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It is fall in New York, and I am at City Hall with my soon-to-be husband applying for a marriage license. There are considerable advantages to sharing a tribal affiliation thata€™s authorized by law. My husband and I settle into married life and move to the country where we welcome a daughter. And with that posse we begin years of travel: through Europe, across India, into Asia and Africa. As a child, I loathed my first name, wishing with all my heart that my parents had chosen instead to call me Francine. I changed my name after getting married as my maiden name was long, hard for people to spell and pronounce. All of us hold surnames, but in the end, they’re little more than fleeting totems of identification, perhaps more migratory than meaningful, uncoupled to who and what we really are. My own father spent ten years addressing me through snail mail by my husband's name – a name I did not take. If you are in the working world and have any kind of professional commendations associated with your birth name, you may have reason to think twice about changing your name. A reason women change their last names after marriage now is to show a strong sense of family unity.
Changing your last name take a lot of effort legally, so be sure you ask yourself the 5 questions listed above before you make a final decision about changing your last name.
There are legal forms to locate and sign, Social Security documents to notarize, a birth certificate to find and costs at every stage of the process. When I graduated from college, I worked briefly as a soap-opera writer; my favorite task was naming villains, which I did by matching them to the names of my ex-boyfriends. When I was about 8 years old, I earnestly lobbied for a name change with my father, approaching him with cautious optimism one day to ask if he’d ever wanted to change his own name, and if so, to what? I did not keep my name because it was dying out — it was Peter's duty to keep it alive, not mine.
Even though it is now more socially accepted for a woman to keep her maiden name, fewer brides choose to do so. Some brides decide to use their married name legally and their maiden names professionally to keep their achievements associated with their name. Threatened by the concept of being smothered by her husband and sacrificing her own preferences, a bride kept her maiden name to make a strong statement to her husband and the rest of the world – she is an individual first, than a wife. But if his name is significantly more complicated than your maiden name or if your new name would sound like a middle school torture (i.e.
How will people know your kids are yours?”Keeping my maiden name after marriage was practically unheard of in my home state of Louisiana.

Misspellings are my new normal, with egregious consequences (banking woes, billing errors) at once aggravating and all too frequent. When we travel we maneuver as a team, bound by the oddly conventional yet curiously reassuring nomenclature of our mutual surname.
To the banks and the attorney, the hospice nurses, the probate court, and to the almost comically obsequious funeral director, I am his authorized representative. Although I consider myself fairly well-educated, it takes me hours of research and multiple calls to my lawyer to even begin to assess how this is done. In our studio and in our family, I have since been responsible for naming everything from children to projects to pets—the last a category that affords me both great personal pleasure and considerable creative latitude. He was in the business world and back then, pre-Internet, this meant he could be gone for weeks at a time.
The trend changed with the rise as feminism throughout the in the 80s and 90s where 80% of women changed their last names after getting married. Have you accomplished something professional that is important to you and will be hard to connect to you if you change your last name?
Now, many women feel that their identity is expressed in other ways and feel a name change is less significant of an individual expression.
Also, your future children, who will no doubt be embarrassed by you for something or another, may have to explain to their friends why your last name is different than their father’s if it is. For nine months he was a part of me, and now that he is actually here, I can’t quite process the idea of any physical distance between us.
There are, I soon find, considerable advantages to sharing a tribal affiliation that’s authorized by law.
I am his designated driver, his tireless protector, his primary caregiver and proxy in all things and throughout it all, each of my names is invoked interchangeably as I manage bills, shuttle pills, volley calls, and transmit information. Their resilience remains a beacon of wonder to me, a testament to their independence, their spirit, their inner grace. My mother ran the household, managed the children, and even wore a frilly apron while greeting him after work with a Dewar's on the rocks. Thanks to the GI Bill, he had the privilege of attending college, which would otherwise have been inaccessible. Is your maiden name an important part of your identity or do you feel your individuality is expressed in other ways? Do you think a family is more unified when all members have the same last name than a family where the members have different last names? Not one for conventional ideas, I decided long before I met my husband that I wouldn’t change my name after taking my marriage vows.When I told my husband I was writing about our different surnames, he laughed. The concept of my husband and child sharing a name that excludes me strikes me as a violation of something deeply primal (newly-minted motherhood makes me ferocious on this topic), but letting go of my own name seems equally if not more vexing.

The children laugh about it, too, but I am not laughing, and three weeks later, we receive an unthinkable diagnosis. After his death, I inherit the work of both of us: selling our house, sorting our finances, running our businesses, and continuing the work of raising our children who are blossoming tall, strong, and independent, with voices and visions of their own, futures to build with their own partners, decisions to make, lives to lead, and names to change only if they choose to do so.
But I am committed to simplifying everything now, and restoring my nonhyphenated name feels at once overdue and necessary. My wordsmith mother, as it happened, was an ace at this exercise: She once proposed Auntie Em for a pediatric anti-emetic (or anti-nausea) drug. Watching them, I’m reclaiming of a kind of centripetal force, slow and steady and strong.
I begin to see my married name as keenly adjudicated, evidence not so much of a submerged identity as a deliberate gesture that expresses itself through solidarity with my kids—who are, after all, my posse of choice. Ours continues to be a series of odysseys, mercurial and mysterious, alternately joyful and painful. I am hormonal and sleep-deprived and incapable of thinking clearly: not of my own personhood or ego, not about the hard-won victories of my feminist forebears, not about the thorny repercussions of an antediluvian marital custom, not even about the potential consequences of divesting myself of my own pre-existing personal and professional ambitions. We are bound not so much not by our names as by our experiences, united by love, not duty; by agency, not the alphabet.
Felled by loss, we spin out like tumbleweed, gathering air, changing shape, rebounding as we go. My name is not O'Connell," he responded, "Well, how the hell am I supposed to address you?" I knew he was traditional, but I thought this would be the exception.
As immigrants, they didn’t want to stand out any more than they already did with their yellow skin, black hair, and small eyes. Our family wouldn’t be the first to adjust their traditional names after coming to the United States.I’m not sure when I decided to keep my surname after I got married. The convention didn’t make sense to me, and I couldn’t see a good reason to take my future husband’s name. That was when I knew our kids wouldn’t stand out because of their hyphenated names.The only time I become frustrated about having a different surname than my husband’s is when the Christmas cards come rolling in.
Now she’s trying to follow her own advice by keeping her buzzy devices hidden from her two young kids.She blogs about the fusion of Asian, African American, and  southern culture in parenting and food at  I’m Not the Nanny.

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