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Full Version: It's 2005 and I'm *still* debating...should I take his last name?
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the watch isnt a bad idea. i hadn't considered that but i think he might actually wear it. my watch died a long time ago so when i finally go to buy a new one will have to drag him along and see what kind of watches he likes while i'm pretending to look for me!
anonymoose, I pretty much knew when I was getting engaged and wanted to have something special for my husband. I found a pair of vintage cufflinks on eBay with small diamonds in the center and gave them to him the night we got engaged. He wore them at our wedding.
I want to know what the benefits are to keeping my name, to hyphenating my name, and to changing my name altogether. I actually have no problem changing my name because I despise mine. I've also considered hyphenating it, because, well, it is still my family name regardless of how embarrassing it is. I was just wondering if anyone know what the pros and cons are legally and otherwise.
raskel, I don't know about the legal stuff, but I always hated my maiden name so I didn't even hesitate to ditch it when I got married. I have never honestly understood how not taking the husbands last name equals a sense of independence. If you like your family last name and/or have strong family pride I understand but otherwise I wonder what does it matter?
Put it this way, my maiden name resulted in every boy in school asking me if my pubic hair was grey and/or calling me "grandma's crotch". I don't like my last name one bit.
awe. Take the jump, change it. My new last name has been great over the past 5 years. Some of the kids at my elementary school made up a name with my last name in the chorus. I can sort of feel your pain.
raskel, now I'm dying of curiosity! (I know you won't tell me; internet privacy and all,

I changed my name when I got married too. My maiden name was a checkoslovakian/russian name that is utterly unpronouncable. *I* can't even say it right.

Changed it to a nice, bland, common norweigian name.

The only problem I have now is mistaken identity...there is a woman with the same name as me who has tax warrants...and I keep getting mistaken for her when signing documents and stuff.

Mostly I'm glad having a more "typical" name though.

aw raskel, I'm dying to know now too!

treehugger -- I'm keeping my name for exactly the same reason that you changed yours. Even though I don't have much connection to my last name (it's the second most common in the US after Smith -- as a result, everyone can know my last name and I can still remain anonymous), I think it's more practical. Mrlot has an extremely uncommon last name that no one can spell or pronounce at first. Though it's not quite as bad as your maiden name, treehugger -- it is pronouncable with a little practice.

I never have to spell my last name, or tell people how to pronounce it, it doesn't get misprinted on checks, etc.
"I have never honestly understood how not taking the husbands last name equals a sense of independence."
It kind of reminds me of when women were considered the property of a man and not people in and of themselves. When a woman was young she would have her father's name because she belonged to him, but when she got married she was given her husband's name as sort of a, "Property of:" sticker to signify that she was his property. I have to say, though, having the same last probably makes things a little more convenient, but I don't like the idea of changing it just because that's how things are, and if I has a last name that resulted in people calling me "grandma's crotch", I'd be eager to change, too.
This woman told me of something I could do if I wanted to keep my maiden name a part of me but still wanted to take his name. lets say my name is Maria Ann Harper... when I take his name, I simply put my maiden name as part of my middle name, like now Maria Ann Harper Burns. It can be kind of a mouthful, but usually you just use your middle initials, so your family name would still be part of your name as a whole, and you wouldn't have the problem of long hyphenation.
So hooray! ( My real name is much longer though... :-))
I guess what I don't get is- if you hate your last name-change it. YOu don't have to wait until you're married to have an excuse to change it. Just change it. Pick a name that you think is cool or whatever. Not liking your name is a totally separate issue from marriage, right?

True, you can change your name any time. But I think the discussion here is that if you're getting married and have hesitations about the tradition of the wife taking her husband's last name, then disliking your last name (or disliking his, or seeing one as more practical than the other, etc.) can help you make a decision one way or another.

You may not like your last name, but still have never seriously considered the hassle of changing it...but when you get married, you have to make a decision about whether to change it, so it's a good time to give more serious consideration to whether you want your name to be "Ms. Butts" for the rest of your life, e.g.
Also, and I could be wrong here, but going through the legal process of changing your name is pretty expensive. I think when you get married, you're only paying for the cost of the marriage license.

