Maybe we'll legally change to Mr. and Mrs. Surname and be done with it.
August 25, 2011 6:11 AM   Subscribe

I'm getting married, and we're discussing the issue of last names. For those of you who didn't opt for the standard lady-takes-guy's-last-name route, how did it affect you? Did you hyphenate? Make a new last name? Just keep your old names? What last names will your kids have? How do you feel about your decision now?

The guy and I are both pretty stubborn about our names. He's the last male heir of his family, and I cringe at the idea of usurping the last name I've had for 28 damn years of my life. Also, my surname sounds phonetically solid with my first name, and less solid with his. Likewise for him.

At first, I was fine with the idea of simply keeping our own surnames, but then my special snowflake self got in the way: what do we do about our kids? I came from a divorced household where I got my completely absent dad's last name, my mom kept her maiden name after the divorce and then married my stepdad and had another kid, so I never had a family with the same last name as I did. As a kid I had to do a lot of explaining about why my last name didn't match either my mom's family or my new family. Not a big deal in the long run, I certainly don't need therapy over it, but it makes me sad to think that my kids wouldn't have my last name and I'd be the odd one out of the household again.

Hyphenating is another option, and our names are not awful as a hyphenated strand, but it's a lot of last name to saddle on a kid. Also, what if our kids marry other people with hyphenated surnames?

We also brought up the option of using the letters of our names to make a new name. At first I hated this idea because it sounds so... contrived. Then we landed on a pretty good surname that kind of made sense. I'm warming up to the idea, but I'm not 100% on board. Seems a bit new-agey.

What did you do when you were in this situation? What are the advantages and disadvantages of keeping/changing/hyphenating your last names?
posted by zoomorphic to Society & Culture (111 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hyphenation can be a good option if your names hypenate well. I'm hyphenated and it does not work; my last name is 14 characters long with two different forms of punctuation (' and -). Brevity is both the soul of wit and of easily-hyphenated last names.

Another option for passing on names would be to give one of your last names to your kids as their middle name. If I could rename myself today, I would go with , just because I like my dad's name more.
posted by Aizkolari at 6:15 AM on August 25, 2011


my wife changed her name to mine, but still uses her surname for job applications/ teaching/etc/facebook, as people know her by that name too... she had considered changing her middle name to her maiden name, but her parents told her not to do that, that they liked the idea, but it wasn't necessary and they prefer her current middle name...

my sister in law did change her middle name to her surname and changed her last to her husbands...

just some options...
posted by fozzie33 at 6:21 AM on August 25, 2011


Multi-barrel your name as much as you want. Nobody else really cares. If you keep your surnames, people will occasionally assume that you have the same surname and get it wrong ("am I speaking to Mr Vegetable?"). In professional interactions, family life has become so complex that clerks with more than a month of experience don't assume names to be meaningful.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:23 AM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hyphenated names are all well and good as long as you don't plan to have kids.

I'd give male kids the father's last name, and female kids the mother's last name.
posted by Jairus at 6:24 AM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Now that I say that I want to clarify what I mean by nobody else cares. The right answer in this case comes down to whatever makes the two of you feel best, which we can't tell you. There are essentially no external consequences that we can help you with.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:25 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I kept my name and my husband kept his. I didn't even really think about it. I like my name and had no desire to change it. It does lead to some instances where he is referred to as Mr. chiefthe and I am referred to by his last name. We both don't let it bother us.

We're not having kids, so no concerns there. The best way I saw it handled, though, was by my House Master in college. She hyphenated her name as did the child and the husband kept his name as is. You could also do it with you and your husband keeping your names and then hyphenating the names of any kids.
posted by chiefthe at 6:26 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


My kid has my partner's last name only. It has never been an issue that we have different last names.
posted by k8t at 6:27 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


My boss and her husband decided to each keep their last names and give their sons the father's last name and their daughters the mother's last name. It is both kind of cool and kind of strange.

I am struggling with the same question right now and will be watching this thread with interest.
posted by heyheylanagirl at 6:27 AM on August 25, 2011


My husband and I married in 2010 and have both retained our original names. We live in a very conservative area, and some people sort of grumbled about it, and he frequently gets called Mr. Pupstocks and I frequently get called Mrs. Husband. We usually just let it go, or if it's a situation where it matters in some way (credit card company, drivers license, etc), we just pre-emptively say, "We have different last names; he's ___ and I'm ___." It's really not a big deal, even though some of the grumblers tried to convince us it would be.

We do not have children, but if we do, they will have my husband's last name. We live in a patriarchal society where that is the norm, so that's what we plan to do just to make it less confusing for them/us.

My aunt and uncle who married in the 70s retained their original names, and their oldest child has my aunt's last name and the two younger ones have my uncle's. They were considered somewhat "weird" by the rest of the family for doing that, but I'm glad they handled this stuff the way they wished.

My opinion on all these issues is that you should do what YOU want to do. Other people will have their own ideas about what you should do, and that's their business; whatever you decide, people will pretty much deal with it.

ps - I was 29 when I got married and, like you, I felt like 29 years was just too old to change my name to something else. It's my NAME. You know?? And I didn't like the idea of getting absorbed into someone else's name. That really isn't what I feel my marriage is about. I certainly don't judge other women for taking their husbands' names, but I personally would not have felt right doing it.
posted by pupstocks at 6:28 AM on August 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


"contrived" last name here. Took the beginning of her last name and all of my last name and made it into a reasonably sounding (though unique) last name.

Made us happy, made our families less happy. We do have kids and it feels, to us, that it makes us feel like more of a family. YMMV.

Glad we did it.
posted by gregvr at 6:29 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Most of my female friends who've married have kept their maiden names. That's the influence of Facebook and of academia - if your name is already stamped all over the place in the world and in cyberspace, you're really losing something if you change it.

I think they plan to pass the husband's name along to children, but I don't see why you couldn't give children a hyphenated/concocted name, or alternate names, or use the middle name. It's already so common for children's names to not match one parent (because of divorce) that nobody bats an eye.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 6:30 AM on August 25, 2011


Nobody else really cares.

I was the heart and soul of a heartless, soulless hyper-bureacractic department for three years. We cared. We cared so much I felt bad for people. I can't tell you how much of a pain in the ass we were to anyone with a hyphenated name.

If you're going with hyphenated, change all your important documents over to the hyphenated name: social security card, passport, college degree, everything. This is the reason why my mother and many other educated/professional women in Russia never changed their last names after getting married; the experience was Kafkaesque if your name didn't match on two pieces of documentation someone wanted to see. And make sure to keep the originals, as well.
posted by griphus at 6:30 AM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I am not taking my future husband's name, that much is certain. I am on the fence about adding his last name to my last name (no hyphen). It'll be a bit of a mish-mash (very uncommon Italian surname for me, very common Anglo surname for him), but it'll theoretically sound okay. He's open to doing the same thing with his name, but it's not his favorite option.

Our kids will have both our names, regardless of what I do with mine. The way I see it, they're (going to be) OUR kids, not his kids.
posted by lydhre at 6:32 AM on August 25, 2011


Hyphenating is another option, and our names are not awful as a hyphenated strand, but it's a lot of last name to saddle on a kid. Also, what if our kids marry other people with hyphenated surnames?

Mr. Arthur and I both hyphenated; the Arthur kids are/will be also hyphenated. Our total hyphenated name is three syllables, so it's not too unwieldy.

Pros: Parity. Convenience -- everyone has the same name. We never have to explain to anyone that we're actually related. One time a shoe salesman at Nordstrom discovered that we were all hyphenated and he said, "That's craaaaaazy!" in a hilarious way.

Cons: Ill-designed computer systems rejecting hyphens. People who bizarrely confuse hyphens and apostrophes. People who can't figure out how to alphabetize a hyphenated word. People asking "but WHAT WILL YOUR CHILDREN DO WHEN THEY GET MARRIED?" (I have no idea. You'll have to ask them. The one who's been born already seems smart and resourceful, so if he gets married, I'm sure he'll figure something out.)

I love our name, but it's frequently a pain in the ass for practical reasons. The jury's still out on whether I regret it, but definitely not enough to have my social security card changed back.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:33 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you hyphenate, and your kids marry hyphenates themselves, they will go through the same thought process you are and come out as Smith-Jones-Doe-Verbletsky or just Verbletsky or Smith-Verbletsky or whatever.

I kept my name (changing it seemed like a lot of work). Our kids have my husband's name. The cats, incidentally, have my name, I guess because I take them to the vet more often. Know how often I think about our last names or about feeling like the odd one out in the house? Basically never. That one time we had to show our marriage certificate to the car insurance company to get my husband the married man rate. When we pointed out to our parish that married people sometimes have different last names and (long story short) got them to talk to the IT department and change the database at the diocese level.

My kids are too little to deal with it, but it's just so COMMON anymore that most of my friends' kids don't have the awkwardness about it that there was when you and I were young. When I introduce my husband and I, I say, "I'm Eyebrows McGee, and this is my husband, John Smith." Our kids will say something similar, I imagine.

