I'm revisiting this topic again since last time I only examined the physical graphic look of a potential name change. Today I’d like to offer a deeper explanation as to what I have been contemplating.
Additionally, I’d like to share some maiden name vs. married name variations I’ve come across in my research. I want to thank the following 6 gals for chiming in and allowing me to publish their personal words of what they chose to do when they got married.
I admire and respect these ladies a lot, so it was important to me understand why they kept, adopted, blended, or hyphenated their names once married. Okay, let’s do this!
maiden name: Jaclyn Konczal [first name: Jaclyn, no middle name, last name: Konczal]
married name: Jaclyn Konczal Nesbitt [first name: Jaclyn, middle name: Konczal, last name: Nesbitt]
So the name changing issue: I was very sensitive about this. Not everyone is, and some even like shedding their name and starting fresh, but I felt strongly that there should be no pressure for either of us to be "absorbed" into the others' last name against their will. This was mostly because of the unfairness that I felt in how our society often assumes the female will take the male's family name and she loses a sense of her own family identity with the loss of that name.
We went back and forth on it, and honestly, if our last names had blended nicely (they really really don't) then I would've fought pretty hard to blend our names into a new family name. Nesczal? Konbitt? Bleh. Doesn't work. The other issue at play was that Nick is the last living male in his family able to carry on their name. I on the other hand have a brother and sister who will likely keep Konczal going strong. Nick let me know that it meant a lot to him and so I took that into account.
He didn't pressure me to take his name, and he didn't want to take mine or form a new one either. We also agreed we didn't want our kids to have multiple last names, for simplicity's sake. So I was left with a hard decision: one that I waited until the last minute to make, but that I feel good about.
I wasn't given a middle name for this very issue; my mom kept her maiden name as her middle name, and passed that on to me and my sister, and that is what I ended up doing. So, rather than a hyphen, Konczal is now legally my middle name and Nesbitt my last name.
Overall, I think it's a very personal and case by case issue that you have to sort out with your partner until you come to an agreement/compromise. One of many you'll be making with them throughout your life. I do stand by my opinion that nobody, male or female, should be automatically expected to switch their family name just because of social norms. Hope that helps!
maiden name: Sarah Elizabeth Shotwell [first name: Sarah, middle name: Elizabeth, last name: Shotwell]
married name: Sarah Elizabeth Shotwell [first name: Sarah, middle name: Elizabeth, last name: Shotwell]
To be honest, I asked David to take “Shotwell” and he said no. Most of my writer friends who got married just kept their own names. Changing it felt weird! Hyphenating is too long. I wonder if keeping maiden names is just a more common thing for writers and artists...
I guess with kids I haven’t thought about it much. I think they will probably go by “Chauncey Shotwell Provenzano”. Two last names - they could go by both if they wanted or pick one, but I think hyphens are aesthetically unappealing. One joke we have is that if our kids have blonde hair they will have the last name of Shotwell and if they are red heads they will have the last name of Provenzano.
I do have one friend who changed hers and regretted it. Now she is changing back which is really awkward because she is still married. I feel like you can always change it later if you want to but if you aren’t sure you should keep yours. You could just go with your gut :)
maiden name: Elizabeth Anne Clements [first name: Elizabeth, middle name: Anne, last name: Clements]
married name: Elizabeth Anne Clements Leibovich [first name: Elizabeth middle names: Anne & Clements, last name: Leibovich]
Anne and Clements are my middle names. Mike is going to add Clements as one of his middle names. It's complicated for me; I didn't put a lot of thought into it before I changed my name. After I did it, I really questioned why I had and why it mattered. I miss Clements a lot more than I expected.
I wish I was Beth Clements and that there were no social repercussions about that, but there are (especially if I switched back now), and those social repercussions make things complicated. There's something about your wife not taking your last name that means that your husband will have to deal with shit from other people about it, and even if your husband doesn't care, it still sucks to be the person that put him in the situation. It's all stupid of you ask me, but at the same time not stupid? Can you tell I have a lot of feelings about this?
It's really more important than I thought it was when I did it. I just kinda did it and processed after. It's really important to compromise, and that's probably ultimately why it's important to me that Mike takes my name as one of his middle names. I also feel like it's important for the guy to understand and appreciate what a big loss of identity it is. I was a Clements for 25 years! Anyways, thanks for asking and listening. It's really awesome that you're thinking through it. You'll figure out whatever is best for the both of you! xoxo.
