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.

70 comments

  • Giulia

    In Italy women keep their own name, married or not. Personally I would feel very uneasy changing my name

  • Mel

    I won’t change my name. i like it. it is a cool one and it shows my spanish heritage. i was called by it during my teenager times, which makes me identify myself so much with it.

  • Giovan

    In Italy, women keep their names. I’m American, my husband’s Italian and we got married and live in the UK. I’ve kept my name because I like it and changing it didn’t seem to be an issue. It’s also much simpler to keep my name for bureaucratic/immigration reasons. But if we have kids, I’m not sure how I would feel about us not having the same name. I liked what Arwa said about having her husband’s name would feel like she was one of his children. I hadn’t thought of that.

  • Adrienne

    18 years ago it never occurred to me to keep my name. I took my husband’s name, partly out of tradition, partly out of pragmatism, partly out of a girlish excitement that made me feel I was officially married. I loved the way my maiden name sounded with my surname but I did it anyway. I did not keep my maiden name as my middle name (much to my mother’s disappointment) because it sounded weird to me. I believe and have experienced the reality of becoming “one flesh” in marriage. Taking his name doesn’t rob me of my identity. I know who I am.

  • Adrienne

    Also, I miss your Date Night In and Sunday Cake posts. Will you be resurrecting those? :)

  • Katie

    When I got divorced I went back to my maiden name. I’m getting remarried in October and am keeping my last name but not without some conversation with my guy. There is a lot of societal pressure around the woman taking a man’s name and what it means if she doesn’t. I told my fiance that I would take his name if he took mine too (a hyphenated situation). He wasn’t into it and got some perspective on what is actually being asked of a women to give up a big part of her identity. Between the two of us and our two kids there are 3 last names in the mix and we’ve never had it be a problem. Signing Christmas cards is a little hilarious though “love the Clemmer/Stratton/ Blairs” haha.

    • Hannah

      I love this! I wish more people would consider having the husband take the wife’s last name, whether to actually do it or just to think about the whole situation differently.

  • Meredith

    I changed my name. I was looking forward to it because people would often call me by my maiden name “Morgan” thinking that was my first name. I did feel a little sad to let it go, it almost seems like you are losing or leaving behind a part of yourself. Now that it’s been a few months I have adjusted and I’m proud to identify with my husband as our own “new” family.

  • Elizabeth

    I took my husband’s name and I love that we all have the same name. My daughters love that we share a name “Savage family hug!” “Go Savages!” “Savages do hard things…” etc… I feel proud of my name, my marriage and my family. However I am disheartened by the comments where people say they don’t judge, or everyone is entitled to what they want to do, BUT then go on to say that changing your name for your husband is at the core of gender inequality. I disagree. I am raising two strong and independent daughters. I am a strong and independent woman. We raise our children to love and be respectful of everyone. I am a working mom – I run my own company. I am a champion of women and support other women in a variety of ways. My husband and I share responsibilities – financially, domestically, emotionally, etc… I completely get the desire to keep one’s name. I have many friends who have done it. However, for me, I have never had a great relationship with my father and my last name was never something that I felt attached to. For me, changing it was a privilege. It was a way of saying with my husband that together we are creating something for ourselves and for our children that I didn’t always have as a child. We are creating a unit, a family, a core. Of course, this can be done in a variety of ways. But for me, this was important and I have never once doubted my decision.

  • Tara

    I have my name I was born with then my husbands added. I didn’t hyphenate but I use my entire last name it just two words. It’s confusing for people, but important to me since there are no boys and my dad has no brothers or sisters that my grandfather’s name lives on. Thinking of having a baby soon and thinking of importance of a name and how to carry my family traditions through a child.

  • Amy Murray

    I took my husbands last night, to me it was a way of becoming more of “one” within a marriage and our commitment.

  • krissy

    I was really excited to take my husband’s last name and move my maiden name to replace my middle name (marie) which I was never too fond of. Turns out it’s A LOT more complicated, at least in my state, to do that than I thought. Social Security doesn’t seem to care what you change your name to, within reason. But I am unable to get a new driver’s license without my old middle name of Marie! Unless I can get other official ID’s and multiple bank documents showing my new name – I’ll have to live in this name-change limbo forever.

    Lesson learned, do your research before you decide to change your name, laws are not ubiquitous in this regard it seems.

  • Jenn

    I also chose not to change my name. My husband is from Argentina, where it is also impossible to change your last name–I’ve heard of American retirees going down there and having to resort to their maiden name after being married with their husband’s name for 30+ years, because the name on the birth certificate is law.

