Last Name Change: Did you do it and why?

Discussion in 'Relationships, Discrimination, and Jealousy' started by Principessa, Dec 3, 2007.

  1. Principessa

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    To Be Safe, Call the Bride by Her First Name
    By ANNA JANE GROSSMAN
    The New York Times - December 2, 2007
    Field Notes


    WHEN Jill Van Camp decided to play catcher in a softball game on the September morning of her wedding, her mother worried that the bride might lose a tooth. Ms. Van Camp, 31, was more concerned about losing her good name. Literally.

    She and Darren Bloch, 33, knew they wanted to spend their lives together, but were unsure how to monogram their towels. So they arranged the game between their respective families and friends, and proclaimed that the winning team would determine which of them would take the other’s name.

    Thanks to hyphens, a vogue toward creative morphing of names, and legislation in some states that has eased the process for a man to take his wife’s surname, there have never been more surname options.

    Claudia Goldin, a Harvard economics professor, and Maria Shim, then a Harvard student, studied various Massachusetts birth records, wedding announcements published in The New York Times and Harvard alumni records for a paper they published in 2004 in the Journal of Economic Perspectives.

    They found that fewer than 4 percent of college-educated brides did not take their husband’s last name in 1975, compared with about 20 percent in 2000.

    But brides, and bridegrooms as well, are learning that with choice comes complication. They are turning what was once an intimate conversation into an interactive dialogue with relatives, friends and even professional consultants.

    When the former Katharine Newberry-Gillin, 25, a manager at a Trader Joe’s food store in Osseo, Minn., was engaged last year to Kyle Sommers, also 25, there were many name-change options. “I was coming face to face with something that I’d always known would be a major issue,” she said. “When I was in school, people always joked about what kids with hyphenated names would do when they got married.”

    She decided to take the name-change question to the polls. At an online voting page she built at SurveyMonkey.com, several dozen friends and family members weighed in on whether she should become just Kate Sommers or Katie Sommerberry-Gillin. Or Katharine Elizabeth Gilnewsom.

    She took the advice of many of her survey-takers and added her new husband’s name to her own name, after subtracting the hyphen. Her legal name is now Katharine Newberry Gillin Sommers — Kate N.G. Sommers, for short.

    The issue of men who want to change their names made news recently when a California man found himself caught in red tape trying to take his wife’s name; he sued the state, claiming gender discrimination. The case was the impetus for legislation, signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in October, that will give married spouses and domestic partners equal rights to change their names beginning January 2009.

    Seven states already recognized a husband’s right to take his wife’s last name upon marriage. They are New York, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts and North Dakota.

    Kate Talbert, 29, a medical student in Los Angeles, went to Indiebride.com two years ago for input about what new name she and her future husband, Brian Denny, 31, should call themselves after their wedding. They had already decided to create a new name, and she needed to figure it out quickly to order the engraved chocolate bars for their wedding guests. “It was nice to have other people to bounce ideas off of,” she said.

    As for her proposed names, “Emerson” made one fellow bride think of “the bald doctor on M*A*S*H.” “Sarana,” said another, would be “difficult to pronounce if someone’s calling you” which might be good, “because you can tell which ones are the telemarketers.”
    In the end, Ms. Talbert and Mr. Denny decided on E.E. Cummings’s middle name, Estlin.

    “I wasn’t hugely attached to my last name,” said the former Mr. Denny, a computer programmer, “and she just couldn’t really see herself as Kate Denny. And taking her name didn’t feel right, either. So we decided to take a new name instead.”

    “My dad might’ve been a little sad, but not really,” he added. “My family is pretty open-minded.”

    Some choose to seek professional assistance when changing their name. Danielle Tate of Potomac, Md., runs the Web site MissNowMrs.com, which can help women go through the legal steps to change their surnames. For $29.95, brides can print out all the necessary papers online — and get Ms. Tate’s candid thoughts on their best options.

    “Women who are only children or who work in a family business usually don’t want to change their name completely,” she said. “It’s a personal choice, but people are hungry for advice, and there’s just not a lot of reference out there.”