GLORIA (MY MAMA)
maiden name: Gloria Gonzales [first name: Gloria, no middle name, last name: Gonzales]
married name: Gloria Aronson [first name: Gloria, no middle name, last name: Aronson]
I guess I'm old fashioned/traditionalist, at the time I married Dad it was becoming real popular to hyphenate names. I never really cared for that but I like combining "old name with new", example Gloria Hernandez Aronson or Gloria Gonzales Aronson without the hyphen. It really comes down to preference. [For those who don't know - my mom was married once before, hence Hernandez.]
In this day and age so many children because of divorce/not being married or other reasons, everyone in a family goes by different last names. It gets too confusing and I think it makes kids feel not included as a whole.
I was surprised that Dad did not care what I chose to do; I guess because he knew I would do whatever I wanted to do!!! That being said it was hard for me to give up my Hernandez name, so hard that it must have been 10 or more years that I kept my Hernandez signature on Tony’s Jacal’s business checking account, hahaha! It wasn't hard for me to decide to not keep my maiden name because at the time it was just a given to take your husbands name; it was just the common thing to do. So there you have it: Gloria Gonzales Hernandez Aronson” aka tu mama, aka la chancla.
maiden name: Marisa Lynn Markowitz [first name: Marisa, middle name: Lynn, last name: Markowitz]
married name: Marisa Lynn Peltier [first name: Marisa, middle name: Lynn, last name: Peltier]
I chose to take Adam's name for a few reasons, some being better than others:
(1) I was really proud to be marrying the man who I had been in love with for 5 years. We had somewhat of an on and off relationship, with me being in love and in awe of him the whole time. I mean he goes by the nickname "Pelt", his last name encompassed him so much. It was a name that I had dreamed about being mine for so long that once I got the chance, of course I jumped on it!! I went to the social security office the following week after we got married.
(2) I really liked how it sounded with my first name! I have always thought it was a beautiful last name and if a name gives any sort of representation of who a person is, I thought it would definitely enhance mine.
(3) I wasn't the biggest fan of my maiden name of Markowitz. I was proud to be a Markowitz but just never felt like it was the nicest sounding name. And of course hyphenating would just sound terrible!!!! So there you have it :)
maiden name: Sarah Diane Dvorak [first name: Sarah, middle name: Diane, last name: Dvorak]
married name: Sarah Diane Dvorak [first name: Sarah, middle name: Diane, last name: Dvorak]
Ahhh yes, the last name conundrum. There were a lot of things that I considered when I decided to keep Dvorak. First, Oliver wasn't really passionate that I take his name, so there was no pressure from him whatsoever. Second, I like my last name. It had been my name for 32 years and changing it just seemed totally foreign to me. I think if I had a name that I didn't like (something like Hofflebugger...I made that up, but you get what I mean), I would have been more likely to change it up. Lastly, Mission Cheese is pretty much tied to my current name since it's a single member LLC. So, changing all the necessary documents and permits seemed like a large sized pain in the rear.
The one thing that made me think a bit about switching was having a youngster that wouldn't necessarily share my last name. With only 3 months until youngster is born, I haven't really thought about or worried about this at all. Juniors name will just be Boy/Girl Awesome Dvorak Dameron without a hyphen or anything. He/she will likely go by Dameron on the regular, but will know my name, and will obviously know I'm mom.
Regardless, people will address you with Shea's last name. I get mail all the time from friends and family addressed to Sarah Dameron. Some people will never wrap their brain around the idea, but to the people that know us best we are the Dameraks...which I think it perfect! I'm still trying to get Oliver to get a Damerak tattoo to make it semi-official. Someday. Maybe?
It’s only appropriate that after all these anecdotes from friends/family that I tell you about my decision. So, after much thinking I’ve decided the following.....drum roll please.....
maiden name: Kendra Ashley Aronson
married name: Kendra Ashley Aronson
YES! After all that, I am keeping my name as is. Why? You are probably poking your eyeballs out that you made it this far in the post only to find out that I’ve come to this conclusion, ha! I love youuuuuu and applaud you for bearing with me!
My Aronson identity
For the past 27 years I have been Kendra Ashley Aronson. I have no intention of giving up that identity. I love being an Aronson. It’s so great. I mean c’mon, have you seen #Aronsonfamilystyle on Instagram?!