It does help if you don't mind being called Mrs. Smith. I correct people we meet socially or professionally, "I'm Ms. McGee -- our last names are different," and it's no big deal. But I don't bother correct restaurant hostesses or hotel desk people or (key point) small children who are just being polite. I have no problem at all if a six-year-old calls me Mrs. Smith. (My husband also gets called Mr. McGee, which he finds funny. It helps if your husband finds it funny, since it happens with similar frequency.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:34 AM on August 25, 2011


I kept my last name. I could have gone either way, but I'm sort of lazy so it's worked out well. No need to change my name on any legal documents!

The kids I've known with differently-surnamed parents usually have one of the last names as a middle name. A few of the kids I've known with hyphenated last names ended up dropping the second name, e.g. from Sarah Jones-Thompson to Sarah Jones.

I find the blended last name thing sort of corny. Maybe it'll fade from popularity, or maybe people will continue to do it and it'll be widely accepted in a decade or two.

I assume if we have kids they'll take my husband's last name, but maybe it'll be a whatever-sounds-coolest decision. The cat has my last name, so I've got that.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:35 AM on August 25, 2011


My mother kept her maiden name, and us kids got our dad's last name. It bothered me as a little kid, but I had a rocky relationship with my mom and was probably just looking for things to be angry about. It did sometimes contribute to an us-versus-her dynamic, as she was a "Brown" while we were all "Smiths." But she hasn't regretted it, and a few people on the "Brown" side of the family have followed her lead and kept their names after marriage. Despite all the grumbliness I felt about it as a kid, I will probably keep my last name after I get married as well.

The kids with hyphenated last names I knew in school always grumbled about having a name that was too long for all the standardized forms. Kids are gonna grumble no matter what.
posted by lilac girl at 6:35 AM on August 25, 2011


We kept our last names. Our daughter has my husband's name.

The upside? Not having to change every damn bit of paper.

The downside? Well, there isn't really one. I don't mind people calling me by my husband's last name. (I DO mind if they are a friend and know better and persist in doing it - because that's just blatant disrespect.)

I've travelled internationally, just me and the kid, and we were fine.

Um... I'm trying to think of any other up or downsides. Oh, I guess the conversations with conservative in-laws who get shirty about it. But I just went all Miss Manners frosty on them.
posted by gaspode at 6:35 AM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


We kept our names and decided that boys would have my husband's last name and girls would have mine. We have one young son, and for the most part no one has blinked at this arrangement. A few people either assume that we share a last name, or aren't married because we don't, but neither offends me, and it doesn't come up much. I feel pretty strongly that love, not names, makes a family, although I can also understand feeling a bit lonely about it because of your experience growing up. Since it doesn't sound like you're very connected to the holders of your own last name, I think the mixed-up combo name sounds great.

(There was one distant relative of my husband's who, upon hearing that we both kept our names, exclaimed "Well I guess we'll be hearing about your divorce soon, then!" Yeah.)
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:36 AM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, what if our kids marry other people with hyphenated surnames?

Presumably they'll be adults by then and capable of making adult decisions. Maybe they'll both keep their name. Maybe they'll create a new one together. Maybe they won't care. Regardless, I'm pretty sure they'll figure it out if that situation ever arises. It's certainly not a hypothetical that is stopping me from wanting to give our kids two last names.
posted by lydhre at 6:36 AM on August 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


My mom is Ann Althouse. My dad is Richard Cohen. I am John Althouse Cohen.

As far as I can see, that's as simple as any other possible option. I'm pretty sure everyone is fine with it.
posted by John Cohen at 6:38 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wife kept her name, son has my last name.

Socially, there are no issues. Nobody cares, other than a couple old relatives who insisted on sending Christmas cards to Mr. and Mrs. Bondcliff McBondcliffslastname. Most of those folks are dead by now. A lot of my son's friends have different last names from one of their parents, or hyphenated names, or what-have-you. Nobody thinks it's weird that he has a different name from my wife.

There have been a few minor practical issues. I tried to rent a truck from Home Depot once and I had my wife's car with me. Because the registration was in her name they wouldn't let me rent the truck.

We also vacation in Canada every year and if my wife takes my son up ahead of time they sometimes give her a hard time at the border, just to make sure she's not taking our son away from me. I've taken to writing what amounts to a permission slip ("Yes, I know she's taking my son to Canada, I'm cool with it") and with that she's good to go.

There is a huge advantage to having separate names. The phone is under my wife's name so whenever I answer the phone and they say "Hi, is this Mr. Bondcliffswifeslastname?" I instantly know it's a telemarketer and I can hang up.

I kind of like it. When we were engaged and the subject came up she was sort of concerned that I'd have a problem with her not taking my name. I looked at her and said "Why the heck would you want my last name?" I don't own her; she's not my property and she had a life and a name long before I came along.

One thing: My wife's family has a tradition of using family surnames as middle names for the kids. So my wife's middle name is her paternal Grandmother's last name, and my son's middle name is my wife's mother's maiden name. So her family names are being carried forward. I really like that. Sure as shit beats "My mom's favorite saint's name" for a middle name.
posted by bondcliff at 6:39 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm divorced and remarried, with 2 kids from the first marriage who have their father's last name. I've kept my maiden name all along. So right now we have 3 last names in a household of 4. We are never having one of those cutsey "Welcome to the Johnson's" plaques on our front door, let me tell you.

I haven't found having different last names makes for any more work for me. Emotionally, I know I am connected to them deeply and forever (which is, to an extent, more than I can say for their attachment to their dad/co-surname-bearer) and it does not bother me that we don't share a last name, not one bit. Plus, their last name is shorter and easier to spell/pronounce.

I've never bothered to ask if it bothers them, and they've never mentioned it being an issue. Plus, you know, they're both teens now: everything I do is wrong, and my mantra has become "It's not my job to make you happy." So I'm not sure what I would do if it DID, in fact, bother them.
posted by drlith at 6:42 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do what you want, but I'm going to be the Devil's Advocate and tell you that you're over thinking this.

Take your new husband's last name.

You mentioned you were never part of a family where everyone had the same last name? Taking his last name will take care of that for you. There will be no weird explanations....no spelling, grammar, and pronunciation tests for your family, friends, and colleagues.....no eye rolls from others (and people DO roll their eyes at people with hyphenated names, I assure you.....whether the hyphenated crowd likes it or not)......

Hyphenating last names and laying that on kids also seems a bit much to me, but I imagine it doesn't to those who believe in it.
posted by PsuDab93 at 6:45 AM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I work with people from every corner of the earth, who have many, many different ways of naming themselves. It's fascinating to me. I think Iceland does it best.

I kept my name. Should we have children, I would do as John Cohen's parents did: give my last name as the middle name, my husband's as the last name. A nice modern compromise on naming e.g., in South America.
posted by wingless_angel at 6:45 AM on August 25, 2011


A couple women I know who've gotten married have kept their names, and everyone else's reaction was pretty much shrugging "'kay, thanks for letting us know" acceptance. Only one person has said she'd take her husband's name later on, but only if she ever becomes a professor of anything (but that's only because her husband's name is "Snape").

If anyone gives you guff, you could just say it's a professional "I've earned a reputation with [maiden name] and want to not confuse my clients" kind of thing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:47 AM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


I kept my last name; my husband kept his; our son has his last name.

I kept mine for a few reasons: 1) laziness and cheapness. It takes a lot of time and money to change SSN cards, credit cards, insurance, blah blah blah. 2) Mr. hmo is white; I am not. I wanted it to be clear that people would be dealing with an Asian female, and my last name makes it pretty clear.

As for the kid -- we gave him the husband's last name for convention's sake. I don't mind not having the same name as him. I MAMA BEAR DARE anyone to say he's not my son just because we have different last names.
posted by hmo at 6:47 AM on August 25, 2011


My husband and I kept our own names. We considered hyphenating for both of us, but we're both really lazy, so it's just easier to keep our own names. If we have children, they will be hyphenated. They can figure out what they want to do when they grow up and marry someone else who is hyphenated, I don't give a crap at that point.

For me, personally, I am morally opposed to the woman taking the man's name "just because that's how it's done". It's up to each woman, of course, but I do sigh a little internally when I see "FUTURE MRS. HISLASTNAME!!!" posted on facebook. I never see "FUTURE MR. HERLASTNAME!!" in the same way.

It is sometimes a pain dealing with people who cannot understand that I am not legally obligated to take his name upon marriage, and that yes, I promise, even though we have two different names we are married to each other. We also have trouble dealing with medical staff that provide care for his disabled mother. Apparently, even though my MIL has said time and time again that they are to consult me about her care, since I don't have her last name I can't possibly be the daughter in law on file.

I also still get wedding invitations addressed to Mr. and Mrs. HisFirstName HisLastName, which makes me snarl at the piece of paper, but I guess it's slowly getting better over time.
posted by crankylex at 6:51 AM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


We have friends who each had their own last name, and then had a child and gave him a hyphenated last name. About a year in they decided, you know what, this is just too much, a family with 3 last names, so Mom and Son did a family name change to Dad's name and now they all have the same last name. Moral of the story- whatever you decide now is not set in stone. There'll be paperwork, but it's do-able.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:51 AM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I kept my name legally/formally, but it's no skin off my hide if people in person or casually or whatever refer to me as Mrs. [husband's name] (admittedly it helps that my husband has an AWESOME last name complete with an X that noone ever needs spelling or pronunciation help with whereas my name no one ever knows how to pronounce/spell and it's hilarious when people try to make it sound Chinese based on my appearance when I'm adopted). I live in the South now and I have noticed people at say, the DMV raise their brow a little more than they do where I grew up, but whatever; that's their problem and tells me a little something about them too.

