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My Finace Wants me to Change my Name, But I Don't Want to!

You Asked: What's in a Name Anyway?

Dear Sugar,

I'm getting married in four months. My fiancé and I have been in a bit of a tussle over the past year regarding what to do with my last name. I have no desire to change it for a number of reasons like the fact that his name always gets mispronounced in a derogatory fashion, and my first and last names go so well together. I'm a scientist with multiple publications under my last name, and I really want to maintain my own identity, both personally and professionally. I finally decided I would be the bigger person in this situation and compromise. I offered to hyphenate my name, but my fiancé has made it very clear that this still isn't good enough.
We recently received an email from our band leader with a list of questions related to the music at the wedding, and among them, we were asked how we wanted to be introduced when walking into the reception. I just put down our first names and when he saw this, he threw a fit. He said we need to be introduced as The "HisLastNames." He has picked multiple fights over this lately and I really don't know what to do. I'm concerned that if we are introduced as Mr & Mrs HisLastName, it will set precedence for everyone to call me Mrs. HisLastName for the rest of my life. Am I being too stubborn here and should I just give in and agree to change my name altogether? I don't want to start the marriage off on the wrong foot, but it really upsets me that he refuses to take my point of view into consideration. It makes me feel like I am his personal property and when I bring this up to him, he just gets angry. Am I the one being out of line here, or is there some way to help him understand my side so we can reach an agreement?
— Maiden Name Nancy

To see Dear Sugar's answer

Dear Maiden Name Nancy,

Changing your name is a very personal decision and while it's traditional to do so, it's not by any means mandatory. You're fiancé sounds very old-fashioned and while I'm sure it's his ideal to have your name be Mrs. HisLastName, people keep their maiden names all the time for reasons just like yours, work being the most common one. Have you considered changing your name personally but not professionally? Or what about changing your middle name to your maiden name?

I don't think you're being out of line for standing your ground, but I do think you should both take a step back and look at each other's points of view. Since you both feel so strongly, one of you is going to have to compromise here. Planning a wedding is hard enough as it is, so if you can't come to a middle ground, perhaps you should put off this decision until after the wedding — you never know if one of you could have a change of heart. And if you decide to be introduced as Mr. and Mrs. HisLastName on your wedding night that doesnt mean you've "caved" per se, it might just mean your excited to be the new wife of your new husband. I hope I was of some help, and good luck.