    Maryanna Korwitts, a professional name consultant in Naperville, Ill., takes a more academic approach. Ms. Korwitts is a self-described “name-ologist” who has studied calligraphic design; she helps people name businesses and babies and rethink their names before marriage, or after divorce. “All of us recognize that our name is more than just a word or a label, but we’ve never really been educated to understand the energy behind it,” she said.

    When the wedding-day softball game at a resort in Mount Tremper, in upstate New York, finally began, Ms. Van Camp, a social worker in New York City, ended up feeling less in control of the outcome than she thought she would.

    “We both felt a fair amount of hubris about our softball abilities,” said Mr. Bloch, a vice president for external relations at the Empire State Development Corporation in New York City.

    The bride ended up having to leave halfway through so that she could get her hair done. While she was gone, the Bloch team won.
    “So I had to take his name,” said the former Ms. Van Camp — now Mrs. Bloch. “But I’m a good player. I think if I’d been able to play the whole game, he’d be a Van Camp.”

    But the game had the same effect as a shared last name. “It brought our families together,” Mr. Bloch said.


    Questions:
    1) When you had your commitment ceremony, civil ceremony, or wedding did you change your last name? If so, why?
    2) Were your parents or other family members hurt that you changed your name?
    3) If you changed your name, did you hyphenate it, or did you make up a new name which was the combination of both your names?
    4) Do you think it is archaic for either party to change their last name, and think everybody should keep the name they were born with?
     
  2. B_Think_Kink

    B_Think_Kink New Member

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    I think professional are more apt to keep their name I know if I get my masters in my chosen profession I will keep my last name even if I get married.
    Unless of course the guy has a more attractive last name.

    I don't think my parents would care they offered to let me change the spelling of my first name into something more interesting.
     
  3. 36DD

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    I don't have an opinion either way...it's a personal choice.
     
  4. No_Strings

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    I've never partaken any sort of union that would usually require a name change, but if I did I would be more likely to change my own name than keep it, as things stand. I have a fairly long surname that, proving how surprisingly unintelligent the general populace seem to be, many people have trouble spelling and pronouncing it. It's not a difficult word to wrap one's head or tongue around, but the length seems to confuse the literacy skills of common people. :tongue:

    I doubt they would be, as they're not so 'old-fashioned' that it would particularly matter to them. If my parents are bothered about carrying on the family name, I'm the youngest of three male children, so by pure probabilty one of us is likely to keep it and have offspring.

    If I hyphenated names with my current partner, it would be 17 letters long and certainly wouldn't roll off the tongue very easily so it wouldn't really make sense to do that.
    I'm fairly warm to the idea of simply creating an entire new name from scratch; it's how surnames came about originally, after all.

    Not at all. "John, Peter's son" eventually became "John Peterson" in days of old and I don't see how it's any different today if we remove tradition from the equation.
    People should be able to choose whatever name they so desire - if they choose an immature, confusing name then they'll have to live with the consequences and probably deserve it. :rolleyes:
     
  5. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    This is going to be hell on we genealogists... oh man...pure hell.
     
  6. snoozan

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    I took my husband's last name, but I kept my maiden name as my middle name. Part of the reason I took my husband's name is practical-- I wanted to have the same last name as our children to make it easier on us and the rest of the world when he goes to school. The other reason is that my family growing up always felt like a really bad attempt at trying to act like a family and not a pack of hyenas, so by taking my husband's name I made the mental leap towards wiping the slate clean and starting my own family with traditions, rules, and hopefully less harmful dysfunctions. Since he was a professional with an established career and I was working random jobs to get through college, it made sense that he not change his name. As a sort-of young woman, it's frowned upon by some of my peers that I changed my name to my husband's, and I always feel like I have to defend myself for doing it. To be honest, it just felt like the right thing to do.

    If I ever end up divorcing or remarrying, I will most likely keep my last name as it is now so that I have the same name as my son. My mother did the same thing when she got divorced.
     
  7. Principessa

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    I am also interested in how gay men and women handle this.

