What husbands should understand about the difference between a woman who keeps her maiden name and one who takes her husband’s.
One couple gets married and walks away as Mr. & Mrs _____. Another couple say their vows, kiss, and both retain their last names. So what difference is there in how these women love their husbands?
None. That’s right- there is no correlation between how much a woman loves her spouse and whether she decides to take his last name after saying I do. So why is this still the assumption?
When my now husband and I were planning our wedding, we received so many questions, bits of advice, and OPINIONS. Everyone felt they needed to impart their wisdom regarding what we saw as a very personal and intimate day. One topic where we received a lot of questions, advice, and opinions was regarding my decision to keep my family name.
Some people got it, some people didn’t. No, I have nothing against my husband’s family or their last name. No, I don’t believe we’ll ever get divorced. No, my husband isn’t offended that I didn’t find it an “honor” to take his name. I’m just a Ranard.
I simply happen to love my name. It’s been part of my identity since I was born, and I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of changing it. I like visiting my small home town and being able to say I’m a Ranard, with all the good and bad associations that come with it. Plus, it’s a pain to change your name. And yes, before you ask, part of the reason being my decision also had to do with my beliefs. I’m a liberal feminist who doesn’t believe in the traditional marriage roles or customs, but that wasn’t the full reason behind my decision- it was much more complex.
And the fact is, there are so many reasons that women decide to keep or not keep their last name. Couples are finding a lot of freedom in the process of deciding on how to handle last names after marriage, and it’s an exciting thing to witness. What’s not exciting is the amount of judgement that couples receive regarding their decisions. Women who chose to keep their last names are judged for being “cold” while their husbands are judged for being too “soft.” And on the flip side, women who take their husband’s name are judged by some for being old fashioned and contributing to the oppression of women.
But why are we so concerned? The act of getting married comes with so many decisions, and the choice of last names is a very intimate one. Whatever the couple decides, it’s their decision and shouldn’t be questioned. And please, whatever you do, don’t make a woman feel like her love of her husband is being called into question because of something as personal as what name she choses to walk through life with.
So, what does her decision about her last name really mean? It means that she is an individual with choices, and she made the best one for her. Maybe you were part of that decision or maybe it was one she had to make on her own, but don’t take it personal.
To all the men out there- if she married you, that means you’re worth it. What she decides to do with her last name has a lot to do with her identity and politics and nothing to do with what you mean to her. So cuddle up, appreciate each other, and enjoy your happily ever after.