The Great Name Change Debate

18 Dec

So I’m getting married.  And when a woman gets married in the US, generally there are a few choices on what she does with her last name.  These are probably the most popular.

  • Take the husband’s last name in place of her maiden name. Susie Leigh Smith becomes Susie Leigh Brown
  • Take the husband’s last name and move her maiden name to her middle name. Susie Leigh Smith becomes Susie Smith Brown
  • Take the husband’s last name and keep all other names (so have 2 middle names). Susie Leigh Smith becomes Susie Leigh Smith Brown
  • Hyphenate your last name.  Kelly HusbandLastName-MaidenName or is it the other way around? Haha. Susie Leigh Smith becomes Susie Leigh Brown-Smith or Smith-Brown?
  • Keep your original name. Susie Leigh Smith 4Life.

For the longest time I have been in camp 2. Kelly MaidenName Adam’sLastName. Done, easy.  Decision made.  I want to keep my identity that my last name brings, but I also want to create a new baby family with Adam.  I like the idea of us sharing a last name.  But… lately I’ve been re-evaluating all of my options and I’ve been more and more unsure on what I want to do.  Argh… all the thinking… causing trouble!! Here are some of my pros/cons to changing to option two (Kelly MaidenName Adam’sLastName).

The Pro’s of Kelly MaidenName Adam’sLastName

  • We share a last name and though yes, a bit sexist that I take his name, we still are more easily recognized as a unit. (And honestly I don’t know if I’m willing to fight something that has been done for centuries. I’m keeping my Dad’s last name, who is also a man…so I guess that’s also sexist? So confusing!  I guess we could make up our own last name?).
  • I’m recognizing this big life change by adopting Adam’s Name.
  • People will associate us with one another…hope Adam builds us a good reputation! ;)
  • I get to keep the name I’ve had for almost 27 years and holds a lot of family value to me (I’ve never met any non-family member with my last name).
  • I’ll only have 3 names which is more traditional in the US.  More traditional = easier paperwork in the future
  • I love the idea of starting our baby family together, with the shared name!

The Cons of Kelly MaidenName Adam’sLastName

  • I would have to give up my middle name.  It’s a family name, it’s nice, I would be sad to see it go.
  • My Maiden name isn’t as ‘pretty’ as Kelly MiddleName Adam’sLastName.  My last name isn’t ‘ugly’ per say.  But it’s Dutch, hard to spell/pronounce, and not particularly beautiful.
  • I will REALLY miss signing my middle initial of L.  Have you seen how pretty a cursive L is??  Pretty AND fun to write.  Sigh.
  • I’m changing my identity by giving my my last name as my last name.  Good thing?  Bad thing?  Jury is still out for me.

The good news is that I have time…at least a little bit of time :)  I could just keep all my names, having my cake and eating it too.  But is having 4 names hard?  So… what have you all done out there?  Or what are you planning to do?  Help a sister out!  Perspective please!


20 Responses to “The Great Name Change Debate”

  1. beil4 December 18, 2013 at 9:06 am #

    I know just how you feel. We were married this month a year ago and it took me until about 2 months ago to change my name. I had so much identity with my maiden name. It had been with me forever and I didn’t want to give that up. My husband knew this and backed off until he knew I was ready to move on (which I thought was awesome). I was ready to start my life with him, but I wanted to hold on to the last part of me. So a few months ago it hit me and my husband and I had a talk. He took pride in marrying me and it means so much to him that we were becoming one. It was hard for him when I didn’t change my name but he knew I needed time. When I heard him tell me this I knew right then and there that I had to change my name to his. We became one on December 28, 2012 and to show this other than our marriage license, I needed to change my last name. When I changed it, I felt so GOOD! I was smiling like a goof because now I was Mrs. B. Beil! I followed number 1 in your list! Good luck!

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings December 18, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

      Very interesting! And I’m glad you can relate to my thoughts, thanks so much for sharing your experience. It’s just hard giving up that identity! Adam has been very supportive of whatever decision I make, which I think always makes it easier… knowing there is no pressure one way or the other, sounds like your husband was the same. Congrats on the name change and glad to know you’re enjoying it!! :)

  2. Change of Pace December 18, 2013 at 9:16 am #

    Whew- you are thinking a lot about this one! I don’t think four names would be bad if you want your current last name as your middle name but don’t want to lose your original middle name.
    Me – I’m traditional in this sense and took my husband’s last name. My dad’s dad had changed our last name anyway, so we had no real family time to it anyway. My maiden last name would also be a really cute boys name, so I’ve always had that in the back of my mind if we have a boy!
    Good luck with your decision!

