How many men take their wife's name?

In light of this thread I thought I’d ask; How many men take their wife’s surname upon marriage? Either in hypenated with their own or abandoning their birth name? I know that in theory all a man must do is follow the same steps a women does to take her husband’s name, but how hard is it in practice? Have any Dopers done it? The Mayor of LA combined his name with his wife’s.

not sure if this counts. i took my chinese name from my wifes family. it’s the right generational name and everything. it’s what i use on my chinese official documentation (along with my English name)

It’s not quite the same steps, because the tradition of the bride taking the groom’s name is so established as to be pretty much automatic and assumed, whereas to do it the other way would require at least a bit more form-filling and explanation, I suspect.

I wanted to take my wife’s maiden surname - hers was short, nice-sounding and would have worked well with my forename; my own surname is one of those names that you have to spell for people every time you say it.

But she talked me out of it

My former husband took my last name. It took about 2 minutes of explanation at the DMV and a bit more at the Social Security office (they wanted a document with the old and new names, and in Oklahoma, the marriage license is signed with your old name and doesn’t include your new name). Fortunately, they accepted a certified transcript from our university, which included both names, as an “official state document.”

We learned from the trouble of changing it, and in our divorce we included an item that stated he would return to his birth name, which made it very easy to change back.

Not bloody likely. Having the initials D.I.P. was hardly an unmixed blessing when I was growing up, but I was certainly not changing it to D.I.M., thank you very much.

John Winston Lennon changed his middle name to “Ono.”

MrWhatsit changed his last name to mine. He had to pay a fee and go before a judge to explain why he wanted the name change, but it wasn’t a huge deal.

Sometimes in late medieval times in The Netherlands, the children or grandchildren would take the wife’s name if she came from a more important family. I’m not sure if this extended to the husband as well, though.

To the OP, when you say that Villaraigosa took his wife’s name, is ‘Villaraigosa’ a combination of two other names, or is there another name he uses that we don’t usually hear?

And while we’re at it, does the old Hispanic custom of “name1 y name2” have anything to do with taking the wife’s name?

My cite for this is Volume III of The Descendants of Cornelis Aertsen Van Schaick, print only. If you care and live in Berkeley or DC you can go to the Cal library or the LC respectively, and find them there; probably the only two copies in existence not owned by family members.

I thought that would be that the couple’s children would have both parents’ surnames. I have an acquaintance with a ___ y ____ last name where one name is Spanish and the other Jewish, just like the parents.

Now, I don’t have an appealing last name, but I’d have to love you a whole bunch to legally change my last name to “Whatsit” :wink:

Do you mind if I ask why?

Not at all! We considered either me taking his, him taking mine, keeping our own, or hyphenating. Me taking his made my inner feminist queasy (did I mention I was 20 when we married?); keeping our own was an okay idea except that we were Young And In Love and wanted to have the same name.

Hyphenating, as we both well knew, was the biggest mess ever invented, because people never know where to file it, they generally can’t hear the hyphen when listening to it, and one of the possible two ways to arrange the name was impossible to pronounce, while both ways sounded pretentious as all get-out. (Lyrical name ending in -llo, hyphen, Smith. It’s like an opera singer entering a room while catching her dress on the doorjamb and ripping it.)

So, he took mine, being a feminist in his own right and thinking that it was about time things got evened out, and we told everyone that we registered for a hyphen at the stationery store but no one got it for us.

Assuming that the OP was hoping for a factual answer as well as, or maybe instead of, anecdotes of personal experience, I went looking for the facts and found that anecdotal evidence seems to be pretty much all there is. The author of this essay (pdf) on the legal right of men to change their names on marriage addresses this question in note #11, citing various newspaper stories on the subject, one of which includes a comment from a county clerk that the practice is becoming more popular.

AFAIK, in the traditional method of dealing with Spanish surnames, a man’s second surname was not his wife’s, but his mother’s. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero’s father’s first surname is Rodríguez, and his mother’s first surname would be Zapatero.

What you may have been thinking of is the fact that often, if the father’s name is very common, a person may use their mother’s name more often: Rodríguez Zapatero, for example, or Pablo Ruiz Picasso.

“y” is used to make two names into one; it’s the equivalent of hyphenation (at least in the sense that we give children hyphenated surnames).

(Note, though, that Catalan names, unlike Castilian ones, always put “i” between the first and second surname: Jordi Pujol i Soley, for example, which is not considered to be one name.)

The tradition was for married women to replace their mother’s name by “de” + the husband’s first surname, so after Sonsoles Espinosa Diaz married José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, she would become Sonsoles Espinosa de Rodríguez (la señora de Rodríguez). I’m told that this is rare and old-fashioned nowadays, at least in Spain, and that as far as the government is concerned you keep your birth name your whole life, unless you elect to legally change it - a fairly common stance for civil law systems, such as Quebec’s.
Getting back to the main thrust of the question, in some cases in England where a man married into a noble but dwindling family that had not produced an heir, his father-in-law might require in his will that the man assume the wife’s name (hyphenated) and arms, and that the children have that name and those arms, in order to inherit.

I have a friend whose family was going to die out so she and hubby agreed to give their sons her family name as the surname.

:eek: No real man takes their wife’s name.
Besides, my name is already Smith Hutz McClure Terwilliger Bouvier Nahasipeenapevalan 537

But does he buy her tampons? :rolleyes:


With regard to** Spectre of Pithecanthropus**'s note about the man taking the wife’s name if she came from a more prominent family, I have a similar example from my own family tree, only the people in question were German. I think among the aristocracy it wasn’t unknown. I have an English example on the tip of my tongue, and I’m sure someone will come along to refresh my memory.

Among my acquaintances, I know of only one who took his wife’s name – they both hyphenated.

And may I observe in passing that it’s very handy when wife, husband, and children all have the same last name. Wish I’d realized that earlier.

When I married my now ex-wife over twenty years ago, I took her maiden name as my middle name. It was pretty easy, paperwork-wise.

I offered to take it as my last name, but she talked me out of it. My last name is short, simple, common, and begins with “A.” Hers was long, convoluted, almost unique in the US, and begins with “V.” She says it completely changed her life to suddenly have a simple last name, and jumping from the end of the alphabet to the beginning had a material impact in certain situations. When we divorced a few years ago, she said no way in hell she was changing back.

Neither did I, which my current girlfriend finds faintly annoying.