Advice, Relationships

Should I Change My Last Name?

I always thought I’d want to change my last name when I got married. At first I was excited, so much that I ordered a monogrammed makeup bag and pajamas with DMS, keeping Moss as a middle name. Then I got engaged and was faced with the reality of changing my identity.

Ok, maybe I’m being a little dramatic. But am I?

My situation is different than most since I’ve already had a different last name. Twice. I started going by my stepdad’s last name in elementary school before my mom and stepdad divorced when I was in high school causing a mini identity crisis. My relationship with my dad was mostly non-existent at the time so I decided to legally change my last name to my maternal grandfather’s last name. We were always so close and he only had one child who changed her name when she got married and never changed it back.

I’m the only Moss left.

As I got older, grew my business and brand. It was my plan to use Moss professionally and Conor’s last name personally. What does my future husband think? His only opinions are that I shouldn’t change my name professionally and that if it were him, he wouldn’t want to change his last name at all. So breezy.

We know I can handle a name change but since I feel so tied to Moss, I’m a little torn. There’s this part of me that defines families by their last name because, well, tradition. When I go back to the feeling of being the only one in my family with a different name, I think I should do it. I feel really conflicted and ultimately can’t imagine changing my name.

Should I change my last name? Did (or would) you?

  • Heather

    I changed my name a year after getting married. I was worried about people not knowing who I was in my career but everyone caught on and now I have colleagues who never even knew me by my maiden name.
    When we bought our house, I was still using my maiden name. I asked our lawyer if there was anything I had to do regarding the house after I changed my name. He said that legally, I will forever be known by two names and that I could use whatever I want.
    Now that I have 3 kids, it’s much easier to have the same last name as my husband.

  • Brittany Cerminara

    I struggled with the idea of changing my last name when I was married. I decided to take my husband’s last name, as he really wanted me to as well, and 5 years later, I can’t imagine not going by my married name. It’s almost strange when I hear my maiden name now. Best of luck with whatever you choose to do 🙂

  • HarlemLoveBirds

    I changed my name. While I like the sound of my maiden name, as an African-American who married a Nigerian-American I saw it as shedding a slave holder’s name plus helping to give my children an identity of exactly where they’re from.

  • Lauren Corso

    I haven’t legally changed my name yet. I have had some anxiety about no longer having the last name that so many people call me and know me by. I think I will change it, because it feels special for us to share the last name…. but I still have a little reservation. I think it’s totally normal.

    • Marisa Hale

      I’m in the same position! We got married in September, and I haven’t changed it. I keep going back and forth. I love my name and the family it represents, but it would also be special sharing a name with my husband. I think I’ve landed on hyphenating (which I used to view as a cop out) to get a little of both ideas in my name.

  • I changed my name and hadn’t seriously thought about not doing it- my husband and I were very traditional for a lot of marriage things. Having the same name as my kids was important and I had male cousins with my last name so I wasn’t the last.

    But it was harder than I expected! There is a little identity crisis that for me was easy to move past but I definitely was in a weird spot for awhile adjusting to it. It’s such a personal decision that I think you’ll just have to think it over and figure out what you’re more comfortable with.

  • Ashley La Fleur

    Not doing it 🙂

  • Brie

    I didn’t change my name and I have no regrets. We also don’t feel like any less of a family unit with two last names My husband is the only person with his last name (hyphenated two last names from his parents so we couldn’t do a triple hyphen), so we’ve decided that we would give our future kids his last name and incorporate my last name in a different way (maybe as a middle name). I love that Conor is so open and supportive about the whole thing! Sometimes people can get weird about gendered expectations around changing the last name.

  • When I get married, I want to change my last name for sure. I like the solitary of it, like starting your own new little family. Showing the world I have a strong, Black marriage will be very important to ne. I already have a little brother who can carry the name on, too. My dilemma will be what to do with my middle and maiden name- will I keep both or drop one? And as a writer, which one will be my permanent writer’s name? But I’ll figure those things out along the way.

  • Kate

    I’m getting married in November and changing my current last name to my middle, dropping my middle name (Ann). My mom did the same thing when she married my dad (her middle name was Ann) and then she gave it to me. It felt like a natural choice to do the same thing and if we end up having a daughter someday, her middle name will be Ann.

