Once, it was just what you did. But marriage - and the decision to get married, and the act of getting married, and everything that goes with it - in 2014 feels like a political choice, a statement of intent. And no element of marriage is that more so than in the case of changing one’s name.
Once, it was easy. Once, you went from your father’s name to your husband’s, assumed the title of Mrs, and that was that. Now, not so.
Do you keep your name? Do you take his? Whichever route you pick, one option will produce askance looks either from elderly relatives who didn’t realise they had such a radical in their midst, or your feminist friends because you’ve betrayed the cause.
All of which is quite academic until you come to do it yourself and then you realise - I mean, you knew it before, obviously, but now you know it, it’s hammered home in a very real way - that your name is a critical part of your identity.
It’s easy - or, easier - if you objectively like one more than you do another. A former colleague won’t ever change hers, she says, because she doesn’t like her boyfriend’s name. Job done. But when you don’t have an aesthetic objection it’s harder.
My name is important to me. It’s part of who I am, and very much a part of my identity. Some colleagues at work call me by my surname. I’m attached to it. I like it. My father doesn’t have boys, and I don’t want to let our name just slip into the past when it needn’t.
At the same time, I want to have the same name as The Writer once we’re married. And should we ever have kids, I want us all to have the same name (if nothing else, it sounds like it’s FAR easier to deal with life that way).
I could take his name in my personal life, and keep mine in my professional - it’s an option that seems to work for a lot of people. But I’m not sure that it would work for me: my two identities aren’t quite that distinct, and although I certainly have a ‘work’ persona, I’m not a completely different person when I’m there - and quite a lot of how I define myself in my entirety comes from the professional skills that I have and the job that I do.
He could take mine, of course - and it’s something that we seriously discussed. There’s no logical reason why, if someone’s name has to change, it shouldn’t be his. But, being a journalist, there’s a byline to consider, and he’s built up an extensive body of work under the current one. There’s also the more prosaic point that my current surname just doesn’t really sound right with his name.
So, we’re going to do something I’ve previously not been a massive fan of, but which in this case seems to be the best compromise, and we’re going to double-barrell, both of us taking the new name.
Starting off with a compromise that suits us both seems to be a good way to go into a marriage.
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