Choosing a Last Name

Choosing a Last Name | CorporetteWhat should working women do when they get married — take their husband’s last name, create a new last name, or keep their maiden name? What factors matter? Reader E wonders.

I have a question about maiden names vs. married names. I am currently in law school and am planning an engagement sometime in the recent future to my boyfriend of four years. My question is this — I have a very professional and short last name, in addition to a middle name that I commonly use with my first. Both are one syllable, which is nice since my first name is three. Unfortunately, my boyfriend’s last name is also three syllables, and difficult to spell and pronounce.

Looking forward to my career I would love to use all four, but realize that that is probably too much for a work setting. What is the protocol on creating a work-friendly name. To be clear I do NOT want to use only my maiden name.

This should be an interesting discussion. There was JUST a New York Times op-ed about this, and Vivia Chen at The Careerist has recently(ish) explored the topic in a three-part series. We’ve talked about name change after divorce, as well as Ms. versus Mrs., but we’ve never discussed choosing a last name because, honestly, this is one of those topics where people get somewhat passionate, so I’ve shied away in the past.  (So ladies, please play nicely.)

Here’s my official $.02: Do what’s right for you and your family. Everyone is going to have their own reasons, probably influenced by what their mothers and married friends (both of their age and older) have done. Your reasons — whatever they are — are valid because this is your choice, and yours alone.

Obviously, I come at this from the perspective of someone who took my husband’s last name. I’d rather not discuss the reasons why I did so in a public forum like this, not because they’re weird or unusual, just because they’re my reasons, and it’s ok/important to keep some things private. Did it help that I moved from a difficult-to-pronounce German last name (Vogele [pronounced Vogue-uh-lee]) to an easy, common last name (Griffin)? Yep. (For the record, I legally changed Vogele to my middle name, and used all three names professionally (Katherine Vogele Griffin) when I was last working as a lawyer; all three names are also on my driver’s license. It was a business decision to go with with Kat Griffin when I “came out” of the anonymous blogging closet — shorter for bylines/social media, more friendly/fun, and easier to remember and pronounce. (One of my best friends, asked for her opinion between the two names, said, “Hmmn. If I were casting for you in the movie of your life, I would see Meryl Streep playing Katherine Vogele Griffin, but Cameron Diaz playing Kat Griffin.” Apparently in my life movie I am blond.) It felt like an alter-ego for a time — only good friends have called me Kat in the past, and Griffin was still new to me — but now I’m comfortable being both Kat Griffin and Katherine Vogele Griffin. (If you meet me in real life in a non-blog capacity, though, odds are good I’ll still introduce myself as Katherine and then look like I want to change my answer.)

So… yeah. I’ll turn it over to you guys: Those of you who are married, what last name did you choose? Those of you who’ve been divorced, what last name did you choose?  What factors did you consider, and how do you feel about your choice now?

(Pictured: my personal stationery, bought at Fine Stationery.)

Comments

  1. do those of us who are not yet married but hope to be someday get to weigh in? :-)
    I feel strongly about keeping my own name when I get married. The only way I would change it is if my future husband were willing to hyphenate his name, so that we would be Mr. and Mrs. my last name-his last name (or the other way around, however would flow best).

    I don’t judge women for taking their husbands’ last names, but it does bother me when women claim it isn’t patriarchal and is just a choice. Yes, it’s a choice, but a heavily loaded one. And why isn’t it framed as a choice for men, too? I’m not trying to preach here, but unless your husband is also considering changing his name, please don’t frame it as an issue unrelated to feminism/sexism.

    • Remember, your maiden name is just your dad’s name. It’s patriarchal either way.

      • well, actually, my last name is my mom’s last name. So it’s my grandfather’s name, and yes, that is patriarchal. But you have to start somewhere!

        • I agree, LilyB! I just got engaged and will keep my last name…which, sure, is my dad’s name–but I’m starting somewhere. Besides, I don’t see the point of going through the trouble when my name has been perfectly fine all along–and fortunately, he agrees.

          If we have kids, they will be FirstName HisLastName MyLastName (his comes before mine alphabetically). Then the kid can choose where to go with it from there when s/he is old enough to decide and/or care.

          • That’s a pretty smart system with the kids’ names.

          • Yep, that’s exactly how I’d want to name my kids. If it means they don’t get a middle name, then so be it! I will be 50% responsible for their existence (plus a little extra credit for carrying them around in my belly for 9 months!), and their last name should be 50% mine!

          • Anonforthis :

            That all sounds well and good until you marry someone that has a name that is just like nails on a chalkboard alongside yours.

            My maiden name by itself is fine. Dh’s name is fine. Together it would be something like [Firstname] Duffy Huffy. Do we really want our kids to be so-and-so Duffy Huffy?!

            Likewise, a friend married someone with a VERY similar last name. The kids would be [Firstname] Johnson Johnstone. Also pretty goofy IMHO.

            One more– marrying someone with a hyphenated last name. the [Firstname] Hanson Lebowitz-Murphy is quite the mouthful.

        • Wildkitten :

          + 1 I have my maternal grandfather’s last name too.

      • But it perpetuates the patriarchy to make an active choice to adopt the husband’s family name and say that it is unrelated to patriarchal norms.

        • I don’t think it is less patriarchal to go by one’s husband’s last name, than by one’s father’s last name.

        • Anonymous :

          This may have been mentioned elsewhere, but keeping your name means keeping YOUR name. . . so to me, the lesser of the two (patriarchal) evils.

          • This. I don’t know that I have strong feelings, but the patriarchal thing to me is that you’re losing the name you had your entire life. It suggests that your pre-marriage identity wasn’t as important as your post-marriage one–or that they’re incompatible.

            I see arguments on both sides and will ultimately do what I like best, but I think it’s very loaded.

      • anonymama :

        No, if you’ve had a name your entire life, it is your name, no matter where it came from. The system is patriarchal, but it’s ridiculous to argue that keeping your own name is patriarchal.

        • Maybe so. But one could also argue that it’s ridiculous say that keeping your “maiden”/father’s/patriarchal last name is a feminist act.

          • No, it’s ridiculous to say that because your ancestors adhered to patriarchal naming conventions that it’s impossible to ever break free of it.

    • I agree with this. I actualy had this issue when I was thinkeing that I would be MARRIED soon to Alan, but I did NOT fall in love with his name — SHEKETOVITS. Alan SHEKETOVITS and Ellen Barshevsky. I did NOT want to be Ellen Sheketovits, and the thought of hyfenateing our names also did NOT make me happy. Sheketovits-Barshevsky he wanted, if we were to hyphenate, and I said it would be better with Barshevsky-Sheketovits, if we had to do that. Either way, it was a big FOOEY b/c Alan got mad whenever I brought up MARRAGE. FOOEY!

