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Ashley
Beginner September 2020

Cultural & Traditions - Name Change Conundrum

Ashley, on June 23, 2020 at 5:18 PM Posted in Community Conversations 2 30
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I’m getting married this September and am still on the fence about changing my last name. Based on traditions in the States, it's "normal" to change last names and I would never think twice about it; however, from my fiancé’s cultural standpoint, when getting married they do not change their last names. Rather they keep their birth name, consisting of two last names at birth (mothers last name and fathers last name — ie: Jonathan Smith Jones, no hyphen).


Both his parents and siblings find it incredibly odd if I were to take his name. My fiancé doesn't care, and is only urging me not to in order to save the headaches/money for having to go through the name change process (which is not super helpful lol).


Any one else run into a similar, cultural name change conundrum? Any advice as to why you did or did not change you last name? Help!!

30 Comments

  • Melle
    Rockstar June 2019
    Melle ·
    • Flag

    I didn't have any cultural name change conundrums but i chose to keep my name as is - mostly because it didn't seem to make sense for me to change mine to his since the differences were so small. it was like going from Pan to Tan. and then i have a middle name already so i didn't want to put my last name as my middle name and i didn't want to hyphen because Pan-Tan sounded weird. so in the end i just kept my name as is.

    • Reply
  • A
    Super February 2020
    Andrea ·
    • Flag
    I decided not to switch just because of the hassle. My husbands brother always gives me grief for not changing my name, but it’s my identity so I would rather keep it. It’s completely up to you how you want to be called!
    • Reply
  • T
    Devoted May 2021
    Trinity ·
    • Flag
    Hello,
    I am also debating on this. In my culture, we seldom change our last name. My mom kept hers when she got married. My dad is upset when I brought up the idea of changing my last name. However, my fiancé wants me to take his last name. I want to take his last name because I like to follow the American culture.
    • Reply
  • Elizabeth
    Rockstar June 2021
    Elizabeth ·
    • Flag

    It's normal in both of our families to change your name entirely, but I'm going to take them as two unhyphenated last names. I plan to use both legally, but lean towards my maiden name professionally and my married name personally.

    • Reply
  • Mrs. S
    Super November 2019
    Mrs. S ·
    • Flag
    I changed my name because I want to have the same last name as my children and I want to feel more united to my husband. My maiden name is now my middle name. I grew up with my mom having a different last name as me and it made things very awkward for me. I think you should make the decision that’s right for you and not base it off his parents’ or siblings’ opinions. It’s really not much of a hassle and doesn’t cost much. I think changing my passport was the only thing that put me out a little bit, but completely worth it.
    • Reply
  • C
    Dedicated June 2021
    Christina ·
    • Flag
    At first I wasn’t even considering changing my name. Then, I was all excited about simply adding his name so that I had two last names, unhyphenated. I already have a middle name that I like and I like my connection to my heritage with my current last name. Then I discovered that of all the options I and my fiancé would have, of how to change both, either, or, our middle names in California, choosing to add his name, unhyphenated, is NOT one of the options. So I was really disappointed. I could always go through the courts if I wanted, but that just doesn’t fit with what I want. So it’s either hyphenating or keeping my last name. I am not considering simply taking his because 1. I’ve had my name for almost 44 years and I’m used to it, 2. I want to maintain cultural connection, and 3. His sister has almost the same first name that I do so neither he, nor I feel that it would be a good idea. He can take mine if he wishes.
    • Reply
  • Anna
    Super October 2020
    Anna ·
    • Flag
    I think it’s up to you. My culture it’s tradition for the bride to drop her middle name and take her husband’s name while her maiden becomes the middle. I’m choosing to keep my middle and last as middle names and take my husband’s last name as my last name. As a pp said, I want to have the same last name as my children and it’s not either of our culture to give children 2 last names and it still throws off medical and school offices because they don’t understand it.
    • Reply
  • Brenda
    Savvy January 2021
    Brenda ·
    • Flag
    I’m on the fence as well. I’m puertorican and as many Hispanic cultures we used both of our parents last names. I honestly think is beautiful to honor both families and see the transition in last names as the family expands. My fiancé is American and I know he would like if I change my last name, but he says that ultimately it’s my decision and he’ll support it. If anything I’ll get it hyphenated, but I’m definitely not sold on it.



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  • Samantha
    Devoted July 2020
    Samantha ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    Lol I went to a wedding two years ago and the bride was changing her last name from from Maloney to Mahoney.
    • Reply
  • Samantha
    Devoted July 2020
    Samantha ·
    • Flag
    It wasn't cultural, but I'm sad about changing my last name. I'm proud of my last name and our family history, but my fiance really wants me to change it and I'm a teacher, so his last name is going to be SO MUCH easier for my students (and my colleagues). Lol.
    • Reply
  • Kimberly
    Expert March 2021
    Kimberly ·
    • Flag
    I don’t have any cultural conundrum to deal with, but I am struggling to decide on this myself. I originally said I wouldn’t change my name because I have an 8 year old daughter and it’s always been just me and her. She is so proud of the fact that we have so much in common and one of those things is our last name. She looks just like me, same eyes, hair color, basically my little mini me. I didn’t want to have a different last name than her.
    But the more I’ve thought about it I do want to share my FH’s last name. So basically I just don’t know. I’ve toyed with the idea of hyphenating my name but it would be long. I just don’t know.
    So all I can say to you is good luck!
    • Reply
  • Alisa
    Devoted August 2020
    Alisa ·
    • Flag

