deal, we just went to the bank together to deposit them and they got it all worked out. The bank employees said it happens all the time! It helps if you have a joint account to deposit into.

    • Eh

      It super duper bothers me that people write out cheques to “Mr and (or) Mrs HisFirst HisLast” or “HisFrist and (or) HerFirst HisLast” because you might not be able to change your name right away with your bank even if you intend to change your name. We were lucky that our banks let us deposit the cheques (I don’t think we could have cashed them). We put any of the cheques that had his last name only into his account just in case there was any issue. We have a joint account and we sent that bank a copy of our marriage certificate so they could add MyFirst HisLast as an alternative name to the account (in case we ever get a cheque to just MyFrist HisLast).

      • Lisa

        I’ve told this story before, but we ended up having to deposit all of our wedding checks to my husband’s personal bank account and then transfer the funds to our joint one because our bank wouldn’t accept the checks without a Lisa HisLast signature. It was super frustrating and not something I really wanted to deal with the day after the wedding, but we didn’t feel comfortable toting that much money in cash and checks around the city.

        • Eh

          Ugh! We had to travel on our honeymoon with all the cash and cheques for a couple days before we could deposit it. I think we dealt with the cash first and then sorted out the cheques. I felt pretty uncomfortable with having that much money on us but we couldn’t get to a bank before we left.

    • In my experience at least, depositing checks is really easy as long as you sign whatever the name they put on there. Like I frequently deposit checks made out to just my husband (when we didn’t share any part of a name) in my (not-joint) account (mostly because we can do it on my phone and he only has one bank account in our college town two hours away, which is another issue, but it means that he can’t really deposit checks easily). I’ve deposited checks that have all sorts of combinations of my names. It might help to do it electronically or at an ATM instead of with a person who might be pickier. But I’ve literally never had a single problem depositing a check as long as whatever name on the front is the name that endorses it.

      • anon-o-tron

        Seconding this! Our cheques were addressed all over the board and we had no problem depositing. I think if you explain that you’re newlyweds, most tellers kind of get it.

  • JC

    I am still super ambivalent about this for myself. I feel like I should care one way or the other, but I just…don’t? I think I’ll end up changing my name.

    MyLast is a very old, traditional surname that has also been used as a very old, traditional first name. So the arrangement I’m most excited about, actually, is giving MyLast as a middle name to one or more of our kids. Middle names aren’t super important in my boyfriend’s family, but they’re important in mine, so this feels like a happy medium.

  • LittleOwl

    I did legally change my name to First Middle Mylast Hislast after a lot of waffling. But… Almost no one calls me by the new name. Professionally I just kept using Mylast, and I never changed it on social media handles. Occasionally people use it (airlines, name cards at weddings) but overall there hasn’t been a difference.

    I wonder if there will be a time professionally or socially where I will “switch”. Like the author, I feel a little burst of happiness when people continue to use Mylast.

    As a side note, I plan to give any future children Mylast as their middle name.

  • R

    FH and I both have common last names which are very similar. (His is one of the ones you use when you want a generic name, mine is a derivative of the same name.) We are doing a team name which is the stage name I’ve been using for
    years. (He is also a performer, we met through a mutual performer friend.) My stage name has
    been MyFirst Grandmother’sLast. It’s a name that is a little less common
    than either of ours and sounds quite nice! The best is when our friends
    tell us jokingly “Oh you should be the StageName’s when you
    get married.” We tell them that’s the plan and they get very excited.

    • Lisa

      Love this! Something I’ve suggested for when we have kids is to go back to our family trees and find a name we both like and could use for our children. We’ve found a couple we both like that way.

      • R

        I like it a lot! It still links to family, but also represents something new. For me, it has the added bonus of reducing the number of names people know me by. It would become somewhat complicated to have OldName, StageName, and NewName all floating around. Now it will just be OldName and Stage/TeamName.

  • spinning2heads

    I’m going to go ahead and add a plug for hyphenation, because I haven’t seen one here yet. It’s awesome! We wanted a family name, but both of us felt pretty attached to our last names. So our last name is now Mylast-Herlast. We chose which one came first by deciding which way around sounded better. I can see not liking having a hyphen on only your last name, especially if the kids are both going to only have the one last name, but a hyphenation as a family totally rocks.
    As for the main objections everyone seems to have:
    – No it is not too long. Yes it is long, but not too long.
    – Our kids can do whatever they choose when they get married. They can keep one name and hyphenate a spouse name onto the other, they can go with the spouse’s name, they can keep the hyphenation they have now, or they can do something new we never thought of. That’s their decision to make and I have every confidence that they will figure it out.
    – No, it’s not hard to say (this will depend on what names you start out with)
    – No, it’s not ugly. It’s actually rather beautiful.

