To Change Your Last Name or Not When Marrying?


#1

What's the current thought on this by the Church?
Ex. hyphenation, taking the woman's last name, keeping the man's last name, woman keeping her name, in professional career instances, etc.

I know that there are many persona*l opinions as to which I am familiar with but the question has to do with *the Church's viewpoint if it has one?

Thanks!


#2

I don’t know if the church would have any teaching on this topic as it is a cultural issue rather than a moral one. In many cultures women do not change their name when they get married, I’m thinking of Spain and I believe Iceland. Also in Irish Gaelic the “O” prefix means “Son of” (O’Shea, O’Connor) while “Ni” means “Daughter of”. I believe (any Irish readers please correct me if I’m wrong) that when English became the dominant language in Ireland due to English colonization that all family names began to be recorded with the “O” prefix only following English custom but not traditional in Ireland.

I am an unusual example. My husband did not want us to take his surname because his dad had left his mom and remarried outside the church. So we wrote down all our extended family last names and he chose a family name from my family. So when we married, we both changed our name but to one of the maternal side of my family. Whew! And yes it does take explaining sometimes but it fits us really well.


#3

The Church has no position on this. However, many on this board have very strong opinions.


#4

[quote="Kindness, post:2, topic:195661"]
I don't know if the church would have any teaching on this topic as it is a cultural issue rather than a moral one. In many cultures women do not change their name when they get married, I'm thinking of Spain and I believe Iceland. Also in Irish Gaelic the "O" prefix means "Son of" (O'Shea, O'Connor) while "Ni" means "Daughter of". I believe (any Irish readers please correct me if I'm wrong) that when English became the dominant language in Ireland due to English colonization that all family names began to be recorded with the "O" prefix only following English custom but not traditional in Ireland.

[/quote]

You are almost right. "Ni" means daughter of as you said but you will find that originally almost all native Irish surnames had the prefix Mac or O (Mc is an English short form of the Gaelic Mac used by scribes). When changed into a more English sounding name, many Irish surnames had the prefix removed, and the rest of the name either respelt according to how it sounded to the English ear or even (mis-)translated into English.
"O'" comes from the Gaelic Ó which in turn came from Ua, which means "grandson", or "descendant" of a named person. Names that begin with "O'" include Ó Briain (O'Brien), Ó Ceallaigh (O'Kelly), Ó Conchobhair (O'Connor), Ó Domhnaill (O'Donnell), Ó Cuilinn (Cullen), Ó Máille (O'Malley), Ó Néill (O'Neill), and Ó Tuathail (O'Toole).
"Mac" or "Mc" means "son". Names that begin with Mac include Mac Diarmada (MacDermott), Mac Cárthaigh (MacCarthy), Mac Domhnaill (MacDonnell), and Mac Mathghamhna (MacMahon, MacMahony, etc.).
Gearoidin


#5

True enough. In most jurisdictions we can legally adopt our husband’s surname as our own but we still retain our maiden name and can easily return to using it if we wish.

In Québec, Canada, the only way for a woman to assume her husband’s surname is to go to court and legally change the name on her birth certificate.


#6

Thanks Gearoidin! Very interesting. The dad of a good friend of mine in Dublin changed their family name back from Walsh to Breathnach before he and his wife had children.


#7

Women kept their surnames from cradle to grave in Western Europe generally till about two hundred years ago. Dutch women these days hyphenate their surname on marriage still keeping their maiden name last (and that’s how they are listed in the telephone directories).

Men, or men’s children, assuming the wife’s surname was nothing really unusul in times past when the wife’s surname was better known in a village or area (the man may have come from someother district). Sometimes a surname was adopted from a relative as part of an inheritance agreement (I think that is the case with the Churchills).

It’s a cultural thing, not a religious issue.


#8

I actually have strong feelings about it. I'm a guy, not married, and I firmly belive that women should NOT change their last name when they get married. You have one name, keep it. As a guy, if anyone told me to change my name, I'd be deeply insulted.

Why should my future wife do something I wouldn't dream of doing?

I know it's not a popular view.

And no, the church doesn't have a teaching on it. Why would they?


#9

Rascalking;6555020]I actually have strong feelings about it. I'm a guy, not married, and I firmly belive that women should NOT change their last name when they get married. You have one name, keep it. As a guy, if anyone told me to change my name, I'd be deeply insulted.

Why should my future wife do something I wouldn't dream of doing?

I know it's not a popular view.

And no, the church doesn't have a teaching on it. Why would they?

Well what do you name the kids? And why would you be " deeply insulted" why not just be " a little insulted" :rotfl:


#10

I’d be deeply insulted because a name, with all due respect to the bard, means something. It’s my fathers, grandfathers, etc. Means alot. I’d view it as an insult to them.

Name kids whatever you want to-give them dads name, moms name, doesn’t matter to me.


#11

i think its appropriate for a child to take his fathers last name, i mean what if joseph christ hadnt given his son his last name.


#12

My last name is so unique and rare that I'd find it difficult to change it, should I marry a Johnson, Davis, or any other common surname out in the southwest.

Personally, I have faith that my future husband will understand and not be offended by it.

Names really do define who you are.


