Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Should I take my husband's name?

Dear ESB,

Did you take H's last name when you got married? I'm batting the idea around but the modern I-can-take-care-of-my-own-damn-self woman in me is cringing at the thought (and the paperwork!).

Here's the thing though, my parents are divorced and my father is remarried so there's a Mrs. My Last Name that's not my mother. I'm not crazy about my step-mom (probably because she is crazy) and after the remarriage my dad and I have had on-again-off-again relationship. So keep my last name and all that is associated with it? Hyphenate it (ugh) or have both last names? Or change it and be done with it? I guess I could always drop the last name and only go by my first name but I can foresee problems with TSA.

I'm not hell bent on having kids but if I did get knocked up I would want them to have my fiance's last name (which is very German and has six consonant in a row).

Any advice from you or your lovely readers would be much appreciated.


I did not take H's name. Didn't even consider it. Frankly, it amazes me that so many women continue to buy into such a neolithic tradition.

It's YOUR NAME. Who gives a shit if your dad and your stepmom are using it too?

As far as kids go, I will tell you this: I grew up with a different last name from my mom and it mattered not one bit. She's still my mom.

(Correction: *Raquel Zimmerman* photographed by Ezra Petronio. Get it together, self service magazine.)


  1. Meg at A Practical Wedding has some good discussions on name changing.

  2. if we don't buy into a few neolithic traditions now and then, we won't have any traditions left. and that, in my opinion, would be way sadder than having a simple "the dude family" return-address sticker.

  3. off-topic: is that really carmen kass?

  4. i think it's hilarious when women turn naming into a feminist thing. seriously, names are driven by a patriarchy. get over it. the question for me was 1) whether or not i had any attachment to my name, and 2) whether i wanted to have the same name as my parents, or the same name as my children. as it turned out, i changed my name legally just hours before i went into labor with my son (and years after i got married), but i have yet to change it professionally. there are times when i like using my husband's and son's name (usually at the dr or school), but other times (like with work) that it doesn't make sense. it doesn't have to be a black or white thing.

  5. Damn. I have a lengthy discussion post about this in draft form, but I figured I needed to inform his folks before I tell the world. But you always get right to the point. Agree, 100%.

  6. I don't think having a hyphenated last name is something to be described as "ugh." Having a mother who didn't take her husband's name when they wed, resulted with me & my sister having two last names. I've embraced my hyphen, so when I got married, it never occurred to me that I was "supposed" to take my husband's name, and drop my identity. I just decided to meet somewhere in the middle, and added his last name onto my already long last name. So now, I'm the girl with three last names. It's pretty fun, actually.

  7. I have friends who have changed their last name and friends who haven't. For some of them it was a career type choice. They were in the television industry and their name was just starting to get known around a few places so they didn't change it. So career might be something to think about in regards to this.

    I'm going to change my name, but I do feel a bit of sadness with parting with my family name. It's been a part of me for so long and I have such great memories of it. But a comforting thought is that I will always have that last name. Legally, it's on my birth certificate and no one can take it away from me.

    I'm not changing my name because I have to, or because my mom did, or because it's the proper thing to do. I'm doing it because I love being called Mrs. ________ . Plus my first name sounds awesome with it.

  8. I've always maintained it's all about aesthetics. Would I totally drop my last name? No. Then again, I had a great relationship with my dad, and dig my family. Would I add a guy's name on the end? Sure, if I liked the way it sounded all in a row.

    I have friends who kept their individual names, but their kids names are (Boy) and (Girl) (Dad's Name) (Mom's Name). Not hyphenated, so they'll generally end up with their mom's last name on airline tix, etc.

    Another couple I know both legally changed their names to (Man's Name)-(Woman's Name).

    Still another couple I know both legally changed their name to a mashup of their individual last names.

    That aside, I was recently shocked when one of my closest friends dropped her last name entirely and took her husband's name... but can't argue that it has a superior mellifluousness.