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings December 18, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

      Hahaha I know! Could I possibly be over-thinking this one?? ;) You are SO lucky that your maiden name could be a kid name, that is just plain perfection. Mine couldn’t work even as a middle name for a kid so I’m a bit out of luck there. And that is so interesting that your dad’s dad change the family name! Was it a drastic name or more just spelling? Very curious.

  3. Cat December 18, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    I married at 20 and honestly never considered NOT taking my husband’s name. I grew up in a small town and that was generally just what was done. However, I’ve thought about it since and were I to get married now, in my 30s, it would not be as easy of a choice. As an attorney, if I was established in my career with one name, it would be harder to switch. Not a deciding factor, but something to consider. I have had colleagues that went by their husband’s name socially, but kept their maiden for work and such (presumably they kept their maiden name as their legal name (e.g. Ms. Smith) but generally went by “Mrs. Johnson” or whatever in social circles). Honestly, I really like taking his name. Maybe it is old fashioned, although I don’t think it has to be anti-feminist. But it is part of our identity as a family. (Keep in mind, our first daughter was born before we were married and had his last name… so I had a small taste of what it was like to not share a last name with her and I wasn’t a huge fan, although it’s not that big of a deal). My best friend married this past summer and never considered changing her name. But her maiden name is a HUGE part of her identity (she goes more commonly by her last name than her first!). It would have been weird for all of us if she changed it! I have another friend where she and her husband both hyphenate their last names to combine the two. So many options. You know, you don’t have to decide right away. I have another friend that changed her name more than a year after the wedding. She just wasn’t ready before that. Who cares? No one even really needs to know (unless you want them to). Very interesting – good luck! Hope you find a solution that makes you happy! :)

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings December 18, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

      So many good thoughts!! Thank you for sharing!! And I can relate – when I was younger it wasn’t really a question to change my name… but the older I get the more difficult and more of a real question it becomes. I think at almost 27 I’m not TOO established in my career to make the leap, but another 5 or 10 years and yeah.. that would be tough. But my career is one of the reasons I want to keep my Maiden name as a middle name. I can sign things with both so people won’t be super confused as who I am (I do a lot of correspondence without meeting people face to face). I think I will really enjoy taking Adam’s name once I just get over the shock of it and get used to it. It’s like when I get a new haircut, I always hate it at first, but then I end up loving it. And I love your point about it being an identity for your family. I just love the idea of Adam and I being easily identified as a family – it’s just cool. And you’re right about the kid thing – I know people do it all the time with different names… but I kind of don’t want to unless I have to! Great point about the timing too – somehow it is a relief to know I don’t HAVE to immediately legally change anything. It’s my choice when it happens. And I really could keep it a secret. Kind of fun. :) Thanks so much again for your thoughts, I appreciate the perspective!

  4. fatmanleanman December 18, 2013 at 11:19 am #

    I live in Ecuador and I actually have come to appreciate the Latin American/Spanish naming conventions.

    Everyone’s name is a combination of their given name, middle name, father’s family name and then mother’s family name

    Maria Jose Velasco Vega

    First and middle name Maria Jose
    Father’s family name Velasco
    Mother’s family name Vega

    She normally would go by the name of Velasco.

    When a woman marries she adds the husband’s family on to the end: Maria Jose Velasco Vega de Coronel. She is still called Velasco. Overall it is longer but much less confusing.

    But then you have my wife. She was adopted by her maternal grandparents and married twice (widowed first time), so she has a mishmash of six names that complicate her history.

    I am so glad I am a man and am not expected to have to make decisions like this.

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings December 18, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

      You are so right about the whole lucky to be a man and not decide anything! ;) And I agree I LOVE the Latin American system of names… it is seriously awesome. I lived in Costa Rica for a year and just fell in love with it, what a great way to keep your identity from both parents. So wonderful. I just wish maybe we could adopt it. I had a Colombian boyfriend in the US for awhile and he always ranted that it confused people in the US though when he had to do paperwork. Dare to dream we might adopt it someday! :)

  5. Single-Tracked Mind December 18, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

    I can totally see both sides to this debate. Love reading your blog – I’ve nominated you for a blogging award on my blog!

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings December 30, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

      Yeah it’s a tough one for sure! Still working through the decision! And thanks so much for the award, I appreciate that a lot! :)

  6. FitnessFatale December 18, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

    I didn’t think twice and just changed mine to my husbands last and kept my middle, although I hate my middle name. bOth our last names sound very funny together so it was an easy decision. I also like the tradition of changing last names and becoming a family! But it’s so personal, do want feels best!

