The great name change upon marriage “debate.” Well actually there seems to never be a debate. You take your husband’s name. (Although what happens with civil marriages – not partnerships – you are not cowboy/girls).
Why is this still the default? Whilst we are living in the 21st century it appears that social etiquette still takes notes from, well, time immemorial? Hmm actually things were probably a little better back then, shall we just say the Victorian era? Why is it that it is assumed you will take your husband’s name?
Social convention does seem to lag behind the concepts deemed suitable for modern day living? Perhaps that’s the point. We are here to fight for equality for our metaphorical great great grandchildren who will baulk at the idea that it ever were thus?
I know this a pickle for many of you. Indeed it is a current pickle for me. After our wedding I decided I would change my name when my passport ran out. Almost 2 years later that’s about to happen and I am still completely undecided. I also know that many of your are happy to take your husband’s name. This is not a dig at you. I love the idea of Bean and I sharing the same surname, whilst it is just a name, it does strike me that it makes us more of a family.
Yet it’s just a name. Why should I let it define me? It only defines my father’s side of the family anyway. I’ve already had the other side of my heritage apparently swept away with a legal document yet I can still count to 10 in Welsh. Are words so very powerful?
I have a deep affinity for my current surname. I grew up around lots of fabulous foreign names and some very British names. I loved that I was one of the “weird” ones. My surname meant/means a great deal to me. It implies a connection to my past, my brave grandfather from a far way land. However, I wonder if it is important to have a name that defines me. I still have a proud heritage. My Aunt who changed her name on marriage still remains her father’s daughter. Do I give too much power to just a few letters scrambled together. Oh and scrambled they be – I know that when I reach my grave I will have spent countless hours (maybe days) spelling my name and trying to change mistakes.
One of the main reasons I didn’t take Bean’s name straight away is for aesthetic reasons. A reason, albeit not a great one, but if I took his name I would be Anna Annason (well almost!). Which would be great if I were a crime writer or a Stan Lee character but it’s not a real person name!
I love Bean, and I know that his family were slightly perturbed when I didn’t take his name on marriage. Indeed I went one step further (which I think caused the most “irkage”), Bean added my name to his. He is now Bean Biglongforeignname Annason. He’s changed his name and I remain Anna Biglongforeignname. I am happy to take Bean’s name despite being hardwired (perhaps by my feisty grandmamma) that you should not be defined by your name. Yet I still feel it is discourteous towards him and his family, a family who I really admire and love with all my heart. Is it emasculating? For some men maybe, but Bean is a pretty wise and modern guy and I hope/almost sure he knows that me not wanting to become Anna Annason is disrespectful but a sign of how much my past is part of me. Something to be celebrated in our future life together rather than dismissed and forgotten for him to assume the role of Patriarch. (Not that I would say I have a foreboding dominating patriarchal influence now but…). That we will now be a partnership and allows us to define a family of our own?
Part of me thinks this is a triumph.
“SHOCK STORY – Woman sneakily forces husband to take her name without changing her own”
My Grandmamma and Grandpa on their wedding day. I love that he looks like a gangster!
Yet for the most part I feel guilty I’ve not changed mine. I do admit the concept of the double barrel is rather bourgeoisie in itself. Something which makes me shiver so. Then I realise I am so very fickle, one moment I really think changing one’s name is a huge undertaking but in the next breath I realise it is almost meaningless. A name confers no love. A name cannot mark you out as special of different. (Well unless your title is Queen).
So I am in a bind.
We will never be able to choose a new name or portmanteau our current family names. Mainly because there could always be a more awesome name around the corner.
So do I become Anna Annason and carry my heritage and my past inside and not on my passport or do I become the double barrel I always thought I’d be? I really want to have the same name as Bean so maintaining two different surnames is not really an option. Although technically I’m already doing that by not changing my professional name. I know Bean would be disappointed at this point if I didn’t at least add his name to mine.
Why is it so difficult?
Certainly I’m not saying that those who do chose to take their spouse’s name are doing nothing for equality. It’s really a separate issue. What’s good for the gander and all that.
Do you have any advice for a confused Anna?