What’s In a Name?

by Kay Lynn

Hello My Name is Blank

A couple of weeks ago a family finance columnist for the Wall Street Journal wrote about keeping her maiden name.  She recapped today the discussion generated by the article.  I find it a little annoying that the topic generates any discussion.  After all, what is the big deal with keeping the name you’re born with?

For the record, I don’t have anything against women who change their name when they get married; as long as it’s their choice.

My Name Change

My first husband and I didn’t talk about the name thing until shortly before our marriage. I was surprised to find he had strong feelings about it especially since he was born in a Latin American country where the women traditionally just added on the husband’s surname; but kept their own.

I could change my name or hypenate it in his mind.  I didn’t want to be filling out forms with such a long last name so the hyphenated solution was out for me.  In the end, I went against my own feelings and took his last name after our wedding.

It Changed Again

Fast forward ten years and we’re getting divorced.  I don’t remember how the form was worded after all this time, but I elected to revert back to my maiden name.  It felt like my name fit again.

When Mr. Boomer and I were discussing marriage, I let him know my name was here to stay.  He hesitated a moment and told me that his first two wives took his name and look where that got him…two divorces later.  That only confirmed he was the man for me.

I don’t blame my first husband for convincing me to change my name (even though I think I might have harbored some resentment).  I blame me for not standing up for my opinion and beliefs. No one could have forced me (at least not in this country) to change my name.

It’s a good lesson to learn about every area of life.  Have you ever regretted going against your opinion?

Photo: Some rights reserved by Pink Poppy Photography

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Harri @ TotallyMoney August 1, 2011 at 6:39 am

Whilst I’m definitely not at the marriage stage yet, I’d imagine when the time comes I’ll end up doing what my mother did- she kept her maiden name professionally and took on my dad’s name for personal affairs.

At the end of the day, antiquated traditionalism shouldn’t get in the way of your beliefs and values. Taking on someone else’s name is symbolic and there is a certain level of acquiescence in there- giving yourself and your identity over to your husband. I can completely understand why you’ve kept your name and why you feel a little resentful that you didn’t first time round.

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Mr Credit Card August 1, 2011 at 7:04 am

Mrs Credit Card kept her maiden name. Makes things simple. Don’t have to change bank accounts and all that nonsense!

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Money Beagle August 1, 2011 at 8:03 am

My wife took my name after we got married. We actually just sort of talked about it once. I was like “Are you changing your name?” “Yep.” “OK, cool”. So far no signs of trouble 🙂

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Little House August 1, 2011 at 11:44 am

Before I got married, we briefly discussed me keeping my last name. Mr. LH had no trouble with that and liked the idea of not having to complete a bunch of paperwork. Of course, every now and then, he gets called Mr. mylastname. He’s just used to it. 😉

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Danielle Liss August 1, 2011 at 1:02 pm

I didn’t change my name for #1. Was content with that. #2 was really adamant that I change it. Plus, would it be weird that his ex had his last name and I didn’t? So I decided that I would keep Liss as my middle name and take his name as my last name. You could typically do this at the DMV. Then, when I got to the DMV, they wouldn’t let me. I didn’t want to hypenate, because that was just a pain. So I changed it and was stuck without Liss. I was hysterical by the time I got home. I eventually calmed down and we got down to lawyer talk. I filled out my paperwork and my husband had to file it (the benefits of the two-lawyer household). Since I had to pay for a legal name change, I kept all of my names.

Although, amusingly, more people know me as Danielle Liss. It’s the name I use online and always have. It’s the name I use on Facebook. It’s generally the name I think of when I think what my name is. But I still kind of wish it was my name. I secretly wish I could change it back.

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krantcents August 1, 2011 at 1:10 pm

I usually stick with my guns! I am referring to important things not what to have for dinner or some other trivial matter.

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Squirrelers August 1, 2011 at 4:19 pm

You want to feel like the person you’re with accepts you for who you are, whether you’re the guy or the gal in the relationship. I think that the following your gut instinct is the way to go in situations like this. I can see how a name change can be difficult. As a guy, I view my family name with great pride, so why wouldn’t my wife feel the same way about her family? Or, at least I should be willing to accept if she did (which I did, by the way).

