I'm a newly married man and agonising about what we should do about surnames.

(252 Posts)
MaleMan81 Fri 10-Jan-14 09:50:35

My wife and I got married a few months ago. She hasn't changed her surname to mine, and I've been saying to her that I'm not sure I agree with the idea of a woman taking a man's name. And that's how we have left it.

I think we both would be very happy with this decision if children were never going to be part of the picture.

However she recently became pregnant, and although we are both thrilled and excited, I have started to think that if we are going to become a family it would make us all feel more united if we both had the same surname as our child. My wife agrees with this.

So the options as I see it are - she takes my name, I take her name, or we do that terribly modern thing of meshing together our surnames to make a whole new name!

Now I would like to think of myself as a thoroughly enlightened man who is a feminist, but the problem I'm having is that her surname sounds a tiny bit silly, and is the kind of name that would be gift to bullies in any environment. I don't want to write her actual name, but a surname that would provoke a similar reaction might be something like "Awkwardly". What is worse is that my first name rhymes with her surname, which would give me a name which would at the very least cause raised eyebrows I imagine.

In comparison my surname is more normal with no real meaning, and is something along the lines of "Bailey".

The only meshed version of our names that really scans property actually sounds even worse than her surname, and not something I would want to saddle a child with.

So that leaves me favouring my own surname simply because it sounds more normal, and works better with both our first names. And to be fair my wife has said that she was a bit embarassed by her surname as she was growing up, although now she is fine with it.

I would like to think that if it was her with the normal sounding name and me with the odd name, then I would be happy to change my name to hers. But I'm worried that subconsciously I am simply imposing my name on her as is "tradition" and automatically favouring my own name.

I am also aware that her taking my name is the "normal" and "expected" thing to happen, and is the easy option in terms of acceptance in society. And I must also admit that I am generally a quiet person who doesn't like to draw attention to myself - which is exactly what would happen if I did what is seen (by society at least) as something reasonably radical like taking my wife's name.

I'm just confused and going around in circles now. What have others done?

EdithWeston Fri 10-Jan-14 09:59:37

The important thing here is that you have thought about it, and considered all the options without prejudice, and are jointly tending towards the surname you prefer for aesthetic reasons.

That it coincides with 'normal' and 'expected' doesn't alter your personal reasons as a couple, and being able to choose what suits you for the reasons you think important is the key thing, not the result.

Does it have to be this choice though? Why do you need to have the same surname? If she kept her name as her legal identity, but was OK to be Mrs MaleMan81 socially hen you could have the sense of identity without an actual change.

Or you could decide to start from scratch and pick a totally different surname.

My name was long, already double barrelled and with a strange spelling. DH's name was ordinary, easy and with a spelling that people already know without being told not to use the more conventional form, "spell it like this…"

What does your DW think of the whole thing?

Why not make up a totally new name that you both love?

HectorVector Fri 10-Jan-14 10:00:13

I refer to myself as my husbands name for nursery/school, doctors and dentists, passport - things that I'm likely to need or do with DS (because DS was given my DH's name purely because hyphenating didn't work with our names and DH didn't feel he could change his surname as he's the last male in his family and feels the need to carry his surne on of possible). But for everything else, banking, work, insurance, driving license etc... is in my birth surname. It works for us and being known as two surnames for me doesn't seem to cause any issue e.g. On my will it says Hector MarriedName also known as Hector BirthName.

risingsunshine Fri 10-Jan-14 10:04:09

Another option is to both choose an absolutely brand new surname. Could that work? Maybe look at your family trees and see if anything appeals?

risingsunshine Fri 10-Jan-14 10:05:07

Hector do you have an observation in your passport with your maiden name? I need to renew my passport and am considering doing that?

HectorVector Fri 10-Jan-14 10:10:46

I don't know what an observation in your passport means but that might be a good idea if such a thing exists, I need to renew it soon. So I'll try to find out. My passport is purely in DHs surname. So far I've not had any ID issues - if I need photo ID in my BirthName I show my driving licence and if I need photo ID in my DHs surname I show my passport. I've not reached any situation where I've needed 2 photo IDs yet so I've never had a problem. I'm guessing if I needed 2 I could take both as well as maybe my marriage certificate?!

mistlethrush Fri 10-Jan-14 10:15:57

I work under my maiden name, but everything else (including Drivers licence etc) is under my married name.

CMOTDibbler Fri 10-Jan-14 10:16:16

I kept my name, and ds is myname-dhname, but if our names hadn't double barrelled, we'd have picked an entirely new name. In our case, a name that belonged to a great aunt/uncle and died out.

But names don't make you more of a family - they are just names, and tbh I think you are overthinking about peoples reactions/attention/bullies too much imo.

Make a decision that your wife and you are happy with, and everyone else can get used to it.

steppemum Fri 10-Jan-14 10:31:20

well I know that lots of women see taking their husband's name as being very patriarchal etc, and I understand that in principle.

But for me, I see marriage as a lifetime commitment, and I wanted OUR family to all have the same name. Otherwise to me it feels as if I am still attached to my family and he to his, but we are not attached together and to our children.

I would have been happy with my name, his name or a brand new name. We looked at the sound of the names (we liked both of ours) and then also at the rest of the family I have 2 brothers who will continue the family name. Dh has one brother and one sister, and dh is the eldest son of the eldest son going back 6 generations or so, and we felt it would be more balanced for us to take his name.

We tell that to our kids, both to affirm our desire for OUR name, and to let them know that it isn't a done deal to take your husband's name.

As long as you are both happy, and doing it as a choice and not as an expectation, then it is no-one's business but yours.

steppemum Fri 10-Jan-14 10:36:36

sorry - just read that back and realise that it sounds as if you don't see marriage is a lifetime commitment if you don't change your name.

Not what I meant. I was thinking about some people I know who see marriage as lasting 10 years or so, and then reverting to their own name and so don't want to change their name.

NK5BM3 Fri 10-Jan-14 10:46:18

At work I'm known as my maiden name. At school for the kids and doctors etc I'm mrs married name.

In the drivers licence I'm mrs married name. On my passport it's both names. I have my married name in brackets after my maiden name.

Kids have dh's surname.

We have friends who have alternated surnames with the kids. So kid1 has his mad, kid2, her name, kid3, his Name.

Other friends have double-barreled so kids are Jane her name-his name. Or they don't hyphenate it but it's seen as a middle/third name so Jane Mary her name his name.

ZingChoirsOfAngels Fri 10-Jan-14 10:54:27

I took DH's surname, it didn't occur to me not to.
And now my initials are VIP!grin

WitchOfEndor Fri 10-Jan-14 10:56:30

Pick a completely new surname that you both like?

IrisWildthyme Fri 10-Jan-14 11:06:23

either use an anagram of both your names, which gives you much more options than trying to mesh half-and-half. or pick a new name, she's ms awkwardly-newname, you are mr bailey-newname and the children just have newname - this is a system sustainable for generations.

FairPhyllis Fri 10-Jan-14 11:11:45

I don't think it's really a true choice between "feminist" and "non-feminist" courses of action. If you think about it, your wife's name isn't her name - it's her father's name (and father's father's father's etc name) that she had imposed on her by the convention of a patriarchal society. So if it's more meaningful to her to change her name to yours because then you'll be a family, she might as well, because the main alternative is having some man's name anyway.

This is what it means to be a woman under patriarchy - all the choices are bad!

JayEmm Fri 10-Jan-14 11:23:49

I know two couples where the man has taken the woman's name and would have done regardless of the aesthetics of the names concerned. No major problems as far as I know.

If you and your wife aren't comfortable with her taking your name, either pick a new one or take hers, I'd have thought.

birdybear Fri 10-Jan-14 11:25:38

there is nothing wrong with being normal and traditional if that is how you want to be...

Mumof22222boys Fri 10-Jan-14 11:40:18

I have kept my name and the only time I am called mrs dh name is on Xmas cards etc. the boys have DH's name. It is a but of a non issue. I don't particularly love my name but really don't like DH's name - like you OP, it is the kind of name that people snigger about! I am a feminist, but didn't keep my name for feminist reasons...had his name been different I might well have gone for it. Call me shallow grin

curlew Fri 10-Jan-14 11:43:34

Mr Hisname
Ms Hername

Jane and John Hername-Hisname.


Sollers Fri 10-Jan-14 11:46:23

I would make a decision based purely on which name you prefer. My husband took my name, but only because he liked my name better than his and I wasn't bothered either way.
We also moved around the same time, however, so no-one knows what his old name was, so he never got any stick for it.

MrsFeathersword Fri 10-Jan-14 11:47:51

Curlew I really like that - never thought of double barrelling just for joint things!
Have never needed the same name to feel united as part of my dh's and our children's family. We are united in a million ways. I doubt that a mother ever feels it would take a name to make her feel closer to a child she has carried!
For what it is worth our dcs have his surname and mine as a middle name.

RedToothBrush Fri 10-Jan-14 11:48:34

How about using one of your surnames as a middle name? This is actually fairly common historically.

sleepyhead Fri 10-Jan-14 11:58:17

If you're both from roughly the same cultural backgrounds then I bet you wouldn't have to look too far back in your respective family trees to find a joint surname. Otherwise just pick one that you both like or has particular meaning for you both.

You could also keep your birth surnames as middle names.

TheFabulousIdiot Fri 10-Jan-14 11:58:18

What does your wife want to do?

LoonvanBoon Fri 10-Jan-14 12:03:39

I ended up taking my husband's surname for very similar reasons to the ones outlined in your OP.

If children hadn't been on the agenda, neither of us would have changed. We felt we wanted a "family" name - I wouldn't have been happy for my children to have a different name from me. I wasn't keen on my own surname because it was a bit unusual & not in a good way! DH's surname was fairly unusual too, but considerably less silly. Meshed versions all sounded weird & the idea of just creating a totally new name didn't appeal to either of us.

I really don't think I was influenced by patriarchal tradition. I'm not sure how readily DH would have taken my name, had the situations been reversed (ie. him with the sillier name!), though, so perhaps he was. Having said that, he didn't try to persuade me to take his name either.

In many ways, years on, I regret changing my name. Not sure what's changed, but I look back much more fondly on my old surname & doing family history research has made me a bit sad that it's no longer my name. Possibly not rational, but I feel this more strongly as I get older.

Also, getting letters & cards etc. addressed to Mr & Mrs husband's initial LoonvanBoon pisses me off & makes me feel that taking his surname was a bit of a slippery slope. Some people - well, ILs anyway, have expressed such shock that I even considered not taking their name, that it makes me feel I did buy into a sexist tradition even though my reasons for doing it seemed reasonable at the time.

I still don't know what we'd have done in terms of which surname to give the children if I hadn't changed my name. They (the kids) think my surname was rather silly too, so does that mean that from their POV we made the right decision? Not sure.

TaraLott Fri 10-Jan-14 12:08:41

DC have partners surname, I have my own, it's never caused even a hint of a problem.
As someone else said, names don't make a family, people do.

StillNoFuckingEyeDeer Fri 10-Jan-14 12:13:31

I'd ask your wife how she feels first. It sounds like your surname is the best of those three options, but maybe you could invent a new surname or use your wife's mother's maiden name (for example).

SooticaTheWitchesCat Fri 10-Jan-14 12:17:36

I use both my maiden name and my married name for work, on my bank account etc. although officially my name is my husband's surname.

For school I always use my married name only so that we all have the same name as a family.

She can actually just keep her name if she wants and be known as Mrs whatever your name is.

It's amazing how often people say that women's surnames sound a bit silly in this situation.

Since you ask - if you were my husband, I'd be irritated and think you should take my name since you're trotting out arguments that are a bit of a cliche. But that is because I am a horrible nasty feminist and if you were my husband, you'd know that. grin

Talk to her, but it's not very nice to tell someone their surname is mockable, so let her be the one to bring that issue up. She might feel as you do anyway, it's not really something strangers can sort out for you.