  9. when it came time to fill out the marriage license, i thought "i like both our last names!" and am uberindecisive and can't really think of me without having my birth surname, so i hyphenated. i guess i'm too much of a procrastinator and not enough of a feminist to care. although, if he made it a dealbreaker (which apparently still happens, from what i hear), i would have been completely against changing my name. what kind of draconian jerkface makes that an ultimatum these days anyway?

    on the other topic, my husband has always used his dad's last name (divorced parents), which was different from his mom's and yeah, it didn't even matter.

  10. Legally changing your name is no more neolithic than legally getting married. It is a completely personal decision. Unlike wrong choices in fashion and etiquette when ESB is always right, this issue doesn't have a definitive answer. What do YOU WANT to do?

    I personally didn't want to change my name but I am over the moon excited that my wife is taking my name.

  11. Its a word, so like all other words, use the ones you like, don't use the ones you don't like, and then go have an ice cream

  12. I agree with @abicyclebuiltfortwo

    Do what makes you happy.

    This whole train of thought about how taking "his" name is submissive/ not feminist etc. is so off base and unfair. You aren't more or less of a feminist because of your name. Your actions are what makes you, so take the name you want and be happy with your decision.

    Oh, and as for the whole "I'm a feminist bc I kept my name" thing: you were born with was most likely your father's. Wouldn't it "more" feminist to decide to take on a new name (hyphenated, new name all together or whatever) than to hold on to your dad's?

  13. I'm changing my last name to his, and dropping the family name altogether. I asked my parents to see if they were okay with this, and they are happy with it. They gave me my first and middle name, so to me and to them those are the ones that matter. Taking on my husband's last name includes his family in my name too, which makes me really happy.

    That being said, it's been a drawn-out, pain in the butt work in progress changing my name, since I'm going to school outside the country and can't exactly mail my passport all over the place. but it's happening.

  14. My name changed when I was THIRTEEN and my awful stepfather legally adopted my sister and I. So I feel no connection to my current last name. How is taking the last name of the person I CHOOSE to spend my life with any more neolithic than having the last name of a father, step, bio, or otherwise? I agree that it's all about personal preference, emotional or aesthetic. I for one am excited to have a really meaningful last name of my choosing, free of negative associations.

  15. I third @abicyclebuiltfortwo

    I changed my last name but I felt like it was a good move for me. I had one of those hard to pronounce German names. I loved my old last name but my father is deceased and I have lots of females in my family, so no one in my family except my brother has that name anymore so its not like I have bunches of family connections to it.

    Now that I have my own photography studio I am glad that I have a simpler last name. Though I still have people that think my last name is Sox or Box which is super annoying.

    Do what you want to do. If you love his last name take it. If changing your name doesn't feel right then don't be pressured into it.

  16. I agree and grew up the only one in my family with a different last name, why the hell would I change it now, seriously?

  17. My thinking is which last name allows me to go faster when I have to do things in alphabetical order

  18. I think this decision should be about aesthetics and how you view your name. I love the idea of a mashup of the two original names for a new family name. But on the other hand, I identify really strongly with my alliterative & pretty name (which my parents gave me with the hopes that I would NOT take a husband's name), so there will be no changing it. Especially since it already drives me nuts that people constantly mispronounce my FH's ends-in-stein last name, and it's not even my name!

  19. "because it is my name. because i cannot have another in my life...". i like to pull that one out whenever anyone asks me my future plans. hell, if a dude can get that bent out of shape about his name. i can too.

  20. I dropped my last name because I really dislike it. It's long and has been pronounced wrong my whole life. I have no attachment to it. Actually, my husband has a nicer last name so I traded up.
    I do miss my initials though. J.B.C had a better ring to it than J.B.A.


  21. 1) i changed my name and regretted it
    2) "maiden names" are also patriarchal, however, it's YOUR identity
    3) that's raquel zimmermann, not carmen kass

  22. I think if I considered his last name an aesthetic step up, I would take it. My FH's last name is very German sounding also.

