Tuesday, November 10, 2009

what's in a name

It's crazy to think that in 7 months I will have a new name. Weird.

I've spent the greater portion of my life battling my own last name - it's a mouth full - not nearly enough vowels for correct pronunciation - and it was an element of minor torture in my school days. So I had always been excited to change my name. Until recently - being a grown up has given me more of an attachment to my name. It's who I am. Nobody else in the entire world has my name. (Nobody. Believe me. I checked on Facebook.)

Yet, despite this new found attachment to my name, I do want to share the name of my husband - I want that for my family, my children. And honestly, My Guy has a great Irish name. :-)

But it's weird to know that my name is changing. That I will not only be transitioning into a role of wife and partner to My Guy, doctor (!), and resident of a new state...but I will have a different name...a different identity....all within a couple weeks.

I wonder if I will miss my name. I wonder what it will feel like to wake up as me and go to bed that night as a different person. Or will that foreign name feel right - make sense - and be no biggie when it happens? Or will it make me sad?

Will it feel like the end of an era? Or like it's the beginning of a new one? Or both? Will I cry the first time I sign my new name? Would they be tears of happiness? Will I write my current name a million times the night before to say "goodbye" to it? When people call me by this new name, will I realize they are talking to me? Will I feel a slight detachment to my family, knowing I no longer share their name? Is it possible that sharing a name could, for us, help define our identity us as a new family?

I wonder how all of this will be. I will find out in 7 months.


  1. I took my husband's name.. it was never even a question. I always knew I'd take it when the day came. I'd practiced signing it years before he'd even popped teh question! I never gave it much thoguht. Now that I've started the process of changing it (my work email is now my new name, I'm calling the bank today.. etc), I'll admit it's a little weird. My husband sometimes calls me my last name (like only the last name).. he still does sometimes. Quite a few people call me my initials.. of my maiden name. They still do. And that's fine. I'm still me. That's still my maiden name.. just because it won't be what's on my driver's license anymore doesn't mean it's not still part of me!

    So in short, it takes some getting used to (I'm a little over 3 weeks in and it's still weird.. it's also weird to refer to him as "husband"!), but it's not a tragedy.. just an adjustment!

  2. I cannot even explain how happy I am to change my last name. Googins...who wouldn't want to get rid of that! Thank goodness the girls are the ones who get to change it! I cannot wait for the day to have a normal last name!

  3. Everything you said is exactly how I feel about changing my last name. I have always known that I would, but it's different to know that in 6 months my name will be something else, to have a time limit on something that I've had literally all my life. It's not that I doubt my decision, it's just really strange to think about changing something that defines me. I have to remember that I will still be me.

  4. It was never a question whether I would take my husband's name. I think 2 last names is confusing if you want kids. But I had a name that I always got compliments on and now my first name rhymes with my last name. I went from a last name that was swooned over to a last name that gets a chuckle. sigh.....

    But it has already made me feel more like a family. I'll get used to it, it's a great last name but Mollie Divine to Mollie McAuley, what do you do?

  5. It is a little sad - I'm the youngest in my entire family and there are no boys at all in my father's side of the family so the names stops with me. On the other side of the coin - with the childhood ridicule for my last name I'm also happy to take my fiance's last name!

  6. I was excited to read this but amazed that so many women still take their husbands name, nothing wrong with it at all, just thought more women would have a stronger attachment to their names. I have struggled with the identity thing greatly, as I am a graphic designer my name (last name) is my identity and all my hard work is built into that name. I don't think I am willing to give up my individuality and hard work that my name invokes. It's with a great sense of pride that I battle over even considering hyphenating my name.

  7. I've been married now for almost three weeks and it's amazing! I have taken my husbands last name.... I wanted to and always knew I would. I love my new name even though I am going from a very easy four letter last name to an Italian hard to spell one!

    When my sister and I were born our parents didn't give us middle names in hopes that when we got married we would use our maiden name as our middle name. I am in the process of doing that now (have to go to court to do it legally in my state). I've had a bit of a freak out about not being "me", but my nickname is part of my maiden name and I know my friends will always call me that.

    My students are having a hard time with the name change, so I'm answering to about 6 different names at school right now!

    I am so happy to have a new last name because it signifies our marriage, but I am very happy to have my maiden name as my middle name! (I'm not a big fan of the hyphenated last name)

  8. My fiance's brother is married to another Emily. That means I will be the second Emily (Last Name) in the family. Still, I am ready to leave my name behind. It's very awkward and people mess it up a lot.

