Afternoon Inquisition

AI: Kicking ass and taking names…

I promise by next week, I’ll stop talking about marriage but this is something I’m curious about. When I got married, I decided to take my husband’s name. My maiden name was interesting and part of who I am, so I made it my middle name. I didn’t want to hyphenate because it would mean having a last name of 14 characters and nobody needs that.

What do you think about the practice of a wife taking her husband’s name? Hyphenation? Keeping her maiden name? If this is a decision you’ve dealt with or are dealing with, what were/are your reasons? Any guys out there take their wives’ name?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear daily at 3pm ET.


Maria D'Souza grew up in different countries around the world, including Hong Kong, Trinidad, and Kenya and it shows. She currently lives in the Bay Area and has an unhealthy affection for science fiction, Neil Gaiman and all things Muppet.

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  1. My wife works as a nurse, so she kept her madien name for work reasons, but she hyphenates it when she puts it down for new records. All of this is her choice, I didn’t care.

    I’m not a big fan of my last name. :(

  2. I plan to keep my last name when I get married. I just don’t see any reason to change it, except that everyone else does it. Any reason someone can give me as to why I should change my name could apply equally to my husband.

  3. I think it was the day after the wedding that I turned to Sid and said, “Oh, by the way: I’m not changing my name. That’s okay, right?” And of course it was.

    I just never saw the point of changing my name. I’m not a huge believer in doing things just out of tradition, I don’t hate my original name, and I’m not anyone’s property. So . . . yep. Kept my name as-is.

    But if I DID change it, I’d change it to Rebecca KAPOW! Rodrigues.

  4. The first time I got married I wanted my wife to take my name because that was how things were done. But I was a 20 year old itiot.

    The second time I got married I told her it was up to her because it didn’t matter. She could keep her current last name, go back to her maiden name, take my last name or invent and entirely new name. Because we would still be married to each other even if she changed her name to Stephanie Asskicker.

  5. I certainly wouldn’t take anyone else’s name, just as a matter of identity, but I would entertain the idea of having us both change our last name to something mutual and awesome, like our favorite element or cryptozoological critter or somesuch.
    -Delilah Mothman.

  6. My last name is somewhat common & very easy to spell. The guy’s is often misspelled and mispronounced. I will keep mine. Were his the easier name, I would probably take it.

    There are numerous traditions that go along with marriage. Some of them are not at all logical or even practical. Some of them relate to out-dated views.

    But still people cling to them because they want their own marriage to be traditional in an idealized fashion. i.e. Two people, going through life together, through thick and thin, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, creating children of love, making a home and being real partners to each other.

    Of course, it is ridiculous to think that these charms of the past – the taking of a name, the white dress, the rice for prosperity – will guarantee any marriage a smooth ride. Each marriage will have rocky times. Some won’t work out.

    But, when facing an uncertain future in the name of love, perhaps we can be forgiven a little sentimentality? After all, if we can not be ridiculous when we’re enamored, what fun is it?

  7. I’m still quite a ways from thinkng about marriage, but i have thought about this question as my married friends are going through name changes.

    I’ll certainly keep mine for professional reasons. And I totally like my name. Taking another person’s name, to me, would be a nice symbol of “oh look, we’re a little family now!” but yes, that applies also to a guy taking his wife’s name, too. It’s the kind of thing where I wouldn’t mind being called either name in different situations. Can you legally hyphenate and then use either in different settings?

  8. I think people should just do what they wanna do. When i get married, i think that coming up with an alternative name for both my husband and I to change to is a more unique and interesting idea. It also may be a more expensive idea. I don’t like my last name so i’m comfortable with taking his last name if we don’t have the money to change it. I don’t think it should be frowned upon in society if a woman doesn’t take her husband’s last name though.

  9. I don’t particularly like my last name (absent father, far too common of a name), but when I got married, I kept it. The reason was twofold: first, and most simply, I had already begun establishing myself in my field using my given name; second, I see no reason why women should continue to buy into the “women as chattel” mentality that is the reason for the name switch.

    Make no mistake, I am totally butt-crazy in love with my husband (hence, marriage) but I believe that women should be encouraged to retain their identities.

  10. I don’t see the point in taking the husband’s last name, but individual circumstances are different for each couple so I don’t tend to judge. On the odd chance I do get married at some point in the misty future, I don’t have any intention of changing my name.

    As far as children go, I was not ever married to my daughter’s father, so her last name is hyphenated. If she feels like dropping one of those when she gets older and only using one name, I’m completely okay with that.

  11. When we got married my wife kept her name. She decided that she would likely change it to mine for simplicity reasons should we ever reproduce. We didn’t so she still has it.

    I really didn’t want her to change her name because I know it would annoy the crap out of me if society decided that I had to give up my name for reasons of tradition. In the end, however, is was completely her decision as it really didn’t affect me either way. I find it amusing that my family had no problem with this. Her family is always trying to give her my last name or a hyphen even 20 years later.

  12. I changed mine, but my sister didn’t. I guess I did it for convenience and tradition more than anything else.

    Also, this way people know what to call us – we’re ‘The Walters’ as opposed to having to figure some other nickname out. Although that just means we lost out on getting assigned some cool nickname like “The Monkeypants” or whatever…

  13. My wife hated her last name thanks to a bad father (and his whole side of the family), as well as the fact that no one could pronounce it correctly on first glance. Oh, and did I mention it rhymed with the street she grew up on? Needless to say she was desperate to take my name when we got married. She even went a step further by combining her first and middle names (which is how she was addressed much of the time) and then took her mom’s maiden name as her middle.

  14. I encouraged my wife to keep her name when we got married, but she liked mine better (and she’s a performer, so it sounded better, too). Either way, its her choice. I joked around about hybridizing our names into one, but they don’t really match up at all – the options were pretty atrocious.

    I know a couple that both hyphenated each others last name. They both kept their middle names as well. It wouldn’t be a problem if they weren’t both Polish last names – they often run out of room when signing legal documents.

  15. @Nicole: “Can you legally hyphenate and then use either in different settings?”

    I’m not a lawyer, but I was told by a lawyer that you can call yourself pretty much anything you like as long as the intent is not to defraud.

  16. I plan to take my fiance’s last name. I don’t reallly mind mine, though everyone ever always either spells or pronounces it wrong (this is what I get for having french ancestry), but I’ll be kind of breaking ties to my family, and I for no logical reason really want to have the same last name as him.

    I’ll be changing my first name, too. Both common and constantly mispelled, which is irritating, and also not who I think of myself as. I am Shiyiya, and my legal name will reflect this. Keeping my middle name, partially because I can’t think of anything else to change it to that sounds really nice with the future first and last names, and partially because I would feel really guilty changing both my first and middle names because I’m named after my mum’s favourite niece, who died before I was born. (She was Sherry Lynn, I’m Sara Lynn.)

  17. Also, many people mention the difficult of hyphenation, which I do understand – I’m the one who fills out all the forms for my daughter – but I also think if we made hyphenation a more common practice, it wouldn’t be as hard for people to choose that option if they want to.

  18. My wife kept her name.

    My sister changed her name, then got divorced, and had to change it back. Next time, she says she plans not to change it. Too much paperwork.

    One of my friends is a teacher, and her last name is… well, let’s just say it can be mispronounced, deliberately or otherwise, as something that can be very troublesome for a teacher. Obviously, she plans to change it.

    Personally, I don’t care either way. Keep it, change it, whatever you want.

    I knew a guy in university who took his wife’s name. Different, but…

    I find hyphenation annoying. Especially teachers, or people that you’re supposed to address by their last name. Just because it’s cumbersome to have to say every time you address them. If you’re on a first name basis with them, that’s different. The problem doesn’t come up as much.

    A friend of mine wanted to keep her name, but discovered that there was some benefit or something she couldn’t get unless she either took her husband’s name or hyphenated, so she hyphenated. I’m not sure why she had that problem in the first place. My wife and I have never run into it, so I’m not sure what it was all about. Might have been an old policy.

  19. @catgirl: That’s pretty much my philosophy. When I was married, I’d occasionally get asked, “Why didn’t she take your name?” My response was usually along the lines of, “Why should she? I didn’t take hers.”

    …the response to which was often confused look. Apparently, it never occurred to them that it could work both ways.

