Should I Change My Name After I Get Married?
What’s in a name? Well some people would argue that there’s quite a lot!
One of the first things you learnt to write was your name, and you’ve been writing the same last name ever since. Now you have met someone so wonderful that you are committing to spend the rest of your life with them - and that traditionally includes also sharing their last name.
There was a time when taking your husband’s last name meant you could keep his lands or property after his demise. That doesn’t really apply to the modern bride, but the majority of women will change their name after their wedding day.
It’s not a universally practiced tradition. In most Arabic-speaking countries, women keep their family name. Women also keep their last name in Cambodia, as do women across China.
But, some women who want to change their names have to jump through hoops to do it. In France, Spain, Belgium, Quebec, and Louisiana a woman's legal name stays the same throughout her life, and if she want to change it she must make a legal application through a formal procedure. There are other women who have no choice at all. Thanks to a law that came into force in 1983, women in Greece must keep their birth surname.
There are plenty of celebrities who have built a brand on their name and not changed their last name after marriage. Katy Perry didn’t become Katy Brand (perhaps she knew it wouldn’t last) and Mariah Carey has kept her name after getting hitched to Nick Cannon. Then there are others who have hyphenated their name like Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Kim Kardashian West. Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie was one woman who changed her name after marriage and became Stacy Duhamel, and Victoria Adams went from a Spice Girl to an international brand when she became Victoria Beckham.
There are still people who think that if a woman doesn’t change her name then she’s less committed to her marriage, but we say phooey to that! There is no evidence that backs this up, and if a woman wants to keep or change her name then it’s her decision!
You might be switching between decisions to change your name or not. We have summed up some points that will help make your decision a little easier.
Reasons not to change your name after marriage
If you decide to change your name, you have a lot of paperwork waiting for you. You will need to change your name on your driving license, change your passport, update bank accounts…and that’s just the beginning! If you know you are someone who procrastinates when it comes to filling in forms then you could save yourself the work by sticking with your last name.
Some people see changing their last name as outdated and not in keeping with the modern world. You are still the woman you were before you got married so why do you need to change your name? If you see your name is an important part of your identity, you might be struggling with the idea of taking your husband’s name. Keep your name if you want to, or you can always hyphenate it!
Does your line of work mean you will create problems by changing your name? Perhaps you have your own business or are self-employed. Maybe you are a writer who gets work based on your name. If your name is important in your industry then it makes no sense to change it. After all those years of building up a reputation, changing your name could do more harm than good.
Men don’t change their name, so why should you? There are a few men who have taken their wives names out of love, but they’re a small minority. If your beloved really wants you to take his name, then call him out and ask him to take yours! You might end up taking each others names in the end (this could get confusing!)
Reasons to change your name after marriage
Some of us weren’t lucky enough to be born into a family name that we love. There are last names that are difficult to pronounce, some that are the target of laughs in school, and there are names which we associate with mass murderers and lunatics. If your husband has a last name that you can live with then take it! You can forget about those giggles when your name was called in class, or the pause on the other end of the phone when someone tries to say your name.
You and your partner might view changing your name as a reflection of your unity. It’s the brand new Mr and Mrs taking on the world! Changing your name could signify the start of a new chapter in your life. You have joined a new family and want to celebrate that by taking their name. You will always be part of your birth family, having a different name will never change that!
It’s traditional for women to change their name and you’re a traditional kind of girl. Everyone started calling you by your new name before you had even walked down the aisle, so why not go with the flow? Your mother took your fathers name, and your grandmother did the same with her husband, so why break a tradition that has existed for generations.
Another factor that might make you think about changing your name is your children. They have their father’s name so you want to take it too and celebrate your unity as a family. You might feel it gets messy when a Mom and Dad have a different last name and decide to change it for the children.
Whatever you decide, make sure that decision is right for you and your husband. Don't worry about what other people think - you have a bond which is stronger than any name you can give it.
Have an opinion? Why not let us know what you think and join the debate in our forums.