Bullshit-free bride: On marriage and name changing

bullshit free bride nzmuse

I struggled with deciding whether or not to write this post. While the changing-your-name thing has never been up for debate for me, I do have some strong feelings on the matter. And, troublingly, I know some of those feelings are wrong (inasmuch as an opinion can be wrong, which by definition it can’t).

Intellectually, I get that choosing to change your name isn’t any less of a feminist choice, and is in fact an active choice, whereas you don’t get any choice when you’re lumped with your family name at birth. But as I’ve previously written,  I am secretly disappointed when I hear a woman I know is taking her husband’s last name. This is a bias that I keep to myself; I would never presume to judge anyone else’s choice, but deep down a definite pang is there. It’s one of those things that I know logically doesn’t make sense. How do you overcome that?!

I’ve been surprised at the fact that I’ve been asked about whether I’m keeping my name at all. Asking a woman whether she plans to change her name after marriage? I suppose it depends how close you are, but to my mind, it doesn’t feel like an appropriate question – I wouldn’t ever ask this of anyone. I suppose this is one of my personal quirks. What can I say? I’m very private.

Even in the 21st century, this still seems to be very much the exception rather than the norm. To me, the whole practice of changing your name after marriage feels very archaic. (This post by Bitch PhD pretty much hits the spot for me.) Let’s face it – changing your name is a bullshit patriarchal custom, a hangover from the days when women were no more than property to be sold off to husbands by their families. With that said, I do plan to have our kids take T’s name. I don’t have strong feelings about that, despite being adamant about retaining mine.

One of my friends used to say “I never want to be a [very common Indian surname]”. And what do you know, she found herself a nice boy, who was of course saddled with that accursed name. Funny how things turn out. Despite that, I’m almost certain that NOT changing her name was ever an option.

People who decide to change their names seem to do it for one of two reasons:

They prefer their husband’s name – fair enough. I despise my surname; it’s caused me plenty of grief. But at least it flows, which is more than I can say for slapping T’s last name next to my first name.

Or because, you know, it’s tradition. I don’t buy that. I’ve never considered the name thing an integral part of marriage. Perhaps it’s because my mother didn’t. When I was in primary school, a friend once saw a letter addressed to both my parents by name. “Aren’t your parents married?” he goggled. “Yes – she just kept her own name. And?” was my reply.

This is such a dealbreaker for me that when we butted heads over this pre-proposal, I was prepared to simply scrap marriage altogether. Eventually T realised how important it was to me, and accepted it.

Heck, I’ve gone 24 years without ever bothering to change my first name to the name I use (my Christian name is not my legal name), partly because it feels like I’d be culturally rejecting a choice my parents no doubt put a lot of thought into,  but mainly because of the cost and hassle. (I’m finding it hard to pin down what it actually costs, but it looks like nearly $130, plus all kinds of extra fees for name changes on various documents.)

It’s not just the IRD. It’s the NZTA for your driver’s licence. It’s your bank/s. Your investment fund providers. Your insurance company. Your cellphone provider. Your ISP. Your power company. Your place of work. And no doubt dozens of other important places where your name is on file.

Another biggie for me is that I’ve been published for years under my name. But I think that name changing can be professionally detrimental no matter what your field. It’s insanely unfair, but there are studies that have found women who take their husband’s names end up earning less. Possibly those women are also more likely to take time out from work and raise children, accounting for that – or maybe it’s genuine bias in the workplace that penalises them. Or some other factor. /shrug

(When I first read that, I thought ‘how in heck would anyone know if you’ve changed your name? DUMB QUESTION – unless you get married at say, 20, and start off your professional career under it. Women who get married at work change their email addresses – thus announcing their new marital status to the entire office, which men never have to do – and then obviously have to deal with things future employers calling up past references who know them as somebody else.)

Unfortunately I don’t really see any way to smashing that barrier, aside from soldiering on, choosing to change your name, and kicking ass in the workplace – I just won’t be a part of that, I suppose.

And now, after writing this, I’m more conflicted than ever – not about my personal choices, but just by all the social and cultural norms and ramifications involved in a wider context.