  20. It took me more than half a year after getting married to come the conclusion that I’d go Firstname Maidenname Marriedname. Which means my screen name here is now one letter too long… Oh well. I decided to take my husband’s name for clarity purposes when the kiddies come around. If I kept my name, whose name would the kids take? ::shrug::

    I haven’t actually legally done anything yet though because the task seems so daunting and intimidating.

  21. Oh, I should add that I have been estranged from my father for several years and he’s a terrible person, but I still intend to keep my last name when I get married because it is my name too and not just my father’s. I’m sure I also share my first name with some horrible people, but that’s not enough of a reason for me to change that either. Of course, I don’t judge other people if they choose differently than I would. Each person has to make their own decision.

  22. Twice married, I have kept my own name. Both husbands left the decision up to me. For my second marriage, which was about 20 years ago, a friend of a friend was horrified that I had not taken my husband’s name and actually asked why did I bother to get married if I was not willing to take my husband’s name. I replied that I hope that he and his wife got married for other reasons than her taking his name.

    There is a definite patriarchal aspect to blindly taking the husband’s name which I think needs to be seriously challenged in many cases. Since the mother gives birth to the child, why not give the mother’s name to the child? If it is necessary to prove paternity for various reasons, who relies on the surname anyway? A DNA test is what is required.

    My brother-in-law took his wife’s name because he regarded his last name was too difficult to pronounce, and as he was a teacher decided to go for the easier sounding name. However, I did not think his 5 letter name was difficult to pronounce, and I think that his reason, which is to conform to some kind of societal ideal (his name is not English while his wife’s is, and he teaches in England), is as disgusting as cheerfully and unquestioning taking the husband’s surname.

    I remember vividly working at a fancy NYC dermatologist’s (Jackie Kennedy was one of his clients) in the bookkeeping department many decades ago and was horrified to see one after the other on the checks I was processing: Mrs. James Killicunty, Mrs. John Doe, Mrs. David Iamameekandmildlamb on all the checks. These women gave up their first names also!

  23. My wife changed her name for professional reasons, then we met and she opted to hyphenate (against my advice, my last name is a pain and hyphenating just made it worse). Getting documentation for adoption was an adventure.

    I see no reason to change names unless that’s what you want to do. I know people where the husband changed his name rather than the wife doing it in order to upgrade his last name. Though I concur with Rebecca on the KAPOW.

    My MIL has been married several times and been through about 4 last names she finally went back to her maiden name and said if she gets married again she isn’t changing it.

  24. On the subject of kids, we had 2 boys and both use my last name. I was perfectly prepared to do something like use her last name for girls and mine for boys but the subject never came up.

  25. Oh yeah, I just remembered another funny thing: My sister and my friend both have the same first name and last initial, and they were in classes together when they were kids, so they couldn’t be differentiated like “Ashley A.” and “Ashley B.” (not their real names, just an example).

    When my sister got married, and took her husband’s name, they were different for the first time in their lives. But my friend’s boyfriend’s last name was the same initial.

    Then my sister got divorced, and my friend broke up with her boyfriend, so they’re back to having the same initial again.

  26. @catgirl: Agreed, catgirl! There was a time where I was so mad at my father, I wanted to take my mother’s maiden name as my own last name. But I got over that quickly, and decided that it was MY name now (well, mine and my brothers’) and I wouldn’t let a bad history ruin it for me. But I totally understand those that want to get rid of their name for that same reason.

    I guess I wonder what I would do about kids’ names. My name doesn’t actually go well hyphenated with anything!

    @davew: Sounds good to me.

  27. I’ve been a lurker for quite a while, but thought I’d finally register so I could share my experience with this since I just recently got hitched as well and had to address the whole name-changing dilemma.

    I hate my maiden name (it’s Crum, so that resulted in lots of being made fun of as a child…”cookie-crumb”…etc). I also am against the practice of the woman taking the man’s name so I definitely wasn’t going to do that. So my partner and I decided to create a whole new last name that we could share. It is Aletheia (hence the username). It is greek and means ‘truth’. We both wanted to choose something that was meaningful to us, and as skeptics ‘truth’ is incredibly meaningful! And to top it off, we get to slide right into the beginning of the alphabet!

  28. @Logicel:

    Since the mother gives birth to the child, why not give the mother’s name to the child?

    Yeah, I mostly agree but I didn’t want to be the first to bring up this touchy subject. I think my kids will have my last name, simply because I went to the trouble of giving birth to them. This is a little trickier when it comes to adoption (which I have strongly considered), but in many marriages, the mother does more of the child care work than the father does anyway.

    I would actually prefer to hyphenate my kids’ last name, but I still think my name should go first. Obviously we can’t go on hyphenating for multiple generations, so in future generations, kids would take just the first part of each parent’s last name and hyphenate that. It’s sort of like the inverse of what is done in many South American countries. Just to make it even more complicated, you could split it by gender and daughters would be momlastname-dadlastname and sons would be dadlastname-momlastname.

  29. I knew (and am proving) that we were going to have kids together. Because of this, it seems logical to share a last name so we wouldn’t have to a) hyphenate, b) choose whose name was applied to the child, or c) have the kid eventually drop one of the names if hyphenated and feel butt-hurt over it.

    I also just wanted to. I was so excited that I was marrying this man that it didn’t occur to me to keep my name to defy tradition. I know we don’t own each other, and I don’t see name sharing as such. I’d rather be “Jason and Chelsea Epperson” than “Jason Epperson and Chelsea Dodge.” Maybe I’m lazy, but it seems like more of a mouthfull than it’s worth.

  30. @Jen: “Okay, the practice of being “Mrs Male Name” I will censure without qualification.”

    How about the other way round? Maybe Sid wants to be Mr. Rebecca Watson.

  31. I married in 1977, there was no thought that I would change my name. We got crap for various individuals (though not the organizations they represented) that ‘married = same last name’.

    I read somewhere that 1/2 (or 1/3) of legal name change proceedings are women changing back to maiden name.

  32. My wife took my name, but I’d actually have preferred her to keep hers. Not my decision though! I think she was annoyed at people “joking” that she must be from Kenya if her surname was Kenyon.

    At least I don’t share a surname with anyone who ever did anything dodgy though. Oh wait…

  33. I didn’t bother getting married and changed my name. :D If you saw my old name, you’d understand. It sounded like someone being very sick.

    A friend of mine (who said she would never marry) got married in a most extravagant fashion and took the name Firstname Maidenname Hubbysurname.

    Another couple friends of mine got married, and they decided they wanted the same surname, but didn’t believe in the tradition of the woman changing hers, so they flipped a coin, and she won, so now he is Firstname Wifeysurname.

    People should do what they want, although I think they should stop at officially changing their names to things such as Mollywobbles Weasley or Boobookittyfuck McGee. Pet names are right out.

    On another note, if Rebecca and Sid have a boy, they should totally name him Bender Bending Rodigues, but only if the original voice actors get their jobs back.

  34. My wife and I got married last year and she kept her name. I don’t think we ever had a serious discussion about it either. Besides, her last name is Savage. It’s a much more kick-ass last name than mine. Also, when my grandpa asked if she was taking my last name and we said ‘no’ he said, ‘Ah, it’s just as well. Too much damn paperwork’.

  35. The practice of taking a husband’s full name, Mrs. John Smith, is actually pretty old. It goes back to the old days of having authority through marriage or something like that. Somehow being married gives you more authority than being a spinster. *shrug*

    Of course they were still Marry Smith face to face, but they were Mrs. John Smith on paper.

    I remember it being quite a problem when I was working on the database records at a cemetery a few years back. Some of the older records didn’t have the wife’s name. They were in the records, and the death certificate, as Mrs. John Smith. It made genealogy hard.

  36. I don’t like my name much, but I’m used to it. That said, I’ve toyed with the idea of changing it when I get married and taking my hypothetical wife’s name, provided that it’s more interesting than mine.

    I’ve also, recently, considered that maybe I should take my nom de plume’s last name as mine and legally become a “da Gama”. ;)

    Actually, though, I kind of like how the Iberians handle names, e.g. the Portuguese system, where you have like fifty billion names and get to choose whatever combination you prefer to be known by. ;) Women who get married can choose to take add their husband’s surname to their own, or not. Children get one surname from each parent, and they can choose to be known by one or the other or both.

