“Honey, I love you, but I want my name back.”
They’re not exactly the words a husband wants to hear on the eve of his 10 year wedding anniversary.
But, after a decade together, three children and a career forged under the name Connolly, I am returning to my maiden name.
Before you jump to conclusions, we are not divorcing. The marriage isn’t in trouble. We are happier than we’ve ever been. I plan on growing old with Adam and I cherish our marriage.
But, I miss my name. Sloane is the name I was born with, have a blood connection to. I am proud of my heritage and as I grow older I miss it more.
While being Adam’s wife is undoubtedly the best decision I’ve ever made, being Mrs “Connolly”, has never felt quite right.
Every time I had a professional victory, a career highlight, a newspaper column under the name Connolly, I felt like an imposter. The young girl who dreamt of this life as a journalist and TV host was Kellie Sloane. She would have been miffed.
My great grandfather William, after whom our little boy was named, won a military medal under the name Sloane. In fact, there are three MMs in our family. Stories I’m unearthing about our history draw me closer to my roots.
Before I met Adam I was adamant I would never change my name. What an absurd idea, I thought, to change your identity and give up the name you were born with.
Adam never asked nor expected me to change my name, but I thought he’d be chuffed if I did. He was a guy with a lot of old fashioned values and I knew it would make him happy if we shared a family name. It was the best gift I could give him and a sign of my absolute commitment.
I made the decision to change my name, professionally and personally. I didn’t tell him at first. I planned to surprise him when I returned to work after our wedding and did my first TV sign off as Kellie Connolly.
I remember my boss trying to talk me out of it. “Sloane is such a great name for a journo,” he argued. “And what will happen if you divorce?!”
I ignored his cynicism and it was an easy transition. As a TV presenter there’s little confusion because people identify you’re your face and voice as much as your name.
So, here I am, 10 years later doing a back-flip. It came as a surprise to Adam even though I’d been muttering about it for years.
I buried my head in his chest to avoid looking at him in the face, “Do you think people would think it strange if I changed my name back to Sloane?”
He looked at me, perplexed. “Yes. Yes I do.”
He’s right. And I’m prepared for the confusion. I’ve never heard of anyone doing this before. Not when they’re happily married. Not when they work in a high profile industry.
The last 10 years have seen important career milestones for me and I know branding is important, but I believe the next phase of my career will be even brighter. I have an opportunity to start over. People will get used to it quickly.
Adam would prefer I stayed a Connolly, but he is very supportive. As a history buff and an avid researcher of his own family history, he understands. There’s so much more than a name binding us together as a family. Our children know we’re a unit. They barely blinked when I told them. It’s normal to them for mothers to have different names.
As my boys grow older it’s important to me they know my background. I want them to know that independence is a quality to be nurtured. Women are individuals as well as the glue that binds a family.
Adam and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary in Fiji last month. At the resort I over-heard a conversation between honeymooners. The young bride was talking about changing her name and discussing how she’d go about it. I wanted to interrupt her and say, “No! Don’t do it!!”
But, of course, she was a reflection of me. I’d had that same conversation too.
My decision is deeply personal. I do not believe my choice is for everyone. I don’t judge those who happily keep their married names. There is also something beautiful about it. I just wish I hadn’t changed.
I know I am in a minority. Since the 1990s there has been an increasing trend in women taking their husband’s names. As women gain in independence and equality, it’s not seen as concession to take a man’s name, more a liberated choice.
Facebook recently conducted a survey of 14 million married females in the United States. 65 per cent of women in their 20s and 30s changed their names. Up to 85 per cent of women in older age groups changed their names.
My favourite wedding photo was snapped accidentally by a friend. It shows us walking out of the church, hand in hand, but looking away from each other with big smiles on our faces. We are tied together but outward looking.
A name doesn’t bind us anymore. But purpose does. Love. Family. Respect. And understanding.
Thank you Adam.
This post was first published in the Daily Telegraph and has been republished with full permission.
Did you, or would you, take your partner’s name? Would you ever change it back?