Plus, if you dislike your name, but you plan on getting married and taking your husband's name anyway, then why change it before then? You'd have to *really* dislike your name.
I guess it just seems like a strange reason to participate in such a historically sexist practice, cause you don't like your name.

Is that true that it's free to change your name if you get married, but not if you just want to change it? That's really fucked! Once again, married people get a privilege that the rest of us don't get.....
It may be historically sexist, but that doesn't mean that it is sexist for the people participating...I know plenty of women who have taken their husband's names and I don't consider them (nor do they consider themselves) lesser feminists because of it.

I think the sexist part is not when women take their husband's last name, but that it is so unusual for a husband to take his wife's name.

Frankly, making a decision based on practicalities like whether you like or dislike your last name rather than on what type of statement you're making with it can be a relief. I'm happily keeping my last name, but some people think it's a sign that I'm not really committing to my marriage. Women who have taken their husband's last namea have to put up with others thinking they're participating in a sexist practice. Either way, it sucks that women constantly have to defend their decision when they make one.
Maddy, off the subject but trust me married people get screwed too. I couldn't believe the first year my hubby and I filed are income tax return and found out there is a marriage penalty. If you don't have kids, tax time can be hell for us married folks. And it can be really hard to get a loan. Lenders always want to put the man's name first so wives often end up with little to no credit history. Talk about sexist!

just my 2 cents....
I would say nowadays its a sexist practice depending on who's doing it. My mom changed her name and I wouldn't call her less of a feminist for it at all.

I don't think I would want to change my name. I'm not in the kind of relationship where marriage would even be thought about at this point though, so my opinion could change. My reasons aren't so much feminist as the connection I feel to my name. I guess I feel like it gives me a connection to a family and I'm really proud of it. I think it suits me and if I have kids I'd like to somehow incorporate it into their names as well.
btw, I guess that when I said "constantly have to defend," that was a bit of an exaggeration...yeah. Sorry 'bout that.

It's just that I don't think any one should have to defend their reasons for keeping their name or changing it. Even if they only have to defend it occasionally.

And if you're deiciding whether to change your name based on your personal set of circumstances, this can easily conflict with the message you want to send society. And what you want to say to society can conflict with what's practical. From a idealistic standpoint, I would rather we both change our names to something new. In the real world, this would be a big hassle professionally, and probably freak out and hurt our families. Which makes it not worth it for me.
That tax thing scares me so much. It's annoying; I wanted to marry M but I really don't want joint finances or to be treated as a tax entity. It seems grossly unfair, like if marriage meant you shared a stomach so if he ate something awful you both got indigestion.
Lot- about "constantly defending" I feel like that too-even though actually it doesnt' happen very often to me that I have to say oh, I don't want kids. But, I still feel like it's a constant thing....

I guess name's mean a lot of different things to different people. To me, it's just a dumb last name. Mine is one of the most boring in the world, and it's also the last name of my abuser. So I"ve thought about changing it to something neat, or maybe my mom's maiden name. But, it's just a dumb name to me, it's not important.

I never understood why my sister took her hubby's name without even thinking about was just assumed. although her name was literally one of the most common and boring names ever:-) kinda like jane jones. but even worse....

With the tax thing-i guess our gov't wants us all married with kids? Is that when you get the biggest tax break?
I'm for women doing whatever feels right to them either way. There shouln't be any political or social implication to changing their names or not, especially as in the US it's all perception and not reality. I mean, women are no longer daddy's or hubby's property no matter what they do about the last name. In other parts of the world, women do not have their daddy or hubby's name but in reality are little more than chattle to whichever male.

Also with tax, you can be married and file individually, but I"m sure there are disadvantages are well as advantages to that.
word ilovemyff.

Married filing individually still often means you get penalized with the higher tax rate (in some cases, it may be higher than filing jointly), but you are not responsible legally for your spouse's taxes.

I think there were some efforts made in the 2003 US tax code to offset marriage penalties, but I have no idea what percentage of the population this benefits...and I think they're set to expire in another couple of years. But really, this is what I think I know, not what I actually know.

maddy, you should check out the childfee by choice thread, if you haven't already.
Thanks, I'm all over the childfree by choice thread:-) love it!