    I don't consider it a feminist issue necessarily, since names are such a personal and SILLY thing anyway.

    I agree with others who said to just do what makes you happy/sounds best.

  23. I changed my name, but it didn't really matter to me. I could have done it either way, but Boyfriend seemed really excited when we were talking about it, so I just did it.

    Honestly, the whole name-changing thing is NOT a big deal - people make it into one, bringing up feminism and individuality and whatnot. It really comes down to what you make of it - it's not as if women are still considered "property," so why is it an issue?

    If you feel strongly about it in either direction, do what feels right. If you don't feel strongly about either, then why does it matter?

  24. DUDE. Yes. But also, I think this becomes a way bigger deal than it needs to be. I don't have the same last name as ANY of my immediate family (except my grandmother) and and it's never made me feel like I wasn't a part of the family. Or like I was less than. Your name doesn't have to signify anything if you don't want to. It's like a birth mark. It's beautiful if you think it's beautiful if you don't. But it also can be completely devoid of significance and just exist. And for some people, it's not a big deal to change a part of them that doesn't mean anything. For others it means a lot.

    But enough with the societal implications already. It just complicates a very personal choice when we get all "big picture" with it.

  25. @erin yah, I did The Crucible in high school. I always hear those lines in my head too.

  26. Ugh, quick typing. *It's beautiful if you think it's beautiful. It's not if you don't.

  27. P.S. Sometimes I use aesthetics as an excuse. I get all "Doesn't that just sound WEIRD?!" when what I really mean is "I could never imagine calling myself anything other than Eisenhart.

  28. I remember having a conversation with a (male) friend in college who was shocked at my lack of "principles" when I cited aesthetics (aural and visual) as the would-be deciding factor in to-change-or-not-to-change the name.

    I was equally shocked when he told me that his aspiring-politician and also vegetarian self would eat meat if it were served at a political function at which he hoped to curry favor.

    We did not get married.

    That said, when I got married ten years later I had no intention of changing my name, aesthetics be damned. You'll know what to do when the time comes.

  29. Yes yes, bicycle.

    Also, I happen to feel that being a feminist is an ever evolving process. rejecting taking on a new name or forcing yourself to work a soul draining job instead of taking care of your kids to keep your reputation as an 'independent woman' is silly.

    as long as you are fully aware of your choices and you are making them as an INDEPENDENT MIND and not 'because that's what women do' that's what makes you a feminist.

    p.s. i added my madien name to my middle name, so I have two middle names. my middle name that I was born with (lynn) and my maiden name (anderson) and my legal last name is my husbands name. this way our future family will all be 'the andersons' i still identify with my maiden name and don't have to 'lose' it forever. if prince can be a single name, you can have two middle names. (or three last names or whatever feels right to you.)

  30. just take the Phoebe route from Friends. Mr and Mrs Bananahammock has a nice ring to it

  31. another thought: Mrs. His-last-name is actually an old-fashioned social title, so I think it's possible to be both Mrs. His-last-name AND Dr. My-last-name (well, not till I get my Ph.D., but you get the point) without changing your name. Personally, I think I'll enjoy being called Mrs. His-last-name by our prospective children's friends.

  32. Word. I took my husband's last name and HELLO. Huge waste of time, major inconvenience, and surprisingly confusing for the vast majority of assholes out there. Don't bother!!

  33. Ladies, we have the choice. As long as we make OUR OWN DECISION, who cares?

    I personally believe that a woman who makes a conscious choice and changes her name is more of a feminist that a woman who keeps her name just because she doesn't want to deal with the paperwork.

  34. @cats:

    women get to chose their name these days specifically because a bunch of women already made it a "feminist thing"

  35. At what point are we going to stop with the feminist BS.

    Really?? You are getting married - give me a break - and get off the damn pedestal. Oh it's not neolithic to get married... (enter lame financial/medical excuse here). You are getting married because for whatever reason you want to tie yourself to one man. That's not a jump, but taking his name is?

