Marriage - The Giving/Taking of a New Name

United States
December 28, 2006 10:01am CST
I'm not sure why, but as a female, it has always been important to me that a man would think highly enough of me to "give" me his name, so to speak in marriage. And as I think about it, it's almost a covering in some ways that the man promises to take care of his wife for eternity. But I can also see another side - is the changing of a woman's name to a man's just another old formality where women are viewed as men's possessions? What do you think?
13 people like this
54 responses
• United States
28 Dec 06
When my mom married for the second time, she kept her first married last name still, but also her new last name. I think the only reason she did that to not confuse people who had known her as her first last name. So she just hyphonated the two names. But it doesn't matter to me either way when I get married, if I keep my maiden name or take my husband's last name.
3 people like this
• United States
28 Dec 06
Cool, thanks for answering. So, just to clarify, you don't see any importance in taking someone elses name?
1 person likes this
• United States
29 Dec 06
My sister-in-law did that to (kept her 1st husbands name and hyphonated it with her new name) so that she still had the same last name as her children. She thought it would be a lot less confusing at school and such.
• United States
29 Dec 06
I did that with my third husband and it made it much easier after our divorce. I just dropped his last name but retained my maiden name.
• United States
28 Dec 06
I just got married, December 14th and am now in the process of changing my name to my husbands. In my viewpoint it is an honor...for me to accept his name as mine, and for him to give me his name. It works both ways. I am truely honored that he has taken me as his wife, and gifted me the precious gift of his name. It doesn't hurt that I really love his last name too, I guess, lol. I am also very old fashioned, so maybe that is where I get this idea from.
2 people like this
• United States
29 Dec 06
That's the same sentiment that keeps coming to my mind every time I think about all of this. I can think of no higher honor than my boyfriend wanting to share his name with me. It's precious to me that he would love me enough to want to share it :).
2 people like this
• United States
29 Dec 06
Oh, by the way...CONGRATULATIONS!! Are you adjusting well to married life?
2 people like this
• United States
29 Dec 06
Yes, I am. Thank you very much. We are both still "honeymooning". LOL
1 person likes this
@clownfish (3276)
• United States
28 Dec 06
Hi! I had a hard time changing my name because it just boiled down to an identity issue. I knew who I was under my maiden name, but changing my name was scary to me. I finally did it before we had our daughter. Turns out I'm still me, but it was a hard thing to do.
• United States
29 Dec 06
Thank you for your honesty - I know I keep saying this, but I'm truly interested in the answers you gave. For the longest time, I WANTED to change my name for the exact same reason. I didn't like who I was and I thought that a man willing to marry me and give me his name would change my identity and my worth. I thank God that He straightened me out. And oddly enough, I didn't meet my boyfriend until I was finally able to realize my own worth and like me for who I am :)...but that's another story :).
• United States
29 Dec 06
I have a friend who never changed her last name while she was married (tech she still is just legally seperated). They were married for 8 years and have 3 children (with the hubbys last name)! It drove her husbands nuts. But the only reason she didn't was because she just didn't go get it changed. She says she never had the time. She's a goof ball. I think they're may have been some underlying issues. But she would go by her husbands name except dealing with anything legal.
• United States
29 Dec 06
The underlying issues comment is interesting - maybe she DID know in her heart that something wasn't right. But I'm also one of those people that would just forget to go and claim that I didn't have time *grin*. I'm so scatterbrained sometimes!
• United States
28 Dec 06
well if you think about it, if you get married and you keep you last name and then you have a baby. should you give the last name of the fater or of the mother? how will you explain the difference in the last names to your child/children? i am and will be proud to take the last name of my husband. if you marry someone who looks at you as a possession then maybe you should rethink your vows and decision to marry this person. it is a good tradition, i intend on using my maden name as my middle name. maybe that might be another way to look at it.
2 people like this
• United States
28 Dec 06
I agree with the children - I've seen the confusion among some of my former students - and I have seen it cause a bit of stress at the same time. I'm not sure what to do about my maiden name - I kinda like the middle name that I have right now (Elizabeth) ... but that's something I never really thought of, either.
