The Real Reason I Didn’t Take My Husband’s Last Name
04.12.18

“Are you ever going to change your last name?” is a question I’m asked nearly every time I visit family. It’s inevitable, like the question of how many kids I will produce (note the overbearing nature of the verb) or if I’d like a second slice of coffee cake. Answers: TBD and yes, thank you, Oma.

It’ll be eight years this Earth Day since my partner and I exchanged rings. So, you know, no; I don’t think I’ll ever be changing my last name. Not for any particularly noble reason — just a general disinterest that happens to run bone-deep. In fact, it was this very apathy that served as the original motivation for the decision. If you can even call apathy a motivator.

My partner and I began our marriage with a spontaneous elopement. Perhaps the act cut short my opportunity to mull over the name change decision with any real intensity. When the time came around to finally address it (to certain relatives, as an “issue”), I quickly came to the realization that I simply didn’t care. I was just too lazy to pull together all of the appropriate documentation. I was too lazy to even see if it was that much of a hassle to begin with. It just seemed like work — work I didn’t feel compelled to undertake.

It’s in that vein that my “decision” has often felt a bit like a lie. For years, every positive affirmation I got from women for keeping my maiden name in spite of societal pressure imbued me with a subtle blush of shame. I didn’t feel rebellious, I felt lazy. I worried I was acting as a false paragon for a principled stance I hadn’t actually thoughtfully cultivated. But with the recent public unmasking of the true extent of the gender imbalance in American society, I’ve begun to question whether my indifference was actually, in some small way, a feminist victory. Can boredom be a manifestation of progress?

Perhaps the fact that I’ve so nonchalantly refrained from an act that, by one study, 94% of women still perform and 50% of Americans believe should be mandatory by law — and that affects the perception of both a woman and her male partner (occasionally to his detriment, I might add) — is proof that a new era is materializing. One where our decisions don’t have to carry the burden of a paternalistic culture. Where we can decide to keep or change our last names as a matter of taste and without repercussion.

It’s a small shift, this act of apathy, but it’s one I’m holding onto. Movements like Time’s Up and #MeToo have given voice to the individual and corporate inequality that women endure — especially women facing systemic oppression for their race, ability or class. The conversations, both invaluable and emotionally exhausting, serve as a reminder that the world is not built for women and, for me at least, have dredged up personal reminders of unpleasant, demoralizing experiences predicated on my womanhood. That’s why when I am asked, yet again, if I will change my name, my thoughtless decision to break tradition reminds me of the progress already made: The privilege to be careless in this department was hard-fought and won by women before me. And I am motivated by all of the delightfully unexpected ways our difficult work today will manifest itself for future generations of women, too.

Society still has a long way to go, but when my grandmother or dad or aunt asks me if I’m ever going to change my last name and I get to casually respond that it’s not high on my list of priorities, I get to rest for just a moment in what the future of gender equality may mean: something too banal to even bring up as small talk, just another decision to be made depending on your temperament that day at the courthouse.

It’s a welcome victory during such a charged time — to have one lazy act bleach my feminist guilt into a recognition of progress. That future females might feel bored by the patriarchy instead of threatened by it is a nice thought. Far off, sure, but still a warm spot worth sunning in from time to time.

Illustration via Getty Images; GIF by Emily Zirimis.

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  • Asshly

    I live in Venezuela and that doesn’t exit here, you can ADD their last name to yours like, for example, you name is Maria Ventura and your partner last name is smith, you have to do ALL the papers and change your ID and passport so you can finally call yourself Maria Ventura “de Smith”, But people don’t that here, we’re lazy AF.

    http://www.femmeontrend.com

    • Same in Argentina and I’m not sure you can even legally add the “de Lastname” either. All this name thing reminds me of The Handmaid’s Tale where maids are called “Of” + the name of their owner, like Offred and Ofglen
      I’m glad I live in a society where most women do not use their partner names anymore, pretty good coming from a developing country.

      • Pamela Bruno

        Same in Bolivia. It’s crazy to me that americans still do that, being a more “progresive” country compared to Latin America.

        • meme

          I’m not sure but I think it comes from Spain, one of the better things they left …Then you move to a country where it’s not the custom and their brains explode. (Seriously, they wanted to change my name for my visa papers).
          Also, gracioso hablar en inglés con otras latinoamericanas :p

  • Adrianna

    Sometimes I wonder how I would feel about taking my husband’s name if I wasn’t an immigrant. My last name is “weird” by American standards, and I like that it’s an immediate signal of my Polish culture.

    But taking on my partner’s last name also feels weird because we never integrated either of our families into our relationship.

    • Rach

      You’re last point is an interesting one. There seem to be two cultural camps when it comes to the extended family of your partner: that it’s two families becoming one, or that you’re beginning your own family. I tend to fall into camp number two, but that’s most likely due to the family tradition I was raised in.

      • Adrianna

        Interestingly, my partner has a different last name from the rest of his nuclear family because his mother remarried and had two more children. My partner’s paternal grandfather was adopted, so in some ways his last name is just random.

        How do children’s last names into all of this? I don’t have any real plans to have a child, but I know I wouldn’t want him or her to have a different last name. (And therefore would understand why my partner would feel the same)

        • Kimberly A Vincent

          Not that I think about some kind of rule being made to force it but, why do we give kids the father’s last name? It’s the mother’s bones, teeth, and body that gets permanently altered by a pregnancy so it just makes more sense to me that children get their mother’s last name or they should have one designed by her.
          You don’t have to do a maternity test on a baby to prove it’s bio linked to the woman who just birthed it.

          • Mark Harper Tyler

            That is an excellent point. If we were starting from scratch, it would probably make sense for each child to have the mothers last name. In our case, when we married, my wife kept her last name and I took it. Our kids have that as their last name also, of course. So we basically followed that approach.

  • Kate

    I love this. It is a privilege that we can be nonchalant and dismissive about this. I did change my name, but it took me about a year to get around to it. And my passports are still in my maiden name because you have to pay to get new ones, and I had only recently renewed them both and I like my current passport photo. I’m always surprised that it is a charged issue to some people, it’s just not a big deal to me.

    • Rach

      Agreed on the surprise over the “charged issue” element of it all. When researching a bit for the piece I was pretty shocked to find that one study found that 50% of American’s feel that women should be legally required to change their last name. It’s one of those weird holdovers that doesn’t make any sense at all (to me at least), but people are still obviously passionate about it.

  • dietcokehead

    Dealing with the hassle of the name change is just more unpaid labor for women and I stand by my laziness.

    • Adrianna

      My partner once brought up a culture where it’s standard practice to create your own last name when you marry, but he added, “but then the man would have to change all his documentation”

      I’m like, do you seriously think someone waves a wand and poof, women have a new last name?

      • dietcokehead

        Oblivious dudes really are hilarious sometimes.

    • Tanishka Gupta

      Exactly. Honestly, as a woman in society, laziness is an act of rebellion since we’re just expected to *do everything*.

      Not to mention how heteronormative the whole practice is.