    I love this blog (for the fashion advice), but I get so sick and tired of the emasculation. It's hypocritical.

    It's a personal choice. Taking his name doesn't set the woman's movement back, refusing to take his name doesn't make you a feminazi.

    In my personal opinion, there is no reason to get married if you find the idea of sharing your last name with your husband to be a burden to your femininity. That being said - perhaps he can take your last name, but sharing a last name is a fundamental part of the family unit, which is the whole reason to get married in the first place.

  36. I don't think "sharing a last name is a fundamental part of the family unit, which is the whole reason to get married in the first place." Do what bicycle said: what ever you want. I don't want to change it because it's one Mexican last name that actually isn't mispronounced every day. My friend's was though, so she changed it to her husband's (which was an anglo last name and soooo much easier for the general public to pronounce).

  37. I think that the whole bit about "sharing a last name is a fundamental part of the family unit, which is the whole reason to get married in the first place" is kind of crock. But that is because I'm assuming that to you, family = man + woman + 2.5 babies. Which, to me, is so much more. And clearly, ESB & her husband are a family, and yet do not share anything when it comes to names. In fact, I have two last names because I didn't want to lose myself.

    Which, I would raise to Cat, who tells us to get over the fact that patriarchy runs naming: that's the problem with patriarchy in the first place, particularly with marriage. Marriage through patriarchy has become this burdensome thing, where authors *ahem* accuse something simple and wonderful as causing women to scrape bare the walls of their souls. To say to people who are sick of losing themselves in that mucky institution to get over it usually just makes the bitterness worse. And we wonder why women who fret about their last names and then identify as being feminist are frustrated.

    The roots of this are deep and old.

  38. i don't think name changing is as much of a feminist issue as people make it out to be...i, personally, have always hated my last name...i don't share it with anyone in my family anymore and it does sit better in my stomach to have the same last name as any little peanuts we would have someday.

    i guess i also feel like it shows full commitment...i'm not sure why, it's the one part of me that's traditional...

    i don't care one way or the other what other people do in this arena, i will say i think it's the most completely personal decision you'll make during the planning process...so sit on it...and sit on it..and sit on it...and when you make a decision, don't be afraid to go back on it if it doesn't sit well after the fact.

  39. changing your name is a personal choice. no one cares whether or not you do it but you and your partner.

    there's no reason to judge those who do and to judge those who don't. do what feels right for you.

    personally, i am choosing to take my partner's last name because i have no relationship with my father, and yet i bear his name.

    that's the beauty of feminism. it's all about choice.

  40. There are so many *real* feminist issues that we should spend time and effort discussing and get over the whole name changing thing. There are a zillion ways to do it right; whatever you choose will be right for you. If you have doubts, I say wait. There is no rule that you have to decide the instant you get married; you can change (or add to) your name at any time.

  41. I was in a similar situation when I got married. My mother died when I was really young and my father remarried my evil stepmother, who became the Mrs. X. So when we were talking about name changes before getting married, it was hardly a discussion. I love my husband and adore his family, so I had no problems taking his name, and you know what? It felt really truly liberating.

  42. fuck changing your last name! it is sexist. it is bullshit. obviously you are free to do what you want but it bugs the shit out of me when my friend's husbands get pissed when their wife's don't choose to change their names. and it pisses me off even more when women get so excited to change their last name and get those stupid tank tops that say mrs. whatever the name is.
    my mother made my middle name her last name and that worked out just fine for me.

  43. it is a feminist concern. obviously not the most important battle. but come on, how often does a guy even CONSIDER making a change. that is sexist. period.

  44. I've made him take my name too. It seemed only fair.

    I am not sure what we would have done if the names did not mesh quite so well.

    For me, it is about us starting our own family (I have no idea if that will include children).

    A joint decision for a life together.

  45. I have a strong feeling that some of the people commenting have never heard of couverture. Dropping your surname to take your husband's is CLEARLY a feminist issue. And if the 'small' issues are dismissed as being a crock of shit, how will bigger issues ever get a look in?

