My Husband Doesn’t Want Me To
Reclaim My Maiden Name! (POLL)
Hi Rene,Before my husband and I got married 10 years ago, I broached the subject of keeping my maiden name. He didn’t like the idea at all. He said we are a new family and felt we should be united with our last name. He was so adamant that I dropped the subject.
Fast forward to now, and I would like to change my name. I always liked my maiden name because it is unusual and previous contacts know me with that name. Now, my name is very common and I’m one of thousands with this name. I don’t want to change it completely–I want to legally add my maiden name to my husband’s name. When I talked to my husband about it, he was still very much against it, but said he would think about it.I don’t need his permission to change my name, but I would like to have his support. What can I say or do to convince him that this is a good move for me?
Signed: What’s In A Name?
Dear What’s In A Name?
I’m glad you wrote in about this one as I think it is still something some couples struggle with. I did a little research and found that the majority of brides do take their husband’s last name. In the 1990’s 23% of women kept their maiden names; now that number is just 8% now, according to TheKnot.com.
Years (and years and years ) ago, there were many reasons for that; social norms, inheritance and religious reasons to name a few. But those don’t necessarily apply anymore.
Which brings us back to you. Here are the things I’m thinking and what I would do if I were you.
You said that when you first broached this with your husband before you got married, he was dead set against it. That was a decade ago. Now you are settled and there’s little doubt that you are a family. So I would take this opportunity to explain to him why it’s important to you.
I had this discussion with my own husband last night. When Buff and I got married (more than 21 years ago) it wasn’t even a question; I was going to keep my own name professionally and add his name to my own. The reason for that was I already had a public profile; I was a professional woman who had spent nearly a decade using my own name on air. Later, it became more important as we had children; I NEEDED there to be a delineation between my public and private lives.
Do you have any family or friends who have dealt with this? Perhaps they can share their experiences with you. Tangible examples of couples who have made that work might help your husband to understand it can be done. It might also help if he talked to men about what it means to them. Like I said, I spoke to my husband about it and in his mind, there was never a question about whether I would keep at least a portion of my name. He hopes the same for his daughter too.
And speaking of daughters; you don’t mention it but I would be curious.. how would your husband feel about his daughter(s) leaving her maiden name for her husband’s name? Just an interesting aside..
3. Do What Makes You Happy
Okay I’m going to try to say this without preaching so here goes. One of the tenets of Good Enough Mother is that you have a right, no – RESPONSIBILITY to be as good to yourself as you are to everyone else in your life. Part of that is recognizing that you had a whole life before all of these people (husband, kids) came crashing in (and I say that lovingly). What’s wrong with wanting or needing to have some part of you that is just about you? A nod to who you were before you became someone else to everyone else?
Nothing at all.
One final note; while I understand your husband’s perspective, I would hope that he might be a little more understanding about yours. You’re not trying to subtract something from him or your family; you’re merely trying to add something (back) to you.
Good luck mommy!
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