What’s in a name anyway?

It has yet to stop amazing me how passionate people are about their ideas surrounding marriage.  And how, for the most part, they are totally willing to share.  Without even being asked.  So kind.

One of the ideals of marriage that I have found to be most divisive has been that of taking the husband’s name.  People from both sides of the argument have been shocked to find that I don’t necessarily agree with them.  Or worse, assume that I did agree with them.

When Kris and I first started talking about getting married, I knew that the decision of what to do about last names would be one that would take a lot of thought, prayer and discussion.  And that is exactly how we arrived at the decision we did.  It is not a decision I made alone, because I am not the only person in this partnership.  While I can completely understand and support a woman’s decision to keep her maiden name, I will never understand a woman who makes that decision without ever consulting her future partner.  In all things, there has to be true discussion, and possible compromise.  In the same token, I will never understand or support a man who demands that a woman take his last name.  It is a ridiculous demand.  So I appreciated Kris when he first approached me about the subject.  There were no demands, no expectations.  Just a genuine desire to reach a decision we would both be fully happy with.  That, right there, sums up why I love him.

So I decided to take his name.  And keep my own.  But not to hyphenate.  And though it will forever confound people and paperwork alike why I have two middle names, one of which is my maiden name, but have no hyphen, I am completely at peace with my decision.   For many of the same reasons that were brought up in the comment section of the survey, here are my reasons:

1.  It was important to Kris. There was nothing macho in him having a desire for me to take his name.  He was not trying to control or own me in any way.  It was just simply important that he share the same last name as his wife.

2. About a month before the wedding, an old friend and neighbor of mine happened to be in Seattle.  We were catching up over dinner, sharing stories of where life had led us.  Inevitably, we started talking about the wedding, and I asked her if she would mind sharing the reasons she had kept her name after she married.  She told me that she had kept her name, a very plain and common last name, because by the time she got married, she had published many articles and professionally it made sense to keep her name.  That was 5 years ago.  Six months ago she had a baby.  Who, judging by the pictures, is just as cute as can be.  Little baby girl, who has a beautiful, and slightly unique first name, took her daddy’s last name.  My friend said, “One day I took the baby to work.  And my co-worker asked if I had meant to name my baby after a famous singer.  At first I didn’t understand.  But then realized that they assumed she had my last name, which indeed would be the name of this singer.  That is when first realized how hard it would be the rest of my life to have a name different than my child and my husband.”  So, she told me, she was in the process of legally changing her last name to that of her husband’s.  While she would still publish under her maiden name, it was important to share that family name.

And it is important to me to share the family name.  But I realized that it also meant that I wasn’t willing to give up my family name either.  I was so happy to be welcoming in, and to be welcomed in, by my new family.  And I am happy to now share a name with them.  But I did not want to lose that connection, by name, to my own family.  So I kept both.  I considered dropping my middle name, as many women do, to have my maiden name become my middle name.  But that in itself is a denial of who I am.  I always have been, and always will be, Elizabeth Anne.  It is my mother’s name.  And a name that was pieced together from grandmothers and great-aunts before me.  I was not willing to give that up.

So I am now all of those names.

3.  But without the hyphen.  While we considered it shortly, it was not an avenue I wanted to take.  It seems complicated, and leads to only lengthend names as generations progress.  So, no hyphen.  Two middle names.  One last name.

4. Kris’ last name is cool.  Had it been lame, we would never be having this discussion.  (just kidding, kinda).  Also, I sound very Scottish now, which is fun.

All that being said, there is something that is very important in my new name.  While I am now officially a Mrs.,  I am not a Mrs. Kris.  I made it very clear that at my wedding, whenever we were introduced, we were either to be announced as Mr. and Mrs. Kris and Liz Lastnamehere or just Mr. and Mrs. Lastnamehere. I am not my husband.  Wouldn’t it be ridiculous if I were to introduce Kris as “Mr. Liz lastnamehere”? Yes.  Yes it would.

So, there you have it.  My reasons behind my new name.  These are my reasons alone, I totally respect those who make decisions otherwise.

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