Friday, July 18, 2008

"I'm a newlywed" - Oh have you changed your name yet?

Why is this the automatic question? We've been married almost 4 weeks, and I've had to answer this question more times than I can count. Doahleigh posted about the big name-debate. To change or not to change? That is currently a big fat question for me.

I grew up with the idea that I'd of course change my name. But then I matured a bit and realized that I had a choice. I also have seen and heard of women who go through kind of an identity crisis when something happens to the marriage or their husband. They were a Mrs. so and so and suddenly aren't. Not that I plan on that happening in any way, shape or form. However - I almost find myself having mini panic attacks at the thought of changing my name.

I know who I am. I am Katie [enter current last name]. My last name is actually not common at all, very unique, and quite a few friends call me by my last name. It is mispronounced all the time - but it doesn't annoy me. My husband's last name (sidenote - it feels very funny every time I say "my husband" - I kind of giggle when I type it) is an extremely common name. The fact that my first name is so common, and then possibly switching my last name to a very common last name makes my name sound so unoriginal and boring. Also, I have no association with Katie Smith [that is not the real name of my hubby- but just shows you how boring my name would be].

At the wedding, lots of his family members asked when I plan on changing my name. Upon hearing (gasp) that it wouldn't be happening soon, if at all, I got many horrified looks. You're not changing you're name? You don't want to be a [enter hubby's last name]? It's almost as if I don't love him as much, or I'm not proud to be his wife if I choose to keep my last name. I do love him - a whole lot - and I am proud to be his wife. But I am also proud of where I've come from, my family, my history. Just because I'm married doesn't mean I'm leaving my family and history behind, nor does it mean that I don't consider myself a part of his family. And I still am Ian's Mrs. - whether I have the last name or not.

I realize some people may argue that it's just a name, that it isn't who you are. That is a valid point. But why is it that it's automatically the woman who is supposed to change her name? If it was just a name, then women AND men would be changing their last names.

Ian would like me to change my name. I get that it makes life easier in terms of bills, traveling (we had to fill out extra forms and aren't considered a family when coming through customs - it was quite a pain), and kids. I do like the idea of having the same last name as Ian and our kids. But why do we have to use his? When he mentioned that he wants us to have the same last name, my response was "okay - you want to change your name?". The answer was a definite no. Now maybe he can understand my hesitation.

And if you know me - pressuring me to do something makes me want to run the other direction. I don't like being pressured into making a decision that is totally mine to make. So honey, if you're reading this, if you want any chance of me changing my name, better tell your family to calm down on those appalled expressions, and while you're at it, calm yourself down a bit too:)

What are your feelings? I would also like to say - I have absolutely no problem with people changing their names. In some cases, I think the new name sounds a whole lot better and the name just fits. And for those that don't care and change it - fine by me. What are you planning on doing? Is it an automatic thought process, as if you didn't have a choice? Or was it a conscience decision? And what helped you decide. Please HELP ME!

Check out Doahleigh's post and comments. She goes into a lot more detail and the comments add some excellent points!


  1. I actually just commented on Shannon's blog but I'll just recap what I said...

    I don't think people should judge you for not wanting to change your name just as I don't think people who don't change their name should quickly jump to the conclusion that the woman conceded and isn't capable of being an independent person.

    I was on the other side of the spectrum. My old last name was common and quite frankly - I just wasn't attached to it or any of my family history.

    Had I earned a master's or PhD or even established myself under my maiden name I probably would have kept it. But like you said - I felt that it was just a name.

  2. I know how you feel...My husband didn't care however if I wanted to keep my last name, because he said that he didnt want to have to change his so I shouldn't be forced to change mine. Many of my friends who at first wanted to and did change their names now miss it and wish they hadn't. I guess it is a personal decision as to what works best for you.

  3. You should make the right decision for you and your family, but I also kind of think you should stick to your guns. It's pretty clear you don't want to change your name, so unless a really good reason comes up, why do it?

    Thanks for sharing this!

  4. Oy, this was a really tough one for me. My maiden name is Sloan. Short and sweet and Irish. I was an athlete all through high school and college, and is common with athletes, was known by my last name.
    My husband's last name is Dornblaser. Long and ugly and so very German sounding!
    I did change my last name, but dropped my middle name and took Sloan as my new middle name. Have I suffered an identity crisis? Honestly, yes, yes I have. I hate my new last name, even though I share it with my hubby. No one ever pronounces it right and it's just so darn long and unusual. Plus, now I miss my middle name too! (No more Katie Lyn for me!)
    So why did I change it? Well, to make things easier for one. I want to have the same last name as my kids. Two, it was very important to Jon, just as it sounds like it is to your husband. My usually modern, forward thinking husband was old fashioned in that regard.
    I've actually considered changing it back. I've also considered using my maiden name for business purposes. So really, I guess I don't have a good answer for you. I can completely empathize with you though!

  5. I did not change my name. And I am not going to.

    When we discussed it, my husband didn't really care either way, and when I told him how much work it would be, he then swung in the "don't do it!" direction... ;)

    As for why I didn't do it - I am a (lastname), and while I love my husband's family dearly, they are my husband's family, while I came from mine. Together, we will create our own, but our family will not be either mine or his - just ours.

    Also, his last name is very ethnic of an ethnicity I don't share; with my (future) job as a doctor and the fact that I am both a woman and very young-looking (not necessarily in a good way), I was worried I would go see a patient and then get a "soo... when is the doctor coming, young nurse/trainee/candy-striper child?" after I'd finished and was leaving. Perhaps it wouldn't happen, but I'd rather not take a chance.

    However, I do plan on going by his name colloquially - such as at our kid's schools, when we have kids...

  6. not sure if you've made your decision or not, but i was in the same boat as you. my maiden name is also unique, mispronounced all the time, but i love it and am attached to it - and drew's last name is extremely common.

    it took me 9 months to make a decision, but i finally decided to keep my maiden name as my middle and use his last name. i'm still not used to it and still sign my maiden name. my advice is to take your time deciding and do what you want...after awhile, people will forget about it and stop asking :-) good luck!


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