Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Why I decided to take my husband's name

Once upon a time (well, 1 year, 1 month and 7 days ago to be precise), I was not the Mrs B you know me as today, back then in the olden days, I was little old Miss G. But on that fateful day I married the love of my life, Mr B, and so I became Mrs B.

It's traditional, and somewhat old fashioned to take your husband's name when you get married, but it's increasingly uncommon. Women today have their own identities and careers and reputations, some largely based on their name, and they don't feel the need or desire to change it (something I totally agree with btw, fair play to those women).

This article on the Guardian's website discusses the issues in a bit more detail, but I thought I'd share my personal reasons for changing. Essentially, getting married leaves you with 2 options, you either both keep your original surnames, or you both take the same name. Now to me, half the reason I got married in the first place was because I wanted to tell the world (shout it from the rooftops like) that this was my man, and I was his woman, and we were ridiculously in love, and us both having the same surname tells the world that. It says we're this unit and we've publicly made this commitment, and you have to respect that it's no longer the same situation as two single individuals. Being a Mrs is a bit like wearing a ring, it's a badge, it's a symbol of what I am now. I am a wife. But most importantly, I am his wife. That's what I'm saying by calling myself Mrs B, and that's really important to me. So not having the same name was never an option for me. We didn't have a big wedding to prove to ourselves our commitment and love for each other, there was no need, we did it so our friends and family could celebrate our love with us and so people would know, even at a glance, what we had together. And so we could call each other Hubby & Wifey :)

Taking your husband's name is not the only way for you both to have the same name though, some people consider double-barreling or 'meshing' - not really an option for us as we both have stupidly hard to spell surnames (his is actually worse than mine was) and it would've just been a terrible mouthful, although we are commonly referred to by friends as RolliB, which is a mash-up of sorts I suppose. But one option we did quite seriously discuss, was that he could take my name, and he would have done that in a heartbeat had I not wanted to take his, but I did. It's also a bit more fuss for a man to change his name than a woman, but that's not why we didn't go that route.

It's hard to explain why I wanted to, but I thought about it, I didn't just go with convention, I consciously decided that this was what I wanted. See, for me, I didn't feel like my identity was tied up in my name, part of it is now, because personally and professionally I use Mrs B a lot more than I ever used Miss G. Back then I was just Rosie, which obviously I still am now. When I changed my name, I didn't feel any less a part of my birth family (or my adopted one! - ha, just kidding, it's a running joke in my family that I'm adopted). I'm still a sister, daughter, cousin, granddaughter, niece and aunty, all the things I was before. Who I am hasn't changed. It doesn't change my ideals or my principles. As Shakespeare once wrote, what's in a name?

What do you think? Would you change your name if/when you got married? Did you? What are your reasons behind your beliefs? I think it's a really interesting topic and I would love to hear your thoughts on it.


  1. Aw so lovely Rosie :)

    I changed my name because I wanted to show my commitment to both of us joining together to be one family, and I wanted to feel closer to his family. It was also slightly selfish I suppose because his family name was SO much more interesting than mine, I love that I'm now connected to all that history and that we will be able to explain to our children one day where there ancestors came from!

    I never considered him taking my name, I guess because we're quite an unconventional couple anyway and we had a bit of an unconventional wedding I thought it would be nice to go with tradition for once. I still class myself as a fierce feminist even though I took my husbands name, these days its all about us having the choice to do that or not.. it wasn't just forced upon me!

  2. I just love your blogs - so thoughtful and interesting x

  3. Definitely agree with the one family thing Mel, I just didn't really mind which one we chose! Neither name seemed better so I just went with my gut :)

    And thanks Mum - it's nice to know you're reading them xx

  4. I deffo think its a personal choice, I think when the time comes I would take my husbands name but sometimes I think I might do the double barrel think as I have no brothers as I'm the last Wallace in my family and it would be nice to keep the family name going!

  5. I also took my husbands name for the same reasons.

    (Though I've previously changed my name by Deed Poll, so I'm obviously not that attached to names.)

  6. I haven't taken my husband's name... not because I'm a feminist, although I am, not because I'm anti the idea/tradition but simply because I quite like my name because it's fairly unusual.. Kind of the opposite of Mel: My family have a long and interesting history and our name is a big part of that, so I sort of wanted to hold on to it.

    Up until we got married last year I honestly thought I would take his name, and I may still do some day if I feel like it, our kids have his name etc etc
    I like the fact that I have the choice. Choosing not to doesn't meant I'm making a big statement, just as all my friends who have chosen to take their husband's names are not damaging the cause by doing so. x

  7. Wonderful post Rosie - the fact there was clear choice just radiates throughout and I for one believe that changing your name does not necessarily make you less of a feminist, nor does it 'tie' you to a man, especially when you make the mutual decision to get married.

    I know when the time comes for marriage in my life that I will happily become a Bushnell-Wye through choice. I sadly have a very poor relationship with my Dad and there is a slight sense of resentment that stems from sharing his surname. I'll happily attach myself to Luke's name because he's the most positive male figure in my life.

  8. Oh, good point Chantelle - I have 3 brothers (but solely female cousins), so that's not an imminent concern in my family. But I might have felt differently if I was an only child or had sisters - I'd not considered that!

    Thanks for your comments Another Goldfish and Vintage Pixie - I think it's totally up to the individual whether you change your name or not - definitely don't think it makes you more/less of a 'feminist'. One of my friends who got married said she would keep her name until they had kids, and only then think about changing it so they had a family name.

    Jade - get married already :P But seriously, that sucks about your Dad, it's really sad that that relationship makes you disconnect with your name, but on the other hand, I think Jade B-Wye sounds like an awesome name. V. fancy.

    I really appreciate everyone taking the time to comment, thank you! :)

  9. As someone who will be getting married in the next couple of years, this is something that has been praying on my mind recently.
    My fiance has a very traditional outlook and thinks I should take his name. However, not to sound ridiculous, but I like my name, I think it suits me and it sounds a lot better than with his surname. We can't have a double barrel combination as 'Turner-Smith' or 'Smith-Turner' sounds stupid.

    It's an awkward situation and such a small thing has such a large impact on even trivial things like your Facebook identity or personal email address. If I'm honest I'll probably just accept the change as I think both mine and his family would be really disappointed if I didn't. My friend said, 'at the end of the day, it's just a name - what does it matter if it means everyone else is happy?' All very well, but will I be happy? Toughie...
    L x

  10. Oh wow, that is a tough one! What an awful situation to be in :( Obviously you've got to do what is best for your situation and your upcoming marriage, but I would definitely advise strongly thinking about it before you do something you're not 100% on. It doesn't really matter what your families think, they don't have live with the new name, but your husband-to-be's opinion is important. I don't envy you this situation :(

    The fact that you like your name is a perfectly legit reason not to change it in my opinion! You don't want to change it, just to be resentful over it for the rest of your married lives, do you? But would you want to change it when you had kids etc.?

    I hope it all works out in the end for you, good luck with the wedding planning! xx


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