Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Did You Chang Your Name When You Got Married?

I didn't.

There are many reasons: I was in my 30s by the time I walked down the aisle, I already had a career in my own name, with a reputation and bylines and even a book. I owned my home and car and other things outright, and changing my name on all of those legal documents was a hassle.

But, most of all, I kept my name because it was my name -- I was used to it, and replacing it with my husband's made me feel like I was faking it, somehow.

When we were filling out the forms, in our tiny town hall in liberal Massachusetts, I teased my husband, telling him, "This is your last chance to keep your name, you know." The sweet, older lady behind the counter looked like she might keel over from shock, and I felt like I had written "brazen hussy" in the "name after marriage" spot on the application.

About 90 percent of women take their husband's name when they marry, and that's more than before, according to a Harvard University study -- in spite of the fact that the societal trends that led to women keeping their names in the past (delayed marriage, higher levels of education, and increased presence in the workforce) are the same.

So, why the change? Are working women, do we feel that's a way to underscore our femininity? A way to bond with our mates? Or a way to highlight our link to our family histories -- or to our children and our futures?

I kept my name anyway. For the record: My husband kept his, too, but I still think it's hilarious whenever telemarketer's call and ask for "Mr. Alphonse."

Did you keep your name when you married? Why or why not? (Be sure to check out the comments on the original post over at The 36-Hour Day. With 68 comments and counting,t he discussion has gotten pretty lively!)

No comments: