DID YOU/WILL YOU CHANGE YOUR LAST NAME?

03/29/2017

elvisIs name changing becoming a thing of the past? As we move further into the 21st century, fewer women are changing their last name after marriage, and some couples are even creating a new last name by combining parts of their former surnames. Whereas certain women view this new-age trend as a refreshing break from patriarchal tradition, others prefer the unity—or convenience—of a shared last name. Similarly, some women are proud of their heritage, identity, or family name, and therefore want to hold on to it. Regardless, there’s certainly no right or wrong way to do it—all options are rooted in personal values and preference.

I was raised with my mother’s last name, but to this day I go by a hyphenated version of my former husband’s last name (Kicinski) and my current husband’s (McCoy). I still have a close relationship with my ex, so it never seemed odd to me that I kept his last name, which is also shared by my two older kids, Julian and Plum. My little kids, Birdie and Sailor, have their dad’s last name, so a hyphenated version of the two seemed like the best option for me, so we could all share the same name.

So, what are your thoughts? Did you/will you change your last name? Feel free to share below!

Photo above via Getty Images.

77 comments

  • Mia G

    Well my hubby to. E actually changed his full name first middle and last I actually picked his middle name and we both chose the last name ( he transitioned from female to male) so I would definitely take his last name because we hand picked it. My last name now was actually my middle name growing up because I was adopted by a family member and when you are adopted you get to change your name I was a teenager so I dropped my fathers last name whom I didn’t want to be associated with and it was horrible switched my middle name to my last name and gave myself a middle name when I marry I will make my last name my middle name again (lol) and take his which is really ours since we both don’t have strong familial ties this was perfect for us we chose the last name Grey. We definitely don’t attribute to the patriarchal society.

    • Malayka

      Wow what a unique experience you’ve both had with your names! It’s awesome that we have so many choices these days.

  • Chloe | Conscious by Chloe

    This is so interesting. I had no idea about the origin of your last name. What a great and creative solution!

    My parents live together and were never married.

    I do not share a last name with my mom (which has never been an issue) and vividly remember considering hyphenating my name and adding her name to my dad’s when I was younger.

    Now, my name is and always will be my name, my identity, and I am very proud of it. So I never considered taking my husband’s name when I got married.

    I can’t wait to read more comments on this post, from people of other cultures than mine (I’m French).

    Thank you for sharing your story!

    - Chloe
    http://consciousbychloe.com

  • Kristen

    To each their own, but I will never understand the concept of giving up one’s very name–forfeiting one’s identity, in a sense–in favor of one’s spouse’s. If stuff like that isn’t at the very root of gender inequality, then I don’t know what is.

    And in these still-far-too-common cases, what are one’s kids expected to get from it? What are we modeling by holding on to this profoundly sexist convention? Then again, even if a woman chooses to keep her name, it’s likely her father’s–making the only clear way to bypass the dilemma coming up with an entirely new last name, which is certainly an option.

  • AN

    I kept my last name. When my now husband and I discussed it prior to our marriage, he said he wasn’t changing his name, so why should I change mine? I shared his sentiment, and while as you say everyone is entitled to approach this issue in whatever way suits them, I do think you never hear people asking men, “will you change your name?” (In heterosexual marriages.)

  • Emma

    I live in Quebec, where we cannot legally change our last names, so had to keep my last name after I got married. It simplified the process for me, as I am not sure what my decision would have been should I have had the option!

  • Steph

    I wasn’t planning on it when I married the first time, but it seemed like my married name would be easier to pronounce/spell. Turns out that even if your last name is Smith people will find a way to mess it up. I literally stopped at the dmv on the way home from the courthouse to reclaim my last name post divorce. I always thought I’d keep my name after that, since I realized it was so much a part of me. Now, I’m engaged and am actually looking forward to sharing my fiancé’s name. Both my children (well, including the one on the way), in Filipino tradition, have my maiden name as a second middle name. I am glad they will carry my name, but also that of their father.

  • Georgia

    I didn’t change my last name when I got married. I had just gotten my medical degree and it was something I worked for for four years on my own, so it would have been strange to see my husband’s name on my MD certificate. It’s also an ethnic name (I’m Greek,) and I’m a bit sad to lose that piece of my heritage. Not sure what we’ll do when we have kids, but I’m open to any and all suggestions :)

  • Bryony Angell

    I did not change my last name, and in fact, we have given both our kids my last name, a son, and a daughter to be (due July 11th). I even wrote about giving my son my last name for a local publication, and interviewed other parents who’d done variations of the same thing in keeping a natal name and passing it on to kids.

    I celebrate that such an option IS an option. Even so, I feel slightly subversive and righteous when I share the names with new people, because even in liberal Seattle, the majority of folks still follow the traditional pattern of name change, and giving the father’s last name to kids. It’s a choice either way, which I am grateful for.

  • Ramona

    My daughter legally made her maiden (last) name her (new) middle name and then took her husband’s name. She didn’t want to give up her given birth name.

