Customs and Traditions

Last name?

anyone else struggling with the decision of taking their spouses last name after the wedding? I don't know why but I cannot get over feeling like I am losing part of my identity, and it is making me very hesitant to just say yes to it.
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Re: Last name?

  • CMGragainCMGragain
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    edited February 25
    There is no reason for you to change your name if you don't want to do it.  You don't have to decide now, either.  You can decide to change your name anytime.

    Personally, I was happy to change my name.  I traded a long, difficult to spell last name for a short one.
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  • missfrodomissfrodo
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    edited February 26
    I changed mine.  My full maiden name was Firstname Mother'sMaidenName Lastname, so when I got married I changed it to Firstname (Maiden)Lastname NewLastName.  I basically just jettisoned my mother's maiden name from my name.  

    I also have friends who both hyphenated their last names, so they became Mr. Hers-His and Mrs. Hers-His, so instead of only the woman changing, they both got new names.  I think a lot of men wouldn't be open to that, though, as it's not really a cultural "norm" in America right now.

    That said, only you can decide if you want to change your name at all.  There's nothing wrong with keeping everything exactly the way it is--certainly less of a pain in the butt, as you won't need a new SS card, license, credit cards, etc!  
    OurWildKingdomknottiec9d9a8992a69c629
  • You are not alone. I totally get that feeling. I was surprised I had a hard time with it, as I had always planned to take my husband's name, but I did. I felt like I was giving up a lot of my identity/independence in marrying him in the first place. I almost kept my name, in part because my new name can sound silly if the whole thing is said together. I talked it out with everyone I could think of, especially married women who choose different options. Within the people I talked to, everyone who changed their name was glad they did, those who didn't change we mixed in whether they regretted it, and all but one who didn't change their name said there were at least some times they wished they had (even if most of the time they were happy with their decision). Only one friend who didn't change her name was glad she didn't, because it was much easier after her divorce since she didn't have to change it back. In my state, you have to decide on the name when you get your marriage license (up to 90 days before the wedding), not after the wedding when it gets turned in, like I had assumed, which made me feel pressured. I did end up deciding to take his name and I'm glad I did. I didn't give up my identity, but my identity and life have changed a lot after marriage, so now it does feel right. There are so many couples cohabitating nowadays that aren't married, for me it feels like a unifying and legitimizing message to take his name at marriage. It also feels like we're really family now. Plus my new name is shorter, more common, and easier to spell (though it makes people assume I'm a different race than I am if they learn my name before seeing me).

    Be aware that PPs suggestion of being able to change it "any time" may not be so easy as it sounds. I'm sure different countries and states have different rules, but, at least where I live, changing your name at marriage just takes writing the new name on the marriage certificate. But, changing at a later date means petitioning the court, going to court, and getting approval of the judge, so it's actually a big pain. Plus, it's unexpected at a later time, so you'll have to deal with a lot of confused people when you try to get them to use the new name. So I would recommend making the decision before you get married, and doing whatever self evaluation or research you need to do to be comfortable with your decision before that.
  • lovesclimbinglovesclimbing Alaska
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    00kim00 said:
    You are not alone. I totally get that feeling. I was surprised I had a hard time with it, as I had always planned to take my husband's name, but I did. I felt like I was giving up a lot of my identity/independence in marrying him in the first place. I almost kept my name, in part because my new name can sound silly if the whole thing is said together. I talked it out with everyone I could think of, especially married women who choose different options. Within the people I talked to, everyone who changed their name was glad they did, those who didn't change we mixed in whether they regretted it, and all but one who didn't change their name said there were at least some times they wished they had (even if most of the time they were happy with their decision). Only one friend who didn't change her name was glad she didn't, because it was much easier after her divorce since she didn't have to change it back. In my state, you have to decide on the name when you get your marriage license (up to 90 days before the wedding), not after the wedding when it gets turned in, like I had assumed, which made me feel pressured. I did end up deciding to take his name and I'm glad I did. I didn't give up my identity, but my identity and life have changed a lot after marriage, so now it does feel right. There are so many couples cohabitating nowadays that aren't married, for me it feels like a unifying and legitimizing message to take his name at marriage. It also feels like we're really family now. Plus my new name is shorter, more common, and easier to spell (though it makes people assume I'm a different race than I am if they learn my name before seeing me).