Again: I’m not here to bash on you for changing your last name. I’m genuinely trying to reconcile my feelings on this matter.

48 thoughts on “Bullshit-free bride: On marriage and name changing

  1. I would never think less of any woman for taking her husband’s name (why would I care what they do? as long as they’re happy with whatever choice they make!), but it’s not for me. Culturally speaking, Chinese women don’t take their husband’s last names. (Look at China’s new president, Xi Jinping – his wife goes by Ms. Liyuan in the Western press. An article I read in Washington Post today even went as far to clarify why they referred to her as Ms. Liyuan rather than Mrs. Jinping.) Not that my mother would ever look down upon me if I decided to take my husband’s name, but I’ve never felt compelled to do so anyway. Not to mention that my dad died when I was a child, so my last name (which was also his last name) carries much more weight for me personally than last names do for the average person.

    1. * er, I assume the Chinese press also refer to her as Ms. Liyuan too, obviously. But I haven’t actually read any coverage about the couple in Chinese press because I haven’t been keeping up with my Chinese news lately, so…

    2. Ditto Manda – I wouldn’t change my name, because it’s not usual in my culture to do so and quite frankly, I quite like my name as it is. I’ve made that clear to my partner, and there are no issues there, though his family might have something to say.

      More importantly, what annoys me is the assumption that the women will change her name, and the way people will question her about about whether or not she will do so…yet they would never question the man.

      If it’s a matter of etiquette as someone pointed out below (e.g. they want to make sure they address the person accurately), why wouldn’t they extend the same etiquette to the groom? What if the couple have chosen to be FIRST NAME, BRIDE’S SURNAME-GROOM’S SURNAME, and they both hyphenate their names? What if the groom simply decides to take his bride’s surname because he dislikes his last name? What if they’ve both decided to make up a last name and now they’re both FIRST NAME WRINKLEBUMPOOS?

      There’s so many reasons why one, both, or neither parties may choose or not choose to change their names that to assume that only the woman would is ridiculous.

      1. Also, comment on another point below – if you need to have the same last name to feel like you’re together, partners, a family, then I think there are bigger issues at hand! And if a child thinks that they’re not a family because Mum and Dad have different names, then there are DEFINITELY bigger issues at hand!

  2. I’m happy I took my husbands name. To me, it feels like we are more of a “family” that way and I know he really appreciates that I took it. Each to their own though. In Canada (and I’m assuming elsewhere) your maiden name is always YOURS. I still have my birth certificate and I can introduce myself as, or use, my maiden name whenever I want. Knowing that made me feel comforted because it was definitely a bit sad “giving up” my maiden name too.

    1. To further on the Canadian aspect- in Canada chosing to change your name after marriage only gives you an alias. You’re legally allowed to identify yourself by maiden or married. I chose to change my name only because I strongly dislike my fathers side of the family and wanted a ‘fresh start’ like she said a ‘family’. There’s always questions when you have a child who’s parents have different last names (are they married/common law etc) I just didn’t want to deal with the BS (not that it’s anyones buisness I guess). I totally get where you’re coming from though!

  3. I run risk the risk of sounding bitter here, but be assured that I’m just sharing my practical perspective on changing one’s name. I was married for 11 years. I never took my husband’s last name because I didn’t want to. I had grown up with my (rather unique) last name, and I just couldn’t fathom changing it and how I identify myself just because I got married. Practically speaking, too, my husband’s last name was very, very common and I thought it more likely that there could be problems with inaccurate financial reporting and mix-ups in other areas of life if I had such a common last name.

    After the divorce was final, I did not have to do anything special to change my name back, either, which was a great relief to me. One of my close friends changed her name back after a rather bitter divorce and it was a PITA. So, I have a solidly unbroken history of employment, career building, credit building, and social connections because I never changed my last name. (This last one is sort of a pain point for me: if I’m trying to locate an old friend from high school, say, and she has changed her name due to marriage…well…that makes it much harder to find her.)

