“Where do you find these guys?” my friend had asked me in disbelief as she witnessed me get married. Again. And not change my name.
Well, I don’t know. I found one at work, and he was from a tiny, rural town and younger than me. I found another on Match.com, and he was city and older than me. There’s no secret formula to finding a heterosexual male who is OK with his spouse keeping her name.
I recently saw a compilation asking women why they kept their last name. Some of the responses included:
He’s not the one who graduated and is going on to become a doctor.
I got bullied for my last name growing up, but it made me stronger and who I am. I kept my last name because I earned it.
I lost my father right before we got married, and I wanted to keep it.
I’m from another country and my family survived genocide, I don’t want to change my name.
While these are all solid reasons, guess why I didn’t change my last name?
I don’t have to be a doctor. I don’t have to accomplish anything or have earned a badge of honor that goes along with my last name. I wanted to keep it because I wanted to keep it. I like it, I’ve always had it and now…my kids have it.
Yet, I won’t be upset if they someday decide to get married and do something different: make up a new last name together, hyphenate or take their partner’s name. All I want is for it to be a conversation that takes place openly with love for the other person and patience as they deliberate.
Marriage is legal for all and gender fluidity is a topic of interest – it becomes more and more apparent that the old notions of last name changing is mostly a heteronormative issue.
- Around 70% of straight women take their husband’s name currently.
- 22% of women keep their name.
- Around 8.9% choose to do something else, like hyphenate.
- In the LGBTQ+ community, 49% of couples choose to take one person’s last name.
So keep your name, or don’t. Just give it the importance a name deserves; some time to deliberate and communicate.
My friend Kara Montgomery told me her and her wife had plenty of last name conversations before tying the knot. She really put how I feel better than I could have even said myself. She told me, “We are definitely a revolutionary generation of breaking down these walls of stereotypes, roles, and titles and owning whatever feels authentic to us.”
I don’t hold judgement for any decision regarding last name traditions. I don’t want any gender to feel pressure, regret, or falsehood when it comes to their name.
What I want is to strike the conversation of not feeling like you have to BE somebody to make a choice that is best for you and sits right in your heart.