A lot of people ask me why I hyphenated my name instead of just changing it to my husband’s when we got married. Others flat out refuse to use my entire name or ask me rude questions like “don’t you respect your husband?” Here’s the story.
Kyle has always been a pretty easygoing guy, so when I mentioned my decision to hyphenate instead of change it altogether a few weeks before our wedding, I was surprised at his angry reaction. He told me that his brothers would think badly of him and it would seem like we weren’t married, etc. etc. I became irate and scared…the wedding was set and ready to go and I had just stumbled upon something that could ruin it all. By the end of that night, many tears and screams later, Kyle decided he was ok with the hyphenation–but it’s something we’ve had major fights about since. We’ve been married about three and a half years now and I think he’s finally come to terms with it. Below is a list of reasons why I chose to keep my name.
1. Taking your husband’s name is a tradition based in a time when husbands owned wives.
2. I was an author with a hefty amount of articles under my belt and changing my Google search results didn’t seem practical for my career.
3. I love my name. It has a rich history behind it.
4. I didn’t want to.
I could create a vast bibliography to back up the top three reasons but the most important one is number four…if I didn’t want to change my name, why should I have to? This goes for women who want to change their names as well. It’s our choice. Here is a list of the rude and inconsiderate things people say and do to try to make me feel bad about my choice:
1. Write birthday checks to my would-be married name (I can’t cash them easily).
2. Airline tickets have been booked for me in the wrong name, warranting an extreme search process at the security checkpoint.
3. Work colleagues have consistently referred to my would-be married name in professional situations, which ends up confusing people.
4. “Don’t you respect your husband?” By the way, the answer to this question is always, “Yes, and he respects me equally.”
5. How did I raise such a feminazi? (This one obviously comes from my mom.)
6. It’s what a good Christian woman would do (seriously, someone said this to me. I almost punched him). Actually, in Bible times, besides the whole “man owning wife” bit, families needed the same name in order to protect their assets. Today, in the age of marriage licenses and social security numbers, this is hardly a concern.
7. Did you do that so it will be easier to change back if it doesn’t work out? (this was “sort of” meant as a joke. Har har.)
8. You’ll get over that once you have kids. (No, I will not. My decision to retain my own identity within marriage is not a phase that I will “grow out of”).
9. My doctor told me, “oh you don’t want to do that. It’s way too confusing in the paperwork. Our nurses will only use one name.” (Ummm…time to fire some sexist nurses)
10. I wanted to do that but my husband wouldn’t have it! (Sometimes this is said in a rude way, meant to make me feel like bad wifey, but I consider it more of a cry for help.)
When people are rude to me about my name I am always shocked…imagine how people would react if I said, “you took your husband’s name?! Why? Don’t you know that means he owns you? What about your children? They’ll think you’re not equal to him!” I would be even more of a feminazi for uttering even one of these.
All of my married friends have taken their husband’s names and I suspect they think I don’t approve, but this is what choice is about. If that’s what they want, that’s what they should do (although, one friend confessed to me that she secretly wished she didn’t change her name). If a married friend wants to change her name to Princess Consuela Bananahammock (a la Phoebe from friends), that is her prerogative and none of my business–just like my decision is my business.