    One last comment: I did give my ex-husband the option of changing *his* last name to mine. He declined. ;-)

  4. Couple of thoughts here.

    One is that I don’t see that it’s in any way inappropriate or rude to ask if a woman is changing her name, simply from a practical, logistical standpoint. There are enough women who do/don’t that you can’t make an assumption. So sending an email or a letter or a card or even just updating my contact list, I’d like to make sure that I’m addressing her in the way she wants to be addressed. The only way to do that is to ask “will you be changing your name?” (or I suppose it could be phrased “will you be keeping your name?” if you felt that was a more appropriate question.

    The other is that I know any number of women who had name issues growing up. One of my best friends went her entire childhood as Amy X (stepfather’s name) until about 3rd grade when she had to become Amy Y (birth father’s name) because her stepfather didn’t legally adopt her. That was actually very traumatic for her – and she has described it in the past as a large loss of identity. She wanted to take her husband’s name because she said she felt like she finally had a family identity again – one of her choosing instead of one that was forced upon her.

    I know several other women who went through name changes because of adoption or who wound up for whatever reason not sharing surnames with the families they lived with and who felt isolated within the family by that (for right or wrong). They also chose to take their husbands’ names upon marriage for much the same reason as my friend Amy above.

    I think mindlessly changing your name is something that is silly, but I think that looking down on everyone who does it w/out knowing their reason why is kind of wrong.

  5. I’m with you on this. I didn’t even think I cared that much, until I was at a bridal shower last year, and one person gave the bride-to-be something to celebrate what would be her new last name. Inside, I just felt like it was an awful gesture, but then I realized that to everyone else, it was nice and normal, since of course, the bride-to-be was pretty happy about switching to her married name (she’s pretty traditional.)
    The funny thing is, I only had one friend whose parents were married and but her mom kept her maiden name. I thought it was so weird when I was a kid. I only really knew about it since her mom’s last name was on their mailbox too. I think in my head I always thought of this mom as using her husband’s last name, although I now realize it was probably really important to her to make a point not to switch.

    Especially with having my own career, I feel like my name is part of my professional identity and I don’t see why I should confuse everyone by changing a name I’ve been working under for several years.

  6. Oh, one other teeny quibble. :) I’ve always hated the “it can’t be wrong because it’s an opinion” line. Opinions are neither right nor wrong, by definition. They can be baseless or well founded, they can be informed or not, but “wrong” and “right” really don’t apply in terms of opinions.

  7. I hate the whole concept of names being patriarchal. I seriously considered making up my own name at one point in my life. But not only do I have lofty ideals, I’m also incredibly goofy. So I probably would’ve ended up going with my joke last name…”Rocks.” I decided to give in and go back to my maiden name. Bleh. I’ll probably end up changing it again if I get married again. Might not be the best professional decision, but I’m crossing my fingers that the merit of my work will outweigh my personal decision on which family I affiliate myself with.

  8. CF at Outlier Model had a post very similar to this one not too long ago… so some of this is probably going to be a reiteration of my comment there.

    I never assumed I would change my name growing up, but it was important enough to Mr. PoP (and I was ambivalent enough) that I did. But I added my maiden name as a second legal middle name. So now I’m First Middle Maiden Last, where I used to be First Middle Maiden.
    I use all 4 on everything official – publications, work – I have two email addresses at work, both going to the same box – one for my maiden name, one for my new name. I’m super easily identifiable via google or social networks – my name was probably a 9.8/10 on the uniqueness scale before, but the new last name definitely puts me at an 11 on that scale. Branding is so far from being an issue given how easily identifiable I am either way.

    I think your cost estimate is pretty close to what it ended up costing, but the hassle wasn’t huge. I ended up using a site called MissNowMrs that aggregates all the forms that you need to fill out in order to submit and streamline the process. I think I paid $15 for that, but it was worth it not to have to track down all the forms myself.

    Lots of friends still call me by my maiden name (it was a nickname for a long time since it’s kindof funny), and that’s cool. I’d never dream of correcting them or asking them to call me something else because that’s who I am to them and I’m still that person. It feels equivalent to asking an old friend to stop calling you by your childhood nickname – and I wouldn’t dream of that.