  • Amy V

    My maiden name is a British slang word for something not so nice, so growing up with it was a challenge and definitely no love lost there! I’ve been married 4 years and although I use my husband’s surname for everyday things – including social media and at work, as here in New Zealand you can call yourself what you like – I haven’t legally changed my name yet so all legal documents are in my maiden name. I want to change my name to match my husband, the only reason I haven’t yet is that I’m a British citizen and have a NZ visa in my passport, so it costs more and is slightly complicated. Plus i’m lazy.
    Our first child’s due next month and now I wish I had bit the bullet and changed it sooner so that my name on his birth certificate would match my husband and baby’s. Still, I’ll change it after the birth.

  • Arwa

    Traditionally we (as women) don’t change our last names when we get married. And I would never do that. I find it odd to have my husband name as if I’m one the children. Though my daughter has her father’s last name (by traditions and law) I wish if she can have both my last name and her father’s last name.

  • Arwa

    Traditionally we (as women) don’t change our last names when we get married. And I would never do that. I find it odd to have my husband’s name as if I’m one the children. Though my daughter has her father’s last name (by traditions and law) I wish if she can have both my last name and her father’s last name.

  • Camilla Kolling Christensen

    I took my husbands last name, but keept my own as a middelname. My last name, came from my mothers side of the family (it wasn’t my mothers last name to beging with, she was given her fathers last nam) but when I was younger we all, even my dad, took the name as our last name. So it was important for me to keep the name going and one day pass it on to my children.

  • Tory

    My mom was one of the first women in Canada to keep her last name when she got married. She also fought my dad that I (their only child but a girl, so he didn’t care much) that I got her last name. My dad used to joke that he was happy he could keep his last name.
    I feel really passionately about my last name. I live in Germany now (my moms birth country) and our last name is well known in our city. There is a lot of history.
    My partner is fine with the fact that I will never change my last name and that our children (we have two, with one on the way) all have my last name. If we marry, he might take my name or maybe hyphenate it but that will be up to him :-)

  • Justine

    I love my husbands last name and was thrilled to take it. Surprised by how many state their resistance in sharing this silly thing. In my eyes it marks a beginning of a new blood line and family rather than woman oppression – we of Course, are all welcome to our own opinions though

  • Andrea

    Ah, funny you should ask! I find this really interesting and I’ve thought about it so much!

    To me, there are three options for when/if I eventually get married:
    1. We keep our own names, and our children will have both (his as a middle name, mine as the last name, or hyphenated)
    2. We both choose one of our names (it’s quite common to have your mother’s name as a middle name and your father’s name as last name in Norway) and take each others name in addition to our own, so we share both middle and last name – or a hyphenated version.
    3. We both make our last names our middle names, and choose a new last name for our family.

    My middle name is my mother’s last name, and my last name is my fathers last name. Although I would want to be one of the few women that uses their mother’s last name, her name is the most common name in Norway, whereas my father’s name is only used by our family, about 35 people. So that makes it more special, and that’s part of why it’s so important to me that my children share this name as well. Plus, this is also a principle case for me, and an important one.

  • Rebecca Lawrence

    I changed my name when we got married. It had the same initial so the “feeling” of my first and surname stayed the same. Plus I’d gone by my maiden name for 30 years and fancied a change. It felt like a fun way to kick start our new life together, and if I hated it I figured I could always go back. I think it helped that around the time we got married I was also embarking on a new career so no-one knew me in my previous guise and it cemented the series of changes happening in my life all of which have been positive.

  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    Nope, not going to change my last name. It’s not that common here in Chinese culture anyway, so it’s all good. None of the females in my life have changed their last names, actually!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  • seri

    Interesting post, James!
    I’m Italian: we lost this old tradition long ago; women haven’t been changing their last name after marriage since decades. Only very old or either very rich people still call a lady by her husband’s last name, if she happens to be married. Rather. couples nowadays are choosing to form a new last name using both of theirs, so that the family can identify with both of the parents’ heritage.
    Only as of late it is legally valid to give to the children the (last) name of the mother or that of the other partner, since the law only allowed to give the father’s last name.

  • Angela

    When I got married, I didn’t want to change my name. It was me, it was my identity, and anything different felt foreign- like a stranger! I also liked the idea of carrying on my family name. My husband was supportive of this, in a ‘do whatever you want’ kind of way so I blissfully carried on with my maiden name. It was actually our bank that made me change it! We were applying for a new mortgage and they said for paperwork’s sake, it would be better if we were both down as Mr & Mrs. I was so angry at the time (and had to rush around getting all my documents changed!) but a year later, I’m okay with it. My married name sounds normal now.

    • Bryony Angell

      That is disappointing that a bank suggested easier mortgage approval with matching names, and if in the US (not sure of your location), quite possibly against the law. How would this bank manage same sex couple applying for a loan, I wonder? Or siblings with different last names, or anyone for that matter? It seems like a way to really limit their customer base.

      Thank you for sharing your story, and it does sound like you are at peace with your name change. You are a brave gal!

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