• March 18, 2018, 02:56:13 PM

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Author Topic: Would this be an acceptable reply to assumptions about taking a married name?  (Read 40265 times)

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Oh Joy

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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".

I would head off most of those discussions by changing your response to this statement. 

If it's brought up in the general context of your upcoming wedding during a light social conversation, don't bother correcting them.  Smile and talk about how excited you both are.

If you've somehow already engaged in a conversation about your name or they're asking directly, answer briefly and redirect the conversation.  "Oh, I'm keeping "Smith," but I am so looking forward to being married!  We did our cake tasting the other day...

Best wishes.


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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."

Haha.  Yes.  I had a number of close friends recently find out I was NOT taking his name and close relatives and go "Are you SURE about this?"  I wanted to be like, "Do you people even KNOW me or just pretend to?"  I hate hate hate my first name because it's Welsh and impossible to spell.  I love my last name because it's simple and 4 letters.  People say they love my name because it's "unique" but they can never spell it properly! So, it amazes me they would not understand or feel I should second guess.

DF would change his name if it didn't impact his children.  He jokes about it all the time.  We also do sometimes joke it off by using an amalgamation of our names (like a celebrity couple).  I guess we could just do that to the people who ask intrusively or demand a hard "why".  The combined name has grown on us for comedic effect and truly sounds ridiculous.  We would even gladly give *my* name to our progeny but I do believe that it's important any child we may have share a name with their siblings just for the sake of identity and ease of use.

I do believe women can bond over decisions with names.  Most of my female friends have hyphenated.  If he had an easy to spell name, I would do that.  But it's about 12 characters of confusion for anyone and even our day of planner had to change the contract 3 times over because of the spelling.


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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?" 

It tells them that simply because we live in a patriachal society doesn't mean we need to conform to its expectations, and there is more to being a family than sharing a surname.


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Some friends of mine did both change their names to something else entirely.  It's actually more difficult to do that in my state - there are no provisions in state law for men to be able to change their names for free when they get married, as there are for women.  At some point, I'm sure someone will sue to fix that, but it hasn't happened here yet.


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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.

I agree with this so much!  As I said, my decision to change my name was unusual for my social/professional peer group, and it resulted in many interesting conversations with friends.  In my case, the friend who was the most curious / interested in my decision was actually one of my few friends who had changed her own name.  I was surprised and interested that she was so shocked that I had made the same decision (for different reasons).


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I'm kind of curious about how exactly this question is coming up.

I've been married for nearly four years, and did not change my name. I thought about it early in our engagement, but decided quite firmly against it about a year before we got married.

My family didn't really ask me about whether I was changing my name or not, mostly because I think I told them I wasn't before they thought to ask. Although one of my uncles sent me a birthday check shortly after I was married made out to "Dindrane Husbandlast", and I had to have a very awkward conversation letting him know my bank wouldn't let me deposit it.

I did get this question a lot at work, which made sense in some contexts, and was the most annoying question I've dealt with to date in others. Most of the "made sense" contexts involved someone who had some reason to need to know what my name was asking me in a very neutral tone of voice if I would be changing my name. Slightly more annoying was that same scenario, but the question was "what will your new name be?" Crazymaking and infuriating was this one person who insisted on calling me "Mrs." in the lead up to my wedding despite repeated statements that I was not, in fact, going to be Mrs. anything.

But regardless of the question, I think the best way to respond is to be very just-the-facts, and don't explain your reasoning (especially when nobody asked for it). So, "Are you changing your name?" gets answered, "No, I'm not." End of sentence.

"What will your new name be?" can be answered "Actually, I'm not changing my name." Also end of sentence.

If anyone asks why, feel free to answer "Because this is what I want" or "Because I don't want to." That's a perfectly valid answer, especially if you sense they are asking so that they can argue with you. Any other questions are really none of anyone else's business unless you want them to be.

Fortunately, especially at work, this gets better over time. I still work with people who have known me since before I was married, but the fact that my name has stayed precisely the same for four years has been a pretty big clue that I'm not changing it. There are also now a lot of people who did not start working here until after I was married, so while many of them know that I have a husband, they have no way of knowing whether my last name is the same as his or not.