      My Dad suggested that we drop the Sheketovits name entirely, b/c Grandma Leyeh said this was not a name of royalty in the old country, while Barshevsky was. I have NEVER found any treatises saying which names were royal, but there is a Barshevsky family tree that Grandma Leyeh maintain’s that she will not show any one. She was NOT pleased about mom’s lineage, and still think’s that she brough fat tuchuses into the bloodline, and now that they are IN, we will forever have fat tuchuses in our family. Dad agree’s, and Alan’s mother also has a fat tuchus, so mabye that is a good thing that I never MARRIED Alan. YAY!

      For now, I just have to make sure I VET any prospective suitor with Grandma Leyeh. She has a 6 FACTOR analysis she use’s to see if a guy is goeing to be worthy to marry me. YAY!!!

    • Veronique :

      One of my friends got married last year and both she and her husband changed their names, from She Smith and He Jones to She Smith Jones. I think this is an awesome idea that I would love to use if/when I get married, though it helps that both of their names are 5 letters and 1 syllable.

      • I would love to do that but my husband refuses. And somehow that makes me the difficult one.

      • SpaceMountain :

        My husband did that with his ex-wife. It’s been so hard to undo that I didn’t even consider it as an option. It’s been 20 yrs, and he is still asked to show his name change paperwork all the time, and we still get mix-ups with the government & other institutions over his name.

        • anon-oh-no :

          i have a friend who dis this as well and he is now divorced and getting remarried. His new wife now has a husband with his ex-wife’s last name, which is awesome. (you can sense my sarcasim, right?)

          • Veronique :

            It happens with wives (women who keep ex’s name for the kids) and step-kids all the time. In this thread alone, Sr Attorney wrote that she wishes that she had kept Husband 1′s name when she got remarried and if there is a Husband 3 she would still keep H1′s name.

            The real problem is that it’s so difficult and sometimes impossible for men to change their names upon marriage, while it’s relatively painless for women to do so.

          • Forgive my ignorance, but how is it harder for men to change their names than for women? (Real question here, I really don’t know.) I was under the impression that it is a giant pain in the butt for either sex. Especially after watching how hard it is for friends who get divorced to change their name back — any name change seems highly annoying.

    • Sydney Bristow :

      I can’t remember where I read it (it may have been here on on the careerist posts), but my name is my brand/identity. It’s who I am and I have no intention of changing it.

      I may have it a little easier because I won’t be having children so I won’t have to navigate the issue of what last name the child gets.

      It’s not my place to judge the decisions that other women make. The only thing I would like is for everyone to at least know that keeping their name is an option. Ultimately though, I hope everyone does what is best for them and their family. My younger sister is engaged and never even thought of it as an option and started gathering all the info for changing her name. When she was complaining about the hassle of changing it, I mentioned that she could just keep her name and she said she hadn’t even thought of that. I’m not sure what she decided to do and whatever she chooses is obviously ok. I’m glad she at least took a little time to consider it.

    • anon-oh-no :

      but its not patriarchial for me at all. I wanted to have the same last name as my kids and i did not want to keep my maiden name (though i did keep it as my middle name to make my father, who i love very much, happy). I did not want to keep my maiden name for for similar reasons to Kat — i had a very difficult to say german last name and i married someone with a simply irish last name, so i couldnt wait to change my last name. And my husband did not care one way or another whether i took his name or not.

      • it’s not that you are choosing it for patriarchal reasons; it’s that the default in our society (for you to take your husband’s name) is patriarchal. Think about it- did your husband consider changing his name so that your kids could have the same name as you? Or did you consider keeping your name and hyphenating your kids’ names?

        • anon-oh-no :

          YOure making my point — my maiden last name was so difficult to say and spell that people stumbled over it my entire pre-marriage life and i could nto wait to get another good name. I did not consider keeping my name because i did not want it to be my last name any more. as a tribute to my father, i now use it as my middle name, and i regularly go by Firstname MiddleInitial Husbandlastname. And even if i wanted to use my maiden name, i would not have considered hyphenating my kids names because I cannot stand hypenated names. I appreciate that some people like them, and I appreciate that the sociatial default may be patriarchal, but my point is that there are indeed non patriarchal reasons for taking your husband’s name. not everything is black and white.

          • Yes, all of the judgey mcjudgersons need to realize there are plenty of other reasons to change your name. While I preferred the way my birth name sounded, I wanted to drop it for a variety of reasons. The biggest one was constantly living under the threat someone would google stalk me and find out that my dad is on the s*x predator list. Secondly, my mother is well known around town for being a crazy person. I wanted to distance myself as far away from that as possible.

            But, hey, go ahead and think less of me!

          • Totally agree with all points.

            Especially the one about hyphenated last names. I personally really dislike them.

        • Anonymous Poser :

          Yes, there are many reasons to change one’s last name when one gets married. When a woman decides to take her husband’s last name when they marry, patriarchy often does not make the list of reasons.

          The reasons/reasoning aren’t necessarily patriarchal. The practice and history of the practice are. That’s the distinction.

      • As a mom who kept maiden name and gave kids husband’s last name, I would advise you to worry little about whether you and kids have same last name, as your first name will change to “X’s mom.”

    • Baconpancakes :

      No one should feel guilty because they take their husband’s name – but let’s call a spade a spade. When equal numbers of men take their wives’ names, or when we figure out a system that doesn’t knock the women out of the picture after a generation (many Latin American cultures hyphenate the wife and the children’s names, but the children will drop their mother’s name once they get married in favor of their spouse’s name), then the choice of married names won’t be patriarchial.

      A lot of things are patriarchial, but we make choices to do them all the same. Giving away brides, men not having engagement rings, not changing from Mr. – it’s all patriarchial. It’s ok to not be a 100% Amazon feminist all the time, but don’t pretend it’s something it’s not.

      • +100

      • Thank you. As a person with a hyphenated name, I did not realize that growing up in the Southwest made life somewhat easier because many people from or familiar with Latin cultures are aware of the concept of two last names. At one point, my ID was created in error so that it only had one last name, creating unnecesary hassles at the airport.

      • Keeping my name :

        This.

        Also, we need to recognize that a man who refuses to even consider changing his last name but prefers or even insists that the woman take his last name is likely the product of patriarchial norms. Personally, I would have a difficult time envisioning myself with a man who could not recognize that this is a sexist stance. My boyfriend actually thinks that if we wanted to share the same last name, he would have no more right to insist on keeping his than I would have the right to insist on keeping mine. He makes the valid point that it may not be “the cross he wants to bear in life,” as men would likely be questioned more for changing their last name than women. Thankfully, we don’t feel the need to share a last name, so all of this is moot. But I am grateful that we had the discussion and that I am with a man that recognizes this sexist social norm. I have encouraged my friends to use this discussion as a barometer to determine how open men are to women’s issues, and they have found it to be very fruitful.

