Is This Petty? On Taking Your Husband’s Name Legally, But Not Really Using It
Decades ago, if there was a conversation about whether or not women were comfortable with taking their husband’s last name, you wouldn’t find much dissension surrounding the idea of doing so. But nowadays, for many women, it doesn’t feel as necessary. And as one woman made it plain when she wrote about why she wouldn’t take her husband’s name for the Huffington Post, “The expectation that women should change their last name for marriage, swapping their own identity for their husband’s, is — inarguably — sexist.”
Whoomp, there it is.
Still, many women take their husband’s last name out of the excitement of building a new family and love calling themselves Mrs. ___. And then there are others who take their husband’s last name simply to keep the peace and to go with tradition, but truly find themselves only using it here and there. I would be included in that pack of people.
I wrote in the past about the sadness I felt at the idea of leaving behind my maiden name for my husband’s prior to tying the knot, but I never imagined going into a marriage with my own. Still, once the time came to make everything official, change the passport, social security, IDs and more, it wasn’t a joyous occasion. Well, not for me at least. The minute word got out that I did, my father-in-law started calling the house and asking with whom he was speaking to. I would say, “Victoria,” and in response he would say, “Victoria who?” waiting for me to say his last name with pride.
But aside from using it in phone conversations and on social media, I’m still, just about everywhere else, Uwumarogie. The only thing I have left to change is my last name on my credit cards and banking information, and because of that, I still sign for and order things with my maiden name. I thought nothing of it until a package came for me this week.
My husband brought the box upstairs for me as we came in the house after dinner, and when he placed it down on the ground, he looked at the name on it and said, “You still go by Uwumarogie?” It wasn’t a question steeped in irritation, he just sounded like he wanted to know and understand why.
I in turn said, “All my credit card information is still in my maiden name. I just hadn’t found the time yet to call about all that.”
He didn’t say anything in response.
“I’m still going to change it, don’t worry,” I said.
“No, no, it’s fine!” he replied. “I was just asking…”
It didn’t turn into anything else from there, but I was sure that he was likely disappointed about seeing my maiden name everywhere. While I’ve changed my information, my mail still comes as Uwumarogie. When my name used to appear on his church’s roster for the row we sit in, which he would have to fill in attendance for, he would scratch out my maiden name and write in his.
“They need to get it right” he would say semi-jokingly when I would ask why he kept doing that.
And when I book flights, cars, pretty much anything, while I have a license in my married name, I still do sign up for everything under my maiden name. The one time I tried to sign up with my married name for a car at Enterprise, it threw off my reservation because I’d accidentally only brought the license with my maiden name to my destination.
And my writing name, as you can see, is what it’s always been for the purpose of keeping my work together. Honestly, it’s just second nature for me and feels a lot less complicated to use my maiden name, but it also feels like it’s probably hurting my husband’s feelings. I don’t want to do that.
My intentions are not to try and make some last stand to keep my own name, and I truly do plan to swap names on my forms of payments, but I honestly don’t understand the need to rush and do it so that I can sign everything in my married name to make someone else giddy. I’m still the same person.
It almost, at times, makes me wonder if this urgency is in some way meant to encourage me to fully embrace the fact that I’m someone’s wife now, but somehow, not the person I’ve always been. But if you ask me, I don’t need boxes and mail and attendance sheets to make that clear for me. I’m more than happy to be married to and in love with my husband, and my use of my maiden name isn’t a slight to him or anyone else. It’s my identity. I can take his name fully, but on record, I’ll always be an Uwumarogie. And if seeing that name is an issue for anyone, it certainly won’t be mine…
But as always, that’s just my opinion. What say you? Is it petty to change your name legally but still use your maiden name most of the time?