• United States
29 Dec 06
Usually when you keep your last name and you have children people will hyphonate the kids name to incorporate both names. I don't like this because it's too long. I love my maiden name but I never thought otherwise to take my husbands. I do wish however that I would have kept my maiden name as my middle name. I never had heard of that until I was in the SS office and she asked me. My first reaction was no. But as soon as I said no I started regreting the fact that I did. It's okay - I just like my maiden name better than my first or middle name and many people use my maiden name as a name now.
@Ashida (1370)
• United States
29 Dec 06
hmmm... this is an interesting discussion. Part of my family is Japanese. One generation had no sons to carry on the family name, so when one of the daughters got married, the husband took on his wife's name, so that her family name would continue. I think it works both ways.
2 people like this
@Jshean20 (14366)
• Canada
28 Dec 06
I think that it could be viewed in that way, yes. I think that they should turn the tables and have the man take on his wifes last name, hehhehe. When I get married I will be happy to take on my husbands last name (I like my boyfriends last name, as it goes good with my first name) but I think that if it sounded too funny I would still go by my own last name but have his last name on the end.
2 people like this
• United States
29 Dec 06
Yeah, taking on a funky name would be rough - there was someone I always dreamed of marrying when I was younger, but Yagolnikov just wasn't something I thought Sarah Beth would go well with *laugh*.
1 person likes this
@medooley (1874)
• United States
29 Dec 06
As a man I guess this is something that I never even thought about. When my wife and I got married I just assumed that there was no discussion about this, she would take my name. And infact she did. But I guess I could see how it could be an issue for some people. Personally I don't see it as a sign of ownership. There is no way in this world that anyone person should own another, and I think that if a female beleives that the person she is marrying see it as this she should take another look at that person to see if she really wants to go through with it. I see the giving of a mans name to a woman as a huge honor. Think about it. This man choose you out of all other women in the world to take his last name. Likewise, I see it as an honor that a woman would love me enough to take my last name, just another signal as to how she is another part of me.
1 person likes this
• United States
29 Dec 06
And this is what gives me all of those "warm-fuzzies" so to speak - the fact that someone would love me that much to share their name with me. But I had a thought when you brought up not marrying a person - how often does that kind of think not really show up until you get married? I've seen cases where men were extremely sweet to get the woman of their dreams to marry them, but when the deed was done and the real personalities began to come out, they became mere possessions to do their laundry...it's just a thought I had. It's beautiful to see a man voice the same sentiments...kudos to you and your wife, sir - you both sound very much in love :)!!
@medooley (1874)
• United States
29 Dec 06
LOL, actually she hates me... Thanks for your kind words.
• United States
29 Dec 06
*ack* oops...I hope you're not serious or I just shoved my foot in my mouth pretty dang far *grin*...
• Canada
28 Dec 06
Hey sarahbeth :) I believe strongly in marriage (which might explain why I didn't let a divorce deter me from finding happiness again!). Where I live, women are not allowed -- by law -- to take their husband's name. Since 1981, a woman here must keep her maiden name for any official, government, hospital, etc.-related reasons. I guess it simplifies things (for them!) in these times of multiple divorces, remarriages, and all but it can be very hard on the older generation. I mean, imagine a female senior citizen entering the hospital. She may be married for 40 or even 50 years... and she is listed at the hospital under her birth/maiden name. Anyone calling the hospital for information on her condition would need to know that name and they've probably known her by her married name for her whole adult life! This even happened to us when my mother was ill with cancer and in and out of hospital over several years... we had to keep reminding people of her maiden name so they'd know where and how to find her. I love my husband to pieces and would not object to taking on his name... but the government only allows me to do it socially. Otherwise, it's not possible. I find it pretty sad, all things considered. So, as it is now, we have three last names in our house... his, mine and the kids (who carry my ex's last name). Imagine how frustrated the schools, sports and leisure organizations are around here! It's hard to keep track of which kids go with which parents anymore! ;)
1 person likes this
• United States
29 Dec 06
Again, the Canada thing comes up - I am still blown away by that. For some reason in my mind, that messes with the fabric of what a marriage is in a lot of ways. I still have a hard time imagining that - hasn't anyone complained about this? Does it do no good? What was the reason for bring that on in 1981?
