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Author Topic: Would this be an acceptable reply to assumptions about taking a married name?  (Read 35912 times)

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Danika

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I knew a couple who both hated their own last names. They looked back into their family trees and found a last name that they had in common that was short, easy to spell and they both liked. They both changed their names to that when they got married.

Ms_Cellany

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Two friends of mine had last names that started with the same letter - let's say "T."

They both changed their names to a phonetic version of the letter - let's say "Teague."
Bingle bongle dingle dangle yickity-do yickity-dah ping-pong lippy-toppy too tah.

gellchom

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I'm 98% certain I would change my name to my husband's....I think it would make me feel like we were united, and would be an outward symbol that something had really changed about me.

An excellent reason for your husband to take your name!  :)

Ha ha! :) I do sometimes "worry" about what if the last name is really awful (IMO)--something that sounds ugly or like a rude word, or just is hard for my mom to say, or sounds funny with my first name. Lynn Lin? I think of Lauren Bush Lauren... Who thought with the first name of Lauren, she would manage to meet and marry someone whose last name was Lauren?

That's really pretty low on my list of worries, though. ;)

We all know a few people with such situations -- and I know a few who married people with the same or very similar last names.

My point was that there is a flaw in the argument that women should* change their names when they marry as a statement of change of identity and of the unity of the couple: no one ever says that men should change their names, or criticizes them for not doing so, for those reasons, but the identical reasoning applies.  Like people who insist that "Ms." is just for business (it isn't and never was), and you must use "Miss" or "Mrs." socially, because "how else can you tell whether she is married"?  The whole point of it is that you can't, because you shouldn't need to, just as you don't need to know a man's marital status from his honorific.  The only reason you would need to know it for a woman is if you believe that a woman's identity --but not a man's -- is defined by her marital status, or that etiquette requires her to announce her availability status in her name.  Well, same here -- if a woman is somehow diminishing the importance of her marriage by not changing her name, why isn't a man for not changing his?

*I hasten to add that Lynn2000 most certainly did *not* say that women *should* change their names, for this or any other reason, just that she herself thinks she probably would, and for this reason.  Unless the name is a real clunker!   :)  And of course not all women who do change their names think that everyone should, or that everyone should use "Mrs." or "Miss."  I am thinking only of the people such as those described by posters in this string who insist on calling women by their husband's last names even when they have no reason to believe (and often every reason not to believe) that the woman uses his name rather than her own.

Lynn2000

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Oh, I totally agree. My main opinion is that people should get to choose what they want, and not be pressured by other people. I know what my own choice would be, and I would be mad if someone in my life tried to be like, "But why would you change your name? Won't you lose your identity and sense of self?" (in a disapproving tone) No, *I* won't. Maybe the other person would, and that's exactly why they should not change their name. But them pressuring me, is exactly the same as other people who pressured them from the other direction.

I think the only bad reasons for changing/not changing a name, are if 1) you truly don't realize your options, or 2) you are giving into pressure from others. Or maybe if you yourself look back and regret your decision and think your reasons were silly. Kind of like in the "silly reasons you dumped someone" thread--on the surface the reasons may sound silly to others, but often they reflect a deeper dissatisfaction with the relationship, and being made to feel like you must have "good" reasons, suggests that the default is to be in a relationship, and that you need a special exception to be/get out of one. Which to my mind is a dangerous and rude way of thinking.
~Lynn2000

gellchom

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Lynn2000, you are so wise and so articulate.  If we didn't have you, we would have to invent you.

I may just need to start a string on that.   :)

Lynn2000

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Lynn2000, you are so wise and so articulate.  If we didn't have you, we would have to invent you.

I may just need to start a string on that.   :)

Why thank you!  ;D You're very kind.

I have a couple friends who took their husbands' last names, because their birth names were long, unwieldy, and hard to pronounce, and they married men who had shorter, easier names. Like Knollheimer (the K is pronounced) versus Taylor. I could see how some people with the name Knollheimer might take great pride in it, though--like, "We know it's tough, but we love it!"

On the other hand, one reason another friend kept her last name, and gave it to one (but not both) of their children, was because she felt like the name would be lost otherwise. It's not a unique name, it's along the lines of Hamilton, but her particular branch of the family in the US has always been small and most of her cousins are female, and took their husbands' last names. It really looked like unless she took a stand and insisted on passing Hamilton on to one of her kids, the Hamilton name would end with her generation. And that was something very important to her, that she worried about. So right now, one of her sons has the surname Hamilton (the other has his father's surname); her one male cousin had a late-in-life son surnamed Hamilton; and her sister's son is Hamilton-Brown. Her Hamilton son is the oldest, though. Of course she also had other reasons for keeping the name herself, but I thought that was an interesting consideration, as that's not something I personally have ever worried about.
~Lynn2000

greencat

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I've often joked that I will take my husband's last name as long as it's higher in the alphabet than mine - I was very tired as a kid of being the last in line all the time!

In reality, I'm highly unlikely to change my name when I marry.

norrina

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I got chastised the other day for taking my husband's name. I don't even remember how the topic came up, but some of the back story to the name change was shared. Mainly, that I chose to take DH's name.