I also find it helps to make at least a bit of a joke out of it, for situations where you feel like you want to give some sort of reason but don't really want to get into it in any depth. For me, I have 4 given names (1 first name, 2 middle names, 1 last name). I most commonly use my first and last name alone, which is a stupidly common and easy to pronounce/spell combination. But both of my middle names are longer, less common, and generally harder for people to pronounce or spell. So my joking response is that I started out with 4 given names and decided that I really didn't need 5. So far, that's been an effective way to end the conversation unless I decide I'm willing to keep talking about it.

One other really effective way to help your lack of name change become a non-issue is to just never preemptively bring it up yourself. There are a lot of people in the world who will never know whether or not your current name is the one you were born with, and they will also never think to ask you about it unless you or someone else introduces it as a topic of conversation. So if you just don't bring it up, it won't come up as often (especially once you're a little ways past your wedding, and not talking about getting married or being married quite as much).


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I didn't change my name when I married and I found most people reacted 'oh, ok' without much interest, but a few seemed to want to argue about it/convince me otherwise/make comments. Funnily enough those who didn't like my decision were usually people with no right to feel any interest - strangers, work colleagues, acquaintances. Family and friends on the whole didn't care either way (apart from ex-MIL but she was a bit of a character and I basically ignored 99% of what she said about anything).

I agree with some other posters that to some extent you are setting yourself up for an argument with what you are saying. don't say 'I'm keeping my name' as that suggest you are taking an action here, whereas what you are really doing is not taking an action that other people often do. So you are 'not changing my name' instead. I'm not running a marathon tomorrow, I'm not investing in pork bellies, I'm not changing my name. Other people do those things. It's not something I do or are interested in doing. This is boring to me. Can you see the emphasis is a bit different? that can cut down on some of the reactions.

Also please stop justifying your decision with 'for professional reasons'. That really is asking for an argument. It's none of their business why. It's entirely your choice. If it were just a whim, that's ok. In this case, a lot of it has to do with the respective surnames, that's ok. If it were for any of the 100s of reasons, that's ok. If you say 'for professional reasons' then if they are anti women not changing their name, they'll be suggesting using two names, one professionally one socially, or trying to help you find a solution - in time your new name will be your well known professional name, you can still use your qualifications with old name, women always used to change their name and it was ok, I changed my name and I haven't had any professional problems, etc etc.

The comments about the children. Odd. And actually an attempt to manipulate you into doing what they think you ought to be doing - changing your name. Don't see why you really have to respond to that at all. Other than 'well that's a bit of a silly comment' or 'I'm not changing my name' (big smile) to any comments, or 'thank you for your concern beandip beandip'.


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I think one's name is such a personal thing. There's not one cookie cutter answer that works for everyone. Instead of judging each other about these choices we should all just be glad that we're happy and get over it. For me, I took my husband's name. I liked it and I wanted to so I did. I have friends who chose differently and that's cool too. That's as it should be. Busybodies should be shut down as quickly and politely as possible. It's a changing society and people are just going to have to get used to that fact.

I do recall one unpleasant incident years ago, when I was working in an HR capacity. A couple was getting married (both worked there, so I knew them both). Near the time of their wedding I asked her if she would be changing her name, as there would be paperwork to complete if she was. She reacted with such disgust that I would even dare ask her if she'd do something so awful that I pretty much lost all respect for her. It's fine if she didn't want to change it, but I had a valid reason for asking. And her reaction made it clear that she thought less of women who did take their husband's name. And she knew very well that I had; my husband worked there as well and she knew him. It seemed very judgemental and unprofessional to react in such an OTT way.

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I too think it's interesting to hear different people's reasoning. I come from a conservative, traditional family where the woman changing her name is just assumed; but I work in a liberal, diverse place where the woman keeping her name is just assumed. As someone who doesn't like to do what people assume I'll do, I'm torn!  ;D Well, not really, I'm 99% certain I would change my name because that is what I, personally, want to do, but it irritates me so much when people assume everyone goes one way or the other.