• Canada
29 Dec 06
Well, I'm not actually sure about the "why" of the whole thing but it doesn't actually apply to all of Canada... I believe in provinces other than Quebec, you do get to choose what to do about your name. However, this is a blurb I pulled from the Justice Quebec website (http://www.justice.gouv.qc.ca/english/publications/generale/maria-a.htm#) in the section on Marriage: "Women keep their birth name after marriage and continue to exercise their civil rights under that name, i.e. they must use their birth name in contracts, on credit cards, on their driver's licence, etc. They are free however to assume their husband's name socially. This rule applies to all women domiciled in Québec, even if they married outside Québec or outside Canada, except women married before April 2, 1981 already using their husband's last name to exercise their civil rights." Trust me, it's not up for debate either :( All your official ID is issued in your maiden name so there's no possibility to skirt the system. My husband (of almost three years) is an American and it was a bit of a shock to him (and a disappointment, I think) when he realized that I couldn't "officially" be "Mrs. His Last Name". I'd really like to be :(
• United States
29 Dec 06
That's just kinda quirky - I'm curious now, though - what are the benefits to living in Canada? Is it much different than the US for him?
@SViswan (12071)
• India
29 Dec 06
I don't feel changing a woman's name to a man's (I assume you are talking of changing the surname from the maiden name) is viewing woman as a man's possession. I feel the woman should maintain her maiden name till she truly believes that she is in a relationship where she is equal to the man and shares everything with him. I consider it as sharing a name. I still have my maiden name and haven't changed it to my husband's because I do not feel I am sharing my life with him. We are still learning about each other. And the moment I feel we are one and I can openly discuss or talk about anything with him without having to worry about how he takes it and the moment I can trust him with my heart's deepest secrets, I will change my name. If you are wondering why I married him if we still don't know each other...mine was an arranged marriage.
• United States
29 Dec 06
OH MY GOSH THAT IS SO COOL!! Was this something you had a choice in? Was it something you wanted to do? This is the perfect example to me of why divorce is simply an unwillingness to be committed...I don't believe you can "fall out of love" I believe it's simply an unwillingness to try anymore in some cases (I'm not talking about abusive or cheating relationships by any means). When you say your vows, you're saying that you will continue to love them (an action, not a feeling) even when you don't necessarily feel it. How is it going so far?
• India
29 Dec 06
Giving the name is a gesture of accepting the female in Male's family and treating her as a part of family after marriage...This has been an old custom and is followed till date and has a logic behind it
1 person likes this
• United States
29 Dec 06
Oooh, now there's a new twist that I haven't seen yet. Being accepted into one's family - because it's very true...you're not just marrying that person, but you're marrying into their family as well. As much as you may hate or like it, you become a member of these families.
@tictac714 (976)
• United States
29 Dec 06
You know I never thought of it quite that way, as it being sort of privelege for a man to "give" you his name. It's a good point. I always have planned to take the name of the man I marry, when I marry him. THe only twist on it is this: I will be a doctor in June. So it's possible that I will have established myself somewhat in the profession by the time I get married...So I may end up doing a sort of compromise, where I legally change my name but for professional purposes continue to go by my born name.
1 person likes this
• United States
29 Dec 06
Yes, I'm facing the same thing - I am only working on my Masters, but by the time both of us are finished school, I will already be a Doctor, and I wondered if it would be worth changing my name at that point? Will you be teaching in a university, or are you a medical doctor?
@oriental (1051)
• Uruguay
29 Dec 06
In Spanish speaking countries when a woman married she did't lose her maiden surname. Instead, she added her husband's surname, with de preposition "de". If Miss Miller married Mr. Brown she would then be Mrs. Miller "de" Brown. Nowadays this use is not so common. Many women continue taking their old maiden surname without adding her husband's to it.
• United States
29 Dec 06
Now that's extremely interesting, because if I remember my correctly, "de" in the spanish language is "of" and it's used to show ownership, in the genetive case so to speak. Like instead of saying "This is Sarah's Car" you would say "This is the car of Sarah" ... many languages use that to show possession...and that would be the same case for the woman, wouldn't it, in the Spanish language? Hmmmm....very interesting.
• United States
29 Dec 06
I think that women fought too hard to be seen as equals to men so why lose your identity??? You don't see men changing their names. I have never understood that. I would NEVER change my name because it just doesn't seem right. I think women should keep their own names and be seen as themselves as an individual person and not just someone's wife.