Thurlow Fri 10-Jan-14 12:20:06

Another one where I have my surname, DP has his and DC has DP's surname too. It just sounded better with their first name than my did. I wouldn't have taken DP's surname had we decided marriage was for us. So far no problems at all and I certainly don't feel less of a family for having a different surname to DC, though I do respond to "Mrs DCsurname" if called it (it's really not worth having a political/feminist debate at a football class!)

I do sometimes wish I had given DC my surname as a middle name, but they already had 2 middle names and my surname doesn't quite scan as a middle name. It's only a minor wish, though. Would you or your wife be happy with that?

If we have a 2nd DC, I will insist that we make a decision again on surnames based on what goes best with our chosen first name.

What does your gut say? And have you thought of first names, of what surname might go best?

Also, I suppose it depends on how much you want to explain the surname. In my experience, it's becoming more common for one parent to have a different surname to their child, but I have yet to meet a man who has changed his surname either to his wife's or to a brand new surname. I personally think that's a great idea if you are both happy with it, I just imagine it would take more explaining that say my situation, where no one bats an eyelid when I say "DC is Jane Smith, but I'm Mary Thurlow" (for example)

KerryKatonasKhakis Fri 10-Jan-14 12:21:59

I've kept my surname (FairPhyllis I what you mean about it coming from my father but I reclaim it! It is my name; I've had it from birth), H kept his. DS has H surname because mine is difficult to spell and pronounce and caused (and still causes) trouble for me with teasing, misspelling etc. (university finance dept. spelled my name wrong and when I corrected it they set up a whole new account but kept the first one thus presenting me with 2 bills..and then threatening court!).

However, I regret it now, we are becoming more multicultural and an odd, forrin' surname won't stick out as much now.

Having parents with 2 different names has caused absolutely no problems whatsoever. It doesn't make us any less of a unit or any less committed hmm hmm

Thurlow Fri 10-Jan-14 12:26:53

Also, do you know why your wife didn't change her name? I suspect there are various reasons for not changing a name.

Some women won't change because they see taking their husband's name as patriarchal and old-fashioned and choose to keep their own name from principle.

Some women (such as me) wouldn't change just because the idea seems weird - I'm me, I've been Thurlow for 30-odd years, the idea of suddenly having a different name seems bizarre. Thus I'm not bothered by what my DC's name is, as it's as unique/individual to them as my name is to me and I don't see it as being a weighted political statement.

Amongst my friends who haven't changed their name it's about 50/50 between 'principle' and 'can't be arsed' grin

The reason why your wife decided to keep her name might have a big influence on what surname you give your child.

mostlyharmless Fri 10-Jan-14 12:30:41

You don't actually seem to have asked your wife what she thinks - surely this would be a fairly natural progression from the conversation where you agreed it would be nice to all have the same name now you have children?

It's pretty hard to advise without knowing how she feels about it.

gnushoes Fri 10-Jan-14 12:34:21

Never took husband's surname and have no problem having a different name to the rest of the family. Registrar was a bit hmm when we registered dd1 (18 years ago) because did not think it was legally possible for me to have not changed my name!!!

mostlyharmless Fri 10-Jan-14 12:34:40

KerryKatonasKhakis I agree, my name is my name, as much as my father's name was his name rather than his father's - you could go on forever with that argument.

I didn't want to change my name. My children have my surname as a middle name and DH's name as their surname. This is an imperfect solution, but one that works for us, double barrelled wouldn't have. I definitely don't feel less of a 'unit'.

Thants Fri 10-Jan-14 12:44:24

I think each keep your own names and then give child both you surnames. A double surname.

curlew Fri 10-Jan-14 12:54:04

Ii've commented before on the strange phenomenon of "women's last names". It's amazing how often they are ugly, difficult to spell and pronounce, or are just somehow ""not as nice" as men's last names.........

tribpot Fri 10-Jan-14 13:04:25

I fundamentally disagree with the idea that you all need to have the same surname to feel like a family or to feel united. I come from a large, blended family where some members don't even use the same first name with everyone, never mind the same surname. And conversely some members have exactly the same name as other members, I mean first, middle and surname. Weird but true. Anyway, none of it makes the slightest difference to how anyone feels about anyone else, or whether or not we feel like a family. So my number one suggestion would be not to worry about this being an essential component of starting a family.

But your baby does have to have a surname, and so it may be that you want to choose to all have the same surname, rather than the baby have your surname or her surname.

I would pick a completely new surname, following the suggestion of other posters of looking for a common surname within your family trees.

SconeRhymesWithGone Fri 10-Jan-14 13:05:25

I kept mine; DH kept his. The children have his. It has worked for us. We did not all need to have the same surname to be or feel like a family.

JoinYourPlayfellows Fri 10-Jan-14 13:08:18

"So that leaves me favouring my own surname simply because it sounds more normal, and works better with both our first names."

What an amazing coincidence.

We really must do something about this problem of women having such silly-sounding names.

MrsDeVere Fri 10-Jan-14 13:13:18

Join if you had my maiden name (which lets remember was actually my Dad's name) you might not be so dismissive of silly surnames.

My maiden name was a fucking millstone all my life. That is the only reason I took my DH's name.

Juno77 Fri 10-Jan-14 13:13:54

OP - there is nothing anti-feminist about taking your husbands surname. What is anti-feminist, is being expected to take it. If you have discussed it and both agree that you want that to happen, that's fine. The idea is choice.

Would option 3 - a double barrelled surname - not be an idea?

If not, I wouldn't stress. She is obviously happy not having the same surname as you. FWIW my children and I have different surnames, I couldn't give a shit, it has never mattered and it doesn't make us feel any less of a family.

ToffeeOwnsTheSausage Fri 10-Jan-14 13:21:20

I couldn't wait to get rid of mine as my father was a twat. When I was a child I liked having his name as I belonged no where and it made me feel a connection even though I had seen him about twice, and then I didn't know he was a twat.

I took DH's name. His is as daft as mine was. His mother would have needed smelling salts if I hadn't have changed my name but I did it for me.

Kids have his name too.

My maiden name will probably vanish now.

ToffeeOwnsTheSausage Fri 10-Jan-14 13:25:54

Most women with "silly" names will have had names that came from their father...

Chunderella Fri 10-Jan-14 13:40:50

In your shoes OP, I might be tempted to spend some time thinking why it's so important that you all have the same name. There are plenty of us out there who don't, either for political, cultural or blended family reasons and I imagine you don't think our families are less united because of this. If so, perhaps you won't actually feel that way about your own family, if in fact you don't all have the same surnames. Though that still leaves you with the question of whose name the baby gets...

Loonvan unfortunately, keeping your own name is no insurance against being addressed as Mrs DHs Firstname Surname! I get it much more than you'd think, sometimes for reasons of backwardness and others due to twattishness.

scallopsrgreat Fri 10-Jan-14 13:44:14

"Having parents with 2 different names has caused absolutely no problems whatsoever. It doesn't make us any less of a unit or any less committed" <<That

funnyvalentine Fri 10-Jan-14 14:01:41

I'm another one who didn't change my name. DH kept his too, and the kids have that one too. Doesn't matter in the slightest that we have different surnames. Maybe things will change when the kids are older, but surnames aren't used nearly as much as they used to be and it rarely crops up.

Seems the important thing is to decide what name the kids will have, and if you feel later that you or your wife want to change then you can go ahead. You don't need to all change name before the baby is here if you don't want to.

Blistory Fri 10-Jan-14 14:01:53

For those of you with 'silly' surnames, presumably any brothers that you had changed their surnames on marriage too ? No ? Funny that.

I like the Scottish tradition of women retaining their own name throughout their lives. No fuss, no drama. Surely if your surname was that weird, you would just change it - why wait for marriage ?

I will never understand why any woman, particularly those intending to do the majority of child care, give their DC their partner's name. Would be interested in why and when this became the norm.

MrsDeVere Fri 10-Jan-14 14:07:10

I wanted to change my name. It was convenient to do it through marriage as I was getting married anyway.
I think my DB would have been happy to take his wife's name if it had been a 'thing' thirty years ago.

Blistory perhaps women wait until marriage because getting rid of their father's name is a very difficult thing to do in many families. Unless you have the legitimacy of marriage it would be seen as a rejection of your father.

Surnames do not belong to women. They never have.

Juno77 Fri 10-Jan-14 14:07:27

blistory there isn't the same historical and traditional issue attached to men changing their names. For many women, it's something they want to do, and marriage is a natural time.

Many men do change their names, either on marriage or otherwise. Granted, it isn't as prevalent as women doing it, but it is reasonably common. At least it is here, maybe not everywhere.

Why don't you understand women giving their child their partners name? The child has to have a surname, so why not go with the fathers? I think this is 'the norm' because traditionally, women take their husbands surname, therefore the children do too.

In more modern times, women aren't always changing their surname, but the DC's have to have someones surname. A lot of people find blending names naff.

Thurlow Fri 10-Jan-14 14:10:33

Blistory, because they decided that surname worked better, maybe?

I think it's odd that a lot of people seem to assume that a woman who is confident/principled enough etc to decide that she won't either get married or change her name, which still goes against current norms, then just rolls over and lets the DC have their dad's surname without any discussion about it confused

funnyvalentine Fri 10-Jan-14 14:12:31

Kids have DH's surname because there are only so many things I have the energy to fight for! It is going against convention to give DCs your surname (especially if you're married) and I decided to let this one slip smile

Chunderella Fri 10-Jan-14 14:12:47

In our case Blistory it was a tradeoff. DH and I are from different countries, but we will be spending our lives in mine. DD will have all the nationalities to which she is entitled, but she's going to grow up English, like me. So it seemed a fair tradeoff to have a name reflecting her dad's side- first name as well as surname. Her middle names are from my side, though, including my surname. Which is better if you think about it, because she's reasonably likely to get married and change her surname whereas she'll probably keep her middle names!

JoinYourPlayfellows Fri 10-Jan-14 14:15:30

"The idea is choice."

No, the idea is equality.

Blistory Fri 10-Jan-14 14:16:59

Traditionally, children born outside of marriage did not take the father's surname. Only legitimacy conferred that 'benefit' so it's a relatively recent thing to be happening.

And if people are prepared to go against tradition for naming children, why not for themselves ?

MrsDeVere Fri 10-Jan-14 14:19:59

But their mother's surname would have been her father's.

So not her's.

JoinYourPlayfellows Fri 10-Jan-14 14:20:03

"And if people are prepared to go against tradition for naming children, why not for themselves?"

One of the weird things about traditions is the way they seem to always be interpreted in a way that suits what a man would prefer.

So the supposed tradition is now that children should always be named for their father, regardless of marriage.

So now you can refuse to marry your partner and bully her into calling her children by a name you refuse to allow her to share.

TheNightIsDark Fri 10-Jan-14 14:20:50

We're not married but kids have DPs surname. He's an only child so wanted his name to go on whereas I have 3 brothers.

It doesn't bother me. If we got married I would probably take the second part of his surname but ignore the first part as it sounds too much like bastard! I use the second part for the DCs but legally they have both bits.

I don't like my surname. It's the same as the first name of a 80s has been who was known only by her first name and too many people assume it's my first name.

Gladvent Fri 10-Jan-14 14:23:07

I am so glad my DH's surname is one letter away from my Grandmother's maiden name, same pronunciation.

I changed my name, DC have the same name, we are all DH's surname. Except I don't see it as DH's surname, its the name of the strongest woman I have ever met, so it was a total no brainer for me.

OP I would change both surnames to something you both like.

Idespair Fri 10-Jan-14 14:23:07

I like the idea of all the family having the same name. You have the "better" name for the reasons you have outlined so I think you should all have that as a family name if your wife is ok with that.

