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  • November 24, 2017, 10:33:04 PM

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Author Topic: Would this be an acceptable reply to assumptions about taking a married name?  (Read 35953 times)

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I am not taking my future husband's very long, Germanic last name.  I already have a very complicated welsh first name (that I would gladly change if I could!) but was blessed with a short English last name.  Because I have a professional reputation with that short, easy last name, I am keeping it. FH and I have been explaining this to curious people who keep saying "Oh, you will be a Mrs. Hislastname soon".

It's further complicated because of his 2 children from a previous marriage and the assumption we will have more children.  They both have his last name.  That's fine.  But saying, "Actually, no, I'm keeping mine for professional reasons, but thank you for asking" often launches into a "Well, wihat message does that send to his children?" or "What about your children?"  Because I have endometriosis and am 27 and worried about my infertility every day because we aren't in a good place to have another child yet, that second comment particularly upsets me.  If people say the first part, I just say, "well, that's not something we're worried about"  or "It's not really any of your business but thanks for asking".  For the last one, I"m just at a loss.

Would "That's an interesting assumption.  We will cross that bridge when we come to it" be acceptable?  FH finds any asking about children to be especially but being goaded about it in my own family is normal (my own mother thinks I am "willing myself into infertility" but that is another story for another day).  So, I'm learning.

I assume this will only get worse after we marry but who knows.  I'm learning boundaries (my parents are very, very bad with them and I've learned from the worst as much as I love them) and I'm trying to model myself after my future sister in-laws who have different degrees of name adoption (some hyphenated, some taken, some only taken socially but legally sticking with the maiden name).  They basically shut people down but everyone knows they never wanted and will never have children (they are both significantly older than I am).


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  • No! Iz mai catnip! You no can haz! YOU NO CAN HAZ!
OP, I don't know where you are, but in the US it is increasingly common for women to keep their maiden names after marriage. I can see it being a legitimate question, as in "Will you be taking his last name after you are married?" are okay. But any kind of follow up such as "Why not?" Should be met with a flat, "Because that's what we've decided. Bean dip?" and leave it at that. Repeat as necessary.

As to nosy questions about kids, I can see responding with, "So kind of you to take an interest, but don't worry. We'll handle it if the situation ever comes up."

And as for your mother and her nutty belief that you are "willing yourself" into infertility...sorry. I got nothing. All I can do is suggest you avoid discussing it with her at all costs.

What have you got? Is it food? Is it for me? I want it whatever it is!


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I think it matters where the question is coming from - I'd have a different response to a family member than I would to an acquaintance / coworker.  I have had the opposite issue, where I did choose to change my name and due to my career / professional status, people find it very surprising and comment on it.  For people who matter to me, I have engaged in conversations about it, my reasons, etc.  For people who don't / whom I don't know, I just say "yup, well, it works for me" and move on.


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Can I vote for telling anyone who asks, “Well, what about your children?” that the children will have *your* last name? No? That might get the wrong reaction (as in I just want them to be quiet, but they might start spouting off something ridiculous).

No, I vote for answering “Well, what about your children?” with “What children?” And then waiting. Because you don’t have any children. You might not be able to have any children. Why are they bothering themselves with a hypothetical? I bet these are people who, if you decide to adopt, will butt in with something about not being able to love a child who isn’t your blood.

"How kind of you to take an interest" is probably the safest route. I, too, might never be able to have children so it really gets my goat when people assume everyone is going to procreate.

For a little humor, a former classmate of mine kept her last name. She blogs. See #6.


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I think I wouldn't bother giving reasons. It's really not anyone's business, and reasons can lead to counter-arguments, as you've discovered. I think a smile paired with lines like, "That's what works best for us" and "We'll let you know" (about kids) is polite, gives the other person a chance to drop the subject gracefully, and doesn't give anyone a reward for their nosy, probing questions.

Also, I think if you have a stock answer that you always say, you won't need to think as much about it, and the question itself may become less painful. Instead of having to scramble for an answer, while thinking hurt and angry thoughts, it becomes like, "Push button A, get answer A*," and you move on with life.

Now of course if it's a situation/person where you want to explain, because you think they are genuinely curious and open-minded (not looking for info to judge you on), you can go ahead and do that. But definitely don't feel the need to do so with everyone.


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"I'm sorry, I don't understand what you mean. How is my keeping my name a message to his children?" Then based on their response. "Huh, never knew anyone felt that way. It won't be an issue for our family."

" Why are you assuming we can or want to have kids? Anyway, I'm sure it'll all work out when we do." Or really throw them and say you plan to use the South American custom of giving the kids their mothers name. Give them something else to worry about.


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Thanks for all of this!

Stock answers for the kids answer are the hardest and the one I think I need to prep.  I don't think it's necessarily rude to ask, either.  My coworkers are genuinely curious for the sake of business.  Likewise, I've asked before when I was writing a check to send in a card for a wedding I could not attend.  If it was a cousin I hadn't discussed it with, I would ask, "Are you/is your future wife keeping your/her last name?" because I wanted them to be able to deposit the check easily!  So, I don't mind answering.  I just mind further questions that are too demanding of personal info.  His family is very accepting of our choice.  Mine... well, that's something else.

