This is something I've been thinking about for years. I would like my children to have the same name as both of their parents, but I strongly resent the loss of the matrilineage that occurs when women give up their names generation after generation.

However, at the same time, it's only partially my name. It's actually my father's name. And I have no positive attachments to my father's name--quite the opposite. My middle name is the maiden name of my mother's beloved grandmother, though, so I am considering using either my mother's maiden name or my middle name.

I think hyphenated names are ugly and awkward, but taking on my fiance's name completely just symbolizes too much to me: I am not leaving my family and joining his. We are making a new family together.

The only good thing amidst the confusion is that the man who will almost certainly be my fiance is a wonderfully understanding person and feminist. If I choose to take a hyphenated name, he'll do the same thing. If I want to keep my current last name he'll be okay with that too. It's not that he's just amenable, either--I think he really understands some of why this is a difficult decision for me.

I can't see being entirely happy with any of the options, but that's almost the least of the confusing life questions for a woman (or any aware adult). In the science fiction novels I was going to write once upon a time, children took their "last name" as simply their parents' first names put together. If only it were that easy.
One other option here, which I've liked very much with the couples we know, is to come up with an entirely new name for both of you. That avoids the "clunkiness" of hypenating, which, mixed with most clerical workers' inability to cope with hyphenated names has sometimes left me regretting our decision to hyphenate jointly. We discussed coining a new name, but could never find one that didn't make us giggle.

I understand there may be guys who seem pretty adamant on this, but there are also those who are just as offended at the whole patrilineal convention too. Maybe I'm Pollyanna, but I suspect there are many who feel this way and just don't advertise it.

Not to say they are necessarily the majority, but I feel that we sometimes assume a little more than is warranted, and may be feeding guys an answer when we approach this "tradition" by saying something that assumes his answer is "No, I wouldn't change my name." Depending on how it's approached, perhaps he wouldn't mind changing his name at all, but hears in the question some sort of "test?"

Just a thought.

That said, you know your guy(s) better than I do, and I have to trust that they are being entirely honest in their feelings when they tell you them, even if I've known men frequently to express ideas and feelings they thought someone wanted to hear, especially when it has some connection to potentially touchy subjects.

I had exactly this problem but for different reasons. My name used to be really really cute. It was Katie Mack.

People used to write songs about my cutie wootie name in school - hits like Potatie Katie Mack Skatie and Katie Mack's from Idaho!

My husband's name however, is Peterson.
Katie Mack, Katie Peterson
Katie Mack, Katie Peterson

See? the flow just doesn't work and flow is what it's all about...

I'm sure that if did the numerology on Katie Mack v. Katie Peterson Katie Mack would be a 93 (meaning a cutie wootie) while Katie Peterson would be a 41 (meaning weird ugly girl). So what was my solution you ask?

Well, I answer, I changed my entire name altogether. It is now Kate Peterson. This adds up to a 23 (the number of perfection) and sounds like a cool movie star.

Anyway, that was my solution. Hope this can help someone out there who is shallow and vain like me.

Of course my name is Kate, but I changed all the last names so you scary internet people dont try to stalk me like I saw on the news

I guess I was pretty lucky in this department. My husband is Italian, and in Italy women don't take their husband's last name. They just don't. I think it has something to do with laws of inheritance. Anyway, on all legal documents, the woman's name becomes "FirstName MaidenName in MarriedName," so that if Juliet Jones married Billy Bones, her name on legal documents would be Juliet Jones in Bones.

The kids, of course (?), take the father's last name, unless the wife's family is more noble.

So it wasn't an issue, and I didn't even think about it until one day a newlywed professional woman said to me, "I notice your husband lets you keep your name." And I thought "lets me?" She was bitter about it because she was fairly well known in her field and all of a sudden it was like she was no one, and had to go through the effort of getting her new name out. It was a setback for her.

In my case, I am legally the same as when I was born, but socially sometimes it's just easier to call myself by his last name.

When I was engaged, people foolishly asked me if I'd "make" my wife take my last name. Like it's up to me?? I'm quite happy whichever way works for her. (they asked the same question about "making her" cover her hair, as many Jewish women do, which I answered in much the same way). She can make the choice as she likes, and I had no intention of pressuring her. That may or may not make the choice any easier, of course. (In case you're curious, she opted to take my name).

I recall a friend of mine from college who maintained that when she married, she would certainly not change her name, and had what I thought was a novel approach to handling the children's names: the boys would get the father's name, and the girls would get hers. A clever idea, I thought.

Meanwhile, she has since married and borne children... but I don't happen to know if she actually followed up on her plan.

It never even crossed my mind to change my name - it was quite simply a non-issue.

It's my name, for chrissakes. It's what I've always been to myself, never mind anyone else. What possible rationale can be made to support my becoming someone completely different because I've gone through a 15 minute legal ceremony?

As for it being easier to call oneself by one's husband's name - yeah, well, it's easier to stay home, cook, and let someone else worry about the big decisions, too. Easy was never what being a woman was about, ladies.

My judgement (and I will admit to being judgemental) of women taking their husband's names doesn't come from a feminist point of view, necessarily - it's more that it's one of those baseless, brainless, airheaded things women do without thinking twice that give the rest of us a bad name (not to mention stop the authorities having to update the system to deal with modern families).


Why are you getting married? Is it because you love each other, and want to live forever? You can do that without getting married.

Not if one of you is from Israel and the other one from the UK. Or if one of you is from the US and the other one is from Indonesia. Governments don't smile at you avuncularly and say "oh, you're in love, that's so sweet, here, have a visa".