        As for the men that choose to “bear this cross in life,” cheers to you.

        • A friend of mine changed his last name to match his wife’s upon marriage. I didn’t know them until after their marriage, and didn’t know this for years after meeting them. Ok, maybe it’s because I am a female, but I admired him for changing his name (yo, mad props for the confident secure dudes out there that don’t let societal norms dictate their lives). They made the decision together, and it made sense for them because a) her last name was easier to pronounce and more interesting, and b) she was the last of her generation, so the name would die out if she didn’t keep it going, and there were a bunch in his generation to keep the name going. Yeah, occasionally people will make assumptions that the name was originally his (I was guilty of that myself), but if you’re cool with the decision, screw everybody else. And personally I thought the story was cool to hear.

          I kind of wish I my boyfriend and I could follow this model, but I don’t particularly like my name or want to make my boyfriend or my future children take it on. I struggle with this future decision because while on one level, I would be happy to free myself of my father’s last name for a host of reasons (and I considered changing it before I graduated college but ultimately decided to just deal with it), it has nevertheless become my professional name for 10+ years, so if I change it when I get married, I feel like I will be throwing away a decade of my career. The older I am, and the further I get into my career, the more I try to look at my father’s name as MINE, but I guess I’m just not emotionally there yet.

          I wonder if the later in life you marry, the more likely it is you will keep your maiden name out of convenience and work necessity.

          Thanks so much for all of this dialogue. This is definitely something I have been thinking about it lately.

    • Killer Kitten Heels :

      I changed my name when I got married, for a variety of shallow and not-as-shallow reasons. I was concerned about the “patriarchal” overtones, but ultimately: (1) I have a terrible relationship with my father, and didn’t feel like keeping his name – as opposed to changing to my husband’s – was any kind of a “win” for feminism, or for me personally; (2) our two last names sounded utterly stupid together when hyphenated (think “Gomez-Pryzbylewski” or similarly bizarre Spanish-Eastern Euro combo); (3) H is significantly more advanced in his career than I am (I was, at the time, a 2nd year associate, while he’d been working in his industry for over 10 years and had an extensive portfolio in his name), so from a practical perspective, there was a lower professional “cost” to me changing my name than he would’ve faced in changing his; and (4) my prior name was impossible to pronounce/spell, and H’s name is an extremely common Spanish surname, so most everyone I encounter can pronounce it easily, which has actually been helpful when networking/job searching/etc.

      I do feel a little feminist guilt sometimes over changing my name, but ultimately, I had many reasons in the “pro” column on the change-my-name side of the equation, and none except “I owe it to feminism to keep my name” on the con side.

    • Anon in ATX :

      I took my DH’s last name and was happy to do so. I never felt my identity was tied up in my last name. I look at it as I was starting a new family with my husband. Would it be nice if more men changed their names, sure, but it just did not seem important to me in the grand scheme of things. The people who matter know who I am, regardless of my name. I did get married in Law School, so that was not an issue either.

    • AnonForThis :

      I took DH’s last name. He really wanted me to, and I appreciated his honesty and agreed even though I love my “maiden” (puke- who’s a maiden anymore??) name. His mom and aunts thought I was crazy, and people were pretty confused at work for a while (I also moved offices and changed jobs around the same time), but overall I like it. I really enjoy the convenience factor of businesses/customer service agents trusting/knowing that we’re married just based on our last name.

      I should mention that we also never wanted to get married in the first place, but we did to move countries for my job, and that now he’s a SAHH (so he’s not exactly a chauvinist).

      • I’m quite curious, what customer service issues require a belief you’re married? I ask as someone with a long term SO and I’ve never felt the need to pretend we’re married.

      • Anon for this :

        My husband and I have different last names and have not had a problem with customer service or with people not believing we are married, FWIW.

    • [German-Maiden] [French-Married] :

      I had been working for about four years and had been at my current firm for less than a year when I married. I changed my somewhat difficult German maiden name to my middle name and my husband’s more difficult French last name to my last name.

      Funny enough, I actually thought to myself: his last name can’t be any more difficult for people to spell and pronounce than mine. Well, I was wrong, And, three years later, it’s still annoying. People can’t pronounce it; people can’t spell it. And I realized that when you have an un-obvious last name that you’ve grown up with, you’re kind of proud of it; spelling it out constantly isn’t such a big deal because it reminds you that you have this unique family identity. Having taken on my husband’s family’s identity, I don’t delight in spelling it out five times a day. Instead it’s like, I know, I’m sorry. I can’t spell it either.

      All this is to say, I think the name-changing business can be tough stuff, and it can take quite a while to get used to.

    • Brooklyn Paralegal :

      Very late here, but a friend of mine wanted to take his future wife’s last name and learned that he actually can’t. It’s a very different process from a woman taking her husband’s last name.

      • Anonymous Poser :

        The process varies from state to state. Where I live, it’s the same process for men who are getting married as it is for women who are getting married.

      • Anonymous :

        It’s a different process from state to state, but in all states you are allowed to change your name. It just wouldn’t necessarily be through the marriage license process.

    • Amberwitch :

      I’ve kept my birthname through two marriages, because I couldn’t imagine doing otherwise.
      The default position arould here is that noone change names upon marriage or civil union. It is an active choice to change a last name as part of the marriage – and same procedure regardless of your gender. I think it is the same for same-gender civil unions, but I am not sure.

      If I was going to have children they would definitely get my last name. And my husband is welcome to change his last name to mine if he so wish.

      My name sounds pretty normal, but in my country the only people with this name is my family, whereas my husbands name is fairly common. Both situations have their advantages and disadvantages.

  2. Threadjack :

    Do you think the saying “Once a cheater always a cheater” is true?

    • Anon for this :

      I don’t think it is true that he/she will necessarily cheat again, but I do think it is true that I personally would never fully trust him/her again. So if I was looking at it from a would I be comfortable embarking on or continuing in a relationship with that person – no.

