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why I didn’t take Adam’s last name…

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?

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  • Reply Rachel

    I know lots of women who do keep their names–actually in Malaysia, where I grew up, no body actually takes their husband's last name, though usually they are known about town or to youngsters as Mrs. Goh (husband's surname) when their real surname might be Tan.
    I took my husband's name because I was not very attached to my maiden name at all. It could because I was all of 19 when I got married, so I hadn't really ever lived as an adult with that last name…it could also be because I didn't like being automatically associated with Michigan Dutch culture when people heard my couldn't-get-much-more-Dutch last name. Plus…I really like confusing people. And people generally are confused to meet a white girl with practically unpronouncably Spanish last name. Not terribly deep reasons, but I'm perfectly happy as Rachel G.

    October 7, 2013 at 12:29 pm
  • Reply Lauren

    I'm so glad that you wrote this! I never felt much attachment to my last name (my father is in my life but I have a very Hispanic last name and I am pale and freckled so I have gotten lots of comments over the years) so I thought I would be eager to change it in a second… until the day came to do so. The night before I had doubts and I expressed them to my husband (who also has a very Hispanic last name). My only doubts were why bother and who cared what my last name was. It ended up he cared. Since I was mostly ambivalent, I decided to go through with the change. I'm glad I did because it works for us (it also cuts down on the "Wow, your last name is __?" comments when they see the wedding ring) but I know it isn't the case for everyone. As long as he is okay as being Mr. Your Last Name every so often, I think you guys can make it work just fine ๐Ÿ™‚

    October 7, 2013 at 12:30 pm
  • Reply Margaret

    You go girl- great post! This is such a personal decision that women make when they get married- and whatever each woman decides, it is exactly the right choice for them. You shouldn't ever have to justify that choice to any one else, because obviously it was the perfect choice for you and Adam!

    October 7, 2013 at 1:18 pm
  • Reply Sara Elizabeth

    Love this post! This is the ultimate "to each their own". I've never understood why people care so much about what other couples do when it comes to this subject, doesn't affect them!! As long as y'all are happy, we're happy for you!!

    October 7, 2013 at 1:24 pm
  • Reply Erin Zauner

    good for you lady. i actually changed my last name to my middle name when we got married, because i wanted the same family name as my husband, but didn't want to completely lose my maiden name because i love it! everybody has their own reasons for wanting one way over the other and it's not hurting anyone to do it your way!

    October 7, 2013 at 1:26 pm
  • Reply Kate @ Another Clean Slate

    I changed my name when I got married and then changed it back when I got divorced. The hassle alone should have any woman second guessing changing their name ๐Ÿ˜‰ But seriously, its your life and your name. I don't know why other people always have to have an opinion about EVERYTHING.

    October 7, 2013 at 1:27 pm
  • Reply Kayla

    I really like this post. I did change my last name, but that was my choice. I went from a very uncommon last name to a common one. I appreciate the fact that you decided to "keep" your last name. We all live in a modern society where it shouldn't matter whether the woman take the mans last name or if the man takes the woman's for that matter. All that matters is how much you love one another and have a wonderful loving marriage.

    October 7, 2013 at 1:39 pm
  • Reply Christine @ Kouisse's Korner

    Did you know that it is illegal to change your name to your husband's when you get married in the province of Quรฉbec?? We are the only Canadian province that has that law!!

    October 7, 2013 at 1:48 pm
  • Reply Ashten @ alwaysashten

    In my company many women keep their last names because they have created a professional presence with it. It's not as uncommon as many people think. Living in the south like we do, everyone is so traditional and thinks we HAVE to give up our last names to be a good wife. I applaud you for being different and keeping your name. I am partial to you, too because I think you're rad. ๐Ÿ™‚

    October 7, 2013 at 2:14 pm
  • Reply Elizabeth at Southern Finesse

    I never have understood why people get their feathers so ruffled by other people's personal decisions that have no effect on anyone else. I respect your decision and applaud your honesty in this post. My mom made her maiden name a second middle name and I've thought about that myself. But honestly, I'm not attached to my last name, which is probably because its Smith and there are a billion of us in the world!