Someone in a Mefi or Ask thread ages ago mentioned an elegant system for last names that is fair to the matrilineal aspect but doesn't result in hypothetical mile-long hyphenations through generations of use. I should dig it up somehow for when/if we have children. If that doesn't work, I've considered a melded name (gotta keep that X!) for any children, where we both keep ours. We'll see.
posted by ifjuly at 6:53 AM on August 25, 2011


Someone I knew had a solution I like, as follows:

Mr Steve HisName married Miss Belinda HerName.

They are now Mr Steve HerName HisName and Mrs Belinda HerName HisName.

Their kids are all also called Kidlet HerName HisName.
posted by emilyw at 6:55 AM on August 25, 2011


Hyphenating is another option, and our names are not awful as a hyphenated strand, but it's a lot of last name to saddle on a kid. Also, what if our kids marry other people with hyphenated surnames?

Hyphenated by birth, not by marriage, but I've given this a lot of thought.

1) I am very glad to be hyphenated and have both my parents' names, and don't feed "saddled." It feels like a bonus to have a family name in common with so many relatives on both sides. And it's really not that big a deal logistically. As a feminist, I feel like I would be a little disappointed if my parents had done things differently, although obviously it's hard to predict alternate reality!

2) One obvious answer to "what about when hyphenated people marry/have kids" is "each keeps/passes on one of their two names." For heterosexual couples, you can come up with a perfectly fair and simple decision rule where the man keeps/passes on his paternal name and the woman keeps/passes on her maternal name. i.e. if she's Jane HerMomsName-HerDadsName and he's John HisMomsName-HisDadsName, the combined name would be HerMomsName-HisDadsName. And likewise down the generations. This has the advantage of avoiding gender bias, making the decision process relatively easy, maintaining the same "male line" idea of passing down names while adding a "female line" as well. However, there could be a different method of selecting which name to pass down (or creating a combined one, or whatever-- Alex Smith-Jones and Pat Miller-Johnson could become Smones-Millson if they wanted) if there are gay couples involved and/or if the couple wants to do it differently.

(Although I also agree that "Whatever, let the kids figure that out when they're old enough to get married/have kids" is also a valid response. Just saying, there are reasonable options out there that don't have to involve four last names or giving up on the concepts of hyphenation or gender fairness.)
posted by EmilyClimbs at 6:58 AM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


I kept my name in my first marriage and so did my ex and it was never a big deal. It was an even better deal when we split. It made things easier. But I don't recommend you go into a marriage looking for an easy way out.

My former parents-in-law had a pretty good system worked out, though, and I will probably want to emulate them if this comes up in the future. They were both doctors so they had plenty of professional reasons to keep their names. And they worked in the same place, so the fact that she was Dr. Grace Kelly and he was Dr. John Wayne was probably helpful to them keeping separate identities (which is an important thing if you want to be taken seriously as a woman in the workplace).

But socially she was Grace Wayne. Her kids had the last name of Wayne. If they signed birthday cards or address labels from the home, she signed it from "the Waynes". Obviously, she used her legal name for legal reasons. I already use a nickname socially and have a full legal name that doesn't seem to be related, so I enjoy the anonymity that results. I think this is a great extension of that. If someone calls and asks for Grace Kelly, you know right away that it is a telemarketer, for instance, because everyone you want to talk to will call you Grace Wayne.

It seemed to me the best possible world of keeping your professional identity and being associated with a family name.
posted by aabbbiee at 6:58 AM on August 25, 2011


I've said it before, so I'll just cut-and-paste here:

Our society is so crammed full of stepchildren and half-siblings and "I live with my daddy and my brothers half the time and my mommy and my other brother half the time" that I feel fairly comfortable in saying this:

Anyone who gets confused because two members of a family have different last names is being disingenuous. No adult hasn't encountered this. Kids of the current generation don't even see it as an issue. If anything, hyphenization and dual last names seem (to me, at least) to be kind of silly at this point. If you're Amanda Shackelford and he's Robert Rasmussen, it will not be a problem to say, "Hi, I'm Amanda, Billy Rasmussen's mom." Or for him to say, "Hi, I'm Robert, Billy Shackelford's dad." Yes, people will assume that you're Amanda Rasmussen or he's Robert Shackleford. So correct them once and move on. Anyone who "doesn't get it" is being a douche.

My current family has five people and four last names. It's not a thing.
posted by Etrigan at 6:59 AM on August 25, 2011 [16 favorites]


My ex-wife kept her name; I kept mine. Our kids have hyphenated last name (hers-mine). Some people assumed our kids have my last name. As far as I can tell (they are young adult now), they are happy with their hyphenated names, even with the occasional confusion and being surrounded by kids who had the traditional single father's last name when going to school.

For my ex-wife, to keep her name meant no having to change legal documents (twice!). Coming from a traditional background, it did not feel right at the time, but I could understand the logic and did not put a strong pressure on her to change her name to mine. I'm glad she had her mind made up and would now strongly suggest this option to any young (and not so young) woman who wished to get married.

Yes, it can cause minor problems when travelling to more traditional countries, and sharing a room with your spouse who has a different name. However, it's worth it. And as more people do it, it will no longer raise eyebrow and create problems like the one mentioned by crankylex when dealing with hospital personal and the like...
posted by aroberge at 6:59 AM on August 25, 2011


My wife hyphenated her last name with mine; I would not have cared if she kept her name without change. Our sons have her last name as their middle name. We felt there was no reason for an adult woman to take her husband's name, but we (okay, mostly I) also felt that fathers have the right to name their children after themselves -- how else will I know they're mine? (kidding, mostly). So it's patriarchy in the sense that I get a naming privilege as a father over my children, but not as a husband over my adult wife.
posted by hhc5 at 6:59 AM on August 25, 2011


My mom kept her name when she married my dad (much to the consternation of my maternal grandmother. When my mom later became pregnant with me, my grandmother's first question was, "NOW will you change your name?"). My last name is mom'sname-dad'sname (order of names was purely based on sound, as far as I know).

It is rarely an issue for me to have a hyphenated name. Mine happens to be fairly long, so occasionally it doesn't fit neatly on forms. There is some irritation at the pharmacy, where they CANNOT seem to grasp how to correctly file my prescriptions, so I wait an extra 1.8 minutes while they search. That's it. I went to liberal-ish schools in large cities, so there was always at least one other kid in the class with a hyphenated name. No bullying, no nothing.

If I get married, I will keep my name. I've had it for a long time, I like it and people know me by it, and I am far enough along in my career that I don't want to change it. I hope to have kids, and I would not choose to give them a 3-hyphen (or more!) name, so we'll probably go with my future-husband's name.

The thought of my kids having a different last name than I do does not bother me; after all, I had a different last name than both of my parents, and I never felt anything strange about it. Family is formed through emotional ties, not through labels.
posted by Bebo at 6:59 AM on August 25, 2011


Nineteen years of marriage with my own last name, kid has husband's last name. Findings, so far:

-- Anyone who gets into a lather about it is totally overthinking things. This includes me. (My husband is more offended when people refer to me as Mrs. Husband than I am.)

-- It's a nice screening tool for telemarketers. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Husband isn't here..."

-- I do tend to refer to myself as Mrs. Husband when it pertains to my daughter's school activities, but this is partly because she has a friend with the same, more common, last name as mine...whose mom doesn't share her last name, either!

-- The only place I have ever been asked to cough up documentation related to this is when I was trying to pick up mail for my husband at our PO box. When we got another one, we wrote down every possible permutation of our names on the form. No problems since.
posted by gnomeloaf at 7:01 AM on August 25, 2011


My husband and I kept our own last names. Very occasionally people will think it's odd, but it's become so common nowadays that this is less and less common. People will call me Mrs. Hisname or him Mr. Myname, but that's no big deal. Do what feels right to you.
posted by biscotti at 7:02 AM on August 25, 2011


I kept my "old" name. In the 3 or 4 years since getting hitched I've never had a single comment or question about it from family, friends, colleagues, whatever. I reckon something like 80% of my peers have kept their names, at least legally and professionally.

(I do sometimes book restaurant tables in his name though, just for fun - even in diverse Toronto it visibly confuses people to see a woman with an Irish accent use an Islamic name).
posted by jamesonandwater at 7:02 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have my surname, he has his surname. I was not going to change my name; it was not up for negotiation. He didn't care. Worked out perfectly.

The kids have my surname. "I did the work, they get my name" is what I tell everyone. Hyphenating their names or giving them both names or one surnames as a middle name, I mean, it just seemed too complicated for me. I basically said "We're giving them my last name, right?" and he said "Yes, if that's what you want to do" and I said "Yes" and he said "Fine with me" and that's what we did. He's never questioned why this was important to me, and he never cared, or pushed me to compromise. (I do feel very strongly about this, and wonder why other people don't; but hey, not my life.)

