My boyfriend and I are in a pretty serious relationship. We aren’t quite engaged, but it’s definitely on the table at this point.
But even though we aren’t planning a wedding, I’ve noticed a lot of people – even people I don’t actually know – have opinions about whether or not I will take my husband’s last name.
The answer, as it stands now, is yes, I will.
“But Jacqie, you call yourself a feminist.”
Why, yes I do… very much so. And I get it: A lot of people assume you should take your husband’s name after marriage by default.
However, there are a lot of other situations that definitely warrant you keeping your name, like being established in your field or having immense pride in your name.
Maybe you feel it will diminish your identity as an individual, or maybe you’re an only child and want to keep your family’s name alive.
All of these are extremely valid reasons for keeping your last name, and no one should try to convince you otherwise. You do you.
However, I also don’t think it’s at all regressive to take your husband’s last name, and here are the reasons why:
1. You get the empowerment of choosing whichever name you want.
Do you want to keep your own last name, and he take his? Do you want to take his, but he has to take yours?
Do you want to hyphenate names? Do you take your husband’s name, and just leave it at that?
It’s up to you to decide, just like how you decide who your life partner is, which jobs you take, the salary you’re entitled to and what you’ll eat for breakfast in the morning.
The power to choose for yourself? That sounds like a pretty good definition of feminism to me.
2. Your husband’s name may get you a higher-ranking job.
OK, maybe this is a little selfish.
But you know what? It is what it is.
Business Insider highlighted a European study last year that said if you have a noble or important sounding name, you’re more likely to get higher-ranking jobs.
The researchers studied German names that translated to “king” or “emperor,” and compared them to names that translated to things like “cook” or “farmer.”
Maybe I’m biased, but I also think established names would likely be beneficial as well. Jacquelyn Fitzpatrick kind of sounds like I could get down with the Kennedys, doesn’t it?
3. It can be romantic.
Marriage is a merger, regardless of whether you change your name or not. You go from being two fabulous singles to sharing a living space, a bank account, a bed… and for some couples, a name.
Marriage creates a new definition of togetherness for many, and it’s all about unity and closeness.
If it’s done for the right reasons, sharing a name can be quixotic and loving. It definitely shouldn’t be judged… especially by your fellow feminists.
But of course, there are reasons you shouldn’t change you name. Don’t ever change it if you’re feeling pressured to do so by your husband, your husband’s family or anyone else saying you should.
4. It can be easier for your family.
Personally, I like the idea of my little family sharing one name. I hope my husband and I will share the responsibility of raising our children equally, and the lot of us having the same name would showcase that.
It would show the unity we share. It would also be extremely confusing if you had one name, your husband had another, and then your kids had yet another. I know this is personal, but I also know I’m not alone.
It doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks. It’s ultimately your decision, and it should be left to your own devices… without judgement.
Honestly, I think it’s more anti-feminist to criticize me for changing my name than it is for me to actually change my name.