    It took a while, but almost 4 years after we got married, I get why it was important to Mr. PoP. There’s something oddly emotional about sharing something so essential. That said, if Mr. PoP’s parents weren’t alive – we had talked about choosing a new name for both of us together (since neither of us are nuts about his family name). Our choice: Rockstar. How cool would it be to be Mrs. Rockstar!?!

  9. I haven’t changed my last name in all of my documents. Sigh I’m being stubborn. His family really pushed for me to take their name. Their were fights, seriously. My in laws caused havoc, and my husband who originally didn’t care, ended up changing his mind because he couldn’t deal with the pressure. He wanted the fights to stop.
    My family is fighting to keep my name because culturally that’s what you do.

    I would rather not have either. I hate people telling me what to do!

    So I’m 50/50.

    1. That’s awful. Seriously, families have no right to jostle in on your decision. I read a comment on another blog where the person didn’t want to change her name, but gave in under pressure from partner + family. That fucking sucks, and doesn’t sound like a very equal partnership from the outside. As for us, I know T is a little disappointed and apparently his family is too, but ultimately this is not their choice to make.

  10. Why does it matter? I think we spend too much time thinking about or being concerned with what others may think. Especially strangers! Do what is right for you and you may start a new trend. When my wife and I married (44 years ago) it was the exception to keep your name. It still is not common, but it is not are rare.

  11. I plan on keeping my last name. He wants me to take his, and I’ll probably just put that on things such as Facebook just to appease people, but I will not be legally changing my last name. It’s the last bit of my father that I feel like I have left!

      1. Seriously, don’t do it to appease anyone! Ugh. The more women keep their name, the more normalized it’ll become and that’s a great thing. But people have to know that you’re keeping it!

  12. As a Baby Boomer, I find it kind of amazing that this issue is still controversial. When I married my real husband, the one I’ve been married to for over 30 years, I didn’t take his last name. I had already been there and done that when I married at 21. The experience of being divorced at age 23, and sitting in the bank, Social Security office, and the Department of Motor Vehicles, changing my name back to my “maiden” name, convinced me that I would not be going down that road again. This still struck some people as overly progressive. My mother was convinced our children would be schizophrenic if I did not share their last name. The Internal Revenue Service also needed convincing that I was Suzanne “Fluhr” even though I was married to Steven Albelda. First the agent told me it was illegal —“Um, I’m a lawyer and no it isn’t.” I didn’t have as quick an answer when he asked, “So, then why did you get married?” He settled for, “Because I love him.”

    P,S.: My son is getting married in May. His fiance is changing her name when they get married.

  13. I haven’t changed my name. I have a lot of legitimate reasons like the ones you mentioned above (I don’t want to reject my family’s heritage, I have years of credit and job experience under my old name, it’s sexist, etc) but the biggest roadblock that I can’t overcome is the sense that it’s way too much hassle. Why should I go to the trouble of changing 401(k)s, mortgages, bank accounts, passport, credit cards, etc., just because I got married? My husband doesn’t have to. (It seems like it sets a bad precedent for the marriage if the wife is taking on more than her share of the “marriage work” right from the start…)

    Of course, my husband could care less if I change my name, which makes it easier for me to justify my laziness. We plan to give any kids we have my name as a second middle name so that we don’t run into problems traveling.

  14. I took my husband’s last name, but I was relatively young when I married, and my very common last name didn’t appeal to me as much as my husband’s unique last name. But if I had been involved professionally, I don’t think I would have.

  15. you go girl! I honestly think the decision is yours to make, one way or the other. If you love your family name, or if you have published a lot of work (I used to be in academia and understand this 100%) it’s great to keep it.

    On that note, I’m not sure that I agree that it’s inappropriate to ask if you are changing your name or not when you announce you are getting married. Those people probably are just curious and want to know how to address you in the future. Now, if they get all judgmental and “why not? you should” on you, by all means shut them down.

    Now’s where I confess – I love BF’s last name – it’s a beautiful Irish name – and if we got married I would take his and make mine my legal middle name. You’re right that it is a pain to change it on all your docs, but it’s just like changing an address – if you want to move (or change your name), you just need to do it.

  16. Personally, I’d love to see more study and data done into the correlation between lower pay and taking on the husband’s last name. It’s definitely way too early to judge, but that is a question that definitely needs an answer!

