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Entries in Name (1)

Sunday
Jun012014

What’s in a Name?

My daughter is marrying a delightful man this fall, and the topic of the last name keeps coming up.  This post is intended to get your feedback because I just don’t know.  And whatever my daughter and her fiancé decide is fine with me – I am not trying to influence them.

When my marriage certificate was chiseled out of stone, it was customary for the woman to take the man’s last name.  My wife to be was previously married, and ironically her married and maiden name were the same.  My preference was for her to take my name, and she was happy to change her last name.  The custom continued.

Since then, I’ve seen just about every permutation imaginable:

  • Woman takes the man’s name – got it.  Still seems customary.
  • Woman keeps her last name, as does the man – while invitations for Mr & Mrs are messy, this approach preserves identities.
  • Woman takes the man’s name personally, and stays unchanged professionally – another compromise to bridge the marriage change and personal identity
  • Man takes the woman’s name - This was important to her, and he used his original last name as a middle name.
  • “The Hyphen” – this always strikes me as a short term compromise.  Imagine generations from now being introduced as Sue Williams-Holmes-Kurtz-Horn-Manning.  The third.

Divorce makes all this messier, especially with children.  I’ve seen mothers go back to their maiden name for everything except school events where they continue using their married name.

I know someone who got married two years ago, and never changed her Driver’s License name (she did update Facebook, so it had to be official.)  As a birthday present to her husband, she changed her name on the driver’s license.

At this point, I’m beginning to wonder if this “custom” is something we should preserve or retire.  Customs tend to be nice, and they are “customary” to keep.  That said, is it politically incorrect to expect a woman to change her name?

Presumably you have views on this, and I’m interested in your views.  Please share in the comments.