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

Responses: 218

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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? Weigh In Now

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

Let's end the antiquated, subtle sexism

This is something I have quietly thought about for the past few days. I knew I disagreed with the practice of making the bride take on the groom's last name, but I tried to come up with an argument supporting this practice. I could not. There is literally no argument one could rationally come up with in defense of this practice without devolving into old Biblical quotes or plain male-dominance. It has been said by many others on this thread, so I'll keep it short. If marriage is truly the union of two people, then why not adopt both last names or none at all? Of course, that's the objective view, this is a subjective issue. It all really depends on what you decide. Don't let anyone else make a decision for you. Females aren't property, gentlemen. It's time to stop acting like they are.
—Guest TheFeministMale

Kept it real

I have been married for 7 years now and have never considered changing my surname from my birth name to my husband's surname. Our child has a hyphenated name signifying both our contribution to her existence. My husband and I are two individuals devoted to each other in a powerful union. Names tell a history and have power...why deny such a gift?
—Guest Karrie

No name change, no diamond ring proposal

If a woman wants to keep her name because she feels it's an outdated gender role tradition, I would expect her to be honest and reject the other gender role traditions, such as the expectation that the man will purchase an engagement ring and get down on his knees to propose. Otherwise, she's just being selfish and hypocritical.
—Guest Dave

Man are being hypocrites

I was actually talking about this with my boyfriend earlier today, and I was telling him that I don't want to to change ny name because it's who I am. He was arguing that it's tradition and it wouldn't make sense for me not to change because then I might as well not even get maried at all. The thing is, when I asked him if he would change his name for me, he said no way. So, in my opinion, if most men want their woman to change her name but they straight on refuse to even think about doing the same, then they're just being hypocrites. Women are no less than men, and we shouldn't be treated as their propriety, especially if they dont want to ve treated like ours.
—Guest Angela

Man are being hypocrites

I was actually talking about this with my boyfriend earlyer today and I was telling him that I don't want to to change ny name because it's who I am. He was arguing that it's tradition and it wouldn't make sence fir me not to change because then I might aswell not even get maried at all. The thing is, when I asked him if he would change his name for me he said no way. So, in my opinion, most man want their woman to change her name but they straight on refuse to even think about doing the same then they're just being hypocrites. Women are no less than men and we shouldnt be treated as their propriety, specially if they dont want to ve treated like ours.
—Guest Angela

Name does not = Successful Marriage

Just because it is a partnership, changing your name does not make it any more special as a few have mentioned above. Most countries do not even follow this practice and have a lower divorce rate. It is silly to assume because you take your husband's name that your marriage is more solidified.
—Guest Pinkpen

Of course you don't change your name

In Belgium, it is impossible to change your name after marriage. I am happy that I am still 'mevrouw Aerts' and not 'mevrouw Verbeeck'. That's the way it should be. I am no one's property. In this country, it is not an issue at all. Some women use their husband's name, but they can't change it officially. I certainly want to use his name, (and in fact, I really want to do that because it is a sign of family unity) but only if he is using mine (so: tha family/Mr./Mrs. Aerts-Verbeeck or Verbeeck-Aerts). But I don't think that will happen. So now we stay Mr. Verbeeck and Mrs. Aerts.
—Guest Sophie

return the gesture

When you want your wife to take your family name and respect your family, why don't you do the same for her by taking her name as well?
—Guest singhgirl

It's my name so why change it?

Why does loving someone mean I have to change my name? Loving someone means to be loyal, faithful and supportive. Why can't I do that and keep my name? When two people marry, they are legally joined. They are legal family members. They can't separate without a major undertaking called divorce. Why isn't that enough? Why should I exclusively as a woman have to give up my identity? Men are never expected to change their name. I am an equal partner in my marriage. Women changing their name is part of an offensive tradition of ownership. Why should it be continued? Anyone who gets married and thinks it's not serious, just try to dissolve their marriage and they will find out how serious their joining is legally and emotionally. The name change idea is sexism plain and simple. Leave women alone and let them live and be happy with their OWN NAME!!!
—Guest Ferney

same american girl

But I would hate to say my own married name wrong. Does anyone have any helpful comments on the subject? By the way, people relax-everyone has the right to choose their last name be they traditional, feminist, educated, uneducated, from the same or even different culture. I see no need to be angry about this subject, I'm just curious myself. although if someone tried to force me to make ANY decision, especially one involving my future children or any legal paperwork i would DEFINITELY reconsider being with that person-not because I necessarily disagree with them but because I despise force and control in all forms. Just my personal opinion =)
—Guest Guest Girl

american girl marrying latino boy

i'm an american girl with hawaiian heritage so i have first name, first middle name, long Hawaiian middle name, last name. I'm in love with my Colombian boyfriend of three years and when we recently touched on this subject, he's fine with my maintaining my same last name according to normal Latino tradition. But for one, romance and American tradition call for me taking his last name(s). Also, I'm not in love with my current surname and want his. He has two last names with no middle name. Since my name is already long, I worry about having 2 middle AND 2 last names. Also, he would normally be referred to by his first (paternal) last name, but supposedly he prefers his maternal surname. I think both sound smashing with my first name, and I am thinking of taking both and being referred to as Mrs. (his maternal surname), the biggest issue is that name having a particular pronunciation that my american tongue stumbles over (double Ls). it's lovely and i'd be so proud to have it, but would hate to
—Guest Guest Girl

Identity

Keeping my surname = keeping my identity. Plus, i am not going through all the paperwork necessary to indicate such change. My surname represents family history, my own self, and why should I ditch it just because tradition says so.
—Guest Anneleen

Womans right

I come from an Islamic society and in Islam its a woman's right to keep her fathers name. Yes she is his wife but she remains the daughter of her father she gets share in his inheritance and the name. Woman do not have the Y genes so you trace her identity via her father and if you take away her surname she is lost in history she is no one. by the way this law is 1400 year old and only in 19 century woman could own property in west.
—Guest uma

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Pros and Cons to Changing Your Name When You Get Married

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