Last week I went into the bank to deposit some money. As I looked at my deposit slip, I noticed that the bank had my last name wrong. Instead of using my hyphenated last name they had simply put my married last name, Warren. Peterbed by their mistake, I calmly told the teller the mistake and she instructed me to take a seat and wait on someone in customer service who could better help me. Luckily, I was quickly helped my a young man who was pleasant..that was until I told him the reason I was in his office. I needed for them to add my hyphenated name to my account.
All of a sudden his whole demeanor changed and I could tell he was uptight about something. He reluctantly handled my request. Before I left he made a joke and said,”You women really like that hyphenated name thing don’t they Mrs. Warren?” Before I could help myself I turned to him and said, “We sure do. But my name is actually Lane-Warren.” I didn’t wait on a reply from him but just like a thousand times before, somebody always has something negative to say whenever they find out I choose to hyphenate my name.
Who knew that a hyphenated last name could bother people (especially men) so much that it makes them comment. Five years ago when I got married I made the decision to keep my last name. I did it for a variety of reasons but mainly I liked the way it sounded. It made seem more powerful in business meetings and who could resist not knowing who this person was with two last names. However ever since I went and got my name changed certain people have always taken issue with this move. This is even the case for members of my own family. Everybody from my brother in law to my mother ALL have an opinion on the fact that I decided NOT to drop my last name and instead just added my husband’s name. My husband rolls his eyes, I laugh at the foolishness, and thereby the drama continues.
Some people question if I did it to make a feminist statement. Was I trying to make a point that I was independent? Or did I do it as some power play in my marriage? No, I did it because I wanted to and because my husband could have cared less. Truthfully I’ve known since I was teenager that I would be one of those women. You know the woman who bucks tradition and keeps her last name. As I got older and earned accolades, I decided that it would easier because my degrees are in my maiden name and it would just make the whole ‘name change’ process easier. So anticipating this may be an issue with my husband, when me and my husband got engaged we discussed it. He wasn’t ‘thrilled’ about it but he understood and said that “small things” like that don’t matter in a marriage. We were getting married because we loved one another not because I needed his last name.
I remember a week after we were married, I went down to the Social Security office and did exactly what I had been planning to do …I added my husband’s last name to mine. I should of anticipated the venom that some people had for women like me, because as soon as I sat down with the clerk she rolled her eyes and remarked, “So you’re one of THOSE women?” I smirked and replied that I sure was and gave her a mean eye roll so she knew that I was confident in my decision.
But after five years of snarky comments, eye rolls, and countless questions, I want to know what’s the big deal? What does it say about a woman who hyphenates her name or who decides to fully drop her maiden name and opt for her husband’s name? There’s no difference and it all comes down to personal choice and life situations. For example, my brother has 3 daughters and no sons. So I’m hopeful his girls all want to hyphenate their maiden and married names just to keep our family name ‘alive’. Are they wrong? Of course not. Will them keeping their maiden names make them ‘high maintenance’ or silly?
I think not.
Instead, I think when people make big deals about trivial things (like name changes, etc) are ignoring the real work of marriage — living and growing together as a couple. In the five years we’ve been married my husband and I have never had a fight about me not changing my last name. Instead we argue about real things that can have the ability to break apart a marriage.
I’ve just resolved that for the next 80 years I will have to defend (to outsiders) why I choose to keep my last name. I’m used to it and say my whole name with pride.
Hopefully my daughter and nieces will use me as an example to make decisions that are good in their marriage despite what people may say.
BMWK — Did you hyphenate your last name upon marriage?