At about the age of six I attended a wedding. Everything went fine until the minister introduced the newlyweds as Mr. and Mrs. Johnson – shocked, I realized this lovely woman had relinquished her name and assumed that of her husband. The disquiet that realization brought is literally the only thing I recall about that incident, I don’t even remember the couple’s last name.
Fast forward around half a century to a few days ago when my youngest daughter proudly informed me, “Dad, when I get married my husband will take my last name or it’s a deal breaker.” Both her older sisters had already informed me of similar sentiments. The oldest is married and did indeed retain her maiden name.
Be that as it may, the final goad to me writing this post came at 3am this morning when I read the tweet below:-
@CGAyling C.G., just bought your first book on Kindle twice. I was signed in to amazon as my hubby. Different last names and accounts. HA
— Deborah A. Bowman (@Bowmanauthor) September 17, 2013
It reads, “C.G., just bought your first book on Kindle twice. I was signed in to amazon as my hubby. Different last names and accounts. HA”
I replied to her tweet, and after resolving the crisis for which my slumber had been disturbed went back to bed brooding on the matter. Anyway, the questions I framed so long ago still trouble me today. I share them below.
Why must the woman give up her name, as opposed to the man giving up his?
I understand the desire to merge, but if that merger’s cost is that one relinquishes their identity then surely the other should also relinquish theirs?
As far as the logic, “It has always been this way.” Well, all that proves is that always is often wrong.
Am I proposing change? Yes. Each of us is an individual. By the time we are old enough to marry we have spent substantial effort becoming who we are. Our name is an element of our personality. Are you keen to give yours away, or to force your partner to give up theirs?
I know I’m not, and that I never have been. I can’t recall for certain, but I’m pretty sure that I asked my wife if she wanted to change her last name to match mine. I don’t remember her answer, but she now has my last name. Did I steal something priceless from her? Did I take an essential element of her, and unwittingly discard it?
I think that I did… But I don’t know if I can ever give it back.