I consider myself a feminist. And yet, I took my husband's name when I got married over twenty years ago. Looking back, I was conflicted about the strong, independent woman image: I had my career and was never going to give that up to be a stay-at-home mom and yet I thought I wanted a traditional marriage. I didn't need persuading to take my husband's name. I did it willingly.
I’m not sure that I knew anyone who hadn't adopted her husband's name at that time. But, then as I started to meet female colleagues who'd kept their maiden names, I was envious.
My ex-husband is of Eastern-European heritage and little did I know that taking his name would mean that I would always have to say it and then spell it for anyone writing it down. For anyone who would have to say it, I also had to give them the phonetic pronunciation. Otherwise, they would inevitably say it wrong. I remember my daughter's ballet recital when she was a pre-schooler. She was getting an award and the ballet teacher called her name out incorrectly three times before another child nudged my daughter to say, "That's you."
Then, there were always the people who asked the origins of the name. I'm English and despite having lived in the United States for over 20 years, I still have an instantly recognizable English accent. My married name never seemed to fit.
When we were getting divorced, I knew without a doubt I wanted to change my name back to my maiden name. I didn't ask my ex for his opinion and to this day, it isn't something we've discussed.
I did ask my children — then, ages 14 and 11 — how they felt about having a last name that was different from theirs, but they just shrugged and said, "OK." They both had friends whose mothers were married and had kept their maiden names so luckily, it didn't seem that odd to them. Keep reading...
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