    October 7, 2013 at 2:42 pm
  • Reply Dara @ Not In Jersey

    I sent your fall swap addressed to Kate Florken – hope that's ok!

    October 7, 2013 at 3:07 pm
  • Reply alexes gershick

    I struggled with taking Marcus' last name. I still have not changed my last name, not because I donโ€™t like his last name, but because I feel like a piece of me is leaving. itโ€™s very weird. Like Someone I have known my whole life, is now leaving and changing to someone else. I will change it, but I agree with you on every aspect. I did for Marcus, because he really wanted me to do. I changed it on facebook lol but not legally. I will…. soonish. I love this post.

    October 7, 2013 at 3:28 pm
  • Reply Sara Norton-Sanner

    Thanks for sharing! I agree with you, it's each couple's decision to keep, change, hyphenate, the last name when you get married. I personally chose to hyphenate my new last name, so that I could still remain a Norton, because that's who I had been for 25 years. I didn't want to give that up just because I got married. A lot of people look at me with confusion and can't seem to comprehend that I have two last names. I never thought it would be THAT complicated…lol. But, I'm very proud of my choice and you should be too ๐Ÿ™‚

    October 7, 2013 at 3:47 pm
  • Reply Meg @ Meg-in-Training

    This is a great post! I hate that people are so rude to ask such questions! Kudos to you for doing what means something important to you instead of going along with something that doesn't. A last name doesn't define your relationship and thanks for sharing that with everyone!

    October 7, 2013 at 5:24 pm
  • Reply Helene in Between

    i LOVE this post. i did take michael's last name but i thought it over for quite a while. i love that you looked at the different aspects of it. it's a personal choice and you can do whatever you want!

    October 7, 2013 at 5:29 pm
  • Reply Karly Kim

    Amen, sister!

    October 7, 2013 at 5:42 pm
  • Reply Anonymous

    Great post! You have every right to whatever name you want and you definitely don't have to justify yourself. I understand all the scrutiny you are under with your decision. My husband and I have been married for 4 years next month and I didn't change my name until last year. I had intended to change it but didn't. When we got back from our honeymoon I huge mess happened with my dad. We had always been very close but for some reason he decided to feel slighted by something at our wedding and cut my and my sister out of his life. It got really ugly and we didn't talk for almost 3 years. I couldn't change my name in that time cause for some reason it felt like letting go of my dad and I couldn't. After we patched things up I came to a point where I could do it and I did. Thankfully, I have an amazing husband who supported me and understood my decision to delay.

    October 7, 2013 at 5:57 pm
  • Reply Amanda*

    I LOVE this post! I took my husband's name and I didn't think twice about it, because I HATED my maiden name–Jones. Otherwise, I probably would have thought about it longer ๐Ÿ™‚

    October 7, 2013 at 8:59 pm
  • Reply Kate B

    I was actually having this discussion with my aunt a few weeks ago. We determined that our surname is a part of our identity, and so by changing it, it almost changes your identity. Great post!

    October 8, 2013 at 12:32 am
  • Reply Kelly {Sparkles and Shoes}

    That is awesome, good for you! I love your answers to all of these questions especially the one about Adam being a push over! You go girl and I love what you are making this blog – it is such a fun niche to come and read!

    Sparkles and Shoes

    October 8, 2013 at 2:25 am
  • Reply Andrea

    I think more and more women nowadays are not taking their hubby's last name and I think it's totally cool. If anything, I would replace my middle name with my last and take the hubs last name as an alternative.

    Andrea @ Oh!Jewelicious

    October 8, 2013 at 10:10 pm
  • Reply Jessa @ Life of A Sports Wife

    Random Question: Have you always lived in LR? I grew up in Conway.

    October 10, 2013 at 4:45 am
  • Reply ty

    Okay, after reading this, I think we definitely need a good ol fashioned meetup.

