December 3, 2023

To hyphen or to change entirely — those are the only two options, right?

I made the bold statement that I would be keeping my last name and that I may attach my husband’s to the end of mine with a hyphen — a statement that has brought on an onslaught of cringes and dissatisfied “Oh” reactions.

Apparently when you get married, it is your duty as the woman to surrender your surname in its entirety. He bought you a diamond ring, after all, so it is the least you can do.

It is a tradition often noted as a means to continue the family line, and one that seems to prove the dedication to becoming a singular unit.

While I respect anyone who decides to legally change his or her name to match a spouse’s, it should not be assumed that is the only option. It should be a discussion, not a demand.

Many Americans today still think women should be obligated to take their husbands’ names, and it is unfair to assume they should be the only ones to go through such a major change. I have heard of rare instances where men change their name to their wife’s, or where the two mesh their surnames together into something snappy, signifying the relationship.

Then, of course, are the women like myself who adore their last name and can’t imagine being anyone other than that with which they were born. From a professional standpoint, my name is unique and I often brag that I am the only one on Facebook with it. It is a conversation starter and represents my mother who raised me on her own. I am proud of it.

My husband once remarked he met me with the name I have now and couldn’t imagine me having any other surname. A comment I brag about to other people that leaves me beaming with pride and really reinforces my point that two people can be married without forcing one to change who they have been for the last 18 plus years.

Of course, I may still hyphenate my name if it comes to it, and I would be content with that, but I would never give mine up, and I should never have to do so.

It is archaic in this age to expect the wife to modify her identity unless she wants to do it. If she and her husband decide together it is what they both want, then that is the only time it is necessary.

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