    When one of my gay friends had their commitment ceremony he legally took the name of his husband and hyphenated it. His dad freaked out about it. His mom was bothered because his dad was bithered but she was basicaly non-plussed.:rolleyes:

    Interestingly enough he didn't come out to his family until he was about 26. At that time his dad was like okay, whatever, you're still my son. His mom however flipped out! She barely said a civil word to him for about 2 years. Not sure what made her see the error of her ways but they are now just as close as they ever were.
     
  8. goodwood

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    Per names -
    Let's be logical about this. Whose name has more cache and will be more useful to all involved in marriage? If my wife's name is more useful to me and our children then let's go with that.
    If the wife likes her name and wants to keep using it then I am all for that.
    If I like my name and care to continue to use it, then I will.
    I have known of many women who like their names for status or business and have kept them after marriage with nothing but encouragement and support from the husbands who don't care what their wives call themselves as long as they are happy together. And I concur.
    If there was some reason that it was imperative that I change my name to my wife's surname I guess I would, but it would have to be a damned good reason.
     
  9. IntoxicatingToxin

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    In all honesty, name changes for me would just depend on the name. I have a very easy last name. It's short and sweet, and easy to spell and pronounce. So if my husband had a very difficult last name, I think it would be cool for him to take mine (or at least allow me to keep mine). However, if I thought my name sounded better with his last name, I might go ahead and take his. I'm not sure how I feel about hyphenated last names, at least not for me. I had a boyfriend once who changed his name after he turned 18. His father had never been in his life, and had been on America's Most Wanted on three separate occasions over the course of my boyfriends life. So after my boyfriend turned 18, he legally changed his last name to his mothers maiden name so that he would no longer have to be associated with his father. I also have a friend who is engaged, and I think she'll be very happy to take her fiance's last name. His last name is Irish, but very easy to spell and pronounce, where as her last name is a childish synonym for "puke". :smile:
     
  10. Mr. Snakey

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    When a woman gets married and there is no name change at all it means she likes to eat pussy and can drive a truck........
     
  11. goodwood

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    Uncut - LOL!
    I just remembered, a guy I knew in college - his mother was German and his father was Pakistani. Mother's name: Von Smirnoff (as in alcohol). Father's name: who in the hell knows. He was raised as a German Von Smirnoff and his dad took the wife's name. Worked out well as far as I know.BTW - the Von Smirnoff lady did not drive a truck and was not a fan of pussy (for herself)
     
  12. Principessa

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    ROTFLMAO!

    What about when a woman marrys a man to whom she is not related but with whom shares a common last name? A friend of my moms married late in life and chose to hyphenate it so all would know she had finally married. :smile: Her married name: Jane Smith-Smith. :biggrin1:
     
  13. IntoxicatingToxin

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    It's funny that you mention that. Growing up, there was a guy in my neighborhood who had the same last name as me, and everyone was telling me that I should just marry him so I wouldn't have to bother with all that other stuff. :rolleyes:
     
  14. Mr. Snakey

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    Hey to each his own. Fine with me. Hyphenate no problem. The woman with no name change is what it is. The man is a beard. It is a front. She smokes cigars and walks around with a can of tuna in her purse.
     
  15. Love-it

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    My wife doesn't have a middle name because her parents thought their girls should use the fathers last name as a middle name, hyphenations were rare or non-existent at the time. When we got married, in 1975, I expected her to take my last name as common course, she objected only in the sense that I expected her to do so. But it took her 30 years to get her last name changed on her social security account.
     
  16. Principessa

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    LOL - What else did you expect her to do that she decided against :wink:
     
  17. Love-it

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    Can't think of anything else off hand. I did find out, years after we built our house, that she thought I hadn't consulted her on its design, which isn't true as far as I was concerned because it followed the basic layout of a cabin in the timber of Montana that she was thrilled with. I guess what bothered her was that I didn't specifically ask her opinion, I talked about the design with her, we went together to get the blueprints drawn, she helped build the house, we were side by side, but I just didn't ask her for her opinion! By the way she loves the house, we have been living in it since 1981. Don't push I will finish it some day.
     
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