  9. Growing up in the south of the US, for most of my life I assumed I would take my husband's last name if I married. Only in recent years did I start to consider the idea of keeping my family name, mostly because I am the only one to carry it on. Just over three weeks ago, I got married and now live in Quebec, Canada, where the law is that you must maintain your maiden name, even after marriage. Families here have two last names, and it seems to work well since that is what everyone does here. (A little challenging for addressing wedding invites though!)

    And I must admit, I LOVE that I still have my family name! I find it somehow freeing and I don't feel any less married or less unified (as I had wondered about before marriage). But I do love his last name too and still get a little kick out of it when my American friends refer to me as Mrs. HisLastName. :)

  10. Thanks for writing about this. So often the women who are vocal about name changing aren't changing to their husband's name. It's nice to get another perspective. I always thought I'd take my husband's name (mine get mispronounced so often, etc), but in college, a professor mentioned that he thought it was really meaningful when both husband and wife changed their name--the transformed relationship deserved a new name as well, he thought. I really took that to heart, and my husband liked the idea as well. So we both share a last name: Mylastname Hislastname (with no hyphen). It's been challenging to get used to having a new name, and I love that I can share my realizations and forgetful moments with my new husband. :)

    So that's my story. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I think it's important for women to talk about their choices, whether they are traditional or not.

  11. I've been going back and forth about this, too. I need to keep my name professionally, but I really WANT his last name. For awhile I felt antifeminist or something, and then I remembered that my maiden name is my father's name anyway. It's a dilemma, for sure.

  12. I also know a couple who took the first and last parts of their mother's maiden names and INVENTED a shared last name, and then both changed their names. Kind of sweet!

  13. Dear Mountain Bride,
    I remember feeling just the way that you do now ten years ago, as I was counting down the days to my Maine wedding.

    It was an identity crisis of sorts, that I pondered and ultimately wrote an essay about. In the end, I changed my name - kind of. I never got around to doing the passport or the social security card, and when I call some old friends and get their assistant, I tell them my old name. I wrote my old name on my high school reunion nametag. It has turned out not to matter too much and I've gotten used to the new name.

    I think what the "crisis" was more about, was something you touched on -- leaving your original nuclear family and going to start a new one. These days, most of us no longer go from our parents' home to our marital home, so it may seem like we've already left the nest, but emotionally, I don't think most of us have.

    I felt - amidst all the happiness of falling in love and planning a wonderful wedding -- some tug about these shifting allegiances, and even on my wedding day, was surprised to find that the time spent with my dad was just as meaningful to me as the time spent with my husband.

    What's in a name? A lot.

    Kris Connell aka Kristen Mary Jones


  14. I know this sounds a bit ruff but... do you really know what that reminds me? A cowboy selling his cows with his name... (Please I don't mean to offend anyone!)
    I know, not that romantic at all... I'm not a feminist, believe me! I just keep remembering the weddings of our grandmothers (at least here where I come from...) when the woman was kind of a property of her husband, and as so, she got the "tag". I see love as a commitment of two people, giving away their lives into one. I see a relationship as two equal parts embrassing each other.

    I can see the beauty in it, yes, I can. Receiving his name, as becoming a parte of him... and then, him receiving my name, as becoming a part of me. That's the only way it makes sense to me.

    Thats how I allways felt. I allways said that I would love to take my husband's name if he would also be that happy taking mine.

    That's the way I feel it: two lives becoming one, two names joining together to form a new family. The names our children will receive.
    If he's not willing to take my name, why should I take his?

    So, I met the love of my life and he as the same last name as me! How weird is that!? I gess I don't have anything to worry now. :D

    Oh, and a few days ago I read somewhere (God I can't remember what blog was that...) about a wedding where the bride and the groom already had the same last name and they did the cutest thing when exanging vows... They said to each other something like "I give away my name to take yours". Just lovely!

  15. ooh... I wrotte selling, I meant sealing! (like as with an hot iron)
    Forgive my english... It's hard to writte in a language I don't practice at all except for some blog zapping and watching movies.

  16. My sister is getting married this summer and I just recently came across your blog while looking at wedding stuff. I have been married for almost 4 years now and I took my husband's last name. You will miss you maiden name, as I do all the time, however, you will not miss having a life without your husband. I guess you give something up to get something great for the rest of your life! Congratulations on your upcoming marriage...I wish you many years of happiness:).



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