Why I Didn’t Want To Take My Husband’s Last Name

My 3 year wedding anniversary is in a couple of weeks. I’ve been married to my husband for 3 years. And I’ve had his last name for less than 2.

There were a lot of surprises about marriage. (And I’m not talking about “Oh, he doesn’t put the toilet seat down.” Ha. Child’s play.)

Perhaps the biggest surprise about marriage, was how much I DID NOT want to change my last name.

Let me get this straight: it had nothing to do with my complete love for my husband. I was and always will be proud to be his wife.

I finally bit the bullet and changed my name when I was 9 months pregnant and had been married more than a year. Why? Because I knew I wanted to have the same last name as my daughter. (Oh, and the upside of being stubborn and complicated? Pregnant women get priority at the DMV. You’re welcome.)

So why did it take me so long to do what seems to come so easily for most women?

For awhile, I was quick to blame lack of time whenever my husband asked why I hadn’t changed my name yet. “Oh, right. I need to do that! So. Much. Paperwork. Ok, I’ll get to it soon.”

Slowly, he started to catch on. After about a year (he’s patient with me), he pressed the subject. And I copped: I don’t want to change my name.

He was hurt and I knew it was time to show him my heart.

I had spent the last 33 years figuring out who I was, and I had done a pretty damn good job. I knew Suzanne Maiden Name. She was comfortable, like my favorite gray tee that is threadbare and faded, but can clean up pretty nicely when paired with the right shoes. And still fits perfectly.

We had history. LOTS of it. We have gone through shit. I mean, we went through 6th and 7th grade and dealt with that snotty bully. We went through glasses and braces and bad boyfriends. And much, much more.  

My maiden name connected me to my family. Without it, would I still be one of them? Because I like them. They’d grown on me throughout the last three decades.

So, what happens to Suzanne Maiden Name when I become Suzanne Married Name?

I was used to being in the middle of the alphabet. It’s nice and snug there. Not too exposed. Now, just like that, I’m near the end of the alphabet. What does this mean for my life?

What is Suzanne Married Name all about? How does she think? Does she like the same amount of cream in her coffee? Is she still a little ditzy? Does she take herself too seriously? Is she afraid? Does she worry too much?

These are the thoughts I shared with my husband that day he asked, and they’re the questions that swirled in my head while I wasn’t waiting in line at the DMV.

My husband didn’t have the answers. Neither did my mom. (I checked. It turns out that’s just what I do, no matter my last name.) No one could help me answer these heavy existential questions.

Fast forward 6 months. I was now a mom to a 5 month old baby girl.

And somehow, over the course of those early months of motherhood and while stumbling through the toughest chapter of my life, I had been unexpectedly introduced to Suzanne Married Name.

Today, I am proud to be Suzanne Married Name.

What does that mean?

It means I am a wife and a mother. It means I have a loving, supportive, funny, hard-working husband who will try his damnedest to understand me and all of my quirks and who will watch Bravo and eat chocolate with me. It means I have a spirited, feisty, cuddly, delightful daughter who blows kisses to bugs and says ‘hi’ to the sunshine.

It means I am STRONG, hopeful and filled with gratitude.

And it means I have my own little family who fill my heart with so much love sometimes I think it might actually burst. 

It turns out, I was so busy focusing on what I would LOSE by changing my name, I didn’t realize what I would GAIN.

Oh, and if you’re wondering: I’m totally still a little bit ditzy, worry a little bit too much, and take just enough cream in my coffee.