Join The Conversation
Janine22 Janine22 9 years
Wow, I have to tell you that I think he sound very selfish, sexist and uncompromising. I am not planning on changing my name when I marry, it is a personal choice. Imagine if the roles were reversed-as IF men would ever change their names for us! Your name is your name, it is a part of your identity and a part of who you are. I think it is very sexist and selfish of your fiance to assume this is what you must do. Keep your name, it is your choice, not his and he has no right to be offended by your personal decision.
tinyspark tinyspark 9 years
Tell him to stop being a tool and take YOUR name!
Phunkometry Phunkometry 9 years
I can see what everyone is saying. It is pretty outdated, and with her her publication record, she has reason to not want to change it, besides the fact that she's not his property. But for a whole lot of people, it's not even a question, you know? It's just... what people do! And outgrowing thousands of years of tradition is very hard, especially if the tradition is generally seen as being harmless; people tend to not put as much thought into such things as the intelligent and complex Sugar ladies do. So for those reasons, I don't think he is a sexist pig like some have implied. I don't think the deejay's announcement at the wedding should be such a big deal, mainly for all the reasons that others have said (no. 1 being that people are going to call you that anyway, especially that night, and it'll probably be much easier to get used to it than to correct everyone every time--especially members of the older generations). Maybe he doesn't really understand the extent to which changing your name legally could affect your career so much? I don't know. Try giving him specific examples of people you know who have been screwed over a lot because of this. And really let him know that it's just for this reason that you don't want to do it, rather than because you're rejecting him and/or his family. I think bringing up the fact that "people make fun of your name" and "but my first and last name go so well together!" might have made him defensive. If you didn't bring that up, and you explained to him fully and repeatedly your science situation (give him plenty of evidence to support your theory! ho ho! science! sorry), and he still doesn't understand, well, then, I don't know what to tell you. Also, I've said a lot, but I'm not sure I've said anything. I shouldn't leave comments at 2 in the morning.
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 9 years
There is no damn compromise when only one person is sticking their neck out. Julie, don't do it. I don't see where he's 'sacrificing' a damn thing.
minaminamina minaminamina 9 years
Any professional woman with publications and the like to her maiden name has the right to keep her maiden name - I say, let them announce it at the wedding, and utilize it socially, but in your professional life, it seems a bit outdated to take your husband's name.
lickety-split lickety-split 9 years
i think it's crazy that in this day and age this is even still an argument. and as for compromise, bs on that! it's her name that has to change at all. i changed my name when i got married for 2 reasons; 1) i was new to the area so no one knew me by any name and 2) my now dh and my parents and inlaws were really putting the screws to me. i wish i had stood my ground and kept my name. and as far as kids having different names than the parents, so what? does it change anything as far as what makes a family? if people are confused as to who is in your family then they probably aren't very important to you. if they were they would know you well enough to know who's name was what. i hope my girls don't feel pressured to change their names and that it's just their choice.
kkhh kkhh 9 years
I personally feel that hyphenating your name, and him keeping his, is NOT A COMPROMISE! He's still keeping the name he grew up with, and you are still forced to go through the hassle of changing yours. I think your fiance has a serious problem putting himself in your shoes. If he is very attached to his family name, why should you be any different? It isn't his choice to make, but I don't think he recognizes that. My fiance and I have had the same scuffle, although ours is relatively minor. He recognizes that it is my choice to make, and since he doesn't want to change his name, he shouldn't try to pressure me to change mine. A true compromise is the one suggested earlier- both of you hyphenate your names, or make up a new one. If only one of you changes, it isn't meeting halfway!
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 9 years
Don't change your name, you don't want to, and it isn't professionally a good idea as you've explained! Even socially, I just don't see the big deal of having your own last name. When I was younger, my friend's mom was a scientist. She went by Mrs. Herlastname. His dad went by Mr. Hislastname. I thought of them as the Hislastnames, but it wasn't awkward at all to call them by their own names. I like the idea of being introduced by your first names as far as the wedding day goes, but for yet ONE more option you could compromise and go by "And now here's the Hislastnames!" That way, you aren't being directly called Mrs.Hislastname, and people can ask you about it later and you can explain. Someone else mentioned that as far as the wedding day goes, you are probably picking out EVERYTHING, so maybe this is one thing you can compromise on with your fiance. Maybe that is his real issue? I hope so, because it would make me really sad if he can't understand where you are coming from about using your name when you are married! Good luck!!!
fadeastride fadeastride 9 years
My mom has been married twice- her first husband (whom she divorced) and my father (whom she is still married to). For her first husband, she hyphenated her name. When she married my dad, she kept her maiden name. She says she was an Osburn long before she met my father and it's suited her just fine. Various women she has encountered have been a little snide to her for not taking my dad's last name (one even said something about, "well, in the Biblical sense...." to which my mom was like, "Yeah, I am not his property, thanks.") I knew a boy when I was younger who insisted on calling her Mrs. MyDad'sName and it made her so mad because, even after she asked him *not* to call her that because it was *not* her name, he did it anyways. The only reason I would consider changing my name when I get married is because I have my dad's last name and I don't like most of my family on that side and, thus, don't necessarily want to be associated with some of them. Other than that, I like my name. It's who I've been my whole life. Why do *I* have to give up a chunk of my identity when my husband wouldn't? How about hell no? That is such patriarchal b.s. I've read enough anthropology stuff to know how much changing names can actually affect women. In some places, when women marry and take their husbands name, they are no longer considered members of their birth family. However, they are never considered full members of the family they married into, essentially leaving them without a real family. But yeah. In the end, it comes down to the fact that it's your name. If you don't want to change your name, then it just sucks to be him. He needs to chill. You're marrying him, so obviously you care, why do you have to "prove" it or something by changing your name?
marcella marcella 9 years
TheMissus -- you rock. I am not changing my name either. Screw that!
mlen mlen 9 years
my friend just got married and she changed her middle name to her maiden name and too his last name. so when she says her name to people she either says her name and his last name or her name, her maiden name, his last name all as one. she likes it cause she keeps her name but also took his. now because of her last name she had one heck of a time explaining this to the dmv lady lol it took her like 20 minutes to make her understand what she wanted to do- but most people wouldn't have that trouble!
DCRoamer DCRoamer 9 years
TheMissus - that is a pretty bold move (sending the Christmas card back because she deigned to address you as Mr and Mrs Whatever). I can't imagine that went over well.
