A Wife By Any Other Name

name-change-blackboard

[Ed Note: This is a guest post from Kyl Myers.]

A good friend of mine is getting married soon and admitted to having an “internal struggle” about changing her last name.

I was thrilled to hear this!

Too many women don’t think about changing their last name and do it without question. Imagine, if you will, this batshit crazy scenario: What if marital tradition meant the bride-to-be had to change her first name to her-future-husbands’-paternal-grandmother’s-first-name? Well, for one thing, we’d have a lot of Myrtles and Ruths on our hands but secondly, that would NEVER happen because women would rebel at the preposterous thought of changing their identity! But their surname? No problem.

So I’ll give you a few things to think about regarding why I’m not terribly interested in changing my last name – my goal is not to make you change your perspective [yes it is]. My goal is to get you to just think about it! I want you to do whatever you feel is best for you. But this is how I got to my decision to leave this world the same way I came in, Kyl Goddamn Myers:

  1. Historically, women have been treated like property. When they married, it was literally seen as a business transaction between the father of the bride and the husband-to-be. So, accordingly, her name changed from her previous owner’s to her new owner’s. I get that  taking on her husband’s last name creates a “family unit,” but if that is the case, then why is it ALWAYS the woman’s name that gets dropped? How often do you see men taking their wife’s last name instead? (Honestly, I have seen some women drop some badass surnames to take on their husband’s not-so-badass surname) Oh… You dropped Tyger for Buckholz? That’s nice…
  2. So this brings me to my next point. I get that couples might want to have the same last name as each other and also want to reject the tradition. This is where hyphenating or creating a new name comes in to play. How about hyphenating both last names? Or taking the letters of both last names and creating a fun new mash up? Or! You could come up with a nostalgic name from your relationship! Wouldn’t that be hilarious if couples created a surname based on a dating memory? …Mr. and Mrs. Astro Van; or The Wendovers…
  3. Name changing is a really heteronormative practice – hell, MARRIAGE is a really heteronormative practice! I say this a lot: “If marriage didn’t exist, we wouldn’t invent it.” I, myself, have an internal struggle with the idea of marriage – with contractually signing up for forever with someone, with the government all up in my romance. It is a bizarre concept. But it exists! Marriage exists, and married couples’ relationships are more “valid” in our society than any other relationship. So even though I don’t think we would invent marriage today, I sure do have a Pinterest board dedicated to “wedding crap” – it just doesn’t have any ‘Mrs. _________’ craft ideas, because that ain’t happening.
  4. My final, and most important reason for me is: I have spent years “making a name for myself.” People know who I am by my name, they know my research, my passions, my background. I cannot imagine changing my last name, certainly not professionally, when everything I have worked for is connected to it.

If we start thinking more critically about some of the traditions connected to marriage, we can redefine marriage and make it more accessible and diverse. That, I can get on board with.

For more reading, check out these links:

Here’s a link from the Atlantic about men considering changing their last name upon marriage.

Here’s a link to a piece the Huffington Post did on saying “I don’t” to name change after saying “I do”

 

Comments

  1. Loved this! Glad the “family unit” argument was addressed.

  2. A lot of these reasons were also my reason for not changing my name. But the main reason I didn’t change my name is because it’s part of my identity. I know a lot of people don’t feel that way, but I do.

  3. Mandy Edwards says:

    Thanks Kyl 🙂 Love it!!!

  4. Mark Tyler says:

    I admit to being one of the few men who took his wife’s last name upon marriage. Great post.

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