Did You Take Your Partner’s Name? An Argument For and Against
First comes love, then comes the proposal, and after that is the discussion of all things related to marriage: where to live, your mutual feelings on joint bank accounts and what happens to your last names.
Traditionally, the one partner in the relationship forgoes his or her maiden name and takes on their partner’s last name. This western tradition has been practiced since the 9th century when women were considered “one” with their husbands.
Our world today is all about redefining traditions. Marriage is no longer just between a man and a woman. Same-sex couples are beautifully redefining what it means to be a family, and so, it begs the question, is changing your surname an antiquated tradition that no longer reflects the state of the contemporary union?
There are a few arguments for changing your name:
- It simplifies things. The kids (if you choose to have any) don’t have to assume a long hyphenated last name.
- If you’ve always hated your last name, well, here’s your opportunity to change it.
- You and your partner will be united as a cohesive unit on legal documents.
- It is a nice symbolic gesture of your unity.
Recently Chrissy Teigen clapped back at a woman on Twitter who criticized her for not taking her husband’s last name. And Teigen had the perfect response.
I'd really like to hear the reasoning behind women who won't take their husband's last name
— Kasali (@_MercyFul) August 20, 2017
my husband didn’t even take his last name? https://t.co/BMo6OsgcVv
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) March 22, 2018
Passed in the mid-1800s, the Married Women’s Property Acts gave women legal status as individuals to own property, have their own businesses and signing contracts, hence making the legal changing of a woman’s maiden name pretty redundant.
Still, the practice continued because traditions often don’t die out after they are no longer deemed necessary. If you are about rewriting traditions, here are reasons why you might want to keep your name:
- There is nothing less romantic than paperwork. If you choose to change your name, the honeymoon phase of your marriage might be ridden with paperwork.
- You really love your name.
- You have been through many life and career milestones and changing your name will make you feel disconnected from the essence of who you are as an individual.
- If you are an author, journalist or someone in the public eye and your byline is associated with your professional narrative.
- You don’t want to loose your connection to your family’s legacy.
- You simply just don’t want to because you think it is completely unnecessary.
At the end of the day, the choice of taking your spouse’s name is entirely up to you. Do it if you want to, don’t if it makes you uncomfortable. It’s all about choice and having a spouse that supports you no matter what you decide.
No one has the right to shame you for your decision. There is also the third option of hyphenating your names, combining last names or making a new one up altogether!