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Women still usually change surname on marriage -- why?

ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78559 replies695 threads Senior Member


Seems that even these days in the US, only about 20-30% of women who marry men do not change their surnames. (Very few men who marry women change their surnames.)

Seems odd that the default choice today remains the less convenient one, either from the wife's point of view or the husband's expectation on the subject.

If you were a woman marrying a man, would you want to change your surname?

If you were a man marrying a woman, would you have any expectation regarding your wife changing or not changing her surname?
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Replies to: Women still usually change surname on marriage -- why?

  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29583 replies58 threads Senior Member
    Tradition. As simple as that. But in my circles, it runs about 50-50 these days as to whether a woman takes a husband’s surname. Neither of my SILs took their husbands’ surname and that’s a whole other generation; I took my DH’s. I’ve been to a half dozen weddings this year and half and three brides changed their names.
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  • HarrietMWelschHarrietMWelsch 2525 replies31 threads Senior Member
    edited November 4
    I use my own name for work, but elsewhere I use my husband's. Like others above, I wanted the same name for the kids' school lives. And the upgrade from the end to the middle of the alphabet was very welcome. :smile:
    edited November 4
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  • runnersmomrunnersmom 2211 replies36 threads Senior Member
    I changed my name when I got married 37 years ago, keeping my maiden name as my middle name and sign all legal documents with all three names. My DIL had a significant and public career when she married my son and did not change her name (already hyphenated from her parents!), so she and my GS have different last names. S2 is getting married in the spring and I suspect DIL2 will change her name, though I truly don't care. One of my sisters kept her name and the other hyphenated it - so many options!
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  • EmpireappleEmpireapple 1799 replies26 threads Senior Member
    I used my maiden name professionally until I had my second child. In my personal life I used my married name. Once I had my second child I decided to only use my married name full time. I wanted our family to have just one name. Although legally my name is hyphenated.

    If I were a young bride getting married today I'd only change my name if I liked my spouse's name better than mine! If my dh were to pass on before me, I will change to a different name because I don't really like his (our) last name.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7584 replies61 threads Senior Member
    I would say the majority of my friend circle did not change their names or the whole family uses a hyphenated last name of both.

    I happily changed my name because it was constantly mispronounced and my family of origin sucked. For me, taking my husband’s name was forming my new identity.
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  • techmom99techmom99 3473 replies6 threads Senior Member
    My legal name is my maiden name for work purposes (bar registration) and at SSA. However, my driver's license and passport have my married name on them. I use my married name at home so that my children have consistency. When I began at this job almost 13 years ago, I forgot to tell reception that I have another name. I got home from work the first day and D confronted me - "YOU DONT WORK THERE! I called and asked for Techmom99 (married name) and they have nobody there by that name!" My first name is reasonably common so they probably didn't make the connection. I went and told them after that if anyone called for Techmom99 married name that it was me.

    D just got engaged and she and her fiance are talking about merging their names. It's very cute. Though she did ask us how we felt about her taking his name, to which middle son said, why doesn't he take OUR name?
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  • VeryHappyVeryHappy 18572 replies325 threads Senior Member
    Forty one years ago, I chose not to change my name. My husband's name is difficult to say and difficult to spell, and when paired with my first name it is difficult to pronounce.

    Neither of my DILs has changed her name. Given all the problems with it that I just mentioned, I don't blame them at all.

    I remember it was slightly more difficult when calling the mom of one of my sons' friends' parents -- "Hi, this is Mary Smith; I'm Johnny Jones's mother, and Johnny would like to have a play date with George" -- but I coped, and so can today's young women.
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  • sevmomsevmom 8423 replies56 threads Senior Member
    I did not change my name but used husband's last name most of the time when dealing with son's friends and their families.
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  • conmamaconmama 4343 replies320 threads Senior Member
    I loved changing my name for all the misplaced traditional reasons, I guess. It is also so much easier to say and spell, as my Dad had a foreign last name. I like that the family has the same name. I had a coworker that kept her maiden name, and it became such a hassle as her kids became older, she changed it. I think the turning point was when she had to prove she was the mother once.
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  • sunwalkersunwalker 13 replies0 threads New Member
    20 years ago both my husband and I changed our last names. We wanted our future children to have the same last name as both parents, and for me, I couldn't fathom feeding into the patriarchal structure of taking my husband's last name. It goes against everything I stand for.
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  • walkinghomewalkinghome 7474 replies297 threads Senior Member
    I took my husbands name because it's more common. I was tired of people mispronouncing and misspelling mine. My daughter kept her name but when she had a child, she gave the baby her husbands last name. That was surprisingly hard for me. A consolation was that the baby's middle name is our last name. I think hyphenated names make the most sense, but only if both people use it. I deal with forms a lot and between women keeping their maiden name, divorcing, women only using a hyphenated name, there are lots and lots of kids with different last names. That is confusing if you want to quickly figure out who is related to who.
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  • maya54maya54 2182 replies89 threads Senior Member
    edited November 4
    Like many here I didn’t change my name legally and use the name I was born with at work. I use my husband’s last name at my kids school and with their friends and their families. It’s just simpler that way.

    Because I knew this was likely to happen ( that I’d use whatever their last name was almost everywhere at home)and my husband wanted the kids to have his last name, we made a deal. He could choose their last name and I got to choose their first!
    edited November 4
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  • dietz199dietz199 3628 replies73 threads Senior Member
    edited November 4
    Thirty years ago, I did not change my name. Twenty six years ago my sister did not change her name. Two years ago, my daughter did not change her name. Maybe it runs in families?

    Our children have two middle names - one being my surname. That was very helpful when they were young and I traveled with them internationally - especially after 9/11.

    My surname is difficult to pronounce for most without a similar ethnic background. But it's a heck of a lot of fun to mess with telemarketers and the robo callers. No, you may NOT call me by my first name - you just go right ahead and use my surname when your script calls for 'name of person'.
    edited November 4
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  • mathmommathmom 32457 replies159 threads Senior Member
    I was willing to hyphenate my name if my husband was also will to hypenate. He wasn't and he didn't mind me keeping my name. Since we went off to Germany within a month it was much easier to keep it than to try to figure out how to get passports and credit cards changed without an address. We both have fairly short names that are constantly mispronounced or misspelled.

    Miss Manners once suggested that kids have the mother's name since they tend to deal more with the schools, the doctors and are more likely to have custody in the case of a divorce. We were in Germany when we had our oldest and I think it would have made their heads explode to have given the kids my last name. They had a hard enough time believing we were married with different last names.

    Nearly everyone I knew my age or older kept their names, but for people younger than me it seems the majority have changed their names.
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