    • I think someone who cheats might never cheat again. But they will always be a person who thought that cheating was okay, if that makes sense. And I would not be able to continue to date someone who made that decision. It wouldn’t be about the hurt or jealousy or any other emotional aspect of it — those I might be able to get over someday. It would be about the fundamental disconnect in our value systems. I could go on for days about all of the reasons I think cheating is terrible, but the baseline one is that you’re lying about the most important aspect of your relationship to the person you supposedly love the most. If you are in a monogamous relationship and you have an interest in another person that is strong enough that you want to act on it, you should end your relationship first. Period, no exceptions. To act on the attraction is incredibly immature/selfish. And yes, people do get drunk and make mistakes… but that’s not an excuse for driving drunk and killing someone, or stealing something, or punching someone in the face, so why is it an excuse for cheating? If you believe in your core that something is fundamentally wrong, you will not do it ever, no matter how drunk you are.

    • No. I think it depends on why the person cheated. A person who cheated and takes no responsibility, sure, probably is likely to cheat again. But I could see a situation where a couple was going through a really rough period and one of them was feeling particularly lonely and lost, and then gave in to temptation, felt horrible about it, wanted to fix the relationship and approach his/her partner with remorse and a desire to rebuild — I’d give that person a chance. I’ve told my husband that if he cheated on me, especially if things had been really rough with us, I feel pretty certain I’d forgive him. But absolutely NO getting anyone else pregnant! I would have a really, really hard time with him being tied for the rest of his life to someone other than me because of his cheating.

    • anonforthis :

      I cheated on a boyfriend in college and felt terrible about it for months and months. I know you should never say never, but I can’t imagine a situation now in which I would cheat. I’ve learned my lesson. I also had another boyfriend later on who had cheated on his girlfriend and then learned his lesson when she cheated on him and he was devastated by it. The entire time we dated (5 years) neither of us every worried about the other one cheating.

      • AnonForThis :

        Same. I cheated on my ex-partner once. I did end up leaving him about two weeks later as I realized that I was deeply unhappy and the indiscretion was a symptom of my unhappiness. I cannot imagine a situation where I would cheat on my husband – if I was ever that unhappy again, or felt attracted to someone else, I would talk to DH about it immediately.

    • OfCounsel :

      Another thing I think has to be considered is when the cheating occurred and the nature of the relationship. Cheating on your girl/boyfriend at 19 is not the same as cheating on your spouse at 35. I had a friend who once broke off a relationship with her 30 year-old boyfriend because she found out he cheated on his college girlfriend during summer vacation (he told her about it when she asked “what have you done that you are least proud of”.) Context matters.

    • No. I cheated on a BF and would absolutely never, ever, ever do that to my husband.

    • Amberwitch :

      No. Not at all. If I was the one being cheated on, I might not be able to trust again. But because someone at one point cheated in one relationship, does not signify that they would do it again. It may mean that they would respond similarly in a similar situation. But not necessarily.

      I wouldn’t have a problem trusting a SO who had cheated in an earlier relationship, if I atually trusted him/her. if that makes sense. And I wouldn’t have a relationship with someone that I didn’t trust – I’d just use them for sex;-)

  3. Diana Barry :

    I added my husband’s name to the end of mine. It is a VERY LONG last name, and I didn’t drop any of my other names, so now I have 2 middle initials.

    I didn’t change it professionally until I switched jobs, about 2 years after we got married.

    Initially I didn’t want to change my name at all, but it was very important to my DH that our family have one name – I think this was part of his carried-over fear from his parents’ divorce. Our names didn’t combine well (two very different ethnicities) so he took my maiden name as his middle name so we would both have the same two last names.

    • Anoooooon :

      I did this. My husband didn’t care one way or the other, so I just picked what I wanted to do.

      I tacked his last name onto my name and use all four, like it seems Reader E wants to do. Yes, It’s confusing for some people. But I made that choice, so whatever. In the end I officially have 2 middle names, which I think eases the professional blow a little because I can just not use them when its inconvenient. Officially I am First Middle1 Maiden(Middle2) HisLastName. No hyphens, just the four (longish) names.

      I use all 4 on my resume and obviously they’re all on my drivers license and stuff. If I want things to be simple, then its just First HisLast. For a variety of things I am asked to just pick one middle name or middle initial, and I usually favor Maiden/Middle2 for those things. All four of them wouldn’t fit on my diploma, or my business cards, so I had to figure out an abbreviation I liked. It works out for me, and I like my name. I think having 2 middles gives it flexibility, because people don’t often care much about your middle name so you can figure out how having two would work for you. Two last names seems harder to me, because I feel like you have to use them all the time then, and both my last names have been really long, so I thought it would be cumbersome.

      • This is what I did, too: firstname middlename oldlastname husbandlast name. Socially I go my firstname husbandlastname, but professionally I’ve used all four. It was important to both my husband and me that we share a last name as we formed our own, new family (let alone that when we did have children many years later, it has made the family identity more apparent).
        However, I didn’t want to totally lose the last name with which I had grown up and of which I am proud.
        The snarky side of me does wonder when a hyphenated last name marries another hyphenated (Smith-Doe-Rodrigues-O’Brien), where does it end? Or do we eventually all just go with some hybrid like “Sdrob” ?

      • I wish that we lived in a “may the best name win” society. In the meantime, I just applied this logic to my situation (husband’s name was easier to say and seemed more crisp from a professional standpoint – plus, it was a substantial alphabet upgrade!)

  4. “recent future”? What??

  5. I moved my maiden name (2 syllables, Irish, but prone to frequent misspelling and mispronunciation) to my middle name, and took my husband’s last name. It is 12 letters, German, and many find it impossible to spell or pronounce. But in the end, I’m glad I did, because it makes little things in life easier in so many ways. I have the same name as my kids. It is easy when making reservations, doctors appointments, whatever, that we all have the same last name. I had 3+ years of a career, including publishing reports and papers, under my old name, but I don’t think my career has been hindered by my crazy long last name. People never get me mixed up with someone else, that’s for sure! I use my maiden name (as a middle name) on my business card and in many professional settings but as the years go by (12 years of marriage now) I use it less and less and that’s fine with me too.

    You can always do what a friend of mine did and create a hybrid…She took her maiden name (hard to spell and say) and combined it with another family name to create a new middle name that “flowed” nicely with her very common married name. Seems to have worked for her.

  6. Orangerie :

    I’m single and have never been married, but if and when the time comes I don’t plan on dropping my maiden name, at least professionally. My last name is unique and ties me to my family, and I work in a field where my network is already large and will continue to grow… so I’d prefer to eliminate any source of confusion.

    I would consider taking my maiden name as my middle name and changing my last name in my personal life…. but then again I don’t plan on having kids so I guess I don’t really see the point (I mean that with no snark, just that it seems much easier to share a last name if you have or intend to have children).

