Friday, March 1, 2013

Can I Take My Maiden Name Back?

I took my husband's last name when we got married, but can I take my maiden name back?

The families I grew up around followed the traditional practice of the woman taking the man's last name, and those women seemed happy to do so. I never suspected that I wouldn't follow suit.

Before you start casting stones and raving about how I've betrayed my husband, you should know that he doesn't care what my last name is. In fact, for years he offered to take my last name. We talked about it again recently, though no decisions about changing last names have been made.

At the beginning of our relationship, we had 3,000 miles between us. As inconvenient as it was, our communication thrived because of it. Because we took a total leap of faith to start a relationship that way, we talked about what relationships meant to us and what we wanted ours to be. Relationships look different for every couple, because each couple builds their love in whatever way fits them best. Although it seems like such a minor detail, we agreed that I should keep my last name if that was what I wanted. I love my maiden name, I am incredibly close with my family, and I don't think keeping my maiden name means I love or respect him any less.

Despite all our discussions, I took his name. We planned our wedding with little time, and in that time, I wondered: Am I doing it just to be different? Will this complicate things later? Will people hound me with questions about it? Did he really mean it when he said he'd take my last name? We were juggling so many things at the time, so we never had the final talk about it.

I think marriage is about a mutual commitment, learning together, and having independent lives that run parallel and bring out the best in each other. Having the same last name isn't a requirement for marital "success." Women keep their last names for sentimental, professional, and feminist reasons. Or as seems to be the case for Gaby at This Little Port, it was normal for her family.

But sometimes I forget that many men don't feel as relaxed about the issue as my husband or THESE seven male celebrities. At the end of the day, the "right" choice is whatever works for you and your love. Although my opinion can't be swayed, I'm curious to know what you guys think.

Which camp do you fall under? 
Opposed? Agreed? Apathetic?
For yourself or for all women?

P.S. If I wanted to pull the Feminist card, I would rant about the fact that it is more difficult and more expensive ($400!) for men to change their names, but I'm not going to do that today. :)

**UPDATE: Based on a few comments I've received, I'm not sure that it was clear that in our recent discussions, I decided that I would only take my maiden name back if he also took my last name. We would still have the same last name. (I'm not sure if that makes a difference or if it makes it less complicated for others.)


Betsy Transatlantically said...

hey I wrote about this a few weeks ago!

but really, I do think you should do whatever's best for you and your husband. so it makes things a little more complicated for other people? they can deal with it.

that being said, I'd imagine that changing your name back would be more complicated for YOU than changing it in the first place would be (without the usual accompanying divorce, anyway!). but if you feel strongly about it, then it's worth the administrative headache, right? and a year from now, no one will even remember :)

Miki {Becoming What I Always Was} said...

Whenever I talk to people about marriage. I always say the hardest part for me was deciding what to do with my name. I felt like I was losing such a huge part of my identity if I just became a DeMann without somehow keeping Loveless incorporated. I also ended up following suit and taking Jared's last name. I still have mixed emotions. I absolutely love that no matter what Jared and I are "connected" we are together as a DeMann family. On the other hand I still wish I had that connection with my family.

I think that you should think long and hard and then do whatever you and your hubs decide.

Empirically Erin said...

Interesting topic! I was more than happy to take my husband's last name if only for the fact that it is much easier to pronounce and spell than my maiden name! There have been very few times that I've had to spell my new last name for anyone. I think each family is different and can do what they want. I have a friend whose parents changed the family's last name when he was a baby so there is no family history of the name. When he and his wife got married, she kept her last name and then gave her last name to their children because it carried more history than his.

Unknown said...

