Remember the first time you liked a boy in school?
You probably still slept with stuffed animals, and looked forward to the day you’d have to start wearing a bra with equal parts dread and excitement. Also, you probably carried around sparkly notebooks covered with scratch-and-sniff stickers, in which you wrote your first name together with your crush’s last name, and the names of your future children. Come on – we all did it.
The funny thing is, while most of us stopped sleeping with stuffed unicorns and got accustomed to wearing bras, a lot of us actually did grow up and change our names to the names of the boys we liked. Weird, right?
Watch: How much do Aussies spend on their weddings? Post continues.
Don’t get me wrong – I did it too. Of course, I was only 25 when I got married; too young to know very much. I didn’t know, for example, that my father would die just seven years after my wedding, leaving me longing to reclaim the name we’d shared. And too, I didn’t know I’d get divorced just a few years after that – or how much of a pain in the ass it would be to legally change my name back to the one I’d been born with. I’m pretty sure the hall outside the Social Security office in downtown Brooklyn still has a mark from where I kicked it in frustration after a clerk told me I didn’t have the correct documentation to prove I was divorced. (Shoutout to Frye engineer boots: they can do some serious damage.)
My main thought when I got married was that I wanted to share a last name with my children. I didn’t much care whether I shared a name with my husband, an artist who mostly went by his pen name, anyway. (Did I mention I was pregnant when I got married?) My mother had remarried when I was very young and taken her new husband’s name, leaving me constantly correcting people who assumed we had the same name; I didn’t want my kids to have that hassle.
And so, I had no problem jettisoning the identity I’d carried with me for a quarter of a century and taking on a new one – one that I really had no real claim to, now that I think about it. I didn’t share my husband’s family heritage, traditions, or beliefs; I’d only known the guy for two years. What – he knocked me up, we made some rash promises and signed a paper, and poof, I belonged to his family now?
And did you ever stop and think about the term ‘maiden name’? It’s so common, we don’t even question it. We’re always being asked for our mothers’ maiden names: when we apply for credit cards, when we call to access our bank accounts, when we fill out registration forms. But really – maiden? Like we were wandering through the forest in a gown, helpless and delicate, before some man swooped in to take us in hand? Gross.
I think we’re all aware that practice of taking a man’s name dates back to when women were property, and our entire existence was signed over to our husband as soon as we were pronounced man and wife (not woman and husband, of course). Blah blah blah whatever, right? But if you think the history isn’t relevant, and taking your husband’s name is simply a sweet way to indicate your devotion and commitment, read a few of these comments from men who were asked how they’d feel about taking their fiancée’s name after marriage, courtesy of Thought Catalog…