I recently read the Her Campus article "Why I'm Not Taking my Future Husband's Last Name," which discussed how it doesn’t seem fair to have to give up one's identity when getting married. I respect this perspective and would like to present a countervailing opinion. Taking your husband’s last name doesn’t have to be done to follow tradition, it can be a way to symbolize the new union, and simplify life in the future.
Traditionally taking your husband’s last name was done to signify that you were being transferred from the control of your father to the control of your new husband, which in contemporary society seems outdated and patriarchal. In 2017, women can vote, own land, manage their own money, and work outside the home. Clearly, it is no longer necessary to be tied to a man to survive. It’s no longer required to marry someone of the opposite sex. In modern day America, changing your name doesn’t mean you are admitting that you require your husband to survive, it means that you are signaling that you love this person, and want the world to know that you are committed to this partnership for life.
Taking your husband’s last name, or creating a new last name, doesn’t have to mean giving up your identity, as your identity can change and grow to reflect new chapters in your life story. You can take on two middle names by simply adding the new last name to the end, or hyphenate your name and choose to use your maiden name in professional or personal capacity. Some couples make up a new name, or combine their last names, both using the new name. Marriage isn’t like signing a contract with a roommate. It’s a covenant to love and honor that person in a lifelong union. One way to honor this union is with a common last name.
Changing your last name can simply make life easier for you and your future family, and in a world full of challenges, why wouldn’t we want to make life a tad bit easier when given the chance. My parents have been happily married for 27- years, and my mother never changed her last name. Growing up, this created confusion, sometimes in situations involving only them, and sometimes in situations involving me as her child. Every time someone asked for the last name on a rewards account, reservation, or order, they always had to give two possibilities and explain that they have two different last names. In school, I often had to explain to teachers that the person who signed the form was in fact my mother, and yes, my parents were still married to each other. At resorts, my brother and I sometimes ended up with the wrong last name, simply because the employees assumed that because we were all part of the same unit, we all had the same surname. Finally, it disconnected my mother from us in a small way. She is my mother and I love her more than words can express, but we will never have the same last name. I would like to eliminate this future difficulty from my life by taking my husband’s last name when I marry him.
I am here to offer another reason why you may take your spouse’s last name. For you. To symbolize the new chapter in your life, to simplify your life, and to be able to tell the world every day that you are a part of this family. Taking your husband’s last name can be self-serving, and help you in your life journey. You don’t have to lose your identity, you can simply add to your identity as you add a new partner to your life. Marriage is a life-long commitment, and it simply makes sense to build and morph your identity, and set your life up for fewer worries, as you prepare for those years with your best friend.