Friday, April 3, 2009

Would you/did you change your last name when you get married?

In light of some (very) modest recent "career successes" of sorts, I've been giving some—okay, obsessive—thought again as to whether or not I will change my name when Mr. Spaniel and I get married. I don't have any major accomplishments under my current name (no articles published, no professional reputation), so that's not entirely the issue, but to be honest, I am very torn.

I shouldn't be, though. I never intended to change my last name. I was born with this name, I'm proud of it, and I see no reason why marriage should change that. Yeah, it might be difficult for people who are unfamiliar with it to pronounce when they see it written, and it's been slaughtered in numerous ways, but it's mine and it always has been.

But Mr. Spaniel really wants me to. I've joked with him that I'll change my name if he changes his, or that I'll hyphenate if he does, but I know that it bothers him on some level, and while it bothers me that it bothers him, it also just bothers me, too. (Tricky!) It makes me a little uncomfortable to think that I won't share a name with my family. (I don't want to hyphenate any kids' names because both of our last names are long and it would be annoying.)

So the conflict here is: I don't really want to change my last name, but he really wants me to, so now I kind of want to. But I kind of feel a little bit of feminist resentment about it. And I'm not sure what I'm going to do now.


  1. I'd actually really like to change my name (maybe do a first maiden newlast and use all 3 all the time). I appreciate the reasons not to, but am totally enamored with the idea of a family sharing one name. And BF's name is more important to him than mine is to me (esp because I don't really like the side of the family that mine came from). On the other hand, BF's last name & my first name sound sort of ... grossly singsongy. And they would be hella long. And my last name sounds good with my first name.

    Also, there is an uncomfortable reality that I might face if I change my name, because BF's name is very clearly of non-white origin. This gets to be tricky territory for me, because I recognize that I have so much white privilege that I should be able to give some of it up, and on the other hand I feel squirmy about actively doing something that might put me in a different position, for lack of a better word.

    Hmm, this doesn't really give you any assvice as asked for in the post title. Good luck ;)

  2. That is really interesting... D and I have an opposite issue where my name is the ethnic one, and his is relatively vanilla. People mispronounce mine all the time and ask me rude questions about my background (well, rude because they are questions from strangers about my background at all) in inappropriate settings (like job interviews) which I will be happy to STOP experiencing if I change my name to one that is obviously a married name (people may wonder, but I doubt they'd ask the first time they meet me where I'm from). So I would be adding some convenience to my life if I change it... but that feels like a cop-out :)

  3. That brings up another point thought that you may or may not want to consider. Even as well-accepted as our interracial relationships are now as compared to 50, 30, 10 years ago, I think there are still some underlying assumptions that people make about couples and people who "look like they go together." Of course people shouldn't have these preconceptions about what a family looks like, but they do. I wonder if there is more external acceptance of an interracial couple who shares a last name. That makes me squirmy too though because if people don't accept the legitimacy of your relationship they can go fuck themselves.

  4. Hi there. Wonderful blog here. I just wanted to say that I share the same doubts on changing names in the face of my upcoming marriage.
    When I was younger, I had always thought that I would change my last name and take on my husband's. Of course, I had made this clear to my fiance previously as well. But, now, as the date is coming closer, I am starting to feel a little sad with having to relinquish my maiden name. I am very proud of my last name and know that I am currently the only one in the US with this name (first and last combo). Meanwhile, his surname is extremely common.
    I tried broaching the subject with him to see if it would be alright if I kept my name, but it upset him. I suppose I will take his name in the end, but I ask "what's in a name?" :)


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