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Marriage: I won’t be changing my name

Marriage: I won’t be changing my name

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This morning I posted the following status on my Facebook page:

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It is something I had often pondered but had yet to seek out the opinion and thoughts of others. And so very many of you had opinions and thoughts on the subject as I knew you would. I can always count on my Warriors to respond to the random questions I pose and I thank you and love you for it.

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As I was reading through the myriad of insightful comments another thought struck me and not for the first time; truth is I have contemplated this one on many an occasion and I now wish to know where YOU stand.

And the question in question is this:

On entering the marriage union, why do the vast and overwhelming majority of women continue to sacrifice their surname for that of their husband?

Now before I proceed any further let me state for the record that I do not consider myself to be a feminist and the reason I do not consider myself to be a feminist is because of the countless brave and quite frankly heroic women who have gone before me and who have fought tirelessly both mentally and physically in the face of great adversity to ensure that I, at this time, in the society in which I live, surrounded by the people with whom I associate have never felt the need to flex my feminist bicep. Thanks to them I have never, not once in my entire existence felt any less worthy, capable or significant than any of my male counterparts.

Having said that, I do not live free of history and am acutely aware that the question we are raising today hearkens back to a time when married women still could not hold property, vote, or go to law. In a nutshell, at the point of marriage a woman became subject to the will, whims and desires of her husband and ceased to exist as an individual in her own right.

Mercifully and gratefully we have come a long way since then and here in the UK and indeed in many other countries throughout the world we are free to choose what we do with our name once we get hitched. We can, for example, stick with tradition and change it to that of our Beloved. On the other hand we could turn tradition on its boring and conformist head and insist that hubby dearest take OUR surname. If you’re looking for some gender push-back then surely that’s the way to go! (Craig Davies has a very distinctive ring to it, don’t you think?) There is also the option to introduce a fairly innocuous looking hyphen and both parties adopt a piece of each other’s identity. OR, and increasingly more couples are choosing to go down this route, the new Mr and Mrs can put their blissfully happy heads together and come up with a name of their very ownsome! Personally, I’ve always rather liked the surname Fitzgerald. It’s strong, noble and has an air of no nonsense. I’ll have to run that one past Craigy Boy..

At this point some of you may find another question forming in your mind, something along the lines of:

Ceri, does it really matter? I mean, what’s in a name for goodness sake??

Well, a hell of a lot in my opinion! Behind my name are 36 years and 7 months of hopes and dreams, failures and frustrations, memories and experiences (some I’d much sooner forget) that I have forged over the sands of time and which, for better of for worse, have made me the person I am today. And the person I am today goes by the name of CERI DAVIES and always will. It is the most basic marker of my identity and one that I am not willing to abandon.

While I have made my own personal feelings on the matter abundantly clear I do also believe it is the right of each woman to decide what she does with her name if and when the time comes for a decision to be made. All I would say is that I hope our sister in question approaches the matter with careful consideration, with the love, support and respect of her partner, and that together they can come to the decision which best suits them as a couple rather than mindlessly opting for the traditional route for no other reason than because it’s the way things have always been done.

That a woman will change her name upon marriage is a cultural and very much outdated assumption.

In my opinion. ;)

Ginger Warrior, over and out.

Over to you now, Warriors!

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40 Comments

  1. I think changing your name is the final step to becoming one. In the bible it says we should cleave unto one another, traditionally this is the way it’s been for most people I believe. A man and a woman run a home TOGETHER, but the man is to be the head of the home. A woman is to love and support her husband just as her husband is to put his wife before all others. FOR ME this is the way it should be, I felt kind of weird about it….I just got married 6 months ago, for the 1st time ever and it has been an adjustment but it’s what I always knew I wanted to do. You can always hyphenate your name. Whatever you decide and however everyone feels about it, it’s your choice. Love each other, and the rest will work out in the wash!

    • The Ginger Warrior

      He could have changed his name to yours and you would still be one union! :) Would your husband have considered that?

