If I haven’t lost you after reading the title of this post, then I am grateful. This post has been on my heart for awhile and I feel like I needed to put it into words. So please stick around, read my point of view, and let me know what you think:
The title of this post, in my opinion, is “framed” the correct way. Maybe it’s because I am a lawyer, but I like to be as precise as possible with my language. Most people wouldn’t notice the difference, but the hair on my arms starts to raise when people ask me, “Why did you keep your name?” Keep?
Keep means “to retain possession of” or “continue in a specified direction or way.” It seems to indicate that my name was somehow slipping away and I reached out and “retained it.” It also, in my opinion, seems to imply that “keeping it” was wrong. To me, it didn’t feel wrong. It felt — well, like me.
Let me just say, I have nothing against women who chose to take on their husband’s name. I think that it is a choice to be made and I respect that choice in every way. Sadly, while I respect their decision to do so, I haven’t always found the opposite to be true. In fact, after getting engaged to Adam, it wasn’t the men in my life who were shocked by the fact I didn’t intend to take Adam’s name — it was the women. I was shocked sometimes at the response from my fellow sex.
These are the most commonly asked questions or the responses I got:
Don’t you love Adam?
Yes, I love Adam. He is my other half in every sense of the word. I truly believe that he and I were destined to be together. But I don’t understand why that means that I have to give up something that means something to me. You see — my parents had a terrible divorce. I didn’t speak to my father for nearly 8 years… When we finally reconnected, it was like I found a piece of my life that was missing for far too long. I love my father. Having his name as mine reminds me of my connection to him — it reminds me that we all make mistakes but that we are all capable of healing, forgiving, and moving on. Not taking Adam’s last name has nothing at all to do with not loving him — but it has everything to do with love.
Won’t your kids be confused? That’s not fair to them.
Kids understand differences. They understand that mommy and daddy aren’t the same. Mommy sits down to pee. Daddy doesn’t. Mommy wears shoes with heels on them. Daddy doesn’t. Daddy exercises nearly daily. Mommy doesn’t. Kids probably won’t even KNOW that my last name is different from theirs until they are old enough to read my driver’s license! It will be fine. Seriously. I mean, do kids say, “Mommy Jane Doe!” No, they say “Mommy.”
Oh, I get it. You went to law school so that’s why you are keeping your name.
I did go to law school. It was three years of hard work followed by the most difficult summer of my life when I studied for the bar exam. It was torture at times but that is not the only reason I chose not to take Adam’s last name. Plenty of “professional” women change their names and I have no problem with that — power to them. This is probably a “factor” in why did not take Adam’s name, but to try to wrap me into a nice, neat, “professional-working-woman” package so that you can understand why I made the choice I did is frankly, a little insulting.
Wow. Adam must be a HUGE pushover.
No. I draw the line here. Adam is the manliest man I know. He works out regularly, he sleeps with a Glock on the nightstand, and I pity the fool who would ever try to hurt me. Seriously. This man loves me fiercely and would take on anything that threatened us and our lives together. This is a man who stands up for anything that he deems worthy and necessary. But this is also a man who is level-headed and rationale. He doesn’t “push” his ways over mine and he never demands that I do something or refrain from others. He allows me to completely and totally be myself. When we were dating, I mentioned to Adam that I would keep my name if I got married. He took a moment and then asked, “Would it be because you like your name, or because you don’t like mine?” Without hesitation I answered, “Mine. It just love mine.” From that day, it never had to be discussed again. Adam loved ME — not the idea of me with HIS name. Just me — and loving me meant loving the fact that I was the type of woman to chose my own last name over his. If I had been the other type, he still would have loved me. It has nothing to do with being a pushover — it has everything to do with being a good man.
As of today — we’ve been married one month. It’s been wonderful and I can’t wait to see what this life holds for us. And YES — we will do it will separate last names on the checking account. We understand that we will have to deal with the occasional confusion — are you married yet? are you guys just dating? why are these names different?
But you know– that’s our choice. It is a choice that we made and one that we can only ask others to respect. I believe that this situation can be a tricky one. Each woman is different and each relationship is too. I respect your decision to take his name, to elope, to throw a HUGE church wedding, to have tons of kids, to adopt, to not have any kids at all — whatever your decision is, so long as you have come to an agreement in your relationship, who the heck am I to question it!?
So I only ask for the same respect. I love my husband. We have different last names. We’re okay with that. Are you?