Does taking a man’s name make you feel more like property than a partner? The changing role of women in marriages has been on fire lately. The can women have it all debate. The why are we having this debate debate. And of course, the traditionalists. So imagine my traditional family’s surprise when my husband and I created our own family name!
I guess I should have seen it coming. I was never the little girl who role-played her dream wedding as a toddler or role-played being Mrs. So-and-So as a teen. In fact, being called a Mrs. still makes me uncomfortable a year into my marriage. There’s just something about the word association that brings to mind an elder, stodgy mom who is being asked to drive the carpool.
When I got married, I had to ask myself the inevitable question: what will my name be?
Like so many of my professional female cohorts, my then-boyfriend and I dated far into our twenties. By the time we considered marriage, we each had a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s under our belts (not to mention three years establishing ourselves as professionals in our fields). So, what is in a name? At that point, my whole life was in my name. And I wasn’t about to give it up so easily.
I am so grateful that women are presented with so many options now. I could have been Mrs. Greeson. (But oh my gosh, that’s his mom! I don’t want to be a mom to my husband!) I could have been a Marbach-Greeson, but what a mouthful for our future children, and then what if they chose to hyphenate? A future Marbach-Greeson-Smith in the works? Not for me. Of course, we could have made it a non-issue with no one changing any names. Hmm. No, we both wanted to build a family with the same name and share that uniting last initial.
So, call me a cheeseball, but it only felt right to combine our names the way we were combining our lives.
The solution felt strange on our tongue at first. We could be Marsons. Garbachs? No. Or perhaps look deeper into the history of either of our families and come up with something new entirely. Enter: Greesonbachs. Within moments of texting the name to my new husband, we both knew it was the one.
It was difficult to break this news to our families, yes. Declarations of misplaced feminism, anti-family sentiments, and strangely old presumptions that I must not want to get married if I wouldn’t take his name. But that’s the glory of this modern age—I have the choice to choose to combine our names the same way that another woman has the choice to choose to take it.
For some women, taking her husband’s name feels natural and right. For others, they were born knowing they would hyphenate. For me, I knew the right name when I saw it. So who are we to judge or remove choice from those special moments of a new family?
Do you hope to take your spouse’s name? What do you think of folks who don’t?