    I also like that solution because it can result in combinations like, to borrow Wikipedia’s example, “Maria do Carmo Mão de Ferro e Cunha de Almeida Santa Rita Santos Abreu”, which is awesome.

  37. @Aletheia: I love your new last name! Great choice.

    Though I will stick up for your previous last name. I know you got teased for it but to my ear, “Crum” is fantastic! Sounds like the name of an adventurer or a fairytale character.

  38. I was going to keep my maiden name but in the end, I just changed it. It wasn’t very important to me, but it was to my husband. That is what it came down to, I loved him more than my last name.
    However, my maiden name works for a first name, so the first kid we have get’s it as their name! I think the compromise worked well.

  39. False Dichotomy.

    I am appalled and outraged. I will therefore boycott commenting on skepchick for the past 6 months.

    I am a Hedge

  40. I’m keeping my name because it’s mine, damnit.

    I offered my guy the option of both of us changing our names (hyphenating, combining, picking something brand new, whatever) but he wasn’t interested.

    My stock answer for, “But about your future kids? What will you do for their names?” is “Cage match. Whoever wins gets to pick.”

  41. For professional reasons as an artist changing my name wouldn’t be the best idea. In any case I’m rather attached to my last name, even more so since my grandfather passed away a few years ago and we were really close. It’s an emotional connection to that history that I don’t want to lose.

  42. @Noadi:
    You’re right about changing your name as far as being an artist goes. At my job we’re working with the collection of an artist who was married a few times. So all of her work is signed with different last names depending on the year.

  43. When I got married, I took my wife’s name. My last name sucked and hers was awesome. Now my last name is awesome, too!

    Not awesome is name-hyphenation. Makes lame names or bad joke names.

  44. Maybe it’s just me but the term “maiden name” seems weirdly anachronistic in the 21st century. Like something Montgomery Burns would use.

    “Smithers! Get me the maiden name of the fetching young filly on that motorized velocipede. And be quick about it!”

  45. @Rebecca:

    Good call: I don’t think the IAU lets you change asteroid names.


    My mother kept her original name; I got her family name as my middle one and my father’s last for mine. I’m told that had I been a girl, “Stacey” would have been my first name, and I’d have inherited my mother’s family name.

    I wonder how same-sex couples handle the naming issue.

  46. “I didn’t want to hyphenate because it would mean having a last name of 14 characters and nobody needs that.”

    This is the post that finally got me to register and comment, because with a last name 13 letters long, all I could do was laugh when I read this. Nope, nobody needs that! I used to joke about only dating men with short last names.

    I’m not married, but I’m sure the joke will be on me if I ever do meet someone I want to form a life partnership with – they’re just bound to have a complex/ridiculous/long last name.

    Honestly, I know people who have done it every way, from not changing names to making up new ones to various forms of hyphenation. I think it’s important that we have these variants so that people question what is happening – so that no one forgets where the tradition of name-changing came from and how we’ve moved past those outdated ideas. (Er, one would hope.) But I certainly don’t hold anyone’s choice against them – it is their name, after all.

  47. My recommendation is to decide what identity you want. I didn’t want to change my last name to my husbands as I felt that the Mrs. X was his mother and not me. I was a professional women who had worked hard to become educated and that was the name on the my degrees so I hyphenated my last name to accomdate my husband’s wishes.
    The hyphenated last name never felt comfortable so I mainly use my maiden name. It is who I am professionally, education wise, and socially. I only use my hyphenated last name for legal purposes and to confund telemarketers who call. The hyphenated last name doesn’t fit completely into their spaces so I get lots of calls for a truncated name. I love it as I can honestly tell them that there is nobody at my home by that name.

  48. I changed my last name to his. For one, my family of origin sucks ass and I didn’t want to still have the same last name as them. 2nd, his last name is more ethnic (my ethnicity) than my family name. 3rd, I had no papers published yet and it seemed like a good time to make a decision.

  49. I didn’t particularly care either way so I changed my name. I kept my name as my middle name and both of our children have my name as their middle name (which also saved me the annoyance of having to find middle names for them, lol!).

  50. I’m changing my name when I get married. I will be know as “Yelnick McWahwah”, or the sound of summer rain on a tin roof (very difficult to pronounce), or “Guffaw Chuckler Gigglesworth Henderson”, or “Jesus Holy Christ”, maybe the guitar riff from Foxy Lady, or possibly “Barry White”. I won’t do symbols. Prince already did that.

    Plus if I have kids, each will have a unique first and last name that they will be free to change once they are old enough to do so. But they will start life as “Hey You” and “Get Daddy Another Beer”. And for a girl, “Flip Wilson”.

  51. I forgot to say, my husband was also going to legally change his middle name to mine. However, we never got around to it. It also took over 10 years of marriage before I finally got around to legally changing mine (what can I say – I procrastinate a lot). I only changed it then because the DMV figured out that the name I had with social security was different from my driver’s license and they wouldn’t give me a new one until I decided one way or another (funny because I had renewed my license at least one other time while married and it wasn’t an issue *that* time. But the second time was the first post 9/11 renewal).

  52. Mathematics blogger Mark Chu-Carroll must hold some sort of record in this department:

    the “Carroll” part of my name is actually an Americanization of the Galitzian Jewish name “Karolciok” (pronounced, roughly, “Cuh ROLL chuck”). The “Chu” part of my name comes from my wife; we combined our names when we got married; her part came first because when we got married, she’d published a dozen papers as “Jennifer Chu”, and I’d only published one paper as “Mark Carroll”. So putting the “Chu” first would help with the paper trail for people following her research.

    So I’m an Ashkenazi Jewish guy with a half-Chinese, half-Irish sounding name who plays Irish music.

    Choosing your name for how it will appear in bibliographies is a level of geekdom to which I can only aspire.

  53. I’m not planning on getting married but if I did, I would keep my name. I like the idea of a marriage consisting of individuals of equal standing in the relationship and I feel that the equal standing is somewhat lost when the couple becomes Mr. John Doe and Mrs. Jane Doe. Of course, your results may vary.
    It annoys the hell out of me when women call up and refer to themselves as “Mrs. John Doe”. For one thing, my company doesn’t list our customers like that, for another, I hate seeing that someone has no public identity of their own and they need to use someone else’s.

  54. @Sam Ogden: Sam reminded me of this:

    “And it’s because of my father that between the ages of 5 and 7 I thought my name was ‘Jesus Christ'”


    “And my brother Russel thought his name was ‘Dammit'”

    “DAMMIT, sit down! And JESUS CHRIST, stop making all that noise!”

    “So one day I’m out playing in the rain and my dad says, ‘Dammit, will you get in here?’ and I said, ‘But Dad, I’m Jesus Christ!'”

    -Bill Cosby

    I am a Hedge

  55. As far as names go, we were joking before the wedding, that if I took my wife’s name it would be ‘a-muising’ but I was honestly ok with her either taking my name or not.

    My sister kept her name when she married, and for that matter refers to herself and her husband as partners, not Husband & Wife. — so another mark of keeping your own identity there.

    Though we both came from a traditional family, our mothers took our father’s name. — When my parents divorced, mom kept her married name she said for us. — Though by the time she remarried she took her husband’s name. — by then we were adults, so it didn’t affect us as much.

    Had she returned to her maiden name, when she divorced, I suppose I would have been upset had she also made us take her maiden name — as we were very young and the time, she might have had that right. — (legally not sure — since Dad was still an active part of all our lives, — morally I’m glad it was a bridge non of us crossed).

  56. In Colombia, and other Spanish speaking countries, it is customary for people to use fathers-lastname mothers-lastname combination for ID purposes. This makes finding 2 people with the same name more dificult. For practical purpopses we use the father’s lastname only.

    After marriage, women would drop their mother’s name and add the word “de” (meaning “of”) and the husband’s name.

    For ID purposes women would be: Given-name Father-lastname de Husband-lastname

    For practical purposes they would be: Given-name de Husband-lastname. Her father-lastname would not be used.

    Now, it is not too common for women to change their names. My wife didn’t even consider it, which for me was more than fine as I wouldn’t have wanted her to change it. Also, most of my female friends did not adopt their husbands name.

    When we immigrated to Canada, my wife had the option to change the name and just adopt mine, without adding “de”. In the end she didn’t change it which again is fine with me. That is who she is, and has been all of her life.