    It’s definitely weird/exciting to have a new last name, and I’m glad my current last name will be part of it. My fiance wanted us to have the same name and I love that we are becoming a family, so I always knew I’d go that route, but its still a big change. So many mixed emotions during this phase of life! (Also I definitely have already ordered things with my new monogram, you are not alone there!)

    I think you can’t go wrong whatever you choose (it’s so nice now that changing your name is not a given like it used to be!). I think a lot of women go by different names personally/professionally, and I know some who go by their husband’s name personally but never legally changed to it.

  • Tanya Tavassolie

    I didn’t change my name – mostly for professional reasons (I publish articles and wanted to keep the name consistent), but also, I really liked the way my name sounds, and it’s been my identity for so long, I couldn’t imagine changing my name. I am also in a similar situation (my dad had three girls, all of whom have or will change their last names) and we are the only ones in this country (parents immigrated here). Soooo, it made sense to keep it. My kids will get my last name as their middle names, and I compromised and changed my middle name to my husbands last name. I totally understand your feelings! It’s a tough decision.

  • Anne EB

    First of all, you don’t have to make any decisions immediately! I have one family friend who didn’t legally change her name until 35 years into her marriage (after going by it informally for decades). I changed mine FOR professional reasons — my father and I were getting confused in the academic research world (too many AE Epstein authors out there), so I changed mine in order to better carve out my academic profile.

  • Jessica

    I changed my last name when I got married in my early 20’s, then changed it back to my maiden name when I got divorced. If I ever get remarried, I can’t imagine changing my last name again. I’m 35 now and have built my professional identity around this name, including publishing academic articles. It might also have to do with being older–for some reason it strikes me as strange to suddenly be named something different after all these years with my name. I also think that the world is changing is so much on this score–many women keep their own name or hyphenate, and other couples even choose an entirely new last name together. If your partner is the same sex is you then the “tradition” of the woman taking the man’s name doesn’t quite fit either. Couples with children from previous relationships can end up with a blended family where the children have different last names from each other or from one or more parent. They certainly aren’t less of a family because of it. Essentially, I think becoming a family is a choice we make, and last names ultimately have little to do with it.

  • Growing up, I wanted to change my last name to my mom’s maiden name, because my father wasn’t in my life and I was part of my mom’s family, not his. At the time though, my brother didn’t want to change his last name and I wanted to keep the same name as him.

    I then about it a lot when I was going to be getting married. My fiancé had a last name that was more traditional for my religion (which was ironic because he and I did not share the same religion), and I liked the idea of that. However, when I really started to think about the implications of changing my name, I realized that my name had become part of my identity – even if I didn’t have a relationship with the person who gave it to me. I also felt like it would, in some small way, give more importance to his family than mine, which would be especially hard because his family was local and mine isn’t.

    Ultimately, I never had to come to a final decision because I ended our engagement, but I think when the time does come, I’ll be more inclined to keep my name.

  • meghan huschen

    I felt sad changing my last name, but ultimately decided it was the best choice for me. As a teacher students still call me by my maiden name at times, I kept my old email address and my friends will always know me by my maiden name so I still feel connected to the name. I think you have to do whatever feels right to you, but to me it felt right to share the same last name as my husband and hopefully our future children someday.

  • Janine

    Not changing mine. I think if I got married in my 20’s I would have. But I’m getting married at 35 and I’ve come to love and be proud of my (hard to pronounce Polish) name. Ben was previously married/divorced so his thoughts on it have changed over time as well and it does not bother him that I do not want to change my name. We hav decided that if we have children, they will have Ben’s last name and I am content with that. I have friends that don’t have the same name as their children and it seems to only be something thst comes up when others bring it up.

  • Erin Griffiths

    I was so torn when I got married at 29. If either my husband or I had short names I think I would have hyphenated, but a 19-letter-plus-hyphen name seemed a little much. In the end, I decided to make my maiden name my middle name and share my husband’s last name. I didn’t love it at first, but once we had a child I was glad we all shared the same name.
    Like almost everything else, it’s a super personal decision and there is no right or wrong answer, imho. And as another commented noted, you don’t have to decide right away, either. Good luck!

