Taking Your Husband's Last Name, or, The Name Game: Paging Married Dopers.

This is something I’ve been curious about for a while. If I remember my history correctly, the origins of the female taking the male’s name in marriage has origins in women being considered “property”. Obviously, there are plenty of things with rather unsavory origins that are still worth practicing, but why is this one of them?

Married Dopers: For the women, did you take your husband’s last name? Why? If you did, did you feel torn about the decision? If you didn’t, did you receive an unusual amount of flak about it?

Are there any male Dopers who took the last name of their wife?

Any hyphenated people out there? What made this the best choice?

Thanks in advance. This topic fascinates me.

My wife did something a little unique. She was born as [first name] [middle name] [last name]. She has gone by her middle name since childhood. When we got married, she had her name legally changed to [middle name] [last name] [my last name].

fishbicycle, that’s exactly what I did. Shedding my never-used first name was a huge relief.

I angsted about the name thing for quite a while. Left Hand of Dorkness wanted us to combine our last names to form a new one, but that just didn’t appeal to me as much as it did to him. My suggestion was that we both take his mother’s very cool maiden name, which she went back to after her divorce, but he was concerned about upsetting his father.

I eventually decided to change my name because I wanted all of us (me, him, and future young’uns to have the same last name). I also wanted to do it early on in my career, so that I would have the same established professional name throughout my career. I don’t regret my decision at all.

I took my husband’s last name for two reasons: It’s easier to do, and the name is easier, too.

My maiden name is long and quite German, with lots of consonants that people are constantly unable to pronounce.

Now my name is Julie Carter.

Not as bad as my sister who is now Joan Smith, but pretty darn boring nonetheless!

My last name is very, very uncommon (around 30 people in the world) and kinda cool sounding. My wife took it because she liked it. I wouldn’t have minded in the least if she kept her own name. It was totally her decision.


I kept my name because I like it, and have always identified more with it than with my own generic first name. Furthermore, I call my husband by his last name–no one but his siblings nad parents uses his first name–and that would be weird if it were my name.

I’ve had virtually no problem with it socially, except that sometimes people are curious and every once in a while some genius will ask if my husband was ok with it–it’s a pretty silly question, since if he were the sort of person who wouldn’t be ok with it, he’d never have been my husband. In fact, as nothing intimidates him as much as paperwork, he found the idea of choosing to go through the red-tape BS part of changing my name to be ludicrous.

Now, if we are out socially and someone addresses one of us by the other’s last name, we don’t make a big deal about it unless it is relevant somehow, or the person is likely to be a long term aquaintance.

I just got married, and I’m taking my husband’s last name. This is partially because my madien name is never pronounced correctly, even though it’s only four letters long, and doesn’t sound that great even when it IS done right, and because my husband’s last name would make my initials REM. Which is my favorite band.

…yeah, I’m a dork.

I hyphenated. I agonized for months. I wanted to keep my last name because I like it and it my name, plus I didn’t want to take the same name as his family.

I caved in to pressure from my parents and him and hyphenated it. I am going to change it back as soon as I graduate. Right now I would have to change my name in the college and student aid and all sort of things. I think I will leave it until then to give myself a fresh start.

I took my husband’s last name for a couple of reasons.

  1. My birth name was too common. His is somewhat exotic. I never get my records mixed up with anyone else’s any more.

  2. I think it’s easier if everyone in the household has the same last name.

  3. What’s the difference if I share my father’s name or my husband’s?

  4. We married quite young; if I’d already had an established name in a career I’d have chosen to continue using that, at least in that context.

My husband told me that he felt it vital that a man and woman share one last name when they married to show their unity before God.

I told him that I was glad that he felt so strongly and would be taking my last name, as I was not going to change mine.

He was flattered that I would want to give him my name. He had been adopted by his step father so had changed names once already.

We are still happily married. He does get a bit of flack about it. I get a lot of curiosity about my husband having a maiden name.

My daughter has my last name. When I was pregnant he asked what her last name would be, and KellyM and I answered my last name simultaneously. I still don’t understand why he thought it could be anything else.

I took my husband’s last name, but there was a LOT of thought involved in it. My maiden name is a very unpronounceable German last name. His last name is a very unpronounceable German name. So it’s not like I could change for the ease of the new name - people mispronounce my new name more than they mispronounce my old name.

I’ve actually been toying with hyphenating it, because it actually does sound somewhat decent together. What I wanted to do was to drop my middle name and use my maiden name for my middle name, but that would give me the lovely initials of A.S.S.

I haven’t legally changed my name yet, so I can still take a little while to decide. But I do think that I may hyphenate it. I’m keeping my maiden name with my publishing - I’ve got too many letters and scripts and manuscripts out to agents right now to change my name - I’ll screw up any momentum I might have already built up.


I took my husband’s name for no good reason, just because. It is a a stupidly common name…hell it is Smith! Well I took it and added to it. I became a hyphen. I liked being a hyphen. When the child came along he was just given his dad’s name (I just felt the hyphen thing was too much of a mouth full for a kid).

My hubby passed away in 1993 and I became a Smith I never went back to my own name because I didn’t want to take the child’s name away from him or have a different name from him.

He is 13 now and recently asked why we couldn’t mingle the names. We are seriously thinking about becoming Smitherns. Well it can’t be worse then Smith.

I guess what I am saying is you either have an attachment to a name or you don’t. Change it if it feels right. Don’t if it doesn’t.

My maiden name was three letters and never pronounced right. It is one syllable. It is German.

