When Men Aren't Wedded to their Own Name

This morning I did an interview with The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC about husbands who assume their wives' last names, as well as those who take on what I call "portmanteau names," squishing two last names together (Andreas and I could have gone for "Fetzlings," except for that it sounds ridiculous). I also revealed my hidden childhood bias against kids with hyphenated last names. You can listen to the segment below.



You can read related posts by clicking the "last names" tag below.

  1. My sister heard the show this morning and recognized your name because I babbled about the Brooklyn reading so much! Yay!

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  2. Thanks for posting that, it was great! My fiancee and I are talking a lot about this very issue right now. His first name and last name sound perfect together, and taking mine would mean a longer last name for him than he currently has. But I also have a problem taking his last name – because I don't like the ownership it implies. And hyphens? Blech. So we're still figuring it out…

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  3. I just want to point out that while some states (like Maryland which is where I live) don't have laws that specifically allow men to change their names upon marriage they do have laws that are gender neutral. My husband took my name when we married and we didn't have any problems.

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  4. I think this is the biggest recurring conversation my fiance and I have. I don't want to change my last name, and this awesome man is pretty open to changing his. But he's got 10 years of work under his belt with his name, and he'll be the first to admit – he works with a bunch of macho types who will probably not be so supportive. So he says, "Show me another man that has done this – let me talk to him, let me learn how he navigated these challenges." Which I completely understand, because who doesn't feel better seeing that there are other people like them? That's why we read this blog, right? But I can't find him a single one, except anecdotally. So where are the men who have taken their wives' names? And how do I find them?!

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  5. tannis, are you familiar with indiebride.com ? I know I'm not the only one on that board whose husband changed their name. I'm also willing to bet that

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  6. tannis, are you familiar with indiebride.com ? I know I'm not the only one on that board whose husband changed their name. I'm also willing to bet that there are couples where the man is changing his name in the Offbeat Tribe.

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  7. So I know this is just me, but I don't get the whole name changing thing. Names are such an important part of a person's identity. What should getting married have to do with changing names anyway -either for the man or woman? I hppe that people aren't giving up their individuality when they marry – that is part of what the other person loves. I just think everyone should keep their own name, it is their name, something that is a pretty emotionally fundamental part of us.

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  8. Playing devil's advocate here… Keeping things consistent in the name change department sure as hell makes things easier on genealogists! I'm a big research buff, so I do wonder what kind of impact non-traditional naming practices will have on ancestry research in the future.

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  9. My husband and I each have two last names now. My name is Myfirst Mylast Hislast and his is Hisfirst Hislast Mylast. No hyphens. It works for us. It confuses other people, but it our names, you know? And in response to Brittany, I would think our choice would make research even easier than the traditional way.

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  10. My fiance took my last name yesterday, two months before the actual wedding! He was legally changing his first name and threw it all in together. It's very fun!

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  11. My husband and I both changed our names to his mother's maiden name when we got married. Actually, I haven't been able to change my name yet because of some legal issues surrounding it.

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  12. Oh, this is an argument starter in our house right now. Or, rather, he says "you're changing your name" and I say "actually, honey, I'm not" then there's silence.

    If I were 20, I probably *would* have changed my name because my real sense of identity didn't kick in 'till rather recently. At 38, there's no way I'm changing it now.

    And anyway, it would throw off my entire online persona: "missbhavens" is a happy accident. If I'm no longer a Havens, then the cutesy screenname doesn't fly.

    I've even suggested hyphenating, which TOTALLY doesn't work because his last name is a two-parter already. I've asked him to change his. No go.

    He's a reasonable guy in other aspects of life, but he's a big fat baby about this.

    I'm at a loss.

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  13. I haven't listened to the clip but I'm trying to talk my fiance into combining our names too. His last name is Smith which can go at the end of EVERYTHING. He's not having it :(

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  14. A friend of mine and her husband took each other's names.
    Bride HisLastName HerLastName
    Groom HisLastName HerLastName

    No hyphens. And yes, people were confused, payroll was confused, people stuck hyphens in where they didn't belong… people got over it.

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  15. I grew up with a hyphenated name, and then took the first part as my first name. I named myself a new adult name when I reached adulthood.

    I'm young (early 20s), and that doesn't mean I have less sense of myself- I'm strong in who I am and I know what I want.

    My lover has a Joe Smith type of name, there's 8 people with his first name at his workplace and because his name is so very common he gets mixed up all the time.

    He was going to take my name, recognizing how important it was to my career (I work in the arts) and how I chose it myself. He just wanted to clear it with his parents- and his father had very strong ideas to the contrary. He called it emasculating.

    Now, my lover really wants us to have a unified name, doesn't want to offend his father by taking my name, and doesn't want me to give up my name (he knows I don't want to- and probably wouldn't). So he's suggested hyphenation.

    I was hyphenated as a kid, I did it, it worked, there was some drama, but whatever- the point is- I don't want to now. I like my new two-name self. Our kids can have three names.

    I go back and forth, I want to make him happy (this is big). Many of our other big decisions worked out the way I wanted to (where we're going to live, etc.)

    I also feel very strongly about keeping my name.

    (I also just don't like the sound of his).

    It's something I'm making sense of, as best I can.

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  16. Hi there,

    I'm a man. I couldn't always tell if the commenters were men or women, so I thought I'd put that on the table.

    First, one of my concerns with names was air travel. That may sound silly, but I've heard paperwork horror stories about parents trying to fly with different names from their kids. That said, I'm reading about name changes, listening to your show, and from everything I see more and more people are getting creative: men taking wive's names, making up new names, merging names. I have one friend who changed his name to HisFirst HerLast and dropped HisFirst entirely. As it becomes more and more the norm, it will become less hassle in official situations, like air travel. Kids can hyphenate or have the man or woman's last name. I am glad to see momentum here and glad it's becoming mainstream.

    Second, we're discussing name changes, and I want to keep MyLast as my professional name. Part of it is that I hate paperwork, the less the better. But more importantly, I realize, it's important to me that the MyLastName get credit for the work I do. I'm very progressive, and already decided to give my kids her last name, talking about changing mine, and I certainly don't buy into the idea that being creative and flexible is emasculating. The tree that can bend in the wind does not break. That said, my family has done so much for me, and supported me so that I might achieve what I have. I want to honor my family in that way. So if I do a name change, I'll keep MyLast as a middle name and use it as my professional identity.

    Third, so why change my name? I actually just like the idea of having a consistent name. I also like the symbolism of creating a name together. To me, it's a good thing to do as a team. I'm an artist, so aesthetics matter and I like her name.

    I'm not certain what we'll do, but I really like some of the ideas here, especially the ones where they both take each others' names.

    I hope that more married couples (of any orientation) take the time to consider what they want to do, and then do it!

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