Mr. and Mrs. ?

married nameA recent Facebook study showed that a third of married women in their twenties decided against adopting the surnames of their husbands, compared to the majority of those in their sixties, according to a new study.  It also found 62 per cent of married women in their twenties took on their spouse’s surname, while 74 per cent did in their thirties and 88 per cent did in their sixties. More younger women are embracing feminism today than ever before.

When I got married, my husband and I talked about changing my last name, but I resisted at first.  I felt that professionally it would be akin to death.  In addition, when someone from across the room called me with my new name, I wouldn’t answer.  It didn’t feel like me. I wasn’t who I was, who I’d been for the 31 years prior to getting married.  It felt alienating.

But I could tell it meant a lot to him, so it didn’t settle well, and I wanted to find a happy medium.

When we’d travel, I ‘d have to take my marriage license.  Quite often, my husband would unintentionally book me using his name but all my documents remained in my maiden name.  It was hugely confusing, and I think that one flight to the UK actually caused problems for me and I was nearly not allowed to board the plane.  Today there is no way they’d let me board the plane with any name confusion.

I kept my driver’s license and passport under my maiden name, as well as my email address. Why should I have to be the one to change everything? It just didn’t sit right with me.

So I waited until we had kids to deal with it.  Then I thought to myself, this might get complicated if I had one name and everyone in my immediate family all had another, so I gave in and changed my name, purposely leaving my maiden name in the middle to ease the name flow. I wanted to keep my maiden name in the mix. Professionally, it would be easier for colleagues to keep up with me, as well. Personally,  it was the only identity I’d known.

But sometimes having two surnames gets confusing….particularly because I left my email in my maiden name.  Whenever I book tickets or RSVP using my email, I get booked under in my maiden name and I never know what name to give.

I’d like to think that in 2013 women have come a LONG way.  So much has changed since Betty Frieidan started speaking out for women 40 years ago. Marriage is more about equality than ever before and relationships are 50/50.  A woman should be able to keep her name, or take her new one as she pleases.  It all goes back to personal choice, along with everything else in life.  Women have a choice about everything today, and what we want to call falls right in line with all our decision making.

I embraced feminism in my own way.

So, if you are wondering what to call me, it’s Holly Rosen Fink. Holly Rosen works, too.  So does Holly Fink.

What did you do?  Did you take your spouse’s name or keep your maiden name?

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  1. Add Facebook in to the picture and you never know if someone’s real last name is the same name as on their FB page (because women are often shown with their maiden names displayed too, whether or not they double upped.) I have my own story — that’s too long for this space — about how I ended up taking my husband’s last name after our kids were born. But I will say after more than ten years of marriage, whatever is EASIEST trumps any feminist notion I may have once possessed on the matter. 😉

  2. It kind of drives me crazy that the phrase “maiden name” still exists. Since plenty of men are changing their names too, I’d love to get “given name” into more general practice. Oh, for the record I hyphenated shortly before having a baby. My kids think it’s interesting, and I like that I’m showing them this example. My hubby has always been fine with whatever name I chose (although he couldn’t imagine changing his name, grrrr). It’s complicated, but I love it!

  3. One more comment. Since my byline was Estelle Sobel, I figured it would be professionally preferable to keep it in the mix as well.

    • Makes perfect sense, Estelle. Thanks for thinking of me with my maiden name right in there. I don’t even mind when people think my full name is Holly Rosen. That’s who I’ve always been.

  4. I am Estelle Sobel Erasmus. I legally made my maiden name my middle name, mainly because I never liked my middle name (no, I won’t say what it was), and because I wanted to honor my dad that way, because he has two daughters. Holly, I always think of you as Holly Rosen Fink.

  5. I took my husband’s name because I liked it way better than my maiden name. 🙂 Also, I was barely a year out of college, so I hadn’t established much of a professional life as it was then…

  6. I changed my name, dropping my old middle name and replacing it with my old last name. However, I never used to emphasize my maiden name much, and now I regret that. Seeing how it’s used on facebook makes me wish I’d kept my middle name as something more prominent. I’m going to have something published soon, and plan to use all three names then.

  7. Sherry Carr-Smith says

    I hyphenated twice! The first time I was very young (only 20 when I married), and I was the last of the grandkids with my wonderful grandfather’s last name. The second time I married, I was 33 and well-established in my career, so I felt that keeping my maiden name and hyphenating again would help with any confusion. To add even more crazy to the name mix in our household, my husband and our second son have just his last name, I have my hyphenated name, and our older son has a hyphenated name as well (my first husband, his biological father, died when he was a baby; so when my husband adopted him, he got both of his fathers’ names). I’m sure the US Postal Service hates us.

  8. Glamamom says

    I did not. Pretty much for the same reasons you outlined. Jill Seiman shouldn’t cease to exist bc I got married. I had a long list of contacts and accomplishments and it just didn’t feel right. I have yet to run into any problems. Institutions are used to it now. The only thing I worry about is that my sons will one day be confused or disappointed that I have a different name then them.

  9. I changed my name when I got married and changed it back after the divorce. I’d do away with them altogether if I could just for this reason. I’m not bitter, just confused.


    • The Culture Mom says

      My mom meant to get rid of her married name after her divorce but for some reason hasn’t found the courage.

  10. Christine says

    I kept my name because I felt like marriage wasn’t going to change who I was (I was wrong but whatever.) I also thought my parents would be pleased but they address all my mail to Christine Feldman anyway…whoever that is. I kind of think it doesn’t matter. It’s just a name. My kids have never questioned it. For that I’m grateful. I wouldn’t want it to be confusing for them. It doesn’t appear to be.

  11. I took my husband’s name (because as you stated) when I eventually had kids, I wanted us all to have one family name. I also knew that if I didn’t, all my kids’ friends would call me by my kids’ last name, regardless of what my name really was. In addition, although I’m a feminist I wasn’t opposed to taking my husband’s name because technically “my” name was really “my father’s” name to begin with. I have friends that have not changed their name & they’re quite happy. I also have friends that have changed their names, personally, but kept their maiden names, professionally, which is nice – but I always think of that as a celebrity thing. 🙂

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