What's In A Name? {Part I}

I've been struggling with this question for a while. Ever since I got engaged, in fact. What's in a name? The answer, for me, has always been simple: A lot. My name is my identity, it embodies my personal & family history, and it's been my constant companion throughout life.

As excited as I am about getting married, there's one part of the process that makes me feel torn. The idea of entering into the "Mrs." realm where my hubby-to-be and I share a last name is exciting. It makes me smile to think about one day creating a family together in which we'll be our own little clan. And, as cheesy as it sounds, the idea of taking Doug's last name is romantic within itself. There's an innate sense of affirming your bond and uniting together as a couple that comes with a shared identity.

But, on the other hand, stop and think about that for a moment. Shared identity. Doesn't that seem a little...odd?

{More after the jump}

My name is my thing, ya know? I've spent 27 years with it. From my first day of living, to learning how to sign it in cursive letters in grade school, to building up professional equity - my name means something to me. As much as I love, love, love this man that I am going to marry, and as much as I'll enjoy being a "we", the reality is that we are individuals. I keep thinking, if I change my name, will people know who I am?

I read a really interesting article from Women's Health Magazine a few months back that talked about this topic. It references a study that was done where men voiced their opinions about name changing. Check out the results:

  • 63% of men said they would be upset if their wives kept their maiden names
  • 96% of men said they wouldn't take a women's last name if she asked
  • When asked what men thought of women who kept their maiden name, here were some quoted opinions: "It's not a close relationship", "She puts herself ahead of her marriage", and, "Their sex life is probably terrible."
Blood. Boiling. I recognize that I have feminist tendencies, but honestly, you don't have to have strong empowerment opinions to recognize that the results of this study are alarming.

While trying to keep in mind that it's just one study, I'm choosing to blindly believe that most men (and women) I know wouldn't judge someone on a decision as personal as their chosen identity. That's not ridiculous, right? 

Doug and I have talked over the issue, and I'm comforted to know that he's 100% behind whatever I choose. In full disclosure, I'm pretty sure I'll be changing my last name to his. As much as I'm torn on this decision, I do think there's value in upholding tradition, and I'm excited about creating a new chapter of our lives together as a family. 

Does that mean I'm conforming?  Is my inner struggle a common one, or am I thinking too much? 

And, so, here we come full circle. What's in a name? Apparently, much more than we all let on. 


  1. Fantastic post my dear, always a pleasure reading your blog! I can understand you, even if I'm not exactly close to getting married I do think about this issue! I'd love it if I could keep my name as well, it's as you said, your identity in life! There's a sense of losing that identity if you take your loved one's name. Agreed, there's much more in a name than we let on.. Hugs dear!

    Liana x
    Dress Code Chic

  2. Such a good topic to touch on! I struggled with this too when I got engaged and thank goodness we had a long engagement because it took me a while to figure it out! I was originally going to have my maiden name and his last name be hyphenated, but I ended up taking his name in the end. It's funny though, because while yes, we share his last name and identity, we continue to grow as individuals and I've never felt so independent. It's so different for everyone though and it's hard to say if I wouldn't feel the same if I kept my maiden name. Oy vey! Great post!

  3. I struggled with this too because our names really are part of our identity. I used to teach high school, and so I heard my last name a lot! In the end, I made a gradual change, and didn't end up legally changing my name until almost a year later. The funny thing is that by the time that happened, I was really ready for it. Great post!

  4. I struggle with this same question, even though I'm not even engaged yet. I have always received lots of compliments about my name because it is pretty unique. I really don't know if I ever want to give it up!!

  5. A lot of my friends at work who are getting married are struggling with this as well! It's difficult especially in my profession where your byline is everything–and if you've been writing and editing under the same name for years and years, it's hard to change it. A lot of them are keeping their maiden names professionally, and changing them personally, which seems like a solid choice. I'm sure whatever you choose will be right for you!

  6. I am married and didn't want to change, my name is Italian and my husband's name not, that would be like changing my identity, couldn't do it! But if you like the romance of it...
    CHANEL GIVEAWAY: http://ondutystyleguide.com/chanel

  7. This has been such a hot topic for me. I have been married for 4 years and have not changed my last name. I know once I have kids I will eventually do it, just because I couldn't imagine having a different name than them. The comments we get from people is really annoying- much like the ones you read in the article.

  8. Totally struggled with this one too. I was 100% certain I would change my last name to his.. until I wasn't. When it came time to take the steps to actually change my name, I felt uncomfortable, so I waited. Am waiting. I do love the idea of a shared last name, but my name means a lot to me. I'll see how I feel when we have kids, but for now, I'm comfortable not making a decision.

  9. This post really made me think, although the idea of taking my future husbands name makes sense when it comes to starting a family I hate the idea of losing my last name especially because I am an only child and thus the last one in my family to carry that name ever again.

  10. I love this post, Emily! I can't wait to read more on what you have to say as you near your wedding day.

  11. Such a great topic! I did take my husband's name when we got married, but I am very traditional. I am loving those cups! Where did you find them!


  12. Amen to this! Oddly enough, I love my last name (it's a nickname, talking point, etc.) so I'm scared to change it. And as a writer, changing your last name essentially erases your identity from all your old content.. hmm!

  13. I took my husband's last name. But, I know others who have kept their own. I don't think it should matter. It's something a husband and wife have to decide really. You don't stop being part of the family you were in before after getting married. My youngest daughter has my maiden name as part of her name, just because my father died when I was three, so there is only two of us to pass on his name, so it was important for me to have my maiden name in there somewhere. But, I don't feel any less connected to my maiden name by using my married name. I could always go and have it added back as a third name if I wanted to :))) I like how some have a married name and then a 'work' name kind of thing :) x

  14. wowzaah those quotes from that article were redic. i dont think just because you dont take your husbands last name means that you dont have a great relationship. the whole name changing thing is just a tradition and it shouldnt have any further meaning on if you "really" love the person you are marrying. of COURSE you love the person youre marrying :) anyways what ever you decide just make sure you make the decision for yourself, bc no one else is going to be living your life (with your new or old name). xo :)

  15. Oooh, what a juicy topic. I legally changed my name to one of my own choosing before my husband and I got married. I was escaping an abusive home situation, and I no longer wanted my biological family's name. When my husband and I got married a few years later, I didn't have a strong connection to his family's name, but I had a HUGE connection to the name I had chosen for myself. In the end, I kept my chosen last name, and my husband completely supports my decision. It's funny, a lot of people call him by my last name! :)


  16. Oh my god - those quotes are terrible! I told Brian I wouldn't change my name years ago - just to make sure he didn't mind! It may have been a dealbreaker if he made me change mine back in the day (now maybe not so much), just because I've always wanted to keep my name since my mom never changed hers. It's an interesting decision, but it's so personal that no one but you should really have a say :)

  17. Great post Emily! People think I am crazy when I say I won't ever change my name but it's something I've always known was how I would want it.


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