    Be aware that PPs suggestion of being able to change it "any time" may not be so easy as it sounds. I'm sure different countries and states have different rules, but, at least where I live, changing your name at marriage just takes writing the new name on the marriage certificate. But, changing at a later date means petitioning the court, going to court, and getting approval of the judge, so it's actually a big pain. Plus, it's unexpected at a later time, so you'll have to deal with a lot of confused people when you try to get them to use the new name. So I would recommend making the decision before you get married, and doing whatever self evaluation or research you need to do to be comfortable with your decision before that.
    Within the US, it does vary by state. OP will need to look up the laws in her area. In Alaska, where I live, the only name anywhere on the marriage license and certificate is the person's legal name as it is at that time. After the wedding, the certificate can then be acquired from the state and used as proof of marriage to change the name with social security, DMV, etc. I waited six months because I didn't want to change and throw everything off right at the beginning of a new semester. 

    OurWildKingdom
  • I chose not to change my name for a number of reasons. My last name is the same as it always was both legally and socially. The only issue I've found is that sometimes things are addressed to me with my husband's last name, and I have to decide on a case-by-case basis whether to correct the person or just let it go. It's annoying, but I didn't consider that enough of a reason to take my husband's name. I've been married for almost a year and a half now and I don't regret keeping my last name one bit.


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    southernbelle0915
  • OurWildKingdomOurWildKingdom in the 216
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    edited February 27
    Another one who can't decide. I'm 42 and am hesitant to change my last name because of all the bureaucratic headaches. Hyphenation is not an option because my last name is three syllables and FW's is four syllables. We have talked about switching last names, though, and I like the way my first name sounds with her last name and the way her first name sounds with my last name.
    charlotte989875JediElizabetheileenrobknottiec9d9a8992a69c629
  • CMGragain said:
    There is no reason for you to change your name if you don't want to do it.  You don't have to decide now, either.  You can decide to change your name anytime.

    Personally, I was happy to change my name.  I traded a long, difficult to spell last name for a short one.
    Me too.  DD and I just had this conversation over the weekend, where she learned for the first time that some people change their names when they marry.  We ran though all the options with her (one spouse takes the other's name, both keep their original last names, both change to something entirely new) and she declared that she was never changing her name.  We'll see, LOL.  I changed mine for the exact same reason as @CMGragain (I'm a practical girl, I guess) and don't miss my old last name one bit.  But the mother of one of DD's good friends kept her last name, so we had examples of both.

    OP, if you don't want to change it, then don't.  As PP suggested, you can always change it later if you feel strongly enough, even if it ends requiring an extra step or two.  It's your name, and you get to decide what you want to be called. 
    OurWildKingdomSP29
  • I changed my last name to make it shorter, and because I liked the idea of having the same last name as my DH.  I was very hesitant to just "chop off" my last name so I moved it into my middle name instead (a bit more paperwork with the DMV, but overall worth it to me).  This way I can use it if I want to or just go without.  Typically I find myself using the middle initial on most documents but I will sign my full name professionally. We've been married 2.5 years for reference.

    It really depends on what you want to do.  As a child I couldn't wait to get rid of my really long, French spelled name that was impossible for people to say...but as the wedding day drew near I just couldn't part with the history of it.  (My family ancestors helped colonize the new world!) so I found a compromise that worked for me. 

    charlotte989875OurWildKingdomSP29eileenrob
  • Totally personal choice. For me, it has always been a non-issue. Changing my last name would feel the same as changing my first name. FI would change his last name to mine if I wanted him to, because he doesn't care either way. My last name has no particular historical significance, nobody ever knows how to spell it, but it just wouldn't feel like me to change it.
  • Another one who can't decide. I'm 42 and am hesitant to change my last name because of all the bureaucratic headaches. Hyphenation is not an option because my last name is three syllables and FW's is four syllables. We have talked about switching last names, though, and I like the way my first name sounds with her last name and the way her first name sounds with my last name.
    Just wanted to say how much I love this. 
    OurWildKingdomeileenrob
  • I did change mine, and while I like having that cohesive family name I definitely regretting cutting out my maiden name completely.  I wish I would have hyphenated or just put my maiden in the middle.  


  • atomicblondeatomicblonde The Shire
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    edited February 28
    I haven't, and I won't.  Having made that decision, I have no regrets, but it did take time to get to that point.  Part of me wanted to keep my name, part of me wanted to change it, part of me wanted to hyphenate, part of me wanted to legally change it and use H's name socially but maintain my given name professionally.  I suck at making decisions, so I decided the best thing to do was to do nothing, electing by default to keep my given name, both socially and professionally.