Personally I would not get into my reasoning with anyone, unless I really got the strong sense they were just curious, like people in this thread are, and perhaps sharing their reasons for their own choice. Of course a lot of people have a legitimate need to know what your name is, but why you made this or that choice need not be shared or further discussed with anyone who seems judgmental. "That's what works for us," repeated if necessary, is polite and appropriate.


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I have a tendency to feel a "need" to justify because that's what my parents always did and I've learned from the worst.  I'm also an academic and when I get nervous, I feel the need to justify absolutely everything 100x's over because: evidence!

Also, I live in the Midwest in a small town (about 100,000) sort of place and so it's assumed a woman would change her name in the general locality I live.  And yeah, at work, it's assumed if married, she either kept her name or hyphenated it.  But very few "townies" are keeping their names.  Likewise, with 2 Catholic families involved, people tend to ask about this.  My own grandmother has made a thing about it and has, of course, egged people on into asking me.  It's the people you'd expect who would ask.  I have an  aunt who asked about it and then pointed out the thing about his kids and "our kids".  She's the same one who thinks I have made a terrible life decision in not getting a veil and will regret it forever.


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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


That's what I did.  DH wanted me to change it and I didn't, but I said I will do it if and only if you help me with all the paperwork and come with me to all the places I'd need to go... neither of us felt that strongly after all, so apathy ruled and it didn't happen.   :)  I do go by his last name socially, and that works fine for us.

I got some strongly pro-keep-your-name comments and only a few pro-take-his-name.  One of the latter was a friend's MIL who was very traditional and said something about girls these days not wanting to commit...  Heh.  And here I thought the commitment part was the marriage and not the legal name change.  She couldn't relate to my perspective ("taking his name" was not a thing I cared deeply about) and I couldn't relate to hers ("taking his name" was her happy privilege as his wife), so it was no big deal if she disagreed with me.  Likewise with the OP's aunt and concern about veil regrets - if it's not a thing the OP cares about, regret isn't really a consideration.

I also vote for sticking with short, factual, conversation-ending replies like "That's what works for us" and "We're happy with our decision."  Repeat as necessary.

FWIW, I was able to fill out paperwork with our bank to allow for checks written to lilfox lilname as well as lilfox DHname even though the latter is not my legal name.


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My daughter kept our family name when she married.  One or two of her husband's relatives questioned her about her decision.  Her answer?  'I know we're married.  You know we're married.  It's nobody else's business'.


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I'm considering changing my name and my mom asked me what about having a different name than my kids, my response was "They call me 'Mom', not "Mrs Smith."  ;)


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We each kept our names and gave our kids hyphenated last names.  Oh, how dreary it was listening to several people making the identical "original" clever comment: "Yes, but what happens when they marry someone else with a hyphenated last name?  Four names?!"  Our get-out-of-it-fast answer to that one was (delivered pleasantly, in a you-know-kids way), "I'm sure they'll do exactly what we did: whatever suits them, without worrying about what we or anyone else thinks they should do."  We knew it was the truth, too.

And that's what happened.  Our son kept his hyphenated name, although he only uses the first half (mine) on the radio or TV (he's a broadcaster).  His wife changed hers to the whole hyphenated name, which sure surprised everyone.  Our daughter often used only the second half (DH's) of her name for convenience, and she couldn't wait to change it to her husband's when she got married last year.  I don't blame her -- she went from a 14-letter hyphenated name to a 4-letter one with a cool initial.  No one asked us what we thought, and we didn't care anyway.

We have to deposit checks for her sometimes (she lives overseas but keeps an account here) and have never had any trouble even when they are in her old name.  Just make sure the bank knows it's the same person.  I'm not sure what she did; she might have shown them a marriage certificate or something.


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I'm considering changing my name and my mom asked me what about having a different name than my kids, my response was "They call me 'Mom', not "Mrs Smith."  ;)

Now that's a good answer!