    As a Chinese-American, my mom never changed her last name, but all my friends’ moms had, and I just always felt that changing your last name was a personal (and cultural) choice, and that we shouldn’t judge others on it. Your bias against women who change their names is just as cultural as a bias against women who choose to keep their maiden names (which is what my mom experienced in America until she told everyone that Chinese women never changed their names upon marriage; then everyone understood). Same goes for anyone who thinks that it’s “not okay” for family to meddle in your adult decisions – in a Chinese family, it is both commonplace and accepted that parents will be very involved in their kids’ lives for a long, long time. Philosophically, is meddling in your kids’ lives for that long moral/ethical, though? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I’d be surprised if a diverse group of philosophers could come to any sort of consensus on that.

    1. Oooh, now THAT’s an interesting point. I have no doubt my mother keeping her own name helped shape my own views, but I genuinely don’t have a wider cultural context to put this into. I’m full Chinese but am kind of in a cultural vacuum – seriously, I don’t actually know what the name norm is, and up until today just kind of assumed it was to change. Almost all our family are overseas and we’re not close. With the one family branch that IS here, the woman changed her name. I have no idea what any of my Chinese friends’ mothers’ last names are. I’m going to start being super weird and nosing around!

  17. Most cultures around the world don’t take their husband’s names, so why should we Western European-founded countries do that? Scratch that — not all Western Europeans do it, either.

    I like the idea I came across on A Practical Wedding: On the wedding program, writing, “Neither [she] nor [he] will be changing their surname.”

  18. I’ve always planned on changing my name to my husband’s if/when I get married. It’s never even crossed my mind not to. Now, maybe I am more traditional than most people (I am) but I don’t see it as “losing my identity” or anything like that. I hate my last name and I have no strong ties to it (I’ve actually considered changing my last name to my mother’s maiden name). I also just like the idea of taking my husband’s name. I just do. Judge me for it if you want. I really don’t care. There’s something special about it to me.

    I also don’t see it as being such an extremely personal matter that I would ever be offended if someone asked me if I was taking my husband’s name. It’s more of a straightforward question, really. I probably would never ask the question because it doesn’t really matter to me what they do. Take it, don’t take it, hyphen it, whatever. Do what feels right for you and your husband.

  19. I didn’t particularly want to change my surname either, but after discussion I decided to, mainly because it mattered to H1 more than it mattered to me. I did keep my maiden name professionally, for all the reasons you’ve listed – all my education and experience is under that name. I don’t recommend having two surnames! All my documentation is still in my maiden name, but my passport will be due for renewal soon and I don’t know what name to go with (I travel a decent amount for work). Also, because I’m a freelancer and a writer, my ‘paying work’ and ‘work that I hope will one day pay’ are getting closer and closer.

    Had H1 and I combined our surnames into a new one, we could have become H and H Studd…I still kind of wish we had!

  20. I often feel the same disappointment when I hear about women changing their last names, but like you I don’t really judge them if they do change it. I kept my last name but I do remember the same HR person asking me 3 times (!!!) about changing my name, as if she couldn’t believe that I was keeping it.

  21. I guess I’m just really old school, but I think I would change my last name if kids were involved. It is a bit of a dilemma, since my last name kind of identifies me and changing it to his would get rid of that (kind of like the Seinfeld “Donna Chang” episode), but in my culture we usually have it where the maiden name is the middle name and the married name is the last name, both for the wife and the kids. I like that tradition.

  22. I don’t like it when people feel pressure to change their name or do it just because their husband makes them. But I was really looking forward to changing my name when I got married. My husbands name is extremely unique. And I also used to be a last letter in the alphabet and my husband is now one of the first letters, and I realized how much I LOVED this change now that I’m in grad school and I’m always called on first instead of having to wait til the end. I know it sounds stupid, but these things really bothered me when I had my old last name. I think it’s fine that you feel strongly about it, but just to remember that there are certain reasons that other people make their choices, whether or not they’re important to you. For example, I always said I would never live with someone before I get married, even though that’s very common nowadays. But I had seen plenty of relationships where the woman always ended up begging for the ring after they had been living together for a long while. And I knew I didn’t want that to be me. While I know that not living together before marriage was the best option for me, I can still see why other people would choose that option. Different strokes for different folks.