Hi Lindsay! This post is something that I can really relate to. When Peter and I got married, I figured that I'd love the name "Mrs. Weiss". I do, but I missed my maiden name. I didn't legally change my name until the end of October (5 months later after our wedding), only because I had to have the same last name for my military ID card to be issued to me. For those five months, I really thought about how I wanted my name and how I could somehow keep my maiden name. My family is against hyphenations so I decided against it. I ended up replacing my middle name with my maiden name, and am now FGW. I still feel that I have a strong connection to my family, and am still carrying my husband's name. Although I still say my full name when introduced... it sounds better! Ha! It's something to think about, and is the best of both worlds (at least for me!). Have a wonderful Friday, sweet friend!

Megan Strange said...

My husband's last name is Strange, so I was all over taking that. OBVIOUSLY! Plus, I was Meg Ryan before, and after 23 years, I was ready to stop making movies with Tom Hanks and constantly getting plastic surgery.

Tranae said...

I kept my maiden name and hyphenated. My maiden name is an important part of me and I wasn't giving it up. My husband didn't care one way or the other.

But in the end a woman has to do what feels right to her. If changing your name makes you happy then I say go for it.

Shannon said...

I took my husband's last name, and had my middle name changed to my maiden name! It's on my social security card that way, but I got married in FL (same as the article you referenced!) and I also wasn't allowed to have my driver's license show my maiden name as my middle name. NOW, I always have questions about my middle name being different on my licenses versus my social security card!
SUCH A PAIN! Keep it simple, if you can! :)

Lauren said...

If you look at my photo, you would likely be shocked to learn that my maiden name is Perez. I got many quizzical looks from substitute teachers and a few people asked if I was adopted. I said as a child that I wanted to marry someone with a last name that didn't have an ethnic association (Smith, Williams, etc.), but found a Martinez that I wanted to marry.

Since I felt an early detachment from my last name, I didn't think it would be a big deal to change it. Sitting in the social security office, getting rid of what had been part of my identity for a quarter-century, I felt a twinge of doubt. Hyphenating was not an option - I mean, do I strike you as a Perez-Martinez?

I decided to go ahead with it. It worked for my husband and me and felt like a more tangible expression of us being a family. That is NOT to say that women who keep their own names are less of a family or anything else. Be YOU and use whatever name makes you happy =) I don't think there is one good answer for all women (or men, for that matter) and I think there are plenty of great cases where you may use your married name personally but your maiden legally. And if your husband takes your name, I think that is awesome too. I have also heard of couples who search their family trees for a new name for both of them, or take letters from both people's names and create an all new name. To each her (and his!) own...

Jenn said...

First off, I love that second picture! Absolutely beautiful. Second, I think choosing which last name to take is solely up to the couple (or the two of you). I took my husband's last name without even questioning it. Now I have one of the most generic last names but at least everyone pronounces it correctly. But overall, personally my last name does not define who I am as an individual, just another label for the person I am!

Ellie said...

I like both last names, and I think S would do very well with your maiden name if you decided to go that route.

I have thought about that before and I'm not a huge fan of my last name, so I wouldn't mind changing it, but I have always wanted to name my first boy after my grandfather, which would actually make him a third. It is also the only way that my last name would continue after somewhere between 5 and 7 generations of being around...I guess that's something I'll eventually have to discuss with J Bear.

Bev said...

goes to show how amazing your hubs is and the relationship you do have. guess the 3,000 miles apart just brought you that much closer! I feel ya goooorl... being close to the family just means a lot. Besides you spent all your life with that last name... so adjusting isn't always easy.

I heard of peeps keeping their maiden names as their middle name, but there's something about ending your entire name in your family's name.

whatev's you decide... you have your HUSBAND and that's all that matters ;)

Nilda said...

I say you do whatever you feel is best for you and your husband.

When I get married in July, I will be taking my fiance's last name. While I am used to my name :) it's connected to my biological father who is just not a good person. I've always had a different last name than my immediate family, so changing it won't mean I'm not close to them anymore.

I totally understand when women don't want to change their name! Didn't realize it cost that much for men to do it.

Nilda said...

I say you do whatever you feel is best for you and your husband.