    • niche

      Totally get this. I was waiting in line to renew my drivers license a while back and the woman in front of me was changing her last name. She was on the phone and listing all the things she has to change. All I could think was this woman chose to wait in this line. Lol why do this to herself?

      Also, women get married later now so there are so many more documents to change. Like more credit cards, bank accounts, retirement plans, healthcare plans, land title registry if you own a home, car title, insurance, loans, mortgages, etc. The longer you live, the longer the list. And if you have a visa in your passport, you often have to reapply. Then there’s the explanation every time you apply for a job and must produce your transcript, diplomas, etc that are under your maiden name. Also when you are asked for your birth certificate, you also need your marriage certificate to prove yourself. NOT WORTH THE EFFORT.

      I’m Chinese and it’s the norm to keep your own name in our culture. So that’s what I say when I was asked. Even though laziness is the real reason.

  • Aleda Johnson

    This is so timely for me. I’m getting married next year, and I’m waffling with the name change. I don’t really want to change it because of the patriarchal issues around it and because it such a part of my byline (I’m an editor), but I like the idea of becoming “one” family. I also don’t know what to do about kids down the line. I will be damned if I don’t change my last name, but my kids are only easily identified as my husband’s children.

    • I kept my name and my husband and I are taking the Euro route for baby names – First Name, Middle Name, Moms Last Name, Dads Last Name. Or you can just make their middle name, your last name. #options Our kid will be fucked on monograms but I don’t care that much.

      • blythe

        OMG! Another Blythe!!! Hi Blythe!!! Love, Blythe

        • Helllooooooooo Blythe! There’s actually another Blythe who lives right around the corner from me! When we all hang out together and someone says our name it’s SO WILD because that never happens EVER! Love, A Blythe in Indiana

          • Blythe

            Wow, I’m dying to know what that feels like. There should be a blythe family-reunion-style party where we all meet and complain about how hard it is to be a blythe. Love you blythes!!!!

          • BLYTHEFEST 2018!!!! The first workshop would be everyone sharing the funniest misspelling of their name. My best one happened at Starbucks. I got my cup back and it said BLIK!?!?!

        • Julia

          I really love this little Blythe party going on here.

    • Rach

      Author here, hi! The kid issue is a really good point. I have a daughter now who has my husband’s last name and I kind of had her young, so there were moments where I was mistaken for the nanny. Early on it made me feel a bit like I wasn’t in the club, but I’ve since gotten over it. We’ve even considered giving the potential next kid my last name to even the score. Names are weird.

      • Aleda Johnson

        I had thought about that! Like having one kid as a Johnson and another as a Stam (his last name). It would solve the problem of teachers being like “Oh you’re so-and-so’s sibling?” haha

        • Margot

          My mom never changed her last name and my parents did this! I have my dad’s last name and my older brother has my mom’s. It wasn’t a big deal growing up–I never thought of it as divisive or anything, and somehow teachers often found out we were related anyway. People do think it’s kind of goofy but I like it! It also means my mom’s last name will be passed down further if my brother has kids and passes his name to them, which I appreciate.

    • Millie Lammoreaux

      Unsolicited input from a married woman — you’re going to feeling like a unit/family no matter what your last names. My partner and I both kept our last names (funny that no one has ever asked him why he didn’t take my name!), and we generally refer to our little unit as, like, the “Johnson-Smith” family.

    • Olivia Lauren Hawk Moore

      Did we talk about this with Amanda? I ended up changing my last name like 6 months into marriage but mostly because neither of us cared that much and I also liked the idea of looking like one unit on paper. In retrospect, it’s not that hard to change (or it wasn’t for me at least) but I found that people started calling me Mrs. Moore anyways and I didn’t care enough to correct them. You also have the option of just tacking his name on to the end of yours (my full legal name is Olivia Lauren Hawk Moore) which I don’t feel like anyone talks about.

      • Aleda Johnson

        I think we did! I’ve thought about doing what you did, where I just tack his on, (Aleda Kay Johnson Stam), and then I can stick with just Johnson on my byline, and the kids would have both last names I guess?

        Caleb joked about combining the names and going as “Stamson.” But I think/hope he was joking! haha

        • Catherine Keene

          My partner and I are both going to combine, and he was pushing Keenesmith or Keensmith (pronounced like Portsmouth so the s is more attached to the first syllable than the last) instead of Keene Smith. I think I’ve convinced him that’s not the right path.

      • LS

        I wanted to just tack his name to the end of mine but in my state it was so much more expensive and more work than just changing my name so I was lazy and changed it instead. I keep saying that someday I’ll add my maiden name back in there, but I doubt I’ll ever get around to it, honestly.

    • Kirsten

      My sister and I both have my mom’s maiden name as our middle name. It is more subtle as middle name’s aren’t often spoken, but I love that I have her identity in my name.

      • Kattigans

        Same have two middle names and on is my mom’s last name and the other middle name is both my mom’s mom’s middle name and its the same as my dad’s mom’s first name.

    • Jasmin

      My sister and I have different last names! Long story but she has my father’s and I use my mother’s. I always liked the idea of having girls take their mother’s last name and boys take their father’s… equal opportunity ya know? Maybe a bit old-fashioned because gender-binary-oriented now though (-:

      • inka

        I have a different surname from my mum (dad’s name, they weren’t married), so as a kid I assumed that girls took their dad’s surname and boys took their mum’s surname – it was an embarrassingly long time before I realised that wasn’t the norm but now I really like the idea for my future kids.

    • Agreeing with most here – last names don’t make a family in my experience. My Mom never changed her name to my Dad’s name and that never made her feel less my mother, and if my sister had changed her name when she got married then she and I would not longer have the last name but would still be family. Surnames are so tied to patriarchial property and protection lines.

    • Christine Desaulnier

      School won’t recognize you as the mother with a different last name.. Also if you hyphenate – your 2 last names together. Smith-Davis. . You will HAVE TO USE it on your I. R. S. paperwork, returns.etc… .Also passports etc. pain in the butt. .

      • Pamela Bruno

        “School won’t recognize you as the mother with a different last name” this is NOT TRUE.

        • Christine Desaulnier

          It can be true.. I’ve had it happen to me. . I had to prove my relationship one day after changing my last name to a new employee at the school in order to pick up one of my children.. and my mother in law WoRKED at the highschool and I had lived in the community for 15 years.. Lol. . So yes, it can happen.. The Lady said latter.. Sorry but your last name didn’t match the kids. . I commended her for protecting my family.. Any other idiot would’ve sent the child on out the door with a stranger .

      • Lizzie

        NOPE not true not true not trueeeeeeeee

      • hilary

        Why would having to use the hyphenate on legal paperwork be an issue to you? Genuinely curious. For me, writing out a hyphen and 2 last names seems no different than writing out a single last name. It doesn’t seem terribly inconvenient to me to write out a few extra letters.