 

Why I Didn't Want To Take My Husband's Last Name

 

37 Comments

  • Jen

    I totally relate to this post. While I am married, I kept my maiden name. I did it for two reasons: It is who I am and I didn’t want my eldest daughter to have the only different last name in the family. When I had her seven years ago, my relationship with my husband was relatively new and I didn’t know how it would play out. We weren’t married and I didn’t think we ever would be. So when I had my daughter, I gave her my maiden name. Fast forward six years and I’m eight months pregnant with my second daughter. All of a sudden it hit me – I wanted to marry this man. We were going to have two children together, we were doing life together and he was my best friend. So we got married. Changing my name was never a consideration. Hannah’s last name and mine are the same. My husband and my youngest daughter share the same last name. I suppose I could have taken his last name and had my seven-year-old’s last name legally changed, but the truth of the matter is that I had no desire to do that. I will always be Jen Maiden Name … it’s just who I am. Is it a little messy and complicated? Yes. Maybe somewhere down the line I’ll change my mind, but right now, more than a year later, it’s just where I’m at. I’m glad you found peace with your decision!

    • suzanne

      It just goes to show that there is no right or wrong way to do this whole thing. I love your story 🙂

  • Nicole Mazzeo

    Very well put! I felt the same way. I just changed my name a couple of months ago after being married for almost 3 years too! It was a very had decision, almost brought me to tears.

    • suzanne

      Oh, good. You make me feel not so weird! 😉

  • Laina Turner

    I can completely see where you’re coming from. On not wanting to change your name and deciding to do it after you had a child together. I’m getting married for the 2nd time this summer and am not taking his name. I still have my ex-husband’s name and people think it’s the weirdest thing ever. But for me, much like you, the important thing to me is having the same last name as my children (who are 10/14). Both my ex and my fiance understand, and although neither are thrilled, they respect my reason.
    Great post!

    • suzanne

      I don’t think it’s weird at all. My mom got remarried and kept her name for the same reason. I totally understand!

  • Jill

    I really enjoyed this. I can totally relate. I am part of a blended family- and between the five of us- there are three different last names floating around. I thought long and hard and like you- came to peace with my decision (jill married name:)) I really love reading your blog- look forward to reading many more! XO

    • suzanne

      It’s pretty amazing and wonderful how different families can be 🙂 And thank you for your support!

  • patricia ross

    Love this! I was the opposite! I could not wait to get rid of my maiden name. I was raised by my aunt and uncle and waited my name changed when I was younger to theirs. My brother was the only one who got the offer because they said we would marry one day and our name would be history. I didn’t believe my maiden name should go on. I mean this guy was bad news and I didn’t want any part of it. My sister’s maiden name became her middle name when she married and she was mad. I was nervous too. I wanted to be completely rid of it. I ended up with a very nice lady at the DMV who gave me the option and the name is history! (Except on my birth certificate sigh) my sister was completely jealous! Names are part of our journey! I feel more complete and more like me since having my name changed than I ever did before! Thanks for sharing!

    • suzanne

      Yours is an inspiring story! I’m so glad you are in a place of feeling fully like yourself. That’s what it’s all about 🙂

  • Melissa

    Good post! I delayed changing mine too. At the time, it felt like I was giving up a part of myself. Now as a seasoned wife and mother it seems perfectly normal to be called Melissa Married Name. 🙂

    • suzanne

      Glad I wasn’t the only one 🙂 And good to hear soon it will feel normal!

  • Velveteen

    I am in this predicament!! deciding where to go from here. lovely read with alot of things to think about!

    • suzanne

      Good luck! You could be like me and follow your heart, but spend 3 years overthinking it first 😉

  • Sophia

    I am not married yet but when I do I know for a fact that I want to change my name. I just feel it looks better as a family to have cohesiveness and one last name.

    • suzanne

      I can definitely understand that 🙂

  • Jasmine Hewitt

    I loved this! I thought about the same stuff leading up to our wedding, and eventually succumbed and took his name. Now I wouldn’t trade it for anything

    • suzanne

      Thanks, Jasmine! It’s so nice to hear from other women who had similar struggles.

  • Cortney K

    Interesting! While I’m not married, I remember a time I was talking to a boyfriend and he was discussing the future. He said you’ll be Cortney His Last Name. I said no, Cortney My Maiden Name-His Last Name. He said no. I was kind of stunned. We didn’t work out for a variety of reasons, but someone not willing to even consider my feelings on a subject was a big deal. My reasoning was there are all female grandchildren on my Dad’s side of the family. I didn’t want my family’s name to die out after this generation. Love your posts, Suzanne!