    • I’ll say this as someone who will probably add my fiance’s last name to mine. I HATE that places are like oh you’re Ms. Maiden Name but your kid is Jane Husbandlastname; we’re going to need to double check that your the guardian on file.If I’ve provided you their birth certificate, take two d@mn seconds and read it. And don’t assume last names mean the person is authorized to take said child (see, all the awful news articles about estranged parents kidnapping their kids).

      I will just say, if there’s ever a story on the news about a woman losing it on a principal over this issue, Hive, it’s me. Drives me batty. End rant

      • I have never had this happen to me once, not in 14 years. I actually find it a bit that it never has happened, especially when flying with the kids out of the country, but no one has ever said a word.

      • Senior Attorney :

        Same here. I had a different last name from my son starting when he was 12, and never had any problem. In fact, I was never required to prove I was his mom, even once, the whole time he was growing up. Everybody just accepted my representation to that effect. Which was convenient but kind of made me go hmmm…

      • Flown everywhere with my kids (different last names – they have their dad’s lastname, I have my maiden name as my lastname) incl the US and Europe and all over Asia/Australia – never EVER had this problem.

        My kids’ passport has my name on it as their mum.

        • Seattle Lawyer Mom :

          I also have my “maiden” name while my kids have my husband’s last name, and it has never been at issue at school, pick ups, doctors’ appointments, traveling, or anywhere. I just remember when someone is trying to look the kid up in a system and says “what’s the name?” to say “did you want her last name or mine, they are different.” But no one ever questions that I’m the mom or seeks proof.

      • Agree with the others. Never had a question in 5+ years of parenthood with different last names. Not at school or the doctor or traveling domestically and abroad. It is a non-issue in my experience.

      • While other folks never had a problem, they may all be the same color. I have the same name as my mother, but she often traveled with papers testifying to her relationship with me and my siblings as she is white and we aren’t. It was the 80s so a different time, but it happens.

        • That is what I am most afraid of and why I was seriously considering taking my husband’s last name! I am black and my husband is white. I’m not sure how our kids will look but I know that people will be very confused. I think our plan right now is to give the children the last name of the parent they resemble least.

          My mom is white and she had to put up with odd stuff like that in the 80s and 90s even though we all had the same last name. She went from an awkward German name to a phonetic African one. I choose to keep my phonetic African surname instead of taking my husband’s German name that has a silent T in it and is always mispronounced.

  7. I took my husband’s last name after I got married but continued using my maiden name professionally. Though I had only just started the practice of law my professional network (from law school and my summer jobs etc.) knew me by that name. It was a bit confusing as some of those people I was friends with outside work as well. However, when I left the law firm I was rather unhappy at to go in-house I just went with my legal (married) name for a fresh start and to make the HR process smoother.

  8. Not quite newlywed atty :

    I got married to my longtime beau right after law school and decided to change my name. My bar certificate and diploma have my “maiden” name on them, but I legally changed my name so that now my bar card, business cards, id — everything — has my new name. I made my maiden name my middle name and so I usually use “Firstname / Maiden Name Initial / Husband’s last name” these days.

    As Kat said, it’s a personal decision, but I felt strongly that I wanted to take my husband’s last name. I’m not a super conservative person, but for some reason I find the idea of taking your partner’s name and signifying outwardly to the world that you sort of “belong” together is really romantic and nice.

    • and what romantic and nice thing did your husband do to signify to the world that you sort of “belong” together?

      • This isn’t quid pro quo; it’s marriage. He does many loving and thoughtful things for me all the time.

        But thanks for judging my reasons when apparently everyone else’s are valid.

        • +1

        • Nicely said, and same here. I frankly just *like* the last name that my husband had better than the last name that I had growing up. My former last name was long, hard to spell and pronounce, and easy to make fun of. My husband’s last name, and my new last name, is easy to say and spell and doesn’t have unfortunate associations.

        • sorry to judge, it’s just really hard not to when a woman buys into this idea that changing her last name signifies her new state, her love for her husband, her new family, whatever. Men are able feel all those things without having to change their last names.

          • WestCoast Lawyer :

            So, really you aren’t sorry to judge at all. The idea that those of us who took our husband’s last names are “buying into the idea” implies that we have somehow been duped into believing a lie. Because, obviously, the notion that we used our brains and came to a different decision than you did means we are stupid….

          • It’s frustrating that when a woman makes a decision for reasons rooted in personal preference, convenience, or any of the other reasons a woman might keep her name, other women can point to that and say “it is sad that she bought into the patriarchal system.” It’s an obnoxious argument because no matter how much the name-changer protests (“no, I REALLY just prefer to take my husband’s name”), people can say, “see, she isn’t even understanding the nuances of this patriarchal system she’s been brainwashed by!”

            I think it’s un-feminist to give women so little credit. Sometimes women are just human beings doing what they feel like doing. Why should every decision a woman makes bear the burden of being a statement about society? Can’t it just be a decision based on preference, the way men can make decisions based on their preferences?

          • No, anon, a woman’s decision to keep or change her name is always going to be political as long as women continue to not be equal to men. So yes, often women just do what they want to do for their own reasons. But the personal is political when the powerful (male) majority still often treats women as a single monolithic entity and judges individual women by the choices other women make. When women are truly viewed as individuals by society, that is when an individual woman’s choice is not a political statement. Do what you want to do, but don’t claim you aren’t influenced by society.

      • anon-oh-no :

        really? I’m with the OP. Im not even a little bit conservative, but I love when someone calls us Mr. and Mrs. husbandslastname, or calls us the husbandslastname family. And my husband also does many romantic and nice things thoughout our marriage.

    • This is what I did. My name pre-marriage was kind of a jumble because of my parents’ divorce anyway, so I didn’t mind simplifying. Plus I like our family having one name. As to whether it was my name or his, he was simply more attached to his than I was to mine. But I do insist on being Ms. K, not Mrs. (I’ll be okay with our kids’ friends calling me Mrs. K, but professionally, uh-uh) and I really do hate when I’m addressed as Mrs. Hisfirstname Hislastname. It mostly just happens with wedding invites or when his (extremely conservative southern) grandparents send me things, but still — do not like it.

    • This is what I did too. I also got married right before graduating from law school, so it was good timing for a name change. I know it’s patriarchal to take his name, but I like it because we now have the same last name, and his last name sounds much prettier than my maiden name.

      This may be controversial, but I’ll throw it out there: another reason I took his name is that I’m the primary breadwinner and the more dominant partner in the relationship in most ways. That already makes our relationship nontraditional. He’s very supportive of me in that role, but I think not taking his name would have resulted in outsiders viewing me as further emasculating him. He assured me that he didn’t feel that way, but others (friends and family) definitely did. I usually don’t care what outsiders think, but in this case I thought it would be easier on us to just go the traditional route and and use his name. Sometimes it’s good to take a stand, and sometimes it’s just easier to conform to social norms. (Is that horrible to say?)