    "And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me..."
    --Philip Pullman

  • kimmiinthemittenkimmiinthemitten Detroit, MI
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    I hyphenated, which for me was a huge compromise.  I like it and I hate it at the same time.  My maiden name is very common, short and easy.  His is Hungarian and a PITA.  Socially, I stick to my maiden, but I've been trying to work in the hyphenated name and it's not as easy as I thought it would be.  When spelling it out do I pause after my name and then say his, should I say them together, should I pick one or the other?  I don't know!
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  • One of the reasons I changed my last name was so that naming my children would be more simple.  There are options, of course, but this seemed the easiest thing to do.
    I only know one lady who changed her name and regretted it.  She married a Mr. Sippy.  She became Mrs. Sippy.
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  • Is it an age thing? As in the longer you've had your maiden name the less you want to lose it? I am 38 and do not want to be anything other than who I've been for 38 years, it makes me feel sad I feel like I'm leaving that girl behind. I don't think I will change my name
  • CMGragain said:
    There is no reason for you to change your name if you don't want to do it.  You don't have to decide now, either.  You can decide to change your name anytime.

    Personally, I was happy to change my name.  I traded a long, difficult to spell last name for a short one.
    This is my situation as well. My current last name is hard to spell, hard to pronounce, and most of the letters rhyme so people get confused when I spell it over the phone. My FI's last name isn't super common but it's basic enough that no one ever gets confused. I was on the fence about it and then had about 5 aggravating conversations in a row where the other person couldn't understand my last name and was just like that's it, I'm changing it!!

    But it's totally up to you. If you don't want to change it, don't! You also don't have to change it right away, so you could wait a little bit and see if you start to feel strongly one way or the other. 
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  • kimmiinthemittenkimmiinthemitten Detroit, MI
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    Is it an age thing? As in the longer you've had your maiden name the less you want to lose it? I am 38 and do not want to be anything other than who I've been for 38 years, it makes me feel sad I feel like I'm leaving that girl behind. I don't think I will change my name
    This was part of it for me, but I suspect I wouldn't have automatically changed it if I was younger either.  I'm 37 and have been Kim Mitten my whole life, it's a part of  my identity.
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  • I'm excited to change my last name. It is a little bittersweet, but I plan on dropping my maiden name completely. I have a large immediate family, so I know the name will live on. I'm actually changing from a 4 letter last name to a 5 letter last name. You would think my maiden name would be easy to spell, but people ALWAYS get it wrong. Since they usually misspell both my first and last names and I have dealt with this my entire life, I never correct people. I'm excited that people will only misspell my first name now since FI last name is very common. 

    Also excited to have a family name as we start our family and hopefully have kids in the future. 
  • Is it an age thing? As in the longer you've had your maiden name the less you want to lose it? I am 38 and do not want to be anything other than who I've been for 38 years, it makes me feel sad I feel like I'm leaving that girl behind. I don't think I will change my name
    Not necessarily an age thing. I was 26 when I got married and I decided well beforehand that I would not change my name. Whatever the reason, if you aren't comfortable changing your name, you do not have to!
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    CMGragaincharlotte989875knottiec9d9a8992a69c629
  • CMGragainCMGragain
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    edited March 1
    The thing about preserving the last name is not pervasive in all cultures.  Scandinavians didn't do it until a law was passed in the late 1800s, and even now, it is optional.  You just took your father's name, "Peter Nielsen" or "Greta Nielsdottir". 
    Last names as we know them didn't even exist until about Tudor times in England.  Even the aristocracy was named for whatever place they were born, not their fathers name.  Regular folks either used  their father's names, or their occupation (Miller, Baker), or their location (Trowbridge, Watergate).
    You can use whatever name you wish, as long as the government is OK with it and your keep your retirement benefits.
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    SP29OurWildKingdomcowgirl8238
  • I hyphenated, which for me was a huge compromise.  I like it and I hate it at the same time.  My maiden name is very common, short and easy.  His is Hungarian and a PITA.  Socially, I stick to my maiden, but I've been trying to work in the hyphenated name and it's not as easy as I thought it would be.  When spelling it out do I pause after my name and then say his, should I say them together, should I pick one or the other?  I don't know!
    My maiden name was hyphenated. When spelling it out, I spelled out the first half, said the word "hyphen" and spelled out the second half. For example "De-Bourgh. That's dee ee hyphen bee oh you arr..."