I took my 1st husband's name because he threw a fit, and always regretted it. I also found changing all my records to be a royal pain in the tuckus. So DH expected that I would keep my maiden name and was 100% supportive of that. But after we starting actually planning the wedding my heart told me I wanted to share DH, and DSS', name. No real qualifiable reason, just an intuition that this was going to be my love message to them and it would go deeper than just changing some letters. And I actually ended up going through the courts for a legal name change 9 months before the wedding, because I was starting a my own business in a new profession and knew that I wasn't going to want to change my professional identity after 9 months of marketing but also knew that I was going to want to take DH and DSS' name. There were definitely a lot of people that didn't quite know what to make of that maneuver, but it felt right to me, and I don't have any regrets.

Nonetheless, the chastiser apparently is heavily involved in women's rights and felt like I wasn't exercising my rights by following the sexist tradition of taking my husband's name. I tried to explain that part of exercising my rights was choosing what I wanted to do, and that I had wanted to take his name, but she wasn't having any of it and luckily some lovely bean dip came by because my etiquette still needs some work when my decisions are personally insulted.





ladyknight1

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My maiden last name is one that is associated with a religious icon of a religion I don't belong to. I was constantly teased in a bad way as a child and teenager. It is also very low in the alphabet.

My DH has an awesome last name that is much higher in the alphabet and after using it for 17 years, it fits me better than my maiden name ever did. No regrets.

It is a very individual choice, and I don't see how anyone outside the happy couple has any say in it.
ďAll that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost."
-J.R.R Tolkien

Tea Drinker

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I never seriously considered taking my husband's last name, nor did he want me to. I have told more than one person that I'd offered him the chance to take my name, and he'd said no. (We both have names that are regularly misspelled.) That tends to stop the conversation, because most of the "you should do it because" reasons that people give women for why we should change our names imply but don't actually say that only women should change their names when they get married. Anything from "the couple should have the same name" to "but what about your children's names?" is resolved equally well by John Smith taking Jane Doe's surname as the other way around. In our specific case, it would have put me earlier in the alphabet, but on average it's as likely to put the name-changer later in the alphabet.

That doesn't mean you, as an individual, shouldn't change your name--and that's true regardless of your gender or the gender of the person you're marrying. (I know one woman who took her wife's name, and two mixed-sex couples where both parties combined their surnames.) But it might be useful if you're a woman who is being pressured to change her name and doesn't want to: along with bean dipping, you could brightly say "I never thought of that! You've got a point, and fiance probably should take my name. Do you want to tell him, or should I pass this along?"
« Last Edit: March 14, 2015, 11:25:36 AM by Tea Drinker »
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artk2002

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I know you absolutely meant no offense.  But you made the assumption that your niece was changing her name.  That might've been a safe assumption prior to the 1970s or so, but even where it is less common to keep your own (I don't like the term "maiden"; it's inaccurate) it's not so unheard of as to justify the opposite assumption.  So I always ask. 

It's still a very safe assumption. I just read some research that said only about 8% of women keep their names. It peaked in the 90's at 23%.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/14/changing-your-last-name_n_3073125.html

That said, it's much better if everyone communicate their intentions, but if someone doesn't communicate, changing is still a safe assumption.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Dindrane

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I would imagine that the percentage of women who retain their birth name upon marriage has a fair amount of variation among different groups of people. Among the women I know in my personal life who are married, I'd say no more than 50% of them changed their names (and the percentage of name changes is lower among people in my own generation), so I personally wouldn't consider it to be a safe assumption.

Among people I know at work who are married, the majority of them changed their names legally. But, even then, I work in HR so I assume nothing. :) At most, I'll ask someone who has told me they are getting married if they plan to change their name, but only so that I can tell them how such a thing is done in our system if they do plan to change it.

I'm sure that other people with different social circles who live in different areas of the country/world have different anecdotal experiences, so I wouldn't be likely to apply my experience particularly universally. Especially since the absolute biggest reason why I personally never assume a woman will change her name upon marriage is because I personally didn't change mine.


gellchom

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I agree. That Huffpost article was just the results of one small survey anyway, not an actual report of the real percentages anywhere. 

But even if it really were, it still wouldn't matter, because national (?  The article doesn't say) averages don't tell you anything about any community.  Like Dindrane, I can report that a far higher percentage of my baby boomer peers didn't change their names.  And I'm sure it varies with geography and ethnicity, too. 

Averages are always misleading, and even where we have a pretty good confidence low number, I disagree that assumptions are safe.  Would you say it's a safe assumption that someone is heterosexual?  Christian?  Fertile? 

Miss Understood

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I knew when I got married that both my family and DH's family would not get the idea of me not changing my name, so I am fine with them calling me Mrs. DHname because you just can't fight it.  The thing that has confused me is that friends who *have themselves not changed their names and made a point of it and know that I did not either* still address correspondence to us as "Mr. and Mrs. [DH's last name]."  Or using our first names rather than the honorifics but still assuming his last name for us both. I can't really wrap my mind around that one since I try to respect their non-name-changing choices when I address them.

greencat

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My parents weren't even married and people tended to just assume they were and call her Mrs. Dad'slast.  Only, she was Ms. Her-ex-husband's-last, since she never changed her name back after they divorced (she was still close to his family, closer than he was.)  It was a bit confusing, but better than her being Miss Her-maiden-name, which is just long and hard to spell.