Husbands taking their wives' names: A poll

I am male. My last name by birth was an ugly one. I swore that I would take my wife’s name upon marriage. The day came to talk about this to my fiancee. She was “traditional” and was very uncomfortable with the man taking the woman’s name. She wanted my last name. AACK!

So, I went to court and had my last name changed to another name that has family history to it. Now, she could take my name and all would be good.

However, we broke up and I still have the “new” name, which is ok by me.

Later, I married someone else and she kept her own name and I kept mine. No biggie either way.

If you do not like your future spouse’s name and he wants to keep his name, then change your name in court just before marriage and stick with it,.

Oh, well that’s ok then. I mean, some of my best friends are hippies–I just think they should be appropriately ashamed of it, is all.

My son has my last name, so we have Mama Jones, Baby Jones, and Papa Smith.

I thought it would be confusing, but worth it. In fact, it isn’t confusing at all. Sometimes my husband is incorrectly called “Mr. Jones” because he is Baby Jones’s father, but that’s easily rectified.

It’s no big deal. If anyone is thinking about going some other route besides wife and children taking dad’s name but fears the resulting confusion, take it from me: there won’t be much.

I had assumed that my wife would keep her own name when we married, but she chose to take mine. I asked why, and her response was interesting. She said that whatever she did, she would have a man’s name - either mine or her father’s. She has a few issues with her father. So that’s one reason why a woman might take her husband’s name.

In earlier discussions, I had offered to take her name, but that would have given me exactly the same name as her father and grandfather (her father’s first name is Paul, like mine.)

We thought about another name, but in the end concluded that it was all just too much trouble, and that we were the same people whatever names we used.

Hmmm…'im indoors is John Smith. Luckily he has a middle name so that people can tell between him and his father, John Smith.

My husband wanted us to combine our last names into a new name when we married. I objected because the resulting name sounded like a place where hobbits live. However, it was important to me that we have the same last name, so I took his.

RedRosesForMe, if your husband will go for it, I say that picking a new last name for both you is a fine idea. I’ve had friends do it, and it didn’t sem to be that difficult. I will agree with other posters who say that it’s not fair to pressure him, though.

I like my name a lot. It reflects my ethnicity and has a cool meaning, so I kept it when I married. (I’m female.) It also made things easier when we divorced some years later. [wry grin]

A cousin created a new last name for herself based on her father’s first name, which turned into a very common British-sounding name, and got rid of the unpronouncable-to-English-speakers ethnic name she disliked.

Legal name changes can be expensive. A friend did not change her name on the occasion of her second marriage. Ten years later, her husband revealed how unhappy he was because her last name was that of her first husband. (She didn’t think of it it that way – it was a nice, British-Isles sort of name, as her maiden name was yet another German name with an unpleasant meaning in English) She looked into changing it. For a woman to change it at the time of marriage costs nothing, but changing it ten years later is a different story. I think she told me it would have cost several hundred dollars to get all her documents legally changed.

At one time, the child’s name issue would have been big, but nowadays, with all the divorces and remarriages and blended families, it seems like no biggie. But I never had children, so I don’t know.

I have “issues” with my father also, so some of my friends were surprised when I kept my name after marriage. “Why would you want to keep your father’s name?”

My reply was that it’s his name, but it’s my name too; it was given to me when I was born. It also belongs to his family, my aunts and uncles and cousins, with whom I have no problems at all, so I’m glad to identify with them. I kept it because after 23 years I had grown into it and would feel weird suddenly being “someone else.” Mr. S was fine with it, (1) because he’s never been crazy about his unusual name, and (2) because he used to date someone with my first name, and he didn’t want people thinking he’d married her!

It isn’t - unless you choose to make it a biggie.

Having non-matching names means that you’ll have to live with Christmas cards and wedding invites being addressed wrong, that the teacher will occationally call you by your kid’s last name instead of yours, that you might choose two listings in the phone book so people can find everyone in the family. You can make these things into “world ending issues” (oh, my God! Your second cousin we haven’t seen since we married five years ago misaddressed the wedding invitation, doesn’t he remember I KEPT MY NAME!!! Its your Aunt, She Never Liked Me!) or you can smile and nod and/or gently correct.

Using two last names (sans hyphen) or moving your maiden to middle can sometimes cause more complications as our forms aren’t set up for two middle names or two last names and idiots will file from the word after the final space. You learn to deal with that as well since you just say “oh, sometimes I get filed under the Bs” (Just make sure the IRS and SSA have you under the correct name and SSN).

Was the OP around when the guy referred to her as that? Because then it’s a little like ‘my neighbor’s wife…’

I’m really liking all the variation in this thread. I can understand a woman ultimately deciding to take her husband’s name if it sounds better, but it’s so odd that that’s still the default in this day and age.

I’d like to add that one of my brothers and his wife picked a mutually agreeable name after they got married, and that is working ok for them. My other brother kept his birth name and his wife took that name. So, we have three siblings with three spouses, and 4 different last names between them.

