Friday, May 24, 2013

on what's in a name.

as brian and i get closer to our wedding, many people have been asking a natural question: will you take his name? and for me, the answer is no. i remember when i was growing up and realized this is the way things work and thinking to myself - that is not for me (little colleen was not amused by this business). as i got older, many people used my last name as a source of nicknames (big mack and mackdaddy are popular ones), as well as just calling me by my last name. and as i've spent more time in the working world, most colleagues know me by my current name. while it's not like after some time they couldn't figure it out, it's, you know, one less headache. but the real reason, at the end of the day, is that my last name is me. it's who i am. perhaps i'm more connected to my last name than some others, but my name also reflects my history, my culture, my heritage. and, at least in my case, brian's last name reflects nothing similar to mine. i look at his last name as something completely foreign to me. and i think brian would feel the same way - changing his last name to something completely different would feel just as odd. it would feel like if we got married and i was forced to dye my hair red. i'm not a red-head - why, now that i'm married, do i have to be?
however, on the other hand, i get it. you are becoming a family the day you say i do, and a family unit shares a last name. and from that perspective i get it. yet, of course, no man would change his last name in order to fulfill this. so yes, i get it, but i suppose the tradition of one gender conforming does rub me the wrong way. and in this way, i'm in the minority. in america, approximately 90% of women change their name when they get married. that's a lot. and out of my friends, every single one of them has changed their name except for my college roommate (must have been something in that water in our apartment!) so for all appearances, most women still seem to love and embrace this tradition.
for my part, i've made it clear this isn't something i'll draw a hard-line on. if someone calls me by brian's last name i won't correct them. if we have children they will have his name (no hyphens here, folks). and i've also made it clear that i'm fully aware that this may not last. it could be too much of a legal and paperwork headache as the years go on to have separate last names within the same household. if we do have children, i may consider it more important for us all to have the same last name. all i know is that right now, and for most of my life, it's just not something i've wanted. basically, i want to get married but i don't want to become a red-head in the process. is that so much to ask?

15 comments:

  1. For me, changing my name is a no-brainer. I don't feel any allegiance to my last name. My last name is the final thing that ties me to my father, and I'd like to get rid of it sooner rather than later. But if I had a stronger family, a family name I was more proud of, I'd definitely feel more similarly to you. But I'm excited for my family to get a different start, and hopefully give my daughters a reason to keep our name.

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    1. oh I love that last sentence. chills. (your daughters!) I honestly had not thought of your perspective either - really associating your last name with your father and his misdeeds as oppose to you/your family. thank you for sharing - and may I say I am excited for your future name change and all the promise it holds for you :)

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  2. I totally get this. It really is weird to give up something that is such a big part of you! I took Michael's last name when we got married after college, but I think it would have been a whole lot weirder had I been in the working world for several years, using that name, and then all of the sudden changing it to something different! I like the tradition of a family having all the same name, but it's worth noting that as the woman you really are giving something up. It's something I wanted to do for my husband and future family, but it's a sacrifice all the same.

    Long live the Big Mack!

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    1. LOL - long live the big Mack indeed! oh I heart you.

      I like what you say about doing it for your husband/ future family. sometimes I feel like I'm being selfish, then I get frustrated it's only women that change and then I'm right back where I started.

      and then someone calls me big Mack and I'm like yeah I'm sticking with it.

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  3. wow, we really see eye to eye on this one... right down to admitting to the possibility of changing your mind down the road. For me it seemed like a natural decision to keep my name. At least for now. We also had some family drama going on at the time (probably never going to end) that made me not feel comfortable making that jump. So far, no regrets with my decision.

    Keep on keepin' on Wacky Mac

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    1. eye to flipping eye! our eyes are so close I can almost feel the Eskimo kisses.

      but seriously, I remember when you told me you were keepin your name. it felt like such a breath if fresh air - I'm not the only one!

      also wacky Mac is a good one. who could let go of that!

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  4. This is me, down to every single last word. I can't even comment, because I agree with 100% of what you said and have all the same intentions. You are not alone in this world! People have actually been very supportive, but I can see a lot of discomfort about children...as if my having a different name will traumatize my kids or become some ridiculous hassle for teachers to figure out what to call me. Personally, I think it does the world some good to go through those exercises and realize that this decision is only so important. At the end of the day, it's about commitment and mutual respect and love...and changing your last name doesn't ensure any of those things.

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  5. As someone who recently changed her name - it's such a (pardon the phrase) ballache! Passports, bills, driving licence, work log-ins etc had to be changed, I made a list of everything that needed to be changed and it had doubled by the time I was done. But for me, I couldn't wait to get rid of my last name (for various depressing reasons which I won't bore you with). So I happily changed it, moaning about the hassle all the way through and truthfully, I love being Mrs Smith. But if I hadn't have hated my last name so much, I wouldn't have bothered.

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    1. yeah - here in america i hear people complain about hard it is, too! i'm glad you're happy with your name change though :) that's always nice to hear (alex above said the same thing)

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  6. I love that you've always known you haven't wanted to change your name, and that you're sticking with that decision. I can see that if you choose to have kids you could possibly want to change it in the future, but for now with work and all that jazz it does seem so much easier to just keep your name. It is a pain to change everything, and I really only in the past few months feel like my married last night is my name. I think I've shared this before but I switched my names around and left my maiden name as my middle name, so at least I didn't drop it completely. I was too attached to lose it for forever :)

    Also, Caleb has been working on a big project at work called Mackey and I think of you every time he brings it up.

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    1. haha - love it! i think in the south many more woman lose their middle name to keep their maiden name. like that tradition and would probably consider doing the same if i change it.

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  7. Totally agree. I plan on keeping my name. It's been with me for 27 years, so I'm not about to give it up now! It's been the product of many nicknames for me as well :)

    I'm still torn about naming kids though. My name is complicated enough on its own, so I wouldn't want to burden a poor child with a hyphen either, but I would feel so left out if my fictional husband and fictional kids shared a name that I didn't. Still working on a solution for that!

    I read an article once where couples adopted a hybrid version of their names combined. It's a funny idea but you have to give them credit for trying to be equal!

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  8. Good for you lady!! For me it was a no-brainer the other way around. I spent hours in class sitting just a few desks away from my love writing Mrs.... (yes I was a HUGE dork, nerd, etc... even in college) So when I finally got the opportunity to do it legally I was like hell yeah!!! :) It did make my entire formal name 28 letters long buuuuttt I love it! :) To me it was more romantic than binding in any way. But I also echo the sentiments of others that the actual process made me want to punch every human in the face and jump off a cliff. So yeah... you win some you lose some, as always :). xoxo

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  9. i am soo with you on this point. for me, my last name ties me to who i am and my culture--who my grandparents are/were and what they lived through. I remember when I was about 8 declaring to my grandparents that I would make my future husband take my name (my grandparents have no male grandchildren to carry on the last name). Now, I don't think I'll require that of my future husband, but I don't think I'll want to change my name...

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