I agree that hey, women should be able to do whatever they want, really. Make choices about their name, etc.

I just don't think anyone would be thinking about changing their name if it wasn't already a tradition. So that's why it's weird to me. And why is that tradition still sorta ok, but others aren't? Like, women today (hopefully) wouldn't be like, well, since women didn't use to be able to own property, then maybe I shouldn't either.

Ok, that's like the worst analogy...but I can't think of another one. It's like, "should I wear a white dress?" Why would someone even think of that unless there was a tradition behind it? They would just think "what should I wear to my wedding?"

Crap. I'm totally unable to communicate today....
lot49, I agree that the sexist thing is that it's considered so weird for a man to take his wife's name. I used to take a class with this woman who had a really short, easy-to-pronounce maiden name but took her husband's long, impossible name of Skfsoishnfvosovich or something and I couldn't help thinking, why? Wouldn't it have been easier for both of them to take the short, easy name? Or if there's no one else in the woman's family to carry on the last name.
Maybe his surname wasn't "impossible" in Polish or Russian.
On the tax issue, I have a couple of tidbits to clarify some things here:

Generally, you get the most breaks for having children, whether you are married or not. The marriage 'penalty' comes from the standard deduction for married couples not being double that of individuals. The other problem lies when one spouse makes substantially more than the other. When this happens, the lower paid spouse's income gets taxed at the higher rate. The other problem lies when both make the same, but the sum of their incomes puts them in a higher bracket than they would be individually (braket breakoffs aren't doubled for married vs. single).
If you have no children, there is little to no penalty for going married filing separate. However, if you do have children, virtually all tax credits associated with children go away when you file separately.
Regardless of the changes made in '03, there is still a marriage penalty, albeit a much smaller one.

Just so I stay on topic, as far as last names go, I didn't really care one way or the other if my wife wanted to keep, hyphenate or whatever when we got married. She hated her name, due to her father being an asshat, so she took mine and did away with hers. I will say that if you are getting married soon, and going on a honeymoon out of the country, book your travel plans in your maiden name, as you won't have ANY of the documents ready to go for weeks after the wedding.
see, *if* i were to get married, i think it would be cool if my spouse and i were able to come up with a third, agreed-upon name that we BOTH could legally change to. think of the fun possibilities! however, i think many many men, no matter how open-minded, would probably still have a problem with that. anyone do that/have friends who did that?
See, that makes sense to me. You don't like your name, you want to have the same name as your new family (hubby, kids maybe). So choose a new one for your new family. Makes sense.

I guess when men start changing their names as often as women do, I won't see it as a totally sexist practice. I doubt that'll ever happen though.
if i get married, and if it happens to be to a man, and i choose to take his last name, i wouldn't see it as sexist (though i still maintain that if/when i get married we're going to change our last name to von doom and that's final). it comes down to the choice we have: i can choose to keep my name, or take my husband's, or hyphenate, or come up with an entirely new name, right? so long as whatever i do is what i want to do, it's not a sexist tradition but what would make me happy. i won't have a problem losing my last name. it's generic, it's impossible to find me in the phone book unless you know my mother's name and my address (not even just the street, but the number, too). but i don't dislike it all that much, and certainly not to the point of going through the hassle of changing my name, let alone remembering to sign whatever 'new' last name i choose.
The tax thing w/ married people. There is a waiver for now. But if you claim the waiver, then you can't itemize other deductions unless they exceed the nine thousand dollar waiver. And your expected to pay more taxes than single people or married couples with kids. Which I think just punishes couples with out kids.

Back to the changing name stuff. One reason I took my hubby's last name was to join his family. His family is much closer than mine I wanted to be a part of that. If that makes sense? Every girl just needs to consider all her options when/if she decides to get married.
The thing with taking up an entirely new name, unless it's completely made up, is that the families that legitimitly inherited that name might find it objectionable. Some people are very proud and protective of their name and it's associated heritage. Personally, it would make me feel like a fake. If I ever do get over my qualms about it though, I'd pick Fairchild.