    • The Ginger Warrior

      P.S. I’m afraid I don’t agree that a man is head of the home. Another outdated tradition handed down from one patriarchally controlled generation to another. And I’m sure you’ll agree that most women you know are blatantly the ones that run pretty much everything in the home and out. Lol! But I do hope that you and your new hubby are enjoying married life. xxx

  2. I took my husband’s name, really just out of tradition. And now that we have children I like that we all have the same name. However, nowadays, who takes who’s name (if at all), should be unimportant. I’ve heard of couples taking the woman’s name for whatever reason (sometimes because it’s a ‘better’ name, maybe because the name would ‘die out’ for that family etc). I do like the idea that once married, you’re a unit, and thus have a surname to share, but who’s it is shouldn’t really matter.

    • The Ginger Warrior

      I agree! I like the idea of the whole family sharing a name but I just don’t see why in 90% of cases it has to be the man’s! So maybe I am a bit of feminist after all. 😉

  3. I changed from Crocker to Gowland when I got married. I still have the Gowland name even though I am divorced because my girls were only 4 and 2 and I didn’t want them having a different surname to me although when they are older I’m sure will marry and change their name. Alice my almost 16 year old has always said she wont as other than her granddad and dad there are no more Gowlands..Time will tell. I am with my partner of 14 1/2 years and we have no plans to marry but if we did would I change my name? probably 😉

    • The Ginger Warrior

      Minxy, why would you change your name to Mark’s? You could both change to Crocker! Would Mark be willing to do that?

      • We did have this conversation a few years ago if he would change to Gowland as the girls were still young and he said yeah why not. It would be weird going back to my maiden name as I have been a Gowland for 23 years. ANYWAY we aren’t getting married so not a problem! lol

  4. To be honest I never even thought about it – I was looking forward to getting married one day and changing my surname! That said, I never married my son’s father, but Liam has his surname, and not my [maiden] name, and so the keeping/not keeping my name was not an issue on that front. I’m still me, just my surname is different, and it feels weird to even call myself by my old surname now!

    I think each to their own, I believe we should all do what is right by US and not the masses! I can’t wait for you and Craig to get married! xx

    • The Ginger Warrior

      Lol! Don’t hold your breath, Michelle! 😉 And totally agree – each couple needs to do what is best for them. See you soooon! xxx

    • The Ginger Warrior

      Sorry, another question just out of interest! Why did you give Liam his Dad’s surname and not yours?

  5. It never even crossed my mind not to change my last name. I feel like I married this person and we’re one so our name should reflect that. He is British and from a very traditional family, as am I. As we have children now everyone has the same last name and in my opinion represents a unit. Plus as I mentioned in my Facebook comment people couldn’t pronounce or spell my maiden name. They have trouble with my first name and that I find extremely annoying. It’s not difficult, just say it as it’s written

    • The Ginger Warrior

      That’s my whole point – it doesn’t cross many women’s minds that there are other options rather than taking the traditional route. And that isn’t a criticism; if you were happy to take that route then there is no issue. It’s what works for each couple. :) xxx

  6. Hi Ceri, a great debate you’ve started. I, like you, feel I am a feminist. For example, at my wedding I couldn’t cope with the idea that just the men got to do speeches so I did a speech too and (people say) it was the best of the lot. It was weird when people started calling me Mrs Lindsell on my wedding day and I railed against it for a bit. But, like some of the other ladies on here, I was keen my son had the same surname as me. Why, I didn’t make my husband take my name? I am not sure. Tradition stopped me, probably.

    I quite like how in Spain, you double-barrel your name when you get married and then when your child gets married they lose their mothers part and take on the name of their spouse – so as to avoid having a surname that goes on forever, I suppose!

    • The Ginger Warrior

      That’s the thing, I don’t really consider myself a feminist but I appear to have particularly strong feelings on this topic. Lol!

  7. My folks made there’s up!!!

  8. I wouldn’t have given up my surname either but the double barrel was too cool to resist 😉

  9. It’s just another man’s name though isn’t it Ceri? I suppose Craig might legitimately ask why you prefer to keep your father’s name rather than his :-) x

    • The Ginger Warrior

      It is another man’s name, Henny, that of my Dad. BUT it is also the name by which I have been know for 36 years and that resonates. Call me sentimental but I’m afraid I just can’t let it go…

  10. Because we area family! I want us all to have the same last name, we are team Weekley! And it’s traditional, and I’m ok with it. I think women have the advantage in bonding with their children because we carry and birth out babies, I feel like taking the fathers last name helps them connect more with their children (maybe wives too!).

