Name Game


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.

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  1. Zee |

    oh my gosh Jessica! Its like your mind and my mind make one complete mess...just kidding!! Ha ha.

    Anyway, I meant to say that I feel the same way about changing my name if I were to get married (if my lousy boyfriend were to ever pop the question). I have told him repeatly that I do not like his last name. He has an ex-wife running around still using his last why should I change mine?...

    I never planned on having kids either. What for? I have a bunch of nephews and nieces I can spoil and return to their very tired parents, lol..

    my boyfriend is 49 and I am 33, so imagine him answering questions about his cute little "great-grand children" LOL.

    Heck, I still have issues about "sharing" a bank account!!

    PS..did you ever tease your hair and saturate it with Aquanet hairspray afterwards?

    I went to high school from 88-90

  2. Sherri |

    Your kids should take Bob's name.

  3. Jessica |

    Wait, Zoe, wait. You mean to tell me that in your profile pic your holding a nephew? Actually, you say you never "planned" to have kids (past tense), so maybe that means your plans went awry. :)

    Sherri, why do you figure that?

  4. Zee |

    That's my nephew Matthew that I am holding Jessica.

    If he were mine, he would be named Matthew Matthews!! LOL Imagine all the future therapy bills!!

    and you forgot to answer the question about the teasing of the hair and the spraying of the Aquanet! ;)

  5. Jessica |

    Oh, my. I never did anything with my hair in high school, didn't wear make-up, and tried never to think about clothes.

  6. Sherri |

    this is just my insane belief, but, I think children should take the name of their father because of heritage. No real reasons behind it. Kind of like an honor.

  7. Jessica |

    I don't think it's insane at all. Actually, it (sort of) describes where I'm coming from. It saddens me that my children will have a weaker connection to the heritage I've given them because they will identify with the heritage given to them through their father's name.

    I'm a perfect example. I tend to think of myself as Polish because I have a Polish last name, but I'm actually more Croatian than anything else. I'm trying to think of myself as Eastern European, because if you add it all up, I'm more than three-quarters Eastern European.


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