    In other places, such as Brazil, children get named with the mother’s lastname first and then the fathers.

    On a final note, when a child does not carry the father’s name, it is usually because there are paternity issues and/or he has not agreed to it (eg. case of unmarried parents). I always felt this had some negative connotations for some people, socially the father’s name is expected.

  57. My last name is kind of funky & there’s no way I would’ve changed it. People always remember it & it’s on my degrees & pro credentials. However, my parents, and many of my aunts, send me mail, including my birthday card, with my husband’s last name on it. Our x-mas card comes to “mr & mrs husband’s full name”. I’m not that old, but I’m too old to spend time on discussing this with them, so I just let it go.

  58. We hyphenated. But we’re both female, so there wasn’t a gender issue. (And, of course, the marriage was declared invalid by OR State. Now we’re ‘domestically partnered’, which sounds like we’re co-owners of a home cleaning service.)

    Since we are only pseudo-married, we had to spend a lot of money and two afternoons in court in order to get the change done. It was worth it, because it meant that much to us. With such a tenuous status in our society, it is important for us to announce to the world that we are a family in any way possible, and having the same last name is one of the few ways available to us.

  59. Masala’s maiden name had an apostrophe in it, too. Very exotic, but already enough of a pain in the ass for government computers who hadn’t even mastered lower case letters.

    I briefly thought about changing my name to something with an umlaut, two plus signs, and a seven. But then I’d have to teach people how to pronounce it. (“The emphasis goes on the ampersand, dumbass.”)

  60. My parents didn’t get married until a few years ago. They were together 30+ years before they tied the knot, so needless to say when I was born they were not married. To be fair, they gave me my mother’s last name Davis as my middle name and my father’s last name Roth as my last name which made me, Amy Davis Roth. I am pretty fond of that name and I have been using it to sign my paintings for over 20 years. When I married Johnny last year I seriously considered changing my last name because for one, I just really like him a lot AND his last name is really cool, it’s Skaare. A pretty awesome last name, but I decided it was better to stick to the name attached to my artwork. Besides, Johnny says if I ever screw up REALLY bad I have a quick and easy alias to switch to. ;)

  61. @dszy:

    “mr & mrs husband’s full name”

    I don’t think Maria and I ever even considered this. I guess we occasionally get junk mail like that, but I’ve never paid attention.

    If this had still been a major custom, then I would have had to change my name.

    Presenting Mr. and Mrs. Dangle V. Muffinrider!

    Probably just as well.

    Oh! To add to the name hassles, I also go by my middle name. Not that uncommon, but I hate being called by my first name, and I can never remember which name non-friends have me under. It’s bad enough being an atheist named Christian living in the deep south.

    Grrrr. Okay, I apparently have some issues to work through. I’ll go now.

  62. This is a very timely AI as I’m actually getting married tomorrow!

    I will be taking my husband’s name, mostly out of convenience. It’s easier to spell, easier to say – I’m tired of people saying, “Thank you Mr. [His-last-name]” then turning to me, giving me a helpless look, and then muttering, “Thank you” in my direction. It’s just easier.

    That’s not to say that I won’t miss my last name. I would hyphenate but that would make things even more complicated. Masala’s idea of making it a middle name would work, but I REALLY like my middle name as it is.

    Ah well, such is life!

  63. I liked how everyone at the Skepchick’s table on the last day of TAM7 were calling Sid “Mr. Watson”.

    My wife opted to take my last name. We married 20 years ago, and neither of us were known professionally by our last name yet, as we were both very young. Today, many of our friends are marrying later, after the women already is established in her field; these ladies either retain their last name, or retain it for as their business name but change it legally.

    I have a friend who married, changed her name, got famous, got divorced, kept her ex’s name (as it was her professional name), then got married again and still kept her first husbands last name. Weird.

    As to the Mrs. thing – When we got married, we looked it up. At the time (late ’80s) it was pretty strange. Here is what we found:

    Mrs. hubbysFirst HubbysLast – Married to hubby (or widowed)
    Mrs. WifesFirst HubbysLast – Divorced from Hubby
    Ms. WifesFirst HubbysLast – Married or divorced

    Back then, she would received “official” mail addressed to “Mrs. MyFirst MyLast”. As time has gone by, that doesn’t happen much any more.

    Those of you ladies who retain your original names after marriage, do you use Mrs.?

    Now that I think about it, neither of us use Mrs. or Mr. very much at all socially, but my clients still use Mr. for me a lot.

  64. I changed my last name only because I hated my maiden name (love my Dad, but honestly Bush wasn’t cutting it :-P). I don’t think anybody should be forced to change anything. People thought I was a wacko for taking my husbands full, hyphenated name but it was pretty, what can I say. Who cares that it’s 15 letters long.

    I’m pregnant now and I am going to drop the second name when I write her name in the birth certificate. I just know it will be a lot easier for her growing up, etc.

    One good reason for changing the last name though is for insurance purposes, etc. It’s a lot easier to prove you are married when you share the same last name. They don’t usually ask for a marriage certificate on the paperwork if the names are the same.

    On another note, a guy that works in my office changed his last name to his wifes. That was the first time I ever met anyone who did that. Kinda cool actually.

  65. Going double-barreled seems to be the thing over here: the couple combine their surnames with a hyphen between them.

    Of course, then there’s the argument about which goes first…

  66. My wife took my name.
    I told her I’d prefer it, mainly because of “tradition”, but then we talked about it and I agreed it wasn’t right and that she should keep hers. Then, on the day itself we were filling out the forms, and one of them was a name change for her (I didn’t know – it was in Japanese). It wasn’t until the ceremony the next day I knew she’d changed it… Which was hard to do in Japanese, since they don’t really have characters for my surname…

    So, while I agree completely the girl shouldn’t have to change her name, it is a nice present to give your husband…. Just saying….

  67. I took my ex’s name back in 1977, even though I didn’t like the sound of his last name and my first name together. Would never do it again. Took my “maiden name” back again when I got divorced because I had a nice easy last name.

    There is still the issue of the name you’re keeping being your father’s name (in many cases) not your own.

    I do wonder what happens when Tommy Smith-Jones marries Josefina Gonzalez – Himenez….

  68. @Gabrielbrawley — The god that Conan rarely worshipped was Crom. Crum is the god of mightily thewed pastry chefs.

    My wife kept her name when we got married, and I’m glad she did. Otherwise I’d live with a constant guilt that I somehow took unfair advantage of her, and who needs that? I already have more than enough guilt from all the other bad habits I’ve developed over the years.

  69. I know several strong, independent women who took their husbands’ names on marriage. It was what they wanted to do. I only have one friend who hyphenated and only one that I know of who kept her name; for most of the married people I know the wife took the husband’s name.

    I’ve had several opportunities in life to change my name or go by my middle instead of my first, and after much thought I decided to stick with what I know each time. Should I ever marry, I wouldn’t change my name because our family has long kept a genealogical record and there’s a lot of history that goes along with it. I would be fine with my wife changing her name to mine if she wanted it, but I wouldn’t insist on it.

  70. I’ve no judgement for women who take their husband’s name if they want to, for whatever reason, but it does bother me when people just do it automatically without even thinking about it. I have a friend who teaches high school and last year she was able inform a class of seniors that IT WASN’T A LAW that the woman had to change her name when she got married.

    I’ve had friends who 1) picked a completely new last name and they both changed it, 2) he changed to her name; 3) hyphenated ; 4) each took the others last name as their new middle name and 5) each kept their own last name and one kid has her name and the other has his. There’s plenty of room for diversity.

  71. When I got married, my later-to-be-ex-husband said that he was ok with it if I kept my name. After thinking about it a bit I decided to take his name. He yelled “YES!” and pumped his fist like he’d just scored a goal…

    Well, anyway, after the divorce…

    I decided I didn’t like either my married or maiden name, so I changed the whole thing, first, last and middle.

    Glad I changed it both times. I kinda like the idea of taking a new name to signify a new chapter in life.

  72. @Unnamed: @Unnamed. Absolutely, I’m sure it’s a great gift for either party. But, I’m speaking from experience, of which I only have one side.
    It’s probably even relatively better for the man to change his name to hers, as it happens much less often.