I have found that "everyone having the same last name in a family" just isn't the standard anymore. There's so many blended families, getting married when you're older, having the kids before getting married, divorces, remarriages, common-law partnerships, same-sex partnerships, mothers not changing their names, hyphenating, whatever. I wouldn't say where I live is either liberal or conservative; it's pretty middle-ground. I'd say at least half the families we know in the neighborhood/through school have mixed-surnames somehow, probably more. It's never caused an "official documents" problem in the US or in Canada, so that's not an issue.

And hey, if someone on the phone calls me "Mrs. (his surname)", I instantly know it's a telemarketer. Bonus.
posted by flex at 7:02 AM on August 25, 2011 [16 favorites]


I've been married for almost four years, and I opted to keep my name as it is. My husband, who used to sign his name "First Middle Last" now signs it "First Middle MyLastName HisLastName."

I kept my name both for "political" and professional reasons -- my name is unique and highly Google-able, which is key for a lady trying to make a name for herself as a creative professional. My husband's last name is extremely common. Also, you know, insert the standard objections to the idea of sacrificing part of my identity for patriarchal reasons, etc etc you don't need me to explain it to you. ;)

I've experienced no fallout from this decision. Occasionally I'll receive a wedding invitation to "Mr. and Mrs. Husband's Name" but I don't take it personally. I've never had a logistical problem with the fact that my husband and I have different last names -- professionals of all sorts have taken it in stride. This may be because it's an increasingly common practice in these parts -- I live in NYC, and none of my local married friends changed their names.

However, I AM anticipating some friction when it comes to deciding what to name our kids. I want them to have my last name -- it's a distinctive name, and it seems like a nice "consolation prize" for the fact that it seems like I'll inevitably take more of a hit to my personal and professional life by having kids, as much as it feels cynical to say so. However, my husband has so far been completely adamant that the kids should have HIS last name, lest it cause problems when they're growing up.

I've had several friends and family members suggest hyphenating our kids' names, but that feels silly to me. (I'm irrationally prejudiced against hyphenating, I'll admit -- it just seems overly complicated.)

We'll see how it shakes out! Perhaps I'll be talked into changing my mind in one way or another.

Also, in case it's relevant: my mom kept her "married" name after she divorced my father, so she and my sister and I all have the same last name. She was married very young, so her entire career was conducted under my father's name -- it just didn't make sense to change it back. As much as I have mixed feelings about my dad, I like my name, and I'm very very glad I didn't change it.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:02 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, what if our kids marry other people with hyphenated surnames?

I'm in a long term relationship with someone who has a hyphenated last name, and this objection has always struck me as silly. It does seem to me that sometimes people have a hard time owning their own objections to something because they are afraid it seems quaint/silly/sexist/whatever, and so they project it onto "the children."

My partner is sometimes annoyed with his name, mostly related to computer systems that don't know how to treat a hyphen (worth noting that this was something his parents had no way of anticipating when he was born; something worth pondering if you find yourself assuming that you can anticipate the problems your kid will have 30 years from now). Neither he nor his brother has ever expressed any annoyance related to "what will we do when we get married?" This is possibly because they're dudes and thus not socialized to get into knots about it; possibly because they're both in relationships with ladies who have no interest in changing their name, even if the dudes last name was the most awesome one in the world.

All of which is to say: if you want to change your name because you think it will make it easier on you as a mother to have the same name as your kids, mazel tov. I do hope you don't change it out of some worry about the problems it will maybe possibly cause your kids when they marry--if they marry--if they marry someone who is on the fence about changing his/her name.
posted by iminurmefi at 7:08 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Married 12 plus years. We both kept our names. Our kids' name is a traditional alpha-ordered hyphenate of our last names. Few issues. My only advice is, in the event of children with a hyphenate name, to be very consistent on forms and with "officials" about the full last name so that the kiddo doesn't end up with variations of his/her name floating around. I was already used to this because I have one of those two name first names (Mary Ann).

Truly, no one cares so the decisions ONLY has to be meaningful to you.
posted by rumposinc at 7:08 AM on August 25, 2011


I kept my last name. My son has my husband's last name. I have never received the vaguest objection about that from any quarter. No one in our particular world assumes that a child will have the same last name as the parent standing beside him.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:09 AM on August 25, 2011


I have a combination of my parents' first names as a last name -- no hyphen just Firstname Name1 Name2. On all my official documentation Name1 Name2 is listed as my last name. People obviously assume that Name2 is my surname when they first meet me but there aren't really that many occasions nowadays where that makes a difference since everyone calls me by my first name anyway. When I get married I intend to keep my name. Not sure what we'll do when we have kids, our names are from two different ethnicities so they wouldn't mesh all that well. I'll probably go with some version of my mother's name (the Name1 above) plus my boyfriend's last name. But we'll have to see. I've really not had much trouble with my name. I grew up in India, where all sorts of naming conventions are prevalent and all it took was a small explanation with anyone who got confused. I'm quite proud that both my parents wanted to pass on their names to me and of the unique name I have. Your children may be similarly proud and it's not as much of a headache as you'd think.
posted by peacheater at 7:10 AM on August 25, 2011


We both kept our own names, and our kids have his. My only regret is not hyphenating the kids' names, even though our last names are both hard to spell and pronounce. I also would have preferred giving one kid my last name, but they were adopted and a different race from us, so that added to my feeling they needed to have the same last name as each other.

I really like the solution of adults keeping their names and kids getting the hyphenated version. The issue of when the kids get married is just not a thing--cultural norms will shift and they might want to do something different anyway.

Above all, I'm very glad I still have my own name. No one blinks at multiple names in families anymore.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:10 AM on August 25, 2011


Pre-wedding:
"So, about your last name...?"
"I thought I'd keep it."
"What would you think of hyphenating, as a compromise?"
"Oh, so I'd be Ms. X-Y and you'd be Mr. X-Y? Or do you want to be Mr. Y-X?"
"No, that's not how it works. You'd hyphenate, mine would stay the same."
"So I'd change my identity and you'd do nothing? That's not what 'compromise' means. Fuck that."

So we both kept our names. Not planning on kids, but if we did, I'd likely push for a one-word new name...we have the name picked out and occasionally use it informally. The only thing I don't like about it is that I cringe every time I meet a straight couple that shares a last name, because it's almost always the man's name and the whole name-change tradition bothers the hell out of me. I rather like that it's obvious we didn't do any name-changing.
posted by orangejenny at 7:12 AM on August 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Wow, awesome answers!

Just to clarify, my issue isn't that people will give me a hard time about keeping my last name. We live in NYC, and most women we know are a) much older than the US average - like, mid- to late-thirties sometimes - when they marry, so changing their names seems stupid at that point, and b) pretty socially progressive, so adopting HisLastName feels wrong. Plus, I don't care if anyone thinks it's stupid to not take his name.

I strongly dislike the option of giving my kid(s) my last name as a middle name, so that option is out the door. No one is going to see my name unless they're reading an official document.

It looks like now I'm leaning more toward keeping my own name, letting the boy keep his, and hyphenating my kids' names. I simply refuse to reconcile myself to the idea that I will carry those damn kids around for 9 months, I will give birth, I will bear stretchmarks, I will work off the post-baby weight, and yet he gets sole custody of surname rites.

If our kids are anywhere near as stubborn as we are, they'll do something about their hyphenated surnames if they hate them as much as some people do.

Then again, the blended name is pretty nice-sounding too...
posted by zoomorphic at 7:18 AM on August 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


I love the idea of a blended name. It does sound like the idea of all having the same last name is something that would mean a lot to you, so if the blended name sounds good, and you're both on board, I say go for it!
posted by cider at 7:23 AM on August 25, 2011


(Uh, for whatever my opinion's worth, which is pretty much nothing in this case. Sorry -- didn't mean to sound quite so: "here's what you should do!" about it!)
posted by cider at 7:24 AM on August 25, 2011


Also, just as an FYI, although you probably know this, you don't have to decide anything now. You can always change names later (maybe you'll want to do something different when kids come along or whatever). I have never done it personally, so I'm not speaking from experience, but I do hear the paperwork of name changing is a pain in the ass, but it's not like it's impossible. There's no time limit on a name change if you decide you want something different from what you decide now in the future.
posted by pupstocks at 7:30 AM on August 25, 2011


I kept my name, hubby kept his, kids have mine. A few relatives were upset at the time and it's been a non-issue ever since - kids in late teens and 20's, married 26 years. As others have said, it's a great screening tool for telemarketers.
posted by leslies at 7:35 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really like your solution, zoomorphic. (And your assertiveness!) Your future kidlets are lucky. I'm one half of a female couple, so our discussion around naming our hypothetical kittens is less about resisting patriarchal conventions and more about honoring one another's heritage and family. For that reason, I imagine we'll definitely do something like blended or hyphenated last names.
posted by Lieber Frau at 7:42 AM on August 25, 2011


Kept my last name. Was never an issue. Sometimes the mister gets called by my last name because people assume. We find that sort of amusing.

We just had a baby and after much agonizing, she has four names. No hyphenation. Essentially her middle name is a regular middle name (my grandmother's) and my last name. She could shorten her middle initials to E.E. if she wanted. That has a certain New England poet feel to it so I like it. However, it is a very long name and we and she may decide to change it later if it presents major obstacles.

I admit, I have a pang every time I sign her name to something and it's Firstname Notmylastname. However, up to this point, no one has batted an eye about the two different last names. And, as I am doing most of the signing of forms lately, there's a lot of documents with my name and her name on them. Different last names. Not a peep! YMMV.

