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Changing your name after marriage: Should you do it?

 - Changing your name after marriage: Should you do it?

Sofeminine's Sophie Herdman says that it's your choice if you take your husband's name and no one should tell you otherwise.

I always worry about the future; it’s just something I do. So it’s not surprising that at the tender young age of 25, with no plans to get married at any point soon, I'm already worrying about whether I should take my future husband’s surname.

I appreciate that this sounds ridiculous. But bear with me. I think the reason I worry about this so much is because it’s one of those questions that I just don’t know the answer to. On the one hand, I love the idea of being united with a partner through a shared name; on the other hand I wonder why I should have to surrender my surname? As Meryl Streep says, it’s complicated, so let’s take a look at the arguments.
Reasons to take your hubby's name

In the ‘take your husband’s surname corner’ we have a few strong arguments. Some say it makes you closer, more of an item, more united. I’ve got to say that I agree. Despite my fairly strong feminist views on quite a lot of things, I’ve never viewed taking my future partner’s name as a representation of him owning me, I’ve merely seen it as a uniting, a cementing of a partnership. At the same time, that niggling thought keeps on popping up: 'Why should it be me that loses my surname?!' 

Next up, and a clincher for me, is that old kids question. I wouldn’t want to have a different surname to my children (assuming they take my husband’s name, and that’s a whole other argument). I wouldn’t like it if people thought I was their step mum. And a final argument - what if you’re not deeply attached to your surname, but you love your husband’s? It’s a pretty superficial point, sure, but one that is often a deal breaker.

Why you shouldn't take their name

In the ‘no way what are you thinking taking your husband’s name’ corner, we have some more strong arguments. Why should you have to take your husband’s name? Why shouldn’t he take yours? Does it mean you lose your identity? What if you’re the last person in the family to be able to carry on the surname? And the reverse of the aforementioned superficial argument - what if you’ve just got a really great surname like ‘Blanket’, ‘Valentini’ or ‘Power’ (some of my personal favourites).

The solution
You see? They're all good arguments. Luckily, there are a few options. Some people opt for a double barrel surname (although, let’s face it, that’s a one generation solution). Others make up a whole new name. Another option that’s increasingly common is for a man to take his wife's name. It’s an interesting solution, but no matter how liberal and forward thinking I try to be, I can’t help feeling that in today’s society it runs the risk of being a tad emasculating for a man. Another option is the Spanish one, where a woman keeps her name, and children take on a part of both parent’s surnames (google it, it's a bit complex).

Personally, I imagine I will follow in the footsteps of Jessica Biel – keep my maiden name professionally, but my husband’s name at home. For me, my surname has a much tighter link with my identity at work than it does in my personal life.

It's all about choice
Perhaps one day we’ll look back at the time when we took our husband’s names and laugh. Who knows. Ultimately, though, the most important thing is that we women have a choice. That’s it’s not assumed that you will take his name.

But more than that, I think it’s vital that if a woman does choose to take her husband’s surname, that she doesn’t get a right telling off from other women for it and that she isn’t told she is no longer a feminist.

I’m really sick of seeing that. After all, if she’s chosen to introduce herself as Mrs Winklebottom for the rest of her life she must have her reasons.


Sophie Herdman
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