Blistory Fri 10-Jan-14 14:23:54

The reason I ask about giving children their father's surname (and this is FWR after all) is that the only explanations I've ever had are :-

a ) it's tradition - well, not outwith marriage it's not
b ) I wanted him to feel involved
c ) I got to carry the baby so it's only right that the father gets recognition.

b & c seem to be putting the wishes or the feeling of the father against those of the mother. Biology dictates that women get pregnant and give birth, it's not something that women then need to make up to men by giving them the right to impose their identity on children.

I couldn't care less what surname a child has but am intrigued that people reject one tradition but support another when both stem from men determining whether to accept women and their offspring as their possessions and signifying this to all by giving them the protection of his name. Or denying it as the case may be.

JoinYourPlayfellows Fri 10-Jan-14 14:24:19

"But their mother's surname would have been her father's.

So not hers"

That applies equally to the father's surname surely?

It would have been his father's. So not his.

So why use either of them?

Gladvent Fri 10-Jan-14 14:24:42

TheNightIsDark I am thinking either Tiffany or Sonia??

curlew Fri 10-Jan-14 14:24:44

"But their mother's surname would have been her father's.

So not her's."

Oh, God, not this again! Of course it's her name- it's what she's been called all her life and is part of her identity. It is who she is. Women don't exist in limbo until marriage, you know. It would be just as logical to say that the man's name isn't his, it's his father's.

JuliaScurr Fri 10-Jan-14 14:25:16

as has been said, wife's name was her father's name. So go back a bit further to wife's maternal grandmother and use her name.

RalphRecklessCardew Fri 10-Jan-14 14:26:02

Fourth option is to invent/choose a surname.

Blistory Fri 10-Jan-14 14:27:02

I disagree that a woman's surname is less of her own as it was given to her by her father. Your husband's surname is equally his fathers.

BillyBanter Fri 10-Jan-14 14:27:17

You've already found the solution that works best for you all, by the sounds of things, so go with that.

LoonvanBoon Fri 10-Jan-14 14:27:41

I get what people are saying about the "strange" surnames all belonging to women! I did get teased about mine constantly at school, though, because it genuinely was /is unusual as a surname, while being in common usage as a noun (for an everyday item). That's what made it sound silly. Most people had never heard of it as a name, either, so it was constantly written down wrongly & / or people assumed I was saying something else & would just write a different name that sounded similar(ish).

I daresay that altered the way I felt about it. And possibly the fact that I've grown fond of it again in hindsight is because so much time has passed & I've forgotten what a pain it was at the time! Or maybe it was just a bigger part of my identity than I realized.

Whatever the case, if I could go back 14 years to when I was married & make the decision again, I wouldn't change my name. Still don't know what we'd do about the children. I really wouldn't want them to have a different name from me, but I think DH would have felt the same way - & as I said upthread, mixed / double-barrelled variants (of our names, that is) are awful.

Thurlow Fri 10-Jan-14 14:28:38

You can't just see a child taking their father's name as supporting a tradition.

Baby needs a surname. Parents have different surnames. Choice is generally between the two surnames or hyphenation. Let's say hyphenation is off the cards because the names don't go well together. So that's then a 50/50 choice between two names. And if it's a 50/50 choice between two names, you can lumber one of those 50%'s with being "supporting tradition". Writing off the possibility of a father's surname being used is just as against inequality as presuming a woman will take her husband's surname.

MrsDeVere Fri 10-Jan-14 14:33:27

That is true Blistory if you are simply comparing a couple about to get married.

But if you look at the wider picture of women and men, their names are all from men.

So surnames are not women's names.

They are men's names that have been given by men either through birth or marriage.

Grennie Fri 10-Jan-14 14:33:45

I find it strange that anyone would want to change their own name.

But either don't change your names at all. Or adopt a totally new surname that you both like.

TheDoctrineOf2014 Fri 10-Jan-14 14:33:53

Funny valentine, it didn't occur to me not to give the DCs DH's name. I wish it had (kept my own name). We might have made the same decision but at least I'd've though about it.

Of course babies in the hospital had my surname which felt odd then.

Those who are saying they have brothers to carry on the name - what's the bonus of having a surname carried on anyway? Most surnames belong to more than one family anyway so still exist somewhere in England. Not to mention -what if those brothers take their wives' names?

JuliaScurr Fri 10-Jan-14 14:35:01

Thurlow - that argument only works if we start on a level playing field and we don't

TheDoctrineOf2014 Fri 10-Jan-14 14:35:46

MrsDV, I agree with you historically, but we have to start from where we are and my name is the one I had for 30 years before marrying DH - it's certainly more mine than his would have been. I suppose inventing my own might have been more mine!

Grennie Fri 10-Jan-14 14:36:25

I know some argue that a child where parents have a different surname, should be given the mothers.

This is because practically a lot of relationships do break down, and most of those children end up living with their mother. So that is the pragmatic solution.

JoinYourPlayfellows Fri 10-Jan-14 14:37:32

"So surnames are not women's names.

They are men's names that have been given by men either through birth or marriage."

And that is the case in perpetuity?

So a woman who chooses to keep her father's name and pass that name on to her children, that is still a "man's name"?

So my BIL who took his wife's name when they got married didn't really take her name, but really just took her Dad's name because she has no name of her own?

It is a weird counsel of despair to insist that women have no surnames and cannot ever have surnames.

That they can't ever take the name that they were given and make it their own.

Blistory Fri 10-Jan-14 14:38:40

I agree that surnames are men's names traditionally. Men were the head of the household so it was their name that was used. Or not used if they wanted to withhold protection.

But if men are no longer the head of the household, why continue with the tradition ? Or is it that men still really are seen as the head of the household ?

And it's certainly not traditional in Scotland yet it's become so ingrained that it's accepted as being traditional. Women always retained their names so much so that headstones, until relatively recently, had women buried as 'Mary Jones, wife of Peter Smith' and vice versa.

Why continue with a tradition that treated women as lesser ? And whilst I appreciate that some make the decision after considering all the options, the fact remains that most simply choose to continue with tradition.

Creamycoolerwithcream Fri 10-Jan-14 14:41:08

I think the whole family should have your 'normal' sounding surname.
I loved your post, especially your name rhyming with your wive's surname.. Made me chuckle.

JoinYourPlayfellows Fri 10-Jan-14 14:41:43

"I suppose inventing my own might have been more mine!"

Would it though?

DH wanted to do this when we married, but I wasn't keen because I wanted to keep the name I was known by, the name I had used when establishing myself as an adult and a professional.

The thing I hate about women changing their names is that it makes them invisible to people who used to know them.

On the list of people planning to attend my recent secondary school reunion I had difficulty placing a lot of the women because they had changed their names and so weren't so easily recognisable.

That's a pretty big disadvantage in world that works on the basis of social connections.

If women are going to invent their own names, they should do it long before most of them get married.

Thurlow Fri 10-Jan-14 14:42:47

To a degree, but assuming a happy and equal relationship between two people it's a level playing field.

Maybe this makes me a bad feminist but I'm sorry, I don't really want to make decisions on the naming of my children based on years of argument rather than making a decision that suited us as a new family. I started at a level playing field. Did we think his surname, or my surname, worked best with our chosen first name? His. End of.

Everyone should just do what they feel comfortable with, whether that's a woman taking her husband's name, a woman keeping her name, a child having both surnames, any scenario.

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Fri 10-Jan-14 14:43:38

I have one surname and my husband and children another. It creates no problems at all.

RedToothBrush Fri 10-Jan-14 14:44:21

I think it's odd that a lot of people seem to assume that a woman who is confident/principled enough etc to decide that she won't either get married or change her name, which still goes against current norms, then just rolls over and lets the DC have their dad's surname without any discussion about it

I've kept my maiden name. Hell will freeze before I change it. If we have a child they will probably have their father's surname but my surname as a middle name.

We have discussed this; its important to my DH for his name to continue. I would probably rather my child had my name but when it comes down to it, it wasn't so important that I upset him and it just isn't worth the argument over it.

Having looked at both our family histories though I don't necessarily feel its as important as I once did. In both our families there are traditions where other family names have been passed down.

In DH family, there is a very unusual surname beginning with S that 'ends' with a marriage in 1858. This surname is used as a middle name for one of their sons. The surname disappears for a generation, but in the generation after there is something of an 'interesting' family situation where one cousin ends up with his cousins wife (after her husband does the dirty on her). So the illegitimate son, ended up with his grandfather's middle name - his great grandmother's maiden - as his middle name too. His eldest daughter (my DH's aunt) was also given this middle name. So the family name is effectively still 'alive' 156 years after it should of ceased in the family. We are seriously considering using it if we have a child too.

In my own family we also had a similar thing, though it didn't last as long though. The original surname 'ends' with a marriage in 1869. It was then given to one of the children as a middle name but the child sadly died. However my great grandmother revived her mother's name and infant brother's middle name as a middle name for one of her sons. My great uncle died in 1970 and I don't think any of his family retained the name. But thats still 101 years after the name should have been lost.

So I am not so worried about whether my name has to be passed directly. Its entirely possible that we might have a girl - in which case she may go down the traditional route and change her name upon marriage; but of course she still would have her middle name so my name could easily 'outlive' my husband's. And who is to say that she wouldn't choose to pass on a family name through a middle name?

My point is, that family traditions and the passing down of names is always purely down to the marriage and the influence of the mother still could be significant.

RedToothBrush Fri 10-Jan-14 14:46:35

Oh, and my father is also related to a scottish clan where passing the name through the mother was done to preserve the clan's very existence in some cases.

Blistory Fri 10-Jan-14 14:49:44

I think it is significant that many women, with the benefit of hindsight, or the experiences of inequality that seem to only show themselves after children are born, would do things differently.

There is so much pressure on women to conform, even to the nice things, that we don't seem to question things as much when we are younger. So logically I might know that marriage is a tradition that resulted in women transferring from one man to another as a possession but as a young woman, I was conditioned to want the big white wedding, the romantic proposal, my father giving me away, my husband giving me his name. All of which involve me being a possession to be given away and losing my identify.

Giving my children my partner's name may seem to be a lovely gesture but not when you consider why it arose as a tradition. Why, as a woman, would I want to support such a tradition or not take a stand against it ?

TheNightIsDark Fri 10-Jan-14 14:50:48

gladvent think Wilcox but not the Wilcox bit. Actually she might have used both names. Either way it's a nightmare as I'm also ginger.

My parents must have hated me confused

JoinYourPlayfellows Fri 10-Jan-14 14:53:49

"To a degree, but assuming a happy and equal relationship between two people it's a level playing field."

It's not though, is it?

The happy and equal relationship between those two people doesn't cancel out the massive inequality of the society in which both were raised.

My children have my husband's surname because that's what we decided, but it's not lost on me that most couples like us "just happen" to find it more convenient for the man's name to be used for one spurious reason or another.

I sometimes feel like I really let the side (and my children) down by buying into the new tradition of women having different names from their children and men's names still getting carried on.

TalkativeJim Fri 10-Jan-14 14:53:59

Well said JoinYourPlayfellows. Odd argument, where does that stop? By that token the man doesn't actually have his own name either - because it's his Dad's. Oh no, hang on, actually it's his grandad's and was just bestowed on his dad too! Oh no hang on...

If the surname the man got from his dad is then HIS, then the surname the woman got from her dad is then HERS.

But to answer the OP. This is what we did, because we wanted a family name too but didn't want to prioritise one over the other. We used my DH's middle name as our surname, and my surname as our middle name.

(This worked as DH had a middle name which worked as a surname - and coincidentally my surname was also a boy's name - but that was kind of by the by).

So something like:

Me: Petronella Jane John

Him: Ptolemy Forbes Jones.

Me married name: Petronella John Forbes.
Him married name: Ptolemy John Forbes.

So - although his original surname got lost completely from the new names...he got to have a name from his side for the new surname. By contrast, I got to have my original surname in our names, but not to have this as the surname.

