Why I Didn’t Take My Husband’s Last Name
When my husband and I decided to get married, I had a lot of inner turmoil about changing my last name. I had always planned on changing it- aside from it being what women traditionally do when they get married, I never felt attached to my name, and hated having one that was impossible to pronounce correctly. Yet anytime I would have the thought process of “I’ll definitely take his last name, it’s a good name and it will be the easiest thing to do since it is what’s generally expected” my mind would scream at me “NO! No! This isn’t right!”. I don’t have any judgement toward anyone going the traditional route, the beauty in it is that we have the right to choose, but the more I thought about it the more I realized why I was rebelling against it.
Why are only women expected to change their last names? It seems to be so ingrained in us that we don’t even question it. You get married, you take his last name. Women give up their family name that they have had their entire lives just to take on a mans family name, yet society would never dare ask a man to leave his behind, even though you become a part of each others family regardless. The gender inequality in this tradition is just too much for my feminist mind. I couldn’t stop going back to the thought of women being seen as a man’s property, and the tradition that women leave their family to join their husbands. And although our country is still moving at a very slow pace in legalizing gay marriage, for the states and countries that do allow it, where do gay and lesbian couples fall into the mix? When the lines are based less on tradition, is it a sense of freedom to choose whichever name you would like, or is it harder because the legal requirements expect you to jump through hoops?
Aside from integrating into each others family, I thought marriage was about creating our own family, me and him (and our animal children). Neither one of us should be expected to take on the others name, but we wanted to share a family name. We wanted to share our own family name. We knew it might be an issue with his family (he is the third, after all), but it isn’t their decision, and it doesn’t even affect them, so why worry about it so much? Most people just ask, “what’s the point?” which sends me off into a feminist rant, and I’ve even had a friend say we are taking away from our future childs family history, to which I could only reply, “seriously???” because really–HOW?! Anyone can find information about their ancestry, changed names or not. We aren’t secluding ourselves from our families, we are just adding a new name to the mix.
The hardest part was coming up with a new name. We threw around a few fun words, but nothing felt right, nothing stuck. We finally decided on using his last name (which is a common word, thankfully) in Portuguese (my heritage), that way we both get to keep a part of ourselves, while also melding us together. I love our decision, I love that we both feel that we have ourselves in tact, and I’m excited to be the first Semana family in our family tree.
What are your feelings on keeping or changing your last name due to marriage? Leave a comment and let us know!
Written by Sarah Pires