What’s in a name?

Brian and I got our marriage license last Friday.  It was a big deal and not all at the same time.

The courthouse closed at 4 that day, so we each took off work early and met there super early in case there was a crazy line.  This wedding planning madness has trained me to plan for, well, madness.

I got there way early, earlier than Brian, and ended up getting super anxious just because I could.

Did he get away from work when he’d planned to?

Had he gotten in a car accident?

Why wasn’t he answering his phone?

Naturally, everything was fine except for in my head.

So he got there, and we walked into the courthouse hand-in-hand. (It had taken all my willpower not to take out my anxiety on him, because I did not want to pick a fight right before going in and getting a piece of paper that proves we want to love each other for the rest of our lives……you know, priorities.)  There was no line.  The paperwork was easy.  The lady made us raise our right hands and asked us if everything on the paperwork was true.  The way she phrased it made us both say “I do” at the same time and we looked at each other and had a moment.  I giggled.

The whole process was pretty quick and easy and we left feeling special and lovey-dovey, but as we left with our paperwork in hand, I felt a pang of….sadness.

There was a spot on the paperwork where each of us could denote if and how we wanted our names changed.  I have given this issue a lot of thought, and I think I finally came to the best arrangement for me and for the two of us, although I must admit, I still have misgivings.

I decided, we decided, that I would take Brian’s last name as my own, and I am replacing my current middle name with my maiden name.

Lots of factors went into making this decision.  I don’t want to “give up” my own last name because it’s been connected to my identity and how I exist in the world.  It’s German, it’s amazing, and I love it.  Brian’s last name is…..pretty freaking fantastic, for those of you who know us in the real world.  It’s cooler than my last name, and it sounds amazing as my own last name.  Like, I could be a rapper it’s so cool.

I love the concept of hyphenating, and I also like the concept of creating a whole new last name for two people getting married.  Those ideas, in a perfect world, seem the most egalitarian to me.  Buuut….we just didn’t like either of these options for us, with these particular last names.  As for hyphenating, our last names end with the same sound and it sounded weird.  As for creating a new name…..we just couldn’t bring ourselves to chop Brian’s awesome last name in half with mine.  Trust me, it’s just too good.

We thought about just keeping our own last names and not changing anything.  That’s still an option, but I know I’ll want to have the same last name as my children, and having an in-common family name just makes sense to us.

As you all know, I really have a problem with blindly following traditions just because, which is why all these options were considered and lamented over.  In no way was I going to take my husband’s last name without considering all my options first.  And my birth name will still get that spot on legal forms…and in my heart.

So.  I’m going to honor this sadness….It’ll be weird to introduce myself with a new last name.  My therapy services will be advertised under a different name….my new business cards are going to make me do double takes.

I wonder how long it’ll take me to get my new signature right?

All of those thoughts come with pangs of sadness….and some excitement too.

26 responses

  1. I have a hard time making the transition to writing a new date when the year changes. If I ever got married, I think I’d take his last name. Not because of tradition, but because I love the symbolism of merging like that. It’s all about what makes you happy.

  2. “Naturally, everything was fine except for in my head.”

    I may have to get that printed on a t-shirt!

    I had to go with my hubby’s last name, for the coolness factor. It means “arrow” in German, and now I run around buying arrow-themed stuff and claiming it’s my brand.

  3. Pingback: Could I Have Been Anyone Other Than Me? | Tales from the Motherland

  4. I did the very same thing as you: middle name is now my maiden name. However, I had never used the first name that I was given at birth. I’d always gone with by my middle name… so, middle became first, last became middle, and Smart Guy’s name became my new last name. Damned! There may be a post in this! On The Real Housewives of OC (yeah, yeah, I already fessed up. So sue me), one of the wives changed her name to her husbands, like 10 years into their marriage. Then she threw herself a big ass party to celebrate it… wait, this is definitely a post. No further comment. Mazel Tov on the upcoming nuptials. Am I seated next to your aunt? Pretty please?

  5. Oh man, you are so taking me back. Getting our marriage license was one of the most surprisingly pleasant experiences of our whole wedding ordeal. I feel like the government workers who get to run that office are always in a better mood because the people they are dealing with are actually happy to be there.

    I know exactly how you feel about the name change, though. I opted to go the same route you’re going, adopting my husband’s last name and bumping my maiden to the middle position. But I let it sink in awhile before I made the big switcheroo; I didn’t legally change my name until we had been married nearly a year. That worked for me because by then I actually felt like we were a married couple and I wasn’t just throwing my old name away along with all the paper used to wrap our wedding gifts.

  6. I struggled with this too and opted to do the same thing. Changing the name is a big hassle-frassle, I ain’t gonna lie. In fact, I still have stuff in my old name out of sheer laziness and I’ve been married nearly 10 years.

  7. I think as long as you are making a well thought out decision about it, instead of just taking his name for tradition’s sake, you made a good decision :-)

    I still haven’t decided what to do when I get married in a few months. Like you, I want to have our little family to all have the same last name. I kind of want to merge our two names (which sounds fine), but it’s such a hassle for both of us to go through it, when legally I can just start using his last name. But is the easy way, the better way?

  8. I always knew I’d take my husband’s last name, if for no other reason than genealogical ones (having dug into the historical records for our families’ data, I can tell you it’s such a pain in the ass when someone doesn’t take her husband’s last name).

    My mom was offended that I didn’t “keep” my maiden name (which isn’t even “hers” legally anyway) when I officially changed my last name. My name is just a label given to me by my parents at birth so choosing my husband’s last name is the only “ownership” I have over my name.

    Sigh, but now that I’m living where I am and my last name carries so many assumptions I sort of wish I’d kept my maiden name! Your new last name is the BEST and I’m soooooo glad you are going to have it.

  9. I never thought I cared one way or the other what my wife wanted to do until she told me that she was thinking about keeping her name or hyphenating it or something. It turned out I did care as it made me sad that she may not want my last name, even though it also rocks. I faked it and told her to do whatever felt right to her and she did end up taking my last name. She doesn’t have a middle name. I wish we’d have thought to have her maybe use her maiden name as her new middle name now. Oh well I guess.

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