It meant we both had to change our names by deed poll, so it felt very equal and as if we really were forming a new family, far more so than the getting married bit. Note that the 'John' is just OUR middle name - it's not a double barrel, the children are just 'Forbes'. (Obv not real names!)

How about something like that OP?

JoinYourPlayfellows Fri 10-Jan-14 14:56:22

Wow, that's really nice Talkative.

curlew Fri 10-Jan-14 14:59:13

There's another great example of how mumsnetters often "believe two impossible things before breakfast" showing on this thread.

Premise A (on "how to be a feminist-lite threads) "A good way to preserve a woman's last name is to use it as a middle name for the children"

Premise B (on baby name threads) "it doesn't matter how bonkers or embarrassing the middle name you give your children is, nobody ever uses it"

TalkativeJim Fri 10-Jan-14 15:06:01

The best bit was that shortly after we changed it, DH was in a big starched-shirts meeting in work - very male-dominated and quite old fashioned industry, think engineering type stuff- and at the end it was 'Any Other Business?' and DH put his hand up and said 'Yes, just to let you know I've got married and so have now changed my name, email will now be... blah blah'. Cue some red-faced splutters from a lot of fiftysomething manager types and rather a deathly silence before the chairman said 'Well - um... how very modern - and the congratulations started. Heheheh!! He is a pesky little feminist is Mr. Jim grin

Blistory Fri 10-Jan-14 15:07:03

I still don't understand why women have the silly surnames and men have an overwhelming urge to not 'lose' their name. One rule for the men and another for the wimmin.

Surely any man who views women as equal and not as possessions will understand that her surname is hers and equally valid, and indeed, more practical as a choice of surname for their child ? It all seems to be women having to accommodate men and their pride or sense of ownership.

Thurlow Fri 10-Jan-14 15:08:45

Following that argument logically on, join, it's as wrong to give children their mother's name too. Sharing a surname, by many of the arguments on this thread, implies ownership. No parents owns a child; they are their own, individual person. So if I called my DC Jane Thurlow, that wouldn't be her name because Thurlow is my name. We're better off then making up every child's surname so it is at least individual and belongs to no one.

I'm not denying that centuries of tradition have seen women treated as chattels passed from father to husband and that taking a husband's surname was part of that. I'm pro all woman making their own decision on their surnames on marriage.

What does rile me is the unspoken belief under a lot of opinions relating to children having their mother's surname that mother's, women, are intrinsically the better parent. That somehow the children are more theirs - especially when comments along the lines of "I carried this child for 9 months, I have birth to this child, I have more right to give it my name than you do" get trundled out, comments that seem to suggest that men deliberately aren't getting pregnant and having children. My child is no more my child than she is my partner's child just because I was the one who puked for 9 months.

All surnames are possesive. All surnames are ultimately given by a parent. There's an inequality in surnames that no amount of arguing between men and women's names is going to get around, unless children get given their own newly created surname.

Thurlow Fri 10-Jan-14 15:10:52

X-posting - I disagree that it's "more practical" for a child to have their mother's surname. It shouldn't make any difference, unless you are working from the assumption that it is the woman who is going to cut down on her work and do the bulk of the childcare...?

If anything, society as it stands today would assume that a child with a different surname to their father wasn't that man's child. They wouldn't assume that of a child with a different surname to its mother. So if anything it's more practical for a child to have their dad's surname.

MrsDeVere Fri 10-Jan-14 15:11:22

Its not a rule thought is it?
I chose to rid my name because it was a pita.

I feel sorry for my DB because he felt he had to keep it.

There would have been a lot less fuss if I kept my name than if he lost his.

RedToothBrush Fri 10-Jan-14 15:11:27

Middle names are great ways to trace family history. I've found them very helpful on numerous occasions. Sometimes if its a surname and others if its an unusual first name thats been passed on.

Certainly without the S surname in DH's family, we would never have unravelled the secret of DH's grandfather's illegitmacy and how his father was his mother's cousin (we have subsequently been able back this up with other evidence).

Middle names can definitely be important.

Parents give children all their names. Maybe we should all just have access to a random name generator!

For example, I could be Temitope Haru Stumpf according to this one.

RedToothBrush Fri 10-Jan-14 15:13:31

mother's husbands cousin even.

TheDoctrineOf2014 Fri 10-Jan-14 15:13:45

Brilliant, Jim.

You are right, Join - I suppose I was thinking something anyone had created would be more theirs than something they'd inherited, but certainly professional reputation was a big reason not to change my name.

Which is why it's extra nice both Jim and Mr Jim had to have that professional conversation!

Blistory Fri 10-Jan-14 15:13:58

But Thurlow, it's equally wrong for a man to demand that he gets to pass on his surname as a sop because he didn't get to carry the baby and give birth. And the world needs to know it's his child. Or for women to appease men and give them a place that biology dictated belonged to women.

I wholly agree that men are equally capable of parenting but until they do, until they do the medical appointments as the norm, until they do the school enrolment and PTA attendance, until they do the dirty nappies, until they become the SAHP, until they stop abandoning their children, until they stop walking out on their families, then the logical thing is for the primary care giver to use their surname and what do you know ? It still happens to be women that that role falls to as a default.

JoinYourPlayfellows Fri 10-Jan-14 15:14:58

"Following that argument logically on, join, it's as wrong to give children their mother's name too. Sharing a surname, by many of the arguments on this thread, implies ownership."

But my argument is not, and never has been, that giving a name implies ownership.

And the argument about ownership, as I understand it, is that it was HISTORICALLy used to denote ownership.

So I'm not sure you're really following anything logically.

TalkativeJim Fri 10-Jan-14 15:18:00

I have to say, the only women I know who have changed their names on marriage did so because they very much relished the thought of being able to change to a brand new surname! - and certainly didn't seem to attach any importance to carrying on a family name. They didn't seem to see it as the important thing. All wanted to change their names because they thought their H's names were more exciting, went better with their first names or in one case, she'd always hated her embarassing surname.

Maybe they were lying a little bit, I don't know!

I know a couple who chose a new name, and lots who kept their own name and double-barelled for the children (or who haven't married).

Blistory Fri 10-Jan-14 15:18:25

But women do effectively have ownership of children by default and legally.

A woman has to name herself on her child's birth certificate. She is under no obligation to name the father and he requires a court order and proof of paternity if she doesn't wish to add his name. So legally the child is of the mother but not necessarily of the father.

RedToothBrush Fri 10-Jan-14 15:19:57

TBH one of the biggest reasons I didn't change my name was because I thought it was a massive pain in the arse to do so.

Irony is that its actually caused ongoing problems. For example relative sending cheques to the wrong name (sometimes deliberately in the case of my MIL), constantly having to show proof that we are married (not helped by fact we were married abroad), DH being called the wrong name (this has helped him see my point of view about changing names though), and various institutions not being able to grasp the fact that yes I'm married but no I have not changed my name (hello X Bank) and being quite rude about it.

I'd say it might, in hindsight, have been easier to change my name. But I don't like DH's and rather like mine!

aciddrops Fri 10-Jan-14 15:20:06

I kept my name but the children took their father's name. Go with the best name for the children - they won't thank anyone for being called Sam and Katie Awkwardly instead of Sam and Katie Bailey.

Chunderella Fri 10-Jan-14 15:20:51

Blistory it seems fairly obvious why men have such strong desires to keep their own names- societal pressure. It absolutely is one rule for the men and one for the women, yes.

Yy to all those pointing out the double standards in referring to a woman's surname as her father's, but her husband's as his own. If all surnames are just dad's names, a woman is actually taking her FILs name. Or that of some long dead ancestor of his, possibly though not necessarily a man. Apparently it's impossible for any of us to actually have our own surnames. Of course that's a crock of shit, just as those of us who have first or middle names after family members (probably the majority of the population) have our own names despite not having been the first in the lineage to use them.

I really need to know Mrs DVs maiden name now...

JoinYourPlayfellows Fri 10-Jan-14 15:21:29

"Surely any man who views women as equal and not as possessions will understand that her surname is hers and equally valid, and indeed, more practical as a choice of surname for their child? It all seems to be women having to accommodate men and their pride or sense of ownership."

In my case, my DH had no sense of pride about this. He suggested we use my name.

And I kept saying "but there's no more reason to use mine than yours" and he just said "but I like your name".

And I would say "but I like your name too".

If he had shown even a smidgin of chauvinism about this I would have dug my heels in.

But his Dad (an only child) had recently died and DH has no brothers and a sister who had already changed her name.

But the decision to use his name really was mine and not his. It was I who had the feeling that it mattered that his name be carried on.

We are creatures of our upbringing. I am certainly.

Thurlow Fri 10-Jan-14 15:22:39

Buffy, that's made me Virgie Stanton. Which I LOVE <heads off to the registry office>

Join, many people's issue with the giving of a name is that it denoted ownership. If that's not the issue now, what's the issue? The tradition of giving the name relates to ownership. I don't see a distinction there, sorry.

Blistory, I'm sorry but your assumption there about the different roles parents will take in their child's life, an assumption which, if it is tied to a choice in names is taken in many cases even before either parent has had a chance to show what kind of parent they are going to be, is blatantly sexist to me. You can't on one hand say a man can't say he'd like his child to be named after him because society in general will assume that he isn't their father otherwise, and then on the other hand say a woman has more right to share a surname because society in general says she's more likely to be a better and more involved parent.

Your paragraph about what instrinsically bad parents most men are is based on huge assumptions and is implying general standards to specific relationships. I did not decide to be with my partner and have a child with him thinking "yeah, well, quite a few men turn out to be shits so I'll plan for the relationship to break up in about eight years time when he leaves me holding the baby, in which case the baby better have my surname..." hmm

happygirl87 Fri 10-Jan-14 15:26:21

DP and I are getting married this year. Until babies I am not changing my name. On having babies I will take his name for my passport etc, and be known as this at school, but keep maiden name for work. We have thought long and hard about this, but we both have surnames with real meanings, and neither word is terribly nice e.g. Angry and Spite! Double-barrelling or combining sounds very silly. He has offered to take my name, but his name is much rarer than mine and I know he wants to preserve it. I was teased for my name as a child and dislike it. He would not mind at all if children had my name, but DSD has her DM's name and I know DP would like a child with his own name- plus I would like us to have a family name. Practically, for travel, and parents evenings etc (he currently gets called Mr DSD's-last-name by school) it would just be easier. So we will take the more traditional path, but have thought about it- we are not blindly following.

TheDoctrineOf2014 Fri 10-Jan-14 15:26:43

Blistory, I think the mother has to take the hospital paperwork to the registrar to demonstrate maternity -?

TinyTear Fri 10-Jan-14 15:28:27

i added my husbands name but didn't lose my name

so i became Me myname hisname

and my DD is Her myname hisname with two surnames

envy that's so much more glamorous than the name it gave me. I wonder if it hacks the webcam and thought my interesting it's Friday and I don't have to go out hairstyle made me seem Stumpf like?

OK, this time it's given me Olivette Krasimira Archer. That's much better!

AngelaDaviesHair Fri 10-Jan-14 15:28:57

I have kept my name. The children are [1st name] [ADH family 2nd name] [AngelaDaviesHair] [DH'ssurname]. In day to day life they are just referred to as [1st name] [DH'ssurname].

Although that means we've ended up doing the conventional thing, that's ok by me because we did it because it suited us, not simply to bow to convention. My name is in there, along with middle names reflecting my background, and because neither DH nor I wanted the double surname option really.

Thurlow Fri 10-Jan-14 15:31:48

Olivette Archer - they are good pseudonym names it's making. I could write something decent as Virgie Stanton.

Blistory Fri 10-Jan-14 15:33:38

Thurlow, my views are based on reality, that doesn't make them sexist.

I could not agree more that men are equally capable of raising children as well as women. But the majority of them don't fulfil that role and child rearing is left, to a significant extent, to women.