    That said, hurrah for choice. And personally, the broodier I get, the more I countenance the mad idea of adding his surname to mine. (I'm such a fucking hypocrite and I know it.) But until equal numbers of men consider dropping their surmanes to take those of their wives, it will remain a pretty medieval thing for women to rush en masse to do.

  46. To see why this is a feminist issue (and a genuine issue) look at how many people have commented that they want to take their husbands name so they have the same name as their future kids. Because of course their kids would take their husbands name automatically not theirs, even if both partners were keeping the names they were born with.
    No man ever said, ' I'm taking my wife's name because I want to make sure I have the same name as my children'!

  47. I was/am very attached to my last name and my husbands name is weird. So we took each others to share the pain and we are both hyphenated.
    Would I do it again - no way!! I have to spell it every-time and I see the fear in peoples eyes as they try to pronounce it....its a giant pain in the backside!! If I'm booking a table etc I just use my name as its easier and he does the same but using his weird name.
    We don't have any kids but the cats are registered at the vets with our hyphenated name!!!

  48. Let's add the context here, for The Crucible. It wasn't just about HIM and his name. It was about his children, who had his last name; his children, who would have to suffer the humiliation of having a father who took part in witchcraft. It was a time (obviously fictional, but still representative) where no one had a choice over what name they had, or the name that their children would have.

    If anything, I think it's liberating to be able to choose.

    Yes, literally, he says, "Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life!" Bumper-sticker, drive-by philosophy worthy. But in context, it doesn't really add to the argument. Still love your irreverence, ESB.

  49. I have been thinking about this a lot lately and have decided not to change my name. It is so much more of a sentimental/aesthetic decision for me than it is a feminist one. My mom took my dad's last name because it was more romantic and exotic than hers- which is a lot of why I want to keep it now! If you love your last name keep it, don't make it about rebellion.

    My plan is to revisit if/when I decide to have kids. I see no reason to worry about it now.

  50. This issue is a private issue- it's completely up to you and your husband. Everyone else commenting here has they're reasns for doing things how they did it, but you need to figure out what works for YOU. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.

    I'm Italian and come from a family that is REALLY PROUD of being Italian and we (jokingly, but also seriously) tend to assume that everyone else around us wishes they were Italian too (when they see how awesome we are) and it's our duty to enlighten our friends to the wonderful world of Italianism. My father's last name is very Italian (goes without saying...) and so when I got engaged to my Swedish-Norwegian husband (my family loves him, despite his "cultural defecits") my father congratulated him warmly, and then added, "and it's SO great to hear that you're OK with taking our last name!!" ha! funny dad.

    i took my husband's name and made my Italian name my middle name. i am proud to share a name with him, i love his last name and the history behind it, and i love that my maiden name is still a part of me as well.

    do what feels right to you.

  51. It's a tough decision, so give it lots of thought and do what's best for you.

    Bowie Bride and her husband dropped their last names and created an entirely new and meaningful last name. Pretty cool.

  52. I absolutely want to have the same last name as my husband, the sentimentalist in me really likes it as an outward reflection of our inner unity.

    I've never really identified my last name as my own, I see it as belonging to my dad, and a way in which he keeps a measure of possession over me.. to me, my names are my first and two middle names, which I'll be keeping (and likely passing along to any daughters that may appear).

    and, I adore my boyfriend's family, and love the idea of becoming a part of that family one day... so I'm all for taking his name.

    But that said, it obviously has to do with my wonderful relationship with the boy's family, and my terrible relationship with my father, so it really is all a personal choice.

    Also, while I'll be identified as Mrs S socially, it is so difficult to legally change a name in Oz, so I'll probably stay Miss O on my licence/passport/etc.. but that won't make me any less Mrs S

  53. To summarize: Yes to thoughtfullness, yes to personally significant choice. Yes also to the persistence of BRALESSNESS.