At the last minute, I proposed a mixed surname that I actually really like and that we would use just for her. After all, it's like she's a mix of us anyway. The mister wouldn't go for it and I wasn't wedded enough to the idea to press it but I kinda wish... I think if you had seen all our names together it would be totally clear and some people would go "that's weird" and others would go "hey, that totally works!" and a new tradition would sweep the nation! Or something.
posted by amanda at 7:56 AM on August 25, 2011


zoomorphic, I see all of your reasoning as pointing in the opposite direction. You carry the baby, pushed it out, have the stretchmarks, etc, so no one questions that this kid is yours. The only way for the father to demonstrate that this kid is his, is to give the child his name. (Just another way of looking at it.)
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 8:03 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


My mother didn't change her name when she and my father got married in the mid-seventies. They didn't know what to do with names until they had twins. So I got my mother's last name and my twin brother got my father's last name. The middle names are reversed. I'm Waldo Landers Jaquith, and said twin is Jackson Jaquith Landers. My kid sister has the same name arrangement that I do. It's never been a problem, other than occasionally having a hard time convincing people that we're really (fraternal) twins.

My wife—who kept her last name—is pregnant with our first child, due in December. We haven't figured out what to do with the name situation, other than that he'll have one of our names as his last name and the other as his middle name. (It's sort of Alphonse and Gaston situation at this point.) We considered blending names for kids, but our names aren't really blend-able. I proposed selecting a name from one of our family histories (Randolph, Peabody, Cassidy, Morse, Beale, Sandridge, Rolfe, etc.), but she nixed that.
posted by waldo at 8:05 AM on August 25, 2011


I knew a brother and sister in high school, where she had her mom's last name and her dad's last name as a middle name and he had the opposite. So if the parents were Bob Smith and Jane Miller, the kids would be Steven Miller Smith (Steven Smith for most purposes) and Emily Smith Miller (Emily Miller for most purposes). The only confusion was people sometimes not knowing they were siblings, but otherwise I thought it was a good idea.
posted by Hactar at 8:07 AM on August 25, 2011


FWIW, my mother changed her name on marriage (before the law changed in Quebec), and she regrets it; I also wish I had been given a hyphenated last name because it would better reflect my family. (I do not wish this enough to go through the paperwork, though.)
posted by jeather at 8:17 AM on August 25, 2011


I hyphenated; my son has my husband's last name only. I wanted to give him my last name as a middle name but didn't get my way. I still wish now that I'd fought harder, especially since the husband is now ex. Hyphenating does make dropping his name from mine simpler now - which is of course not an issue you want to think about when you're planning all this, but it is a plain and simple practicality.

Something to keep in mind is that you can use any name you want as long as it's not for the purposes of fraud. So depending on the situation, on how much I wanted to argue for it, etc, I was alternately Lemniskate MaidenName, Lemnisakate ExHusband'sName, or Lemniskate Maiden-Husband'sName. And it honestly has never caused a problem. People tend to drop the first name in a hyphenated name; I am most regularly called Lemniskate ExHusband'sName, and I only correct people if we're friends.
posted by lemniskate at 8:22 AM on August 25, 2011


Long ago, in the 1920s, my grandmother kept her maiden name. When she and her husband had children, they named them with hyphens. My father moved to America, and kept the hyphenated name. When he married my mother, she took his already hyphenated name. My brother and I grew up with the hyphenated names of my father's parents. My brother's wife took his ancestral hyphenated name, and their children have this same hyphenated name. Coincidentally, my stepdaughter has one of my hyphenated names as her last name, which can be convenience sometimes. (She has her mother's last name. Her brother has his father's last name.)

I have never been truly bothered by my hyphenated name (despite computer glitches and having to ask file secretaries and pharmacists to double-check whether it's filed under the second initial).

Yeah, when I was a kid, I was the only one. (Nowadays not an issue.) And people sometimes assumed my parents weren't married. When I was older, they assumed I was married when I wasn't. Big deal.

The point is, people can do whatever they bloody hell want. And the queries that sometimes come up really are no big deal. Just be aware of the glitches that can arise, and you're golden.
posted by RedEmma at 8:27 AM on August 25, 2011


Don't hyphenate your name. Just don't. Keep your name. If your soon-to-be-husband wants to continue the line of his name, then have kids and give them his last name.

Do Not Hyphenate.

Welcome back, Pointer! It's Arlene Oslott-Joseph! And who might you be? {shudders at the thought}
posted by johnn at 8:32 AM on August 25, 2011


I simply refuse to reconcile myself to the idea that I will carry those damn kids around for 9 months, I will give birth, I will bear stretchmarks, I will work off the post-baby weight, and yet he gets sole custody of surname rites.

OK! Then give your kids your last name as their last name.

That's what my dad and stepmom did with my half-brothers (so my half-brothers and I have different last names even though we have the same dad). It's also what my aunt and uncle (my dad's brother, also a Cohen) did with my cousins.

In both cases, the father's name was "Cohen" and the kids got the mother's more distinctive last name. My half-brothers have "Cohen" as their middle name, but my cousins don't have "Cohen" as any part of their name; their middle names are (as usual) first names of male family members.
posted by John Cohen at 8:32 AM on August 25, 2011


Oh, I was just talking to a friend and fellow mefite about this! I'll point her to this thread, too.
At first, I was fine with the idea of simply keeping our own surnames, but then my special snowflake self got in the way: what do we do about our kids? I came from a divorced household where I got my completely absent dad's last name, my mom kept her maiden name after the divorce and then married my stepdad and had another kid, so I never had a family with the same last name as I did. As a kid I had to do a lot of explaining about why my last name didn't match either my mom's family or my new family. Not a big deal in the long run, I certainly don't need therapy over it, but it makes me sad to think that my kids wouldn't have my last name and I'd be the odd one out of the household again.
Okay, here's my stance on it. I love my last name. It's me. My name is me in every significant way. I'm a North forever and ever. There has never been a doubt in my mind that I was keeping my name forever and ever because I so strongly identify with it.

My husband feels the same way about his name. It's his. He wouldn't in a minute change it.

Luckily, I thought long and hard about this question when I was about ten. To me, the only fair solution (and hyphens were out because I didn't like them) was that girls get mom's last name, boys get dad's. I think I got this from Spanish naming customs, or maybe some scifi novel (I also floated the idea of everyone taking a portmanteau last name, but dismissed it, because that would entail me changing mine, and again, that's never going to happen). More elaborately, my kid's names are going to look like this:

Boyfirstname Boymiddlename Mylastname Hislastname
Girlfristname Girlmiddlename Hislastname Mylastname

My husband seems okay with this. If you end up with all girls or all boys, well, what can you do? It was random chance and it's what the fates decided. Everyone has all of the names there. As the kids get older, they can pick and choose what names they use. And there aren't any more names there than the Catholic kids I grew up with (who had middle and confirmation names) had, so it seemed dandy to me.

This solution is really fair, as in equitable and also as in no one can really affect the outcome of who has more kids with the same last name as you, etc. Yes, you'll end up with kids with slightly different last names, but it's really a matter of degree. If I was a little girl, I'd imagine that I'd feel proud sharing my last name with my mother (likewise, little boy with father).

I anticipate some backlash from both of our families. Although my mother finally went back to her maiden name about five years ago and was ecstatic (she never felt like her surname, she said, even though she changed it without a second thought in the 60s), she still said it seemed weird to get married and not have a new name. His family was slightly flummoxed by it, too, even though there's a smattering of remarriages and everyone has different names in his. We got some checks made out to Mr. & Mrs. Etzel (um, no). So I imagine that the parents might be a little confused by our choices at first, but hell, they usually are. We're weird!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:33 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, another benefit to longish names without hyphens: lots of cool initials. Let your kid be the next JRR Tolkien or George RR Martin. Destined for fantastic greatness!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:36 AM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


When Mr. Rabbit and I got married, we decided that we would pick a neutral third last name, and both switch to that. We even picked out what it was going to be.

Then it turned out to be such a phenomenal amount of work (we lived in a state where you have to publish your intentions to change your name, get an affidavit from the paper, go to court, etc. and that's even before you get to changing the names on every bit of legal and financial stuff you have) that we ended up keeping our last names. We weren't planning on having kids anyway, so it just seemed easiest.

Well, 13 years after we got married, we had Baby Rabbit.

So we had to think about what the heck his last name was going to be. Just Mr. Rabbit's? Just mine? Did we want to change one/both of our names now, so we all had the same one?

Since I was carrying the kid, Mr. Rabbit had to choose what his name was going to be, all of it, first middle last (I know this sounds like he got the easy part, but Mr. Rabbit is about as indecisive as they come, so this was a fair bit of effort for him). I figured that this way, we each got to contribute something important to Project Baby. Baby Rabbit ended up with a hyphenated last name, and a short first name to balance it out.

Each of our last names is two syllables, so it's not the longest name in the world. His first name is also two syllables (though only four letters long) so it rolls off the tongue nicely.

And it turns out I really like his hyphenated last name. We're both equally there in his name, and it makes me feel good that our names have been combined in a lasting way, via this child. Plus, we never did have to go through the name-changing rigamarole!
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:48 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Then again, the blended name is pretty nice-sounding too...