I'd rather be fighting the system while living on the same landmass as my SO, thankyouverymuch. Had I fallen in love with someone with the same passport as myself, marriage would never have been an issue, because it is an antiquated meaningless ritual (well, it is to me, and I can make a case for it being that to any non-religious person). But that's not how things happened in my life, so I'm sticking to as many of my principles as is practical.


I have been prompted to include my position on the naming of children in the absence of a "family" name. It's a pretty pragmatic one:

It is the unfotunate truth that up to and in some countries even over 50% of marriages end in divorce.

It is equally true (and I am not expressing any view on the correctness or otherwise of this state of affairs) that in 90% of divorces custody is awarded to the mother.

In these circumstances, if the mother had kept her own name after marriage or taken back her maiden name after the divorce, she and her children will not share a name. This is not in itself the end of the wrold, but administrative glitches and a certain identity snag for the children are more than likely to present problems. I therefore think that in couples where the women have kept their own names, and in fact in most couples these days, the best course of action would be to name the children after the mother or to give them hyphenated names. The latter has always been the norm in Spain, Portugal and parts of Italy, and is not as outlandish or unworkeable as might first appear.

I think it's romantic. I think it's nice that married couples have the same last name. I'm sorry, but when I go past a house and I see "John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova" I don't assume they are married. If they are, it gives the impression that they are distant, not close. I know it's all crap, but that's how I feel. I take it for granted that I will have the same name as my wife.

Changing the last name is a ritual, not more. Rituals are bad, you may say, but let's cut the crap right here - marriage is a ritual. Rings are a ritual. So why not go through these rituals that symbolize your love? Why are you getting married? Is it because you love each other, and want to live forever? You can do that without getting married. If it's for the ritual, why give up other rituals? If it's for the mortgage - well, TheLady made a point about the authorities updating the system to deal with modern families. Isn't getting married doing the same? Why not fight the system, so that unmarried couples get the same benefits as married couples? In the USA, families are getting redefined by the minute. But I've strayed...

Please notice the node title mentions 'taking your fiance's last name'. And everyone assumed it's about the woman taking the man's name. I don't have a problem with my wife taking my name. I think that's probably what will happen. But it doesn't have to be like that. If she'll have problems about changing her name, I'll change mine, or we'll both change our names.

I agree with what Wintersweet said, about starting a new family. When you get married, if you look at it in terms of families, you are both leaving your old families, and staring a new one. Families are about togetherness. Not even having the same connecting name seems so distant.

Supposing we stick to our original names, what name will we give our child? I think that this is a battle not worth fighting. It's just a name. A word. It doesn't even exist. It's still romantic, though.

On the subject of taking a third, brand new name for the both of you.

I knew a couple that did just that: he was enlightened and didn't want to saddle his wife with a tradition that marginalized women, and she had issues both with her father's name, and the idea of belonging to another man. So they both chose another name (Oak, I believe).

They got divorced a few months later. So now there are two people out there floating around with some random name that doesn't mean anything to anybody any more.

I had never given this much thought until about one month before my wedding.

I was engaged for over five years (due to lack of finances) and in all that time I never once considered what I was going to do about my last name.

Eventually, though, as the wedding drew near, I realized that I was going to have to make a decision of some sort. Essentially my choices boiled down to doing nothing and keeping my name as it was, trading in my maiden name for his surname, taking his name and tacking it onto mine by way of a hyphen, taking an entirely new name or adding his to the end of mine and moving my maiden name to the middle.

First I dismissed the idea of the hyphenated name immediately. My name was often misspelled already, and his even more so, so I wasn't about to have two hard-to-spell names connected with a tacky looking hyphen. The only people that really should go for the hyphen are people who are in a business where name recognition is very important and changing one's name too much can cause loss of revenue. This was the case for Roxann Biggs-Dawson of Star Trek: Voyager fame who had to hyphenate her name after nobody knew who she was due to the makeup she wears as a Klingon half-breed on the show.

Next I rejected both the taking of a whole new name for both of us and the replacing of my maiden name. First, we're both actually rather fond of our last names. Second, we both have many memberships to various things such as Hollywood Video and the like and didn't want to have to get new cards. Finally, he's adopted and thus sensitive about such things as lineage and so he would not give it up anyway.

Finally, I rejected the idea of just keeping my name as it was, which left me with getting a second middle name. I did this partly because I'm a bit of a romantic and somewhat old-fashioned in this regard, but I also did this because of the way the world works. There are instances where my having a different last name would make things even more difficult than they are, and call me lazy, but I don't need more trouble on what to me would just be a point of obstinacy. And so I kept my own name in a new spot and put his at the end so it is now my surname.

My wife took my name, and when I asked her whether or not she wanted to (I was open to her not changing her name), she wholeheartedly WANTED to change her name. In fact, she considered it a wonderful and perfect thing: She hated her name. Her last name caused jokes to made about her in school all the time she was growing up. (Ditsch.) What I think is odd is that her family is very matrilineal. They have reunions of all the family connected by the great-grandmother. It's just that they may all have different names, they're all still Hollidays, or go one step back -- they're all still Forbes women. So, the name may change, but the connection from the mother can still exist.

However, we weren't married when we had my daughter, so my daughter still has my wife's maiden name. And she is starting to get teased about that name. Never mind the fact that people can accept that a mother might have a different last name than a child, if the father has a different last name, then obviously the child is not his. (Whatever.)

So, when we get over our case of terminal laziness, we'll change my daughter's name to mine. (Which is, for the most part, a nice and boring English name, with a meaning that people can understand, etc.)

What I think is odd, that I guess my wife hasn't realized is that people used to make fun of my name. (Name is "Chapman" -- I got called chapstick. Never mind that I was "Dan ChapMan" ... Gah. Go fig. Kids are fun.)

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