    Just saying. You went and pointed it out, and now it's all I see here...

  54. i'm surprised people still put so much thought into this. either way, it's just not that big of a deal. i don't think of my name as my identity AT ALL. i was adopted by my stepdad (without my consent) when i was 7 and as a result, my name was changed. if there's anything i learned from that is that that name, or any name for that matter, doesn't make me who i am. i've never felt attachments to my "new" maiden last name, nor do i to my "old" maiden last name because i'm so far removed from it at this point. i changed my name because for once in my life i wanted to feel like i had the right to make that choice. i know people who don't change their names simply because they don't like the sound of their future partner's last names. it's your prerogative, really, and it's a decision that only YOU know the right answer to. what others have done, or why they've done it shouldn't be a factor in what you ultimately do. if you need more time to think about it, well, you have your whole marriage to decide. and if it's the paperwork that's freaking you out... welcome to adulthood.

  55. If you aren't positive you want to change it, don't do it just yet. You can always do it later. Yeah, there are pains associated with doing it later too, but at least it gives you more time and experience to be sure about your decision.

  56. My husband changed his middle name to my last name, so we both have each others' last names in our legal name. So yeah, some men do think about name changing - esp in CA, where it's as easy for men to change their names as women. Our children will have my last name as their middle name as well. It's just a freaking NAME. I can see how the older generation sees it as some huge feminist issue, but growing up in the liberal SF Bay I was surrounded by families with every variation of last names (both names hyphenated, names combined, completely new last names, etc) that I truly see it as a personal choice, not something ruled by patriarchy.

  57. I don't think there's anything wrong with thinking of your name as part of your identity. I'm sure I'd get used to it eventually, but Mrs. Hislastname is not me, it's my mother-in-law. I chose to keep my name, but frankly I have a way bigger issue with being called Mrs. than what follows that title. So I'm Ms. Mylastname (thank GOODNESS no one calls me Miss anymore, which always felt so patronizing), but if I had decided to change my name, add his name, hyphenate, etc, I think I'd still want to go by Ms. Newlastname. Whatever you decide, own your decision, and if it doesn't feel right, it's not permanent. (See A Practical Wedding for this discussion.)

  58. not sure what your relationship is like with your mom, but you could always take her maiden name as your own last name. that's what i did when my 'rents got divorced a few years ago. i'm not close with my dad and wanted to share the same name with my mom. and i'm definitely keeping that name forever-- going through all that paperwork and sitting at the ss office for half a day is not something i'm willing to deal with again!

  59. I second Bianca and agirl.

    Feminism is important and small issues are just as important as big issues. The fact that we have choice now is phenomenal. Our Grandmothers didn't. And most women in the world don't have that choice and are still considered male 'property'.

    Personally my children (when they eventually pop out) will have a third made-up name - maybe a mash-up. I've already changed my last name for my own pleasure. Both my parents changed their last names to their own middle names. My brother is an artist with just a first name. BE Creative!!!

    Also, I LOVE names I find them fascinating and meaningful and beautiful, and of course they affect who you are - just the sound of a name can conjure up feelings and images. So I've always held thoughtful naming dear to me.

    P.s. I also second Bananahammock :)

  60. I'm just going to put this out there -- anyone who makes use of the word "feminazi" (invented by Rush Limbaugh, I believe) unironically in a sentence will never, ever get taken seriously by me.

  61. do what feels right.
    and nothing is permanent.

  62. Dear lord, the name change isssue AGAIN?

    I agree with bicycle on all points: The point is, we finally have a choice. Let's not judge how other women excercize the right to choose.

    My personal take:
    - I kept my last name (inherited from my father).
    - My husband kept his last name (inherited from his father).
    - We both have had our fathers' last names our whole lives... ergo, they are just as much "our" last names as they are "our fathers'".
    - His last name is Cooper. Hilariously, our (hypothetical) kids will be mini-Coopers.

