Thursday, April 22, 2010

On names

Red muses about changing her name, which got me thinking I should do my own post about it. I love the way she handles a very sensitive issue, and I agree that we can discuss this and agree to agree, or agree to disagree, or agree to call anyone whatever they prefer without needing to sling mud like they do in a lot of bridal forums I've seen.


I am taking Peanut's last name. I may keep my current last name as a second middle name, but I will be using his last name socially, legally, and probably professionally.


Some of the commonly stated cons about changing my name include the hassle of actually doing so and losing the identity I've had for my entire life up to this point. But I disagree on both points – changing my name doesn't sound any more difficult than changing my address, and lord knows I've moved often enough to have that down to a science. Secondly, I know who I am – and I am more than just my name. Having a new last name won't change how I see myself, or how the people who know me interact with me. It won't erase the person I was before the wedding day, nor will it turn me into someone different. It'll just change what I write on the credit card receipt, and that's not that big of a deal, especially compared with the pros I see in it for me.


The pros

1.       Peanut wants me to. I was surprised that he feels so strongly about this but he does. If I really felt strongly about keeping my name, we would discuss it, but I don't. He wants the name change, I want a wedding. We're both getting what we want.

2.       Kids. I grew up with stepfamilies, and it was very difficult for me as a kid to have a different last name than my mother. Very difficult—I can't even put into words how or why this was. But I have friends that today still reference how adamant I was as a kid about last names and who was related to whom and how. It was hurtful to be called by the "wrong" name or have someone assume that my mother was just a carpool mom and not my mom. Later when I'd warmed to my stepfather and considered him family, it was difficult to get people to recognize that relationship because of our different names. I want our family unit to have one cohesive name—a brand if you will. J

3.       Uniqueness. Peanut has a unique last name that's more difficult to spell and say than my name. Which seems like a bad thing until you realize that there's no one in his family with my first name—I'll be the only one! Right now, there are eleven other women on Facebook with my same first and last name (spelling and all). I'm related to at least one of them distantly, and we've been battling each other to get FirstnameLastname email addresses, Facebook URLs, Twitter handles, etc. It will be awesome to be the only MyFirstName Peanut'sLastName!

4.       Ease/expectation. My family tormented my sister when she was married but didn't change her name. My mother would send them letters to Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so, until my sister started returning them as "no such person at this address". Now, I don't think that family approval is a good reason typically to do anything, but since I've got so many other reasons to do so, it just makes it that much easier on me. I'm picking my non-traditional battles here.  


The only cons I see are the following:

1.       In November, I purchased the URL for my current first and last name for three years. I'll have to change it over, but hopefully I can get my money back pro-rated.

2.       His last name is a little harder to pronounce and spell. I'll also be moving from one end of the alphabet to the other, which is weird.

3.       People are going to be snarky at me either way.  Either I'm too feminist or not-feminist enough. I wish people would just mind their own beeswax.


So that's where I stand. I decided to take Peanut's name long before we got engaged, and I'm sticking to it. I am NOT, however, changing the name of this blog to Little Mrs. Moneybags. That seems like way too much work!


  1. I've actually had three different last names so far and I'm not even married (yet) - my moms maiden name, my birth fathers name and now my step fathers name which made it easier to come to the US
    it's always difficult to give up your old self but you're still you underneath it all! Plus it makes the men happy ;)

  2. I think this is such a personal decision and I am glad you are making it for your own reasons and not because of pressure. I wanted to comment because I actually grew up with a mother who had a different last name but ended up reacting to it very differently than you. I think part of that could be because I'm mixed raced so people not connecting me to who my parents are would have still happened if they had the same name.

    From her I learned that changing your name is a personal decisions. However, if you have kids and someone calls you Mrs. so and so it is not a big deal. F and I have differing opinions on the last name issue, but we are working through them and it helps that I have no problem with our kids having his last name.

  3. Changing your name is relatively easy. Making sure you remember to change your name on all your accounts can be a pain in the ass.

    That said, there are benefits -- esp in having a unique name.

    #1. You'll know when it's a telemarketer.

    They'll stumble over the pronunciation. Of course, when people called for Abigail Freedman, I delighted in telling them there was no one there by that name. Though why it matters if I lie to a telemarketer I have no idea.

    #2. You get to watch people try and sound out your name. Always fun.

    #3. As you said, continuity. You won't have to correct people who either call you by your husband's last name or (if they meet you first) call Peanut by your last name.

  4. I particularly like your #2 and 3 reasons. My mom actually never changed her name, so when I was in school it took people a while to connect the fact that she was my mom (either that, or they called her by the wrong last name). I guess that's why I never really thought it was a big deal to keep my last name when I got married....but turns out it is to a lot of people. (Now that I think of it, none of my aunts changed their last names.)

    I really like my name though. I know it doesn't DEFINE me, but it's unique, and well, I like it. If was to marry the BF his last name is equally unique....but it's too long to hyphenate (as my sister did). Two ten-lettered last names is a bit much, lol.

  5. I think you can only do what works for you.

    That said, zero of my female classmates from grad school have changed their names. Publishing and such really changes the analysis. I would say my college classmates are about 50/50.

  6. What's important is to be comfortable with your choice - that's all anyone can ever ask of you.

    My mother kept her maiden name. But I always thought that was really cool. Everyone still knew that she was my mom and I was her daughter. I don't plan on changing my name.. and fortunately CB completely supports me in that. I was actually a little surprised - because he does traditionally "chivalrous" actions such as opening doors, walking on the outside curb, pulling my chair out. I had expected he would want me to change my name.

    I guess that teaches me to judge a man by his gentlemanly actions! ;)

  7. Hehe, Little Mrs. Moneybags! :) Thanks for the link!

    The fact that you've gone through so much with your last name already - the problems associated with you and your mom having different names, the fighting over URLs - makes it a pretty easy decision, it sounds like! Ha, if D's last name was unique and afforded me to the opportunity to grab Facebook/Twitter/Website URLs, I'd be on it. :)

  8. I love my last name--it's unique, everyone immediately knows my ethnic origin, etc.--but I'm 99 percent sure I'll change it when I get married. I'm a traditionalist in certain ways. I will probably, like you, keep my name as a 'middle' name. That's what my mom did. And I'm so sorry about what your family did to your sister. Women's choices in this matter should be respected.

  9. Good for you for making your own decision about it (and actually thinking about the pros and cons--it seems like a lot of people don't!)

    My husband and I actually changed our names together when we got married, to a mutually agreed-upon name. Neither of us were big fans of our names, they sounded horrible hyphenated, neither of us wanted the other's name, and we wanted our kids to have the same name. We love our new last name. And as an extra bonus, it solved the problem of people sending mail to "Mr. and Mrs. HisLastName." We sent out little cards informing people that we'd changed our names together, so no one had any excuse for calling me his name. :-)


Thanks for commenting!