Did you change your name?

When I married Mark, I decided to use his last name. Not because I was now his property, but because I was building a new phase of my life, and a name change seemed appropriate at the time. One factor that influenced my decision was that my family name (Connor), was not shared by my whole family.

My mum took my dads family name when they married, and then changed back to her own family name later on. Consequently, my attitude to “family” names was shaped by this – and my real family name should have been Connor-Young, or Young-Connor. So when this question came up, my decision was not to give up my name and take on one that belonged to somebody else, it was a choice to choose my own name, rather than having one imposed on me.

So I chose between my fathers name, and my husbands name. I could have made up something else, but this way I got to avoid a lot of paperwork. A adore my dad, and would hate for him to think that this decision was a rejection of him as it wasn’t. If I had a name that reflected my whole family, I might have made a different decision, but who knows. And this way, I get to use both names, legally, without too much hassle.

So I was interested to read this article about a recent study that examined attitudes towards women based on their choice to change their names after marriage or not.

Apparently, I am perceived as more caring, more dependent, less intelligent,more emotional, less competent, less ambitious. And less likely to get a job.

Great. At least I can still use my other name.

12 thoughts on “Did you change your name?”

  1. Hi Lara,

    Love your blog – Axe Murderer is one of my favourite movies too

    On the name change – I had the same debate you had. In the end I did go and change it – by deed poll so some paperwork and $ unlike you.
    I wanted to keep my family name and my husbands but did not want to hyphenate. I felt like you about the new phase, and was happy to have a new name – one same name for the new family/kids that would one day come. So I have my husband’s name as my surname, and my family (maiden) name as my middle name – bumping out the middle name I was born with but it wasn’t a sentimental pick nor was I named after anyone so losing it wasn’t going to offend. $90 later and birth certificate reissued, case closed.

    still knitting the hat with the bad stripes – gotta catch up with you at some point, or at least at conference!

    Lisa

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  2. A somewhat contentious issue for me personally. I always liked my name, and it was always a big part of my identity. I couldn’t possibly imagine changing it. My parents divorced and my mom remarried, so she’s had three different names in her life. I can’t get my head around that. (I still go to the wrong letter half the time when I look her up in my address book.)

    Look, I don’t *really* care if somebody changes their name for whatever reason. What I find really personally annoying is the automatic expectation that the woman changes her name to the man’s. BUT WHY? Why couldn’t he change his to hers? Why couldn’t they both change it to something else? (We thought about going that route, but Snook + Howard doesn’t make anything good. And we’re both really attached to our names.)

    It also drives me up the damn wall when someone rings the house and asks for Mrs. Snook. Because who else would I be?

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  3. I changed mine because I chose to do so; though my now hyphenated surname (which is, of course, also WM’s surname) sometimes makes life difficult! And I think DD is glad to have left it behind when she chose to change to her husband’s name.

    One thing is certain from my experience as a teacher: it’s easier at school when parents (especially mothers because the school usually sees them more often) and children share the same surname, otherwise it can become very complicated!

    On the other hand, my sister has the same surname as one of her children but not the other two! That’s because she chose to change her surname to her husband’s on both occasions.

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  4. I didn’t change mine. Not because I’m some outraged feminist (at least, not about that – ha) but because I felt like I already HAD a name. To change it seemed like needless bother just to fulfill a social convention. So I didn’t. My husband even explains it that way – “My wife didn’t change her name. She said she already had one.” Do I judge women who do change their names? Of course not. It’s a free world and for heaven’s sake, I’ve got real problems to get worked up over.

    So I guess I don’t fit into the study either. I think it’s the study that’s flawed, not us.

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  5. We hyphenated mainly because we couldnt think of a better option. When kid #1 came along we hyphenated her surname, but both still had our own names. After a while it just felt wrong to not have the same name as our child, so we changed.

    Im comfortable with my hyphenated name now and it feels like my name, but I wonder how the next generation is going to handle this matter. If my double-barrel kids end up with other double-barrel kids, theyre going to have some tricky choices to make.

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  6. well that makes me feel worse about having Richard in the same office as me!!
    now I can blame him if my salary doesnt go up
    OH and being a mother and pregnant too cant help

    how many excuses do I need?

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  7. Ive never been married and am unlikely to be so, so its a bit hypothetical, but I doubt Id change my name. I understand that some might see choosing your husbands surname as more meaningful as continuing with your fathers, but Ive had my surname for over 40 years and its part of my identity.

    Mum remarried after Dads death and changed her name and my sister has married twice and, partly for professional reasons, hyphenated her first married surname and her second (Im the only one in my family with Dads surname). So Im comfortable with the various options, but my surname and my mans sound awkward hyphenated.

    @Lynne: as a medical receptionist its true that different surnames can be tricky (whos little Holly Xs mum? Oh yes, Sue Y), but a note in the file fixes that. Other peoples convenience wouldnt be enough of a reason for me to consider changing my name.

    A friend divorced a while ago and was at a loss about what to do with her surname. Her natural father is not a part of her life, she doesnt get on with her stepdad and she calls her mothers family a bunch of nutters, so she kept her ex-husbands surname for some time. Eventually, when she got tired of explaining that no shes not Lebanese her ex-husband is, she took the surname Raven as she has black hair and loves birds. 🙂

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  8. Then theres the man I know whos the son of hippies – he and his brothers all have different surnames (some are created, some are a word adopted as a surname). When he married, his parents were very disappointed that his wife was so conventional as to change her name to his.

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  9. A couple of years ago I worked with a man who changed his name to his wife’s. He had all sorts of difficulty because he wasn’t able to do so in the same way as a woman can. I think the option should be available to both parties at the time of marriage if they want it, like a kind of deed poll by proxy. I don’t think I could change my name – my domain name wouldn’t make sense any more…

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  10. While divorce is now looking less likely, I am still resolved to sticking to the change from my married to maiden name.. Since the begining of the year, they have been referred to as a hyphenated surname ie their mothers surname – fathers surname. Next week I can collect the kids new birth certificates. There name change will be legal. When critised over my action, I argued that the kids wanted to have the same name as me, and I no longer wish my achievements to have their fathers name slapped all over it. I also argue that the kids can always choose to change their names in the future. Just like my sons foreskin, as an adult he can choose whether he wants to keep or discard it.

    I had my first scenario this week where I was supposed to be referred to by my surname by my sons kindergarten class mates. The first day I was Mrs Sullivan and then when I tried to clarify on another day, I was reffered to as Miss Sullivan. Seems being Ms Sullivan is just too weird for kindy kids.

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