    • suzanne

      Marriage is definitely all about compromise, that’s for sure. And it’s good to weed out the ones who don’t do that so well 😉 Thank you for your support, Cortney!

  • Aimee @ MamaCentric

    I related to this piece so much!! It took me two and a half years, and two children, to finally change my name. I went through much of the soul searching you described, wondering why I had to change my identity and he did not, wondering how to let go some of my life before marriage. However, one year into the name change and it is beginning to feel a bit more like me. And I just love your closing sentiments. I realize I didn’t lose parts of myself, I have just blossomed into this newer version of me. Lovely!

    • suzanne

      Thank you, Aimee! I absolutely love your posts, so I’m fan-girling out right now 🙂

  • Tricia

    I decided to change my name so our whole family (husband and I and any future kids) would have the same last name. I’m seeing more and more women buck the trend, though!

    • suzanne

      It’s a tough decision, for sure! But it definitely makes the paperwork so much easier, too 😉

  • Brittany

    Ahhhh. This spoke to me so much. I am not engaged but as my current relationship gets more serious, I’m starting to realize I have these same concerns! Thank you for sharing yours because it helps me understand my own in some way. I’m 30 and I feel the same way about my name – we’ve BEEN through hard stuff. It feels weird to give that up. I really appreciate your vulnerability.

    • suzanne

      Thanks, Brittany! Good luck on your future adventures – you’ll be great 🙂

  • Caroline Cocker

    I’ve been in relationship for over a decade with no plans for marriage. If we ever did though, I wouldn’t change my name – I’m too used to it being my name. I do get that people want the same name as their kids though (I don’t want kids and my rabbits don’t mind being double-barrelled 😉 ). If it was important to my SO I’d change it too, but he doesn’t mind. I’m just too lazy I think!

    • suzanne

      I TOTALLY understand being too lazy. The paperwork alone is insane! And bunnies – how cute!

  • Daniela Vaughan

    LOVED this post! I am getting married in a year and have been with my fiance for 9 years, so I already consider myself a part of his family. I want to change my last name, but know I will delay and procrastinate for the same reasons you mentioned. Definitely going to hang on to that tidbit about being pregnant at the DMV. That, my friend, is a nugget of gold.

    • suzanne

      Ha! Girrrrrrl, don’t think I didn’t learn that procrastinating pays off 😉 And, congratulations!

  • michelle m

    thank you for sharing your story. i am single now but due to the fact that i am an actress and will have to register my name with sag and all i don’t want to deal with changing my last name if i get married. i don’t want to go by one name publicly and another privately and i also don’t want to have to change credits and all. if i wasn’t an actor i would change my last name

    • suzanne

      Seriously – BEST reason ever 🙂

  • Ashley

    This post really hit home for me!! I got married in August last year and have yet to change my last name! I plan on doing so this summer, mostly for the same reasons as you…when I have children, I really want to have the same name as them. I LOVE my husband (duh), but taking his last name isn’t about that for me…it’s a total comfort thing. And as a 1st teacher and Disney fanatic, I’m pretty attached to my maiden name (Mickey). I guess I will always be a Mickey at heart!

    xo Ashley

    • suzanne

      Awww! That’s the cutest thing I’ve ever heard. Delay as long as you can. Haha

  • Angie

    I think it’s totally fine not to take your husband or partner’s last name. I don’t think I ever will. I love my last name, and it’s a huge part of who I am. However, I think if I have kids I’d like to hyphenate their last names. Mine and his.

    • suzanne

      It’s so cool to see that a lot of people are hyphenating their children’s last names. And even husbands taking their wives’ last names. No wrong way to do this whole marriage gig!

  • Irish

    Thanks for sharing with us!
    Kisses,
    http://www.beausian.com/

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