As old as time, it is customary that when a couple decides to tie the knot and commit to a life-long union together, the woman takes the surname of her spouse. However, in this day and age, this tradition is slowly becoming a distant tale as modern adults have been taking a stand to keep their surnames or variations of such.
Now, before you start to argue for or against, you first have to weigh the reasons as to why some women choose to keep their maiden name even if they love their husband till death do they part.
- Women are treated as objects which are now acquired through marriage
Back in the day, women were seen as a conquest, and may still be seen as that by some, but in the past, it was more prominent. The world has definitely changed.
- Women believe that they lose their identity
One’s identity is a big thing to some persons, especially when they have had it for decades, so having to change that, literally or figuratively, may not be as easy.
- The labels of ownership terrify women in light of modern day equality and independence
In a world where women fight for equality and independence, some may believe that all they have sacrificed and the struggles they have endured to get to where they are has been taken away once they get married.
- You don’t want to lose the reputation that you work so hard to maintain or earn
Some women have earned their status in their workplace in society by working for years on end and finally they can be proud of what they have accomplished. However, changing their name may cause them to feel that the person they have been striving for has been stripped away.
- The bond/connection to the family and their father is strong
Family bonds are a big deal to some persons and having their father’s name is like a badge of honor. Therefore, having to change their name is viewed as no longer having the name to bestow to their offspring, so often times you find that mothers give their child a double barrel name.
On the flip side, there are reasons why women opt to take their partner’s name:
The majority of responses alluded to tradition and the cultural norms that women take the surname of the men. However, while they agreed to this, they also stated that it’s either that or they double barrel both names.
- Sign of love and commitment
After the marriage vows are exchanged, the officiator states “I now pronounce you man and wife” and while some believe that they have to sign their love, one such sign is taking the spouses last name.
- Wanting a new start
For whatever reason, some people just want a new start, like a do-over from their previous lives so they start with a new surname to do just that, begin again.
- For official purposes
It is very common for a woman to take the surname of her husband for legal and official purposes. Whether it is because they can be a beneficiary, they receive various benefits (financial, health, social), etc. or for whatever subjective or self-serving reason, some women have no qualms with taking their spouse’s last name.
- The status associated with the name
There seems to be prominence and class rank associated with a person’s name and this is apparent when that person is deemed as popular or renowned within society. As such, to marry into a well-known family would result in the person being well-known as well, so some women happily take their partner’s name so that they can reap the benefits that come with the name.
There may be more reasons, which can be validated, but while women fight against or for taking their husband’s name, what do the men think about women not taking their name?
- It is disrespectful and hurtful
“I am very traditional, and so I would take a woman’s decision not to take my name as a sign of disrespect. It wouldn’t make me love her any less, but I know that I would feel at least a little hurt, and I would definitely try to convince or ask her to reconsider accepting my name, especially for official purposes, even if she was going to keep her father’s name.” – Keith, 38
- The decision of taking the name or not is neither here nor there, as long as the wife is invested in the marriage
“I think many young folks have outgrown the tradition, but as a Christian country, we still embrace it. I personally would like my wife to at least consider a double-barreled name, but it doesn’t really matter in the end what she decides to do as far as a name goes.” – Arnold, 27
- It gives the union more respect rather than being known as cohabiting
“I would want my [wife] to take my name. Although it shouldn’t matter because it is not the name she married; I would just want that. Even though plenty of people don’t say it, but as Mrs. whatever, you get more respect than if people think that you’re just shacking up.” – Omar, 28
- They are fine with using the names interchangeably
“My wife will take my name when we get married, but we spoke and agreed that it will only be used in church and other informal spaces. She has been in her job for 16 years and so she does not want to disrupt that. I am fine with her doing that.” – George, 45
- It’s honestly her decision in the long run
“I will give that option to my wife; whether she wants to take my name or not is really up to her. Her commitment to me and our children, should we have any together, is the only thing that will matter to me.” – Kemar, 34
Whatever the reason is, or is not, we all have our various opinions based on influences from our social circles, family, past relationships, society, own beliefs, or values. Any way you decide, you should still remember that marriage is a union of love which should be upheld to the highest standard that cannot be swayed by the changing of a name.
By Alexandra Daley