It is however sexist to diminish the role of women because men don't get to take part in pregnancy, child birth and breast feeding. Women don't need to make something up to men. It's simply a biological fact.

I think there are a huge number of men who would like to parent equally and this is where I think that feminism is more supportive of men than others would have you believe. I would like to see men taking time off work when the baby is born, I would like to see men taking time off for medical appointments and in service days in the same proportion as working mothers. I would like to see men as having a choice to stay at home and not go to work simply because they are the higher earner. Until we address that, some men won't see it as their role and others will be restricted by the conventions of society. None of which really allows them to be equal parents.

So your knee jerk reaction that I am sexist is very far from accurate.

Thurlow Fri 10-Jan-14 15:39:13

I'm not sure why any of those examples you give aren't possible? Men have a right to shared paternity leave. Men have the same rights to parental days from work as women. I also don't know many couples where men are the significantly higher earner in f/t roles.

It's not diminishing the role of a woman because men don't take part in pregnancy. To me, it's challenging the assumption that men are less involved or natural parents at the start simply because they are biologically incapable of being pregnant or breastfeeding.

HorsePetal Fri 10-Jan-14 15:45:05

Poor OP - has he managed to get a single word in since he started this? grin

Blistory Fri 10-Jan-14 15:46:32

Well Thurlow, I'd like to live in your world.

In mine, men might legally have those rights but that's very different from exercising them.

Poor OP - has he managed to get a single word in since he started this?

Well unlike in the real world, if he wants to speak he just has to type and post.

MrsDeVere Fri 10-Jan-14 15:54:34

I don't think I said that a man's name is not his father's confused
I said that a woman's name was her father's.

The two things do not exclude each other.

Thurlow Fri 10-Jan-14 15:58:29

Well, blistory, as those legal rights exist then it's a problem within a relationship if a man won't exercise them, isn't it, rather than a societal problem.

I have an image of the OP standing at the back of a busy room going "oh... But... If I could just..." grin

herethereandeverywhere Fri 10-Jan-14 16:07:21

I have kept my maiden name (hate that term BTW, I just haven't changed MY name!) DH kept his name, kids have DH's name. There wasn't a huge amount of thought re: kids surname - they needed one and I wasn't bothered that the net result would be me having a 'different' name.

DD1 is 4.3 now and so far I've had no issues with this. In fact she asked about it the other day when she heard me saying/spelling my name to someone and asked why it was different to hers. I said I was part of family [DH surname] but that my surname was [my name] as that's what I'd always been called. She accepted it at face value.

I really don't feel the need to have the same name - anyone that knows us/needs to know us knows my kids are my children. Anyone official that doesn't know but wants proof can look at a birth certificate.

MaleMan81 Fri 10-Jan-14 16:12:02

Bloody Hell, its not easy it it!

To answer the question of what my wife thinks - we have talked about this several times, and never really decided anything. I think she would be happy to take my name, but I worry that deep down she would feel a bit sad she was losing her name. Really its me with the problem, as I don't really like her surname. I definitely have a stronger opinion on not wanting her name, where as she is much more amenable to taking my name - but is this a good enough reason to make the decision? I posted this thread to come up with more ideas to talk to her about.

The suggestion of just making up a random surname seems a little bit devoid of meaning to me, not to criticise anyone else who has done it - after all it is a very personal choice.

As for women who don't change their name, and their children have their DHs name, or people who give multiple children different surnames - aren't you always having tell people that these are your children, i.e its mostly assumed that children have the same name as their parents? The one thing my wife and I are in total 100% agreement about it that we definitely want each other and our children to share the same surname.

I don't think either of us like the idea of any double barrelling at any point, too many syllables!

However I do like the thought of her keeping her old name for some things, and my name for others. I didn't know you could have both names on your passport. I suppose its nice to be able to pick and choose which surname to use in any given situation. But those who have done this - isn't it sometimes a massive hassle having to remember what name you've used for which thing? And has it ever caused identity queries/problems?

Keeping a name by using it as a middle name I also like the sound of.

@FairPhyllis - I've heard that argument before, and I know that logically it kind of makes sense, but I also know that a lot of women disagree with it, in that they still feel their birth name is "theirs" regardless of the fact it reached them via patriarchal line of ancestors.

I know there is probably a lot of subconscious societal pressure being exerted on both men and women for the women to take the man's name, which is why I started this thread - It seems all too easy to do the "expected thing", and if we did go down that road I wanted to make sure it had been properly thought through rather than just blindly obeying "the rules". But also maybe it was to try an make myself feel less guilty considering there is a high likelihood that I will not do anything new after all, and my wife will end up taking my name...

Lots to think about.

MaleMan81 Fri 10-Jan-14 16:17:51

Whoah! Sorry I'm not used to the speed of replies on MN!

There were much less responses when I started writing the post above, so apologies if I've missed out stuff - I'm catching up now!

I don't have kids, but I very occasionally use both names and the only thing I've had hassle with was Barclays bank.

ZingChoirsOfAngels Fri 10-Jan-14 16:18:09


if she says she is happy to take your name just accept it.

Don't try and think behind it or if she feels differently deep down - sorry but in a great and honest relationship like yours sounds that would drive me crazy if I was her!grin

why don't you give both names a trial run?
call her Mrs Yourname for a week, then swap and she can call you Mr Hername for a week.

see what happens. if you make it into a fun game you'll make a better decision than if you agonize over it.

hope this helps

Chunderella Fri 10-Jan-14 16:21:30

MaleMan81 DD and I have different surnames and no, never once have I had to tell anyone that she's my daughter because of this. About 40% of births are to unmarried parents now, so those children are going to have different surnames to one of the parents. Sure, some of the parents of that 40% later get married and share the same surname. But I suspect that's neutralised by the number of the children from the married cohort who have parents with different surnames, either for political or cultural reasons. You're looking at a very substantial minority either way. Nobody who has anything to do with children these days will be unused to them having a different surname to one of the parents, unless maybe they move in particularly traditional and mono-ethnic circles.

Also, if it is a worry, this is where using the other surname as a middle name comes in useful.

ProfYaffle Fri 10-Jan-14 16:25:01

I kept my name, dh has kept his, dc have my name.

We're in the opposite situation in that dh's name is the funny one, he didn't really want our dc to have his surname. From a young age I always knew I wouldn't change my name on marriage. People tend to assume I kept my name because of dh's odd surname but that's not the reason.

Personally I'd prefer to double barrel for all of us. For some reason dh's name works when double barrelled with mine but doesn't on it's own. However he objects to double barrelled names in principal! So at his insistence our dc have my name.

It's really not an issue in day to day life tbh. It doesn't draw attention to us, people very rarely comment (once fil got over the shock!)

MrsFeathersword Fri 10-Jan-14 16:26:28

"Aren't you always having to tell people these are your children" er, no - what a strange thing to think! If I arrive somewhere with my dcs must people will assume they are mine. The constant cries of " mum-eeee" probably help! How many people do you imagine have children without being married?
I imagine, if this is an issue at all, it is an issue for fathers with different names, not mothers. I think maybe you are seeing problems that are not there!

Chunderella Fri 10-Jan-14 16:41:18

Also children typically look like their parents. There'll probably be enough of a facial resemblance between a child and the parent they don't share the name with to make the relationship obvious!

VoyageDeVerity Fri 10-Jan-14 16:44:41

I would go with your name after reading your OP.

Names are very , very important.

SconeRhymesWithGone Fri 10-Jan-14 16:45:15

OP, with divorce, remarriage, step-parents, etc., it is fairly common these days for children to have a different surname from their mother or from a step-parent functioning fully as a parent.

AngelaDaviesHair Fri 10-Jan-14 16:47:36

One thing I can say-no one tends to question family members having different names. There are so many blended families these days, you just aren't that unusual to have family members with different names. So, OP< you have a lot more leeway than you may have realised.

Thurlow Fri 10-Jan-14 16:50:24

Never had a problem with having a different name at all. No one thinks they aren't your child. You'd be surprised how rarely surnames come up in day-to-day life. I've been with my childminder for eighteen months and she only just realised I have a different surname to DC!

Actually, there is one time it becomes problematic for me, but that's probably because I'm an idiot. DC is known by a short version of her full name, and has DP's surname. At the doctors and similar the whole name gets called out. I'm not used to either hearing the full name or responding to DP/DC's surname, so I have been known to just sit there like a lemon on odd occasions blush

Yama Fri 10-Jan-14 16:57:47

I am Ms MyName, dh is Mr DhName.

Dd is Ms MyName, ds is Mr DhName.

Dh gets called Mr Myname by dd's after school club. It doesn't bother him. I have been called Mrs DhName before but not often enough for me to remember an example.

Our children are very close, their different names are not a barrier to them being so close (just as it is not a barrier to dh and I being close).

AngelaDaviesHair Fri 10-Jan-14 17:07:23

I get called Mrs. Dhname by DH, when he's being saucy.

ZingChoirsOfAngels Fri 10-Jan-14 17:08:37

I have an Icelandic friend, married and have 2 boys and a girl.
the boys have the same surname as each other, but there are four different surnames for the 5 of them!

it's like this:
- she is (let's say) Gerda Annasdottir (as her mum's first name is Anna)
- husband is Peter Jonsson (dad's first name is Jon)
- boys are Johan & Kris Petersson
- girl is Frida Gerdasdottir

I think it's brilliant and no need to ever change anything, ever.

MaleMan81 Fri 10-Jan-14 17:10:16

Phew, OK caught up now, I got to the end of page 1 and thought that was the end of the thread, missed the following 4 pages!

To those saying "Funny how it always seems that it's the women with the silly name, and the man with the better name" - this is EXACTLY why I started this thread - I wasn't confidant that my thoughts were based on logic, and having read a bit more I know for a fact that I am being swayed by the societal pressure to confirm to the "norm". I'm glad I have realised this this - and I need to take this thought into the next conversation with my wife.

I also totally get what people say about how many children have different names to their parents these days, what with fewer marriages and blended families etc. I don't think I realised this until you all told me. I think it's clearly a personal decision, and many of you obviously have no problem with having a different name to your children - but I can't deny that personally I would prefer my wife and child and I to have the same name, and I'm sure my wife feels the same way (I'll ask her in a sec!).

Again this is all good information to help us with our conversation.

Woodhead Fri 10-Jan-14 17:10:18

I'm "myname" DH is "hisname"

We'd have a problem if we wanted children, as I expect we would both staunchly want any offspring to take our own name.

I like the model where female children take the mother's surname and male the father's surname. I also really like the suggestion upthread of finding a surname that appears in both of your family trees. I think that's a quite brilliant suggestion in fact, and one that is good to adopt for both parents and all offspring if you're keen on a single "family name".

OP-having voiced dissatisfaction in the option of the whole family taking your name, it would seem sensible to use one of the alternative solutions. Surely if you have doubts about it now, you will always have an underlying niggle that you just followed the societally convenient option and perhaps wonder if your wife was really as happy about this solution as she has claimed to be. Unless you just posted for validation that the societal norm was OK for you to follow now you've shown that you have considered all options.

Mitchell2 Fri 10-Jan-14 17:13:38

I'm my name, dh is his name... bump will be dhname-myname as that way around it sounds better. I was ok for bump to be dhname but he was happy with the double name.

Oblomov Fri 10-Jan-14 17:14:06

I was happy to take dh's name. I think it us still the norm to take the mans name. His , like your 'bailey' is very normal, whereas my old one was slightly more unusual and a total pain. Being more normal for the kart 10 years has been fab.
The children will have your surname aswell. Which I also think us normal.
And I think double barrelled , combining both names, more common recently, is seriously twatty.

MaleMan81 Fri 10-Jan-14 17:14:51

"Unless you just posted for validation that the societal norm was OK for you to follow now you've shown that you have considered all options."

Ha Ha, Busted! (Am I kidding?) confused

JoinYourPlayfellows Fri 10-Jan-14 17:14:56

I also love the Icelandic way of doing things.