    • Alexa

      I grew up with a hyphenated last name (and now have a new hyphenated last name of MyOldMiddle-HusbandsLast) and it always makes me just a little sad when people are anti-hyphen. I also always found it weird how many people asked what I would do when I got married when I was still in elementary school…which is why I probably adopted the default answer of marry someone else with a hyphen and see how much of the alphabet we can cram into our hypothetical childrens’ names.

      • LJ

        bwahahahaha I would love to see the results of that ;)

        People are dumb sometimes.

      • E.

        I’m also hyphenated and YES to people asking about my last name super young! I even had someone ask me in a job interview.

        • Lisa

          This strikes as such a rude and intrusive question because presumably people are asking it when they first meet you and learn your name. No, complete stranger, I don’t feel a need to discuss my life and personal choices with you.

    • LJ

      I actually really, really wish our last names were hyphenate-able. We both have “harsh” sounding last names (mine is not English language, his is but is heavier on the consonant sounds)… there is NOTHING pretty or nice about saying either combination of them in the same sentence. It just doesn’t work phonetically and doesn’t look or sound nice……I would push for family hyphenation but they just sound rubbish hahaha. They’re harsh and intense-enough on their own without doubling it haha…. so we’re keeping our names. The concept is so beautiful… I wish implementation was more universally straightforward.

    • Eh

      We both kept out last names but use our last names hyphenated as a family name because people would call us “The HisLasts” and my husband would get upset that they were excluding me (he’s sweet that way). We decided to go with HisLast-MyLast because it sounds better (my last name is a homonym for an English adjective that is not flattering so we didn’t want it to be first). We then gave the hyphenated name to our daughter when she was born and we started getting tons of comments like it’s long (actually my sister took her husband’s last name and it is the same length) and it is a mouthful (and my sister’s last name isn’t?). People are also confused about what our last name really is because apparently most families don’t have people with three different last names.

    • Bethany

      When I was a kid I thought hyphenated names were kind of strange, just because I didn’t know many people with them. But as an adult I can definitely appreciate them. It’s not an option for me, both of our last names are 3 syllables and that combined with my 3 syllable first name is just not something I want to deal with. But if one of us had a short/simple last name, the hyphen would be a strong contender.

    • Jenny

      Yes! We have a joint last name, though we went with two last names rather than hyphenation. ours is hisname myname. Do you ever get push back/questions about the order of the names?

    • anon-o-tron

      I’m really hoping that we hyphenate our kids names. We both have short and easy to spell names so I figure it’s perfect opportunity!

  • Dr. Y

    I didn’t change my name. In my husband’s culture, women don’t change their names when they get married. It was actually kind of confusing for him. The children there get the father’s last name typically, but there doesn’t seem to be too much confusion one way or the other. Sometimes people call me Mrs. X, and I usually gently reply that I didn’t take my husband’s name and to please call me myfirstname. When people ask and I’m feeling sassy, I say it’s because I don’t believe in coverture, and if I’m feeling extra sassy and they call me Mrs. X, I can say, actually it’s Dr. Y, but feel free to call me myfirstname. Before we got married I got a lot of flack for not changing my name from family and friends, some saying we wouldn’t be a family if we didn’t have the same name. But for the most part, people are good about not calling us Mr. and Mrs. X, with the exception of the occasional wedding invitation or holiday card.

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  • Arie

    I really wish we could find a way to talk about name-changing in a less-binary way, where Bad Feminists change their names and Good Feminists keep their names. Names, like people, are hardly ever that simple. I have my father’s last name, and I am absolutely sure I’m not the only person reading this site who has spent a few decades lugging around a last name that belongs to people who have chosen not to be my family.

    I kept my name all these years because I felt that it reflected something important about me that both sides of my family needed to know: 1. that I did not spring directly out of a crack in my mother’s forehead, and 2. that my father’s family can do a lot of hurtful things to deny that I’m one of them, but they can’t strip me of my name. For many years now, it’s been a mark of defiance, of strength, and a reminder of the journey I’ve taken to get to the place where I’m capable of committing my life to someone. But you know what else? It’s a heavy burden, and I’m ready to put it down.

    Like many of us, my social circle is largely made up of badass women in non-traditional relationships who I respect greatly. It’s not a social circle where I ever have to feel defensive about my life choices—until this! People are openly confused/disgusted/horrified that I’m changing my name to match my fiance’s, as though the only reason I could possibly want to do this is because I secretly love the patriarchy. I see that same kind of judgement in a lot of the comments on this article. To me, this isn’t just about a name. It’s about my name accurately representing who my family is for the first time in my life.

