You would think, this being the year 2015, that people would be accepting of this decision, or at least act less surprised. Instead, everyone wants to know WHY I wouldn't change my name, which is kind of a personal question. This frequency could be because I come from a conservative family, or because I live in the South. I find myself being ask to explain my decision. Men raise their eyebrows, giving me looks that say, "Wow, your future husband has just been castrated." Women act like my children will be psychologically scarred from my decision. "Don't you want your children to have the same name as you?" I've been asked a dozen times.
So here, on my personal internet real estate, I'm laying out the reasons I have decided not to change my name with marriage.
- I really like my name. I've traced my W line all the way back to the American Revolution and beyond... I'm proud of our heritage as soldiers and farmers and patriots. I love my father and his family. I'm a proud W and I really like my name. Period. My initials are nice too, especially in a three-initial monogram: a perfectly symmetrical AWA. Seriously, lovely Lilly-Pulitzer-clad people of the South, would you mess with such a beautiful monogram?!
- I've got major accomplishments under this name, and I've got the papers to prove it. My West Point diploma, my future Master's Degree diplomas, all of it has/will have my maiden name, and I like it that way. It's on my permanent DD214 military service record. I have a large network on LinkedIn that knows me by this name, and I don't want people not to be able to find me. I want it all to match up for the long haul. I also don't want to have to get new e-mail addresses, business cards, and more. I've built my career with this name.
- I don't need to have the same name as my kids to know they're mine. I mean, if your kids mistakenly wore a nametag with a different last name, you wouldn't suddenly think they aren't yours, would you? We've decided our children will take his last name, with my maiden name as a middle name, and that's good enough. And it won't bother me if people/teachers/whoever assume I'm Mrs. D, or call me that. I won't correct people or ignore them; I am going to be his Mrs. and that's cool. Send us mail to Mr. and Mrs. D and it'll get into the right hands, graciously and happily. In fact, our veterinarian and apartment office both call Dan "Mr. W" so it happily goes both ways, we've totally received mail for Mr. and Mrs. W to boot.
- Dan doesn't care. If he felt strongly that I ought to change my name to his, maybe I'd be inclined to consider it. But the truth is, his mother uses her maiden name, and he barely knows the father that gave him his last name. Why should I give up mine? (Sidenote: If I asked him to change his name to W, people would think I'm ridiculous... so why is it different the other way around?)
- ABOVE ALL ELSE, name changes are a colossal pain in the neck. Anyone who has ever changed their name knows this. Being previously married/divorced, I've done it TWICE, and it took me FOUR YEARS to get everything back to my current name. Blergh! It's an insane amount of legwork and paperwork, and it's just a big waste of time (and some money!) to me. And to be fair, I told Dan that I would consider changing my name if he filled out 100% of the paperwork, made all the phone calls, and waited in every line/attended every appointment with me. To this, he laughed and said, "Hell no!" So you see, above all else, the one person that really matters in this decision other than myself supports my line of reasoning.
You know, I could launch into a diatribe about how the tradition of changing your last name with marriage hearkens back to a day when a woman's name changed to mark her as her husband's property, after having been her father's property. In which case I'd argue I'm no one's property and you can all just call me "Aubrey" like Beyoncé or Madonna or something because I AIN'T NO ONE'S CHATTEL!
But the bottom line is, I have a lot of personal, valid reasons for not changing my name. If you're curious, that's fine, but then don't judge or give me shocked expressions. I don't mind/care that you changed your name, it's just not for me. And if it gets awkward, I'll happily change the topic to go back to discussing cake and flowers and dresses. Because that's what matters, right? :)