Taking wife's last name?


I'm going to be getting married soon in the Catholic Church in the US. My fiance and I were talking about the possibility of me taking on her last name. Is there typically a norm in the United States that the wife should take the husbands last name? I thought about this and don't see this to be a problem since the kids can carry on her sides last name which would be broken if not done. I also am worried in a way of what my family might think of this since I'm the only son my parents have. I also have 2 sisters as well. Anyone have any insights. I don't want to make it seem as if I'm making a statement against my family. Am I wrong for thinking or feeling this way?


Your concern is not a moral issue, nor is it a Catholic issue. You should do what is best for you and your wife. If you’re concerned about how your parents would feel, why not discuss it with them?


What is your country of origin? Is that a common practice there?

IMHO, the family name should be the father’s name, since the father is the head of the family. I’ve never heard of a husband changing his name to his wife’s, and I think it would cause a great deal of confusion in the American culture (confused though it already is).


I live in the United States and always have.


I agree. I am pretty traditional on things like this - I think it is confusing. And for genealogical purposes, I can’t even imagine the confusion of future generations trying to track a family line when the last name switches from the husband’s to the wife’s side. What a mess!!!

I know someone who has combined the husband and wife’s last names in a hyphenated fashion and they BOTH took this name. Still confusing, but I guess a bit better than shifting completely.

I say give your wife your family name - be proud of it, and pass it along to your children.



I have. A former co-worker did exactly that. His is German, his wife is American. His last name was very close to a derogatory term for homosexuals.

Since he and his wife had no plans to live in Germany, they thought it best for him to change his name for the sake of his future kids.


[quote="dfp42, post:4, topic:198416"]
I live in the United States and always have.


In that case, yes, there is a long-standing norm of the wife (and children) taking the husband's name. If you choose to take your wife's name, be prepared to do a lot of explaining in the future, because most people will not understand.


I’ve also heard of men taking their wives’ last names, it’s definitely more rare than the woman taking a man’s name but it happens.

Either way, it’s just a name.


Ahh… well, I confess, that is perhaps an instance in which I can understand taking the wife’s name.

To the OP: Do you have a foreign name that is very hard for Americans to pronounce?


Ok, I'm thinking you are all correct. It would cause too much confusion in the end and confuse a lot of people. I will keep my last name in the family. Thanks.


Do your names work well together? I had some friends whose names worked very nicely together, so she just added his name to the end of hers and they gave the twins her last name as their middle names. Because their names were simple and both sounded nice, it turned out well. My parents names, my name and my ex-husband, none of those would sound good together. Our name and my sister’s husband’s name are very similar, and that created a little confusion for her business associates. But maybe using her last name too would work for you. If you’re that last of your line, your parents would probably be hurt if you drop their name. I like the idea of using both names, but it can get complicated for future generations.


I think that there is more to taking your prospective wife's name that just bucking tradition. Many states (not sure how many now in 2007 it was 44) have unequal name change laws. That means if a woman takes her husband's name she pays a nominal fee and changes as part of the civil marriage process. If a man takes his wife's name he has to treat it as a full blown legal name change. This often involves advertising in the news paper and petitioning the courts. Not the most romantic of concerns, but something to be aware of.


[quote="surfinpure, post:3, topic:198416"]
IMHO, the family name should be the father's name, since the father is the head of the family. I've never heard of a husband changing his name to his wife's, and I think it would cause a great deal of confusion in the American culture (confused though it already is).


It is legally permissible, but rarely done.

To maintain a lineage, many couples use the mother's birth-name as their child's middle name, or create a new hyphenated combination of the two surnames. And employ other ways, too.

Read this article for some of the latest California news about this topic...

CALIFORNIA!! Where women are women! (And so are some of the men...:rolleyes: )


I've known 2 couples who did this. No one seemed to find it confusing, and it was no harder than the wife changing her name. I kept my name, its no big deal.

You should do whatever you and you future wife decide id best for you.


I think it is very sweet and honorable that you would take her last name. My husband and I continue to fight horribly over this. I hate his last name and did not take it. Even though he hates he’s, he couldn’t get over the stupid male identity **** that our country insists on. So for now our daughter has a hyphenated last name. I am hoping he will reconsider because his mother is getting remarried and his father is permanently out of our lives.

FWIW there are many countries where it is normal for a wife to not take a husbands name. In many places only siblings share a last name.


Also, even if either your and/or your wife do not change your name(s) it is still possible for your future children to have the mother’s maiden name. You can usually put whatever last name you like on a birth/adoption certificate. That would include the mother’s maiden name instead of the father’s surname.

And of course that will create it’s own kind of confusion so you need to think about it.


In this PC age, about anything goes.People have three names, four names and I’ve heard of one with five. Actually, my ex-wifes brother in law took his wifes maiden name as his last name, but he was sort of different anyway. I believe they were divorced sometime later, and I wondered what he did in that case? Stick to tradition I say.


i learned this through an anime show :D

but in Japan, if the wife has a higher social standing than the husband, then the husband takes the wife's surname


If I was ever to marry and the woman I was marrying had a "cooler" last name than me, I'd have no problems taking it.


My last name ok it’s just very hard to pronounce as to hers. It was something that came up in conversation and I never really thought about it before. Our two last names I don’t believe would go well together. I will more than likely express to keep mine as I know my immediate family would probably take it the wrong way. It’s a touchy topic though as a name is more than just a name. Look at Jesus Christ for example. If his name was Jesus Jones, it wouldn’t be the same. Wasn’t there a custom in the past that whatever your name was, that what you were or identified as. Ie. Smith?

I’ll pray about the right choice. I’m not stressing it to be honest. Thank you all for the wonderful opinions.

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