On an interesting note, I kept my name, but whenever my five yr old draws pictures of me, she always labels it my first name and her's and her dad's lastname, eventhough she knows very well that's not my name. I feel like she's chastizing me sometimes!
i know some men who are open to changing their last names. a boy i dated a long time ago was open to taking a woman's last name. in my last relationship, the man i dated always thought it would be cool to do the make up a name together thing. i guess whether or not either of them did/would, is another thing.

and now my current partner, my fiance, is quite open to the possibilities, too. i guess i have to start thinking about this more seriously. right now, i will probably keep my name, but, i'm not sure how i'll feel if kids enter the picture. if we have two, one can have his and one can have mine...heee.

i don't think i would see it as sexist if i changed my name. like some of you have mentioned already, i have many friends who i consider to be feminist and they have taken their husbands name.
I'm under a different tax system to you ladies. Its annoying because I would sooo be asking tax questions otherwise! For me personally, even admitting I'm in a relationship could affect me.
godslioness, I don't actually remember the name of the woman I gave as an example and the addition of "-ovich" was completely arbitrary. I just remember it was several syllables longer than her maiden name.
I'm one of those folks who makes significantly less than their spouse. When my taxes changed after getting married, it was like getting a demotion regarding my pay. Oy, that sucked.
QUOTE(ambercherry @ Jun 13 2006, 11:11 PM) *

i know some men who are open to changing their last names. a boy i dated a long time ago was open to taking a woman's last name. in my last relationship, the man i dated always thought it would be cool to do the make up a name together thing. i guess whether or not either of them did/would, is another thing. <BR> <BR>and now my current partner, my fiance, is quite open to the possibilities, too. i guess i have to start thinking about this more seriously. right now, i will probably keep my name, but, i'm not sure how i'll feel if kids enter the picture. if we have two, one can have his and one can have mine...heee. <BR> <BR>i don't think i would see it as sexist if i changed my name. like some of you have mentioned already, i have many friends who i consider to be feminist and they have taken their husbands name.

It's interesting that you bring that up, Ambercherry, because when I was young, I considered taking the woman's last name in marriage simply because mine's a clunker that everybody misspells.

Upon further review, I think everyone should keep their original last names. It's not because of gender equality issues, though; it's for the sake of finding people. I watched a movie once in which a girl was looking for a long lost person (who I think was her mother), and since her mother married and changed her name, the little girl had an even harder time finding her. In fact, she even says that everyone should keep their last names for just such a situation. I agree, since I see nothing romantic or otherwise compelling about changing one's name for marriage or any other reason, unless that person's parents cruelly or carelessly gave him or her a name that is easily mocked.
Ambercherry, some friends of mine made up their own last name. They are now the Cobras.
ap, that is interesting! i like hearing what names people decide to pick, especially when they're making up a new name. i laughed when i read that one, though, only because my fiance is often quoting homer simpson when he had that dream about the cobras ("cobras! cobras!")...

i have decided to add my fiance's last name to my name. i'm not hyphenating it. i guess in a sense i'm just moving my last name to become one of my middle names. he's doing the same - taking my last name and making it a middle name. and i think if and when we do have children, they will have the same. the big decision maker in all this was the possible children - we both wanted everyone to have the same last name.

it's all a matter of personal choice. i think it's cool when woman decide to keep their names, or when couples choose to do something that's very the cobras!
First two letters of his last name, first three letters of hers. I thought it was hysterical.
i finally got put on his account to sign his checks in my name. only took 2+

ok...i posted this earlier in the wrong offense to wombat and mornington

why is it that people expect you to act different or change your personality when you are married?
like, half of my friends from class are shocked when they find out i'm married, even though i talk about my husband as 'hubby' and i wear a wedding band. and its not a little shocked..its more of a 'she hit a short bus' kind of shocked. thoughts?
This is a fun thread!
My mom took my dads name for a funny reason:

Shes Mexican-American but her last name was English, because her grandfather
changed it when he came to America to do business cuz he wanted a white name to
seem more credible. My dad on the other hand is white, and his family name was
changed at Ellis Island back in the day, from something Italian,
and the result sounds Spanish.
When my parents met in the late 60s my mom was thinking she would keep her
name for feminist reasons, but then decided to take my dads name because it
seemed to suit her more. Even now people think my last name comes from my moms
family, since it sounds spanish. Funny huh?