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings December 30, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

      Yeah that’s the beauty of your names not matching well – makes it pretty straightforward. I’m jealous! ;) Ours sounds neither amazing together (oh I MUST have both) nor terrible (ugh, I can’t keep mine). Makes it tricky for sure. But you’re so right – it’s such a personal decision AND I have plenty of options which is really pretty awesome. :)

  7. Pandora Viltis December 18, 2013 at 11:30 pm #

    I’ve been married twice, and the first time I took my husband’s last name. And regretted it immediately. Of course, I regretted the marriage before it happened (I was 21 and stupid). My second marriage I kept my last name. I’ve never regretted that decision and we’re still married 16 years later. My husband sometimes uses my last name to make reservations as it’s shorter than his. And I get called my husband’s last name all the time (and on checks written by his grandmother). It doesn’t bother me which name I’m called. I’m still me.

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings December 30, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

      Wow! Congrats on your marriage and thanks for the perspective, it’s helpful to hear other experiences. I imagine if I did keep my last name people would call me by his as well, which wouldn’t bother me. As you say, I’m still me either way! :)

  8. sincerelylily December 19, 2013 at 7:27 am #

    This is interesting! Mainly because I am getting married and never once have I considered NOT taking his last name. I do not see this in the least bit sexist, as you wrote, but simply as tradition and as a way of sharing a future together. Kind of like how (not to get biblical on ya) Adam shares a rib, and Eve recieves it. He is sharing his last name, and you recieve it. He proposes with a ring – is that sexist? No. It is simply tradition. You can definately choose not to take his last name or keep your maiden name as your middle name, but I’m a traditional gal and have absolutely no problem shedding my maiden name for my married name. I love my middle name so that is here to stay.

    I think you are slightly over thinking this lol I honestly have not given it any thought other than I am so excited to be Mr & Mrs Speedyslastname. I am excited to write it out. I am excited that our children will all share the same name as us. We will be one.

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings December 30, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

      So interesting! Thanks for the perspective, it’s very helpful. And you’re right about it being a tradition. My sister said the SAME thing – she was like…um I haven’t even consider NOT taking his name when I get married and you’re crazy Kelly. Haha so you’re in good company. I’m thinking that maybe I’ve been influenced by my time living in Costa Rica where women don’t take their husbands names so it opened it up as a real possibility. And overthink is my middle name – so yes DEFINITELY over thinking it :)

  9. Catherine @ A Two Storey Home December 19, 2013 at 9:14 am #

    It is a big decision! For a long time I considered keeping my middle and maiden names, but ultimately just kept the maiden name and added Storey. My middle name was my grandmother’s name, and when we got married she had declined pretty seriously into Alzheimer’s, and (this may sound crazy) I felt like if I dropped her name, she’d be gone. Even though they are all just names, you do feel a certain emotional attachment to them; they all represent something about you, so it really is a tough decision to make. I like sharing the same last name for the sake of grouping–no matter who takes whose name, you’re married, and it helps set you apart as a unit.
    Or, a sixth option: I know a couple who recently got married and combined their last names, but not with a hyphen. Let’s say their last names were Smith and Thick–their new last name is Smithick. They shared two letters and just smashed the names together. Hah!
    Also, it took me almost a year to legally change my name, and I still haven’t changed it on some things (like my car loan and cell phone bills). I started going by my new name immediately, but didn’t actually change it for a while. If you need more time to think about it, take it; I encountered zero problems with waiting to change it.

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings December 30, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

      I love this. Thanks for sharing your experience. It seems like it depends on the day what I’ll do, the current winner is keep all the names hahah. I want my cake and to eat it too. And I completely agree about the unit thing – that’s one reason why I’m planning to take his name…it’s just what is the middle name that’s the big question now. And the combo last name thing is hilarious! So funny. I think if ours mixed to something awesome that would be a definite option. And SO happy to hear you had no problems by waiting a little bit – honestly it’s kind of calming knowing that I don’t have to IMMEDIATELY get out there and figure out my plan. Are you happy with the name arrangement you chose? Would you do it again?

      • Catherine @ A Two Storey Home December 31, 2013 at 9:46 am #

        Yeah, you have some time to think about it! I’m happy with what I chose and would do it again, but I think I would also have been happy keeping both my middle and maiden names!

        • kelly @ racesrepsramblings December 31, 2013 at 10:17 am #

          Very good to know. I’ve talked to a few women who have kept all 4 and they’ve reported very little problems from a paperwork perspective. Hopefully I’m getting closer to my decision ;)

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