Last names. The long and short of 'em.

8/11/2010 05:08:00 AM

Not until I was in college had I ever heard of a married couple sharing their last names. As in, both the wife and the husband hyphenating their last names to form sort of hybrid, law office sounding moniker.

You see, two professors at the college (now university) that I attended were married (at the time) and teaching within the same specialty, so I had classes with both of them. We'll call them Mr. and Mrs. Adams-Johnson.

I remember being utterly confounded. "So, who was Adams and who was Johnson?? "Why did they do this combining of names?" "Isn't that a lot to write out?"


But, this was college. It was new. Exciting. Free-thinking. Liberal, right?


Since college, I have yet to meet ONE other man who would be willing to shed his name OR blend it with his wife's. (Strike that. I DO know someone down here who forwent his last name for his wife's. I wonder if he might be a felon, though.)

Men who take on women's last names creep me out. It seems wussy. (Gasp!) These are probably the same men who cry all the time? (I can't tell you how much I enjoy making sweeping generalizations sometimes.)

In all seriousness through,  it is far more palatable to hear that women change their last names in a marriage. I guess I'm old school? But then again, I have ZERO issues with women who KEEP their last name or chose to hyphenate. I just have a problem with men who hyphenate... or drop their last names.

When I married C., I chose to bless his family by accepting his last name. (You're welcome.)

Here's why I did it: I come from an uber-blended family. At any given time you could have called my childhood home, waited for the answering machine to click on and you would have heard a message that said, "Thank you for calling the X, Y and Z residence. Please leave your name and number..."

Yes, kids. That's three last names in one house.

I chose to retire Kylee P. and become Kylee B. for the sake of family unity. I wanted nothing more than to have me, my husband, my kids (and my dogs) have the same last name. Old fashioned? Sure. Easier on the answering machine? Yes. Right for me? Absolutely.

Oddly enough, I apparently didn't think this all the way through... In Mexico, Lila's actually got two last names: first is Craig's, then is mine.  Looks like my goal for "family unity" didn't quite work out. I guess I never factored in that whole "having a baby in Mexico thing."

That said, where do YOU stand?

Are you married? If you were, what would you do?
Did you take on your husband's/wife's last name? Why or why not?
Did you hyphenate or change your middle name legally to be your maiden name?

If you're a man, who reads my blog, and changed his name: you just won $50 to the charity of your choice.

P.S. When did we start using "first name" in place of "given name" and "last name" in place of "surname." I sort of enjoy the older alternatives...


  1. Enjoyed this post. I think it helps that I know of the college professor team you're speaking of. I know this might sound strange (and awful), but until they divorced and the names seperated, I'm not sure I really knew which last name belonged to who!

    That aside...I think I'm traditional. I'm not married but I think I would take my hubby's name. It's what I know. I'm okay with it.

    I do, however, know a man that took his wife's last name and completely dropped his name. In this case....she's loaded. At least, that's the short answer.

  2. i kept my name, because the social security office told me i couldn't change it. (the lady at the counter was clearly having a bad day and lied, but... i haven't been back to wait in that line since.)

    i don't have a problem with men who change their names though. seriously? who cares. i highly doubt they are running around crying like wussy pansies. they probably just made a compromise for their family, like we all do. maybe they weren't very attached to theirs and she was. or maybe his name was Richard Richardson. that guy would get a free name-change pass.

  3. I would like to say I am more traditional, and if my circumstances had been different, I would have probably just taken my husband's last name. I however, chose to hyphenate my last name - my dad passed away just before I turned 2, so I felt like that was one of the very few things of "his" that I could keep with me forever. My husband wasn't too keen on the idea at first, but when I gave him my reasoning, he couldn't refuse.

    Even though it's technically hyphenated (just don't ask the SS Office, I haven't changed it there yet...after 7 years) I often drop my maiden name and just use my husband's last name to sign things, introduce myself, etc.

  4. I took my husband's last name. It never bothered me to drop my maiden name, and my Mom had hyphenated her maiden & married names (married in '76 and it was the independent forward thinking thing to do I guess) and she said it's honestly been more of a pain than anything for the last 30+ years b/c it's too long to fit in half the forms and just confuses others (b/c her brother also married a Julie so there is Julie O [my aunt] and Julie O-V [my mom]...but since Mom lives in the same town she grew up in, everyone knows HER as Julie O.... basically, she wishes she'd have just taken my Dad's last name. :-)

    Names are a weird thing though, for sure. One of my BFFs doesn't have a middle name... so when she got married, her maiden name became middle and married name the surname. Different strokes for different folks I guess. :)

  5. I am engaged and am thinking about getting rid of my middle name (it's Michelle) and having my current last name move to the middle name place.

    That way I can sort of keep it. I happen to love my last name but am excited to take his. I think this is a good compromise.

    I don't want to hyphenate because his last name is Tankoos. Dandar-Tankoos? Too much. Iris Took of Great Smials Dandar-Tankoos. Now that has a ring to it.

  6. In all honesty I never thought about doing anything other then to take Dave's name when we got married but I wouldn't change it (I was honored to do it). However, say my parents only had two girls instead of a boy and a girl, I might have considered hypenating my name to keep the family name going.