Not sure if I'll keep it or not. I'm leaning towards it. My last SO said he'd be willing to
take my name because he hated his dad.
Oh and Jack White took Megs name when they got married you know.
Muah ha ha Cobras!
I love this thread! I am getting married and am really tearing myself up about this question. My fiancee would be THRILLED if I took his name, but I'm having a really hard time with the idea of giving up my name. Mainly because I've had my last name for 28 yrs and it is kind of a part of me.

I have a sneaking suspicion that I will end up keeping my name until a few months after the wedding and then changing it. Not sure why I think that is how it will happen. It kind of feels like a cop out. Like if I don't make a decision then it will be considered wishy-washy. But I want to feel really good about the decision I end up making and not like I was backed into it. God this post is wordy! sorry, my head feels like it is full of cotton. My body is back from the long weekend but my brain is not!
I am having such a hard time over this...I get married in one month, and I can't decide if I should keep my last name or hyphenate it MyLast-HisLast....

I have very good reasons for both, but just can't freaking decide!
Does anyone know the time frame limitations for changing/hyphenating the name?

Cause I have a feeling I won't decide until we sign the license...eek!
emlikesart, as far as I know, legally there is no kind of limitation. It's just a normal name change process. My sister in law still hasn't legally changed her name, although everyone calls her by my brothers last name, letters still come to her maiden name. She just hasn't had the time to get around to it.
Yeah, don't sweat it, your name isn't automatically changed when you say I do. You have to go to Social Security & fill out paperwork & give them a copy of your marriage license. Since you'll be getting married towards the end of the year, I would recommend not doing anything to your name until after you file taxes, as the SS admin is VERY slow to changing names, and if you file taxes & your name doesn't match your SSN, they kick it out and it is just a big headache.

Also, get plenty of copies of your marriage license. Banks, schools (if applicable), some employers, etc. will want a copy for their file. Honestly, the amount of paperwork that has to be done after you get married is much, much more than I ever thought it would be.

To answer your question short & sweet though, you do not have to have your 'married' name for your marriage license - it will be listed on there as the name you have the day you get married (maiden, 1st husband, all new & your own, etc). I think my wife waited about 4 months after we got married to legally change her name. It took the SSN 4 more months to make it official and send her a new SS card.
Hoosierman, thanks! This is info that I did not know...but then again, this just gives me more time to be indecisive....haha

Well, at least I'm not in crunch time then : )
Just glad I can help. If you do make the change, be prepared for many headaches waiting on the various gov't agencies to get their ducks in a row. New SS Card, new driver's license, new info on bank/credit card, etc accounts, new name on insurance, etc.

Like I said, we were well on our way to our first anniversary before everything was changed. The more I think about it, she waited the 4 months because a)didn't want to have problems filing her taxes (we got married in January) and b)her driver's license was expiring that August anyway, and at least here in IN, they wouldn't renew it that soon (only a couple months in advance I think) and she saw no reason at all to pay for a new license twice in a matter of months.

Happy deciding, and congratulations on the upcoming nuptuals!
My partner (of 11 years) and I will get married *one day* when we could be bothered, but I have always maintained that I would keep my name.
The other day I was with the in-laws and in order to get out of a photo appearance, said "no this photo should be just [his name]s". And then his mum goes, "oh, but we all know you'll be a [his name] one day soon".

I nearly died. I couldn't speak for about 20 minutes.
thanks, rose, for the pointer. i posted this in the "i'm more feminist..." thread but rose suggested i post it here. it's a letter to salon advice columnist cary tennis where i think his response perfectly illustrates the issue of what it means to keep your own name. some of the readers' letters are great, too, especially one in which a woman from a country that does not allow women to keep their names on marriage points out that we have not, as a world society, come as far as we think we have...

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