Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Married vs Maiden: What's in a name?

We have relatively little choice on the name people call us. For something so personal and attached to our identity, we're stuck with what our parents deemed right at the time of our birth and a last name tied to family history.

Sure, some of us may opt to adopt nicknames or shortened variations of what's written on paper. Now and then, you hear about the rogue, complete name change or the "middle name swapper" who forgoes their first name in favor of the second on their birth certificate.

Marriage is one of the few times in a woman's life where she faces the question, "What do you want your name to be?" (We suppose divorce is another time, but that's a different blog topic altogether.)

Your humble blog authors have split opinions on the matter, and we know it's an individual decision. What about our friends, many of whom are feminists, working professionals, and upright citizens? Did they keep their names, or stick to tradition and take the man's moniker? So we asked:

Why'd you decide to keep or change your name when you got married? 

Mrs. Nostalgia
I originally wanted to keep my name. However, it seemed to mean A GREAT DEAL to my husband that I take his name. For him, the idea of family was conferred by taking the name. While I had a great deal of my identity wrapped up in my maiden name, I took his, because I think it meant more to him that I took his than it meant to me to keep mine, if that makes any sense. Now, that said, and even though I turned my maiden name into my middle name for Social Security purposes, I really see my name as my whole maiden name — first, middle, and last with my married name at the end. I am still the person I was, name and all, before I married, and now I’m something more, too — that’s where the married name comes in.   

I changed my name for the historical record, so it's uniform and there's no question of whether we actually got married, if we got divorced, etc. Also, if we have kids, I want all of us to have the same last name. AND I think my new name is cute. I did keep my maiden name for my writing, because I've already published under that name. My husband says he wouldn't have cared either way, but he was really excited when I told him I was going to change it.

Becky B. 
My maiden names sounds like you are stuttering if you say it quickly (it always bugged me). And I liked the simplicity of changing it and just having one name for our family/once we have kids. I also have no connection to to my maiden name, as in a longer family history, or big name in my field. I am happy I changed my name. Except that my married name is way too cutesy! The only confusion has been that most friends have kept their maiden name or hyphenated, so everyone thinks that that is what I did.

Mrs. Crafty 
For me, it was something that was important to my husband. I actually preferred to keep my maiden name (saving myself from going through the name change process). However, since it was so important to him and I was going to spend the rest of my life with him,  I went ahead and changed it.

And a few other comments: 
  • I took my maiden name as my official middle name. I never questioned not taking his name... I suppose because I always knew I would take my husbands name. What MASH-playing kid didn't think this ;)
  • It was the thing to do in 1980 when I got married. In the words of Tom Rush, "No regrets, no tears good-bye."

The keepers are in the minority, both in our poll and in the national reports. According to this 2013 article, a mere 8 percent of women keep their maiden name when they get married. 

I worked for my degree in my name and wanted to be Dr. (Maiden Name). Then, I didn't want to do changing my name personally but keeping it professionally

Mrs. Snacky 
I fancy myself a writer (even if mostly in my head), and I prefer the literary panache of my lifelong name as it looks in print. My husband had no objections to me keeping my birth name. But when we had our wee babe, I didn't consider hyphenating or inserting my name on his birth certificate. Since my husband is an only child, he wanted to pass on his family name, and I understand that impulse. Long live the patriarchy, I suppose.  

Photos from the Library of Congress here and here

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