  73. I never changed mine, though if I had to do it all over I think I’d try to talk him into changing both our names to something else :)

    Mostly I didn’t for professional reasons, some because of family pressures (my folks had no boys, and didn’t want to see the name “die” quite yet), and a smidge of fear of dealing with government bureaucracy one my part.

    Though I learned later that on coming to the states, the name was actually changed, so now I don’t feel as much of a sense of history for the name. I might have felt different about changing it if I’d known that then.

  74. Heh, funny I just had a related conversation today.

    I waited until last year to take my husbands last name out of inertia…and less than a year later I was faced with the decision of whether I should change my name back during the divorce. Since I have a kid, I decided to keep my married name at least for awhile.

    This afternoon I was signing the paperwork to sell our house and the ex asked if I was going to change my name. Being rather annoyed I said,”No, I decided I’d keep it and be the first Davis in your family worth a damn.” He was not amused. I was.

  75. @Gib: Do men who take their wives’ names get any grief for it, I wonder?

    On the subject of hyphenated names – I don’t have an opinion except to please keep it consistent. I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to email a woman at work all morning and just found out that her correspondence lists her married name but she’s in the directory as a hyphenate.

  76. @Unnamed: Ha, I’ve given up on figuring that out! I can’t believe how many people at my company go by different first names than what is listed in the company directory, not to mention last names. It’s almost impossible to find anyone if you don’t know them personally. Very confusing.

  77. @Robyne_BR: Oh yes. Edward goes by “John”, Leanne goes by “Mary”. I don’t care if you want to go by “Brian” but spell it with 4 M’s and a silent Q. Put it like that on everything!

  78. @Jen: I’ll actually defend “Mrs. Male Name,” because most people today, born years after The Age of Etiquette Books, misunderstand what this form really means Traditionally, when a woman marries, she acquires both a new name _and_ a title. So, if Anne Tacid marries Orson Buggy, she becomes Anne Tacid Buggy, Mrs. Orson Buggy. This is like Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York. So, the “Mrs. Male Name” is a new _title_ (like “Duchess”) not a new name.

    Once this form is understood as a title, it may offer a useful compromise for women in the post-Emily-Post generation, who may have very good personal and professional reasons to retain their maiden sometimes, yet also want to avoid the confusion that may occur when a mother doesn’t use the same last name as her offspring. Just use your maiden name professionally and among friends, but when you’re registering the kids at school, use your “Mrs. Male Name” _title_ in addition to your name.

    Also useful for not offending a stuffy hubby and his goddamn tradition-obsessed mother.

    And guys should feel rooked, because we don’t get a cool new title when we marry.

  79. I kept my name. A little too lazy to change it and also just felt odd being someone for 30 years and then changing that. Definitely didn’t want to hyphenate. My husband would have taken my name if I wanted it but I don’t actually like my last name that much believe it or not. We also briefly considered taking a brand new name. Friends of his family did they took the last name du Monde.

    One of the side benefits of not changing is my husband is an elementary school teacher. It makes it harder for students to find his home phone if it’s in my name.

    Regardless of whether I took his name or not I’m still technically Mrs. his first name his last name. Mrs is an honorific used to denote who you’re married to or at least used to be hence why technically you shouldn’t put Mrs her first name last name.

  80. @Jen: I’ll actually defend “Mrs. Male Name,” because most people today, born years after The Age of Etiquette Books, misunderstand what this form really means. Traditionally, when a woman marries, she acquires both a new name _and_ a title. So, if Anne Tacid marries Orson Buggy, she becomes Anne Tacid Buggy, Mrs. Orson Buggy. This is like “Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York.” So, the “Mrs. Male Name” is a new _title_ (like “Duchess”) not a new name.

    Once this form is understood as a title, it may offer a useful compromise for women in the post-Emily-Post generation, who may have very good personal and professional reasons to retain their maiden name yet also want to avoid the confusion that may occur when a mother doesn’t use the same last name as her offspring. Just use your maiden name professionally and among friends, but when you’re registering the kids at school, use your “Mrs. Male Name” _title_ in addition to your name.

    Also useful for not offending a stuffy hubby and his goddamn tradition-obsessed mother.

    And guys should feel rooked, because we don’t get a cool new title when we marry.

  81. Oops, sorry about the double post. I tried to use the new five-minute edit feature for the first time to correct a little typo, and somehow managed to double-post instead.

  82. I changed my name and the secretary of state misspelled it. I tried to get it changed back for about a year and they never corrected it. I just gave up and now have a misspelled name. It’s only a problem when I get my taxes done and have to really make it clear to the accountant that THIS is the legal spelling of my name. If I had to do it all over again I don’t think I’d go through the hassle.

  83. I’m in favor of everyone keeping their own names. I certainly wouldn’t want to give up mine (my nickname wouldn’t make sense anymore…take away the B and you’ll know my last name).

    But I wonder (and maybe this is a good topic for a future AI) how do you handle naming your kids if both parents have different last names? Hyphenated names are usually quite a mess, and that just pushes the problem onto them when they have their own kids (what happens when two people with hyphenated names have kids?).

    I haven’t noticed much of a standard on this issue (not that I’ve looked).

  84. Damn, late to the discussion as usual. So I’m going to write without reading anyone else’s comments, mostly because there is 116 of them, and I’ve had like 5 beers so I really can’t don’t care. So let me write my sexist rant as follows:
    Me and my wife never fight, never argue, mostly because nothing is so important to argue about, and we see eye to eye on so much that it’s not worth it, except…. yeah, she won’t take my last name, and really it bugs the crap out of me, and it’s the only thing we argue about, in our calm, passive Minnesotan way.
    To me it’s about the practical, we have already run into several problems with the military (it was hell proving we were married because she had a different last name, for health and life insurance, and housing and pay (married folks get paid more by way of a bigger housing allowance)), also it was difficult proving in-state residency for her grad school (you would think a notarized marriage certificate would prove it, but then you would be wrong, you would need a letter from the state you were married in to prove you didn’t just make it up), also the post office won’t let my wife pick up packages addressed to me, because apparently she isn’t my wife if she doesn’t have my last name, so because of my work schedule, I can’t get packages till the weekend.) But there is more to it than that, we’re a couple, one couple, one last name. My parents had the same last name, their parents had the same last name. We are the (blank) Family, not the (blank-blank)- (blank-blank) Family. Also we still haven’t resolved how were going to name our children.

    I understand the idea that taking the husbands last name USED to mean that your his property, but, just like christmas, people who don’t believe in the history, can still practice the tradition. Also because of the way society is arranged, and tradition, it’s much, much harder for me to change my last name then for her to change hers.

  85. I took my husband’s name because I liked it. Also, I think it’s romantic. To me, marriage, name-taking, etc., are personal choices, not platforms for statements about feminism, skepticism, or any other topic of activism.

    In regard to judging people for their decision – that’s ridiculous. I think it should be each woman’s personal choice, and what do you know, it is.

  86. My mom married three times, and wound up changing her name four times. (The middle husband was bad enough that she actively wanted to ditch his name.) All her kids have the first husband’s name (our father, ‘natch), and she still uses his surname as her middle name.

  87. I took my husband’s last name, but I didn’t really want to. He was horrified at the idea that I wouldn’t. And in the end, since we have procreated, it’s turned out fine. I do like the whole family having the same last name thing. Although it really doesn’t feel like my name.

    Bottom line, we live in a patriarchal society. Men get more slack, respect, higher salaries. Not taking his name is not going to be enough to change that. I just count myself lucky that the tradition is just changing my name, not something more offensive like scarification or tattooing.

  88. Actually, I doubt there are too many arguments over which name comes before the hyphen. Which way sounds better is usually pretty clear.

    The real problem with that method is that it only works for one generation. I suppose for later generations you can mix and match. Would probably produce better names on average that way.

    As you might guess from my handle, my name is Slavic and thus not easy to spell or pronounce. When my girlfriend and I get married…which we will do eventually…she can do what she wants with her name, but I’m not changing mine.

    I’m also not in favor of inflicting the hyphenated monstrosity that would result from our two names on any children. It wouldn’t just be long. It would sound terrible when spoken…no matter which order we picked.

    Part of me would like to see my last name passing on to the next generation since I am pretty much the last shot to keep the name from dying out in my family while there is no similar issue in her family. But I don’t plan to die on that hill.

    We’ll figure it out.