Also, I have a very lazy friend who always manages to find a way to do the least amount of work possible in any situation. He asked why I changed my last name. I told him I thought my name was ugly and always wanted to change it.

He said that if a name is significant because it’s the family name you were given at birth, then you should keep it because of its significance. If a name is insignificant because “what’s in a name?” then there’s no reason to change it. Reslut: do nothing.

My wife thought that she’d keep her name when we were married, but she ended up using her old name professionally and my name everywhere else. We joke that we considered combining our names, but didn’t want to be known as “The Mailmans”.
My wife’s family is more fluid than most, when it comes to surnames. They have four surnames for four people:[ul]
[li]Her mother uses a name that she chose for herself out of the air when her first marriage ended.[/li][li]Her step-father uses his birth name.[/li][li]Her brother uses his birth name (their birth-father’s name).[/li][li]She changed from her birth name to her former middle name when she was in college.[/ul][/li]When we started dating, my mother asked if it was “Jennifer Haas” that she had seen me with. I didn’t know yet that her step-father was named Haas, so I scoffed at the idea, thinking that she was talking about Jennifer Hawes, whom I had gone to elementary school with.

This is actually a pet peeve of mine: Women who take their husband’s name without reflecting on it at all. Because: “That’s what you do.” I get that they want to be seen as a unit, but why is it automatic that it’s the wife who gives up her name?

I’m probably influenced by the fact that my parents had to fight to give me my mother’s last name. When I was born it was customary for a child to get the father’s last name if the parents were married so my birth certificate originally read: Unbaptized girl [father’s last name]. :slight_smile: (Yes, they did write unbaptized, weirdos)

In my mind your name is part of your identity and if you really think about it and decide to change it that’s fine, but no one should try to force someone into taking a different name. So to the OP I would suggest finding a man who has the same attitude to name change as you do. :slight_smile: Personally, I might change my name if he did as well, otherwise there’s no way, and I would need my maiden name included somehow because it’s quite rare and really cool. :cool:

That’s interesting. I changed my name to my husband’s name for this reason, because I wanted our whole (future) family to share one last name. Not so much due to confusion, but just for a sense of unity I guess. I do sometimes regret changing my name, mainly because my dad passed away and my maiden name reminds me of him. (I kept my maiden name as a second middle name because of this.) I don’t feel like I gave up a sense of identity, just a token bit of history.

What really bothers me though is when people call me Mrs. NewLastName. I see no reason why people can’t refer to me as Ms. New LastName. And in another year or two, Dr. :slight_smile:

My sister, and my fiancee’s sister-in-law, had both hyphenated their maiden names and their husbands’ names upon getting married, and found it very cumbersome. When my sweetie and I got married, I said I would be very honored to have her take my last name, but it was her decision and I’d go along with whatever she decided. She gave it some thought, decided to take my last name and has never since expressed any regrets. That was 17 years ago.

I thought for about two nanoseconds about taking her last name, but since our family name would die out in our particular line unless I perpetuated it (we have three boys now, so I like our odds), we didn’t go that route. Besides which, I like my last name.

I think insisting he change his name is crossing a line because I think either one of you insisting the other one change their name is crossing a line. If you aren’t in agreement here, there is probably trouble ahead on other fronts.

It’s fine to hate the patriarchy. I’m not a big fan myself. But no sense denying its very real existence. For some guys, changing his last name is setting him up to have a genuine big family fight with dad, grandpa, brothers, maybe mom, who knows? Why force that type of family fight on someone you love? If he wants to make the stand too, then fine, but I wouldn’t force it on someone whose family has a lot of stake in the issue.

Oh boy, does THAT bring back memories. We’re American but my son was born in South Africa, where we were told that by law, if my husband was going to be on the birth certificate, our son had to take his last name. We were mightily pissed but had no choice.

So I then called the US State Department to go about changing our son’s name, since we didn’t live in the US and therefore were not a resident of any state (you are supposed to use the legal system of the state where you live to make a name change). At first, all went smoothly – it turns out that the State Dept has a well-oiled system in place for name changes of expatriate Americans, due to adoptions, divorce, etc.

It came to a screeching halt in my case, though:

Bureaucrat: So, what is your reason for changing your son’s name?
Me: Well, it was always our intention to give him my last name, but the law in South Africa forbade it.
Bureaucrat: Well, I can’t help you then. That’s not a conventional reason for changing your son’s name.

I was spitting mad about this but could do nothing.

We ended up paying a sympathetic attorney in NH (where I attended high school and where my parents were still living) to finesse an application for a name change in that state, claiming that we were actually NH residents. We actually had to appear in person - father, mother, and child - but once we did the judge gave us zero hassle.

So $800 and a whole lot of headaches later, our son had the name we intended.

I loved South Africa, but boy is that a dumb law.

And don’t get me started on Social Security. Changing his name with them was the ordeal of a lifetime. I may never recover.