Real Talk: Would You Keep Your Maiden Name After Marriage?

by Mary Grace Garis

What’s in a name? Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet were able to forsake their last names for love. But Romeo and Juliet were idiots. What does it actually mean, in a 21st century context, to trade in your last name for your spouse’s?

According to a new study (conducted by observing Facebook analytics, of all things) about a third of women who marry in their 20’s choose to retain their original last name. This is a considerably larger percentage than women who marry in their 30’s and 60’s, respectively. Rachel Thwaites, a member of the Women’s Studies department at York University, says that younger women are doing this, “as a feminist decision or a move for equality in their relationship.”

That sounds fair. Not taking your husband’s (if you’re marrying a man) name is a pretty direct affront on the patriarchy. But then, if a woman TAKES her husband’s name is that “unfeminist”? Or, is choosing to take someone else’s name more of a reinforcement of the freedom-of-choice that comes with feminism? I’m probably/definitely reading into it, but let’s seriously examine this decision.

Lily on How I Met Your Mother Kept her name, and she’s one half of a perfect couple, so…

I’ve never really debated it (as I’m single, 22 and neurotic, blah blah blah, we’ve been over this.) I always assumed that abandoning my maiden name was just the thing to do, and for a long time I’ve had no particular attachment to my last name. Most people think it’s “Grace” anyway.

But now that I’m getting into my career, and the most valuable thing to me is my byline. And if my byline marked me with someone else’s name, would I feel as proud?

Also I have to consider, if i take my spouse’s name, will it be an upgrade or a downgrade? See, when my YiaYia was my age, she went from Jonas to Tsagarakis. Willingly. Try even pronouncing “Tsagarakis.” Luckily they fixed that up before my father was born, but still.

As for hyphens, they always seemed like a cop-out. I mean, I just feel like Mary Grace Garis-Gordon-Levitt is a mouthful. Or Mary Grace Gordon-Levitt-Garis? We can discuss that later.

Do you think keeping your maiden name is an empowering move that lets you maintain your own identity? Do you think that certain fields – like acting or publishing – require straying from tradition? Or is it really not a big deal and just a matter of preference? And most importantly, would you do it?

Let us know in the comment section!

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