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Readers Respond: Pros and Cons to Changing Your Name When You Get Married

Responses: 152


Tradition calls for American women to change their name -- and take on the last name of their husband -- when they get married. Through the years, thanks to the Women's Movement some women have altered the tradition. Nowadays, some women take their original last name as a middle name or add a hyphen to include both their family-given last name and their husband's last name. Some have ignored tradition and kept their name as it is. It's a struggle for some women to decide which is the right decision. Tell us what you think. Should women change their names when they get married? Why or why not?

Selfish woman

Ok, so then what is the point of having a son and having him carry on the family traditions? Let me have kids to have my family name and honor wiped. This is so selfish.
—Guest fred

Pre-Marital Honesty

Whether or not an individual decides to change his/her name when married, the decision should be clear to both partners before they marry. When a future spouse says one thing before the ceremony and something different afterward, it is the start of mistrust and the beginning of the end for the marriage.
—Guest Anonymous

Cherry-picking "Tradition"

As a few comments in this forum point out, I feel there's quite a bit of dichotomy and angst amongst many feminists today. On one hand, women are convinced that a surname change is bowing to our chauvinist history. And yet, so many enjoy the chivalry of traditional courtship practices. I also grow extremely tired of the "battle" for women's equality. Like racists, there will be a minority of sexists for some time, but the trend is already on the decline. The fight is over. In my opinion, there are many guys, including myself, who don't view a surname change as an expectation but as a gift. When my wife offered to take my name, it was the greatest honor and the greatest gift I ever received. She didn't have a bad surname and neither did I, so it really could have gone either way. But I think the key here is it should be a conversation, and there shouldn't be an expectation. There is a lot to be gained from one family name, but every couple is different. Nobody else should judge.
—Guest Drew

It's really no-one's business

Whatever a person decides to do with her name is her own business, and no-one else's. A man can ask that his fiancé change her name, but he can't demand it. And frankly, he would be a massive jerk to try and do so. You cannot and should not BULLY or pressure someone into changing her identity - especially if you're not willing to do the same thing. I think arguing about this issue in a couple means that the marriage is doomed, as it shows that the guy is obsessed with having control and dominance in the relationship, as opposed to an equal union of two people. But for outsiders NOT in the relationship - no-one gives a dusty fuck what you think, so keep your pathetic snide comments on hyphenated names being "tacky" to yourself. I haven't decided if I will change my name - probably not - and my fiancé has said what I do with my name is none of his business. That's how I know I am marrying the right person.
—Guest Guest08

Guest Sarah

Read the response from Guest Sarah. Think about it. Do a little research. Consider the reasons women have been expected to take the last names of their spouses.
—Guest Whatispossible

Read: keeping a name

Please read the response under "Keeping a Name". Excellent! Who could question her motivation to keep her name which happens to be a beautiful and meaningful gift? Our names are an important part of who we are. I'm sure all males can understand this if they release ego and think about this as if they had been asked or made to feel obligated to change their own names.
—Guest Whatispossible

Why not equality?

Why should a woman change her name when she marries? Why shouldn't a man change his name when he marries? If you are male, ask yourself why you wouldn't want to change your name. If you do this with sincerity and with the ability to put aside the traditional notions with which you have been programmed, you will never again question why your wife or future wife might not wish to lose her own name and change her name to yours.
—Guest Whatispossible

It depends

Whether or not to change my name after marriage would depend on who I married. My first name reflects my ethnic background (let's pretend it is Sumitha) so for instance I wouldn't want that juxtaposed with a very "white" surname - Sumitha McGillicuddy or Sumitha Simpson or something just looks and sounds silly to me. However if my husband were from my own ethnic group, I would consider taking his name. I certainly wouldn't marry a guy who insisted I MUST take his name and it's all about HIS name and HIS "seed" and HIS "ancestors" etc. etc. I have no time or patience for that.
—Guest ST

Personal choice

I agree that it's a personal choice. I did not take my husband's name because I have history to my last name, and my husband's last name is an adopted last name with no family history. (Adopted family does not keep in touch.) It's a personal choice and something I definitely struggled with because of what people would think. Luckily, my husband completely understands and supports me. He even offered to take my last name. But we are not doing that either (wouldn't want to upset his parents).
—Guest Jaime


I did not change my name when I married my husband, and our kids have both our names. My husband says he respects me for being a strong woman. I think most confident men don't think it's a big deal for their wives to take their name. If a woman chooses to do so, it's her business. But I think it's sad when a woman is forced to change her name.
—Guest Lm

Get A Grip!

You know, I think you're all a bottle cap short! My wife carries my name, which was her choice. It was no hassle for her. She carries her own identity. I have a previous fiancee from years ago who (I think) is married to this guy that sort of uses his original name, but sometimes uses her last name. Now, she uses her maiden name. (After all, she is one of those "professors of eduction" and demands that as a professor she be recognized as "doctor." She kept her maiden name for professional reasons and gave the children her maiden name. (She was always hell bent that her family name carry on). Okay, I guess. I understand professionalism, however, how confusing is this guy she married? He needs to regrow a "set" or figure out what name he wants to use. By "standards," children with mom's maiden name will be viewed either as having no father or a mom who is in control with no commitments. Isn't intelligence grand? We make problems where there were none (before egos). We've changed everything else in life that carries value.
—Guest Dave

The freedom of choice

I am getting married soon and will most likely take his last name. Don't get me wrong, I really like my last name, but I like the idea of sharing one last name. In this day and age, it's great to have the freedom to do whatever you like (different names, take his, take hers, hyphen or make up something entirely). In the culture my mother grew up in, it was common to take the mother's maiden name and use it as one of the middle names for all the children. When she got married, she bumped her maiden name to her middle name so it was always there. On my fiance's side, his mom made sure that her sons' middle names were all familial names (he has his grandmother's maiden name and his brother has their mom's maiden name). I'm doing the same with my children and I'm bumping my last name to my middle name. It's my way of honoring all branches of our family tree. The way I see it is that we are all so much more than our surnames. Call yourself what you like.
—Guest SDLady


I am very much a believer in independence but the whole truth is that names get carried on by men and these women that have these names wouldn't have them if it wasn't for the tradition of women taking their husband's last name.
—Guest Ch3wb4cc4


I am a senior and to be honest it never came up when we got married. We did the traditional thing. If I were young today, then we would come up with a hyphenated name of the two family names and both of us would change to that.
—Guest Joe

Both sides are valid

It's a problem! I love my wife to be very much. I never tell her she can't do anything and support her in everything she wants to do. Her independence is one of the things that makes me so attracted to her. I always thought she would just take my name. But she has recently said she wants to keep her name. She has given good reasons for it too. And I respect it, but I have such a hard time with it. I feel rejected, I feel that having a [child] would feel split if everyone had different surnames. The hyphenated name doesn't sit well with me either. iI doesn't feel right or true or honest. And I'm not willing to change my name either. I have done a lot of research on it, and I have found that if a guy changes his name (in Canada), it changes right back to his birth certificate. When a woman changes hers, she can actually reserve the right to still use her maiden name even though she has taken a new one. It is a touchy and heated subject for us, where both sides are right.
—Guest John
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