What’s in a last name?

last name

As I plan my friend Crystal’s wedding to Norman (HI NORMAN), the topic came up at work about last names and marriage. We talk about a wide range of fun and crazy topics at work, I really do love my co-workers. So I am never surprised when certain topics come up and earlier this week the conversation moved to the topic of Crystal’s upcoming marriage to Norman.

Crystal was in a previous marriage and her current last name is with her previous husband, she is absolutely changing it have the same last name as Norman’s. For Crystal this makes sense to me, instead of reverting back to her maiden name, she would choose to accept Norman’s. Our co-worker who also is named Crystal said that when she was younger she was adamant that she was never getting married, never taking her husband’s last name in the event she ever got married. So the conversation evolved and I had to add my two sense worth….

I’ve never been part of a “traditional” family, my father passed away when I was young, I have his last name as my mom took his last name when they married in 1964. My mom’s maiden name was Chard, when my dad passed away I don’t think it ever dawned on her that she could legally change her name back to her maiden name within 30 days at no charge. Although my father’s life had some questionable activity, my last name is all I have from him, it’s the only one I have ever had so I’m not too keen to just give it up. my mom had 4 girls, 1 already married also took her husband’s name, I’m pretty sure if my other sister ever got married she would go that route and take her husband’s name. Me…not so much, it’s been something I have thought a ton about, it’s something that many people (including my co-workers) have tried to change my mind on, or at the vary least open my mind up to the possibility.

Although there are others’ with the last name of Loker, i don’t know many nor am I close with anyone. When my father passed my mom just did her own thing and never kept up a relationship with her in-laws. Not that I blame her, she had to deal with a lot of stuff back than and I’m sure trying to keep up with other’s was really not on her radar. As a result for some reason I’m fiercely protective of my last name and very unwilling to just give it up if/when I ever get married.

Being very independent person, and pretty stubborn, (just ask my sister) I cannot feel as if my future husband will “own” me by me having to change my last name to match my spouses. Why can’t HE change his name to match mine? Why is it that the woman has to make that sacrifice. My co-worker Crystal (not the one I’m planning a wedding for) said that she did feel the same way but when talking with her future husband he realized how important it was for her to adopt his name at the time they join together and even though she says shes still not 100% thrilled with the idea she is willing to do this for him, because she loves him.

I do get it, at the end of the day it’s just a last name, and pretty much taking your husband’s name is what EVERYONE does, however I think it’s almost because of this fact that I truly do not want to. I’ve always been different, I’ve never looked at the world in the same way and since for as long as I can remember I always had the notion that i would NOT take my husband’s name.

I’m not unwilling to compromise, during our conversation at work I had mentioned that I’m fully willing to hyphenate my name to join the two names together so I would be Penny Lynn Loker-?, heck if my future husband was up to it I may even consider a blending of our last names to create something that is just ours that would be passed to our children, what I won’t do is take my husband’s name as is…..no amount of discussion will change my mind. This is what I would consider a deal breaker. My co-workers asked what I meant by that, and I sad sadly that we would be at an impasse if having me hyphenate my name with his is not enough, we would never get married. Having my name is WAY too important to me, I have such a strong aversion that I just can’t do it…never..yep I’m saying it, I will NEVER take my husband’s last name, ever.

What are your thoughts. What were the reasons you did or did not choose to take your spouses name? For the guys, would you have ever considered taking your wife’s last name?

3 thoughts on “What’s in a last name?

  1. My wife retains her own surname. This is far more sensible if one is a professional who needs or is expected to have a certain degree of name recognition. My sister, also a professional got her PhD in her first husbands name, and is now rather stuck with it, even though she has remarried since all her publications are in that name. There is one problem with women keeping their own last names. Everyone assumes I have the same surname as my father in law, which is a tad strange. And a secondary problem is that whenever my wife books something and I am asked what name it is in, I explain that it could be in one of two names.. firstly her maiden name, and if not under that name then under mine. But these are very minor inconveniences.. the big plus is that there is some distance between her professional interactions under one name in the phone book, and her personal interactions under a different last name in the phone book. So for the most part she can keep her two roles separate. The Spanish do things differently.. your full last name is your fathers last name followed by each of your maternal ancestors last names as far back as can be known. A very long list of known names is something to be proud of, and it does ground on in the full history of ones ancestry.

  2. Mmmm… I remembered when I was a child and read about the Joliet-Curie couple. Frédéric Joliot-Curie used his wife last name and I totally agree! Back that time I thought it wouldn’t be better if he had used only his wife last name? “Curie” has a lot of meaning.
    In Brazil, the first last name of the kids is from the wife. E.g.: Joao Megumi Silva, so you have the mother ” Lucila Megumi Espiritu”, and the father? well, in some cases – from japanese-brazilean people, when they travel abroad – they use the wife last name, e.g.: Instead of Aleixander Silva is Aleixander Megumi.
    In another latinoamerican countries you have the “de” for husband last names e.g.: Maria Felix Encarnación “de Santos”, this long last names sounds grave and nowadays only elderly people uses them.
    So, I think it’s increasing the amount of women that retain her last name.
    I guess it’s not such a big deal, xD, but tradition has influence in it.

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