Should I Take My Husband’s Name?

I’ve always been a very independently minded person, not likely to go along with a crowd (unless it was the crowd heading to the pub. I was ALWAYS in that crowd). My former boyfriend, now husband, has been known to describe me as being as stubborn as a mule. I prefer independently minded personally.

I never really liked the idea of being married at all. I thought it was an archaic, woman squashing tradition, forced upon people to make them monogamous out of guilt, or to treat woman as if they were property – passing them from one man to another. One man’s name to another.

Obviously I’ve changed my mind from that (see! Not a mule!) Marriage is what you make it. You can agree to be a chattel, should that float your boat, or you can choose to join in celebration of a meeting of equals agreeing to be true to each other, because you believe you can go the distance. And you know, not get bored and go knockin’ with the milkman.

When we had the boy, I didn’t really think too much about his surname. I hadn’t slept in six weeks, I certainly wasn’t at my feminist best. I wasn’t thinking about the branch of my family name dying out with the current generation. I just went along with putting his Dad’s surname on the birth certificate with barely a nod to my part in proceedings.

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My little sleep thief

So this put me in an odd position. Now I had a different name to my family – my own flesh and blood. I got questioned at Doctors surgeries and when he started school. People were calling me Mrs C even though I was very much still Miss L. Annoying!

Fast forward anyway to the actual wedding. White dress, father insisting on walking me down the aisle. I wrote our ceremony, so at least I could get rid of any of that vowing to obey rubbish. But the rest of it was pretty traditional, even right down to a silver sixpence in my shoe.

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Now the wedding is done, comes the question – do I give up my name? The name I’ve lived with and been known by for 35 years? I’ve grown rather attached to it. I still hate the idea that women don’t have their own names – they have the name of their fathers, or their mother’s fathers. Are we not worthy of our own name? Our own mark on the world? But by striking out, do we lose our connection with our family? I want my son to share a name with his mother. I’m as much a part of him as his father.

It’s not an easy choice to make. Lots of women keep their maiden name (another annoyance – who is a bloody maiden these days?!) for work, and have their husband’s for their family life. Which kind of works I guess, but doesn’t that make you two different people? One a partner, one alone? I do want my status as someone who has chosen to marry to be obvious. I wear my ring, as does my husband. But my name?

I’ll have both.

I worried almost as much as being seen as a pretentious double barrelled nincompoop as I did about being a rubbish feminist, but then I decided sod it. I’m Sarah Lawton still, but having married, and made that all important commitment I’ve agreed to become someone else too – so here’s to Sarah Lawton Coombs. Feminist, mother and wife. And mule.

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(The lovely wedding photos in this piece are copyright of Jason Mark Harris.)

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11 thoughts on “Should I Take My Husband’s Name?

  1. What a beautiful photograph! This is something I’m struggling with as I fear I’ll lose my identity when we get married. Still debating it but a double barrel thing isn’t an option because both surnames are a pain to spell so will cause even more annoyance if I stick them together arrgghh Don’t know what to do. A x

  2. I didn’t change my surname and I won’t! The children havery hubs and if they want to have mine when they are older we certainly won’t stop them…. we would of double barrled but as mine is a Irish surname and his is a UK surname it didn’t ring well… did creat one but hubs wasn’t impressed at being a Purkee haha.
    Loverly article .

  3. Oh the dilemmas we face as women, that men can just assume. It’s hard. Very hard. I’ll be honest, I was married to a man (will eventually make the rounds in blog posts and what not, I am certain) and I took his name. I was doing exactly what my parents had wanted me to do. FInd a nice jewish boy. I was a people pleaser and my own thoughts and feelings were not part of any equation until my 30-somethings… After a dozen years, we have very amicably divorced long ago. Me and the Mrs have been together for 18 years, almost 3 years legally married since it only then was legal to do. I suppose our courting stage was a long one! History came through for us. I still have the name I took as a young married girl. Mostly because my parents were so disgusted with me and my ‘alleged’ life choice. My Mrs, she has her last name that she was born with – there were no swapping of dowry or a cow for that matter. We call eachother spouse, not wife. Our kinder, Little and Big have my last name. The Mrs. insisted because she wanted everyone to know that yes, she birthed the babes, but dammit, I was a mom too. All these choices are so personal and meaningful. Sarah Lawton Coombs, as Winnie the Pooh says, “Just be!” Be your own beautiful self, no matter what name they call you. Congratulations to you and yours — your pictures show how beautiful you all truly are. Mazel Tov! Feminst comes in all names. Someday, equality may too! xoxo

  4. I understand exactly how you feel! I didn’t chsnge my name at first. It represented me and who I was. However 5 years and 2 babies lter I have decided to change it. Only because my girls have that name and I want to be the same as them! So 5 years later I have changed it and I kind of love it. I have kept my surname as a middle name and included it in girls names too. I didnt want to double barrell as it didnt spund right. So my advice is go for it now cus you may end up like me changing it 10 years later lol the spelling of my husbands surname was another thig that put me off too lol xx

    Amina xx | http://www.AliandHer.com

  5. My husband was more upset with me taking his name than I was! I love having the same name as him – it makes me feel like we’re a team – but he was surprised I didn’t want to stand up to the patriarchy of it!

  6. I think double barrelled is a good compromise. The kids issue defintely adds another side to the whole dilemma. I kept my name and gave my kids my surname as their middle name, to make travelling with them easier. Im surprised at how many people insisted on sending letters to me with my husbands name and how many of his family expressed surprise at me not taking his name ( but thats Ireland for you!) By the way that wedding shot is absolutely gorgeous.

  7. I hated my maiden name so was really pleased to take my husband’s surname but I think nowadays it’s really personal choice. However it is easier if the whole family has the same surname.

  8. I took my French hubby’s name of Pignal-Jacquard – talk about double barrelled and pretentious!! LOL

    For me it was quite a simple choice. My mum and dad were divorced and when she remarried it meant my brother and I had a different surname to them (she took her new husband’s name). I hated the fact that no one knew were in the same family and people would often ask if I was adopted when I was growing up. The truth is, I was (later), by my stepfather, so we all had the same name then. But what a palarva! I definitely wanted my kids to have the same name as me/us. Even if it is a tad pretentious. Luckily my friends keep me down to earth and call me Piggy… The cheek!

  9. I kept my own name and my children have double-barrelled surnames with both of our surnames. I occasionally get annoyed if someone calls me Mrs though, I think they’re talking about my Mum!

  10. I grew up assuming that I’d get married, and that when I did, I’d take my husband’s name. Well, unless it was Shufflebottom or something. However, since having Piglet everything has changed. He has my name, so I wouldn’t change mine as it would be different. It’s a relief tbh, as I’ve long struggled with the ownership aspect of it.

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