#13

An interesting question and one that often depends on particular cultural traditions. Like many have already pointed out, I'm not aware of any formal declaration from the Church about this.

If I had to reference something from Scripture to buttress the Western tradition of wives taking their husbands last name, I'd go with Ephesians:


#14

Absolutely interesting :) People have such strong feelings about this.


#15

This is what we did. My wife didn’t want to change her name; at the time she considered doing so offensive and akin to taking possession of a woman. And I didn’t care a lick one way or the other.

Our kids have my last name. Though I have some friends who hyphenated the last name of the children or gave the wife’s name as the child’s middle name (I think the latter practice is common in some cultures).

To our surburbanite, conservative parents my wife’s choice was a big deal - and 12 years later my MIL sends my wife mail or checks that are addressed to my wife, but using my last name.

Pax,
OA


#16

The Church doesn't say either way. There are advantages and disadvantages to it. If you have a career, if you've published papers under your name, if you're known in your field it wouldn't make much sense to change your name.

Absent those and other considerations, you might just choose the better sounding name for the family.


#17

Interesting question. I'm pretty traditional and would probably change my name in most cases unless the name of my spouse was something that could be contrived to another meaning....I dated a few guys with last names I would never have taken in a million years. There's always the hyphen option as well but overall it's never been a big deal to me either way.


#18

I personally refused that hyphenated stuff and told my wife that while I wanted us to have my last name I would prefer to use hers or something else before doing the hyphen.

Part of this is just tradition in America but also because I believe a family unit should have a single name to identify them as a family. It's not about "possession" and my view probably comes from the fact that I went to a very liberal fine arts college and was a Psych / Biology major. From a psychological perspective almost all the young women who wanted to do the hyphen stuff when they got married were the ones who complained constantly that they were some how put down by "the man" and needed to be more liberated from men all while their daddies were paying for an expensive college, designer clothes, Rolex watches and BWMs while they didn't work, volunteer or do anything else but have fun... not a lot of introspection there. Almost all, but not every single one, fell into the group of what I consider "whiners"

My wife, while probably more of a feminist than any of them and I were also good friends with another professor who started the NOW Chapter (none of the whiners of course belonged) in our city and discuss real issues that women were facing on a daily basis, unequal pay, overlooked for promotion etc... the whole last name thing is just trivial IMHO.

That is MY experience though, one of my favorite professors though who is an Elder in the Protestant Church I use to go to has her name hyphenated and she did it because she already had a career as a professor before she met her husband, I never thought twice about her being in the aforementioned whiner category, she had a valid reason.

We we got married though she decided to take my name and we are both proud of that. As I said, for me the whole idea, again in my experience (and that of my wife, these same people turned her off the idea as well) some I'm sure have had different and better experiences, was usually just a whine by some upper middle class or rich young woman who had everything handed to her but somehow felt she was oppressed.

And for those who don't know me well on this board, I definitely lean left on most issues, especially political ones (not on most moral ones though) so I'm not some right-wing bigot. I spent my early years out of college and actually much of my time during college working with the poor, inner city gangs and young single mothers who had few options make a better life for their young children. Seeing that on a weekly basis while watching others complain when they had never had a need (except possibly an emotional one, money can't fill those needs) not met in their life left me a little jaded on this issue, heh. ;)

I do understand that my experience my only be a microcosm of realty in regards to this issue, so feel free to disagree!

Joe


#19

[quote="jwashu, post:18, topic:195661"]

And for those who don't know me well on this board, I definitely lean left on most issues, especially political ones (not on most moral ones though) so I'm not some right-wing bigot. I spent my early years out of college and actually much of my time during college working with the poor, inner city gangs and young single mothers who had few options make a better life for their young children. Seeing that on a weekly basis while watching others complain when they had never had a need (except possibly an emotional one, money can't fill those needs) not met in their life left me a little jaded on this issue, heh. ;)

Joe

[/quote]

Joe, my friend, I agree with your in part, and I'm a right-winger (both poltically and socially), but no bigot.

I know alot of women whom you describe.

God Bless


#20

[quote="Rascalking, post:8, topic:195661"]
I actually have strong feelings about it. I'm a guy, not married, and I firmly belive that women should NOT change their last name when they get married. You have one name, keep it. As a guy, if anyone told me to change my name, I'd be deeply insulted.

Why should my future wife do something I wouldn't dream of doing?

I know it's not a popular view.

And no, the church doesn't have a teaching on it. Why would they?

[/quote]

I'm definitely in favor of changing the name...but it should not be lost to history.

In my first (non-sacramental) marriage, I had a different last name, and my spouse did not change her name. Her first son (my stepson) had a hyphenated and different last name. My son had a different, hyphenated last name.

The result: No one in that family had the same last name.
:hypno: Filling out forms (especially on limited-field-width computer forms) and making introductions was an exercise in frustration.

My fiancee and I are big into genealogy. As such, we both know it's important today to keep using the maiden name actively in some correspondence (many people on Facebook incorporate their maiden names in their profile names to allow old friends to know who they are despite their marriage and name change).

But as for the general day-to-day, personal experience has shown that one name works better. It's also more unifying.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.