    Be prepared for people to address you only by the second half of your name. I don't know why, but they always seem to skip the first half and the hyphen. Also, If you haven't already come across it, you may notice that not all computer systems accept hyphens as a character. This is especially obnoxious with airlines.
    "Marriage is so disruptive to one's social circle." - Mr. Woodhouse
    kimmiinthemitten
  • CMGragain said:
    There is no reason for you to change your name if you don't want to do it.  You don't have to decide now, either.  You can decide to change your name anytime.

    Personally, I was happy to change my name.  I traded a long, difficult to spell last name for a short one.
    This is my situation as well. My current last name is hard to spell, hard to pronounce, and most of the letters rhyme so people get confused when I spell it over the phone. My FI's last name isn't super common but it's basic enough that no one ever gets confused. I was on the fence about it and then had about 5 aggravating conversations in a row where the other person couldn't understand my last name and was just like that's it, I'm changing it!!

    But it's totally up to you. If you don't want to change it, don't! You also don't have to change it right away, so you could wait a little bit and see if you start to feel strongly one way or the other. 
    That's exactly why I changed my name. Went from a long, difficult to spell, ethnic-sounding name to a short, easy to spell, ambiguous name. It's still (almost a year and a half later) super weird to use my new full name but I'm getting more and more used to it and I like not having to repeat my name 4 times and spelling it multiple times to people. I have to do that with my first name no matter what, this just saves me some time :P
  • SwissMs said:
    I'm keeping my name.  It is who I am, and I've worked really hard in a career to be recognized by my name and good reputation.  

    My FH is a super feminist, and is actually considering of changing his last name to mine.

    If we have kids, they are totally taking my name - I am not growing a human without my family name getting to live on!
    Can I just say how much I love this? FI and I are probably combining our names  (no space or hyphen between) and both changing to that, but if we weren't and we had kids, this would be my argument. 

    FI & I decided on this approach because he (a) would not give or even shorten up his name, and (b) wanted the whole family to have the same name. He was adamant on both. I was only adamant that we were equal: either both or neither changed our name, and any other stipulation he made I would have too. 
    Greenjinjo
  • I get how you feel. When I was younger I was all about taking the last name of my imaginary future spouse, but getting married at 33 I had a different perspective on my last name and how it was such a part of my history. I was always very proud of it because it's unique in most circles as well as being Native American (Choctaw).  At the same time I also did like the idea of having the same last name as my husband, step son and I really didn't want to hyphenate any future children's last names or give them a different last name then their brother.

    In the end what I did was have them move my maiden name to the middle name slot when I had it changed so now my legal name is something like Vivandiere Anne Tuckaloo Smith (not real names). But I was very happy with this in the end. Might not work for all but for me I really felt I had kept my family name wile simply adding on his with out creating future name complications.
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    Greenjinjo
  • Greenjinjo Greenjinjo New Zealand
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    Is it an age thing? As in the longer you've had your maiden name the less you want to lose it? I am 38 and do not want to be anything other than who I've been for 38 years, it makes me feel sad I feel like I'm leaving that girl behind. I don't think I will change my name
    Not necessarily an age thing. I was 26 when I got married and I decided well beforehand that I would not change my name. Whatever the reason, if you aren't comfortable changing your name, you do not have to!

    ***SIAB***


    Definitely not an age thing. I will be getting married next weekend (Woooo!) and will be just shy of 25. Neither of us will be changing our names. 

    When we were first engaged I just accepted that I would change my name, because that's what you do when you get married. As time passed I started questioning why I wanted to change my name and the only reason I could find was "tradition". That didn't sit well with me. 
    For a few months I researched options and thought about it a lot, looked at what the people around me chose to do and came to a decision. I would either keep my name or add his name to mine on that condition he adds mine to his. 
    FI and I had a serious conversation that at first lead to his feelings being very hurt that I didn't want to do the traditional thing. However, something clicked with him when I suggested he change his name (which he was SUPER against) to have my name included. 
    Since then he has been happily on board with the whole thing. 

    I think every person should ask themselves "why?" before changing their name. For some people tradition may be a good enough reason to do so, but for me it wasn't. Each to their own! 
    SP29OurWildKingdommollybarker11
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