Woodhead Fri 10-Jan-14 17:18:31

OP-I nearly didn't write that last line as it seemed quite harsh given your very open and thoughtful posts. But it's worth really considering if that's what you are doing here.

Only you know your motivations, and perhaps some are so subliminal that you aren't fully aware of them.

curlew Fri 10-Jan-14 17:19:08

"And I think double barrelled , combining both names, more common recently, is seriously twatty"


And even if you do, interesting that you feel the need to say so. I manage to avoid saying that being happy to take a mans's name seems to me to indicate the mind set of an air headed 1950s housewife.......


Blistory Fri 10-Jan-14 17:21:20

I like the Icelandic way too but I'd go a wee bit further so

Girl - hername, fathersurname, mysurname
Boy - hisname, mysurname, fathersurname

That way we both have our surnames used so family connection is there on both sides but mine doesn't always get relegated to the middle name and never used. The middle name would be just that, not double barrelled with the surname. We all get our own identity and a family one

TheFabulousIdiot Fri 10-Jan-14 17:22:15

"To answer the question of what my wife thinks - we have talked about this several times, and never really decided anything. I think she would be happy to take my name, but I worry that deep down she would feel a bit sad she was losing her name. Really its me with the problem, as I don't really like her surname. I definitely have a stronger opinion on not wanting her name, where as she is much more amenable to taking my name - but is this a good enough reason to make the decision? I posted this thread to come up with more ideas to talk to her about."


Do you think you might be trying a little too hard to find a problem where there isn't one? Just ask her if it's ok to all take your name, she might be ok with it.

such a non-problem.

JoinYourPlayfellows Fri 10-Jan-14 17:23:12

I like it Blistory - the best of Iceland and Spain! smile

ZingChoirsOfAngels Fri 10-Jan-14 17:27:20


add a middle name or two then poor kids would spend the entire reception year learning to spell and write their names! wink

MrsFeathersword Fri 10-Jan-14 17:34:23

OP you've gone from saying it would be a difficulty if mother and child have different names, to saying you would prefer them to be the same! which I think is the heart of the matter. Do you know why you feel that way, given many on here have told you it causes no problems? Must be some other reason.

Blistory Fri 10-Jan-14 17:35:14

No other middle names. They would be first name, surname for day to day purposes. My middle name is of no use, has no connection to anything. My first name has done me just fine so far. My parents can't even recall why we were all given middle names other than it was tradition but the names have no family significance so none of us have ever used them and have pretty much dropped them even on official documentation.

My friend however has the exact same name as her living mother and living grandmother - she's sadly relieved that great granny Margaret is now deceased as 4 living Margaret X Xs in the same family is one too many apparently. That is a tradition that baffles me.

MaleMan81 Fri 10-Jan-14 17:35:29

@Woodhead yes my reply was mainly in jest, but partly admitting that perhaps deep down I'm less flexible that I think I am.

@TheFabulousIdiot I just don't like the thought of her taking my name without some sort of discussion first about why she is doing it.

The reason I came onto MN was to get women's opinions, for which I thank you all. And I am glad to see there is no one point of view, so the best advice is to do what suits you best!

TheDoctrineOf2014 Fri 10-Jan-14 17:47:22

There is no perfect solution, OP. Even having one name officially and one personally can be difficult if you have some id in some name and some in another eg credit cards.

GarlicReturns Fri 10-Jan-14 17:50:18

Pretty much all the options have been covered here smile It seems you hadn't really thought about the fact that loads of families have mixed-up surnames, nor even that names are malleable: the convention that's binding you is actually fairly new in our culture (don't know about others,) going back no more than about 150 years.

Mind if I tell you about two of my friends? They're both aged around 50, so not blazing trendy trails or anything grin

One, D, has three children and three surnames. The DC all have her husband's surname; my friend and H are still married. Throughout her adult life, she's been known by her maiden (father's) name for work, her husband's name for family stuff, and her mother's maiden name for everything else. She has three sets of bank accounts and all three surnames on her passport. This is a tradition in her (very British) family.

My friend C has been married twice, divorced twice, and has three teenage/young adult DC from the first marriage. Both C and the children change their surnames periodically, for no obvious reason, and not in sync. In the ten years I've known them, they've been variously:
Firstname Maidenname
Firstname Maidenname Husband1name
Firstname Husband1name
Firstname Husband2name
Firstname Maidenname Husband2name
Firstname Husband2name Maidenname Husband1name
Firstname Maidenname Husband1name Husband2name

Long names seem to be quite fashionable at the moment. If C marries again, I expect to see her DC wearing their full given names, her maiden name, and all the husband's names at some point!

Personally, I like the idea of a made-up name. It could be a place that means a lot to both of you, a shared ancestor name, a favourite composer - anything! What does DW think about all the possibilities?

GarlicReturns Fri 10-Jan-14 17:51:06

"the best advice is to do what suits you best!"

Indeed it is smile

LittleSweetheart Fri 10-Jan-14 19:24:13

My husband and I decided that our children would take his surname - my surname is unusual and difficult to pronounce for people unfamiliar with the language - yet I double barrelled my name. I couldn't QUITE give up my own name, yet wanted to share my husband and children's name. It worked for us...my husband was quite happy to take my name but I felt his name (very ordinary and English) would be better for everyone.

Yes, I second (third?) the advice above...just do what is right for your family!!!!

ShoeWhore Fri 10-Jan-14 19:29:42

Sorry I haven't read the whole thread but I don't have the same surname as my dcs and it has never caused an issue.

KaseyM Fri 10-Jan-14 19:44:42

DS has a double-barrelled name and it works absolutely fine. IIWY I would have wifename-husbandname as the first one is likely to get dropped (if, as your DW says it is embarrassing)

FWIW DS loves having a double-barrelled name as he thinks it sounds posh!

Thants Fri 10-Jan-14 22:23:33

Oblamov why is double surnaming 'twatty'? Just blindly taking aabd surname is very sad. It shows how far we have to go before women are seen as equal to men. Sometimes something can seem weird and unusual but it is extremely important to do it anyway so that we can further equal rights.

Creeping Sat 11-Jan-14 00:09:50

I often hear the rationale that the woman's name is "less desirable" (sounds strange, unusual, needs spelling out etc) than the man's. But on the whole equal numbers of men and women must have "less desirable" names based on those criteria. Why is it that (mainly) when the "less desirable" name is the woman's, it is actually a justification/reason to take the man's name, but when the situation is reversed (man with the less desirable name) it's much less of an issue, i.e. not often used as a reason to take the woman's name? I even know of women taking the awkward, undesirable man's name (in my opinion, anyway), stating that her name was too normal, but it rarely happens the other way.

Just wanted to throw that out there. What is an awkward or a desirable name is not gender neutral, as I see it.

sashh Sat 11-Jan-14 00:45:50

If you all want the same name you don't have to use a name that either of you already have, you can use any name you want.

In arab countries it is common for a woman to change her name when she has a son, she basically becomes 'mother of son's name' you could do something like that, pick a name for your child including a surname and then both change your names to that.

wonderstuff Sat 11-Jan-14 01:03:25

I took DH name, I regret it now and am working on reclaiming mine. The children have my surname as a middle name, which seems to please everyone, my brother and father and grandmother all have my great grandmothers maiden name as a middle name, so it's nota new tradition in my family.

If I was doing it again I would keep my name and give dd my name and ds his fathers.

grimbletart Sat 11-Jan-14 14:06:06

In arab countries it is common for a woman to change her name when she has a son, she basically becomes 'mother of son's name'

Bloody hell, that puts her in her place doesn't it?

sashh Sat 11-Jan-14 16:57:40


Lol, better than just being 'begum', but not much.

Not sure if the same happens with girls (my friend married to an Arab only had boys) but you don't get to chose your boy's middle name. He gets one name chosen by parents, then his dad's name as a middle name, and then his grandad's as his surname.

flatmum Sat 11-Jan-14 17:06:31

I was in a similar position, my surname is awkward and a bit silly. My DPs is a better sounding name. So we have the dc his name and I kept mine (we are not married).

It hasn't caused any problems really. People often call me Mrs <their name> instead of ms <my name> anyway, like the dc school. It doesn't really bother me as I don't like my surname. It slightly annoys me from a feminist point of view but if I'd had a better surname I would have given it to them.

The one thing I will say is now, 10 years down the line, I slightly regret it from a unity point of view. I am slightly the odd one out and often feel like "their mum" rather than "his partner" but that is probably more to do with us not getting married whih was probably also a mistake .....

Doesn't cause any issues with my relationship with the dc though.

curlew Sat 11-Jan-14 17:10:45

One of those pesky "women's surnames", eh, flatmum? grin

TeiTetua Sat 11-Jan-14 17:21:03

In a way I do like the idea of girls being given their mothers' surname and boys their fathers'. But it would make a strange split in families, with mothers and daughters on one side and fathers and sons on the other. It's a fantasy, but maybe there could be an added name that the parents would select, which the entire family would use, perhaps more like an emblem than a name as such. Years ago I did see some artwork done by "Anne of the Red Crate". Choose your symbol!

TheDoctrineOf2014 Sat 11-Jan-14 17:27:07

My name is a lot less silly than my DH's. Weirdly he didn't offer to take mine and no-one else suggested it...

slightlyglitterstained Sat 11-Jan-14 17:54:49

I have an awkward to spell, awkward to pronounce surname. DP has a pretty common surname that only has one spelling.

DS has my surname. Yes, the pesky "woman's surname". He has a family first name from DP's side. We're all entirely happy with this, and it has caused no problems whatsoever.

I actually think DS having a slightly less common surname may be a positive advantage in that he'll be remembered more easily. (Let's face it, if someone said "if we take DW's name our son will be called Benedict Cumberbatch" there'd doubtless be lots of cries of "ooh you can't saddle the poor thing with that, take DH's name" but it has done Mr C himself no harm at all, actually quite the opposite.)

We did discuss picking a common surname, but we couldn't think of one. Going back up family trees for inspiration and to have a name with some connection is a brilliant idea though, wish we'd thought of it.

We aren't married (one good reason for picking my name over DP's is that the legal system does not treat male and female surnames equally - if we later get married, & DS already had DP's surname we're stuck with it. But if he has mine, we can change it then and re-register the birth!). If we do get married at some point, we'd consider picking a shared family surname. Now that I have the idea of going up family tree, that might be easier to do.

curlew Sat 11-Jan-14 19:45:01

I have an uncommon, but easy to spell and pronounce and nice sounding 4 letter last name, even though I am a woman.Maybe it's because I'm a feminist?

SanityClause Sat 11-Jan-14 20:12:35

I kept my own name when I married. I didn't really think a lot about my DC's names, blush and they have DH's name.

However, recently, he confided to me that he hates his name, and wishes he had taken my surname on marriage, but due to difficult family relationships, didn't feel he could suggest it. (His parents call me by his name - even where I am named as an executor of their wills. hmm)

TheVermiciousKnid Sat 11-Jan-14 21:56:13

I have a long, foreign surname; I always have to spell it out and nobody can pronounce it. I still kept it when we got married. It's my name. grin

Our children have both our names, not hyphenated. It's quite a mouthful, but not really a problem. I sometimes get called by my husband's surname, occasionally he gets called by my surname. Some people might be confused by it and some might assume we're not married. None of it matters! But changing my name and giving our children only my husband's name really would have mattered to me.

mellicauli Sat 11-Jan-14 22:17:34

We have been through the same dilemma. My husband gave in when I asked him if he would take my surname. He said no, - and I pointed out it wasn't really reasonable for him to ask me to do something that he wasn't prepared to do himself!

So I have my surname, and he & the boys have his surname. And we are all happy, and 10 years down the line, it is a complete irrelevance.

Please don't spend too much time or emotional energy on this. Concentrate on being happy together.

