I used to hate my surname.
I would groan every time I had to explain that no I am not French and it’s pronounced NAY-pee-ur not NAAAA-pee-yer.
As a child I longed for a simple last name, something solid and sensible like Barber or West. But as time went on, I grew to love my slightly unusual moniker. My name has been with me for 26 years and I’m not quite sure that I’ll ever want to give it up.
And yet, I know plenty of women who are more than happy to abandon their surnames the moment they tie the knot.
Every weekend, a growing number of strangers populate my Facebook news feed as each new bride eagerly adopts her husband’s name.
Many modern women wrestle with the name-change debate in the months leading up to their nuptials.
Relinquishing your maiden name is hardly the marriage prerequisite it once was, but it still seems to be the cultural norm here in Canada.
Some argue that a shared name for both partners builds a cohesive family unit and helps avoid the inevitable conflict over children’s names. Plus there’s the added bonus of never having to defend yourself against nosy in-laws and acquaintances who just can’t understand why you don’t want to use your “family name.”
Sure there are plenty of reasonable arguments for ditching your surname for his, but isn’t this tradition a bit archaic? I can’t help but feel like there’s a lingering sense of ownership surrounding the whole thing.
I shudder when I hear a newly-wed couple introduced as Mr. and Mrs. His First and Last Name, as if a change in marital status has resulted in the dissolution of her entire identity.
But let’s forget the feminist unease for a moment. Taking your husband’s name is also an enormous bureaucratic headache. Changing your name on all of your official documents – passport, driver’s licence, health card, credit cards – means lengthy line-ups, stacks of paperwork and a lot of hassle.
And for the really cynical folk, keeping your maiden name might be the all too obvious choice when you consider the depressing likelihood that your one true love will end up in divorce court.
Ultimately, it’s a very personal decision and there’s really no right or wrong choice – only what’s right for you. Unless you’ve decided to go with a hyphenated compromise. Excellent in theory, but individuals with multiple surnames always end up sounding a bit too much like law firms.