This is a good example of what to consider when making decisions in general. There are small things on which we can go against our opinion, and that’s ok sometimes. We do have to give, and compromise. But on important things, if you go against your opinion, it’s often just not worth doing….in my view anyway!

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Marie at FamilyMoneyValues August 1, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Although I have only changed my name once – I still remember what a pain it was. It still is when there are times that I have to prove that yes, I used to be Marie mymaiden name instead of Marie mymarriedname.

But, what will the kids last names be?

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Jon - Free Money Wisdom August 1, 2011 at 6:27 pm

My girlfriend and I have discussed this and we both feel it is a bit feminist to keep your maiden name. After all, it says “leave and cleave.” I think you have to ask yourself why are you so opposed to dropping your name and changing it to your husband’s? If you have doubts about it and think you may divorce the bloke then perhaps you shouldn’t marry him in the first place.

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john August 1, 2011 at 10:57 pm

Who cares. I’m in a 10 year relationship and we have two kids and a mortgage. sometimes people refer to her by my surname. It doesn’t phase her. there are much more important things to worry about.

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Untemplater August 1, 2011 at 11:33 pm

My mom taught me from a really young age to always listen to the voice inside my head and the feelings in my gut. It’s worked out well so far! -Sydney

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Shawanda August 2, 2011 at 4:25 am

Should I ever get married, I think I’ll go ahead and keep my maiden name. It seems like a lot of work to go through just to have the same last name as your husband. Plus, I’ve been Shawanda Greene my whole life. Shawanda [Some Man’s Last Name] – I don’t know who that person is. I’m feeling anxious just thinking about it.

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Jackie August 2, 2011 at 4:02 pm

I’ve definitely regretted doing something that wasn’t in line with how I really felt before. It’s good to stay true to yourself!

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Kay Lynn August 3, 2011 at 6:04 am

@Little House, glad to know I’m not unique in this respect. My husband has not only occassionally been called by my last name, but he used to volunteer at my sons’ schools and get called by their last name!

@Danielle, you’re still Liss in the cyberworld. 🙂 It’s surprising how some men feel about this topic.

@Krantcents, I think I know this now; but was too young when I first married.

@Squirrelers, you’re right about when to compromise and when to stick to your guns (figuratively).

@Marie, it is a pain to change your name. That was a secondary reason I didn’t want to do it again!

@Jon, as a matter of fact I am a feminist. I don’t take many things in the first testament literally so respectfully disagree with you.

@ John, I don’t worry about accidentally being called Mrs. XXX, but I don’t want to change what I call myself.

@ Untemplater, sounds like you have a very smart mom!

@ Shawanda, I do think it’s even harder now that women are older than we were centuries ago at the time of marriage. We’ve made our own life with our identify before marriage as opposed to going straight from the parent’s home as a young teen.

@ Jackie, great advice to stay true to yourself.

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Bret @ Hope to Prosper August 7, 2011 at 10:38 am

My wife didn’t realize she could have kept her maiden name until the preacher asked her at our wedding. Later she joked that she should have kept it. I joked that the deal would have been off. Twenty one years later, we still have the same last name.

I think it’s important in a family situation to have the same last name, especially since I inherited a one year-old step son. We changed his name as well. I didn’t want there to be any questions or comments about our status. And, I didn’t want anyone feeling different. I know it’s a hassle for a woman to change her name. But, we got married for life and it’s that kind of commitment and sacrifice that carry a couple throught the tough times.

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Shannon Plante January 31, 2012 at 8:47 am

I find it’s often men who make a big fuss over not wanting a wife if she doesn’t succumb to the patriarchal regime of “man’s last name or nothing.” Sexism is so 20th-century. I kept my last name when I got married three months ago and was disgusted at how many close relatives thought their opinion on the issue was wanted. People need to butt out, and keep their backwards thinking to themselves. I don’t bitch and moan to every friend or relative who took the man’s last name, so what gives them the delusion that they can gripe to me? I immediately took a rather political stand and told everyone that if anyone had a problem with me keeping my name simply because I was not born with a penis was not welcome in my life anymore.

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