September is here, also known in my house this year as “the month in which we are getting married”. As the day draws closer, I’m feeling incredibly lucky to have such a well organised husband-to-be, who has made the entire process pretty much stress-free. Having celebrated my hen party at the weekend with some of the best women I know, I’m now genuinely excited about the day itself (as opposed to the feeling of terror that lay there before!)
Strangely, the most stressful part of the process has been something I hadn’t really considered ever being an issue: the fact that I’m not changing my surname. But alas, an issue it has become, if not for myself then certainly for others.
Take my family: I spoke to my mum the other day, who informed me that various family members had been asking what my married name was going to be… she seemed quite shocked when I told her that it would be staying the same (“I’ve never heard anything like it.”) My groom, although understanding of my decision, isn’t necessarily happy about it. And whilst I do understand his argument (“we will be one unit”), I say until he’s willing to consider giving up his name for mine, we’re going to have to agree to disagree.
Changing your name is an intensely personal thing and if I were to ‘give it up’, I’m pretty sure I’d feel like I was erasing the life and family I had before meeting my husband (to be). We’ve been together for four years, a short amount of time in the grand scheme of things, so why would I do that?
I’ve toyed with double barrelling (if groom did so too), keeping my family name and also struck upon what I thought was a fantastic idea of creating an entirely new surname for our new two-strong family. Alas, in the end, the simple fact is I like my name. It’s served me pretty well for 30 years and I’m proud of it.
Research suggests that I’m still very much in the minority, with over 90% of women changing their name after marriage. I see it happen a lot on Facebook (the modern equivalent of putting a notice in the newspaper), to the point that I sometimes don’t know who the people are on my feed. Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t judge those who change their name; everybody is different and people must make the choice that suits them.
For family members (and in-laws to be) reading this, remember: just because I’m not taking my husband’s name when we get married does not mean I love him any less. We’re two strong-minded individuals who are joining together to create what we hope will be a lifelong partnership. And let us not forget that traditionally a woman took her husband’s name because she was considered his ‘property’ - we should all take a moment to remember it’s 2014.
After all, what’s in a name?
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