It sounds like you really want to do this. If you do, and your husband is game (because I wouldn't do it unless my husband did, too, it's only fair), I'd go for it. I have friends whose surname was invented about 100 years ago because one descendant was an orphan. It doesn't sound too unusual, as far as Sicilian surnames go, and they know at a glance that anyone with the same last name is related to them, which is awesome.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:49 AM on August 25, 2011


I am a "everyone gets their father's last name" kinda person. So my spouse and I both have our father's last name and so does our daughter. Now, if you want to be dissociated from your father or your family of origin then change it to whatever you want. I just like the idea of having a trail of ancestors behind me. As a data point - My father has an ex-wife who changed her last name to his because she hated her first husband and didn't want his name anymore. She and my father divorced and she kept my fathers last name for the next decade and when she got married a third time last year, still kept his name as part of her new hyphenated last name. She is attached to my father's last name and wanted to keep it forever. Great! That's who she is. Whatever you decide, make sure it feels right to you. And be prepared to defend your choice because you will get "why did you do that?" questions whatever you do.
posted by bijou243 at 8:51 AM on August 25, 2011


When my partner and I had our first child, we weren't married, so the "what do we call the baby" conversation seemed more important. We decided to settle it with a coin flip, for our first and for any subsequent children, so the baby has my last name. When we married five months later, keeping our natal surnames made sense. I never intended to change mine anyway.

Since neither of us felt strongly about it, except for a vague idea that it was weird to automatically assume we'd give the baby his father's name, a coin flip worked well.
posted by linettasky at 8:55 AM on August 25, 2011


Don't change -- it's pointless. Flip a coin to see which the kid ends up with, or just name him/her Smith.

Names just don't matter.
posted by coolguymichael at 8:56 AM on August 25, 2011


I took my husband's last name and changed my middle name (which I never liked) to my maiden name (which I do).

If I had known how much work/money/time goes into a name change, and how friends and colleagues I had lost contact with would never find me with my new name, I would not have changed it.

As for kids, I have friends who did the "daughter gets mom's last name, son gets dad's last name" and other friends (who kept their own last names) did "hyphenate the parents' last names." Either way seems to work, but man, that hyphenated name is insane (16 characters and really clunky).
posted by sazanka at 8:57 AM on August 25, 2011


Admittedly I'm not married yet, but as I have my father's surname currently and we don't have much of a relationship to speak of, I've put a fair bit of thought into this. I always figured that at some point, I'd take my mother's maiden name; my maternal grandfather was a huge influence on my life, and I'd like to honor him in that way. Now that it's pretty clear that marriage is indeed in my future, I'm debating between Forename Middlename Maternalmaidenname Husband'sname or Forename Middlename Husband'sname Maternalmaidenname (in both cases, I'm looking at two middle initials, not a compound surname). Middlename might get ditched entirely in either of those options, as well; it's dull, and I don't particularly care about it. Anyway, it's not exactly conventional, but it makes me happy to think that I can honor both my grandfather and my future husband in some way.

For what it's worth, I'd consider a blended name (I have a friend with a rather lovely blended name), but there's no way to make a blended name not sound ridiculous in my particular case. C'est la vie.
posted by divisjm at 9:00 AM on August 25, 2011


We both kept our last names. We both have uncommon last names, with me the last male heir of my branch of the family (going back four generations) and my wife one of just two people in the country with her surname.

Our daughter's name is $GivenName1 $GivenName2 $WifesSurname $MySurname, with my wife's surname being listed on the birth certificate as a second middle name, so the short form of my daughter's name is $GivenName1 $MySurname. If/When we have another child, the name will be structured $GivenName1 $GivenName2 $MySurname $WifesSurname.

We are all happy with this relationship. Sometimes people who know my wife professionally refer to me as Mr. $WifesSurname and the converse happens to her. We don't usually bother to correct them.
posted by 256 at 9:08 AM on August 25, 2011


I did not change my last name because I didn't want to. My husband didn't expect me to and even said he'd be surprised if I did. I didn't hyphenate because that would have led to a really absurd last name.

Our kids have/will have my husband's last name. We made this decision because there's just my husband and his brother left for their last name, and I have a boatload of cousins and other relatives to carry on ours.

Short of having to occasionally correct people that I am not a "Mrs" or as referring to my husband as "Mr. Zizzle's last name," I haven't encountered any problems. And my son having a different last name hasn't posed as many problems as I would have expected.

We've been married for nearly five years. I don't ever wonder if I should have changed my name. But then, I was the only girl in my eighth grade history class who raised her hand when we were discussing the Seneca Falls Convention when the teacher asked how many of us girls wouldn't change our names when we were married.
posted by zizzle at 9:09 AM on August 25, 2011


Ex-wife took my name. Still uses it. Our kids have my name. One of our kid's first name is my wife's maiden name. Rest have her family names as middle names. Ex is a teacher. She has come across so many combinations, etc that really nothing will phase people.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:16 AM on August 25, 2011


I added my husband's last name to mine on actual documents, so personally I'm First Middle Maiden HusbandsName. Kids have HusbandsLast.

But professionally---I'm an academic---I use my maiden name.

(Actually, it's a little more complicated than that. My university uses Banner, which apparently in their implementation is incapable of having different listings for payroll and class listings. Grrr. So in banner, I'm listed as First Maiden Husbands. But I answer the phone as First Maiden, I put First Maiden on my syllabi, etc. People seem to be able to deal.)
posted by leahwrenn at 9:21 AM on August 25, 2011


I am female and I kept my name, Mr Corpse is male and kept his name. The boy little Corpse has Mr Corpse's last name; the girl little Corpse has mine. Any problems we've run into have been resolved within seconds, and I can't even think of any off the top of my head. Oh, except that we accidentally gave the girl Corpse the wrong last name when she was born -- there was a lot going on at the time and we just weren't paying attention -- and had to legally change that later.

The males have the female last name as a middle name, and vice versa, but we don't use our middle names in our daily business.

I have never regretted keeping my name, and I doubt Mr Corpse has either.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:22 AM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


My mother's birth name was Abigail Elizabeth Smith (no, it wasn't, but I need to illustrate here.) She married, in succession, John Lennon, Tom Jones, and Elvis Presley (no, she didn't, but I need to illustrate.) Her naming/child naming pattern was as follows, bearing in mind that as a kid she went by Lizzy Smith:

(married to John, no kids)
Abigail Smith Lennon

(married to Tom, one kid)
Lizzy Smith (for about a year)
Abigail Jones (for the other two years)
Kid's name: Rachel Michele Jones-Smith

(married to Elvis, two kids)
Lizzy Smith Presley (for about a year)
Abigail Elizabeth Smith Presley (for about ten years)
Abigail Smith Presley (since then)
Kid's names: Susan Thompson Presley, Erica Louisa Jane Presley
(the Thompson is an old family name)

I'm the Jones-Smith; I have two male cousins who have a last name like Jones-Roberts.

I like being the only person on earth with my name. If I marry someone I'll probably continue to use my full name for writing and work and the like but take a SINGLE FREAKING LAST NAME for legal papers and social stuff like invitations and church because MY GOSH how many different ways can you screw up a name as simple as mine? I don't know, because people keep messing it up. Every username at my work is supposed to be "first initial, middle initial, last name" and I have SEVEN DIFFERENT USERNAMES.

I will never, ever, ever give a child a hyphenated name. I will take the traditional last name of my father's people, which is like, 15 letters long and more or less unpronounceable, before I do that.

And though it's unpleasant to think about, I did want to mention I know one (former) couple with a shared hyphenated last name, and they spent an enormous amount of mental energy on the question of what the heck to do after they divorced. This is one problem my mom didn't really have.
posted by SMPA at 9:28 AM on August 25, 2011


I simply refuse to reconcile myself to the idea that I will carry those damn kids around for 9 months, I will give birth, I will bear stretchmarks, I will work off the post-baby weight, and yet he gets sole custody of surname rites.
That's an odd way to frame it, but it does help explain a lot of the inter-marriage competitiveness demonstrated by so many couples.

My wife chose my surname over her father's surname. She likes it, and only rarely gets comments from disapproving friends.
posted by BurntHombre at 9:39 AM on August 25, 2011


A few things to consider:

- Do you look like your husband-to-be? Are you the same ethnicity? Is it likely that any kids will resemble both of you equally? If not, you might have issues with travel, especially with international travel, in the future, if you don't have the same last name (whether it's hyphenated, his, or yours). I have several friends who have had huge issues traveling with their kids for this reason - they were questioned in hotels, in truck stop restaurants, etc. - the worst situation being a mixed-ethnicity couple, where the (lighter skinned) mother was separated from her child while he (the child, who resembled his darker-skinned dad) was questioned by airport immigration staff about whether he was being kidnapped by the different-looking, differently-named adult he was with. While this was severe, issues like this are still not uncommon, sadly, no matter how uncommon women keeping their own names gets.

