Your Name After Marriage Part Two

Hello, and welcome to my two part series about changing your name (or not) after marriage. It’s a tricky concept sometimes, but in this modern world women have so many rights and reasons to wanting to keep their names, or even changing to their partners when they get married, and it’s absolutely wonderful that we get the choice to do whatever we want and not regret our decisions!

A lot of consideration goes into whether or not you wish to change your name, so I decided to write this short series to introduce you to some of the wonderful women in my life who have made their own choices when it comes to their name. The lovely ladies in this post have chosen different paths from taking their husbands names, and I would love to share their stories with you if you are having a hard time choosing what to do. These are their stories.

Heather and Harry

Keeping the name Heather McDonald

I want to start by saying that I do not judge other people for their choice to change their name with marriage. It is a personal decision and needs to be made carefully.

I chose to not change my name for a few different reasons, with the first being a slight feminist kick. I did consider changing my name, but leading up to the wedding I was asked frequently ‘What will your name be?” “Are you changing your name?” “Are you going to hyphenate?” which was fine, until I found out that my husband Harry was never asked the same thing. This made me start to question the process behind it all and whether it made sense. I started to feel like the process of changing a name was expected to be one way, so that it would be clear that I am a part of my husband, but not necessarily the other way around.

Secondly I really like my name. I had that name for 25 years at that point. It had meaning and belonging to me and I didn’t want to lose that so quickly.  Hyphenation was discussed, but it ends up being too long for us, and also created the discussion around who’s name would go first. We discussed it together as a couple and with time I made the choice to keep the same name, at least for now. I do love the idea of a family having a shared name, so it might be enough to make me change my mind later.
I think at first Harry was a bit surprised and possibly disappointed that I was interested in keeping my own name, but after he heard my reasoning and thoughts he ended up agreeing with me and supported my choice. When I told my mother what I wanted she actually said ‘Good girl’, and when I questioned this she ended up telling me that she didn’t want to change her name at the start either but ended up caving to the social norm.  I also make an effort to not use the word ‘Mrs’ when describing myself. I instead use ‘Ms’ and have done so since before I got married because I object to women having to denote their marital status, but not men. This is another thing I hope changes with time.
I love the choice I made. I still get frustrated when people assume my name changed; place cards, letters etc will often describe me as ‘Mrs Heather Johnson’ which is always irritating. It isn’t my name and I would like people to think a little bit more before assuming it is. What I find interesting is that I still have to explain it, and I hope that one day that conversation is gone, or the question becomes ‘who’s name are you taking?’ rather than ‘are you taking his name?’. My guess is that society is changing and that we will eventually get to that point.
Ellie and Brock

Creating Ellie Perry Amerikow:

Choosing to change my name to include both surnames started with my husband Brock and I discussing this way before we were even engaged. I was always adamant that I would keep my surname, as I am the last Amerikow to take on this name.

My mother (being the strong woman that she is) always said that if you don’t want to change your name, you shouldn’t have to. I actually wouldn’t have minded if I knew there would be another Amerikow to take on this name.

My original birth certificate actually had Pankova (father’s name) and Amerikow on it (so it read Amerikow-Pankova) but was changed upon my arrival into Australia. I think if I still had this name I would re-consider my decision because otherwise my daughter Zara and I would have a surname would have been 3 hyphens long!

When Brock and I discussed it, he is very old-fashioned and really wanted me to only take on his last name and to forfeit mine, to say it bluntly. I explained to him the reasons of why I was so set on keeping my name and eventually he agreed. We do live in the modern day these days, so I think it’s a little more acceptable. He was given the choice of who’s name would go first so we did meet in the middle regarding the last names and came up with a compromise. Neither of us were demanding and said, “well no, it’s going to be MY way”. We really worked together regarding this, which showed us that even in one of the most hardest decisions of your life, we knew how to make each other happy and meet in the middle.

Even though I haven’t quite gotten around to changing any of my documents as  of yet, it’s nice to know I have a part of Brock and his family within my name and that we can grow as a combined unit (legally) and that our children can take on both our name legacies!

So now that you have read both this post, and Your Name After Marriage Part One, I hope you have  a little bit more insight into the choices and the reasoning behind women everywhere choosing to keep their names, combined them with their husbands’ or changing them altogether. I do apologise for the lack of LGBTI partnerships and the united name decisions that stems from those relationships, but I chose to focus this piece on a male-female marriage and the advice and reasoning’s from the wonderful women in my life still reigns true for same-sex couples. I hope you can come to a decision when choosing your own name after marriage that is right and comfortable for you. It is a very personal decision that only you can make, and no matter what name you decide to go with, we will love and support you anyway, as I am sure your husbands will! Good luck with the paperwork if that’s the route you decide to go with – it’s a bit of a doozy!

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