Wexistential Crises, Wayward Thoughts, Welcome Distractions and Willful Pursuits

The Name-Changing Game, Part 2

with 2 comments

A follow-up to my previous post on the subject, for an article my friend Rej is writing for GMAnews.tv:

If/when you get married, which of the following will you do? Why?

a. Take your husband’s name
b. Keep using your father’s name
c. Hyphenate

I’ve chosen to keep my surname because it is tied to my history, my heritage and my identity. I’m not any less me because I got married. I’m not any less my husband’s wife because I didn’t take his surname. I suppose you could argue that I wouldn’t be any less me if I took my husband’s surname, but I’ve been Aissa the Individual much longer than I have been Aissa the Wife of Ryan.

I prefer to be known as Aissa the Individual, who incidentally is also the Wife of Ryan, as opposed to Aissa the Wife of Ryan, who incidentally also has her own identity that has nothing to do with his.

I briefly thought about hyphenating, and would’ve thus been known as Aissa the Individual and the Wife of Ryan, but decided that hyphens are too cumbersome for me. And a little self-important. I’m not Her Royal Highness Princess of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall. It’s not necessary for me to have all my names out on display like they’re royal titles.

I also think that keeping my birth name speaks to the dynamics of our relationship. We both think of our marriage as a partnership between equals. We don’t subscribe to traditional gender roles (he is not “head of the family” because he is the man, I am not the obedient and submissive wife in the readings of the Catholic nuptial mass). Neither is subordinate to the other. We arrive at joint decisions by discussing things from positions of equal footing. We also place great importance on our respective individuality. We are not each other’s “better half”. We are whole individuals who recognize that while we have a life together, we also have friends, interests, activities etc. independent of each other.

What name will you use in your legal documents?

My birth name. (I dislike the term “maiden name” because it sounds so archaic.) Aside from the deeply rooted issues above, I just can’t be bothered with the paperwork necessary to legally change my name.

What is your profession? What name will you use professionally?

I do community development work. I intend to use my birth name professionally.

Did you discuss your decision with your boyfriend/fiancé? How does he feel about it?

Yes, and it’s not a big deal. He doesn’t have any strong feelings about it one way or the other, and more importantly, he respects my right to use whichever surname I prefer. He understands that to me, not adopting his surname speaks to our marriage as a partnership between equals and affirms the importance we place on individuality.

Does your mother use her husband’s name?

She does. For a while she used a hyphen but she found it cumbersome and eventually ended up using her husband’s surname.

Did you know that you’re not required by law to take your husband’s name?


If you intend to keep using your maiden name, how do you intend to respond to all the people who ask ‘why’?

I will give them the answer to Question No. 1 and they will be sorry they asked.


Written by Aissa

October 12, 2010 at 7:32 pm

2 Responses

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  1. […] When I was younger I used to doodle Aissa [insert guy's name here] on the back of my notebooks, but the way I think about my identity and relationships/marriage has changed a lot since […]

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