        • Christine Desaulnier

          Well, if you FORGET TO PUT THE HYPHEN or to use one of the last names bcz you didn’t KNOW that it was necessary. Could set you back in wasting time on a very important legal article. Not everyone knows these things as I was trying to point it out.. Also, the School may not and does not have to take your word that you are the children’s parent with any last name you use and may require you to produce birth certificates… With your drivers license and any other IDENTIFICATION for proof of YOUR identity to the children your saying are yours.
          I had 2 long lettered last names.. . And it WAS a pain in the butt to constantly write it out. As I was co-owner of a company and signed lots of checks and documents…not just once in awhile either.

    • Stacey B

      I kept my maiden name and used it as my middle name instead

    • Bananadrama

      I changed mine when it comes to legal documents, but kept my maiden name for professional stuff (LinkedIn, etc.)

      I didn’t build up this work history only to have a reference say, “Who? I don’t know her” because they don’t recognize my name.

  • Ha ha, my reasons were somewhat similar … I simply could not grasp I was getting married (… erm eloping for real) after years of telling everyone I never would, so I ignored certain aspects, like getting engaged or telling anyone about getting married, and kept the name. I like to think it may make others consider it, but I never ask.

  • sarah

    you have your name for your whole life – it is part of your identity… which is pretty great already! why change it?!

    • Erin S

      Yes, this is how I feel! When it came “time” to do the work to change my name after I got married, I felt sad giving up the name I’d had for my whole life … so I kept it!

    • nlea

      It took me over two decades to come to actually like and strongly identify with my last name, I wasn’t about to go through another 20 years of adjustment to a completely different name.

    • This is the main reason I’m going to keep mine.

  • Abby

    I took my husband’s last name because it’s the same as my first name (but with a different spelling) and at the young age of our marriage it was HILARIOUS to me. Years down the line it’s more annoying than cute, but I’m still overall glad I did it.

    • Cristina

      I’m sad there is no LOL vote, just up vote or down vote. Because I LOL’d!

    • You are my idol!!

    • Literally lol-ing.

  • K

    I wish changing your name were just up to the individual taste. Women in my experience get a lot of pressure put on then to change their names – in a number of cases their husbands were quite offended and upset at the idea that they might not.

    Personally I would never change mine. It’s a reminder of the time when women belonged to their husbands and id like to leave that time firmly behind!

  • Celebrating 5 years of marriage next month and now more than ever I’m glad I didn’t take my husbands name. Outside of the lazy aspect and juvenile vanity (I didn’t want my initials to be BJ), losing my last name was never an option for me. As a kid, I’d daydream about getting married and taking my husbands name, but as I’ve grown into the woman I am now, I couldn’t imagine shedding the identity I’ve cultivated and grown into.

  • Millie Lammoreaux

    Ummm holy shit at 50% of Americans thinking I should be legally forced to take my husband’s last name. I’m not his property so that’s gonna be a no from me, dawg.

    • Rach

      I know, right? It’s nuts! Also, keep the early American Idol references coming!

    • Kiki

      I know! Why does this make me want to do that so much less? F the man!

    • Kattigans

      Randy Jackson quote for the win, lol!

  • Micha

    I love my fiance, but his last name is generic AF, and mine isn’t so… I’m not taking his. Call me shallow but as a WOC marrying a white guy, I think it’s important to keep my last name!

    • Adrianna

      LOL that’s seriously one of my main reasons. I like my weird immigrant last name!

      • micha

        Right?! I did not spend my entire childhood (life, if we’re being real) teaching people how to say it to just abandon it now. For a name that every tom, dick and harry has? Please…

        • Cat

          Agreed! I have never met a single person who spelled my last name correctly on the first try. I have saying and spelling it out loud quickly down to a science. It took me like 20 years to nail it. Not going to abandon it now. Also, it’s distinctive so I grew up with tons of nicknames that were spin offs of my last name. Changing it feels like abandoning myself.

          • Christine Desaulnier

            I dropped my ex name DAVIS bcz there were a zillion Christine Davis’ out there.. This one is more unique and I’m not lost in all the paperwork of Davis’s… But LOST Could have it’s advantages🤣🤣

    • I’m sort of the opposite. I like my guy’s last name better than mine so I might add it to mine… idk yet though. Also luv your avatar lol it’s one of my favorite gifs of on time to use!

      • LS

        I also was pretty much the opposite. I never liked my last name because it was somehow both boring and hard to spell/pronounce. My paternal grandma always said she hated changing her last name because she got stuck with such a terrible new name. My husband’s last name isn’t anything special but it sounds much nicer than mine did. Even better, when I changed my last name, I went from being one of about 100 people in the country with the same first and last name combo to being the only one.

    • Cordelia

      I agree with the faint narcissism. I would be taking a bulky-sounding, alliterative surname when I get married so I just want to avoid it somehow… maybe use my passport fee as an excuse!? Also, I think why should I? Because I am a woman? LOL

    • Alison

      Similar dynamic, but reversed gender/racial identities. I don’t particularly like my last name, since it rhymes with a word for “male escort” and lends itself to all kinds of silliness, especially when I work with younger students. Still, I wouldn’t have changed it because all of my publications are in my current name. But I’m not comfortable taking his last name and Rachel Dolezaling it. I’ve served on committees where we try to recruit scholars from underrepresented communities, and for me to take a last name from another ethnicity feels wrong.

      One more thing to add to the mixed-race couple bucket.

    • Sarah

      I feel the same way, I’m personally a little indifferent about changing but if my husband had a name like Smith I would be worried about the problems that arise with having a common name (Sarah is too common as it is)

    • Catherine Keene

      My partner and I are unmarried and having a baby in the Netherlands. We are getting a registered partnership, and we have decided to both change our surnames to a combo. Also his is Smith and no one has my last name so I don’t want to lose it. I do, however, want my baby to have my surname and I’d like for all of us to have the same one! And I don’t want us all to be Smiths because our preferred baby names then all sound like Mormon prophets. Don’t think your desire is shallow at all.

      • micha

        I love that! Also “I don’t want us all to be Smiths because our preferred baby names then all sound like Mormon prophets” made me LOL.

  • Olivia Lauren Hawk Moore

    I took my husbands last name, but purely because we liked that we had our “own” family- we considered him taking my last name too, and still some days talk about changing it.

  • Rheanonn Perez

    I’ve spoken to quite a few women (including my mom) who did change their last name after marriage, but after divorcing, don’t even bother changing it back. they say it’s too much paperwork & trouble. #nojudgment!!! but it’s crazy to me that even with all of the ~drama and spite~ of separation & divorce, these women are still apathetic enough to keep the last name of a loathed ex-lover rather than do the paperwork again. i have never been married, let alone divorced lol, but i feel like i would ideally wanna fight to have my pre-marital identity back.

    if it is THAT much more complicated to change your last name back to your maiden name, then i will definitely take my time to think about it (or like the author, not care much about it) before changing it in the first place.

    • moon_water

      my grandma was married and divorced three times and never changed her name back after her final divorce (she had no children from her third marriage, so it wasn’t an issue of keeping the same name as her kids). i always thought it was a little strange, but i’ve never asked her about it.

    • LS

      I think it also probably depends on when you got married and how long you’ve had the new last name. Most of the women I know who didn’t change their name back after a divorce had gotten married young and had their whole careers with their married name. If you’re well known in your field or have bylines under that name, I could understand not changing it back even if you really want to.