In all seriousness, everyone I know now and have met thus far in my 27 years of life, knows me as Kendra Aronson. If I change my last name, most people I interact with will remember that my maiden name was Aronson, but what about 2 years from now? 5 years from now? 10 years from now? No one will remember that I was once an Aronson. This is very important to me.
I am so proud to be an Aronson. I love and honor my family so deeply. I’d like to keep the name alive and pass it on to my children. Plus, Rory is the last Aronson that will have to carry on our family heritage - but who’s to say he won’t adopt or blend his partner’s name? I want there to be more Aronsons than just my baby brudder :)
My creative identity
I am becoming established in my professional/creative career as Kendra Aronson. I’ve made great contacts and connections that know me as Kendra Aronson and when I publish my SLO Farmers’ Market Cookbook I’d like the author/photographer name to be Kendra Aronson.
Going against tradition
For the most part I am a very traditional person, but when faced with options like this I think it’s important to question customs. Just because it’s a long-lasting tradition does not mean that everyone should automatically assume and expect me to drop my maiden name! I’m sorry if that offends conservative folks, but it’s how I feel. I think it’s a lovely tradition and wonderful when other women take their husband’s last name, I just don’t think it’s the best choice for me, personally.
I can always change my mind!
You know what’s great about not changing/altering your last name at all? It’s that you can always change it later in life! There is no rush whatsoever, I’ve got nothing but time to reassess my decision. I thrive on logical decisions. If I were to do anything, it would probably be Kendra Ashley Aronson Somma, no hyphenation. Why? Honestly, pure aesthetics, I don’t want a hyphen in my last name. I’d rather have 2 last names with a space a la Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton.
Anticipated questions and formulated answers - Yes, I’ve had a think about this as well... :)
Doesn’t keeping your maiden name go against tradition? How does Shea feel about it?
Yes, you are correct, it’s not traditional. Just because we don’t have the same last name does not mean we love each other any less than couples with the identical last names. Having the same last name does not automatically make you “family”. Family and love is far more stronger and deeper than having the same legal last name.
How will you explain this to your kids? Papa will have one last name and Mama will have another last name? How is a child supposed to understand this and not be confused?
Here is what I plan on saying to the future kiddo: I am an individual. Shea is an individual. When we were both born, we were given names by our family. We have decided to continue living with these birth names. Guess what? You are so lucky and so special that you get two last names! Huzzah! This is to showcase that we, as parents, believe that there is equality and mutual respect between us. You are a product of both of us. It was a team effort to create you and bring you into this world. Plus, if you think about it, most of your relatives have different last names - siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins. So, in this way, it’s much more common to have different last names and still be family.
How will people address you as a couple? As a family? What if I need to send you a wedding invite or holiday card, how will I address you?
Most likely people would probably lump us together as Kendra and Shea Somma, or the Sommas, I would imagine. Which is totally fine. We quite like to refer to ourselves as Team Aromma although we could not seriously change our last name to Aromma hahaaaa. Perhaps when kids come around they will refer to us as the Aronson Sommas or the Somma Aronsons or the Sommas. At the end of the day, there is no way to know or control how people will perceive us and call us as a couple and as a family unit. As far as I am concerned the only real important thing is that people know we care very much for each other.
*Disclaimer: This is a decision that I, myself, have decided. I have absolutely no judgement towards other females that do otherwise. This is my choice and I respect the choices that others have made.
If anyone else is contemplating the different options out there, here are some resources I’ve found to be insightful and helpful:
New York Times wedding announcement. The couple decided to both change their surnames to Ma-Weaver, Annie Ma + Jacob Weaver = Annie and Jacob Ma-Weaver. I think it’s really sweet, unique, and uncommon now but perhaps this will catch on.
The Feminist’s Mystique’s/Shannon’s The Last Name Project. A great feminist point of view laying out all the reasons she kept her maiden name when she married.
Cup of Jo’s Would You hyphenate your baby’s last name? Food for thought for our future kids.
New York Times article: Children of the Hyphens, the Next Generation. Additional food for thought for naming our future children.
Hitch Switch. A clever business name and easy way to legally change your name with minimal paperwork.
Telegraph’s Couples fuse last names. This is a a very short British write-up about the growing trend of young married couples blending their last names to create one new last name. I’ve never met a blended last name married couple - other than cute nickames: the Dameraks (Dameron + Dvorak) and the Arommas (Aronson + Somma).