I was definitely one of those middle school girls who doodled my first name with my crush’s last name to see how it would look. But when I actually got married, I did something none of my friends had done yet – I kept my middle name, kept my last name, and added my new last name on the end. No hyphen, just a space.
According to a recent NY Times article more women than ever are keeping their maiden name. Is it because people are now getting married later than ever before? Because women are rising higher in the workplace, getting more degrees, and working while having a family? While I can’t comment on America as a whole, I can tell you why I chose to (sort of) keep my name.
You might know that I’m one of three daughters, and we all have decided to do something different: My older sister kept her name, my younger sister plans to drop her maiden name and take her husband’s last name when they get married in the fall, and I’m… somewhere in between.
I’m in my late 20s (with a really big – ahem – birthday coming up in just a few short months), and my entire life I’ve been known as these 3 names strung together. It’s on my high school diploma and my college degrees (not to mention my driver’s license, health insurance forms, and every other legal document created in my 29 years including, yes, the kindergarten physical fitness test showing that I could jump on one foot that I feel compelled to keep). And suddenly, because I’m married, I’m expected to drop that last name and change it completely? …Meaning I’d suddenly be in a new group of the alphabet when I register at conferences (yes, these are things I worry about).
One of Terence’s biggest things about my name was that we have one family name – not the family has one name and I have another – so when we have children, I plan to introduce myself at their school(s) as my full name (meaning both last names). I’ll respond to either my full name or my married name, or even my maiden name; I’ll use an email address for personal things that has my full name but keep my work email as my maiden name; and when I have to fill out a form, I’ll put what my legal name is, with both last names – no hyphen, just a space.
Yes, it’s confusing, but changing your name is such a personal decision, and this is what feels right to me. It could be because my last name ends with me and my sisters (we have no male cousins with the same last name), or maybe it’s because of my grandmother’s “I do what I want” attitude that I grew up loving (remind me to tell you that story sometime). Maybe in 10 years I’ll decide to completely jump into my married name and drop my maiden name. Who knows!
If you’re married, did you keep your maiden name? Change to your married name? I’d love to hear what you did and why! (Or what you plan to do!)