When I get married in July, I will be taking my fiance's last name. While I am used to my name :) it's connected to my biological father who is just not a good person. I've always had a different last name than my immediate family, so changing it won't mean I'm not close to them anymore.

I totally understand when women don't want to change their name! Didn't realize it cost that much for men to do it.

Gesci said...

I say, do what you want. You can combine the two to make a new last name! You could hyphenate his-then-yours! You could....
to me, you could anything. You're a family, no matter what name, or names, are put on it.
The name change process is tedious, which I both understand and resent. But if it's what's important to you, it's worth it.

That was a lot of words to say my first sentence over and over.

RadiantKristen said...

You may want to check into Texas laws. There's apending lawsuit in FL where a man tried to take his wife's last name when they got married, and the state accused him of being fraudulent when he applied for a Driver's License in his wife's name. It seems like different states have different rules about what is required for a name change, and they may require that you both appear in court in order to have it changed. However, I think it is a great gesture for your husband to make towards your family, and in some cultures, both family names are incorporated together, or the men take the women's last name. Either way, I think you have to do what feels most right for you and Mr. TBS. In the end, it's your feelings and thoughts that matter the most!

Mo (New on U) said...

I really wanted to do a hybrid last name, but my husband wasn't having it. He doesn't care if we have the same name or not, he just didn't want to change his. Aaaaand, I dont' blame him - it's a pain! Right now I'm introducing myself with his last name but still legally my maiden name. Maybe I'll just keep doing that? I haven't made up my mind yet. Do whatever feels best for you!

Kim said...

My mom was of the first generation of women to keep their last name when they got married, and I was THE ONLY kid I knew with a hyphenated last name (something that's so popular now). When I was a kid I hated being different!
As an adult I changed my last name to protect my privacy because I work in a very public medium--I'm not married, but now I have my own last name. Nowadays, women keep their names all the time and kids with combo names are no rarity, and I am SO proud of my mother for being true to herself before society said it was okay. It's never easy being the first, and I know she didn't think she was part of a trend, she just did what felt right for her, and I think that's pretty darn amazing. For the record, I don't think my dad ever thought twice about my mom not taking his name--he knew who he was marrying :)

Unknown said...

Interesting topics.
I guess ive just never thought about it. I mean I also never really had to either. Something to ponder!

Unknown said...

What an interesting blog post! When I got married, I decided to keep my last name for sentimental reasons (my father passed away when I was younger) but I suspect that I might change it once we have children. But I say do whatever feels best for both of you because I completely agree that the same last name is not what makes a marriage successful.

Allie @ Between Dreams said...

For me, I'll be taking Sebastian's last name. Even though I will now live a lifetime of "How do you spell that?" "How do you pronounce that?" Mostly because I like the tradition of it. (And he feels pretty strongly about it too.)

I don't know.. for some reason, I always imagined myself taking my husband's last name. And you know, I have two older brothers, so my last name will keep on going :)

But I'm curious... I totally understand all the sides for keeping your maiden name. I have absolutely nothing against it. But why do you want to change it? Is it because of the connection with your family?

I say if it means that much to you, do it! But at this point, you two are a family already and it might cause a bigger headache than it's worth?

Gaby said...

It's never too late to do what feels right for you! My husband's step-mum changed her name back to her maiden name after 20 years of marriage and she's glad she did. And I'm not too fussed on the whole 'having different last names' thing, but again, I do think that's normal ;)


Setarra said...

I'm not married but my bf and I have had the "last name" discussion. He would prefer that I change my last name to his when that day come ... I could go either way. Luckily, I have 4 brothers so they will be able to carry on our family name or else I would be pretty adament about keeping my maiden name. But I personally like the way my name sounds with my maiden name. We shall see ...

Luckily, there are systems in place where you can change your last name back? Good luck with your decision!

Tiara | a Happy Healthy Home said...

I recently wed in August 2012 and I choose not to take my husband's name although both sides of the family disagreed. I think you have to do what is right for you at the end of the day.


