Taking your spouse’s last name can be as simple or as difficult as you want it to be. There are many factors to support either side of this argument but, realistically – do need an argument? Make sure you both agree on this and have your facts clearly in place if you decide to go a slightly different route because you will be questioned about it. IF you do decide to go another route, there are options.
In some other countries it is very common for both husband and wife to keep their last names, both appending the other spouse’s last name to their own, and both using one compound last name. It wasn’t until Lucy Stone stood up for a woman’s right to keep their name that this even became a conversation in the U.S. You might be surprised to know that this was over a hundred years ago – way before Gloria Steinem, the Ms. Factor and bra-burning.
Changing your last name is technically easy. Once you have the forms from the Social Security office you can get a new Social Security Card (the number is still the same) and then a new drivers license. After that, you are basically done. Take your new forms of identification with you to the bank and have your name changed on the account, call your credit card companies, and anyone with whom you have credit (mortgage, student loans, etc) and you are finished.
Getting used to a new name is a different story; you may have doodled your merged names a hundred times in your wedding planner, but having someone refer to you as “Mrs. Frulla” for the first time will stop you in your tracks. You may ask youself why you had to change your name and he didn’t. In reality, you didn’t.
Pros of changing your name:
-It is easier. Maybe not today or tomorrow but, when children become involved there are always complications. It is easier when you all have the same last name.
-Having the same name as your new family makes you feel more a part of things. You are already bonded with your family, use this as a stepping stone to bond with his.
– Your last name is complicated, un-friendly, hard to pronounce or you just don’t like it. Now is a good time to fix that.
Cons of name change:
– You have established yourself in the workplace and changing your name could likely become complicated and may make it difficult to re-establish your reputation. Harldy anyone will remember Elizabeth Warner but, she certainly made headlines as Elizabeth Taylor. There was never a need for her to go by any other name and you may agree.
– You may feel like you have lost your identity. You have had this name for your entire life and now you are not the same person, anymore.
– It goes against your personal principle that a woman is expected to change her name and a man is not.
You have weighed the pro’s and con’s and now its time to make a decision. How about a compromise? You could use your maiden name as your new middle name. In fact, many affluent people have used the mothers maiden name for the children’s middle names for decades. Rose Fitzgerald gave her son John Kennedy her maiden name as his middle name. His daughter, Caroline has her mother’s maiden name, Bouvier, as her middle name and the media rarely (if ever) refers to her as Mrs. Schlossberg, even though that is exactly who she is. You can also consider changing your name legally and keeping your maiden name professionally.
One thing is for sure, this is a decision that needs to be made by the engaged couple and no one else. Who cares if Aunt Fanny doesn’t like it? It is your name, your life, your marraige, your choice. Once you (as a couple) have reached your decision, announce it to all and stick to it. If you are one of the 10% of women to choose to keep their maiden name, you may encounter some rough road but, stick to your guns. If you are one of the 90% who decide that change is okay, keep doodling.
-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago