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Should You Change Your Name?
A few generations ago, women were expected to change their last names after getting married. Until the 1970s, some states even required women to use their husbands’ names to vote, get a driver’s license or do banking. But times have changed, and modern couples can decide for themselves how they want to navigate the name-change question.
To Change or Not?
There’s no universal right or wrong decision. Some same-sex and straight couples keep their current names. Some hyphenate or combine both last names to create a shared new one. And some women or men decide to take their spouse’s name. Since it’s often an emotionally loaded topic, it’s important to think through your personal preferences and discuss them with your partner in advance. You may find that you both feel strongly about it and have to work through a compromise. Or you may learn that it’s not really a big deal to your partner either way.
By the Numbers
Around 20% of women married in recent years have decided to keep their names, according to a Google Consumer Survey conducted by The Upshot. And another 10% chose an alternative option, such as hyphenating their name. Since gay marriage has only been legal nationwide since 2015, there is not yet much data on the trends for same-sex couples.
For Your Consideration
If you’re not sure if you want to change your name or not, start by asking yourself open-ended questions. Pay attention to any gut reactions you have, and talk about your perspective with your future spouse.
Questions to get you started:
- What feelings do you have when you think about changing or keeping your name? What do you want to do?
- How does your name influence your identity? Does changing your name affect this?
- What factors (personal, political, historical, religious, etc.) are important for you in this decision?
- If you and your partner want to have children some day, what last name do you want them to have? Is it important for you all to have the same name?
- Are there any professional or financial concerns you have about changing your name?
Here are a few naming options to explore:
- Keep your name
- Take your spouse’s name, or have your spouse take yours
- Take your spouse’s name, and use your last name a middle name
- Hyphenate your two last names
- Merge your two last names into one
- Pick a completely new last name
Ultimately there is no one right answer to this question. You and your partner may have differing opinions on this topic, but the most important thing is to give each other the ability and space to share your feelings, and to make a decision based on what you both value together.