  • Cristina

    My maiden name was very hard to say and I was so ready to change it. BUT when it came down to it, I got really emotional because my last name connected me to my family of all women, it was the name I was raised with. It has so much history. I mean, I changed it because like I said spelling and pronunciation but it was very bittersweet!

    • gracesface

      I definitely felt that too. And I felt separated from my family of origin which was a very weird feeling. But my family frankly were excited to refer to me by my new last name which they did like at our wedding reception, it was that immediate! I recently revived my old laptop and the admin is of course my maiden name. Kind of made me nostalgic. Truthfully I never felt strongly about keeping my maiden name and I’m okay with it.

  • Anna

    I didn’t and won’t change my last name. It started as laziness and grew into a position. A major catalyst of that change was when someone on Facebook told me that I was “preparing for divorce” and accuse me of not loving my husband. Ridiculous, but a real eye opener about how people viewed me and my decision to not change my name.

    This is another in a long string of decisions where people should do what they want, what’s right for their relationship, but outsiders feel like they should have a say in.

  • Nancy

    I can’t believe 50% of Americans think that the name change should be mandatory by law! That’s absurd. My husband and I got married last year, and I also didn’t change my name. I hadn’t thought about it much or made an official “decision”, but when it came down to it at our civil ceremony (at the civil ceremony, all you have to do is write in your new name and presto!) I just knew I didn’t want/need to take his last name. My last name is still very much part of my identity. He is my husband and partner, no matter what my last name is. He also happens to be Argentine, so it’s not very important in his culture that I change my last name to his (I could be Consuela Banana-hammock for all he cares). Basically it came down to feeling indifferent or slightly, teeny tiny bit averse to making that change. We got married, but I’m not all of a sudden a different person.

    • Yep, in Argentina this is not a big deal and I’m really happy about it, I think we cannot change our names so easily here because they are our identity and that is a big deal here. Luckily, new generations of women stopped using their partners name and it was a natural thing.

  • Laura

    I took my husbands name. (it’s actually not at all big of a hassle as everyone seems to think it is/makes excuses with) and I didn’t lose any sense of self or consider myself to be less of a feminist, less of a person, owned by anyone or thing. I actually considered it to be an extension of our vows and a really beautiful thing. If you’re concerned this is a sign that the man “owns you”, I’d reconsider your relationship. I am a strong working mother and wife who volunteers in the community, is a voracious reader and loves her friends and family. By all means do whatever you want – in anything – but to say you lose your self by losing your last name – seems really quite overly dramatic. In the years I have been married, I’ve only gained. As a side note, my maiden name was WAY better than my married name – easier to spell and pronounce.

    • orthostice

      but names are so inextricably linked with identity, why did you have to change yours and your husband didnt?

    • gracesface

      this what I wanted to write. thank you for putting it so clearly.

    • It may not have been a hassle for you, but for me, it’s been a pain in the ass. Not just the initial taking off of work & going to Social Security/DMV/bank, but in other ways. I forgot about a 401k from 2 jobs ago, and now I have to go through 8000 hoops to change my name at my old employer so the 401k account can be changed, all to get MY money. That is not a small hassle.

      • LS

        Yes, legally it was no big deal to change my name. But I have spent so many hours of my life on the phone with American Airlines, and then Delta, and then United, and then Southwest, and then Amtrack, and then Hilton, and then Courtyard, etc. waiting for them to tell me what email or address or fax number I needed to send copies of all my documents to update the name on my rewards accounts so I could get my points. I think the hardest part of changing my name was finding a fax machine…

    • Also, let’s not discount the woman who DO feel that their name is a large part of their identity. It’s great that you didn’t feel this way but shaming other women is part of the problem, not the solution.

    • smartastic

      I guess for me changing my name really would have been losing a piece of my identity, and I don’t feel that that is an overstatement in the least. I’m glad it wasn’t for you and that you are happy with the personal choice that you made.

    • Pamela Bruno

      It is not being overly dramatic. Maybe your name wasn’t a big part of your identity, but to some women it is, including me. I would never change my last name because it’s a big part of who I am. It is actually a very sexist tradition and shaming women saying they are being “overly dramatic” for not wanting to partake in it, is also sexist. So no, changing your last name may not make you any less of a feminist, but shaming women for their feelings towards that tradition does.

    • Hilary

      Changing your last name to your husbands is not a feminist choice (with certain exceptions). It doesn’t make you less of a feminist but it is inherently a patriarchal tradition. It’s fair to want to defend your choice but calling the issue dramatic leads me to think you haven’t researched the issue. Other areas of feminism are probably more important to you than this specific issue but for many women, name and identity are linked.

  • Katie

    oh wow, this is so timely! i’m getting married this year and i’ve been dropping some hard hints that i haven’t decided if i’ll change my last name. mainly, it was a strategic way of avoiding receiving anything with “mr. and mrs.” on it, which i’ve come to loathe, but perhaps that is rooted in a deeper unwanting to change my last name than i had initially thought. also, growing up in a sea of other katies, people often blend my first and last name together, almost like a moniker and i have trouble conceptualizing that no one would call me katielastname if i change it! plus, as a couple who has lived together for years, we already feel like we belong to one another– last names be damned.

  • I didn’t change my name because in the state of New York the options for changing your name becuase of a marriage did not include the one I wanted… to ADD my husbands name as a fourth name. I don’t know why, but that’s not allowed as one of the four options. I’ll have to change my name through the courts to get it done and I can’t be bothered with that BS. The other options were: a) Drop either my middle (no, that’s my nickname) or my last name (uh, nope) and replace with my husbands; b) Hyphenate our last name (double nope, but that’s why you see it so often); c) take the former last name from a previous marriage either of us was once in (da fuk?! seriously) or d) Mash-up our last names to create a brand new name, Brangelina style. Presented with these 4 options I am utterly confused why simply adding a fourth name is not an option.

    • That sucks! Here in MN you can do any combo which is nice, and both parties can change their name at marriage. I added my husband’s to mine so I have 4 names.

    • LS

      In my state your options are just keep it or change it to your husband’s. Everything else has to go through the court. I wanted to add his name too, but decided it wasn’t worth the trouble and just changed it.

  • garnishmywages

    I was happy to take my husband’s name, I thought it would be fun to have a new name. Honestly, I wish at that point that I had changed my first name as well, why not? I want to be around a long time, my old name was my childish self, my new name is now my grown-up self. Names for different stages of life could be an option.

    • gracesface

      Yea I was excited to change my name, frankly!

    • Erica

      i really like this perspective

  • Coco

    I changed my name when I got married, and then one year later changed it back because it still didn’t feel like me. So much paperwork haha. Also, I really had to work to convince various administrative people to change it back without divorce as a reason!

    • Rach

      That’s an interesting issue. Do they only have divorce or (I’m assuming) death as options to change your name back? Where’s the “eh, it just didn’t feel right” box?