    In our circle of peeps:
    - This one guy changed his name (Oldenberger) to match his new wife's (Wire). To which I say, EXCELENT CHOICE, GOOD SIR.
    - Most married women with high-level credentials and careers have kept their own names... at least professionally.
    - The other married women are split 50/50 re. name change.
    - Two of the stauchest feminists I know -- women who you do NOT want to fuck with, FER REALS -- have changed their last names to match their husbands'.

  63. Yay conversation! ESB, love you and your blog. The cool thing? It's our choice. one thing I've taken from APW is that I don't have to choose this second.

    He's not getting his panties in a bunch, why should I? It's also not time sensitive.

    And I can change it to whatever I want. The kid naming, that's another bridge, and he does NOT automatically get dibs on last name.

  64. The personal *is* political, or have we forgotten?

  65. I'm kind of old school so I told my husband I would take his last name and he said of course. I was like What? What do you mean of course? Its not a given!
    I like his last name. We share the same heritage which makes it less jarring to change my name to his. So anyway, I explained to him that I would not change my name if his was something awful and if that were the case he could change to mine. He really didn't seem to get it till we were watching baseball and this guy came on the screen...

    Yeah, I would not take that dude's last name. My husband understood and said under those circumstances he would gladly take my last name.

    p.s. I googled "Seattle Fister"

  66. To ESB's point about mothers - my mom did not change her name (despite having a shitty name), and I had my father's name, and I was always proud that my mom had a different name. It was a symbol to me of her independence and professional accomplishment.

    Also, my Italian host-mother, like all Italian women, happily considered herself a part of the Hislastname Famiglia, but as an individual insisted upon her maiden name. I like that, too.

  67. I typed out a whole long comment and blogger ate it. The gist of what I said was this:

    We are lucky to have a choice and it is important. But it is also personal. Our choices are based on a myriad factors and may even lead to opposing decisions but we (as women - and I am generalising/not suggesting that ESB or commenters are guilty of this necessarily) often confuse our right choice with everyone else's choice must be wrong. Surely that's as bad as forcing all women to do the same thing.

  68. My last name before I get married is the 4th most common last name in Norway, so it's not something special I need to hold on to. It's hard for Americans to pronounce, so I always have people misspelling my name. Taking his last name comes very natural for me, I've never even thought about it twice, and I will be happy to start using my new last name as soon as we're married:)

  69. it's a choice. i'm not being married off, i'm CHOOSING to get married. and so, i can do whatever i want. my husband-to-be said he doesn't care what I want to do, so I don't have to deal with that. shows I made the right choice with one thing....

  70. As someone who has spent more years than I intended in customer service hell, it's great when somebody calls in and says "My name is Lisa Jones Hyphen Hyperbitch" and I get to spend the next 25 mins trying to find them in the system... computers don't like hyphens. Inevitably the dumb ass co-worker who entered them in has them as just Lisa Jones or Lisa Hyperbitch or Lisa Joneshyperbitch.

    "This is taking f*cking too long!!!! Why can't you search by my social!!!???" We aren't legally allowed to collect SSN#s.

    Do yourself and generations of future call center slaves a favor and just pick one name. Whatever it is.

    My maiden name is the one my mom and dad chose for me. I didn't get a say in that. My married name is the one I get to pick for myself (by picking the guy). Vry. empowering I must say. I feel the power radiating all through me from my head to my vagina.

  71. well, my parents gave me a hyphenated name... too bad they didn't know this automatically makes me a Hyperbitch.

    I think we should all just chill on judging other peoples choices and mind our own fucking business and do what makes us happy.

  72. Hi it's me, the woman who's on the fence with changing her last name. I wanted to thank ESB for posting my question and for everyone's comments.

    Additionally, I feel like I should share some more info for those of you who suggested hyphenating or choosing the most aesthetically sounding name. My last name is Mean (no it's not pronounced that way but that's how everyone pronounces it) and his last name ends in "lschke" (again, an impossible to pronounce last name). It's a lose-lose battle and my future sister-in-law (who is now another ESB convert) thinks I shouldn't change my last name because being a Mean is cooler than being an "lschke." :)

    Suffice to say I think I'm going to take the advice of @walshe44, whether it's 6 months or 10 years from now I'll know what to do when the time comes.