We likely cannot adopt (I have a very well-managed mood disorder but it's still enough to keep us out of the ability to adopt) so that's one less thing to worry about.  It limits our options but it is one worry we don't have.

I have flat out told my mother at this point that she is never to discuss the issue because it impacts not only myself but her future son-in-law and future grandchildren.  Step or no, she has two grandchildren now.  My sister who loves babies recently announced she did NOT want children and that bothered my mother something fierce.  I don't think anyone assumed I would have children until but now my mother is "desperate for grandkids".  My sister is a very good buffer and extremely blunt.  She often tells my mother off if she sees this behavior in person in her best "teacher voice".  I often wish I had my little sister's ability to just go into teacher voice and step back.  I'm working on it.


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"Well, wihat message does that send to his children?" or "What about your children?"

"That their stepmother has a good career and professional reputation that she values."

"Oh, I'm not worried. I'm pretty sure pushing them out of my uterus is ample evidence that they're mine."  >:D

But yes, I think "interesting assumption" lines are completely appropriate here.


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All I can think of is for the "What message does that send to his children" is "A good kind of message." But that is maybe rather rude.


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Make it a joke.  "I'm keeping my name."  Why? "I don't want to have to learn to spell LongGermanicLastName."

For those with the kid questions, just say "Well, if we have kids, they'll take my name, of course.  It's easier to spell!"


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All I can think of is for the "What message does that send to his children" is "A good kind of message." But that is maybe rather rude.

That's my feeling, too. If either or both of the OP's soon-to-be step-children are stepdaughters, I would seriously consider saying something like "It sends the message that their accomplishments and their reputations are just as worthy as any man's, and that they have a right to choose whether or not to change their names, not have it decided for them by society."

The kind of people asking those questions probably won't agree with that view, but they're the ones who opened this can of worms by asking, so I don't think it's rude to answer it (as long as the answer is phrased politely and doesn't insult those who choose differently).


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I feel a bit lucky in that no one's asking me yet if I'm going to be changing my last name or not.

My FH finds the tradition a bit silly, his ex-wife never changed her name as it really wasn't important to either of them.  I thought about it since I'm not overly attached to mine but I also don't feel any compelling need to change to his either.


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My usual answer was: "He didn't (won't) change his, so I didn't (won't) change mine."

People laughed and moved on. But the statement was actually true -- I offered to hyphenate if he would, and he wouldn't; end of discussion. Luckily, I really only got this question from colleagues making small talk. No one in either of our families under the age of 80 was under the impression that we'd consider changing our names.

Once you actually get married without changing your name, the questions really fall off. You can always say, "Oops! I must have forgotten. Guess I'm pretty used to this name anyway." Or, "If I wanted to change it, I would have."  Or, "I'll be sure to let them know you're worried that they won't think care."

Fertility and child questions are a whole other bag of worms that I believe in shutting down as swiftly as possible. Good luck!

Outdoor Girl

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If I ever get married, I'm not changing my name.  It's not a statement at all, except maybe that I'm really lazy!  I don't want to do all the paperwork and running around necessary to do it.  If my hypothetical future husband wanted me to change my name, the only way I'd do it is if he did all the legwork to make it as simple and painless as possible for me.   ;D

In the OP's case...  'I have enough trouble spelling my first name for people; I'm not adding more confusion!'  As for the 'But what about the children...' comments, 'Thank you for your concern, we have it handled.'
After cleaning out my Dad's house, I have this advice:  If you haven't used it in a year, throw it out!!!!.


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I think it matters where the question is coming from - I'd have a different response to a family member than I would to an acquaintance / coworker.  I have had the opposite issue, where I did choose to change my name and due to my career / professional status, people find it very surprising and comment on it.  For people who matter to me, I have engaged in conversations about it, my reasons, etc.  For people who don't / whom I don't know, I just say "yup, well, it works for me" and move on.

I agree with Hannah Grace and gellchom. There are totally legit/non-offensive reasons why this might be a routine question.

And many women find "comparing notes" about their reasons for choosing different options to be a great way to explore friendship, see things from a different perspective. You really have to go a lot on tone and context, here. It would be a shame to snark at someone who just wants a friendly discussion, or who hasn't made up her mind and want to brainstorm for her own decisionmaking. We all have options and reasons, it can be a really interesting thing to talk about in the right context.

Pushy questions about children are obnoxious, and NOTB. I just don't think prickly or preachy answers are necessary. The best way to shut down pushy people is give them nothing to push against. Judo, not boxing. "Flow like water". Gellchom has some great ways to inject humor.

I was eager to take my Husband's name, as my maiden name is a very common transliteration of an ethnic name that I am not, and my first/lastname combo was very, very common in my industry. I was constantly being mistaken for someone else, and trying to convince people that I was myself because I didn't look "right" when they met me. Now my name sounds like what people expect to see when I show up. I got sooooo much pushback from other women that I would "lose myself" or "deny my identity" by changing my name. The only response I could come up with was, "have you met me? I'm not worried."