  • gracesface

    I took my husband’s last name but he has always wanted to create a new last name and hell, puts on stuff that he labels around the house. Maybe we will one day.

  • It’s actually UNcommon for women to change their last names after getting married here in Hong Kong. We just all keep our maiden names, no fuss. It’s been like this for generations!

    Charmaine Ng
    Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    • Rach

      Interesting! Thanks for the addition to the conversation. It really lays bare how this is really just a matter of one’s cultural tradition 🙂

  • lateshift

    94% still do this????!? wow…had no idea it was anywhere near that high

    I mean, a person’s name is their identity…of course respect to people who actively want to give theirs up, but until men do it at an equal rate, it’s just another way society reminds us we’re lesser. (Not to mention: women bear the kids, but if it’s a married couple those kids just about always get the guy’s last name by default – even if it’s a hyphenate, the woman has to share it with the man. Again – no disrespect to people who love this tradition, but… same issue.

    I’ve had my name since I was born, and I’m just attached to it as any man is to his, and would like to see it passed on to my descendants too, thankyouverymuch…especially if the act of getting those kids requires me to go through the work of creating one inside myself for several months, then nourishing it with my own body for several months after. Unless and until science advances to the point where men can do that too, it feels like the woman’s last name should just be the default. Especially since: hey, at least if she bears it she knows for sure it’s hers!)

    • Mark Harper Tyler

      That is a very good point. When we married, my wife kept her last name and I took it. So of course, our children have her last name as their last name also.

    • Kate

      Agree with this 100%!!! I don’t understand why more people don’t talk about this.

  • patyof

    It’s so weird (not really) how rarely the option of the husband taking his wife’s name comes up, and the kids having their mom’s name. Especially if the whole “family unity” thing is an issue that’s also an option. I’m officially hyphenated but professionally and socially I go by just my mom’s last name– it’s personal for me since she raised me and my dad didn’t contribute much but like that’s also a possibility. If I get married I would absolutely not change my name (it’s very unique and I love it), and if I were to have kids I would have to insist on a serious discussion about them having my name rather than my partner’s.

    • Rach

      I’ve heard of people exploring that as an option, but apparently it’s a different, more difficult process for men to change their last name than it is for women. Total hearsay, and frankly doesn’t make sense, but you know, “making sense” is not a requirement of the American legal system so…

      • patyof

        Yeah that seems insane but I wouldn’t be too surprised. Still though, if “family unity” was really such a major concern for my male partner I would expect him to be willing to deal with a bit of cumbersome paperwork and legal bureaucracy to make it happen? Like not to put too fine a point on it but I kind of think the partner who gets all sorts of unearned privileges in virtually all other areas of their life could take one for the team here ;P

        • Jackie G.

          When we got married, my husband took my last name. We had a lot of discussion about neither of us changing our last names, either one of us changing, or doing something else, but ultimately I was more attached to my last name than he was to his but we wanted to have the same last name. The paperwork was sort of onerous, but not too terrible (it didn’t seem much worse than for women, at least in our state). And the fact that he was totally up for doing it confirmed that we’re the right partners for each other.

          • Mark Harper Tyler

            That is what we did when we got married. My wife is very established in business and did not want to change her last name. I prefer just to have the same last name for the sake of family unity. So I made the change. We now have children, and of course they have that as their last name.

          • Mark Harper Tyler

            Lol. I did not see your post because I was typing mine up when yours was posting. Great going both of you!

    • Hilary

      I totally agree with you. My husband and I ended up hyphenating for our son because it seem strange to me that women who choose to keep their last names go on to give their children their husband’s last name. I think children should have the mother’s last name or hyphenate.

      • patyof

        That’s awesome!!

  • I don’t know if anyone has brought this up yet but my husband hates his family. He only interacts with two people on his Dad’s side of the family, not including his Dad, and has shut out everyone else. Adding this to our combined general apathy towards name changes it was a no brainer not to change. Also his last name is very unique and I prefer being slightly more anonymous on the internet. 🙂

    • Adrianna

      I don’t plan on changing my last name, but I’m completely estranged from my father and his family. I’ve only been a part of my mother’s family. In some ways it’d feel to odd to change it to my mother’s maiden name, because I feel like I’ve made the family name I do have my own.

  • ladybirda

    Laziness was a major reason for me too. Like I had just sent in all the paperwork for my new passport and drivers license! Our honeymoon tickets were in my maiden name! I wasn’t about to change all that! Eight years later, my son is the one pestering me about it. I ask him why doesn’t he and his brother and daddy change their name to my name. He looks at me like I have 3 heads. Sad but even at a young age kids accept the patriarchal status quo. Since I’m the one who books our travel reservations, we’re often greeted at a hotel as the “My Maiden Name” family, and I feel a bit sad that my children will never have my name.

  • Lexie

    I deeply appreciate this article! I did not change my name for the same reasons as the author, and I have felt guilty about it!!! Luckily for me, not many people ask me about it!

  • Aim

    Okay this may sound weird – I never really identified with my last name. My mom took my dad’s last name and that’s obviously what the kids were given. But…my dad’s family is horrible and we don’t even speak to them anymore. Yet here I am attached to them by this last name. I’ve always felt like my last name should be my mom’s maiden name just because her family doesn’t suck and I got my red hair from her mother (who died when my mom was just 16 so I never got to meet her but I’ve always felt more connected to her than these a-hole relatives I share a name with.) So I definitely will be changing my name when i get married and I’ll let my kids have the same identity crisis of which last name they wish we gave them…

    • Lizzie

      I’m in a similar situation as you with my dad’s side of the family being totally distant and basically MIA from my life. My mom and her side raised me.

      So… I changed my last name from my dad’s family name to my mom’s family name when I got married! I love having a last name that feels like it represents and honors who I am. Highly recommended. 🙂

      • Mark Harper Tyler

        What a wonderful story. Congratulations. When we married, we handle things a bit differently. My wife kept her last name and I took it.

  • When filling out the paperwork to get married last September, I had to state (on legal documentation) that I was keeping my last name. My reasons, which are numerous, are really not the point. My husband did not have to make that same statement. He did not have to declare that he was not changing his name, because the assumption is just there. And this is is NYC, which is fairly progressive overall. It is astounding to me that this issue remains so black and white with only one clear “good” outcome – that a wife (in a hetero normative relationship) is expected to take her husband’s last name. I am firmly in the camp of letting women decide whatever the heck they want, whether that be taking their spouse’s last name, hyphenating, joining names, creating a whole new one, or keeping their own last name.

    • Millie Lammoreaux

      Same procedure here in Massachusetts. I had to SWEAR that I wasn’t changing my last name in front of a town official! My partner was like, “oh, do I have to do this, too?” completely in earnest because he is an actual angel, and the official looked at him like he was insane.

    • 808kate

      Wow, I can’t believe that happened in NYC! It seems incredibly paternalistic and antiquated. I had the opposite experience in DC – No one even asked if I wanted to change my name when we did our paperwork and I don’t even know how I would have gone about doing it if I had wanted to.