My married name is five letters and never pronounced right. It is one syllable. And German.

I would give just about anything for a last name with two or three or twenty syllables.

I have informed Mr. Ujest that when he dies, I am changing my last name to something really interesting likeHoneyjager sounds like a pron star name :slight_smile: or Mycock, Y’know, something Fun.

I am really curious about the dopers with unpronouncable German names. Having been exposed to Germans and Poles, I have a high success pronunciation rate. If any of them would like to email, I’d love to see (hee) how hard it is. I feel so dirty.

Aw Shirley I’m all jealous now! I have a 5 letter name that can never be pronounced wrong! Smith! Smith SMITH! Ick.

I grew up with a “how do you spell that” name and became a Smith!

Want to trade?:smiley:

My wife did both. The hyphenated form goes on documents where there is enough room, and on mail to her father. My last name goes on short documents and everyday communications. :smiley:

I kept my name. It’s quite common (there were two of us at my college, including middle initial, and I think there are at least three at my OB-GYN’s office). BUt it belongs to me and I couldn’t see taking Mr. S’s name as mine, when the one I had worked just fine. He was fine with it – in fact preferred it, so people wouldn’t think he had married a previous bitch girlfriend who shared my first name.

I haven’t really gotten any flak for it. A lot of family members still address mail to us as Mr. and Mrs. Hisname, no matter what we use on our return address labels or e-mail IDs. A friend of mine insists that I am Mrs. My Name, even though I NEVER use that form. When we got married, a co-worker asked me, “So how do you DO that?” Um, you don’t do anything. That’s the beauty of it. And sometimes people think we’re just living together, until we assure them that yes, we are married with a license and everything.

Some people who know that I have as little as possible to do with my father ask me, “Why would you want to keep his name, then?” It’s his name, true, but it’s also MY name. It was given to me when I was born, and I grew into it during the 23 years before I got married. It’s also a link to his side of the family, with whom I feel I have more in common than with my mother’s side, the bigoted dolts.

Hyphenation would be a mess – 11 and 9 letters. My sister once addressed a card to us with a morphed form of our two names, 16 letters and four syllables. It’s kind of whimsical, and we sometimes use it informally (on dishes taken to potlucks, in casual conversation, etc.). I’ve registered it as a domain name and we plan to use it as a business name. No one else will have it, I guarantee!

I’m not married, but my long term boyfriend and I have discussed whether I should change my name when we get married. The main issue for me is that I am pretty obviously Chinese, and it would feel weird to take a very non-Chinese name - plus there would be a huge hassle with non-photo ID like credit cards (“hmmm … Mrs Goddard you say?”) It would get really, really annoying after awhile.

Kaye Goddard - I’d sound like a blonde, middle-aged accountant.

I’m not married, but going by some people I know who are:

My mother and father, being that they were married in the 70’s, did the traditional woman takes the man’s name. However, my mom also dropepd her middle name and mde her maiden name her middle name, and even signs her name as such.

My sister when she got married went to a hyphenated last name. However, she’s a teacher, and to make it easier for her students, they just call her by her husband’s last name. She prefers this with them, because before she was married, about 1% of her students could ever pronounce her name right. Now she has one that’s much easier to pronouce.

I don’t particularly care about my last name. I’ll take Gunslinger’s because I like his better, and I won’t agonize over it either way.

I didn’t change my name. Did I get an unusual amount of flak over it? I dunno; what’s the normal amount? I did hear quite a lot about it, though. Surprisingly enough, most of the shit I caught about it came from my own family, mainly my mom and one of my cousins. Mom kept pointing out that it would be awfully hard on any kids we had to have a different name than me (at that point we’d told her approximately 7 billion times we weren’t having kids), that it would awfully confusing to people who wouldn’t realize we were a couple or wouldn’t realize we were married (anyone who knows us well enough to know our last names is gonna know we’re married, and to whom, trust me), that it wasn’t like I had a career that would be affected by changing my name (gee, thanks, that’s just what I need to hear when I’m having trouble finding a job down here), that blah de blah de blah harp harp harp nag nag nag. My cousin…well, there’s a couple other threads about all that. We’ll just say she didn’t approve of the decision.

Personally, I found my mil’s approach rather refreshing, if slightly passive-aggressive. She asked periodically if I was changing my name, said “Oh, that’s nice”, and then professed utter surprise at the wedding when the minister announced us with different last names. This was the first she’d heard of such a plan, and she didn’t know if she liked it. She said that once, quietly, to Dr.J, where I couldn’t hear it. And that was the absolute end of it, at least that I’ve ever heard about. It was a really nice change of pace.

Why did I keep my birth name? Well, I didn’t really see any advantage to changing it, to be honest. I know it makes some people feel more like a family, but having the same name just doesn’t make me feel that way. My family is so full of steps and halfs and married-ins that pretty much none of us have the same last name, and so sharing a name just never really meant anything to me. Dr.J seemed to kind of like the idea of us having the same name, but he didn’t like it enough to ever consider changing his name by a single letter. Overall, it just seemed like a big hassle for a miniscule benefit.

Besides, I like my name. I like the flow of the syllables when you say it out loud. I like the way it looks written out. I like what the individual names mean, and I was loathe to give any of them up. Those names were the first things my parents gave me, and they’re the only things I got the day I was born that I still have.

I did seriously consider hyphenating, though. But then I realized it was going to be just as much work as outright taking his name, and since he wasn’t going to hyphenate, we still wouldn’t have the same last name. So I said screw it and left things the way they were.