Creeping Sun 12-Jan-14 00:35:00

Mellicauli, that's the exact approach I took! Although when I asked him if he would take my surname to be a "united family" and he said no, he claimed that my surname was more awkward than his. It might be, slightly, but nothing embarrassing or difficult (my surname consists of three letters, so it couldn't possibly be hard to spell and doesn't mean anything embarrassing). So he kept his and I kept mine. The children have his surname. He still sometimes says jokingly that I don't want to belong to the family because I haven't got the same name, but I just shrug. If it was that important, he would have taken mine.

As it turns out, it isn't important at all to have the same name.

Bue Sun 12-Jan-14 14:14:52

I really wouldn't want DH to take my name. I would feel like I was adopting him or something! And vice versa. It really, really is not a big deal to have a different surname to one of your parents. I have always had a different surname to my mum and it is just fine.

sashh Sun 12-Jan-14 15:12:03

In a way I do like the idea of girls being given their mothers' surname and boys their fathers'. But it would make a strange split in families, with mothers and daughters on one side and fathers and sons on the other.

It's worked in Iceland for generations.

Thants Sun 12-Jan-14 15:51:45

I have a Scottish surname that doesn't go with my Eastern European first name. My partner has a simple, short, common surname but I won't change my name when I get married because it is my name, my identity that I have grown up with! We will both keep our own names because we don't own each other.

TeiTetua Sun 12-Jan-14 16:34:21

Not true about Iceland there. Most children do grow up with a surname that's a patronymic (daughter of or son of someone) which adds their father's name to theirs. Matronymics are much less common, but they're sometimes used when a child grows up without much connection to the father. Someone said (was it here?) that young people in Iceland recently have been using both a patronymic and a matronymic, so as to recognise both of their parents.

Russians use patronymics too, but for them it's a middle name. Family names are like other European names, passed down from the father.

alexpolistigers Sun 12-Jan-14 19:00:09

Where I live, all women keep their own surnames on marriage. You have to make a special application to the court to change your surname if you want to for any reason, which may or may not be granted. When I got married, DH and I had to sign an agreement before the marriage could be officially recognised, stating what would be the surname of any eventual children of the marriage. You could choose either, but then that agreement has to be adhered to, you can't change your mind later on without involving the court.

It's very rare to go specially to court to change your surname, the only person I know of who has done so is very famous and probably did it as a publicity stunt and because she can easily afford the legal fees

Thants Sun 12-Jan-14 22:59:26

I think it's wrong that women can simply write their new name on the marriage certificate and it changes but men have to do it through deed pole. I think we should all have to do it through deed pole. I wonder how it will work with same sex marriage.

GarlicReturns Sun 12-Jan-14 23:03:35

Thants, nobody in the UK needs a deed poll to change their name. Having some sort of certificate makes it easier with banks & suchlike, but a marrying couple may reverse the tradition if they wish, and the marriage cert will serve as proof smile

GarlicReturns Sun 12-Jan-14 23:19:10

... and the bride doesn't write her new name on the marriage cert! I thought it didn't seem right, but had to go and look at my own to check!

That's not what the registrat told us, garlic.

They claimed that if DH wanted to assume my name, the marriage cert wouldn't be taken as proof of ID, but it would be for me.

(I have many issues with the registrar who married us, btw.)

IrisWildthyme Sun 12-Jan-14 23:33:50

That's right Garlic - deed polls are entirely unnecessary and my DH changed his name very simply without one. You just need to write a statement that you are renouncing previous names and this is your new name, and get that document formally witnessed. We had the (home-made) document on the table at the same time as the marriage certificate and did it all at the same time. It is still different for a woman though - your marriage certificate is basically a carte-blanche to decide your own name post-wedding, which is quite cool. I agree with Thants that it should be the same for men and women though - it would be easiest to just incorporate a standard name-change wording onto the bottom of the marriage certificate and have both spouses formally declare their names (whether changed or kept the same) as part of the same process.

What happens if you're a man and want to use both names, the way women can?

GarlicReturns Mon 13-Jan-14 00:38:09

I didn't realise there was a technical difference for men & women! Agreed, a standard bit on the marriage cert seems a remarkably simple solution. Anybody care enough about this to start a petition?

GarlicReturns Mon 13-Jan-14 00:46:30

Thinking about that a bit more (I'm waiting for the cat to come in!) ... Under English law, it is sufficient to "let it be known" that you've changed your name. No documentation is legally required. An affidavit, as you described, Iris, is advisable because so many institutions these days want proof of your name change.

A marriage certificate isn't actually proof, since it nowhere records your altered name. But convention - especially the convention of banks, with whom I have a HUGE gripe on this issue - says that the cert will do for proof that Miss Hername has now become Mrs Hisname. The awkward registrars were actually giving you the info as required by fucking banks.

All the same, it would make life more straightforward if the affidavit was on the marriage cert smile

I had an easy to spell, known name as my surname (which it is rarer as) but it was a boys name and I had had enough of being teased about it when I was younger. No, just because I'm flat chested (sadly no longer) and have a boys name doesn't mean I am a boy so yes I had one of those 'pesky women's names'.
Someone said earlier in the thread about betting brothers didn't change those pesky names. No mine didn't because he never got teased about being boy what with being a boy and all. My sil did actually change to it which I told her I think she was nuts for doing, luckily they've had two sons.
My daughter on the other hand never gets teased about her bog standard surname which my pils actually chose together because fil's original surname was so horrible. It's only a generation old and though it's dh's side of the family it's from a couple I really love and respect.
People do have all sorts of reasons for choosing the options they do but comments such as those ones about pesky womens names are just rude because they're assuming that people haven't thought about it and are just making excuses.

TheDoctrineOf2014 Mon 13-Jan-14 07:57:21

Jayne, you thought about it but, as you say, your SIL went with "tradition" even though that gave her a more awkward name and it doesn't sound like your BIL considered taking her name though he was the one with the pesky name! Good on your PILs for inventing their own name!

RedToothBrush Mon 13-Jan-14 10:51:14

I didn't change my name. I still had to prove that I was married to change my title.

I thought that was the biggest load of bollocks going.

curlew Mon 13-Jan-14 11:11:24

Prove to who? And do you mean change your title from miss to mrs? You can just do that, surely?

The doctrine- to be fair her (sil's) name before was pretty horrendous so she probably saw it as an improvement. I think she got teased about hers too. Of course now she's got db's surname she's an adult so not likely to suffer the teasing that I got with the boys name and wont associate it as such.

garlic - yes, I know that.

RedToothBrush Mon 13-Jan-14 12:26:00

curlew Mon 13-Jan-14 11:11:24
Prove to who? And do you mean change your title from miss to mrs? You can just do that, surely?

Yes, I had to show my marriage certificate. They wouldn't allow me to change it without proof! I don't understand why.

They pulled face when I did too. I got married abroad so my marriage cert is not a British one.

GarlicReturns Mon 13-Jan-14 13:12:33

Show it to whom, RTB? Who wouldn't allow you?

ChippingInWadesIn Mon 13-Jan-14 13:29:46

MaleMan81 - I like you, I hope you stick around smile

In your situation we would

Me - keep my surname officially as part of my middle name but use it occasionally if I want to as my surname.
Him - Keep his surname as it is
Children - use his name

I know lots of people in families all have different names and it doesn't matter one bit, but for me, if I was setting out in the way you are, I would like them to be the same if possible.

RedToothBrush Mon 13-Jan-14 13:35:29

The bank. I couldn't change my title without proving I was married.

I have no idea why they need to know this. Its not like my DH ever had to do so.

I could understand if I changed my name but I didn't. I was very angry about it tbh.

GarlicReturns Mon 13-Jan-14 14:22:39

Thanks, RTB. Yes, banks do seem fond of enforcing outmoded conventions on women! Mine wouldn't let me use my maiden name on my personal current account, as we had a joint account in "Mr & Mrs Hisname" (I had specified I wanted Ms, btw,) and then wouldn't let me change back to my maiden name until I could show them a decree nisi. I changed banks. Fuckers angry

MaleMan81 Mon 13-Jan-14 19:10:05

Cor, thanks Chipping! smile

After more conversation with my wife, I think our decision is for her to start using Ms or Mrs (mood depending!) Myname on all family related matters, eg on all the medical forms for the pregnancy, and for her to stay as Ms Hername at work, and then just start changing other official things if and when she wants to and the time arises. If you can get both names put on your passport and driving licence then that would be good.

This decision was in preparation the first midwife appointment and her putting the surname we decided onto the forms. Well the appointment was today and it still caused some confusion as she wrote Ms Myname, and then signed Ms Hername as she hadn't practiced a new signature!

It's all very new, but we are both just pleased that we have made a decision we are both happy with.

So.. Now first names for baby?..! grin

Thants Mon 13-Jan-14 19:22:48

So you made the decision that she is going to take your name? And go by Mrs a lot of the time.
Seriously why even post if your just going to make the decision to go by convention? Another woman losing her identity now that a man owns her ...

ZingChoirsOfAngels Mon 13-Jan-14 19:28:15



and why would you post just to say that?
useful as paper welliesconfused

BrandNewIggi Mon 13-Jan-14 19:33:26

I find it odd that it is a "we" decision at all - "we" can decide to get married, but only "she" can decide to change her name.
Or do you also say "we are pregnant" as some like to do!

CaptChaos Mon 13-Jan-14 20:20:28

I had an easy to spell, difficult to pronounce properly maiden name, which, along with my given name apparently made me sound asian, This didn't worry me, but seemed to really mess with some people's chi, especially prospective employers. When I married my first husband, it just seemed easier to take his name, although, I wonder if I'd have got away sooner had I refused and seen what a violent wanker he was when crossed. For whatever reason, I retained that surname after we divorced, I think I was so relieved that he'd gone, it was the last thing on my mind.

When I married DH, I toyed with the idea of not taking his surname, but in the end I did. I suppose I could have gone back to my maiden name, but retaining my 1st husband's surname just seemed ridiculous. This is in spite of the fact that, despite DH's surname being a lovely old English one, no one can ever pronounce it or spell it.... so back to square one really!

LokiIsMine Mon 13-Jan-14 20:33:50

I always wanted to change my surname, therefore I took up my husband's surname after we got married. My MIL has her maiden name-married name.

TheDoctrineOf2014 Mon 13-Jan-14 21:08:22

Would anyone mind if I stole "maiden name" and replaced it with "birth name" or something?

In this day and age, I'm guessing most lose their maidenhead prior to any opportunity to change names or not on marriage...

ZingChoirsOfAngels Mon 13-Jan-14 21:15:37

I'd mind. I like maiden name

TheDoctrineOf2014 Mon 13-Jan-14 21:16:48

Why, Zing?

ZingChoirsOfAngels Mon 13-Jan-14 21:17:20

coz I do

CaptChaos Mon 13-Jan-14 21:23:12

Go for it Doctrine, sounds more likely anyway, especially given that I was hardly a maiden at my first wedding anyway!

It's a complete throwback.

GarlicReturns Mon 13-Jan-14 22:55:45

It's common parlance, Doctrine. If we cut out every term with historically oppressive underpinnings, we'd be too busy redesigning the language to get anything else done.

If you insist, though, I think you should go for something like "father's name" as birth name doesn't cut it for the adopted or for people who inherited their mother's surname. We already have "family name" ...

Thants Tue 14-Jan-14 00:00:20

Zingchoirs because the whole point of the thread was to work out how they can do something positive, progressive, based on equality and now the op has decided they will just go with the sexist convention. Don't you think that's just so predictably sad? That even people who question sexist traditions are still too afraid to actually challenge them ?

duchesse Tue 14-Jan-14 00:15:44

To answer the OP only because, well, I have to get to sleep eventually, DH and I kept our own names, and our children have my surname as their 3rd first name, and DH's surname in the conventional way as their surname. It has always been easier having my surname in there as well when travelling alone with them. We didn't really want to double-barrel, nor did we want to lose my very unusual surname, but a fair few of of DH's family and probably mine as well would have been very upset by the notion of our children not having DH's surname.