Jess said...

I just want to point out how very YOU this post is :)

I know when I get married, I'll gladly be taking on my husband's last name. I've always been excited to change my last name! But I can definitely see the other side, too.

I'll probably be texting you this weekend...since we do that now ;)

Devon said...

I dawdled about changing my last name. I love my maiden name and feel it's a part of who I am and who my family is. We have all female kids in our bunch, so if we all change our last names it will be the end of that family name. Sad.

We got married in July and I ended up having to change my last name in December because we were going on an out of country trip with my family and my dad booked my ticket under my new last name. I had to change my passport and therefore my ss card, and drivers license. It was official. What was even worse was that in the commotion and hurry of everything I forgot to keep my last name as my middle name (although I can always change it again).

Scott wanted me to take his last name, it was important to him, so I'm ok with it, but it's tough. I totally respect your decision and love what you said about doing what works for you and your love. I still have my bank account and a few other things under my maiden name and that makes me happy. Plus, whenever I publish anything in public I always use my maiden and new name. It just wouldn't feel right to totally disregard where I came from and who I still am.

Wow, this is the longest comment's practically a blog post... this is a very interesting topic and I'm glad you brought it up! happy weekend!

Darby Hawley said...

I absolutely love this post for so many reasons!!! I love that you can present your opinion in such a way that is open and not offensive (it's a gift you have). Also, I love that you recognize that each relationship is different and that you're not trying to fit your's (or anyone else's) into some mold. Totally awesome! I think it is spectacular that you want to keep your name (or re-take your name). I didn't want to get rid of my maiden name but I also really wanted my husbands name (call me indecisive? or greedy?) So I dropped my middle name and made my maiden name my middle name. This helped a lot with documents and such since they could tell I was clearly still the same person. I support any decision you make sweet friend!

Kristin said...'ve got quite the discussion going here missy! I'd thought of keeping my maiden name as my middle name, simply because my family was all girls - with noone to carry the name on. But the reality is, I didn't much like my Spanish maiden name. Nobody every spelled or pronounced it right, and that got old after 20 years! So, I took my husbands, and here we are. I probably would've felt differently if I had had a more positive attachment to it :-)

The Mrs. and The Momma said...

You know....I always wished I would have made my maiden name my middle name when we got married. I liked taking my husband's name, but I see your points. :) We named one of our children my maiden name, that's my legacy. :)

The Mrs. and The Momma

Caitlin said...

i cannot get over how beautiful that wedding photo of you two is! in my opinion, the whole maiden name thing is to each her own and i would never judge anyone for his or her decision on it. i myself think i would want to take the maiden name b/c i'm the type to get giddy over being mrs. love-of-my-life. just that little reminder seems special to me. but every person is not the same, so having one idea for how every person should go about this is just silly.

Jenn @ WLB said...

I don't know what I would want to do! I completely understand the benefits to having the same last name, but my last name is absolutely wonderful! It's such a big piece of my identity and it is included in majority of my nicknames. That's hard to just give away.
I've played around with the idea of hyphenating my name officially but using the matching name of my future husband but we'll see. My boyfriend and I discuss this every so often and he's a big believer in keeping the man's last name... ehhh.


Whitney H said...

You guys are such a gorgeous couple.

I definitely am a fan of the idea of a married couple having the same last name. Now, whether it's the female's or male's... I don't care. I never questioned about whether I would take Nick's name but I've definitely thought about abandoning my maiden name. So in short, I have mixed feelings on the issue!

cynthia said...

I spent an entire weekend reading the comments on this post recently:

I found the post and comments so interesting!!

For me, I wouldn't necessarily want to change mine, but I know my boyfriend would like me to (although he would never pressure me to). We're pretty happy just being "us", without being married. So I have not had to make that decision. I've lived (and worked) with this name my whole life. I'm kind of attached to it, ya know? :)