  89. @DataJack: I’m glad you know someone with name problems as well. My mother-in-law kept her married name after they divorced because all of her professional certificates were under that name. But then she re-married but still kept her previous married name. It drives my husband crazy because his step-dad uses it and it seems so disrespectful to my husband’s dad when it does. It’s a cluster. Just doing the wedding invitations without offending anyone was a month long headache!

  90. @Aletheia: Your kids are totally gonna either love you or hate you for that one. Granted I’m near the end of the alphabet last namer myself.

    My sister decided to keep her last name, 2 Captains with the same last name in the same brigade who also happen to be married can result in some issues, so for professional reasons…

    Personally, I need to start dating first before even considering getting married, so I’m a loooooong ways off from that. But If that time comes, I’d expect my wife to be to make up her own mind on whether to keep her name or take mine or hyphenate or what, of course if she has a really interesting last name, then I might be rather disappointed if she chose to take mine over keeping hers.

  91. Ok, so I skipped all of the previous comments, but am posting anyway…

    When I got married, I changed my last name to my wife’s last name. I had no particular connection to my last name (I felt that my own personal identity was more tied to my first name). From the patriarchal standpoint, my original last name was not my father’s birth name, since he was adopted late in childhood, so it did not have any particular hold on me. My wife’s family name was going to die out with her, so we went with that (the alternative, by the way, was a completely new last name for the both of us).

    Alas, after 8 years of dating/living together, the marriage only lasted a year (8.5 year itch or what?). So now I’ve got this last name that I like, but is inconvenient to explain…

  92. i took my husband’s name and kept mine as a second middle name, mainly because my maiden name is long, unwieldy, and impossible for most people to pronounce, and his name is 4 letters and somewhat limited in mispronounciatory possibilities.

    also, i sort of like having four names. it makes me feel a bit posh.

  93. Hello. This is my first time posting here, though I have been lurking in the shadows for at least a couple of months.

    My fiancee and I were talking about this the other day, so I was tickled to see the issue come up here. We are most likely going to keep our respective names, however one idea that came up in the discussion was to combine our two names together (makes sense since a marriage is the coming together of two people, right?)

    So, her last name is McAnnany and my last name is Sampson – put em toghether and you have McSampsanany.

  94. Okay, I’ll help y’all out here. While reading this thread I’ve given this complex and tricky question sufficient thought to come up with the ideal solution.

    I DO (seriously, I do) have a grasp of the issues involved, and an explanation for why my solution is a good one, but I’d be so long none of you would bother reading it. Also, it’s almost exactly what Aletheia did.

    Any group who wants to be a family keep their names and adds an agreed upon family name.

  95. My wife and I solved the problem a little differently. We agreed that her family name (we use that term since I don’t have a “maiden name”) was as important as mine. So we both hyphenated! I moved from “H” to “R” alphebetically. No huge impact. :). It was the responses of OTHER people to what we did which was the most surprising.

  96. Hi everyone, Another new poster here! I thought I’d dip my toe into the Skepchick pool as I’m getting married a week from… hang on a sec… a week from now.

    My fiancée and I discussed the issue of name-changing several times. I was perfectly happy for her to keep her name, but she always wanted to have my name. Her surname is Kingsley and mine is Andrew, so I’ve always kinda preferred her name. I have the misfortune of having a surname that can also be a first-name and also people always insist on sticking an “s” after it. Despite this she still wants to be Mrs Me. She knows it’s an old tradition, dating back to less enlightened time, but she still wants to do it.

    In her family, she has a cousin who’s surname is Allison and he then married a woman who’s first name is Alison. She thought it would be hilarious to be known as Alison Allison.

    On a related note, belated congratulations Rebecca and Sid. We both just watched your wedding (again) on Youtube and it’s one of the most genuinely sweet things either of us have seen in a long time!

    (As for our wedding, we may not be able to have George Hrab or TV’s Adam Savage in attendance, but will be getting married at a place that was used a couple of years ago as a Doctor Who location. The Tardis landed just outside the front door!)

  97. I’m planning to keep my last name for three reasons:
    1.I really like my last name :)
    2. It would be really cool to have 3 Dr. M-s in the family.
    3. My mom and dad get mail to Dr. and Mrs. M- all the time I’m afraid that if I changed my name, stuff would still be addressed to Dr. and Mrs. Husband’s First and Last Name, even though I would be the Doctor (PhD). I’d rather they make the mistake of saying Mr. and Mrs. Husband’s First and Last Name, rather than assuming he’s Dr.

    Although the way things are going, they may have to say Dr. and Dr. for it to be correct :)

  98. @jjs97015:

    I’m kinda partial to the idea of merging the two names together. Not hyphenated but as a new word.

    In our case, we would have been D’Walters or Wa’Souza, either of which would have been fine.

    Maria changed her name just in time, so fewer people ask if she’s related to Dinesh D’Souza. (She is not related to that D’Chebag, but they are both Indians living in the U.S…)

  99. I guess I’m odd girl out here.

    I’m getting married in October and am changing my name. Didn’t even think about keeping my name… partly because it’s long and my partner’s is short and easy, partly because it’s tradition, partly because I have no reason to hang on to my name, partly because I bear no loyalty to my current last name, partly because I WANNA, DARNIT.

    I was one of those girls who scribbled my first name in front of the last name of the guy I liked in my notebook… I mean…not egregiously, but some.

    If I was publishing papers as a real scientist (which is another whole bitter issue for me), I probably would fight to keep my name.

    But yeah. My last name is currently 12 letters long and rhymes with Frankenstein. BYE.

  100. Like most of our decisions, my wife and I come to the same conclusion but for completely different reasons. I wanted her to keep her own name because taking my name was symbolic of the partriarchal, economy-based traditon of marriage; the pre-enlightenment concept of woman as property.
    My wife wanted to keep her name because “Mary Brown” was boring.

  101. I don’t think it would have bothered me if my wife hadn’t taken my name. And I’m not one of those who’s afraid of the “family name dying out.”
    That said, naming the children (and future generations) could get to be a problem. If the child’s last name is hyphenated, and the child’s future spouse also has a hyphenated last name, their children would have 4 hyphenated last names?? It would grow exponentially, unless they adopted a system like those mentioned in some foreign countries.
    Fortunately, in America you can pick whatever name you want (almost!)

  102. Of course my wife would take me name. I wouldn’t go to all the trouble and expense of a wedding without having my property rightly stamped as “Mrs Russell Sugden”.

    She’d have my name in order to properly legitimise the heirs I married her to produce in the first place.

    After all, I own the dog and I’m allowed to call that whatever I like.

  103. @russellsugden: I wouldn’t go to all the trouble and expense of a wedding without having my property rightly stamped….

    The wifes family would traditionally pay for the wedding, and pay you a dowry… if–as you seem to believe–we lived in the age of Voltaire.

    I would think that as a professed skeptic, you would take the point that many women do not subscribe to this view, and choose to keep their names and define their marriages on their terms. As an evidence based thinker, doesn’t this give you pause to consider your position that marriage, as an institution, is fixed, immutable, and defined by the past rather than the present?

    After all, counter-examples to your view abound in the very thread you are mocking.

  104. @russellsugden: She’d have my name in order to properly legitimise the heirs I married her to produce in the first place.


    Interesting. So, essentially, you’re making the argument that people should not have children? Or perhaps you are making the argument that if people have children, they shouldn’t enter into the legal contract that is most in their children’s interests?

    I’m confused here… beyond sort of a knee-jerk “I hate the traditional family” reaction, is there any analysis or thought behind comments like this? You make this big stink about being super-rational compared to other people, but this position of yours seems to be both anti-rational and anti-skeptical. You ignore evidence that would tend to disprove your view, and your view does not seem to be built on a logical foundation.

    What am I missing, here? What reasoned point are you attempting to make?

  105. @phlebas: Man, I will never forgive that guy for ruining a perfectly respectable Portuguese/Indian name. I mean, seriously. Ruining a good name for two (three, if you count North America) continents take a certain chutzpah.

  106. CuriosityKeeper:” Men get more slack, respect, higher salaries.”

    But we die earlier, so if you average it all out we get the same total in the end. Ha.

    SSteppe- are you Chopper’s brother.

  107. The “man’s last name” phenomenon is highest in the red states, mostly because when you marry your kinfolk they usually already have your name.

