There wasn't much tradition in the way I got married.

J and I got engaged one week and went to the courthouse to exchange vows the following week with a few close family members in tow. It sounds quick when I spell it out like that, but I don't necessarily believe the "engagement" starts when someone formally proposes. Engagement, in my opinion, is a season in any relationship when you've moved from just dating and getting to know each other to discussing, making considerations and planning for a future together. As far as I'm concerned, if both parties want to get married, as soon as you start mapping out your future together, you've entered that season.

We entered that season well before J popped the question, and we had discussed things like future kids, future homes, and future goals for ourselves as a unit. We had also discussed my future last name, albeit, it was a very brief discussion. He assumed I was on board with taking my future husband's last name, and I was. There had never been any question about that for me, but with more and more women speaking up in favor of keeping their maiden name post marriage, I got to thinking about why it was a no-brainer for me (and why he just assumed that would be the case for us).

I understand that for many, identity is a unique blend of many factors, one of which is your name. It's how the world formally addresses you; it's how you address yourself, and after going by the same name for 20+ years, it's a big deal to meet someone, get married, and *poof* part of that name is now completely different. The thing is, people change their names all the time, for so many different reasons. Writers use pen names. Actors and musicians use stage names. Even God changed the names of people in scripture, like thee God Almighty. He'd change the name of people because it was no longer the best fit for the season they were stepping into. I wonder if Saul wrestled internally with changing his name to Paul, or Simon changing to Peter, or Sarai to Sarah. Maybe they did and maybe they didn't, and maybe we'll never know.

When I chose to marry, I chose to share my whole life with J, not just part of it. That includes our home, our money, our successes, our failures... and our name. I love the idea of a married couple standing as one in the world with the same family name, and personally, I don't find my identity in my name. It's part of who I am, but it doesn't make up who I am. If I'm changing as a person, if I'm entering a new season, why shouldn't/wouldn't my name change with me?

There are many sides to this argument, and there are many valid points to all sides of the discussion. Why not hyphenate? Why not have the man change his last name instead of the woman? Why not merge them? At the end of the day, it's a dated tradition that came from when men considered women as property, so they put our name on us. Thankfully, we live in a world where we get to make these kinds of choices for ourselves, for our own personal reasons.

I understand everyone's reasoning will differ, but it was never really that deep for me. I think society makes it more profound than necessary. I changed my last name for my husband, for love, for growth, and ultimately, for me.



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6 comments

  1. I love this post! I'm a liberal feminist, & I, too, changed my last name for a number of reasons, all personal & important to me. Still, I was shocked by how many people told me they were surprised I'd changed my last name because I didn't seem like the "type." What does that mean?! I can still be a liberal feminist who took my husband's name out of love & a want for family unity - & I didn't like my maiden name that much anyway! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Yes! People have made such hoopla about women changing their last names in recent years, and sometimes it's as simple as "I just wanted to." Thank you for reading, Kate! ❤️

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  2. I'm not all that bothered by whether or not people change, add to, or keep their last name. The only thing I definitely feel about it is that whatever choice is made, the person should make that choice for themself and not have it forced on them! I love that you wanted to change your last name and you did :) // My mom kept her maiden name but I don't actually know what her thought process for that was. // Presently, I quite like the ring of my first and last name together. If my future husband's last name sounds weird with my first name, I think I'll keep my last name ;P But who knows, maybe I'll feel differently when I'm in love! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

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    1. I loved my first and last name together as well! I even considered making my maiden name a second middle name just so I could hang on to it. In the end, though, I just wasn't as attached as I thought I'd be. At the end of the day I really felt like it was just a name, but I know not everyone is as nonchalant about the idea. Either way, the decision shouldn't be so heavily scrutinized IMO. If a woman wants to keep her maiden name, cool. If she wants to take her partner's (male) last name, cool. NBD! Not every decision has to be a political statement, ya' know??

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  3. I kept my maiden name, planning to hyphenate down the line (I still haven't after 5 years). I wonder sometimes about having a different last name than our daughter. I actually wish I had insisted on hyphenating for her, but it's kinda late now.

    Interestingly enough, my maiden name is actually my maternal grandmother's last name. We come from a tribe (Ogoni) in Nigeria, where if there are no sons in a family, the first daughter assumes the role of the first son, and all her children get HER last name, not her husband's.

    Berry Dakara Blog

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    1. I have a friend who also plans to hyphenate (she's already married), but the idea of going to all these different gov't buildings and submitting all the paperwork is what's holding up the process. It's a lot! I love the history in your maiden name, though. That's definitely a good reason to hold on to it.

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