  23. I agree that it’s a nosy question to ask someone, unless you’re really close to them. But it’s just the tip of the iceberg with nosy questions that women have to put up with (but never men!) about marriage and motherhood. Are you changing your name? Are you going to move out before the wedding? (That was a real stumper – why would I leave my home a month before we got married just so I could move back in later? Yes, we live together; there’s no need to pretend otherwise in order to have some bizarre fake sense of “purity”.) Are you having kids? When are you having kids? Are you done having kids? When are you having another kid? And on and on and on.

    I did change mine upon marriage. I don’t think my reasons fall into either of your categories though. I liked my maiden name just fine, but I felt very strongly that I did not want to raise kids with parents with two different names. My mother changed her name when she remarried and it was a burden to me to have a different last name from the family I lived with. I hated explaining it to people. So I changed my name to prevent any kids of mine from having to deal with that (although, with my luck, they’d be like you and not mind! :D). The other reason was that although I had been working for seven years with my maiden name, it was not a unique name – there were eleven other women with my name that showed up mixed into my google search results. My new name is completely unique in the world, as far as I can tell. That means email addresses, domain names, etc – all up for grabs! It was worth the (very short) period of confusion for my colleagues to deal with getting a name that I can really make for myself in the future.

  24. When I got married I kept my maiden name by choice and also by force…being a resident of Quebec, women cannot legally take their husband’s name when they get married. I think that law is ridiculous as it denies you the right to choose which ticks me off. My husband was slightly dissapointed at the outcome but he got over it.

  25. It’s really never occurred to me to ask anyone whether they were changing their name after they got married. I always just assume that if they are facebook will tell me sooner or later, or I’ll get a round robin email if I know them through work.

    I’m not married but I changed my surname from the one my parents gave me when my grandfather died. I’d already cut my ties with my immediate family, and my grandfather was the only one I’d had a real relationship with. Changing my name to his seemed like a way to remember him, and also be done with distancing myself from the rest of them.

    It was so much effort though. If I’d realised how much effort it was going to be when I’d had the idea to do I’m not sure that I’d have gone through with it.

    Since then I’ve been even more confused by women who change their name just because they’re getting married. It never made any sense to me, even when I was little. When my relatives got married I always used to ask why the wife had changed her name and what was wrong with her old one. And I never got an answer that sounded sensible.

    And yet at the same time I now feel a bit silly for thinking that other people are strange for deciding to do something that I’ve done myself, albeit for different reasons.

    I’m definitely sticking with what I’ve got now though. There’ll be no changing if I get married, if I marry someone who’s that set on us having the same name, they can have mine.

  26. In our culture, women don’t need to change/take up their husband’s name because technically – our name is just practicality of who we are:

    Me – Son/Daughter of – My Dad

    So when woman and man gets married and have children, their children will be named and referred to as Sons/Daughters of the father.

    So, there was really never an issue patriarchy when it comes to names (but god knows we have other patriarchal issues to deal with in our society)

    There is probably a downside of not knowing your lineage (I have next to nil knowledge of my ancestors) but I think that can be attributed more to lack of awareness/knowledge and complacency. I’ve known good families who know exactly where they came from since the start of Malaya… :p

  27. You had me nodding along in agreement from the get go – everything from that little bias ( I have that too ) to the hating my last name but wanting to keep it anyway. Except my mom kept her “maiden” (hate that term) name and I never once remember it being an issue (which is the main case against not changing your name – “won’t it just make it easier to have the same last name?” – though I assume most who think that either didn’t keep their own name or didn’t have mothers that did so, because they’d know that it’s not an issue at all if they did).

    I’ll not be changing my last name when we get married, and many of the wedding traditions that are upheld at least in North American culture disappoint me, so I’ll probably be less traditional of a bride in general. It’s a value that is important to me, and while J doesn’t like the thought of me not taking his last name, he will have to deal with it or deal with life without me (lol).