  • anne_blushes

    the crazy thing is, most of us carry our father’s name, not our mother’s. so even when we insist on keeping ‘our name,’ it’s still handed down through the male side. this is just a thought—i think you can be who you want with whatever name you choose/are given. but i do find it interesting that who we are, insofar as names are concerned, will usually be bound to our fathers, not our mothers. (unless, as some have commented, your mother’s name is part of yours, too.) PS i don’t see myself changing my last name upon marriage, either. i like sharing the same name as my ‘original’ family.

    • Ash

      Just thinking about that. Our mother’s last names aren’t really “theirs,” either. It was her father’s and our grandmother’s was HER father’s. Turtles all the way down or something like that…

    • Hilary

      You’ve gotta start somewhere tho if you want change patriarchal traditions.

  • Adriana Gasteazoro

    I kept my last name because I really like it and is quite unique. Where I live it was actually harder for me to keep my last name. I have a notarized document that reads that I, Adriana Gasteazoro, married to Husband’s Name, will henceforth be known as… Adriana Gasteazoro. It’s absurd.

    The one thing I have always questioned is that since we usually inherit our family name from our dads (I know that varies in some places) isn’t that equally patriarchal? Why do we feel more attached to the family name we inherited from our father’s than the last name our husband’s will be passing down to our kids (again, if you follow convention).

    I just wish their were an easier way to go about family names that wasn’t as “machista”.

  • jugarboo

    If my last name didn’t end with “Butt” and my husband’s last name wasn’t so awesome-sounding, definitely wouldn’t have changed. But getting rid of the butt name was a huge relief. Lol.

  • Pamela Bruno

    It’s interesting to me how I always read this debates in American media. The fact that 50% of Americans believe women changing their last names should be mandatory by law is truly shocking to me. It is a tradition rooted in sexism and ownership.

    And all the excuses people give about having problems if you don’t share your last name with your kids or husband are complete nonsense! I’ve read people saying that you risk people thinking you are kidnapping your kids if you travel abroad (not true, I have traveled the world with mom who doesn’t share my last name and our relationship has never been questioned in inmigration, not once). So many countries in the world don’t do the whole women changing their last names anymore, or never have, including many European countries and most of Latin America, so if you need examples of families living succesfully with two different last names, there are plenty around the globe.

  • Caroline Christianson

    I had a similar revelation when hanging out with friends of a friend who all used the term “partner”, including the heterosexual halves of cisgender couples. Once I realized this standard use of “partner” by the group, the gender of one’s partner (and thus the sexuality of the person I was meeting/speaking to) felt unimportant.

  • Vladilen Olenin

    Bored for now, but later…

    “seven women will take hold of one man in that day, saying, “We will eat our own bread and wear our own clothes, only let us be called by your name; take away our reproach!” -Isaiah 4:1

    There is a very good reason for the differences in our functions and roles as men and women. To dismiss them would be “lazy”. Laziness leads to poverty and misery.

    • Rach

      Radical, my guy! I look forward to partaking in the whole breadth of human experience. (Wo)man cannot live on happiness and misappropriate scripture alone!

    • KathND

      I haven’t taken my husband’s name but after seeing that scripture quote I’m now totally convinced I will.

  • Jessica

    I didn’t take my husband’s name, but not for any particularly strong feminist reason. Mainly, we had already been dating for 10 years when we got married, so it made no sense to me that I would suddenly change my name at that point in time. Also, my husband and I have different heritage backgrounds, so I didn’t particularly identify with the origin of his last name, it didn’t feel like it represented me. My name felt like a part of my identity, I didn’t want to lose that. Also, laziness. All the forms seemed like a nightmare. So, I chose not to. I don’t think my husband was 100% thrilled with my decision, but ultimately he was supportive (not that he had a choice 😉 ) Although I still have countless relatives who call me by my husband’s name, no matter how many times I correct them.

  • Jennifer

    I got married three weeks ago and one of the reoccurring questions since is if I’m taking my husband’s name (no). This is at a finance company in Los Angeles! So strange that people care to ask and that I have to explain it to THEM. Butt out and just say “congratulations”!!

  • Susan Cianca

    Even before I got married in 2004 I knew I was keeping my last name. Frankly…. I like it. My family never question my decision. My husband is from the middle east. The wife keeps her family name and so did I.

  • Rasmuris

    It’s not a hassle, just a small form you can fill out and turn in with your application for a marriage license. It’s cool if you don’t want to surrender to an old tradition. How dare anyone make any woman submit to yet another sexist practice! Here’s another idea, let’s just abandon last names all together. Hey all you men out there, if she won’t take your last name then don’t take your hard earned money to the jewelry store for that expensive diamond ring.

    • Because basic human rights like identity are for sale and can be bought with diamonds. Right.

    • KathND

      Huh?

  • Sophie

    I didn’t take my husband’s name, but I still have a man’s name. My father’s. I love my father, as much as I love my husband, but it still felt like the choice of two male names. I could pick my mother’s ethnic last name… but again, that’s her father’s name. Who was an awful man.

    Fucking patriarchy.

    Ultimately, I love having my father’s name because he is an incredible man. And I will give my kid’s my husband’s name for the same reason.

  • Sophie

    BUT I HATE THIS EXCUSE: “I want us to have the same last name SO WE FEEL LIKE ONE FAMILY”

    wtf is that? It’s not a good enough reason to change my name and it could send the WORST message to my kids.

    I kept my name because I wanted to teach my kids that you can different names and still be a family. If my son ends up being gay, will he feel like his family is illegitimate because they have different last names? Will he feel pressure to change his name, even if he doesn’t want to, particularly if that was the reason his VERY LIBERAL mother used to change her name? fuck that.

    • Lizzie

      YES that drives me absolutely nuts and also why is it *always* the woman who has to change her name??! If it were truly because everyone wanted to feel like one family, we would see more men doing it too. Ding dong, patriarchy’s here to call bullshit on that excuse.

    • Hilary

      I agree and don’t understand why people don’t just hyphenate. It seems strange that women who choose to keep their last name then decide to give their children the man’s last name. Why not hyphenate or give the mother’s last name?

  • Kenneth Broom

    Lol who really cares do what you want. Why is it Such a big deal ? Do it are don’t just live your life!!

  • Annie

    I think those of us who have a different ethnic heritage from our husbands may feel more strongly attached to our names.
    It’s not about inheriting our father’s name so much as it is about continuing to identify with and claim our heritage.

  • Emma

    In my country, most women don’t bother to change their last names, and either use ‘Ms’ to denote their married status while retaining their maiden names or being a ‘Social Mrs’, which is what my mother does. Basically, she calls herself Mrs X but keeps her maiden name for all official documentation and events.

