It is surprising that even after the evolvement of women’s lib and all the progress that women have made in the world that so many are so easily willing to give up their last name for the sake of marriage. Most engaged women experience a few weeks or days where they contemplate retaining their name; but then because of tradition or excitement decide that changing the last name is the best thing to do! Should you keep your maiden name? The answer is a personal one and perhaps one that should take thought.
For each woman who thinks about keeping their maiden name, there are probably 5 that don’t give it any thought. If you are thinking or considering keeping your maiden name; then chances are you should continue to give it thought. Perhaps you don’t like your future spouse’s name, don’t feel like hassling with all the changes to your license, business cards or mail or perhaps your new last name is going to sound like something out of a fairy tale. ‘mary Fairy’ or ‘mary B. Goode’ are not names that you might want to be called. (And those examples are mild) Other reasons to not change your name are because your current name is somewhat professionally branded; like it is the name of your business or art studio! Even if none of those reasons seem to fit; if you are remotely thinking about maiden name retention than you should probably give it some thought before giving in. Remember, you will have this name for the rest of your life (at least hopefully)
There are definitely pros and cons to each side of this debate. Changing your maiden name is something that females think about from the time they are in kindergarten. There was always that one boy in your class and you would doodle your name combined with his over and over again on loose leaf notebook paper. it’s almost as if the name change is part of growing up and moving on and away from our family. It is a rite of passage into married life; having the facilitator introduce you as Mr. and Mrs. so and so after the ceremony! That moment is one of those things that little girls on up dream about! Also, there is a sheltering appeal to taking a man’s name. In a way it symbolizes that this man will be taking care of you, that you belong to him and that you have joined his family as a matriarchal member. If you are planning on having kids changing your last name at marriage can clear up a lot of confusion and questions down the road as well.
As for keeping your maiden name; there are benefits to that as well. By holding onto your identity you are not forced to jump through the hurdles and hoops expected of newly married women just to write a check or be able to pay an electric bill. It is also easier should the time ever come where you decide your soul mate is not quite all he was cracked up to be to retain your maiden name. Similarly, there are some families where the family name is dying out and any women feel that keeping their name is one of the only ways to end a long lived familial heritage. Perhaps the hubby to be would be so kind to consider taking your name?
One way to avoid the decision altogether is to make a compromise. Keep your first and last name and do away with your middle name. This way you ‘new’ middle name could be your old last name! How is that for confusing? As far as paperwork and headaches; changing your middle and last name is no more difficult than just changing your last name; so marriage is the optimal time to do so. Many women do this. Another option is the hyphenated name which of course retains your old name and accepts your new name. The only negative side to that is it takes much more room on a nameplate and your children will still only have one of your names.
Should you keep you maiden name? What exactly is in a name? You have spent the entirety of your life to this point being who you are, being called who you are and writing your legal name. Giving it up is like giving up a part of yourself. Ironically, marriage is often about giving up a large part of you as well. Perhaps the reason that the whole name change is crossing your mind is because you have some well deserved doubts or second thoughts about marriage altogether. You wouldn’t be the first. The one thing that you can be assured of is that no matter where you are, no matter what you are called and no matter what your name is; you are still you! By accepting the name of a man you love you are following an aged old tradition of marriage and crossing through a threshold of life, of marriage and of adulthood.