Wedding Wednesday: On {Not} Changing My Last Name

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Disclaimer: Keep your name, don’t keep your name. If you made a choice that’s right for you, that’s good enough for me. 

I do a lot of research before making decisions. I’m often praised as being very decisive because it when it comes down to actually stating my choice, I’m pretty quick. For example, we met with a wedding florist on Saturday and the meeting lasted maybe 15 minutes. I already knew what I wanted – I had spent hours looking at flowers and researching names and determining colors and textures. So, it seemed really easy and efficient and effortless to communicate what I wanted, but I’d already done the work.

The decision not to change my name has been similarly full of research and self-reflection and lots and lots of time. I read a lot of articles and I researched and I talked with George and my family and my friends.

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When reading accounts from other women about why they did or did not choose to change their name after marriage, my decision seemed so much more complicated. On the pro-change-your-name side: I have plenty of brothers, I don’t have an ethnic attachment to my name, I love paperwork, and I do actually like George’s last name. And yet, on the con side: I’m a feminist, I hate double standards, I don’t want to lose that connection to my family, and I think my name is awesome. In this article, one of the women says, “It honestly never occurred to me to change my name.” Well, congratulations, sister, but it wasn’t so easy for me.

In my extensive reading, it seems like one of the main arguments to change your name is this sentimental idea of wanting to be a family with your new husband. I totally get that…it seems really nice. Something about this made me feel uncomfortable though, and it took me a long time to figure out why.

When George says his vows to me, he’s accepting me into his family without strings. No changes necessary.

My parents never asked me to change to be a part of their family. They never asked me to present myself differently, show love differently, or change my name or my address or my point of view. My family has always accepted me exactly as I am. I know I’m fortunate in this. I know that so many people have families who have asked them to change, and I never want my own children to feel that pain.

I want to be an example for our kids that we accept them just as they are. The choice to not change my name was not made in isolation, and this feels like one of those occasions when a choice George and I make is leading to us building the kind of family that we want. It’s a value we want our children to understand – that there are many types of families, and in our family, we accept you as you are.

Plus, I like my name so much that I stop to take pictures in front of it whenever given the opportunity.

For more reading on taking a spouse’s surname, I gained a lot from this article.

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11 thoughts on “Wedding Wednesday: On {Not} Changing My Last Name

  1. Interesting article, Ruth. Never really thought about the changing of the last name for the bride. Back in my day, most women just did. Guess that is why I am still McLain ! , known to you as Lolo . XoXo

    Sent from my iPad

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  2. Way to go Ruth! I am sooo sorry I changed my last name. Especially when people “constantly” ask if I’m related to a so-and-so (giving me a person’s first name with my husband’s last name). I respond, “That person would be on my husband’s side of the family. My last name is actually (then I give my maiden last name).” Yes, I like “Reveal.”

  3. I have a couple friends who actually created their own last name to symbolize starting their own family together. Some combine their last names into one, or their mother’s maiden names into one as well. I think it’s important to be as one though, which is one of the huge parts of getting married. People will assume you’re not married to your husband for probably the rest of your life you’ll have to explain it lol You mentioned kids, what last name will they have? Did you ever think of both of you combining your list names with a hyphen?
    In my opinion, I don’t believe it’s about being a feminist at all. Getting married is about becoming one, and while it has changed in meaning over the years, it’s important to remember the foundation of it.
    To change your name doesn’t mean you’re reigned over by your husband, doesn’t mean your name was less important or anything like that. It’s a sign of joining as one union, with both of you & God. You should be proud to share a name with your husband & soul mate. Don’t take it as a complication or a negative towards your maiden name.
    If you aren’t going to change your name, then are you not going to be walked down the aisle to George? Will he be walked down the aisle to you? If you start down the rabbit hole, who’s to say where it should end.
    Just my opinion.

    • Hi Lauren – thanks for your thoughtful response! I agree with you that getting married is about being one with your husband, but I like to think of it more like this quote from the Prophet (Gibran): “Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each of you be alone, even as the strings of the lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.” Neither of us need to change who are to be married. There will be plenty of symbols in our ceremony to show that we are united – from our vows to our exchange of rings to the joining of our hands (and we’re actually both walking down the aisle). Plus – explaining to people that George is my husband will be my privilege. He’ll also have explain that I’m his wife to people who know my last name first. We aren’t ruled by how others view us or our marriage. We understand the commitment we are making to each other and have made choices about our marriage that are right for us.

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