  • Basil

    I changed my name for a number of reasons, including that I had just turned 30 and it felt right to have a new name to take into the new phase of my life. As other commenters have pointed out, my “maiden” name is my father’s name, and to be honest, I have a rather crappy father. If I’m sharing a name with any man it’s the one I choose to spend my life with, not someone I have no choice over being related to

    • Basil

      Though I totally agree with the laziness thing. There were so many Forms to fill in! I didn’t change the name on my main bank account until we had been married three years. Fortunately the staff didn’t notice the date on the wedding certificate and were all “now you get to use your new signature! How exciting!” Yes, the signature I’d been using for three years already …
      I still have one bank account in my old name, just in case …

  • teaonthebeach

    I come from a country where women don’t change their last name when they get married (Italy, where it’s not even allowed), and live in a country where women are judged if they don’t change it (UK). I would never change my name as it’s so deeply linked to my identity and heritage. Whenever I talk about it with other women, it seems like the main worry is not having the same name as their future children (and not wanting them to have a hyphenated name), which I can sort of understand. I also understand that for most people, their name is their father’s name – so still another man’s name. I quite like the Spanish system, where children get both surnames. Then a family becomes a unit where the two “parts” feel equal.

    What I find shocking is how for most people changing their name is not even a choice, but just “the way it’s done”. I’ll never forget when a friend of mine, commenting on a wife who was cheating on her husband during their honeymoon, said “of course, she wouldn’t take his name, he should have seen this coming”. That made me FURIOUS.

  • pterridactyl

    My initials are TLC. I love my man but sorry, babe, I ain’t changing those initials for anyone!

    • Rach

      Yes! I wouldn’t tolerate scrubs either if that were my namesake! <3TLC<3

  • Kim

    Your apathy was absolutely a stance! It’s the default expectation with which most men enter into marriage. If they don’t give a fuq, why should we? After all, we get paid less than men so we can hardly afford to take the time to go stand in a series of long lines on a work day to fill out a bunch of paperwork 😉 Nope.

  • Toronto CS

    When my daughter first went to nursery school half the moms had their own last name, so I was really surprised to read here that 94% of American brides change their name. But the thing about that nursery school class was that all the kids had their father’s last name.

    I took my husband’s name because I wanted my eventual whole family to have one name, and also because my husband was at a bad place in his life and I thought it would make him happy. He denies this to this day. At the time he wanted to take my last name and says he still wishes he had (it’s shorter) — but he’s prone to procrastination, bad with paper work, and I could see major nagging on the horizon with this root.

    I think one of the major things that determines whether women take their husbands’ names is how far along in their career they are. I was 22. All my friends who married after 25 kept their own names.

    I don’t think it’s a big feminist statement one way or the other. I mean it’s pretty arbitrary what name you were born with, and it was probably your father’s. I remember once my best friend (newly married) said she could never respect a woman who took her husband’s name. I think she got over that.

  • Stacey B

    If you didn’t change your name on paper when signing the license, it’s a whole court proceedings to get the name changed, might be expensive too. Why bother?

  • Some men change their last names to the woman’s. So, not sure this is really a societal thing anymore simply a personal choice. Respect to all in their own decision

    • Mark Harper Tyler

      Great point. That is exactly what I did when we married seven years ago.

  • Lizzie

    I changed my last name from my dad’s surname to my mom’s surname (they are long divorced) when I got married. Feels right, I’m super proud of it, and anyone trying to concern-troll me or my relationship because we don’t have the same last name (what a dumb thing to stress about!) can f right off. Rawr.

  • Abbey

    I didn’t change my name when I was married almost three years ago. It started because I didn’t want to change my name in my professional setting (my signature block has to tie to my legal name); all my clients and colleagues have known me with my last name for years. I originally thought I might reconsider when we have kids but now I’m 7 months pregnant and I have no intention of ever changing my name. The point made by so many readers here really resonates with me – that’s not the message I want to send my kids! You are just as much a part of this family if you are a [Mom’s last name] or a [Dad’s last name] or if you get married someday and decide to keep your last name or become a [new last name].

    My parents love that I have kept my name and my very traditional father has actually started adding my mother’s maiden name to their return address block whenever he mails me things. My very traditional husband was a little surprised by my decision at first but has definitely embraced our two last name household. I think he ends up using mine (for reservations, accounts with service providers, etc.) almost as often as he uses his own. It seems like such a huge deal when you make this decision to change/not change but in reality, it is such a small blip on the radar in your adult life. I hope by the time my kid(s) are in this position we will be at a point where no one but YOU has an opinion about YOUR decision for YOUR name!

  • mapillski

    My last name was made up at Ellis Island when my family fled what was the Hungarian Empire in the mid-1900’s. I’m proud of that. Why would I just give up that history for someone else’s name that I have no connection with?

  • Oryx03

    I live in Quebec, Canada and in this province women do not change their name when they marry. Since 1981, we have had a policy that prevents women from taking the man’s name to put an end to the societal pressure that women face in this regard. I think it is amazing that we don’t have to deal with this and am always surprised that it is still so common in the rest of North America.

    • Rach

      That’s a really interesting approach. Do you find that women who want to take their husband’s last name face societal pressure in the opposite manner?

      • Oryx03

        I have not encountered it myself, but I am sure that some do. For Quebeckers who have grown up with it, not so much, but I have read stories of people who have moved here from other provinces or countries that feel as if their rights are being suppressed.

  • Erica

    unrelated, but i have an oma too!

  • Ashley

    Can we also talk about the issue of Mrs./Miss/Ms.? Because whether I take my partner’s last name or not (not planning on it), I will never go by “Miss” or “Mrs.”, but will always go by “Ms.” Do men have to indicate their marital status by their title? No, Mr. works for all men. The Miss/Mrs. dichotomy is yet another way to indicate that women’s marital status is an important part of her identity, and I find that most people don’t even know that “Ms.” does not have an attachment to marital status, and is thus a way of subverting it!

    • Mark Harper Tyler

      That is an excellent point. There really is no reason to have any other title for any woman other than Ms. In fact, you could argue that we should just do away all together with all of these titles, Mr. and Ms. included.

    • Basil

      Oh yes! That’s something I became weirdly pissed off about after I got married. I now deliberately put “ms” for everything I can.

  • Shelby Kate

    I have a hate-hate relationship with my current last name (I never use it and have many times thought about dropping it legally) as it is my dads last name and have 0 relationship with him and he ruined mine and my family’s life. My mom remarried and taken a new last name and my sister had my mothers maiden name until she got married so I am the only one in my family with my last name. so even though I am pro femmes doing what they want, I will fall into that 94%. Sorry ladies you’ll have to fight this particular fight with me on the other side.Just know that I wholeheartedly support you in WHATEVER decision you make!

  • Lindsay Stollings

    I’d say roughly 80% of my friends only refer to me by my last name. If I were to get married and change it I feel like a yuuuge part of my identity would be lost. There’s always the southern route of dropping the middle name for maiden name then adding husband’s at the end. Oh well, not getting married anytime soon so there’s time to mull it over.

  • I’m taking my fiancé’s name. Cause honestly I love his name. I had decided that if I didn’t like my SO’s name I wouldn’t take it. 🤷🏻‍♀️ And here we are. I think it depends on every woman. It is a lot of work though! I also think it’ll be nice for our future kids to have one name as well. But again, not why I decided it.

