Changing one’s name after marriage

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

It’s the personal marriage stories that interest me. For instance, this:

I’m annoyed at how much of an Issue this is becoming for me. As a lady, I’m not sure whether to take my partner’s last name or not when we finally do the official knot-tying thing. Do I keep mine because I know I won’t have kids, and I kind of want to keep my dad’s last name alive as long as I am? Do I take his because Tradition and because people will assume I’m not married if I don’t? Do I take his because it’s a great excuse to change your first name along with it since you’re already doing all the paperwork? Do we pick a new name? Do I try to get him to change his? I DON’T KNOW WHAT I WANT AUGH. It feels like no matter what I do, that’s commentary on something.

Keep your name? I’m picky and making a mountain out of a molehill. Take his? I’m a bad feminist. Pick something new? I’m a special snowflake who can’t make up her mind. Hyphenate? Well now I’m just burdening everyone because he has to change his name too, also it’s kind of the “cop-out” answer. Nobody will be happy with what I do no matter what.

Or this:

Ha. I’ve been married for almost 13 years, and I still have this conversation with myself regularly. I took his name partly because I didn’t have any huge emotional connection to mine, partly because his is easier to spell, and partly because I bought into the sexist myth that marriage was an achievement and I wanted to make it clear to all my peers that I’d leveled up before they did (I got married in my early 20s). I like having the same name as my husband for the simple fact that it makes life easier, but it really bothers me that I changed it for those reasons. Back then I didn’t consider how gross it would feel to have a sexist name forever (rather, a name that I only have because I had sexist ideas about my place in the world at that time).

All things being equal (of course none of the things are equal), I’d say just keep your name. What does being married have to do with being Aurora Firestorm? Why does the act of getting married have to make you Aurora Somebodyswife? The name changing thing we do is peculiar to our time and culture, it is not a universal value. You’re still you. Besides, if it’s good enough for Leslie Knope, it’s good enough for me. :)

Post external references

  1. 1