    I do know someone who took his wife's name but I think it was just to piss off his dad (that'll do it!). LOL

  7. As a totally old-fashioned girl I took my husband’s last name no hyphens or additions attached. Infact I loooooved the idea of taking his last name. It never crossed my mind to keep mine, hyphenate our names, or have him take mine….in my mind and for US, this was how I wanted it for our family.

    Now don’t get me wrong I loved my maiden name a lot. I loved it because many people just called me by my last name and I still get really sentimental & happy when someone who knew me for a long time pre-marriage calls me by my maiden name! However, with as many memories that were attached to that name and though I thought I may miss that name because it has always been MY name I like the idea of starting a new life and family with my husband’s last name.

    My sister and I have two different biological dads and because of that I have 2 brothers who will carry on the family name. However my sister is the only one to carry on her family name and she has already mentioned that she is not sure what she will do because she wants to keep the name in the family.

  8. being in seattle has totally opened my eyes in terms of the name game. people do about anything you can imagine to their names out here. including naming their children things like pancake adventure mcfarland. no lie. anywhoooo....

    having just gotten married last year, i'm a recent player of the ol' name game. when push came to shove, i had a MUCH harder time deciding what to do w/ my maiden name than in ever thought i would. i mean seriously... "votaw"? i'd spent my whole life trying to spell and pronounce it for everyone. but suddenly i would cry when i thought about just kissing it totally goodbye. it was like severing this precious cord w/ my dear family -- losing that tangible, meaningful association w/ them. so, i decided to ditch my original, generic middle name and take my maiden name as my middle name. even my parents thought that was awesome, and admitted that my middle name had been *kind of* generic. :)

    i'm so glad that's what i did. it feels like the totally right choice for me.... and makes me feel like ME.

  9. I'm not married, and would probably take my husband's last name.. .as long as its not really odd... like Gross, Butts, or Dick...

    It would be hard to give up my last name though. I come from a family of girls, and no cousins or ANYONE that can carry the name on. :-( I would NOT however hyphenate my name, I hate hyphenated names.... and I think it'd be weird for my husband to even THINK of taking my name!

  10. oops. You do know a hyphenated man -- my hubby. :)

    Technically, we both kept our names, but we both go by Mylastname-Hislastname socially. We meant to change legally (and maybe will when/if we have a baby) but never got around to it. I hear it's a pain for men to change... And I just don't care that much.

    My sister and her husband kept their own names and their kids are hyphenates. It's easy for us because we all have short, simple last names.

    I often cringe when I see our brides change their names, as if they have no other option. Primarily when it's a downgrade. ;)

  11. oh, and if it counts (but I understand if it doesn't, 'cause there was no legal change), our favorite charity is ;)

  12. I had always planned to take my husband's last name, as my maiden name was hard to spell, hard to say, and no one ever got it right. It was Liebisch (can you say it?) It's pronounced Lee-bish.

    Well, it seems I went from bad to worse. Todd's last name is Lawniczak (pronounced Lawn-i-zack). There was NO way I was going to hyphenate Liebisch-Lawniczak and expect my second grade students to be able to remember, say, and spell that one!

    My mom uses her maiden name as her middle name now. I respect any decision that someone makes - it's your name and you should be able to do what you wish with it.

    I do like that my Facebook profile allows me to keep a tiny bit of the "old" me - I use my maiden and married names to allow others to find me easily, though it's not hyphenated.

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  14. I changed my last name, and was very content with the decision. I thought about dropping my middle name and using my maiden name as my new middle name, but...nah...just didn't seem right for me.

    However, for a few years at work, I had to hyphenate. (Because I am a healthcare provider, and insurance companies made it nearly impossible to switch from one last name to another and still allow my office to get paid for my services). I thought it was a pain signing everything with both names. No thanks.


    I do know a man who took his wife's last name. She was an only child, and had lost her father just a year or so before they got married. He didn't know his dad at all, so in his mind, he had no attachment to his last name. So, he took his wife's name. It's different for sure, but I think it's kinda sweet.

  15. I never thought of anything other than to take my husband's last name when we married. I was excited about it.

    I do have several friends though that kept their names and refuse to take their husbands....and they have children. I think it would be hard to not have the same last name as your child. I'd feel like I always had to explain myself...

    I like us all having the same names and being a 'family'.

  16. I should have been more specific. I was looking for a man who didn't hyphenate, but dropped his name completely...

    STILL, I think the world of Bridget & her super great (and talented!) husband... THUS FAR you're the donation winners. I shall wait until Friday, then will make the donation...

  17. You already know what I think about this, since we talked about it earlier this week, but...

    I don't really have a problem with who takes whose name (and, really, do what you're gonna do, so long as everyone in the situation is cool with it). For us, though I knew one thing: I wanted T and I (and our kids) to have the same last name. To have it be the "family" name -- whether it was mine or his. More just out of a sense of familial solidarity than any kind of "tradition."

    T is an only child of the only boy in his dad's family, so he felt a "responsibility" for carrying on the family name. I totally get that, and had zero problem changing mine. My main thing was just sharing a name for the new family we'd just created.

    I debated doing the middle name thing with my maiden name, but since my middle name is my mom's first name, I didn't want to give that up.

    (I know a couple who decided to both forgo their family names and just make up a new one together. Sort of weird, but it works for them!)


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