Is it better for a woman to change her last name at marriage?


I’ve often wondered what most people think about this. My mother didn’t change her name when she married my dad, and people often seemed surprised. I’m not sure how I feel about the issue.


This is one of the few issues I can think of that involves a purely personal preference devoid of any moral consequence. In other words~there is no right or wrong answer. So…with the caveat that one would hopefully give due consideration to one’s spouse’s feelings/opinion…to each his/her own…and the rest of us should simply respect that choice without commentary or judgment.


Back in 1975 it was difficult to be a military spouse and keep your maiden name. I wanted to, just because it reflected my French heritage. Today I wish I had because my kids would at least have the name of a family line that dies with my generation. My dad was the only boy and my 2 brothers have no children.

Ten years after I got married a plethora of military spouses were keeping their maiden name simply because their province wouldn’t let them change it to their husband’s unless they has a legal name change (IOW, birth certificate changed).


I changed mine “officially” to Mrs Myname-Hisname but in practice have always been Ms Myname. Had I had children they would have been Master/Miss Hisname.

I just felt I’d always had my own name, I quite liked it and preferred to keep it, thanks very much. I can see the usefulness of a common family name, but everyone knows that Mrs Myname-Hisname is married to Mr Hisname and is the mother of Miss Hisname, and they also know that Mrs Myname-Hisname is the former Miss Myname.

Becoming Mrs Hisname isn’t a universal practice across all cultures. And I agree that personal preference must be respected. I made it clear to my parents that the one thing I was NOT going to accept was being addressed as Mrs John Hisname … so they insisted on writing to me as just that. So I started writing to my mother as Miss Mary Maidenname, to make the point that two could play the I-don’t-respect-your-preference game. I’ve since met an older woman from the other side of the world who had/did exactly the same thing. Other than parents choosing your Christian names, no one has any right to dictate how you will be addressed.


I was very happy to take my husband’s name, and after having a child even more so. I like being The XXXXX Family. I was doodling my first name with my hubby’s last name in highschool.

My parents had only girls and my dad’s 2 brothers never had children so I am sad for my dad, although I’m sure my old school conservative Republican dad would not have wanted me to keep or hyphenate my maiden name. He thinks that what “liberal feminists” do.:wink:


My dad didnt think much of it either. :slight_smile:

But given that we followed church teachings on marriage, ABC/NFP, yada yada, I figured that if he or anyone else wanted to make such conclusions on the basis of something as personal and subjective as my name preference, well, not my problem. :shrug: I didn’t think it was anyone else’s business.


It’s probably morally neutral. It depends on the culture. Depends on the couple.


I agree.

In cultures where it’s more common for women to take the husband’s name it can be more confusing if the woman keeps her own name or takes some kind of combination of hers and his. But not so confusing as to be reason enough to change the name.


I was once happy to do it. Now I’m stuck with a name of someone I don’t like. But I really need to keep it while the kids are little. Deep down I want my real family name back. It’s great if the marriage lasts. Not so great if it doesn’t. My new name hides even my ethnic heritage. :mad:

Someone onces suggested daughters should take their mother’s name and sons their father’s name. And the woman should keep her own last name. That works for me.


I feel that sharing the same name emphasize the one flesh nature of marriage. It makes us into one family unit, instead of the two implied by two last names. Whenever I see a woman with a hyphenated name or a married couple with different last names, I assume feminism. I know what I get when I assume :o but that’s the first thing that pops into my mind. I was proud to take DH’s last name and I’m proud to be addressed as Mrs. DH.


I changed my name at marriage but, in retrospect, I wouldn’t do it again. I feel:

  1. my maiden name honored my father and background

  2. the switch was confusing for professional colleagues who were called to give a reference for me, etc (women in academia have kept the original name they were “published” under for a long time for this reason)

  3. I moved to a new state and had my birthday all around the same time as my wedding. The logistics were a nightmare! My old DL and passport expired at the same time I was trying to change the names on them. The DMV employees at the new state had a hard time believing that the birth certificate and marriage certificate from the old state were even real. For a few days I could not prove to the social security administration that I was even a US citizen (born here!), and I couldn’t legally drive. I actually paid to rush-renew my old driver’s license so I could get a new one without taking a driving test in Illinois…because I’m a south Texas gal and I didn’t know how to drive on snow yet. :stuck_out_tongue:

Then I started a business and made contacts that I value. Then we divorced. So now, 2 years later, I still have my ex’s last name…not for any emotional or nostalgic reason…for purely pragmatic “it’s not worth the trouble!” reasons. :slight_smile:

Net gain…I can drive on snow now. And if I ever marry again, I plan on keeping this name I have now.


Although I don’t necessarily consider myself a feminist, I can see how many women feel that they shouldn’t have to change their last name when they get married. The whole idea of a woman taking a man’s last name in marriage is a patriarchical idea.

If your name is part of your identity, then one could say that a woman changing her last name in marriage is a symbol of the power that men once had, and to some extent, continue to have, over women.

Honestly, I think it is a personal choice of whether a woman changes her name or not in marriage. But I would like to see the male population being more open about this name change which most of them expect of women. Why can’t some of the men change their last name to the woman’s name?

And I know the obvious objections that I’ll probably be getting to this, like the idea that a society where some men change their names in marriage and some women change their names in marriage would create disorder. But I really think this would just be a small problem, and an easy solution could be figured out to eliminate any possible (but unlikely) confusion.


