The Great Name Debate

The Great Name Debate

The Great Name Debate

The pros and cons of taking his name or keeping your own.

It's time to play the Name Game. We don't mean that old song from the 60s with the Frankie Frankie Bo Bankie Banana nana something or other routine. We mean the eternal question that faces every bride-to-be: So....are ya changing your name?

Yuck. I hate this question, and so should every woman out there. Oh, I know I could go on and on about how lucky we are as women to have a choice about the matter these days, but to be honest, I wish we could just go by our first names and be done with it. I have come to the conclusion that there is no good choice out there. You're damned if you do, and you're damned if you don't. Man, I never learned that in any Women's Studies classes back in college. Sigh. Watch a video about men who take their wives' last names.

Anyway, here are your options, with the pros and cons to go along with them.

Taking His Name


*Your mother-in-law will love it, providing, of course, she loves you.

*Your husband-to-be will love it. Even your vegetarian, incense burning, 'No, honey, I'll do the dishes' husband will love it, shocking himself with a bit of traditional masculinity he didn't know he had inside him.

*It's easier because 90 percent of the people out there will assume you will take his name, and they'll call you by it anyway, no matter what. And when you have kids, it will be way easier.

*The googly-eyed, moony, sixth grade girl in you that used to write, "Mrs. Rob Lowe" all over her binder will secretly love it. Is It OK To Be Called "Mrs. (Husband's Name)?"

*If you're lucky, you may end up with a name that makes you sound like a British romance novelist or a movie star. Even better if it replaces some weird last name you had that nobody could spell or pronounce.


*You will spend approximately one week in the Social Security office, one week at the DMV, and one week filling out all the other paperwork to make your new name all legal-like. Prepare for death by boredom.

*I don't care how nothin' says lovin' like somethin' from the oven you the end, if you take his name, a small little part of you goes away for good.

*You will feel embarrassed to tell certain people about it, including certain female friends who will feel they have the right to dress you down for being such a traitor to your gender.

*Your mother-in-law will hate it, depending on how much she hates you. This may be a pro, depending on how you feel about your mother-in-law.

*You may end up with a terrible name that no one can pronounce or spell.

Keeping Your Name


*You don't have to change your credit cards, bank accounts, checks, ID cards, frequent flier mile cards, voter registration cards, Social Security card, car loan, student loan, etc. etc. etc.

*You feel like you are representin' for the ladies.

*It will secretly piss off your mother-in-law, whether she hates your OR loves you.

*It may also piss off your own mother, depending on how traditional she is. This may be a con for some of you, but for many of you, this is a pro.


*It may bum out your husband, who always pictured himself with a Mrs. My Last Name by his side.

*People will feel they have every right to ask you for an explanation as to why you didn't take your husband's name.

*You will spend your whole life explaining to people why you didn't take your husband's name. (Like it's any of their business!)

*You will be called Mrs. Husband's Last Name and receive mail addressed to Mrs. Husband's Last Name despite all attempts to explain that you did not, in fact, become Mrs. Husband's Last Name.

*If you have children, you will have to explain to them why they have a different last name than you. Or, if they take your last name, you will have to explain to them why they have a different last name from their father. Or, if all of you hyphenate your last names in an attempt to be socially progressive, you will have to explain to them why their last names are 46 letters long and insanely difficult to deal with. Everytime they take a standardized test at school and have to bubble in their names, they will curse you under their breaths.



*Man, I can't think of any. Seriously.


*As mentioned above, your last name could potentially be 40 letters long. It will not fit into any forms you need to fill out for official purposes. Some people will forget the hyphen and print your name as Sara Andersonpeterschmidt. What the?

*You might potentially give up and end up going by your husband's last name, but legally you will have a hyphenated last name. Then, to get it changed, you will have to go through the name change process yet again. What fun.

*You will say, "It's a hyphenated last name" 20 to 30 times a day.

*You will basically annoy everyone who has to deal with you.

Using Your Own Name Professionally and Your Married Name Socially


*Everybody is somewhat happy.

*You get a taste of both worlds.

*You probably don't have to go through the legal runaround.


*You will confuse yourself in certain situations where your work life and social life collide.

*You will use the wrong name in the wrong situation, causing confusion and possibly chaos.

*You will develop split personality disorder and be found rocking slowly under the kitchen table asking yourself, "Who am I? Who am I?"

Then, of course, there's always the whole using your maiden name as your middle name thing. That works, sometimes, but can present the same problems as hyphenating. Plus, who uses their middle name all that much unless they're, like, Courtney Cox Arquette? And of course you and your husband-to-be could choose a brand new "family" name together, or blend your last names into a different name you can both use. But seriously people. Do we really need any more hippies out there in the world? I didn't think so.

All I know is that despite the advances of feminism and the multitude of opportunities available to our gender that didn't exist before, this is one area where I think it's just plain lousy to be a girl. Whatever your choice, remember, it's your choice and no one else's. And remember that whatever you choose, it's probably going to suck a little. Married or Maiden Name: How To Choose

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