  • I changed my last name and kept my maiden name as my middle name. I did it because as a professional singer, people already knew me as my maiden name and I didn’t want to make it complicated for when my future kids are in school and they’re questioned, “whose your mom? Because the one next to you doesn’t have the same last night as you.” I know people who have gone through that. Though I love having my husband’s last name, my ego still gets a little hurt that I’m not an official “maiden name” anymore. But, how I did it was the right thing for me, I think. If your fiance is cool with you keeping your maiden name, then by all means keep it. You can always hyphen your two names as well. Either way, listen to your gut about it and talk it over a bunch of times with your fiance. 🙂

  • I did change my name because I am a sucker for tradition, and when we have kids I would like to share a last name with them too. I always knew I wanted to change my name, but when it actually came time to do it I really struggled. It actually surprised me. I still have a hard time and mourn the loss of my O’Brien name. But I’ll always be an O’Brien in my heart. I totally understand the struggle, but I think if you kept Moss professionally and as a middle name personally, it’s the best of both worlds. You get to keep it, but also share the family name with Conor. And, you say how he has such an amazing family which is something you’ve struggled with, maybe it will feel good to be a part of that? I mean of course you will be even if you don’t take the name, but it may make it feel extra meaningful.

  • Of course, this is a personal decision. But seeing as you asked, on a number of levels this is an easy No from me. As a feminist, I do find it bizarre that when women marry they want to change their names, I must admit. The societal pressure is strong to do, but what is the real value? Being identified publically as being married ? Is it status related? Or is it really a personal decision to be identified more with your partners family than the identity you have built as an adult? The need to belong is a strong motivator for sure, but perhaps more reflection on what actually makes a family? A lot of people cite tradition in their decision, but remember that “tradition” comes from the time when women became the property of men upon marriage, why would you want to perpetuate that? As two separate and modern individuals you are entering a partnership, whether you actually become part of the family is nothing to do with what you choose to call yourself. And why do you have to take “his” name – if you want one family name, why can’t he take yours? Why should the wife subsume herself into the husbands identity? In any case, a family is not defined by the names of the individuals and as far as taking the fathers name being easier when you have children, with blended families more and more common now, that’s an erroneous argument. As you’ve said you already have changed your name, do you want the added complication of adding another to your identity? In this age of endless documentation, identity requirements and certificates etc it would seem more practical to keep what you have. So there you have it, a feminist perspective on this life changing decision… good luck!

  • Of course, this is a personal decision. But seeing as you asked, on a number of levels this is an easy No from me. As a feminist, I do find it bizarre that when women marry they want to change their names. The societal pressure is strong to do, but what is the real value? Being identified publicly as being married ? Is it status related? Or is it a personal decision to be identified more with your partners family than the identity you have built as an adult? The need to belong is a strong motivator for sure, but perhaps more reflection on what actually makes a family? A lot of people cite tradition in their decision, but remember that “tradition” comes from the time when women became the property of men upon marriage, why would you want to perpetuate that? As two separate and modern individuals you are entering a partnership, whether you actually become part of the family is nothing to do with what you choose to call yourself. And why do you have to take “his” name – if you want one family name, why can’t he take yours? Why should the wife subsume herself into the husbands identity? In any case, a family is not defined by the names of the individuals and as far as taking the fathers name being easier when you have children, with blended families more and more common now, that’s an erroneous argument. On a purely practical level, the administrative burden of name changes is often underestimated. As you’ve said that you already have changed your name, do you want the added complication of adding another to your identity? In this age of endless documentation, identity requirements and certificates etc it would seem more practical to keep what you have. So there you have it, a feminist perspective on this life changing decision… good luck!

    • kate

      I completely agree with everything you said. To me, the act of changing your name does hark back to a time where women were considered men’s property. You can say it’s not about that anymore, but in some way, it does demonstrate a man’s (perceived) dominant role in a partnership. After all, a man is never asked if he’s going to change his name when he’s married. It’s still assumed that his family name is the more important one, the one that takes precedence.

      I also see a number of women saying they changed their name because they wanted to have the same name as their children. This is not 1952, and it is not a given that your children must take the name of your husband, regardless of what you do name-wise. I can’t deny that it makes me sad that most women don’t even seem to see this as an option. And unless you’re adopting or using a surrogate, you’re the one carried and gave birth to the child! Your name is just as much a deserving one for your child.

      I understand wanting to share a name with your husband and children, I just wish it was a conversation about which name the whole family will take on, rather than just a given that it’s your husband’s or nothing.