      • This was our scenario. I didn’t make a bit production of that, but we were planning a move after I finished grad school where I would be the primary earner, would have a pretty prestigious job, and he wouldn’t have any job to start with and would be leaving all of his friends and his band. I though it made things a little more balanced.

      • That’s interesting. I’m married and kept my name, no kids. But I’ve always felt the kids would get just his last name, because I will most likely be the primary breadwinner, so it feels “balanced.”

        There are so many factors to consider!

  9. lucy stone :

    My name on this site is Lucy Stone for a reason. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucy_Stone

    I was the last of my friends to get married and watched them all make different choices. We have:

    *First M. BirthLast
    *First M. HusbandLast
    *First M. BirthLast-HusbandLast
    *First M. BirthLast HusbandLast
    *First M.B. HusbandLast
    *First Birthlast HusbandLast
    *First M. BirthLast professionally, First M. HusbandLast or First M. BirthLast HusbandLast legally

    and a whole bunch of other variations. My husband and I discussed this for a loooong time before we got married. He is from (imo) a large, incredibly religious, overbearing family. I’m an only child who is very close with my parents. I am professionally and legally “Lucy Stone” but use “Lucy Stone Blackwell” when attending his church or at a function with his family. To me, it was worth it to keep the peace. Any future children we have will be FirstName StoneasMiddle BlackwellasLast. I didn’t want to hyphenate myself so won’t do that to a child either.

    We live in smalltown Wisconsin and I was pleasantly surprised at how much of a non-issue this was outside of my husband’s church or his family. My coworkers all asked what name I would use after the wedding. A few have gotten it wrong but immediately apologized when they were corrected. We’re really blessed to live in a society where we can choose what we want our name to be.

    • Well put!

    • Anonymous Poser :

      I kept my birth name as well :-)
      (And thanks for using that term!)

    • The last situation describes me; multiple variations for multiple situations. After getting married I changed my legal name to First M. BirthLast HusbandLast. I use this on my byline when I write as well.

      But it’s often a hassle to have two last names. I never know what name I’m under in someone’s computer system, so I often have to give both before they can find me. And then there are the places that go ahead and hyphenate the names even though I don’t.

      Then we had a child and she’s Girl HusbandLast.

      So most of the time now I introduce myself as FirstName HusbandLast. Maybe I’m a victim of the patriarchy. Mostly I’m just lazy :)

    • I did the same thing. I originally wanted to change my last name to my husband’s last name, but continue to use my birth last name professionally. However, I discovered my company requires I use my legal name (as defined by my social security card) for our directory and email address.

      I decided to keep my birth name, but if i ever feel like it, i can use my husbands last name socially. For example, my facebook name is First name birthlast husband last. I use my birth name / legal name on Linked In.

      I like things this way, and I feel like it divides my personal and professional personas online.

  10. Mrs. Anonymous Fancy-Pants :

    This is the one place on earth I’ll totally confess –

    I am a name-last-keeping lover, see no reason to change last names.

    I took my husband’s name when we got married because in the smallish city where we were returning to live and work after law school, his family is very prominent and I knew it would give me serious professional clout that I otherwise would have to work a decade or more to hope to get.

    Four years in, I can confirm that my hunches were right.

    I have never told him. He thinks it is sweet and romantic of me, knowing that I had always said before I would keep my own last name.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      This is awesome.

    • meh. do you think a man in your situation would have changed his last name to his wife’s last name?

      • He married her? Let’s play nice, now.

        • That was supposed to go up above, but I suppose it applies equally well here. I thought that was a funny story, btw.

      • There is at least one famous example of a man changing his name to take advantage of his wife’s famous name. When Irene Curie (daughter of Marie and Pierre) got married she and her husband formed a combined, hyphenated last name. The purpose was so that they and their children could have the benefit of the prestigious Curie family name. This was in the 1920s.

        • Hasn’t that long been the practice of aristrocratic families in certain places? I feel like that is a pretty established tradition; and why you hear about double-barreled names in the UK signalling “poshness.”

      • A friendly suggestion: perhaps spending less time complaining about how women are not equal to men and more time achieving things in your own life that prove your equality would be more effective than posting nasty remarks intended to undermine the decisions of your fellow females.

    • Famouscait :

      I will confess here as well. After I got married, I changed my name to First Maiden Married. This is the convention my mother and older sister use as well. I no longer live in my hometown, but part of reason I actively use First Maiden Married is that my family name has good connotations/connections/karma/whatever in our neck of the woods, and I don’t want to loose that.

      However, my very practical hubby would happily change his Last name to my Maiden name should we ever move back to my hometown! So not much of a secret there…

      • Genuine question: Is there any actual practical difference between choosing First Maiden Husband and choosing First Husband? I mean, does anyone actually USE their middle name?

        • Famouscait :

          There’s only an “actual practical difference” if you do indeed use your Maiden name. I do, but it’s a habit I got from my mother. For example, whenever she would be quoted in the newspaper, it was as First Maiden Married, not First Married. My email signature contains First Maiden Married as well, for example. Think Hillary Rodham Clinton or Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

          • Anonymous :

            Yeah but people just call them hillary clinton or ginsburg. No one actually uses the middle, even though it may ring a bell

    • I hope any man willing to marry me would also be willing to take my last name. I live in the town I grew up in and my parents are well known and well liked in professional circles. Being related to my parents is definitely an advantage around here. Now who wants to bet I stay single forever?

  11. I don’t know how people keep up separate personal and professional names (just checked out the op-ed — sounds chaotic!). I got married last year and officially changed my name (to FirstName MaidenName HusbandsName) a few months later….although my license still doesn’t quite match my other documents because of difficult NY State laws.

    I decided to keep my maiden name professionally until I changed jobs, which I was hoping would be in the near future. Eight months later it finally happened, and I was so ready to switch to one cohesive identify. It was exhausting keeping track of who I was at each moment.

    I guess it helps that I’m relatively new in my career (5 years). I think it makes things easier as a family down the road to have the same name. Plus, I wanted to share this with my husband. It was mainly a sentimental decision, I’d say.

  12. I have a similar problem: I have a Chinese legal first name. It’s not particularly difficult to pronounce as far as Chinese names go, but maybe 7-8 years ago during a college internship, I started using an English name professionally.

    It’s a little bit annoying because my husband calls me by my Chinese name and defaults to introducing me to people that way – including people he works with. I’ve told him that I’d rather be known by the English name in most professional settings. I’m always worried that someone will be talking to one of my colleagues and they won’t know me by my Chinese name. Then there’s the fun of starting a new job and having to explain to HR that you would like your email in one name and your paychecks made out to the other.

