Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Miss to Mrs....?

First off: We're exactly 100 days until the wedding! Can I get a WOOT?

With just over three months to go until the wedding, I think it's time to discuss something a little more serious than the colour of my flowers or what my bridesmaids are wearing:

The dreaded name changing issue.

I admit, I struggled with this A LOT. My feelings are so tangled on the subject I don't even know where to start. But can I just say how freaking unfair it is that women have to struggle with this decision, and men do not? I mean, Keith would never, in a million years, consider changing his last name to mine. NEVER. I'm tempted to just tell him to shove it, because if he wouldn't change it for me, why the heck would I change it for him?

Like I said, it's terribly unfair.

I know a lot of women drop their middle name and move their maiden name to their middle. This is a total no-go for me, because my middle name is actually my birth mothers maiden name. There's no way I'm ever losing that piece of my personal history by dropping it. It's a complete non option for me.

So that leaves me with three options: (1) Keep my maiden name as is, (2) take his and drop my maiden name completely, or (3) add his last name to mine without a hyphen and have two last names.

Option 1 - Keep my maiden name as is: 
I like my last name. It's short, and simple, it 'goes' with the rest of my name, and it isn't terribly hard to spell (although some people add an R after the first letter or add an E at the end, for some indiscernible reason). In all truthfulness though, I have no great attachment to the name from a family standpoint. I'm not particularly close to my dad's side of the family or anything.

The simplicity of keeping my last name appeals to me - you know how many documents you have to change?! I get exhausted just thinking about it.

I confess: I'm not too fond of his. It's just so silly. Although, in its defense: it's also short, simple, and very easy to spell. And I know this is inconsequential, but if I keep my last name, then I'm a "Ms." - not a "Mrs". Somehow this particular distinction matters to me.

And the children:
This is a big reason for why most women change their name. It does and doesn't apply to me - I grew up with a mom who kept her maiden name. I can't really think of a situation where it was a problem with people not knowing she was my mother. Also, after the divorce, my sister changed her last name from my dad's to my mom's. Which means that currently 2 out of 5 members of my family don't have the same last name - and it doesn't detract from the fact that we're a family.

But I can't dismiss option 2 entirely, and here's why:

Option 2 - Take his name:
This option appeals to the romantic and also the traditionalist in me. It certainly would satisfy all those pesky "what name do we give the children" quandaries. And, after the initial pains of getting my name changed, it's simple. Let's be honest here: as a young bride, I will - more than likely - have his last name for far longer than I had my current last name. As for the career problem, I don't have a career - I'm still in school. There's nothing in my (non-existent) professional career keeping me from changing my last name.
The next reason is a big, sentimental reason, which makes no logical sense, but if I changed my name ... then I would have the same last name as Keith's mom. That link to her - although abstract, and certainly illogical, is a big draw. It's hard to explain, but she married into the name too. I'd be sort of following in her footsteps, in a way. Like I said, it's hard to explain what this means to me, and I certainly can't do adequate justice to the feeling it evokes.

Option 3 - Have two last names:
On the surface, this is the best of both worlds. No hyphen, just double barrel the last name. Easy peasy. Everybody's happy.

Except for the children question. Everybody who I've talked to with a double last name has HATED it. I don't want to do that to my kids. And, while I say having a different last name than my kids wouldn't be too big of an issue, see reference to my traditionalist side up above. I do like the idea that all of us would have the same last name.

So where do I go from here? Right now, I've almost decided entirely on Option 2.

Because in all truthfulness - I'm not a fan of the name, but boy howdy, I sure am a fan of the boy who has it.

I'm curious - was it a no-brainer for you? Or did you struggle with it as much as I did?


Helen Elizabeth said...

You should just choose to have two middle names* I have four names now! Twenty-four letters.

Haha, I just totally told you what to do. Still in work mode, sorry.

Tia said...

I changed mine, and I totally regret it. But for all of the opposite reasons that you bring up! I had a career in my maiden name, with publications. I had a masters degree in my maiden name. I now have my MIL's last name, and I hate her. I don't want to be associated with "her" last name. Changing everything was a HUGE pain and really expensive. If it wasn't an even bigger pain, I'd go back to my maiden name. But for your reasons, I'd say go with his name :)

Heather said...

I took his last name (as you know) instead of mine. I didnt like his last name compared to mine because now when I say it there is this dreaded pause where they have not even the foggiest clue how to spell it. So I say "*lastname* but let me spell that for you".

As for the Ms v's Mrs, all I can tell you is that for the entire first two years of my marriage I got exceptional joy at ticking the MRS box on any form I filled out!

I love that we have the same name and though for a while I missed my old name, now my married name feels totally 'mine' if that makes sense lol?

wellreadkitty said...

I have a double barrel first name and it is arse. Why is it arse? Cos it feels unnecessarily long and cumbersome and people constantly think I am telling them my middle name as well - nope, I have other middle names thank yee. It's why I now just go by the first half of my double barrel, even if my parents hate it and my family insist on using the full name all the time. I would never recommend doing this, even if it is kinda different with a last name.

Phew! /rant

Jess said...

I thought about it carefully, but ultimately it wasn't a hard decision. I wanted to have the same last name as Torsten. I wanted it to be simple. I liked that his last name makes our family sound German. I had no real attachment to my maiden name; I was never that close with my dad's family. Changing it wasn't that big of a deal. I didn't have any publications or anything in my maiden name.

And, the beautiful thing about Ms. is that it can be used for any woman, married or not. I go by Ms. Marriedname all the time, especially in business writing.

Rachael said...

I loved my maiden name and did not love my husband's last name. So I kept my maiden name as my middle name, so that's what I'm known as professionally, although in personal circles I just go by my married name. Some people hyphenate it in professional usage and I don't bother to correct them, but all our children have his last name, no hyphen.

sarah said...

Helen: oooh, that's an idea. I never thought of that.

Tia: Ouch! I'm sorry you regret your decision. Thanks for being honest though :)

Heather: But your maiden name isn't that hard to spell! What?!

Kelly: See? Yet another person telling me not to double barrel the last name! Gah!

Jess: I actually read your post for inspiration to write mine. And for the record, I like your last name :)

Rachael: I'm awestruck. I love your blog. Thanks for commenting & sharing your perspective!

Thanks girls! Now I'm wavering again - should I add it as a middle name or just double barrel it. So undecided. :(

Amy said...

I am late to the party! I kept my maiden name. For me it was a no-brainer. I didn't want to deal with having to get all my paperwork changed over. Clients and colleagues know me by my maiden name. It's just always been "my" name and it feels like my name. Our child(ren) will have husband's last name, and I'm happy with that! I don't mind being the oddball. It's not a feminist thing (after all, my last name is my dad's last name, allllways a man) it's a matter of laziness and personal preference for me :)

ains_rae said...

I'm late too Amy! I'm going with the double last name. That gives me 19 letters (first name and both last names)! It will mostly be just for documents that I will use the hyphen. Professionally, it will be too hard for children to say (I'm a teacher), so I will just shorten it and use B's last name. As for kids, when they arrive, they will just have B's last name.