    My wife didn’t take my last name, but I didn’t offer it to her either. She has her own. She’s always been that person. How does making a commitment to me that can be dissolved for $100 bucks make her a different person, deserving a modified moniker?

  108. I took my husband’s name. But for me, it was a relief – my maiden name is unique and distinctive. My father and I work in the same broad industry, and every once in a while people would go “Oh, you’re HIS daughter!” And then they’d go into raptures talking about how much they love my Dad.

    Which I hate – I’m not at work to talk about my father. And, quite frankly, my Dad hates it, too. Because these same people then turn around and try to suck up to him talking about what a great professional I am. But he KNOWS that already – he raised me. And I’ve never, ever, ever been allowed to trade on that name recognition in any way shape or form, which anyone who knows our family at all knows well. Personal accountability is HUGE in my family.

    So taking the name just took the stress out of business for me. Though I have to admit I do miss my maiden name a little bit. As one of my friends in put it in college, my full name was “a little poem” – he used to say my whole name every time he saw me because he loved the name so much, it was pretty and it rolled off the tongue. My married name – not at all lyrical, and the ethnicity of my first name and married name just don’t match. People always raise an eyebrow when they see it.

    But either way…I don’t really care much. I’m still me, no matter what my last name is.

  109. @sethmanapio: I’ve never made a big stink about being super-rational, in fact I’ve never claimed to be super-rational at all.

    I think my views on marriage are quite well known by now (I’m against it), and I was being ironic to make a point.

    I am also against the “Traditional” family for various reasons, least of all because (in the UK at least) >50% of children are born to “unwed” mothers and 48% of people live in non-traditional families (exclude the over 60’s and this number shoots up)

  110. @russellsugden: I’ve never made a big stink about being super-rational, in fact I’ve never claimed to be super-rational at all.


    Oh, bullshit. On the original marriage thread, and then on another, you mocked the idea that “rational” people could be pro marriage. You made a stink, and you claimed superior rationality.

    Yes, I know what your views are. What I don’t know is exactly what I asked: is there some reasoning, logic, or rationale behind your views? Maybe I’m missing something here, but what the hell does the number of children born to unwed mothers have to do with the institution of marriage?

    How does that statistic provide any support for being against marriage? Is there a rational basis for this position of yours?

  111. I kept my name when I got married, but once our daughter came along, I kind of wished I had changed it. We gave her my husband’s last name (I don’t recall why, exactly, we came to that decision), so now when the school or day camp calls work for an emergency, they invariably ask for the wrong person. When I worked for a very small company it was no big deal, because everybody around the office knew that when someone asked for “Mrs. Navis,” they meant me. Now that I work for a very, very large company, it is a big deal. Not only is there no “Mrs. Navis,” there are about six “Laura Williams”-es. Usually the school nurse calls my husband, who calls me. It’s a pain.

    The reason I didn’t take my husband’s name is simple. Right before we got married, I heard my Mother refer to herself on the phone as “Mrs. Robert Williams.” I was appalled. I love my Dad, but the fact that my Mother, after almost 50 years of marriage and five kids, still sees her identity through the lens of his, just knocked me over. I vowed to never do that to myself.

  112. @russellsugden: “””I am also against the “Traditional” family,”””

    According to your own data, the “traditional” family is not “traditional” anymore. You seem to be against a ghost. I don’t see the point of opposing e.g. the French invasion of UK, which is not happening any more. There’s no point in opposing a particular piece of paperwork, either, which is what marriage is for law-based, empirical purposes. When you get married, nobody asks you e.g. if you really love your partner; as far as “marriage” as an institution is concerned, only its legality matters, and I suppose you are not opposing/denying its obvious and factual legal nature.

    “””least of all because (in the UK at least) >50% of children are born to “unwed” mothers”””

    If the situation in UK is the same as in the rest of Europe, that also means that most children are born to low income and most likely immigrant families. Are you in favor of low income vs. high income, or Muslim marriages vs. western families, merely because they are/procreate more? Does the number of children say anything at all about the goodness of a marriage? That’s a really unfortunate view.

    “””and 48% of people live in non-traditional families”””

    Again, and as sethmanapio said, what do numbers have to do with being against or in favor of marriage, particularly when those numbers are inflated due to population flows which distort the homogeneity of the data? You’re taking large amounts of noise to be information disproving a pattern spanning for much longer than the noise has been occurring. If all aliens in the universe came to Earth tomorrow, the human population would no longer be significant, but that does not allow you to conclude that humans are badly adapted to life on Earth, or that aliens are more Earth-like because they’re more as of now. To be able to draw meaningful conclusions, you need to make assessments at the appropriate time scale. As far as marriage and societal evolution is concerned, the time for which traditional marriage has been declining has been relatively short (you yourself draw a line in the ’60s. What are 49 years at a 6 billion people level?

  113. My name is awesome (Fox) and my husband actually told me he would prefer I keep it. I asked him if he would consider changing his, but he likes it (MacHett). Fair enough!

    We’ve briefly considered mashing our names together (MacFox) for our kids… I still like that idea. Not sure, though.

  114. Mr. Bug and I were published writers under our own names long before we married. No way I’d change.

    I do also think it’s a bit of a throwback to the female as property thing to loose your identity when you get married, but I don’t insist that everyone do what I did.

  115. @Stacey:

    But what if someone makes the personal choice that their marriage and their name are to be activist, feminist statements? (-:

    (In all seriousness, I expect that’s at least a little bit true for many “Lucy Stoners” — choosing a name is a way of making a statement, and moreover of asserting the right to make that statement, even if the person doing the choosing would not force their preference on anyone else in the same situation.)

  116. This is, yet another, first post on this topic. I married last year and I did not change my name. (way too cool to change).
    But, I was nervous about telling my super evangelical xtian grandparents about my decision.
    Grandma’s response was to shout accross the house to her husband, “Hey, Kenny! Is it in the Bible that women have to take their husband’s name?!”
    Him, “No….I don’t think so.”
    Her to me, “It’s okay with me as long as it’s okay by Jesus.”

  117. I always expected to keep my maiden name, but when it came down to it, we just decided that I would take his name. I use my maiden name as my middle name, now. Not hyphenated, just there. If I had it to do over again, though, I probably would have kept my name. Mostly because it is such a damn hassle to change your name everywhere (when your officiate files your marriage certificate, all of the changes should take place automatically, I think!), but also because my maiden name was a very rare one and I wouldn’t have to deal with the constant barrage of, “Do you know John?” or, “Do you know Tony?” or, “Do you know Nick?” Because no, I never, ever do.
    I don’t think my husband would have been willing to take my name, only because it would have associated him too closely with my father. If anything, we probably should have just made a new last name that was an anagram of our own last names. Or changed our name to Smith or Brown or Jones or something. We may still do that.
    I don’t see “taking his name” as losing my identity or losing any part of myself or who I am. If you want to stay yourself, you have to make a point of being yourself. Going into a marriage with preconceived notions usually leads to disappointment -or an unhappy self-fulfilling prophesy.

  118. I’m not sure what I’ll do if I ever get married. My first name minus the vowels are my initials in order, which I’ve always thought was kinda cool, and I rather like my last name, but… it’s a pain to spell. It was spelled wrong on my medical records for 18 years, until I finally got it fixed so that I could use medical stuff and my driver’s license as my two pieces of ID (which didn’t work so well when they had different spellings on them). It also gets mispronounced a lot.

    Alternatively, I might go back to my paternal grandfather’s original last name (my current last name is his step-father’s). Then I’d be a Zipfel, which would be all kinds of awesome.

  119. I’m recently engaged, and I haven’t yet decided what to do about my name. I probably won’t change it, but I’ll decide in the next few months. One thing I do know for sure: professionally, I will be known by my maiden name. All of my publications, talks, professional introductions, etc. will be with my original name. Personally, I might keep my maiden name as a middle name and add my fiance’s name as a last name.

    As for the children, that will be more difficult… if and when we have kids. It seems unfair that they will just take their father’s name, but what to do? Hyphenating is just ugh sounding. And what do you do for the second generation of hyphenating? Double hyphenate?

    I do know a family with four kids. The mother kept her maiden name. The kids have alternating last names– mother’s last name, father’s last name, mother’s last name, father’s last name. It’s a little confusing when you finally figure out they’re all related, but I honestly love it. I guess this means you need to have an even number of kids, though.