  28. If and when we get married, I will change my last name. My last name is short enough to hyphenate along with his, but I prefer his last name over mine. My sister is getting married this year and will take on both last names. My bf joked about us fusing our last names together. The end result seemed pretty cool. Don’t know if anyone has ever done that.

  29. I changed my name. T’s name is better (if we get to meet up while you are on your travels, we can talk about that), and flows nicely. I also think HIS family would have silently judged me (though at least they would have done it silently – thank heavens). My friends and family would have been ok with it, and most of the people here (southern cal) probably would have approved MORE if I hadn’t changed it. Feminism is a big deal to me, but the question of whether or not to change my name just wasn’t.

    1. Also, since this is such a NOT big deal to me, i never realized how rude the question might be. I don’t think I’ve asked it (except to my cousin – i rememeber asking her), but it seems like something that is factual, and really, very public. (But I guess you could make the same argument about kids – it isn’t like it is a secret when you have kids, but that doesn’t mean it is OK to ask people about it.)

      Either you are or you aren’t, and I don’t think either choices says a lot about who you are. Clearly many women don’t feel this way, and I’ll take care to bite my tongue when I’m curious. Thanks for the perspective!

      PS – i suck at small talk and struggle when i can’t default to these common yet rude questions! :)

  30. The big thing for me now too is people know me by my last name. Sure I could get a fresh start with a new last name, but it’s also starting from ground zero and what if some of my references don’t remember that I changed my last name?

  31. I’m keeping my last name. Because all of the cool things I’ve done are under that name. BUT, if he wants us to hyphen our names I might be open to it. But, I doubt it.

  32. Well my mother never took my dad’s last name, and I always made a point of correcting that she’s Ms Lee not Mrs Cheng, etc… but maybe the latter has more to do with the fact that they don’t even talk now. Fuck, I don’t know. I don’t judge people for taking their husband’s last names purely because I just don’t care. I have no idea if I will ever do it, but irrelevantly, I want to change my last name for publication’s sake. The english translation of my chinese last name means absolutely nothing to me (although my last name itself does), so I never saw much sense in it.

  33. I changed my name when I got married. I didn’t really think THAT much about it, to be honest. When I was a teenager I thought it would be cool to hyphenate my name, but that sounds really odd with my family’s name and Ryan’s. I can’t really explain WHY, but to me it’s just not that big of a deal. I’m pretty passionate about a lot of things, and a lot of equality-related things, but maybe just because it’s so common? or I never had a really strong connection to any part of my name? I just don’t really see this as a major issue. It did seem nice to have the same name as my husband. *shrug*

    If I had gotten married later in life, I probably would have reconsidered for professional reasons. Like I said, I just really don’t see it as a big deal, so if there was a reason to keep my name, I would have. I got married at 22, though, and I didn’t have any publications, and only a Bachelor’s degree, so… no work-related reason to change my name.

    Most of the name changing stuff wasn’t a big deal, and it probably helped that we were moving across the country anyway- opening new accounts, renting a new apartment, getting a driver’s license in my new state, etc. (I didn’t change anything in Michigan, just waited until we moved). However… for some reason, the school had a REALLY hard time with the fact that I applied with 1 name and showed up with another, even though I had spoken to multiple people about what I needed to do to make the transition work. HR just DID NOT GET IT. I have NO idea why… yes, most of the academics that get married don’t change their names, but I know a few women here who have. Something about the timing just really threw them for a loop, and until we got a new head of IT that allows email changing, my email address was my maiden name, which was very confusing for people.

  34. I always wondered if I would change my last name if I ever got married. I have a love/hate relationship with mine. I hate the sound of it, but I know I’m probably the only person in the world who has my full name. That’s kind of cool. But I figured I would decide when and if that time came. I would hope I would have a husband that is cool with either decision. But as far as what other women do, that’s their choice and I don’t think one way or another about it. Hopefully they met a guy who is just as cool with doing whatever they decide as well, because at the very least I don’t think anyone should HAVE to do anything. Or feel pressure from friends and family.

  35. I`ve often thought about the pros and cons about a name change, and I don`t think I´ll let go of my names ( I have two last names that both are really rare) if I ever get married. It`s a part of my identity, and losing that would be difficult for me.

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