    October 10, 2013 at 4:25 pm
  • Reply Melissa // 53Blonde

    Kay directed me over here and this just instantly became one of the best posts I've ever read! Unlike you, the reason I wanted to change my name (even before we got married) was because there are a lot of family members that I'd rather not be tied to in any way. I don't want someone to meet me and ask if I'm [so and so's] niece, cousin, and etc. I also don't like my maiden name; I loved my husband's last name before having it for myself was ever a thought in my mind. So when we got engaged, I knew it would be changed. It took me a grand total of 96 hours to legally change my name, and I was (okay, I still am) so freaking excited about it. I also love seeing the other side of things; I love hearing the reasons you chose not to change your name. I think it's interesting to hear someone else's perspective! Thanks for sharing. ๐Ÿ™‚

    October 10, 2013 at 7:45 pm
  • Reply Lena @shinystout

    BRAVO!!! I think you should do whatever feels right for you and Adam. No one should judge, because behind closed doors, each of us are different and have our own logical reasons. Love ya girl.

    October 16, 2013 at 2:16 am
  • Reply Rachael @ Pretty in Pink

    Found this post from Kayln, and I agree completely… it's your decision. Screw whoever doesn't agree with it. You guys seem really happy and in love. And you're smart and obviously put a lot of thought into this decision!

    November 22, 2013 at 6:25 pm
  • Reply Kari P

    I floated over here though various different blogs & I'm so lucky to have found you.
    I think it's empowering that you chose your last name. Truly the idea of taking the man's last name in marriage is a leftover from the days of dowries and a woman leaving her family to join a new one. And as society is a bit different now (ha!), I don't see why it's a problem. Some people are afraid to part with "tradition" but I've never been a believer that tradition should be the sole force preventing you from doing what you want to do. And the idea that a child will be confused and that it's unfair to them, ummm… so are all children of single or unmarried parents just cursed for all eternity? Or what about the children of a previous marriage? That's just silly.

    November 30, 2013 at 5:07 am
  • Reply Amanda - Voyage of the MeeMee

    I saw this on Karly's feature about you guys and I'd never seen it before because it was before my time here. I LOVE IT! Honestly, amazing. I don't understand why people throw such a stink about this. When Pete and I get married I'm going to hyphenate my name… because I'm been Amanda so and so for almost 29 years at this point but I also want to be Amanda so-and-so because it's part of who I'll be in the future. (If you're interested in what "so and so" and/or "so-and-so" are I'll tell you via e-mai. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

    December 13, 2013 at 6:19 am
  • Reply Tyler

    This post is so great! And thank you for your comment on my blog post ๐Ÿ™‚ I agree that we need to stop name shaming.. Because I don't think there is a right or a wrong answer, and it's nobody's place to tell someone else what to do. You go girl ๐Ÿ™‚

    January 7, 2014 at 8:04 am
  • Reply Megan @ Grad Student Needs Hobby

    I just found this post through Hayley's blog, and I absolutely love it. It makes me want to post on why I'm hyphenating my name! And I empathize. Even with hyphenating, I get a ton of questions about my decision, and why I "couldn't just take his name". This whole post is phrased so well, and I hope it makes people think twice about their assumptions!

    February 11, 2014 at 6:54 pm
  • Reply Stephanie Loudmouth

    Totally valid. My only question is, purely out of curiosity — what would your kids' last names be? Would they have yours or your husband's?

    July 10, 2014 at 12:19 am
    • Reply Stephanie Loudmouth

      Okay, I just read it over again, and it looks like they will have your husband's. How did you two come to that decision? Sorry for all the annoying comments/questions, I am just really intrigued! ๐Ÿ™‚

      July 10, 2014 at 12:22 am
  • Reply Jenn @ Business, Life & Design

    I love this post! You made such good points: a man doesn't have to be a pushover, just because his wife didn't take his name, and your kids really don't know or care what your name is, as long as "Mom" and "Dad" are there supporting them. I just did a post on this same topic and I didn't think to touch on those.

    July 10, 2014 at 5:49 pm
  • Reply Hannah, Here!

    What would it have been like if you had changed your last name after already practicing law for some time? I was just talking to my dad about that yesterday and he didn't really offer up much explanation since he's name has always been the same. Would it make a difference that you had previously signed legal documents with one name and then changed your name?

    I think it's awesome that you guys did what was best for you two. It seems to me that more women aren't taking their husband's names than ever before. When I worked at a day care center, it seemed like that was the case for like 1 in 3 families. I just don't get why people have so many opinions about other people's lives and something that in no way affects them!

    July 11, 2014 at 9:37 pm
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