1 person likes this
• United States
29 Dec 06
But the essence of marriage is two becoming one in the eyes of God and the law...I think?? I'm not 100% sure about the law part - but I wonder what's the point in getting married if you're not going to be seen as one? So now that makes me wonder if the idea of marriage IS just a religious thing? Hmmm...thanks for your comment, it got me thinking again :D.
@Celanith (2334)
• United States
29 Dec 06
Nowdays a woman can opt to not change her name and still be married. My daughter opted 12 years ago to hypenate her maiden name to her married name. But recently she totally dropped her maiden name as it kept causing trouble with the IRS and getting her tax refund. They would not accept her hypehnatied name. She is the bread winner now since her hubby is disabled and files taxes and they did not like it two years in a row they withheld her IRS refund and she had to fight to get it. So she recently just went to her married name. She needed the $4,000 to help her large family. They have five kids.
• United States
29 Dec 06
*ACK* That's a lot of kids these days - I always wanted a big family :). That's another aspect I hadn't completely thought about - I bet it would cause some confusion where bills and some things were concerned...I wonder if that is the main reason why the Canadian government won't allow you to change your name?
• United States
29 Dec 06
I do not feel the need to take a man's name. When I was married, fortunately it was a very short lived union and I never got around to legally changing mine and I'm glad I didn't. I really feel like my name is a big part of who I am and I really wouldn't want to change that. I can't imagine sticking someone else's last name on mine, or worse yet, hyphenating it.
1 person likes this
• United States
29 Dec 06
Someone else mentioned this earlier - she said she didn't end up changing her name until they had children. How do you feel the children should be named if there are two different names?
@pinklilly (3446)
• Australia
28 Dec 06
I thought it was a tradition for a female to take her husbands surname but this day and age you can carry whichever one you want or even join them together.. I like my biological surname as that it is my identity that is who I am and I don't feel right changing it. I feel I will lose my personal identity but then I suppose it would be good for those who would like to say start a new life fresh with a new name... If I ever get married I sure I would take his name however so as it would be the same as the kids as well. I believe a child should carry there father's surname. I guess I am a little confused on the situation. It seems strange when you read to far into it..
1 person likes this
• United States
29 Dec 06
yeah...I get confused like that, too...when I think about something too much my head starts spinning. Like answering to ever response...I really wanted to be able to say something to everyone, but I feel like I'm beginning to sound like a broken record *grin*.
@patootie (3593)
28 Dec 06
I wish I had known when i got married that it is not compulsory for the female to take the mans surname when they get married ... I would have kept my maiden name as my husbands surname was a bit of a mouthful to say ... and I always had to spell it out for anyone ... If I were ever to get married again .. I would not take the mans name ... perhaps pair them up as a double barrelled name ... but I will keep the name I have now for the rest of my life ...
1 person likes this
• United States
29 Dec 06
Hey there - love your picture, btw! So if I understand you correctly, you wouldn't want to change simply because the name was a mouthful? *grin* I can completely understand that - there are some really whacked out names out there...
• United States
28 Dec 06
well, now a days... men can and also would change their names to be the women's name:) its fact:)
1 person likes this
• United States
29 Dec 06
I take it you know this from experience?? *grin* Those smiley faces kinda indicate that ;)...
@icequeen (2841)
• Canada
28 Dec 06
I think that a woman should have a choice..whether to take the man's name or not. I don't think it is totally based on men's possession aspect. I would personally not like to give up my name..and have thought about keeping it in some form..however..if there is real love there then I think that it is just your way of telling the world that you love that man..and his name.
1 person likes this
• United States
29 Dec 06
Good response - I definitely believe the woman should have the choice. I would be the first to say that no one will ever force me to take a name that I don't choose to take.
@jeffaim (215)
• United States
28 Dec 06
i think that it's up to each individual/couple to decide what is important and what it represents to them. i know many women who wish that they had kept their maiden names, but they grew up in a time where it was not common. i was willing to change my last name to my wife's, and think that it is important for the children to have her name - i believe matriarchy is more functional than patriarchy!
• United States
29 Dec 06
That's interesting! I haven't met many men who would be able to agree with that - so you don't feel that this immasculates you in any way? That's awesome :).