  • Amjt

    I felt pretty strongly about not changing my name, and I’m so glad I didn’t. It makes me a little crazy that women feel the need to change their name as a sign of being a family. I find it problematic that ‘uniting the family’ so often falls on women and so rarely falls on men. I also don’t think it should be a given that you will have a different last name from your children, if you choose to have them and not change your name. Our children will absolutely have my last name, and if my husband would like them to have his last name (which he does), then we’ll hyphenate.

  • Hannah

    So happy I kept my last name! But I wasted months having mini-identity crisis like you mentioned (“what will everyone think if I don’t do it? What will my children’s teachers call me?”). So much wasted energy!

    At the end of the day I think if women are excited to change their last names, more power to them! But I don’t think sharing a last name makes couples any more united. Just look at the nation’s divorce rate – sharing a name has nothing to do with unity. As far as the kids argument, I think I will be really proud to explain to my children one day why their parents don’t have the same name – we are two separate people bringing two separate lives together to make a family.

    All this is to say, I hope you don’t torment yourself like I did in the months leading up to your wedding. Go with your gut!

  • Dana

    I kept my maiden name (last generation in my family) as a middle name. It meant a lot to my hubby that I take his name, and although I was resistant at first, I was ultimately glad I did, especially once my daughter came along. I like that we all have the same name. 😊 Professionally, since my maiden name was still a part of my name, there was no identity crisis! Everyone could easily figure out who I was. Also, after a few months of being married, I felt ready to honor that by being called “Mrs.” It’s a very personal decision and you have to do what’s right for you. Follow your heart.

  • Frances

    I did not change my name and never considered doing so. As Gigi pointed out, the tradition of changing your name is from a time when you became the property of your husband. That definitely did not sit well with me. There were other reasons as well, such as not wanting to lose my identity.

    As for not sharing a name causing trouble, I’ve been married a long time we’ve never had any trouble due to not having the same name. Especially nowadays. There are so many blended families that it’s just normal now.

    And you don’t have to change your name on your wedding day. A friend of mine changed her name after nearly twenty years of marriage. It felt right to her at that time so she did it. Best of luck with whatever you choose!

  • barbara @hodge:podge

    I have been married for almost 26 years, got married at 20. I changed my name back then because I was tired of spelling my Czech name and I didn’t give it much thought. But now as I am older and my parents are getting older, I feel like a bit of my heritage is slipping away with them and I wish I had kept my name as a reminder of where I came from.

  • Lisa

    I wanted my last name to be the same as my children.

  • Gabby T

    I am a card-carrying feminist but I did change my last name because I had a terrible relationship not just with my father, but with his entire side of the family. I tried to change my name legally in high school but my mom wouldn’t let me – ha! Anyway that’s why I chose to change it when I got married and a little part of me still hates that I did it because it was my identity for 29 years. I actually found myself mourning the loss of it for a while which was a HUGE shock to me as I had wanted to be rid of it for so long. If I had to do over I probably wouldn’t switch it. So I would recommend keeping your own for the first year or so and see how it feels. Your gut will tell you once the sentimentality of the wedding wears off and you can take his name at any time so there is no reason to rush!

  • spends2much

    The Man and I never bothered to get married, but if we ever do, I won’t change my name. It’s part of me! Anecdotally, and possibly coincidentally, the best marriages I know are ones where the woman didn’t change her name. Something about how they seem like two strong equals, I think. As for having children, you can always give them both names, as several friends have done.

  • Nicole

    I grew up assuming I’d keep my last name (staunch feminist), but when I got married it just felt right to change it. To me, it signified a new beginning in my life. I knew I wanted kids and for us to be a “family” with the same last name. I love that these days a woman can do anything she wants and is no longer “Mrs. Gregory Smith” as in my grandparents’ day.

  • In the hispanic culture the man’s last name isn’t considered and when the couple have children they get the mother’s last name. Everyone is different and I think basically whatever makes you guys happy and comfortable. I love it that you asked Connor his opinion.

    • Melody Ramos

      That’s interesting. What Hispanic culture is this? Hispanic as in Spain?

      • I don’t know about Europe, but have many Mexican friends so I know that is how they are named in Mexico.

        • Melody Ramos

          I didn’t know that. Cool

  • Annie Gossett

    At the urging of my husband, I kept my maiden name and have not once regretted it, even now that we have a daughter (who has my husband’s last name). In fact, I feel even more connected with my husband than if we shared a name, simply because his understanding of why I would want to maintain my own last name reinforces that he’s the one for me. Also, you can always change your name at any point in the future if you have a change of heart!

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