Ask BA

November 2, 2011

Is a Last Name Just a Last Name?

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Written for: Communicado Magazine
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So BA:

I’m a traditional kind of woman and continue to believe in the importance of marriage as an institution. Do you think it’s disrespectful for a woman to NOT take her husband’s last name?   KP

So KP:

There are a number of schools of thought on this topic. You’re right – taking a man’s last name after marriage has always been the tradition. But, that was also a time when divorce wasn’t a tradition. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to go back to your maiden name after changing it?

But seriously, it has to be a discussion between the husband and wife, taking into consideration her profession, if they plan to have kids and don’t want any confusion, If her family name is unique or has prestige, how they plan to manage finances…

I’ve talked about independence in a marriage before and stand by that here as well. If a woman feels that she’s been Kim Kardashian her entire life and will continue to be the same person once married, she should own that. And hopefully, Kim Kardashian has found a man who is secure enough to love her as an independent woman with or without his name attached to her. I saw this exact discussion on her reality show… 🙂

Some men just won’t stand for it. That could be a good sign of what you’re getting yourself into. Take note and re-evaluate. I’ve also heard some women equate this to ownership as if the suggestion is that if you take his name, it’s as if he’s branding you like cattle. Future husband: If it comes to something like that, assure her that you don’t think you own her and agree that she should keep her name. Giving her that kind of support wins you BIG points.

And for the women who have chosen to hyphenate – If it rolls off the tongue and doesn’t use up too much of the alphabet, go ahead. This could be the equivalent of the happy medium.

But, the bottom line is this: Like anything else in a healthy relationship, the couple should work this out together. Nothing in a permanent, full-time relationship is a slam-dunk anymore. While this may seem like it’s not such a big deal, let it go unaddressed and see how quickly this matchstick turns into a forest fire…