The big name change: Miss to Mrs.

Who is that girl? That's the question that comes to mind every time I'm introduced or introduce myself with my new last name. I don't think this is denial. It's just hard to go through 26 years of life with a name and suddenly "be" a new name. 

Although I consider myself rather liberal and progressive on many counts, taking my husband's name seemed like the thing I should do. I was so thrilled to see my new name on my business cards at work. 

So, why did I feel like I was betraying the progress of women in the U.S. as I signed my name away at the Social Security Office? Why did I actually, for real, cry a few tears in the SS office's parking lot that spring day. Why did I feel a little resentment as I typed up those "Due to my recent marriage, please change the name on this account" letters? 

I remember Googling for the topic, trying to find other women juggling the same dilemma: to hypenate or not to hyphenate, to make my maiden name my middle name or not, to go by my new name at work or not, etc. 

While there were no forums talking about the difficult decision, I did find several name-change service sites. Now, some of these  I think are kind of silly. The process of writing letters and calling banks and such is, definitely, annoying, but I didn't need to pay a service to tell me to send a letter. If you do, go for it. The one that was most helpful for me was newlastname.org.

I think the name-change thing is an example of how it can be a little confusing to be entering womanhood these days. I've really debated with my brain on being a woman and what that means. I won't blame the "media" or "society" for this confusion and I won't whine that the plethora of choices feel like a burden. Women before us worked hard to make these choices available. 

Name changing has been happening for ages. It's the nature of a family tree. It's a symbolic change that makes it hard to be isolated from your spouse and makes life easier for your kids. But I think women should talk more about how this change makes us feel and how we coped with it. And maybe instead of presenting 25 versions of colored fondant-covered cakes, wedding magazines and blogs should be more candid about this complicated decision, too? 

What do you think?  


  1. "It's the nature of a family tree. It's a symbolic change that makes it hard to be isolated from your spouse and makes life easier for your kids."

    Not sure I agree with this... Well, I do agree with the symbolic bit. But in our house it was as easy as this, "Either we both change our names or no one changes their name. Period." We haven't changed. But when we have kids, we might. BOTH of us, or no dice. Kids names will be hyphenated. I gave David two options - hyphenate or the last name of the person who goes through labor ;) He picked pretty quickly. For me, *that's* the nature of our family tree. And when people ask, we always say, "Oh, neither of us changed our name."

    I donno. I think, as I just evidenced ;) It's probably a bit loaded to talk about. For those of us who never had a question in our minds about the choice (I suspect most people? Maybe? On one side or the other??) it's almost something you *don't* want to talk about, because it's SUCH a firm thing and SUCH a big deal that it's hard to talk and not find yourself wanting to yell?

    It's a weird thing, the name change. Loaded. Sort of puts women on teams. One side or the other. Ugh.

  2. I'm quite honestly surprised that I don't see this being discussed on wedding blogs among all the talk about color palettes and matching vs. non-matching bridesmaid dresses, though Meg is probably correct in that many brides take their husband's name as a matter of course. I'm still a bit undecided since to me it feels like I would be erasing a bit of family history in taking another last name. (I also agree that it feels a lot like taking sides)

    Some women change their middle name to their maiden name and then take their husband's last name... I happen to like my middle name so it's not an option I plan to consider. I still haven't decided what I will ultimately do.