I like to think that as far as brides go, I’m pretty easygoing. However, there is one wedding-related thing that is causing me a lot of agita. To those of you who were able to make this decision without much stress, I envy you so much. It’s one of those questions that doesn’t have one particular right answer, just a lot of choices that may or may not be right for me.
Bees, what the heck do I do with my last name? Just thinking about it makes me freak out a little.
I understand the tradition here in the U.S. is to take your husband’s last name. Frankly, the history behind the tradition makes me a little uncomfortable – I’m an independent woman, not chattel, etc. At the same time, wouldn’t it be nice if Stallion and I, as our own family unit, share a common name? I don’t know. Hence this post.
Here’s the thing: I like my name. I’ve had it for 25 years; it fits me well. It sounds good with my first name, it’s easy to spell, and people constantly call me by my last name or by my initials. I have two sisters; assuming we all get married and change our names, we have no one left to carry on the family name. I never understood how your name could feel like a part of your identity until I had to consider the possibility of giving it up.
Stallion’s last name is longer, clunkier, and harder to spell than my last name. It doesn’t flow as well with my first name. Not to mention all the headaches involved with a name change – administrative red tape, financial costs, a new signature, a new email address … you guys, the agita is starting up again.
A lot of the more modern (and frankly, awesome) last name options aren’t a good fit for us. Stallion is in academia; he’s got a pretty good publishing history, and his name carries weight in his field. So the options that I was more comfortable with, like us creating a new last name, are off the table. Whereas I am a nobody from nowhere and everyone at work knows who I am anyway, so changing my name won’t make any difference for me professionally. That said, I know plenty of successful, kickass women who changed their names, and just as many successful, kickass women who chose to keep their names.
As far as I can tell, here are my options:
- Keeping my name. Pros: requires no effort, would make me happiest (for now). Cons: the only real con to this is, down the line, things may get complicated if Stallion and I start a family – it’s important to both of us to have the same last name as any hypothetical future children. Also, given that it’s still not thaaat common to keep your name, I’d probably get the dreaded side eye from some people.
- Hyphenating. Pros: seems to be the “best of both worlds” scenario – I keep my name, plus take Stallion’s. Cons: I would have a loooooong last name.
- Keeping my name legally/going by Stallion’s name socially/some permutation of these. As an easily confused person, this will never work for me – I’ve got to go all in one way or the other.
- Taking Stallion’s name. Pros: we’d share a name, presenting us as a “team” to the outside world. I could make my maiden name my middle name to maintain the connection to my family. Cons: everything else – the idea of the tradition bugs me, and even with the maiden-name-as-middle-name compromise, I still feel like I’m giving up something important to me.
- Creating a new family name. In a perfect world, we’d do this, but like I mentioned above, this could hurt Stallion professionally, so this option is off the table. As is Stallion taking my name. Sad face.
So now I’m right back where I started at the beginning of this post – clueless and frustrated with my cluelessness.
Here’s the thing. I don’t think there is a wrong solution to this dilemma – everyone should do what feels right to them. Problem is, I don’t know what’s right for me. Thankfully, I still have some time to get it figured out.
How did you solve the name conundrum? Was it even a conundrum for you? Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? (Yes.)