    No cultural issues but i will be adding his last name to mine with no hyphen

    • Reply
  • A
    Expert October 2021
    Ashley ·
    • Flag

    I don't have a cultural issue, but I do have a personal belief one. I don't believe in the changing of the last name. I've actually written papers on how much I don't believe in it and hate the sexist expectation that the woman will change her name because her identity matters less (among other reasons, of course). I also don't believe in a woman being defined by Ms. Miss and Mrs. while men are just Mr.. All of these things stem from such outdated, sexist rules and norms from women being property and just add to a slew of other issues. I could keep going, but I'll spare everyone from having to read it.

    You have to do whatever is best for you. It's your identity. If you choose to change it, it should be because you want to, not because of some societal expectation. No one has to live with that decision except for you, so it has to be something that you will be happy with in the end. It's such a personal thing because it is a change to your identity.

    • Reply
  • Rebecca
    Rockstar August 2019
    Rebecca ·
    • Flag

    I didn't change my name at all.

    DH didn't blink - his mom never changed her name (it's also an awesome name), and so he didn't remotely expect it. Plus, we're both in the arts, and have resumes established with our respective names.

    The social expectation that you change your name is really disappearing. Among my friends, I'd say it's half/half, now, as to women changing their names or not. A lot of the change is more because they like their spouse's name better than their old one, and less because it's "expected".

    • Reply
  • Pirate & 60s Bride
    Champion March 2017
    Pirate & 60s Bride ·
    • Flag
    I kept mine. I have professional publications under my name. Perhaps when I retire eventually I’ll change it. That could be fun.
    • Reply
  • Reena
    Expert February 2021
    Reena ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    I just want to say you rock! I have a doctorate that I worked hard to achieve. It drives me insane when I get addressed with formal envelopes from family as Miss.


    I also agree that you need to do what makes you happy. Have you two discussed the last names for future children? Will they just have his last name or a combo with your name?
    • Reply
  • Naikesha
    Rockstar September 2020
    Naikesha ·
    • Flag

    No cultural conditions here I have decided to hyphenate but still use my last name for work purposes. we aren't having any kids.

    • Reply
  • J
    Master 0000
    Judith Online ·
    • Flag
    I have kept my mother's family name, as is customary in one of our 2 background cultures. Growing up in US, My parents were angry that depending on how or where they entered, immigration or the military messed with first names they thought did not sound "American" though language in fact indigenous to US and Canada long before English, on one side. And changed some, in their 20's-40's to father's names from birth registrations, though all their lives their birth certificate names were mom's. Some official respected any name that was on a birth certificate. My brothers and sisters have one of two names, never a real problem. My mom kept hers at marriage, and I and most sisters ( except 1). Simply, as liberated women, our choice. Some of our kids bear my husband's name, some mine. Schools, friends, all know we are a family.
    • Reply
  • Courtney
    Super September 2019
    Courtney ·
    • Flag
    I don’t have a cultural view on changing names but I would encourage you to do what YOU want to do. I know it’s the opposite of a “typical American” situation where a husband may be encouraging a wife to change to his name but I don’t think your husband should be trying to pressure you to not change your name either. It’s your business what you want your name to be and if you’d like to share the same name as him that’s a personal decision. If you don’t want to change your name, that’s fine too. In the same way you shouldn’t project your culture onto your husbands personal decisions he shouldn’t project his onto you. Go with the name that makes you happy! I think in many circles the assumption that a woman changes her name is lessening - usually when people get married I ask what the couple is doing in regards to names (men can change too), I don’t assume one way or another.
    • Reply
  • Jay
    Savvy September 2021
    Jay ·
    • Flag

    I am not changing my name, and I've known that since I was a kid. My name is very long and Italian, and I love it! On top of that, my mom didn't change her name, and several of my best friends' moms didn't change their names. That being said, my partner was a bit taken aback when this came up--every married woman he knows has changed her name! We ultimately discussed all the options other than me changing my name (including that he could take my name, something I don't often see!) but we decided to both keep our names as is.

    I'm very lucky in that I know a wide variety of couples that have chosen to do very different things. I am very much of the opinion that you should do what you want, and ignore all tradition for what makes you happy. I do, as someone said above, feel a woman changing her name comes from a very sexist place, but I hope we eventually have a world where every person can do whatever they want with their surnames without any connotations.

    Just to give some ideas, I know:

    - Many couples where no one changed their surnames. For all of these, any kids were given one spouse's surname.

    - One couple who kept their surnames and have two kids, each with a different surname.

    - Several LGBTQIA+ couples where one partner changed their name to the other person's.

    - Several couples where they chose to hyphenate.

    - One couple who combined their given surnames into a new surname.

    - Plenty of straight couples where the woman did choose to change her name.



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