Monday, January 5, 2009

What's in a name?

Several people have asked me even before I got married if I would or have changed my last name and why / why not.

I did change my last name, but I have to admit that the decision wasn’t an easy one for me and I’ve thought about it since the day I was engaged.

I LOVE my full maiden name. It represented me and who I am and where I’ve come from and kept me connected to my disconnected family. I was proud to have the name that I was given. Plus it flowed, and when I said my potential future full name, I didn’t get the same sense of flow. It didn’t sound like me. It sounded like someone different, someone I didn’t know. Plus I had an awesome signature - one that took a long time to perfect.

If you know me, you’ll know that I’m not the kind of person who does things just because they’ve “always been done this way”. For a woman to change her last name when she marries is very traditional, and that is not why I decided to change my name. In fact, because it is so traditional and probably still assumed by many people that the woman will change her name was one of the reasons I was contemplating not changing my name. I don’t like to do things “just because” or because I’m expected to do things.

So why did I decide to change my name you ask and not keep my maiden name or hyphenate my two names? There are several reasons and before I go on I would just like to say that these are my reasons and I'm not passing judgment on anyone who is married and didn’t change her name or decided to hyphenate her last names. In fact I honestly feel that each and every situation is so different and I know of some people who did change their last name and I personally feel for various reasons that they shouldn’t have, but I digress.

So why DID I change my last name?

The biggest and most important reason to me is that I have committed to spend the rest of my life with this person through thick and through thin, no matter what is thrown our way. I realize that there will be many, many times that it will incredibly difficult to stick it out, but I understand that the commitment I’ve made means that I will not give up, no matter what. I have committed to spend the rest of my life with Mat, and because of that, we are a team. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard of a team with two different names. Have you? Have you ever heard of the Raptors-Celtics? Or the Senators-Leafs?

To me it’s like Go Big or Go Home. I’m not in this half-way, I’m in this ALL the way and the best way that I can show this to myself, Mat and the rest of the world is to have one team name with my partner.

Along the same lines of being in it all the way as opposed to being in it half-way is that when I was making my mental pros and cons list of why I should or shouldn’t change my name one of the pros for keeping my maiden name is that if I ever needed to revert back to my maiden name that it would be easier if I hyphenated or simply kept my maiden name. Almost as soon as the thought entered my mind, I realized that I HAD to change my last name. Again, I’m not in this thing with one foot in and one foot out. I’m in this with both my feet.

I know some women consider their careers when deciding whether or not they should change their name. I did consider if I would suddenly become “lost” in the professional world and have to work to rebuild my name, but I would say it’s only been the last year and half that I’ve started to be recognized as a “name” in my field. So far, it has been easy making people aware that I’ve changed my name and that I’m still the same person. In my email signature I have my maiden name in brackets followed by my married name with a little note immediately following asking people to “please note my new name!”. An announcement was also sent out in the local industry newsletter letting people know that I’m recently married and have changed my name. I realized that I have many, many years ahead of me with my married name and only a handful of years with my maiden name.

Another reason why I changed my last name is so that I could share the same last name with my children. This to me was less important than sharing the same last name as my husband, but it was just another “pro” on my list.

And finally, because I love my maiden name so much, I didn’t completely abandon it. And no, I didn’t keep it as a last name. I simply moved it to my middle name so now I have one first name THREE middle names and one last name. I know three middle names is a bit ridiculous, but hey, that’s me – a little bit ridiculous.


La Petite Chic said...

I struggled with changing my name as well, but ultimately I did end up changing it. I loved my maiden name (5 letters and easy to pronounce) and don't like the sound of my husband's 10 letter, hard to pronounce last name, but wanted us and our children all to have the same last name. I ended up dropping my middle name and taking my maiden name as my middle name. :)

joyce said...

I kept my maiden name (and never struggled with the decision). I don't know if it's because I was born and raised in Montreal (where it's the NORM to keep your maiden name), but to me it felt WRONG to change my name. I also thought it would be weird for me (someone Korean) to have a caucasian last name.


now that we have a child...

I think it's kinda weird that we don't share the same last name. Not weird enough for me to change my name...but still...kinda weird.

Ms. Porter said...

I took my husband's last name when we got married. I felt very strongly about it, it's one tradition I really love. I also felt that it was important for me to share my children's last name. I've never had any regrets.

I don't have any issues with women keeping their maiden name but I will admit that it sort or urks me when women say that it's because of their career. Like you said, most women have a long career ahead of them compared to where they are when they get married. Either change it or don't but just admit the real reason for not changing your name!!! I think I'm cranky today, sorry.

SC said...

As you know, I changed my name... and didn't really struggle with it, but did hate when people said 'why did you change it - your maiden name is so beautiful'!

I loved what you said about being a team, and that is totally it for me... PC and I are team and our family name represents that. To be honest, people who don't change their names, I never know how to address mail to their family... do you put their full name, and then their husband's and kids names... or do you just put the husband's name... I would really like to know how people want to receive their mail!! LOL!

And one other thing... I think another reason I wanted to change my name was for my signature. I had this grade 2 signature when I was using my maiden name, and now I have perfected a professional 'I am SOMEBODY' grown up signature with my married name!

Great post per usual!!

Lola said...

hmmm i like this post
my opinion-a name does not make a team:)
my family name is all i have of my family since they died when i was young
i am a professional who is known by her own family name.
why can't the hubby change the name for the team:) Total humour here but seriously, why not?
AND my kids don't have hyphenated names and my son actually has my last name as his middle name.
I use my name professionally and legally and regarding family I use hyphenated. All that being said I cringe at anything other than being called Mom or by my first name or nickname.
AND finally, i think you did kinda compromise to have it all by making your family name part of your middle name so in essence, you did keep it:):)

Lola said...

p.s. I did not keep my name for career but for identity. I have been me my whole life and it seemed foreign. Just like it would for hubby. I gave him the choice to change his but for some strange reason,he didn't want to. My conservative cousin went one stop further-both he and his wife picked a NEW name! Wild stuff.
One last thing-it has become the norm for kids to have different last names and parents to have differing last names. Take a look at any sign up sheet or school forms.