    • The Ginger Warrior

      You could still all have the same last name if you were all known as “Osmer”!

      But I totally respect that we all view certain traditions differently and that’s what the makes and the world such an exciting and forever changing place to be!

  11. That was supposed to say “birth OUR babies”!

  12. I suppose I am just a traditionalist when it comes to marriage and family. I did think about keeping my nice simple surname, but it felt right taking his name, I wanted to give him that little extra commitment. (Plus, being a Polish surname, apart from husband’s family back in Scotland I haven’t come across the surname anywhere else, lol.) It’s all personal preference and circumstances though.

  13. When I finally got married at the age of 39 I was proud to adopt my husbands surname. I felt that having found a man I loved and respected enough to finally make a pledge then I wanted to be known by the same name. I guess he would have taken my name maybe but it didn’t cross my mind. He isn’t the head of our home. We run a home together. We make decisions together. Our shared name symbolises the vows we made, not in a church but in law. I am definitely borderline feminist or at least I strongly believe women have equal rights and expectations in the world. But I also liked the fact that when I chose this man my identity in terms of my name merged with his. I am a little strange in that I work in my maiden name….for ease, business purposes….maybe that’s hypocritical of me? My identity is much more than the name I have but now I’m married I like it being that of my husband. And salmon is a damn sight easier than my maiden one was too!

  14. I was married when I was barely 19 and thought it was really cool to add his last name to mine. I think where you are a little older and more mature and established you should keep your last name. However, a woman always keeps her last name! I am Paula Elaine Bell and have added the last name Allen to my name. I will always be a Bell kid and am proud of it!

    • The Ginger Warrior

      And you should be proud too! My mother’s sister became a Bell through marriage. A very fine and respectable surname! :) xoxo

  15. I was proud to take my husbands’ name, both times! It somehow cemented what we felt for each other (at the time for husband no. 1) lol …personally I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way! Neither have been the “head” of the household or any other such daft, ancient descriptions but I just felt proud in taking their name on our wedding day(s). My sister-in-law felt exactly the same and my brother’s children now carry on the Keir name! This has nothing to do with “tradition” and in my humble opinion..do what makes you happy!

  16. Ah balls… I never thought about this. I don’t like my married name but my husband would’ve sounded really old fashioned with my maiden name (although I still use it for travel). I didn’t know you could make your own up. I’d have gone for something posh sounding like Ponsonby-smythe!

  17. I don’t like my married surname and only took it on as I wanted my kids and me to have the same one. Hubby would not take mine, although Phillips goes really well with his first name and with our kids names. I loved being Phillips and if we were ever to part ways, I would definitely go back to it. Living in UK with a dutch surname causes all sorts of paperwork and pronunciation issues! I also feel like your name is who you are, and I still identify more with being Carla Phillips than Carla van Heerden.(even after 13 years married) My best friend stuck to her guns and managed to get her hubby to take her name…which I think is fab. I think it should be more of a discussion between partners and not an assumption that “she” takes “his”. But annoyingly most men are not open to it. I think..so what if the family name dies out? Who cares? Perhaps we should all go about using our birth names , double barrel the kids names and then allow them the option to choose which surname they want when they reach their teens? Anyway, I’m with you on this one…your birth name is part of who you are.

    • The Ginger Warrior

      I completely agree, Carla. Should be a discussion, not an automatic assumption that the wife will adopt the husband’s name.

  18. We’re not married but even if we were I would keep my name. Our kids have both our names as it didn’t seem fair to choose one. I suppose humans would end up with very long names in the future if everyone did that down the line though! :-) I often get called my partner’s name and vice versa, we’re used to it now. x

    • The Ginger Warrior

      I like the idea of kids having both names. Then, when they marry, they can decide what names they keep and which ones they drop. :)

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