  73. I have to go with those who said "it IS a feminist issue, and deal with it." Because it IS. Nowhere is there a blog full of dudes having this discussion because never, except in a few post-hippie, post-modern, extra-special super-sensitivo circles, do men even CONSIDER changing their names. And the reasons for THAT are mos-def a feminist issue. The fact that chicks wrestle with this says a lot.
    I am lucky because Mr. Eli has such a **** awful last name that there is no way i would take it, and it's actually too awful to hyphenate. People actually say to me "You're not going to take that name, are you?" I am REALLY glad that it's viewed as an option. what to do about the kids.....that will be a fight, but only to protect them ;-)

  74. I did not take my husband's name and kept my name that I've owned for the previous 29 years for many reasons...career, aesthetic, sentimental reasons. All of the above, but basically it's mine, and I love it. I'm really comfortable with that decision but some people are not...even in my own family. It is false to think that you will not be judged. But really, who gives a shit.

    My own aunt called me after receiving my Christmas card and told me that she thought it was more appropriate that I write Mrs. His-last-name even though I didn't make the change official. Ha, ha! Maybe she'll get it after a couple more years of Christmas cards.

  75. As a feminist who has my feminist mom's last name (and, yes, my parents are married, over 30 years now!), I think you should definitely do whatever makes you happy. I actually was surprised when I discovered that women are still taking their husbands' names, but now I can totally see the neatness of one family name. (Not that I took my husband's last name, even though it's badass; I'm the only kid & grandkid, so I feel a responsibility to carry on MY family's name. Also, it would just feel really weird to me.) Anyway, it is most certainly a feminist issue, but I don't think it makes you less of a feminist at all if you'd rather take his name, especially given that there's some strain with your dad and step-mom.
    My point is, as a 2nd generation feminist, I want to give my blessing to you whichever decision you make. I totally believe in following your feelings.

    Also, hear-hear Accordiansandlace and Cara. Yep.

    Oh, and also, not a problem for me that my Dad's last name is one of my middles instead of my last name. As a kid I thought it was really cool that we were different from the stereotype.

  76. OMG! i can't believe i typed "they're" instead of "their". I know the difference I swear on my Roman Catholic nonna's tomb.

  77. My husband was totally fine when I told him I was keeping my natal name. (BTW, it's not my "maiden" name. It's my "natal" name). Then when I suggested that our children would not automatically have HIS last name and we'd have to figure out a solution, my totally supportive, otherwise feminist husband flipped.

    Our names totally don't go well together with a hyphen, so it's not like we can use that as an out. My name is the easier to spell, easier to pronounce, easier to live with name, so all of those reasons some ladies use to justify the still-easier choice to take/use his name just don't work for me.

  78. Okay so I guess the only way to reeeally avoid the whole patriarchal thing is to take your mother's first name as your last name? This whole idea is getting really complicated. What the heck does the GLBT community do? Those folks are riding out on a whole new frontier.

    I'm keeping my last name because it's a great name and I can't imagine being called anything else. It has nothing to do with my Dad or my HTB, though his name is hard to spell so when I told him he said "I don't blame you".

    Honestly I think he might take my name if whole generations of his family hadn't been wiped out by Nazis in WWII and he's one of the few people who still has it. So if we have kids they'll have his name too because of that same reason.

    My hairdresser had the nice easy last name "Jones" and kept it when she got married. Years later her husband was going through a hard time changing careers and she decided to take his name as a gift to him. It was her way of saying she believed in him and stood by him at a time when he was struggling. That is the best reason I've heard of to take someone's name -out of love and because you choose to not because you're supposed to.

    Yep, we're lucky to have that choice but what's a choice if you can't go either way?