A lot of women take their husband’s last name after they get married, or hyphenate it, or what have you. I’ve never been stoked about changing my name, due to a) laziness and b) feminism–in precisely that order. (Mostly laziness.) It’s one of those traditions that I don’t really understand. If it’s really about two families merging into one, why don’t both spouses change or hyphenate their names? Or why don’t you see the guy take his wife’s name half the time? There are some men who do this, but as my hairdresser opines, “That’s just weird.” And even though there isn’t a specific reason behind it, I think a lot of people would agree. It’s one of those patriarchal traditions that people don’t think twice about, but I think way too much about everything all the time always and it makes my life more difficult and I end up writing posts like this.
I made a pros-and-cons list as I am wont to do when making decisions. Here’s what I came up with:
Pros to Changing My Name to My Fiancé’s:
- By sticking to the tradition, we’ll “make more sense” to other people. When we introduce ourselves as Mr. & Mrs. Rogers, they’ll automatically know that we’re a married couple.
- Our kids will be named Rogers, and people will automatically know that they’re our children because we’ve designated ourselves as a family unit.
- I’ll show my undying devotion to Scott by taking his last name. He’ll show his undying devotion to me by…I dunno, buying me shiny things?
Cons to Changing My Name to My Fiancé’s:
- Um, HELLO! Snow is about the coolest last name you could ever have! Scott’s and my boss actually suggested that Scott take my last name–and this was before we were even engaged. Yes, I could go from Kathryn Artemesia Snow to Kathryn Snow Rogers, but I would miss the Artemesia too. No matter what, I’d have to give up a name. And it kind of feels like I’m giving up a part of myself when I do that.
- Changing your name is a logistical nightmare. Social Security office, DMV, the bank, the post office…it’s an endless series of hoops to jump through. And if you get divorced, as my roommate has pointed out, you have to do it all over again.
Now for the other side…
Pros to Not Changing My Name:
- Way less bureaucracy!
- I like my name the way it is, and I’d get to keep it legally/professionally, but people could still call me Mrs. Rogers, Sister Rogers, the Rogers Family, etc. colloquially.
Cons to Not Changing My Name:
- Which names would our kids take? We’d pretty much be forced to pick at that point.
- As little as I care about people thinking we’re “weird,” it does get unnecessarily confusing if you try to break too far from tradition. The reason a family has the same last name is because legally and existentially, you’ve designated yourself as a family unit. I get that, and I don’t see a way around it unfortunately.
Scott is wonderful, of course, and when I ask him if he wants me to change my name he says, “Do whatever makes you happy.” But no matter what I do, I feel like I’m losing out on something.
So, I’m legitimately asking: Should I change my name? What has your experience been with these pros and cons?