    To be honest, I’m not sure it’s been a great idea using the English name. There’s the benefit that it’s not unisex and easy to pronounce. It’s also sad to say, but I think it also makes me look more Chinese-American (which I am) than Chinese, which might help for some jobs.

    • Yes, sadly your hunch is right. There was a study a couple of years ago showing how if given the exact same resumes, but one with an “ethnic” name (Chinese first and last names), one with a Chinese American name (English first name and Chinese last name) and one with a generic Western name, employers tend to prefer the third resume.

      • Another B :

        Oh goodness, this bothers me.

        I am not likely to change my first name ever even if get addressed as “Mr.” from time to time.

        However, I would like to think that as more and more people keep their ethnic or non easily identifed as gender/”American” names, that these biases go away.

        Actually, I just re-read your summary of the study, which just shows bias toward non-”ethnic” folks in general. Ie. It’s not saying that Grace Lee has a better chance at a job than Ga-eul Lee.

        • Nah, actually the study also shows that “Asian American” names will still fare better than “Full Asian” names. Essentially, the more “Asian”/ethnic the candidate’s name is, the worse his/her resume will be ranked.

        • I had a five-syllable (although actually very easy to pronounce), very “ethnic” maiden name (which I love). However, I got tired of hearing “I won’t even try that one,” and people addressing me by my first name in situations where everyone else was being addressed by title/lastname (for the record, I was never, ever offended if someone mispronounced my last name). I was also in the midst of a job search when I got married and was curious to know whether I’d get more responses with my partner’s one-syllable, very non-ethnic last name (hint: the answer is depressing). I changed my name for lots of reasons, but in large part as a social experiment. Unfortunately, the exponentially greater ease of my day-to-day life with my new last name confirms that life is absolutely easier with a non-ethnic last name.

    • If it bothers you enough, I would consider changing your first name to your “English” name and making your real first name your middle name.
      Obviously, only if that’s something you want/prefer, but it’s not that difficult to change your name legally. I have several friends who go by their middle name with family/friends but have a different first name (sometimes for similar reasons to yours, sometimes because e.g., every first male child is named Charles but everyone then calls them the middle name, etc.).

      • Been there, done that. I have two first names – one Chinese, one English. I use my Chinese first name exclusively but all my IDs, legal paperwork, etc has my English name listed first. My last name is English and people screw that one up too. Still, I am not interested in changing any of my names.

  13. I completely agree that it’s a personal decision and no woman should feel she has to explain her choice if she does not want to. That said, I am always happy to explain my own choice if asked! I recently got married and did change my name. I have been known professionally for a while as “Ms. Jane A. Doe.” I wanted to take on my husband’s surname because we are a family and we both liked the idea of me having his surname. However, for professional reasons I also wanted to keep my maiden surname. Legally and professionally I am now known as “Jane Doe Jones.” I dropped my middle name, kept my surname and added my husband’s surname, so my name is First Name Surname Surname. On a personal level, I go by “Mrs. Jane Jones.” We have also decided that our children will only have one surname and it will be “Jones.” Honestly, people in the US sometimes find my choice confusing (“Wait, what is your surname? I thought you can only have one?”), but my work takes me all over the world and I’ve been in several countries where husbands and wives always have different surnames (they each keep their birth surname).

    • I did this also. And each of my three names is as simple as “Jane Doe Jones”. Much to my surprise, it has proven to be confusing for people (I’m in the US).

    • I don’t ask to single you out, but thought I’d ask because you said you are actually happy to explain. For you – and others who said it was important to feel like a family by having the same last name – was there any consideration that your husband would take your name or that you’d choose a new name together?

      I fully understand women who make the decision to change their name for very practical reasons like, “I like how his name sounded better” or “it’s easier to spell/pronounce,” etc. And I suppose in some ways, especially depending on where you live/your community, it’s in some ways “easier” if you have the same last name as your husband/kids. But I just wonder why you almost never hear about men having these considerations with respect to their last names. I’d love to hear from women why it’s considered romantic and nice when you do it when men so rarely consider doing it for themselves. I’ve heard plently of men opine on this, btw, and I get why they’re into it, but I’d love to hear it from a woman’s side.

      • We did consider this. Emotional issues aside (which we discussed in detail – I am just omitting from this comment), it was MUCH, MUCH easier to stick with the “usual” course. It is a huge legal hassle for a man to change his last name when compared to the simplicity of the process for a woman changing her last name after marriage.

      • I should have added this into my original post: my husband’s original last name was hard to pronounce and often misspelled by others. Added to that, he doesn’t know anyone from his father’s family and didn’t feel any closeness to that surname. So he decided to change his name by shortening his surname legally. Since he did this before we talked about marriage, we didn’t really talk about alternative surname choices. I’ll echo Rose and say when you legally change your name outside of marriage, it can be a huge hassle. And for my husband, parts of the process were a huge pain. I think that is one of the reasons we never really considered him changing his surname to mine or us taking an alternative surname — we didn’t want to put him through the legal name change process again.

        There are some states where you can choose the couple’s new surname on the marriage license. I think California allows you to choose either spouse’s surname, or a combination of the surnames.

        • Sydney Bristow :

          Hmmm I wonder if there is or would be a higher percentage of men taking their wives’ names or couples choosing a new name together in places where both men and women had the same processes to go through when changing their names.

  14. I’m keeping my maiden name professionally and personally. I have two diplomas and my admission to the bar of IL in that name. My name is common but not too common — if I took my boyfriend’s name, it would be an even more common sounding name. It is not unusual now for kids to not have the same name as their mom, I see no problem with it.

  15. I’m Japanese, and my husband is British, and it was very important to me that I maintain my Japanese last name after we married (that, and I published widely before I was married). Although I love my husband dearly, his last name simply isn’t meaningful to me, whereas my own carries a lot of importance to myself and my family. Our parents and siblings seem to be the only ones who stubbornly “forget” that I haven’t changed my name, hah! No kids yet but I fret about what we’ll do…thinking we’ll hyphenate? Five syllables? Oh, the poor kid!

    • Orangerie :

      My last name is 4 syllables (no, it’s not hyphenated). I turned out fine. Wouldn’t worry so much about the “poor kid’s” surname.

    • This is how I feel. My last name is hard to spell and pronounce, but it’s part of my j3wish identity. My husband’s last name is incredibly common and not remotely j3wish. My daughter has my last name as her second middle name and his last name.

