Taking a married name should not be whimsy
DEAR ABBY: Like “Standing My Ground in New Jersey” (Jan. 9), I had decided at a young age I had no interest in changing my last name if I ever were to be married. For me, the decision had nothing to do with an established career or a fear of losing myself. I simply never saw the point.
Would you believe I fell in love with and married a man who asked me how I felt about him taking my last name? When he first mentioned the idea, I told him he should think it through because a name change shouldn’t be taken lightly. Like “Standing,” my husband also had no father figure. He’s happy to now have a last name that finally “means something” to him. — ERIN IN EL CAJON, CALIF.
DEAR ERIN: That column produced a wide variety of responses from both men and women. However, most of my readers agree that “Standing” and her fiance have an important decision to make, and they should both step back and examine the options together. Their comments:
DEAR ABBY: Most women around the world retain their names after marriage, and children take their mother’s name as their middle name and their father’s name as their last. It’s only in English-speaking countries that the tradition exists for women to take their husband’s last name. It originated from the time when wives were considered property. — JANE IN FRANKLIN, TENN.
DEAR ABBY: The decision to keep or change one’s name is personal. In my experience as a judge, I often see women ask for their maiden name to be restored to them upon a divorce. I also saw one case in which the husband in the divorce requested that his former name be restored to him. That couple had used the wife’s name as their family name when they married.
I agree with your response to postpone the decision until both of them have discussed the issue more fully. How they handle this decision will foretell how they will handle other decisions. — JUDGE TONYA IN FLORIDA
DEAR ABBY: By “Standing” not changing her name, which is the cultural norm in this country, she will create years of confusion, hassle, constant explanations and identity issues for her, her husband and her future children. Her husband also will feel a sense of disconnect that is hard for her to understand. — PATRICIA IN THE SOUTHWEST