Personally, this is something I’ve regretted not giving enough thought to before my marriage. I took my husband’s name, but wish so much that I would have hyphenated it with my maiden name. The reason: my father only had daughters and I actually felt I could have honored him, myself and my husband by hyphenating the last name. Yes, I could change my name, but my father has now passed away and now I feel it would be disrespectful to my husband after all this time (15 yrs). So my advice, think and pray on it. Ask yourself how important is your name to you and the people you love, and of course, your husband to be.


I took my husband’s name just because it was easier to spell and pronounce than my maiden name, and it was a way of getting rid of my LONG, difficult ethnic last name that had a lot of difficult consonants in it without offending my father. My husband has a nice, short, classy-sounding name. That was the whole reason.

But I have friends who have advanced degrees who kept their own last names because that’s what’s on their lawyers’ and master’s degrees!



I always loved my first and last names together. They just flow beautifully, you know? I was always undecided about what I would do when marriage was hypothetical.

So then I’m engaged to DH, and I feel this urge to change my name - to have his name, for it to be OUR name. But I still love my maiden name, so this takes quite a lot of internal debate and struggle and coming to peace with things. My sister is actually the one that pushed me into a decision: I told her I was close to deciding to take DH’s, and she launched into a diatribe about how I’d be taking a “man’s” name, and how horrible that was, etc. I pointed out that we already HAD a man’s name, our father’s, and since DH is a much better man than our dad, it would be a positive move.

So I go to DH about 6 weeks before the wedding, and tell him, like it’s a gift, that I’ve decided to take his name. And he says, “What? Why would you do that? We don’t do that here.”

Yup, that’s right. In Belgium, women keep their maiden names. Always. Civil and church weddings (we were speaking to the priest at DH’s grandparent’s church, who asked my parent’s names, and when the last names matched he was extremely confused and wondered if they were related). You need a royal decree to take your husband’s name, and it’s only granted if your own name is a vulgar word in the Dutch language, or if it’s so foreign, long, and complicated that it’ll cause endless problems. Apparently it’s always been this way, and they view taking your husband’s name as some new fangled invention.

So I kept my maiden name. And I’m pretty happy. Though I used to think tons of people were just living together here, from the separate names on doorbells/mailboxes, but now I realize a lot are married - there’s no way to tell the marrieds from the cohabitating.


Depends on the person & their situation. If a woman has a career like doctor/professor it would probably be better to keep her maiden name.
Personally i hate &* loath *my last name. I have never seen it as part of my identity.When i can i use my middle name instead of my last name. I would be glad to change it if i married.


This is actually one of the debates my fiance and I are having currently… it’s actually less of debate and more of a detente. My name change, the limos and the honeymoon.

As far as the name change goes, he has a perfectly lovely last name. It’s a nice normal run of the mill average very common last name. I have an Irish last name, it suits me (with my red hair blue eyes and freckles). That said I don’t want to change my name simply due to the fact it’s got a lot of alliteration, and everytime I say it outload I feel like it’s a reporters last name, I just want to say FirstName, FianceLast, reporting live from the scene of a fatal accident on the highway. And everytime I say that outload to someone they say yea youre right it does sound like a reporter name.

I don’t mind legally changing it, but being known professionally and personally as my own, so it would really only matter on legal documents

He on the other hand wants me to change my name, no hyphens, no one last name but known as the other, it’s become an issue. Certainly not something we’d break up over, but it’s definetly a sore spot in the relationship. But right now the limos and the honeymoon are as well and I know that it will pass and we will look back and laugh on each of our bratty behavior.

Plus he’s fast on the track of learning that I’m right in all circumstances except in regards to home repairs…:slight_smile:


In Holland LEGALLY (i.e. in your passport and on official documents) you are under your maiden name. My mother was ‘Maria Jansen, wife of van O’, but EVERYBODY called her ‘mrs van O’. Same in Belgium, legally, yes you are ‘Truus van Houten, wife of Metselaar’, but in normal conversation you will be known as ‘Mrs Metselaar’.

This bugged me enough to change my nationality when I married, I became British so I could be ‘Mrs S.’ not just ‘wife of’ but prefaced by my maiden name. I LOVED my dad, but I’m married now and wanted to legal right to be known under my husbands name at all times. Britain gave me that possibility, so I became British. Here it would be unthinkable-unless for raving feminists:shrug: - to keep your maiden name after marriage!

Anna x


Being a man here I guess I may get beat up over this, but here it goes. Why wouldn’t a woman not want her husband’s last name? What about biblically that a woman “leaves her family” and “joins her husband”?

Why would you want to be “different” from your husband and children? To be different, to hold onto what? To me it sounds selfish. Honestly I see it as a tad of a disgrace for a woman to not take her husband’s name. Are they or are they not joining together to create something new?

The man is suppose to be the “head of the houehold”. It has nothing to do with being a power trip, or at least it should not be. Wives are suppose to submit to their husbands, however that is not an open ticket to be “holier than thou”. Husbands are to love their wives as he loves the church and should make choices that are in the best interest of them not “him”.

Sorry when I see women that don’t fully take their husband last name they don’t seem to be fully joined to their husbands and are trying to stay separate.


As a woman honestly this is my feeling as well, although that won’t make me very popular with some of the women on this thread.

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