- The blended-new-name issue is (weirdly enough) likely to result in a massive case of "men get huge kudos for doing something women do all the time" syndrome - the two couples I know who did this both had near constant cooing over (and uncomfortable hitting on) the man involved - he'd done this AMAZING thing, after all.
posted by Wylla at 9:47 AM on August 25, 2011


No one likes to think of divorce when marrying but, as a data point, when I divorced Mr. Wrong, both the judge AND Mr. Wrong had to AGREE to ALLOW me to take back MY OWN DAMNED NAME. In writing. Like, one of them could theoretically have said NO. Fuck that noise.

I say keep your name, cross the children bridge when (and if) you come to it.
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 9:55 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Now, if you want to be dissociated from your father or your family of origin then change it to whatever you want. I just like the idea of having a trail of ancestors behind me.

How does matrilineal naming make you any more disconnected from your ancestors than patrilineal naming? In either case, you're taking one last name and leaving behind another last name.
posted by John Cohen at 10:03 AM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm on my second marriage (no kids in either, and there will be none.) I took Ex's name the first time around because I was 22 and honestly I was not that thrilled with my birth name. Also, my mother's nickname is very similar to my given name; in fact, my given name is often a nickname for her given name. It was, I thought, a good reason to change, and besides, it wasn't like I was going to ever split with Ex, right? Wrong. I have a lovely sheepskin now with the wrong name on it.

When we split, I got the freebie name change. I could have named myself anything, but I went back to my birth name and I didn't change it this time. My husband is also the last male of his family, and it's worse: they're all John Middlename Lastname. If we had a boy he'd be John Middlename Lastname, but I might have decided to dig my heels in for a girl.

Even in Texas we have no problems with us having different names other than the general confusion (are you Mrs. Hislastname? No, he's my husband but I go by immlass; people calling him Mr. immlass, which has me looking around for my father). For me all the advantages have been in keeping my name and all the disadvantages accrued when I changed mine.
posted by immlass at 10:04 AM on August 25, 2011


My wife chose my surname over her father's surname.

You also might want to be careful about wording. My name is mine, and my theoretical husband's name is his; or my name is my father's, and my theoretical husband's name is his father's.
posted by jeather at 10:04 AM on August 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm a guy. When I got married, I took my wife's last name, because my last name was ethnic and hard to spell/pronounce. Her name wasn't her name, either; she had changed her last name to her father's middle name when she was an actress (for reasons similar to mine.) I had it changed legally (or so I thought), and have used the new name for over a decade. My children have the same name.

This has presented no problems whatsoever, except that I recently found out (while trying to solve a passport-renewal snafu) that my name has not actually been legally changed via the means I originally employed (I did not realize I'd aborted the process inadvertently partway through), but by California law it is now my legal name (as I've been using it for more than a decade consistently in the state.)
posted by davejay at 10:12 AM on August 25, 2011


Yes, as jeather says, when you've had your name your whole life, it is your name, not just your "father's." If you were a man named John Smith, Jr. named after your father John Smith, Sr., would you say that your full name is just your "father's" name? No, it's your name, your identity. Go ahead and change it if you want, but admit that you're giving up your name for someone else's.
posted by John Cohen at 10:16 AM on August 25, 2011


We're not married yet but my partner and I are about to have our first child, and he's getting my partner's last name. If we do end up married in the future I'll take his name too, but that's mostly because I've never liked my last name so it's easy to give up, and I like the idea of having the same last name as my child. But if we don't end up married or somehow split up we both want our child to have his father's last name.
posted by katy song at 10:19 AM on August 25, 2011


I have an unusual French last name that only sounds good with my name if I say my middle name along with my first, and my (likely) future husband has a standard Anglo name that kinda sounds okay with my first name, but sounds better if I just use my middle name with it due to the number of syllables that all the names have together.

As much as I love my last name (and I'm the last person in my family who will bear that name), I would almost rather just be My Name + Middle Name as New Last Name (His Name). Future husband will likely be grumpy about this because he's looking forward to calling me Mrs. Husband, but whatever, he can deal.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:22 AM on August 25, 2011


My husband and I each kept our names. For the kids, the only person who cared strongly was my FIL, so the kids got my husband's name. They have my name as a second middle name. I don't give a fig if they use the name or not, but I wanted it there for official record-keeping purposes.

It is sometimes inconvenient, since I do all the registration for school and swim lessons and other things. If I had a dollar for every time I've asked "My last name or her last name?" I wouldn't have to worry about college. But nobody's ever been confused or given me grief about it, aside from the crazy fundie lady who told me I was refusing the greatest gift my husband could give me (and who then, when she saw my modest engagement ring, said "That's it? No wonder you won't take his name"). And while I do sometimes wish that we all had the same last name, I sure as hell am not changing mine, and my husband sure as hell is not changing his.
posted by KathrynT at 10:28 AM on August 25, 2011


I'm not married, but my partner and I have been together long enough that we've already had the conversation. He is fond of his rare but easy* name, and I am indifferent to my extremely common one. We decided (well, I decided and told him since he didn't care) that though I don't care to legally change my name if we actually bother to get married, I plan on, if I ever publish anything, using his last name as a non-hyphen double whether we're married or not.

See, if my full name were Dust Wind Dude, all three parts of it are extremely common, and there are at least 8,000 of us in the US last time I checked on some website. But if I were Dust Wind Dude Boy, I'd be the only one in the world, or at least on the internet, which is the same thing amirite?

And for myself, I just don't like hyphens unless we're talking about the Dude-Boy family as a unit (which currently contains me, him, ManCat Boy, and WomanCat Boy because they have people names that sound better with his name - we don't plan on kids.)

It'd be largely irrelevant to me, therefore, if someone called me Mrs. Boy, or him Mr. Dude.

*it's very simple and of Norman Conquest descent so English-y, but basically everyone in the US that has it is related to him somehow.
posted by dust.wind.dude at 10:33 AM on August 25, 2011


i kept my last name, he kept his last name, the kid is hyphenated. i was fine with her having mine or his only, but he insisted on the hyphenation. in fact, he was pretty bummed i didn't want to hyphenate myself (he wanted us to be a "family unit"), but come on! i feel bad that she's hyphenated, but she's welcome to do whatever she wants to change it!
posted by oh really at 10:49 AM on August 25, 2011


Chiming in to address one odd possible occurance when going from Ann HerName to Ann HerName-Hisname, or even Ann HisName-Hername.

I'm in medicine. When records exist under Ann HerName, and a name change occurs to HisName, it's clear that all references to the person must be changed. Changing to HisName-Hername can stymie medical records personnel, especially if the new combo is long. I've seen personnel make choices that make sense to them, choosing either Hername (it is first, after all), but sometimes they choose HisName. There does not seem to be consistency about which name is chosen. Add in insurers, pharmacies, various physicians or dentists, and inconsistencies can be an incredible headache! This can delay payment or lead to claims denial if names don't match in the various databases.

Not saying choosing either HerName or HisName is better, but hyphenated last names sometimes lead to "creative" solutions among those who organize records. Consistency is important, whatever name is chosen. Make sure all records agree.
posted by citygirl at 10:57 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I, the guy half of the equation, don't particularly like my last name (it's spelled "incorrectly" and my parents divorced when I was six). My wife and I dated for seven years (to the day) before we got married and already had all sorts of joint accounts with both names on them.

We each kept our old names, and all three kids have taken wife's last name. There was almost no discussion on either point, it just made sense. We've never experienced any issues with banks, daycare, whatever. I have no idea how my father's side of the family feel about the kids not having my last name, nor do I care.
posted by togdon at 11:06 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am in a very similar situation to you (although I'm already married AND knocked up).

Never had the same last name as my mother, step-father, or two of my sisters.

I also got to see my mother's graduate degrees hanging in her old law office with an old married name, which was depressing. She worked incredibly hard for those a time when it wasn't easy for women and they're not even in her name.

I will be heading to grad school eventually, and considered the hassle of having my name changed on official documents, dealing with transcripts/bureaucracy/old professors/etc.

Here's my solution, cobbled together haphazardly but seems to work okay.

--The in-laws, and anyone else who feels like it, can use my married name. I use it in social situations, especially when I'm primarily there due to my partner (weddings in his hometown, family reunions, you get the idea). I get the feeling of being completely included in my in-law's family, which is comforting and makes me feel secure. A nice change from the melange of names I grew up with.

--Everything legal, work-related, and educational is in my maiden name--including payroll, transcripts, graduate school applications, taxes. I plan to use it professionally because, dammit, they're my degrees and that's my hard work. BONUS: Name-change forms filled out post-wedding = 0

--On the rare occasion that I'm in the news, I use both names.

--Hyphenating my child's name would be profoundly ugly in my case, but in yours it would probably be a lovely solution.

--Kid is getting his dad's last name AND his paternal grandfather's middle name. I am mildly pissy about this, but they have the resources and motivation to be very supportive and connected and I want to encourage that as much as possible. Essentially, I'm sucking up to them on my son's behalf.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:20 PM on August 25, 2011


When my mother and father split up, my mom had my name and hers legally changed to - I kid you not - a name she picked out of the phone book. She didn't want to keep his name, and no attachment to her birth name, so she just started us over.

When I got married, I kept that last name and my husband kept his name. Our son has his last name (and his first name as well).

A quick peruse of my FB page indicates that of the married women I know (and most are not "professional" women by any means - they're stay at home moms, booksellers, secretaries - probably 65 - 70% kept their own last name.

