Change, Hyphen, or Not…but not for these reasons
The article 7 Reasons to Take Your Husband’s Last Name from All Women Stalk (ugh) crossed my Facebook feed this morning.
Summary of The Reasons:
1. Dudes love it, and although the article asserts that your opinion also counts, I have a hard time believing any list that starts off with a “but your mannnnnn” mentality really gives any fucks about the women’s opinion. Also, the idea that you have gotten far enough into the relationship to be considering name changes (beyond doodling them on notebook covers and checking email accounts to see if your new name is available) and this is the big issue that determines how the dude feels about you…something has gone horribly wrong.
2. Easier business transactions (because people assume you have the same name, also they will really eff up all of your stuff because you never have to provide things like ID or fill out forms for business transactions)
3. Kids are stupid and can’t understand parents having two last names. I will say, having grown up with not one, but two mother figures who kept their names upon getting married–it isn’t so hard to understand. I did have those parents who were more inclined to have kids call them by their first names, but even those who insisted on being formal didn’t need more than a single reminder that Erin’s mom was “Ms. Riley” and step-mom was “Ms. Melcher.” It was actually their parents who more often than not couldn’t wrap their brains around it.
4. Monograms…I don’t feel like justifying why this shouldn’t be one of the top anything reasons for changing your name. This should be added to the “cool bonus” category.
5. Unity. I wholly support the idea of creating one’s own family and being a unit. Unity is a great reason to want to change one’s name when getting married. Oh, wait, All Women Stalk has listed easier reservation making and xmas card signing as unity. Guess I don’t know what that means after all.
6. In-Laws. Is this really a huge issue in families? I remember when we told Stewart’s parents we planned to hyphenate and each take both names, his mom was a little taken aback. She made some comment about carrying on the family name. His dad said, “Well, it’s my name and I don’t mind. And I’m sure my dad wouldn’t have cared either.” That was the last we heard of it.
7. It’s just easier. Correcting people is such a hasssssssssllllle….. Or you could just not stress out about it. We get mail addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Stewart Francis. It’s always either from family or junk mail. When people call asking for Erin Francis or Stewart Basler–these are people who do not know us. As my step-mom has taken to saying, “There has never been a Mrs. Basler at this number.”
So, what are some things one should consider when thinking about how to name oneself when getting married?
Well, UNITY, in the sense of creating your future family (if you even want one). How important is it for you to have that sense of single identity, of official coupledom that is represented by sharing that name. But you know what, you can both change your names–either with the hyphen or to something different all together. Initially, we had planned to just be Basler Francis, not Basler-Hyphen-Francis. Apparently, MA doesn’t allow such a thing, so we ended up hyphenating. It was important for both of us (but especially me) that we embark on marriage as a joint entity.
How do you feel about your own name? For me, I have been a Basler my whole life, and that is a huge part of my identity. For my family, Baslerhood is a thing. I know several people who either didn’t like or didn’t feel very strongly about their family name, so that wasn’t a huge consideration for them when getting married. I also know some people (men and women) who actively disliked their family name and chose to change on that basis.
How does it jive with your feminism? There is this notion that changing your name when you get married makes you a BAD feminist. Do you subscribe to that belief?
Have you considered how much of a hassle it is to change your name? Do you know what paperwork you need to fill out? Have you taken into account how many copies of your wedding certificate you will need (at ~$10 a pop) to do so? Time at the RMV. Time at Social Security. Forms for your job. Notifying all of your account holders, utilities, alumni organizations–basically anyone who plans on contacting you ever again. It is a hassle, but some decide it is worth it.
What about your online presence? Have you ever tried to change your email before? If so, you know what a pain it is to try to shift an online presence from one account to another. How many auto emails needed to be sent before people changed your contact info in their address book?
Most importantly, how do you feel about it and have you communicated those feelings to your partner about the last name decision?
Some other perspectives on name changing:
Why I Plan to Keep my Last Name from ElleAfrique
Men Who Insist You Change Your Name Make Terrible Husbands from Lindy West on Jezebel
Gay male parents ask how to take their son’s decision to take his husband’s name from Civil Behavior in the NYT
Why My Wife And I Changed Our Last Names After Marriage from Jonathan Jackson on HuffPo
Should You Take Your Husband’s Last Name? from Shannon Leocata on PolicyMic