The Maiden Name Dilemma

This has been on my mind since before I even got engaged.  To change my name, or not to change my name?  That is the question.

Lately, the more I think about it, the more I lean toward no.  I’m pretty traditional, but this is one thing that doesn’t sit quite right with me.  At risk of sounding feminazi (the horror!), I feel like it’s an antiquated practice that I could do without.  In the “olden days,” women changed their names to signify that they were now under the care of their husband rather than their father.  It was a sign of commitment, yes, but also a transactional symbol.

Obviously, that’s not really how name-changing is seen these days.  Most women change their names as an added symbol of commitment and as a public symbol of the switch from single-ness to marriage.  And if that’s what you want to do, that’s all fine and good.

To me, though, there are enough symbols without me also having to change my name. Our commitment to each other will be displayed through our marriage certificate, our rings, and our wedding.  Everyone important to us will see us get married.  We will both make the mental, emotional, and financial commitment (which really has already been made).  And after the ceremony is over, we will both wear rings on our left hand that say to everyone who sees them, I am a married person.  To me, that’s plenty.

Marriage, in its proper form, is a legal, emotional, and financial commitment between two individuals.  I am already a whole individual, and so is he.  Therefore, I think that the legal documentation, the rings, and the ceremony are sufficient public symbols.

There are obviously some cons to not taking his name.  The first and most obvious is that he is a traditional person as well, and I know he’d like for me to take his name.  That, honestly, is my biggest hangup.  It’s a little difficult to balance my own wishes with his, but that’s what marriage is.  Two individuals essentially becoming one unit comes with a ton of issues like this, as I know most are well aware.  Probably (definitely) more aware than I am.  We will have to discuss this and come to an understanding.

The other big issue is potential children.  I don’t particularly want any children, ever, but in case we do have children, whose name would they take?  I would be fine with them taking his — again, I’m fairly traditional, and I got my last name from my father, so I have no problem with them having his.  But that would be something that would have to be discussed.

I haven’t completely decided what I’m going to do yet, and I have some time before I really have to make that decision.  But it’s definitely something to think about.

I know many people have strong feelings on this; feel free to tell me what you think and/or share your own experience!



  1. You didn’t ask me but imma way in anyway. His last name is a lot freaking harder to say, and I want to say hyphenate but honestly I don’t think y’all have the best last names for that… though it could work. So new suggestions: 1. Pick a new last name? Combine the ones you have or choose something original… I vote for Mavis.
    2. Y’all both should take my last name.

  2. If I were in that situation, I would ask him if he was willing to change his name and if he’s not, why should I feel pressure to change mine! Unless he had a better sounding name xD
    I don’t plan on ever getting married though so I guess it’s not something I’ll have to deal with :)

  3. I wasn’t sure about this either. In the end I decided to change my name to his. Mostly because I *do* want kids and I just thought it would be easier if our whole family had the same name. I think it’s fine either way.

    It was a hassle changing my name (I still didn’t get around to it for some bills!) But meh. It didn’t bother me too much.

    I have some friends who both changed their names. They combined each of their names to make a brand new name. I thought that was pretty cool. :D

  4. When we got married 20 years ago (living in a city) my wife kept her name. 10 years later, living in a small town with kids she scrapped it. Making the verbal connection to me and our kids was an extra step that annoyed her. If we could start over, I suspect we’d hyphenate both names.

  5. I’ve thought about this before-I think when two people marry its perfectly alright for them to choose on a single last name, just to signify their union and marriage, but I’ve always wondered why it has to be the woman taking the man’s name, never really vice-versa.
    As you said in earlier days women changed their names because they were under their husband instead of their father after getting married…which obviously is outdated (and sorry, not sorry, but also kinda gross being “under” the men in their lives or whatever).
    I still haven’t decided if I want to or not when I get married. But great post! I hope you are able to figure this out for yourself. :)

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