    All this to say: APW commenters, you smart, courageous bunch: in the same way that you don’t want people reading into your decision to keep your name, please please please keep in mind that people choose their names for all kinds of reasons. And are still feminists.

    • LJ

      I think there are a few things here… first is that a LOT of us face outside (“IRL”) pressure to change our name so it’s nice to have somewhere that, if we don’t wish to do so, we feel safe – so there’s a disproportionate amount of us name-keepers on this site because they’ve done such a wonderful job of creating a fairly liberal community. On a personal level, most of my lady friends changed their name/are changing their name after marriage, so being one of the few to not change can feel really ostracizing and it’s nice to find someone other than my mom, even if only online, that supports my choice.

      Second is that sometimes people are dicks and the internet tends to let people feel more free to be dicks. I’m sorry that you’re not feeling like you can say your way. If it helps, I think @sofar does a great job below of saying “Hey, I didn’t change my name, but I don’t have anything against it and here are my experiences with my family who use their version of my married name to express love”.

      Good points and hopefully we can get more balanced opinions, but in the end this is an internet forum and trolls exist.

      • Amy March

        You srsly think anyone on this thread is a troll? Your definition is way off.

    • Lisa

      I’ve been thinking about this a lot this morning because I have several mixed feelings about it.

      Firstly, I think @disqus_bvwKBeQQxm:disqus hit the nail on the head about why we women who did not change our names tend to vent in threads like this. It’s one of the few spaces in which I operate where even half of the women didn’t change their names. Almost everyone else I know changed her name in some way. It’s a bit liberating to finally talk to people who get it and whose first response isn’t, “Well, you could have just saved yourself the hassle and changed your name.” We deal with micro-aggressions all of the time from people questioning our identities or simply ignoring them by purposefully continuing to call us a name they know we didn’t choose.

      Secondly, I completely understand why you might want to change your name. A good friend of mine is planning to do the same as you for similar reasons after her wedding (estranged father and father’s family). The issue I grapple with is that, if we were only looking at name changes from this view or from the view of taking whichever name sounds better, then women’s names should win out just as often men’s do. Men’s fathers have left or abused them, and there are plenty of men who have difficult to spell or pronounce names. However, they don’t usually feel compelled to change their names to their wive’s in the same way women do for their husbands. Women need a good reason to keep their names, but men don’t. That’s the issue here.

      I feel like part of what I’m doing by not changing my name (besides staying true to myself) is demonstrating for other women that there are options available to them. I’m very open about the struggles my husband and I went through before he was able to accept me keeping my name because it’s important that women realize that they can fight this battle if it’s important to them. I hate to hear, “I really wanted to keep my name, but it was important to my husband so I just gave in.” I want to challenge that default assumption that, because something makes a man uncomfortable, I should give up my own position to placate him.

      I appreciate your thoughts, and I’m glad you felt like you could contribute, too. I hope this gives you some insight into why commenters in this thread might passionately swing the other way.

    • Amy March

      I think it is 100% possible to be both a feminist making a choice that is best for you, and for that choice to not be feminist, and for that to be okay. I appreciate your point of view, but changing your name is still a patriarchal default in so much of our society I really value having a place to come to where it isn’t the favored option. I think the broad strokes on either side can be problematic in individual situations, but I’m not personally willing to give up a broad and feminist view and cede the floor to wishy washy you do you or the obviously you change your name because tradition side.

    • TheOtherLiz

      Sorry you feel that way, and thanks for helping us see your point of view. I tried to temper my comment below with “no respect to those who change their name” but hope it was taken seriously, not sarcastically… and don’t worry, you are still allowed in the Feminist Club! ;) It’s also good to remind me that I still have a patriarchal name (my father’s). But I was also named after my father’s mother, so I also have a matriarchal name. Anyways, this decision is complex for some of us, isn’t it? Like with all things on this blog, your choice is valid and you don’t need to pass a litmus test to earn your Feminist card in this community.

  • Kayjayoh

    I did that! I hadn’t changed in legally, which turned out to have been a relief. But after a year of being Kayjayoh Mymiddle Mylast Hislast, I gave up. Had to do a bit of work to get the workplace to stop using hislast, but it felt better. I never liked my last name much, until I was changing it.

  • cheshirecat452

    My husband took my last name and it just makes me the happiest person that he was 100% down with the decision. He also loves to tell hosts at restaurants to call us up by OurLastName and it’s super cute.