    • My birth name is (approximations) Hillary May Johnson Miller. My husband’s name is Mike Brian Smith. I use both my last names (Hillary Johnson Miller) and have only had one old man tell me to pick one and use it instead of both. People now assume that Miller is my husband’s name, and he’s used to being called Mr. Miller. But I don’t mind and he doesn’t mind. When people use the wrong name, we’re not angry, we just correct them. It hasn’t been a cross to bear or anything.

  16. In house Europe :

    I changed my last name but wouldn’t have done so if I had already started my professional career (We got married before law school). That said, most of my law school friends who got married after law school changed their name to husband last name.

  17. My mom kept her maiden name and honestly, I found it to be a huge pain growing up and having to explain that yes, that woman without my last name, was my mother so from a young age, I always said I would take my husband’s name for convenience factors unless his last name stunk. My sisters didn’t seem to care that much so my sister kept her maiden name when she got married, but when it was my turn, I changed my last name and went to First Birthlast Husbandlast to make the professional transition easier (although I love my middle name and will probably give it to a future child). I think we both have ridiculously old-fashioned husbands who would prefer we had their last names, but unfortunately for them, that didn’t really factor into either of our decisions regarding what name to use when married. I personally wasn’t interested in hyphenating because I didn’t want to have a long last name.

    • Interesting! My mom kept her name and I never, not even once, found it to be a problem.

      • Right, my sisters say it didn’t bother them at all so maybe I’m just overly sensitive? But by middle school, I was on Team Take My Husband’s Name.

      • +1.

        After my parents’ divorce, my mother changed her name back to her birth name, so for most of my childhood my brother and I had a different last name than our mother (who had primary custody). In high school I decided to legally change my name to my mother’s last name, but my brother kept our father’s name – and still has it to this day (he considered the name change too, but ultimately was too cheap to fork over the probate court costs). And when our stepfather entered the equation, my mother kept her birth name – so we then became a family of 3 last names (so many names on our mailbox!). I also never found it to be problematic, nor did I feel like our disparate names detracted in any way from our sense of family.

        Changing my name upon marriage has never been a question for me. I think that’s probably due to a combination of my personal feminist perspective, the fact that I consciously chose my last name, and that I have personally experienced a multi-surnamed family with no adverse effects on family identity or cohesion. My partner knows that if we ever get married, I will keep my last name both personally and professionally (much to his mother’s chagrin). I always kinda hoped that if I got married my partner would take my last name, but I find men are generally opposed to this idea, and my partner is no exception.

        Regarding the kids issue, were we to have children, there’s a whole world of surname options available to us. We can hyphenate (though that would be a lengthy 5-syllable nightmare), or perhaps create a new hybrid name. Or my personal preference: Girlchild Hisname Myname and Boychild Myname Hisname. But I’ll admit, I have a lot of lobbying left to do on this front.

        I just want to say that I love this debate and hearing other women’s stories about what they’ve chosen and why.While ultimately a personal issue, there’s no doubt that it has huge cultural significance, which makes the discussion so important. And although our society still has strides to make regarding gender equality, it seems like we’re moving past the knee-jerk reaction of women taking their husband’s last names simply because that’s just what’s done. Whatever decision is made, it’s made with careful thought and consideration by the woman who will be directly affected by it, and that’s the way it should be.

        That said, I hope to live long enough to see heterosexual men similarly debating which last name they should use after marriage.

    • +1 to all of this.

    • Is that experience still relevant though? I’d think kids today are a lot more used to different names, cultural backgrounds, same sex parents, etc.

  18. Calibrachoa :

    I intend to take my future husband’s last name unless something extraordinary happens.

    You see, right now my last name? is that of my mother’s abusive husband whom I am in no way related to and who died when I was too young to remember it.

    My mother has gone back to her maiden name but… the amount of h*** I have endured from members of the extended family makes me loathe to associate with them.

    My father’s side of the family? Has made it clear that I am not part of it, not wanted, in fact how about we just tell you about the funeral afterwards does not want me to exist so that’s right out, too.

    So yeah.. if I get married I am not keeping this name long-term.

    • Cornellian :

      I’ve considered going back to my mom’s maiden (she never took the name of my abusive father, as they never married)… I have a much closer relationship to that family. I feel like it might be seen as a slap in the to, around marriage, take a second name that is not your partner’s, but he’ll just have to understand and deal.

      • Anonymous :

        I have considered something similar. Not going to go into too many details for anonymity’s sake but I was thinking that marriage would be the perfect time to do something like this since most people in a professional setting will just assume that it was related to that. Obviously I’d still have to explain to friends and his family but I think they’d understand.

        FWIW, I don’t think that it’d be a slap in the face to anyone I’d ever want to marry. Anyone I’d consider marrying me would understand and not be hung up on such things.

        • Except I can’t see getting married any time soon to have an excuse (even if taking a different name). And I just can’t figure out how to go about explaining professionally that at 30 I (seemingly) randomly chose a new last name.

  19. Chitown Lawyer :

    I got married after I started my professional career so it was important to me to keep my last name. My name is easy to spell, pronounce and works well in a professional setting (but then again, my husband’s last name would not have created pronunciation issues either). Our two year old son has my last name as his middle name and my husband’s last name as his last name. If we decide to have another child, that child will also have my last name as his or her middle name.

    As far as what other people did, most of my law school friends who were married before they embarked on their legal careers changed their names. Most that were married after they started their legal careers kept their last names.

    • +1, as this is also what I did, although these days I think I’m in the minority of my friends. It was never on the table that I would change my name. Neither DH or I have hard names to pronounce, although his is shorter and mine has some sneaky vowels. I got married in my 3L year but had a good professional network (of which DH is a member) from pre-law school employment, which I wanted to continue to function in as my own person. Part of my thinking was also that because DH was older and already an established member of said network, I wanted to retain my own identity; people certainly know we’re married but I didn’t want to be thought of solely as his wife.

      Our kids are all FirstName MyLastName DHLastName. Makes it easy (only one name to pick out!), we all have names in common, and the inclusion of my name has made easier any issues with me traveling with the kids on my own. Although I will echo the ladies above who said their have never been challenged when traveling with differently-last-named kids and say that I also have found the lack of questioning ever odd. Still travel with copies of their birth certificates when we’re going domestic just in case.

  20. Sometimes it bugs me that women are expected to change their names, but a man rarely is even asked to consider it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with either keeping or changing or hyphenating a name, I just think it should be the choice of the person who is making the change and not influenced by others. I took my husband’s name, simply because it is shorter and easier to spell and pronounce than my maiden name and I like the way it sounds combined with my first name. I don’t use my maiden name at all, not as a middle name or initial. If my husband’s last name were long and cumbersome, hard to pronounce or I just didn’t like the sound of it with mine, I wouldn’t have changed my name.

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