I Love My Husband, But I’m Not Changing My Last Name

name tag
Photo: Photo: Shutterstock

“So when are you going to change your name? What's wrong with our last name?" my mother-in-law asked me recently when we were on vacation. It's always great to get blindsided on the beach first thing in the morning when you're sipping a cup of coffee. Smile! I've been married for 15 months, and this wasn't the first time she's asked me. “Don't take this the wrong way," I said, “I love your last name, but I also love mine. It's part of my identity, and not taking Joe's name doesn't change anything between us." Just as I've said these things and more before, I know this won't be the last time she asks me, and I'm okay with that. We get along great, and she's entitled to her opinion. After all, I'm as strong willed as she is, and love her for it, so she can try to wear me down all she wants. I did leave the possibility open a little, though, by saying, “Maybe if and when we have a kid." I know I just invited trouble there! But I quickly shut it down for the time being by adding, “And probably not even then!" (Hey, never say never.)

When the custom is to go one way, and choose another direction, you know you're going to hear it. While I embrace many traditions, I've also never been one to run with the pack, and I have a “bring it on" philosophy. At the same time, the choice wasn't necessarily easy. I gave it a lot of thought, and in the end went with my gut, not feeling hyphenating or making my maiden name my middle name was the way to go either. (Why should I have to get rid of my full name “Christine Marie Porretta" by birth, I thought. My relatives in Italy keep their last name, as do many women around the world. Even my grandmother has said that now she wouldn't have changed her last name.) My choice was right for me and my husband (he has been fully supportive), and that's the point — it's a personal choice, and a woman who decides to change her name isn't in any way turning her back on who she is just as a woman who doesn't change her name isn't in any way not fully committed to her marriage.

I have a friend who had always said she couldn't wait to change her name when she got married because her last name was long (nine letters). She married a man whose last name was even longer — 11 letters! She still changed her name. So change it or don't — it's all good. But feel comfortable doing it, and do it for your own reasons, whatever they may be.

Other Nesties have as much to share as I do on whether they took their spouse's name:

“I couldn't wait to change my name."
--Jean Thibodeau

“I took the middle ground and added and kept my name! I am proud to be a Morris and Mulligan."
--Lisa Morris-Mulligan

“I don't agree with society's expectation for women to take their husband's last name. I would have loved to have a hyphenated family name (for both of us), but my husband was against it. I asked him if he would take my name and he said, “No, why would I do that." So I didn't take his name either.
--Marlies Helene von Gurudschistan

My biological family is very important to me, yet I did not feel compelled to keep my maiden name as my surname. I was perfectly happy (and THRILLED) to embrace the traditional route. I never thought that my identity would be “lost" if I chose to take my husband's family name. I'm not any less of an “Anderson" now that I swapped it out for my new surname, “Vollmer." Taking his name was symbolic of joining a new family (without the sentiment of abandoning the ones who influenced my genetic makeup). I also think that it meant a lot to the hubs and his family. Each couple will have their own set of unique circumstances and opinions, which I think is awesome. No one should ever feel pressured to adhere to some sort of perceived societal “norm." I'm very happy with the decision that I made , but I don't condemn others for choosing alternatives. Traditional isn't necessarily a bad thing, and I do think that there is a negative connotation associated with the term. On a side note, if you're a big fan of monogramming … there's always that chance that you might like your new monogram better than your old one. :)"
--Christie Vollmer

“I never had one ounce of desire to change my name. Reasons: I am simply not Mrs. HisLastName. That's not my name. I have professional reasons why I can't change it easily. I understand that having the same last name doesn't make you a family. We are a family regardless of our names. My mother didn't change her name. I have my father's name. It never made growing up in their family difficult or odd in any way."

“I didn't see any need to and I like my name the way it is. DH and I talked about it, it wasn't important to him and we are firmly in the child-free camp so not having the same last name as future children wasn't a consideration either."

“I did take his last name, but I made my last name my new middle name (no hyphen)."

“I took his last name for a few reasons. For one, my maiden name has always been difficult for people to pronounce. Since I have an unusual first name too, I wanted to have one “easy" name! Secondly, it was really important to my husband. I jokingly asked him what if I kept my other name and he was really sad about it, it made him feel rejected in a way, I guess. I also just like the idea of us all having the same last name, especially when we have kids. For me there was just no question about it. I didn't completely give it up though. I had no middle name before so I made my maiden name my middle name."

“I added his last name to mine with a hyphen. I am the only person in the world with my First Name + Maiden Name, which is great for my career in art. His last name is common and there are lots of women with my First Name + His Last Name. Plus, I always liked the sound of my last name. But I did want to feel like part of his family “officially," so I added it to mine. And I'm super glad that I did it this way … best of both worlds."
--nyc artist

“I loved changing my last name. It makes me feel more connected with him, and makes it seem more official that we are married. I do love my maiden name, but I wanted to show my respect for him by taking his name. Also, when we have children I don't want there to be confusion."

TELL US: Are you happy you changed or kept your last name? Or do you regret it?


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