  120. @Evelyn: I kept my maiden name at my job when we got married, because if I’d changed it then all the idiots I worked with would have been all confused and been unable to figure out that I was the same person. Sighhh…

    I have relatives who invented a new last name for their kids (I think by somehow combining their last names). Although, to be fair, I’m not entirely sure that they were in fact married, and the major impetus for the name-change was so that the kids wouldn’t have the same name as their criminal parents…
    In other news, remind me to tell you the story of my gangster relatives someday…

  121. It seems to me that we need a new way of having married people come up with one last name. Hyphenating is stupid, confusing, and unsustainable. There is a practical problem of females who have published works, and then changing there name. And as far as men changing there name to there wife’s?, yah, that’s not going to happen.

    May I suggest, at the time of marriage, the married couple comes up with a totally original last name. If it was up to me I would go with Danger. That way folks would see us on the street and go, “there go the Dangers”, or “we’re going to eat and the Danger’s tonight”, to my kids I can say, “quick, to the Danger Mobile”, which is nothing more than our station wagon, with flames on the side. That would be bad-ass.

  122. @Evelyn & @skepticalhippie: Hyphenation is not unsustainable. You just have to truncate for later generations. You pick one half from each name and recombine. It actually produces better names because you can choose the parts that go together best.

    Smith-Jones and Black-White combine into Smith-Black, White-Jones or whatever option the couple likes best.

    Still, it is a very unsatisfying solution, isn’t it?

    I’ve known couples who chose a brand new name. It has a certain appeal…but I’m not doing it.

  123. When my wife and I were engaged she asked me, “Would you like me to take your last name, or would you mind if I kept mine?”

    I said, “Are you going to be there at the end of the day when I get home?”

    She said, “Of course.”

    I said, “Then that’s all I care about. It’s your name and your decision.” She ended up taking my name, but the important stuff is that we’re together and life’s alright.

  124. Did anyone else point out that Rebecca Rodrigues has a nice alliteration to it? And Sid Watson isn’t so bad either.

    Maybe husband and wife should swap names…

  125. I’m not married, so maybe I’m not qualified to comment, but I’ve been engaged twice, so maybe I am. For myself, I think it depends on a lot of things, but I met a lady at a workshop this summer that had what I thought was a really neat solution to the problem of a professional woman who was known in her field and then got married. She wanted to change her name (being of a traditional and romantic bent), but her maiden name was known in her field. She decided to change her name legally, then hyphenate for awhile unofficially (maybe a year, she thought), and then change it gradually, to give people in the field (we’re teachers) time to get used to it.

    Sounds like a good solution to me! She’s getting her legal paperwork (driver’s license, SS card, teaching certificate, passport, etc.) changed to her new name this summer, but she’ll go by both names hyphenated in conversation and on her business cards and with her students for the next year or so, then drop her maiden name (which will then match her paperwork).

    I hadn’t really thought much about it before she told me her plan, and it seems good to me. I have an “ethnic” last name that I have mixed feelings about, but I hate my middle name, so I may just be (current first name) (current last name) (hubby’s last name) when I get married. If I ever get married, I’ll let you all know! ;-)

  126. I’m keeping my name for three reasons. It’ll be the name on my PhD when I finally finish my thesis so there’s no way I’m going by a different name after that. My surname is way cooler than my fiance’s surname, so I’d prefer my name anyway. Plus my first name rhymes with my fiance’s surname so there’s no way I’m having that combination of names for the rest of my life.

    As to kids, we’ve decided boys get my surname as there aren’t many males with my surname in Australia. Girls get his surname because there are very few girls in the latest generation of his family.

  127. I agreed to take my fiance’s last name because I needed to legally change my first name regardless, so I wanted to start fresh with a overall new name. In probably one of the coolest motions of compromise my fiance offered me, he motioned that we both change our surname, so I wouldn’t be the only one having to go through the identity change. We decided to go with a more German-version of his existing surname, to promote our heritage and repel all the jokes that have ever existed for the name, as well.

    We put it past his mother, and she broke into tears. Evidently because my fiance wanted to change his name, even slightly, it shows that he hates who he is and his family to boot. I was disgusted, but not surprised. So we dropped it, and we are sticking with his original name. It’s bad enough that we are having a secular wedding (his family is Catholic); I suppose changing his name might just ostracize him forever.

  128. I didn’t change my name upon getting hitched. I’ve got three degrees and publications in my birth name. I’m also lazy, and wouldn’t want to go through the effort. The subject came up at one point, and my sweetie said, in reference to the topic of name-changing, “I’d have been shocked if you would have.” His extended family is not at all surprised I kept my name.

    I hate being called “Mrs.” “Mrs. Mylastname” is my mother, and “Mrs. Hislastname” is his mother. I especially hate it when my students call me “Mrs.” but I generally don’t get snippy about it. (Reminds me of “One Day at a Time” when Schneider the super would refer to Julie and Barbara’s mother as “Mrs. Romano,” and she would correct him by firmly stating “MS. Romano.”)

    It can get a bit confusing at the vet’s office, since the cats are under his name. But, we deal with it–no great hardship. :)

    I was disappointed when my sister in law gave up her awesome Polish name for my rather boring family name. I suppose having to spell for others a name that began with 4 consonants got a bit old for her. But, it was her decision, so I shouldn’t judge.

    If I ever changed my name, I’d take my mother’s father’s last name–a very interesting Norwegian name. But, as I said before, I’ve no inclination to change my name.

  129. I agree, if I had done anything noteworthy before being married (not that I’ve done anything of note since being married, of course…), I probably would have kept my name. But you can still Google and find me by my maiden name (does anyone else hate the term “maiden name”?) anyway.

    @CatFurniture: When I was teaching, it was actually in the same school as my mother -often in the classroom right next to hers, actually- so it was less confusing to use my married name. Of course, all the kids wanted to know why I went by “Ms.” instead of “Mrs.” Oh well…

    @Neg: But it would have been okay for you to change your name to his? Wanting to change his means he hates who he is and his family, but wanting to change yours doesn’t mean those things? I haz confused…

  130. Any genealogists here? I was waiting for someone to come in and yell at everyone for making that a huge pain in the ass. I would imagine without consistency, it will be awfully difficult to track family trees in the not-to-distant future. Hopefully, computer and legal records will suffice though.

  131. @Masala Skeptic:

    Going off on a tangent: the official records don’t account for all the unofficial fooling around. I know an uncle and another relative who raised children legally but not biologically their own.

    I wonder where cheap DNA tests will lead us.

  132. I took my wife’s last name when we married for a few reasons:

    1) My last name was Dombrowsky, but you had to go back to my great-grandfather to find anyone from Poland. Most of my ancestors were from Germany, so we thought Schult would reflect our mutual ethnicity better.

    2) We wanted the same last name as each other. There are circumstances in which having the same last name makes life a little easier, and we wanted to share a last name with our children.

    3) Schult is easier for Americans to spell than Dombrowsky even though Dombrowsky is basically spelled the way it’s pronounced and Schult has that pesky Sch.

    4) Hyphenation: 16 characters.

  133. @SJBG: Naming the kids is interesting to me. Every couple I know that has different names for husband and wife has the kids take the husband’s last name. That seems weird to me and a vestige of patriarchy. I like what my understanding of the Icelandic system is: John and Mary’s daughters are the Icelandic equivalent of Marysdaughter and the sons are Johnson.

  134. @davew: We get mail addressed to Mr & Mrs Pete Schult, and I think, “Who’s Mrs Pete Schult? She’s the one who was born with the name; if anything, I’m Mr Julie Schult.”

  135. @Surly Nymph: When we were filling out the paperwork for our daughter’s birth certificate, we noticed that they wanted the mother’s maiden name but just had the father’s name. Now I know it’s rare for men to take their wife’s name, but there are enough men who change their names that it seems they should specify that they want the father’s birth name, at least we assumed that’s what they wanted, presumably for the same reason that they wanted the mother’s maiden name.

  136. I’m always bothered when things are addressed to me as Mrs. Lauren Cocilova vs. Mrs. Andy Cocilova. I’m not a southern belle with a bed and breakfast in my name and I certainly didn’t marry myself, so I am not Mrs. Lauren. If you have to Mrs. me (and frankly I’d rather you didn’t), at least do it properly.

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