One of the questions that comes up occasionally when people find out you are engaged is ‘will you change you name?’ It’s understandable. In today’s society it cannot be assumed that a wife would automatically change her surname to match her husband’s. The few of my friends who have already got married have highlighted the change in this generation of brides by opting to hyphenate their names instead.
I think it underlines how differently people consider the role of women in this century compared with the last, and how we find ways to reflect that change. A wife does not belong to her husband the way they used to, she is still a person in her own right, and it is not simply taken for granted that she will just become a homemaker and raise the children. Your name is a fundamental part of your identity and by keeping hold of it in a double-barrel surname, they may be saying yes, I embrace my new family but I am still myself, the same person I have always been with the same goals and ambitions.
Obviously, I cannot speak for anyone just myself, but I think that’s quite nice, providing your newly protracted surname does not sound ridiculous or rude. It does beg the question of what your children’s surnames would be I suppose, especially if you husband does not take on your new name too. Personally, I think a partner should share your surname, long as it may be, because it’s equal and fair. The idea that a man is unchanged by his new marital status is old-fashioned. He is now expected to share in family life and participate more than by just getting on with his job and continuing his old lifestyle, so his name should change too, no?
I say all this, yet I am preparing mentally to change my own name to my fiance’s. It’s not just that his name is prettier than mine, which is it, but I am also quite looking forward to showing the world how much of myself I have given to my husband-to-be. Being together has changed me, hopefully for the better, and whilst I will always be myself underneath, I am content for my earthly representation, my name, to be changed forever the day we say ‘I do.’
I still expect him to share equally in the life we are building together, probably more so than some women ask of their husbands because I have a very strong sense of what is fair and what is not, but I would not foist my given surname on him. It’s so awkward having to correct people’s spelling and pronunciation of it all the time and I am, basically, an enormously practical person. At least with my new name I’ll only have to correct its spelling!