  • LA

    This is so timely for me. I’ve read all the comments and I’m still so conflicted about what I want to do. Here are my issues, if any of y’all have any insight (aka someone else make this decision for me, kthanks, bye):

    1. Fiancé was upset/hurt when I mentioned keeping my own name. We had a decent discussion but basically the best he could do is that he wants us all to have the same name (which I pointed out could mean him taking mine and he looked at me like I had 2 heads) and “everyone else does it.” (We live in the Deep South. Everyone else does it.) I haven’t brought it up again and I’m hoping he just forgets about it and I can continue not making a decision.
    2. Fiancé’s dad is an abusive jerk who is not in the picture and I’ve never met him. Not exactly someone I want to share a name with. But fiancé’s mom is remarried and has children with his stepdad so he’s been the only one with a different name his whole life and I do think he genuinely does want our family to all have the same name.
    3. My mom died a few years ago and I kinda want to keep my name so I have the same name as she did. (I realize she only has that name bc she took my dad’s but I can’t help that now.) I want my dad and my brother and me to maintain that connection. I don’t know if that makes any sense.
    4. I’ve been married before, changed, and HATED it. But I can’t decide if that’s because I would be uncomfortable no matter what or if that was just a symptom of how terrible the relationship was.

    The best I can come up with so far is to keep my name legally/professionally and use his socially. But then why bother if no one is really even gonna use my last name? (And I feel like that will lead to a lot of being called MRS. HisLast, which even if I do legally take his name will drive me insane. I feel super strongly about going by Ms. Whoever.) I’ve also thought about using MyFirst MyLast HisLast and asking him to change to HisFirst MyLast HisLast too, but changing his name requires us to go through the courts (changing mine is free though, of course) and no one uses middle names anyway, so do I really want to spend $500 just to stick it to the patriarchy and be a #goodfeminist? Sometimes I think it sounds totally worth it and other times I think there are a thousand other ways I would rather use that many.

    Ugh. This is so complicated and, honestly, it’s the one thing keeping me from being totally happy. I know it has to be dealt with and its going to cause a fight/hurt feelings no matter what decision I make and that is such a bummer.

    • anon-o-tron

      “I feel super strongly about going by Ms. Whoever” – It sounds like you know what you want to do and that most of your concerns are about fiance and family/social group getting in line with it. Maybe the question you need to ask yourself is if the hassle of correcting people in your social group is going to be worth it to you?

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  • This is why I like what they do in France – which by default has your maiden name and then a prefix that means ‘spouse’ followed by your spouse’s name.

    So you can basically use whichever name you please. Professional I go by my maiden name, but socially I use hubby’s name. It would be so great to have ID with both names on it (separately) since I will never ever use both names together, unless I’m joking around (he has a hyphenated name already so it would be 3 names with 2 syllables each!)

  • anon-o-tron

    I didn’t change my name and my husband was 100% on board with it, it was basically a total non-issue for him aside from announcing that he didn’t want to change his name either. Easy-peasy. No pushback, one comment from my FIL about how long i’d remain HerLast and I said forever and my husband jumped in and announced that he would be keeping his name too. Nothing since. We haven’t had any other comments about it really, although I did get a bit of side-eye the other day from a casual acquaintance of my MIL. OH WELL. I like my name and I feel really strongly about our kids not being raised with their father’s name being the default for the family.

  • laurynap

    You literally summed up exactly my feelings that I have been battling since I got married in Augusst 2015. In a fit of love and joy a week before our wedding, I went against my 1.5 year thought process of keeping my own last name and not taking my husband’s in any capacity, to I’m adding it to the end of mine! After getting back from the honeymoon I went to the social security office and changed it, I immediately regretted it.

    I then battled my decision for months. I lamented over friends and other people’s choices to change their names, adding their husbands, hyphenating and all the different variances. I tried to fit my round opinion into society’s square hole and it just didn’t work. Mundane things such as getting a new leather wallet monogrammed brought on so much stressed – two separate orders, double the money spent and no decision on which one I wanted.

    After much reflection and realizing the reason I married my husband – someone who is supportive of all my endeavors, opinions and ideas and of feminism and my own rights – and realized no, I can keep my last name and become fully confident with that decision.

    The last hurdle came when removing his last name was not as simple as adding it onto (which is a whole ‘nother RANT about the structural differences us as women face) and I had to pay $50 for a background check and appeal in front of a judge and many condolences on my implied divorce. But now, I am happily married and happily have my last name back.

  • Has anyone here and their partner totally changed last names altogether? My FH and I both have very small families. He doesn’t know his biological dad and was adopted when he was 12 by his stepdad. He doesn’t feel attachment to his last name. Similarly, my dad was not close with his stepdad.

    I have a very close relationship with my mother’s family and have considered taking her maiden name. My partner has also considered his mother’s maiden name but we are both undecided.

    Just curious if others here have gone in a totally different direction than to keep their last names or hyphenate!