  • KillerKate

    Yesssss… I love this article and the interesting way you came to view this decision/non-decision. I also have yet to change my name a few years into my marriage. In the beginning it stemmed mainly from apathy and laziness—my husband and I didn’t care that much either way, and in my head I thought I would eventually get around to it—but people kept assuming that I was either making a feminist statement or having marital issues (no joke, a female high school acquaintance sent me a fb message asking if I was still married—holy rude). The more questions we got about it, the more I felt like I wanted to flip people the bird and excercise my right not to change it. So over time my apathy morphed into a quiet act of defiance against my more conservative (and nosey) family and friends. I love the idea that past feminist activism has normalized this act to the point where we can be apathetic about it. I might get around to it one day (because literally no one will shut up about how hard it is to have kids with a different last name *queue dramatic eye roll*), but it’s not something that I’m going to lose sleep over in the meantime.

  • My father changed the spelling of our last name when I was 12. Since then I haven’t been very attached to my last name, so it was no brainer to change it when I got married. My husband’s last name tucks perfectly behind my own, shortening it and making it sound much more European and exotic. If I had liked my last name more I would have kept it, but in this case, I liked his better. It was a huge hassle, and if your name is attached to your accomplishments (like scientific papers, celebrity) I would definitely not change it!

    Eva | http://www.shessobright.com

  • tiabarbara

    i’ve thought about this a few times (not that i’m planning to get married any time soon). i’m incredibly attached to my last name as my family are the only ones with it in the entire country and it’s a huge part of my identity. in all likelihood i won’t change it, because the thought of doing so just makes me too sad, like i’m giving up who i am for someone else.

  • Hannah Cole

    Sometimes I think the effort factor is a big reason why I haven’t changed my name too — ALL of those forms, ALL of those programs.

    But also, I’ve been me my whole life so far, so what’s wrong with continuing along that vein? What if I just like who I am and don’t need a fresh start? Or I’m comfortable enough in my relationship that I don’t need a new identifier to define it?

  • Kubla

    Perhaps it was not boredom or laziness. You just didn’t complete the work required to turn you into your husbands property. You didn’t become a “Mrs.” What i do not pay attention to is also a statement.

  • nlea

    This was the exact reason why I didn’t change my last name. I don’t know how many people think I was trying to make some kind of radical statement, but when the topic is come up I have always been (admittedly self deprecatingly) honest as to my reason for keeping my name.

  • As an ethnic woman, changing my last name is a huge deal. Especially if I let go of my ethnic last name. It is representative of my identity and instantly gives away my background. Changing your last name isn’t as simple as it seems and will change the way you’re perceived. Especially if you’re an ethnic woman changing your last name to a American one.

  • Naty Diaw

    I really don’t understand why it’s such a big deal. It’s just a name, take his
    xx
    https://closettostreet.com

  • Ainsley Chapman

    I totally relate to this! My husband and I got married nearly 3 years ago, because we love each other of course but also so that I could continue living in London with him after my visa ran out.
    The months around the wedding there was so much paperwork to do with getting our marriage certificate in a different country, my residence card in the UK, etc. that I couldn’t stand adding another thing to my to do list with the name change.
    Not having the same last name doesn’t make us any less married or committed to each other!

  • Amanda

    If we’re talking about patriarchy, why think about marriage at first place?

  • Lucy Kurtz

    This discussion is so interesting to me, but I feel like there is a real argument to be made for a married couple to have one name- it’s weirdly sad to me to think that traceable lines to your descendants, whether your children or not, might become blurred or disappear. I really support the feminist stance here, but the identifier is such a human thing.. I don’t know

  • Wow I’m really shocked by those stats. I only know one girl who took her husband’s last name and it was only because she didn’t like her maiden name.

  • sav

    I’m taking my fiance’s last name this year. A few of my friends who have recently married are sticking with their maiden names (more power to ’em!) but for me personally, there are more meaningful or impactful ways to show that I’m a feminist. For me, taking my fiance’s name is a nod to him that symbolizes solidarity and mutual respect.

  • Anne

    I’ve been married 5 years and never considered changing my name until I gave birth this fall. Now, my daughter has my husband’s last name, and I hadnt prepared myself for the annoyance and slight sadness of needing to explain my decision at every doctor appt, when calling the airline to add her name as a lap infant, etc. Thinking about adding my husband’s name (having teo last names) and using my own professionally, but there’s no good solution.

    • Hilary

      Why not change your daughter’s last to a hyphenate?

  • I solely took my husband’s last name because I just liked his name better than mine. I needed a vowel in my initials!

  • Christine Desaulnier

    taking anothers last name. .
    1. You lose contact with friends bcz your name changed.
    2. If you marry multiple times. . Will there be room on your headstone for all the names, especially if you have a child with each husband?? 😝😝😂😂
    3. In many countries , the woman never changes her name. Italy for one.
    4. Think before you decide one way or the other.
    Everything in life has its Pros and Cons . Always remember to weigh the differences..
    The choice is yours and no one else’s. You are the one who will live with the choices you make and as with everything in life, The choices you make today, will affect you tomorrow. .

  • LR

    Interesting! The real reason I did not change my last name is: I can’t stand my husband’s family! (and I adore mine 🙂

  • Maggie K-S

    I’m getting married this year and I’m pretty excited to change my name, more because of *future* laziness than anything else. My last name is hella long (and hyphenated), and his name is a glorious FOUR LETTERS.

    My name currently doesn’t fit on a lot of government/application forms (not to mention most forms still you fill out with “bubble letters” don’t have a hyphen so I have to put a space) or most credit/debit cards. Businesses that have my name on file regularly just *pick* one half of my last name to use in their systems, or the last few letters get cut off, so a lot of my documentation is already kind of effed.

    I’m ready to have a simple last name that’s easy to spell on the phone, fits on forms and cards, and is a homophone for one of my favorite animals (Katz!)

  • Aryn

    hopping onto this thread late in the game because I have a perspective that is interesting, I think. My family had “split” last names growing up. My mom kept her last name, my dad kept his last name. All the lady children (my sister and I) took my moms last name, and the boy children (my brother and our dogs (lol)) took my dad’s last name.

    I read a comment here where someone mentioned that a family will feel like a unit without having the same last name, but this was something I really struggled with as a kid. Reckon, we had this confusing women one last name men one last name situation, but it was really difficult growing up. To note, I grew up in a pretty progressive neighborhood, very progressive parents, but people had a really hard time understanding. Classmates didn’t know my brother was my brother, thought he was my step-brother or half brother, didn’t think my dad was my dad, though my parents were divorced, my brother would have his own account on the school directory, they would accidentally leave my mom’s name off my brothers contact info etc. etc. Parents and kids and teachers asked me, as a very young child, to explain the situation, and I didn’t really know how to. Over time, I had my my explanation down, but it was really annoying to have to explain to people.

    As a child, I really really just wished we all had the same last name, Now, as an adult, I have so much respect for my mom for not only making that decision to only keep her name, but passing it down to her daughters, but if I have a family one day I really want my family to all have the same last name.

  • Owiredua

    I love this! And I *agree that with things like name changing (which has no moral value either way) indifference *is* the best signal of progress 🙂