    I do have an awkward last name, and so does my husband. I think if he had a different last name, I may have considered taking his, but given his culture, and the fact that I was well into my 30′s when we married, it just didn’t make any sense to change my last name–especially in light of the patriarchal message it sends!

  • Victoria / Jutsice Pirate

    I think what you did with your last names sounds good.
    My dad never knew who his father was, so although we grew up with his mom’s ex-husband’s last name, whom she had an affair(s) on that resulted in my dad’s birth, I never related to that at all in spirit or in blood!

    I therefore was more than happy to have a last name I could relate to, so it is nice that I have my husband’s last name, as well as our children having that last name. I have had the last name for nearly 13 years now, and I like it.

  • laura

    I didn’t even consider changing my name. I went 30 years with my name and would have had trouble wrapping my head around changing it to be my husband’s. I do love traditions, but this is one that I feel should be broken. It seems a bit patriarchal at this point in time. I believe a marriage should be about equal partnerships, so taking my husband’s name didn’t feel like a good start towards that equality. Of course I respect any woman’s decision either way, as long as it is her own! It’s nice we have the option to choose!

    • Hannah

      I agree! It feels old-fashioned, and not in the charming way. But you’re totally right, what’s most important is that women have the right to choose.

  • Amanda

    Before I got engaged, I never thought I would change my name – I had totally made up my mind to keep it. My partner and I had been together for 8 years, and we were both happy with that decision. As soon as we got engaged, however, I totally changed my mind! It was so unexpected, but once I knew that there was absolutely no pressure from my husband, his family or mine to decide one way or another, I was able to get in touch with what I really wanted. I ended up adding his last name to mine, so now I have a double last name (no hyphen), and my husband did not change his name at all. Even though it’s a tradition that is rooted in patriarchy, my relationship is not, and I am glad that so many women have the freedom to make whatever decision suits them best!

  • Hannah

    My mom kept her last name when she married my dad. My brother and sister and I all had her last name as our middle names. She has always been a staunch supporter of women keeping their own names, so I knew I wanted to keep mine too. I ended up getting married to another woman, and it felt right for us to each keep our own last names (plus otherwise I could’ve ended up Hannah Hammer…yikes!!). Now that we’re getting ready to start our family, we’ve talked a lot about hyphenating or combining our last names for our children, but ultimately decided to use her last name to honor her dad, who recently passed away, to help their family name continue (she doesn’t have any brothers), and as a way for our children to feel more connected to their southern family and heritage even though we live in New England.

  • Taylor-Mary

    I loved reading all these responses. Personally, I do not think there is a right or wrong answer. Ones name is so very personal and such an intimate reflection of who one is. It would be hard for me to say one way is better than another.

    I did not change my name when I got married. My mother never did when she married my father. So for me, I never even really considered it.

    I share a last name with my father, and I love that. My mom and him got divorced when I was young, and even though they co-raised me, I lived with her full time.

    I am very close to my mother, but sharing a last name with my dad has created a bond I love.

    I thought about hyphenating when I get married , but I have a hyphen in my first name and it seemed like overkill, no?!

    Thanks for the thoughtful post. Sending everyone love.

  • LAETITIA

    I did not change my name when I got married, mostly because I love my family so much, it just did not feel right. Also, living in the US on a non-immigrant visa, renewing my visa to change my name seemed like a huge headache!

    Our 2 kids have my husband’s last name, but they almost took mine actually! When our first was born, my husband suggested they have my last name, mostly because he has cut almost all ties with his own family, but I wanted them to have his last name for some reason… Complicated yet uncomplicated question!

  • nat@cha

    I changed my last name while I married my husband. We have two daughters and we all have the same name as a lot of parents do here in France. My father asked me why I didn’t keep his last name and added it to my husband’s one … In fact it’s only because when we combine both names it forms the sentence “the master is severe” … and it’s not a funny combination ;-)

  • Sofia

    I’ve thought about this a lot! I have my mom’s last name as my parents were never married but dated for 30+ years. I’ve always looked forward to changing my last name as I really don’t care for it – honestly that’s been the main reason why I’ve been open to taking someone else’s name if I ever get married. Now it just so happens that my boyfriend’s last name is almost identical to mine, so there’s no way I’d be changing to it if we were to get married. Because of all this I’ve started playing around with the idea of someday choosing a new last name together – where I live it still feels a bit out there.

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