The bottom line is: it's your name. Do what makes you happy. Don't mind what anyone else has to say. Do what you are most comfortable with.
posted by anastasiav at 12:26 PM on August 25, 2011


My marriage ended in divorce and we didn't have kids, but I have always been adamant that the "kids take the man's surname" thing is sexist bullshit that needs to die. My ex and I decided that if we had kids they should take the coolest surname. As luck would have it we both agreed that her surname was coolest, so there wouldn't have been a an argument had our ghost children ever become corporeal.

I would also have considered tossing a coin for the first one and then alternating. Seems fair and reasonable to me. Hyphenated names always seem either pretentious or reeking of uneasy compromise to me. Give the kid a surname. It should be everyone's birthright.
posted by Decani at 12:33 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was given a hyphenated name by my parents (Mom also hyphenated hers, Dad kept his own). I do not mind it at all. They had to make the font smaller when the put me on the Spelling Bee plaque. Otherwise, they are both English, easily-pronouncable, not-too-long, names. They sound nice together.

HOWEVER, it is not a sustainable practice!

{Backstory: Mom was the last of her family, wanted to keep her surname alive, had three daughters, we have matching tattoos now to signify the name, in case we all moved to change ours}

I am very recently married and have decided to keep my own name. My husband goes by a different moniker than his given one, so I don't associate his surname with him.

We have talked about mushing our names together, or him taking mine, or choosing a whole new one , in the case of children. There's no immediate pressure for that, though. The one thing I'd avoid is gender-naming the kids (Son gets Dad's name, daughter gets Mom's). I do know one pair of brothers who were each assigned one parent's name, and the eldest turned out very like his mother, in body-type, speech, mannerisms, who he is named for, and the youngest like the father! Weird!

In conclusion, my vote is for a whole new name or some combination of your two. Good luck!
posted by Isingthebodyelectric at 12:35 PM on August 25, 2011


Thanks for an awesome array of answers. Thank you, again.

I'm down to the hyphenated family name (but only if we all take the new long name, kids included) or the blended name, which is a very nice name without pretense or fake-sounding shenanigans.

I'm not sentimental about my own surname, as it's associated with a family whom I never met. I'm the only MyLastName of the clan that I know, so there's no weird primal identification. The added bonus of the new name is that it's very close to my mom's first name, which is an old and unusual Southern family name - the part of my family that actually did raise me. Boy liked the name, too, though we haven't made any final decisions. I'm sure this debate is spurred mainly from general wedding anxiety where I fear of losing my me-ness.

Either way, any potential kids will have something from both of us instead of just one parent. This means a lot to me, for personal reasons as well as vain ones. Cool!
posted by zoomorphic at 12:48 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Awesome!

It doesn't sound like you're worried about it, but for those following along at home, DO NOT worry about what other people will think or say.

No matter what you do someone will judge/critique you.

I actually have gotten a decent amount of shit for using my partner's name here in NYC. My father is a misogynistic creep who didn't raise me, but if I don't hold on to his name forever, in every situation, it's a death blow to feminism. Oh, okay.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:00 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


You also might want to be careful about wording. My name is mine, and my theoretical husband's name is his; or my name is my father's, and my theoretical husband's name is his father's.
Yes, I understand. And your theoretical husband's name would also be yours if chose to take it. My point is that I'm not sure why people get possessive and territorial about things like naming their children, as if they're in a competition with their spouse about who wins the Most Important Parent award.
posted by BurntHombre at 1:13 PM on August 25, 2011


BH, you initially said that a woman's name is her father's, but a man's name is his own. This is a sexist statement.

Given that women are told things like "why do you want to keep your father's name?" and men aren't; that children, in English-speaking cultures, usually get the last name that their father was born with, not their mother; that in general only women are expected to compromise by changing their names: well, it sort of makes sense that some women find this irritating, that it seems designed to erase their identities and histories, and that some of them want to get balance by having both names passed down, either by naming kids both names or giving different last names to their children. This isn't a competition -- but if it were, the men would be way, way ahead, and whining whenever the women tried to make things equal.

Also, it makes it impossible to find people eventually. Who is this person emailing me/friending me on facebook/otherwise getting in touch in a generic sort of way? Well, I knew 3 people named Amy, let's do a process of elimination about which one this might be.
posted by jeather at 1:33 PM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


I used to be gung-ho about keeping my last name when I got married. And then I met Dream Boy (possibly the future Mr. Vortex?) and his last name has an umlaut. AN UMLAUT!!

All feminist, its-my-identity worries flew out the window. I want a last name with an umlaut, dammit.
posted by Elly Vortex at 1:39 PM on August 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


I kept my last name and my husband kept his. It requires some explaining on occasion, but has overall (in my opinion) been less of a pain in the ass than changing my name would have been. My son has my husband's last name and my last name as a second middle name. I didn't really want to hyphenate, making up a new last name seemed kind of complicated, and my husband's last name is awesome, whereas mine is the second-most common in the US. So I think we will continue this pattern for future kids. Sometimes I wish I had taken my husband's name because his is so much more interesting than mine, but it's not a big deal and so far (6 years of marriage) I have spent very little time thinking about it.
posted by feathermeat at 1:54 PM on August 25, 2011


I kept my name, my husband kept his. Our children will take my last name, but our first born son will have the same first name as my husband.

So, we'd be Karl Poehler and Shelley Poe (not our real names), with children Karl Poe and RandomGirlsName Poe. We don't actually have children yet, so we may change our mind.

Before our wedding the celebrant warned me that not taking my husband's last name would be a major hassle and I would change my mind. Thus far, the only impact it has had was that when I was given a security clearance I was asked to submit a statutory declaration that I had never gone by the name Shelley Poehler.
posted by PercyByssheShelley at 2:24 PM on August 25, 2011


I still use my last name & Mr. Stardust uses his. People call me Mrs. Hislastname all the time & I just tell them "actually, it's Mylastname." No one huffs too much about it. We're planning on naming any kids Firstname Middlename Mylastname-Hislastname. My mother's side of the family is from South America, so their legal names are all Firstname Middlename Saint'sname Mother'slastname Father'slastname and they managed it as children with no problem. In my case, our respective last names are wildly ethnically mismatched. Mine is short & a common English word. His is Jewish and no one can spell or pronounce it. There is no way to blend them into one name. If the kids decide to switch to one of the other, I doubt I'll care.

My cat also has my last name.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 3:29 PM on August 25, 2011


I was (not our real names) Cate Calloran Jones and he was Cliff Scott Reilly. I was not all that attached to Jones (it wasn't really Jones, but it was equally generic), but I didn't want to just lose it. So now I'm (something like) Cate Calloran Jones Reilly. I think having four names is awesome, and I get a kick out of writing "C. C. J. Reilly" on things, haha. Sometimes computers and bureaucracies whine at me and force me to become Cate Calloran Reilly, which is ridiculous because what do they do about people who have five names, or who only have one? Bah. But the Social Security office (if you're American) didn't blink. As for any kids, it's probably not going to be an issue for us. At any rate, I would probably be more interested in giving them a middle name of "Calloran" (my actual original middle name is my great-grandmother's birth surname) or another vanished maternal name from my side than worrying about the surname.
posted by wintersweet at 4:46 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh yes, I used to have co-workers who were an awesome aging couple, one Chinese-American and one either Scottish- or Irish-American, I forget which, and they had combined their names so that they were both O'Lan or McSong or something. It was definitely a conversation-starter!
posted by wintersweet at 4:49 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I got married in 1985, and kept my name. Got a fair amount of flak from parental units on both sides. Nice to see that it's no longer a big issue. Keep your name; it's a big part of your identity. Pick one of the many options for the kids, if any. It will work out.
posted by theora55 at 6:58 PM on August 25, 2011


I'm not sentimental about my own surname, as it's associated with a family whom I never met. I'm the only MyLastName of the clan that I know, so there's no weird primal identification.

I don't lurve my last name either, but I've never been able to imagine the point of changing my name. It's mine, just like the freckles -- technically inherited but solely my own, like it or not. (I got good fortune in the young-looking-face lottery too, so I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth too much.)

The added bonus of the new name is that it's very close to my mom's first name, which is an old and unusual Southern family name - the part of my family that actually did raise me. Boy liked the name, too, though we haven't made any final decisions.

THAT is a good reason. ;)
posted by desuetude at 11:23 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Although personally I lean towards each person keeping her own name (both for reasons of sentimentality and practicality), something that gives me a lot of sympathy for the blended names (and even blended names that make no sense, linguistically/etymologically) is that actually, the whole practice of having last names at all just isn't that old, and not all that long ago, a whole of surnames *were* just made up out of whole cloth, and it's hard to see why they should have got to that, and we now would not.

It seems possible to me that thanks to social changes and feminism, we're going through a shift in naming practices as significant as the move to assign last names to people in the first place, and the final outcome of that shift is still to be determined. So, I guess, be the change you want to see in the world?
posted by Salamandrous at 2:33 PM on August 30, 2011


Molly Jong-Fast hyphenates her father's and one of her mother's exes (who she claims she has never met) names.

I know of two couples with kids where the boys are given the mother's last name and the girls the father's; the female halves have kept their original last names.

Zoomorphic, I think your IRL name is elegant. Go ahead and keep it.
posted by brujita at 1:18 AM on August 31, 2011


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