Written on Wednesday, October 26, 2005 by Jessica
When I was in high school (1988-1992), I thought that women didn't change their names anymore when they got married. I based this belief on the fact that so many celebrities keep their names when they get married. My parents never went to weddings, so I never heard the new couple announced as Mr. and Mrs. HisName. And we never arrived at wedding receptions until after dinner, so I never heard the DJ announce the couple when they showed up, either.
I discovered the horrific truth while still in high school when one of my mom's friends got married. My mom was updating her address book, and I asked, "Why did she change her name?" She replied, "Why wouldn't she?" That's when I learned that everyone still changed her name. No one kept her birth name after marriage.
A couple of years later, I read a magazine article that said only one percent of women retained their birth names after marriage and three percent hyphenated. One percent! I'm sure that number didn't count the women who legally kept their names for professional purposes but socially used their husbands' names.
I didn't change my name when I got married. Back in those days, I was pluckier than I am now, full of righteous indignation toward social mores that required me to give up my identity just to get married.
Ten years later, my opinion remains essentially the same, but the emotion attached to it is gone. Furthermore, other complications have arisen.
For one, I never planned to have children. Keeping your name has so many other implications when you have children. For example, people initially assume they must be the children from your first marriage. (A natural assumption, because as I said, everyone changes her name.)
Oh, sure. Ten years ago it wasn't a complication. I had more trend-bucking spunk back then. When my husband asked what we'd do if we ever had kids, I told him that girls would get my last name and boys could have his. But today... I just don't think I have the strength.