TheMissus TheMissus 9 years
I think if you want to keep your last name, STICK TO YOUR GUNS. Really, how insecure of a man is he if he won't compromise with you on this? I made it clear to my husband way before he even proposed that "I ain't-a-changin'-mah-name"... And he was perfectly fine with it. And the moment anyone danes to call me "Mrs. Newman", they get their butts corrected. His mother had the AUDACITY to send us a Christmas card with "Mr. & Mrs. (HUSBAND'S FIRST NAME) Newman" on the front of it. I returned the card to sender. I have a first name. And a last one. And I plan to keep it that way till I die. I have NO PROBLEM with people who do change their last name's... But I expect the same courtesy from people about me NOT changing my last name.
kikidawn kikidawn 9 years
Hi, I know you have already responded back to the other posters, but I just wanted to say one thing. I really don't think waiting until after your married to settle this is a good idea. It could cause a lot of problems and I really think it should be solved before getting married. ** But that is just my opinion ** I totally get where you are coming from though. I am not sure if I want to change my name or not... but my b/f definitely wants me to, but he is not as adamant about it as your fiance is. I think our solution will be me hyphenate, him keep his name, and our kids have his name (no question there.. he is the only son of an only son and I have two older brothers... one with 2 boys) Oh and just wondering to the people who have said that in their culture they don't change their last names... I totally respect that but whose last name do you have? Your fathers or mothers? and whose last name do your children get? Yours or your husbands?
sass317 sass317 9 years
Honestly, it wasnt that big of a deal to get my name changed on everything, you can buy a kit online that gives you a check list and forms for things like passports and stuff like that. A lot of it just takes a phone call, like credit cards and such. I say stall, your both going to be so busy anyway- obviously you can still be Mrs. yourlastname- that would let people know that you are in fact married, even if you dont take his last name right now (or ever). You have perfectly valid reasons for not wanting to change your name. My aunt just got remarried (she is in her 50's) and kept her maiden name- her first marriage she took his name- pretty sure it was for professional reasons, but it doesnt bother her that she gets mail addressed to Mr and Mrs Hislastname
angelbaby2 angelbaby2 9 years
he is not going to drop that matter-trust-perhaps you should drop him.
smp7328 smp7328 9 years
I totally agree with lizzie_ttu.
bransugar79 bransugar79 9 years
I have to say that I have always been a "change your name you married him" kind of girl until I started thinking about how hard it is going to be when I get married in a few months to just up and change the name I've had for the last 20 something years. So far the only thing I can think of is hyphenating for a while to give myself a chance to get used to the new name and then slowly letting it change to his last name. maybe you could suggest soemthing like that to your fiance. Maybe he'll feel better about it if he can see that it's not about you not wanting to identify yourself with him.
lily3484 lily3484 9 years
If I were you, I dont see any reason why you cant go along with your comprise both personally and professionally. On the wedding day, if it really means a lot to your fiance, I would give in to being introduced with his last name. Im sure your wedding day is designed mainly around how YOU want your day to be. If this one small thing would make him feel better, why not. I really doubt that your guests are going to hold you to that based solely on the wedding introduction.
bastille_75 bastille_75 9 years
I have a friend in a similar situation - she went ahead and kept her name legally and professionally. However, when it comes to all other situation (as with the kids' school, etc) she is known as Mrs. Soandso. She and her hubby have been happily married for over 15 years and this has never been an issue to them. Good Luck!!
geebers geebers 9 years
Sorry I posted while you were posting! Good idea about just letting it go for a bit. Im sorry your fiance is not compromising. I dont know how I would feel with a man who refused to compromise on something like this. I truly hope he isnt going to behave the same as future issues come up for your sake.
geebers geebers 9 years
As someone who works in a research field- I have heard exactly what has been suggested. You keep your maiden name professionally but personally go by your husband. OR hyphenate so it is clear you are the same person. In my opinion, it is interesting how unrelenting your fiance is about what I think is really a personal choice for a female. Let him know you are not rejecting him but professionally it is important for your career to have your own last name. You agreed to marry him because you love him -not because you want his last name.
julieulie julieulie 9 years
I just wanted to thank everyone for suggestions thus far (I could care less about the whole anonymity thing... and people have already guessed it was me anyway since there aren't that many female scientists on this site). I'm not worried about the future -- I was really shocked when this whole name situation disaster occurred, since my fiance has never been controlling or chauvinistic or anything of the sort in the past. He just really wants me to take his name because he likes the idea of a cohesive family unit. I offered to hyphenate my name figuring his would at least be in there, but he's not pleased with the situation (I also pointed out the fact that we could both hyphenate our names, or pick a new name, but he has no interest; I think he feels attached to his name because his father passed away when he was very young). If I was in any other field, I would go the route of changing my name legally but not professionally, but facin8me pointed out the exact reason why I can't. This happened to someone I know -- changed the name legally, kept her maiden name professionally, and when someone invited her to a conference to speak, they made the plane reservations under the name she uses in science. Everything was done last minute and she was just supposed to pick up the tickets at the airport and it never dawned on her that the name on the tickets did not match the name on the passport, and she couldn't get on the flight. I've tried explaining the desire to not change my name due to publications to my fiance, but he just doesn't understand... I really think that if you're not directly in science, you don't understand the ties. Out of the women I work with, a HUGE majority have maintained their maiden names, a handful have hyphenated, and really the only ones I know that changed their names were all married while in graduate school and didn't have a publication record (I'm still in grad school too, but I do have some prior publications from undergrad research and my first year of grad school, plus more in the pipeline). I think I'm going to wind up just doing what DearSugar suggested and not worrying about it until after the wedding. Truthfully, after we're married, we'll wind up living apart for a few years while he completes the next part of his residency and I'm finishing my degree, and we'll both be SO busy and working so many hours that even if I wanted to change my name, I don't think I'd have time to run around to all the proper offices to do it anyway. And then after so many years of not changing it, maybe he'll drop it altogether. :)
Sun_Sun Sun_Sun 9 years
on rare occasions if we meet someone who doesnt know me but knows my husband, they;ll just refer to me as Madame or Mrs. HisLastName....thats just fine
Sun_Sun Sun_Sun 9 years
its a personal choice, no? in my culture, the wife doesnt take her husbands last name. basically, i am from "myLastName" family and marrying him doesnt change my family. and im very happy about that. im me and thats my name, i would hate to change it. i love my husband to bits and pieces, but i dont think taking his name would prove that. and at my wedding we were introduced by our first names, without prior planning even.
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