Why I Kept My Last Name

I’m married. Contrary to what some people might assume, I didn’t marry my brother. I just kept my last name. To me it’s not a big deal that I kept it, I wasn’t trying to be oh so progressive or anything. But it does bug me that so many people have that “that’s just what you do” attitude about changing it and don’t think twice about it. It kind of reeks of brainwashing, no?

I don’t mind if a woman takes her husband’s last name, but I do feel it needs to be an active decision and not a thoughtless assumption. You could even go a whole different route and choose/invent a whole new name for yourselves. I once heard about a couple who chose the name Dragonwagon. How cool is that? Anyway, it just doesn’t make sense to me for any person’s identity to take precedence over another’s. And yes, your last name is *usually* a pretty big part of your identity. I feel like to take Mike’s last name would negate my own family history and where I came from, and instead label me a German. But I’m not German. It’s weird enough I have an Irish first name and I’m not even Irish. My Grandma actually said she wished she could have kept her name (it was law to take the husband’s back then) because she got so irritated at people assuming she was French. And nationality is just the most basic, easy-to-write-about-and-explain part of it. It’s your whole history. If you’re adopted and you don’t know your family’s history, or you’re ashamed of it or whatever, you still may choose to keep it as a label that represents YOU as a person. I’m not at all willing to have part of me erased or ignored, even just as a word on paper. Especially so it can be pushed aside or covered up by somebody else as though they’re somehow more important. My husband is not above me, and while I joke about him taking my last name, I’m not above him either. We are who we are, it’s not going to change, so why make any move to show that it did?

Now the kid thing, well, people often argue that kids feel all insecure about having a different last name than their parents. Maybe that’s true for some of them, but personally it’s never been an issue for me. My mom went back to her maiden name when I was really young, and then changed to a new married name very soon after that, so I can hardly remember a time I had the same last name as either of the parents I lived with. And I totally did not give a shit. I never thought twice about it. It was the 90s, divorce was looking more and more like the in thing, and it was absolutely normal. And guess what? It’s still normal. It’s more abnormal to have a lasting marriage. So don’t start worrying about ridiculous things like people assuming you’re not really a family and you’re a bunch of slutty weirdos. You should have learned this when you were 6, families come in many forms. Mine is 2 people with different last names, and 3 cats each with their own fake last name. We’re the Bergeron-Dyck-Sawchuckson-Candide-(…Oh crap Mouse doesn’t have a last name! Let’s call her Haus)Haus household. Mouse Haus. Hehe.

Anyway, also on the subject of kids, it also irritates me when it’s just assumed the kids have to have the father’s name. It’s not a rule you know. That should also be an actively made decision. The mother is just as much a parent as the father, and she’s the one who had to carry the kids in her body for 9 months. Makes sense to me for them to have her name. But whatever you choose, you need to be actually choosing it, for an actual reason, not just doing it because hey whatever. I think that’s really insulting yourself. It’s a good thing me and Mike aren’t going to have any kids, because I know for a fact this is something we would majorly fight over. Unless we just agreed to call them Haus.

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One comment on “Why I Kept My Last Name

  1. I liked your take on the whole namechanging thing. I agree, it should definitely be a conscious decision, not just something you do because it’s expected.

    I’ve been married twice and changed my last name both times. I had my dad’s last name, but my dad wasn’t a huge part of my life when I was younger, so I didn’t feel any special attachment to that name. The fact that no one could spell or pronounce it correctly didn’t help. My first husband came from a very Catholic, very conservative family and I believe his father would have been deeply hurt if I hadn’t taken on their last name. So out of respect for my father-in-law, I took that last name.

    When I divorced, I went back to my maiden name, but when I remarried, I took my new husband’s last name. He could have cared less about the whole thing, but for me the name was a symbol of a new start. Plus my last name now is Waltner, which is just fun to say. 🙂

    Haus is an awsome last name – for cats or kids. 😉

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