Plus they were in all likelihood going to be the only <DH's surname> in their generation as none of the other male <Dh's surname> have children or were likely to and it seemed a shame to allow this branch of DH's surname to just wither. Whereas my family has form for breeding like rabbits and my sisters have also given their children our surname. grin

TheDoctrineOf2014 Tue 14-Jan-14 07:37:13

Garlic, I disagree with that argument, or "Ms" and "firefighter" wouldn't have been introduced.

TheDoctrineOf2014 Tue 14-Jan-14 07:40:40

I wouldn't want to use "father's name" as the whole point is that it is my surname, from birth to death for me.

I think forms refer to it as "previous surname, if any" - that'll do me.

Thurlow Tue 14-Jan-14 11:41:19

Things would be easier if the Spanish or Icelandic traditions for surnames was more recognised in the UK. They're eminently sensible.

As mentioned before, DD has DP's surname, not mine. When I have mentioned that just maybe any DC2 might have my surname, this has been greeted as if it is the maddest, stupidest suggestion ever. The kids, apparently, won't be able to cope hmm

RedToothBrush Tue 14-Jan-14 11:52:48

The icelandic system is still about the father!!!!

Women don't change their name on marriage but children are still generally either father'sfirstnamedottir or father'sfirstnameson.

They have only changed the law in very recent years to allow parents to choose a mother's first name as the first part of the surname (if the father). Prior to that the Icelandic naming laws were so tight there was no choice about surname traditions.

Not to mention first names still have to be on an approved list of Icelandic names. No unusual names allowed unless they go before an approval board who decide if its Icelandic enough or not. So you don't have much freedom over naming your children.

duchesse Tue 14-Jan-14 14:01:44

I love the Quebec system: women keep their own name on marriage, partnership etc. The children get both father's and mother's. When they marry, they can choose which to keep for their children.

It also makes things a lot simpler administratively on all sorts of fronts. A child born into an abusive relationship, say, can be assigned the mother's name rather than the father's if all contact is broken, by simply using it.

It broke my heart as a teacher in this country to see children's surnames changed willy-nilly as their families broke up and reformed (yes, it did happen, even in secondary age children). They ought to have one thing they could rely on.

GarlicReturns Tue 14-Jan-14 14:20:30

"previous surname, if any" - that'll do me - Yep, sounds good!

Words like firefighter and chair(person) are a different kettle of fish, Doctrine, since they were gendered "man" titles for roles that women also fill. It felt odd to call a woman a fireman. Maiden name's a bit different, as only women have them. It no longer means you were a virgin all the time you had that name! But meh ... I never did use that term for myself while married, though I didn't bother arguing when other people asked for it.

As far as I know, the UK is far more laissez-faire over naming than most other countries. We kind of take it for granted, as we do our freedom to bequeath our assets as we like. So we don't notice how peculiar discussions like this may sometimes look, to others from societies which regulate such matters.

Another woman losing her identity now that a man owns her ...



I took my husband's surname when we married, I didn't lose my identity, because I'm still the same person. My identity is made up of my characteristics/traits, my likes and dislikes, my interests, and all the other things that make me me.

To me, my name is just a label, my identity is made up of so much more than that. The only way I'd lose my identity, is if I changed as a person, and I certainly haven't done that.

BrandNewIggi Tue 14-Jan-14 18:20:34

The right to a name is one of our human rights. If you were deprived of a name, you wouldn't see it as a mere label. Not saying this is the same as choosing to change your name, but I cannot agree that a name itself is unimportant.

slightlyglitterstained Tue 14-Jan-14 19:07:53

This article suggests giving the mother's surname is very uncommon:

I wouldn't have expected as low as 4%, tbh. Find that a bit surprising.

HamletsSister Tue 14-Jan-14 19:18:47

I married and took my DH's last name because I wanted to - because it mattered to him and don't bother me. You can be a feminist and do something that is traditional (marry in white etc) as long as you are making a choice.

Blistory Tue 14-Jan-14 19:31:20

But to be a feminist you would understand entirely why that choice would be questioned and would understand why seemingly innocuous acts like marrying in white or taking your husband's name are rooted in a tradition that goes against women's liberation and continue to do harm to society's view of women.

Look at how marriage proposals work - it's lovely and romantic and we judge our partners by much effort they put it, how creative they are. When in reality, we're allowing men to dictate whether or not women get married. Women need to wait until they have proved themselves or the man is ready. Or they get left on the shelf, pitied and looked down upon. Look at how women compete to outdo each other with proposals stories as if a marriage proposal somehow confirms their worth as a person. And yet there was a thread on MN recently where a considerable number of women admitted that it was a joint decision, no false romance, no nonsense, just two people in love making a commitment to each other as equals.

The fact that taking a husband's name because it matters to him and doesn't to you is very much evidence that his needs and desires are being put first. Maybe I just don't understand why any man feels pride that his wife takes on his surname but to me, it smacks of something that I don't want to be part of.

And fwiw my feminism has never been about a choice - it's about improving the lives of women, many of whom will never be fortunate enough to have any choice to make.

HamletsSister Tue 14-Jan-14 19:56:55

No. It mattered to him to keep that name because it is unusual. It neither mattered to me what name I had, nor did it matter to me to keep my maiden name. I married in white because I chose to, not because I was told to.

Truly, I know all that you are saying to be correct. But, I have total autonomy to choose my name, clothes, etc and so chose to stick with the ways of my (strong female) ancestors.

As for proposals - we agreed to marry. I told him the answer would be NO if he dared to ask my father's permission.

I didn't think how I married made much difference to the view of women but, FWIW, I made a speech (the best one!) and did everything in the way that suited me /us - blending traditions with our own / my own choice.

Yes, I am aware of (and wary of) the patriarchy. However, I was just saying that you can make a choice and take a name other than the one you were given by your parents - that too can be a feminist choice. (Post- feminist?)

Blistory Tue 14-Jan-14 20:11:52

Fair enough but I disagree that it's a feminist choice.

It's a choice taken by someone who is a feminist which is a completely different thing.

We all do things that are anti feminist and taking your husband's name is one of them. I completely understand why some women choose to do so but the fact is that you can't call it a feminist choice.

Sorry but it irks me when women try to justify the fact that they thought about something as evidence that it was a feminist thing to do. No, it was just that you thought about it, rejected the feminist way, and choose to do it your own way. That's fine - own your decision but don't claim it as a feminist stance when it isn't.

HamletsSister Tue 14-Jan-14 20:35:57

Maybe I thought feminism was about having choices - not about labelling but about choosing because, you know, now we can.

Feminism is about women's liberation. I don't see why all choices have to be labelled 'feminist'.

Something can be a good choice for you and the right choice, and you can be a feminist, without it being a feminist choice.

Sparklyboots Tue 14-Jan-14 21:51:51

DP and I have two children, a boy and a girl. DS has DP's surname, DD has mine. The names aren't really double barrelable. DS was named for.DP as he was the last of his name, and his dad had died just before I got pg, and cos I didn't know my father and so being able to give a father's name seemed really amazing in the mist of pg hormonal states, at least. DD got my name because, well lots of other, less emotionally charged reasons. I feel slightly ridiculous because despite all my careful 'personing' (as my DM calls my attempts to not thoughtlessly pass on a male-identified world) we have sort of suggested through the names that gender is the single most important qualifier of identity. So not a perfect solution.

duchesse Tue 14-Jan-14 21:58:21

I think that if a person thinks all the way round a topic and nevertheless comes back to the majority decision for personal reasons rather than androcentric social pressure, that's still a feminist choice. It's toeing the line or unthinkingly adopting a status quo weighted against women that is the unfeminist course of action.

duchesse Tue 14-Jan-14 21:59:39

I guess what I'm saying is that it's the decision-making process rather than the decision itself that is the crucial part.

I'd say it's a personal choice, rather than a feminist choice. I don't understand what makes it 'feminist' (or why it should have to be)?

Blistory Tue 14-Jan-14 22:20:32

I guess what I'm saying is that it's the decision-making process rather than the decision itself that is the crucial part.

I think that might be where a lot of disagreement arises. It seems to suggest that it doesn't matter if the decision is sound as long as the process to get there is. Not sure that I can get on board with that.

duchesse Tue 14-Jan-14 23:05:19

Well, much of the point is that there be a level playing field. And while 50% of the population or thereabouts isn't making decisions from the same starting point as the other 50%, they can't really be truly equal. Because to make decisions from the same starting point, those 50% have to strip back many layers of socialisation and conditioning that they may not even know they have.

Things such as taking one's husband's surname or the children having the father's surname being "normal" or simply "what one does". I still maintain that if a woman thinks all around the subject and decides that because her surname is Bumface or her own father was horrible and she sees no reason to keep her birth surname, she wants to change her name on marriage to her husband's, I have not the slightest issue with that.

If on the other hand a woman changes her name because that's what you do (most of the women in this country I would imagine), then that's not a decision taken from a level playing field.

slightlyglitterstained Wed 15-Jan-14 07:44:41

Isn't the basis that "keeping my name didn't matter as much to me" likely to depend on socialisation in the first place? If you expect you'll lose something in the future, it's natural to try to protect yourself subconsciously by detaching a bit from it now.

Whereas if everyone tells you something is forever and it's a crucial part of your identity...this kind of thing:

A man’s name is not like a mantle which merely hangs about him, and which one perchance may safely twitch and pull, but a perfectly fitting garment, which, like the skin, has grown over him, at which one cannot rake and scrape without injuring the man himself.
-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

...then unsurprisingly, you might be rather strongly attached.

duchesse Wed 15-Jan-14 08:20:21

"didn't matter as much to me" is most definitely a socialisation thing and therefore to be challenged.

TheDoctrineOf2014 Wed 15-Jan-14 08:49:14

Quite, slightly. Full names are used in a professional context and they are expected to remain a constant badge if identification. So women who "keep their name for professional reasons" are following the male pattern of one name from birth to death.A good example of the structures being set up for male norms...

HamletsSister Wed 15-Jan-14 09:58:31

No - it didn't matter as much to me because my name was a common one. My DH's name is unusual and he has become (through death) an only child. I have numerous siblings (all female) who have chosen to keep their maiden names. I didn't have an opinion one way or the other - in some circumstances I would have been bothered, in this case, I wasn't. It mattered to him to keep his name (Very old Scots name) and it didn't matter to me to keep mine (not quite Smith, but close). I would say there is a 50/50 split amongst my generation. I didn't change immediately but it happened organically as I moved jobs and areas after we were married.

duchesse Wed 15-Jan-14 11:25:17

It bloody mattered to me, so I kept my own surname. I love my husband but I don't see why that means I have to surrender my identity.

Givemeabiscuit Wed 15-Jan-14 21:24:30

Stick with tradition she should take your name.

Ah, 'tradition'.

<misty eyed smile>

Can you tell I'm biting back a rant that includes the words 'actual history' in prominent places?

CaptChaos Thu 16-Jan-14 05:07:01

Stick with tradition she should take your name.

Ah yes, tradition.

Society loves tradition. Male society anyway.

duchesse Fri 17-Jan-14 12:19:53

Ah yes, let us all stick with tradition. <goes back to tilling the field of turnips with a bent stick, whilst suffering cholera>

Mitchy1nge Fri 17-Jan-14 12:26:44

and a minge that has turned itself inside out from churning out too many babies

TheDoctrineOf2014 Fri 17-Jan-14 12:37:52

And a life expectancy of, oh yeah, many of us on the thread dead already.

McFox Fri 17-Jan-14 12:55:15

I haven't changed my name, but my DH couldn't give a toss. He's of the opinion that I do whatever I want and understand why I feel strongly about it. We didn't have the big over the top proposal either, we decided as an equal team that we wanted to get married, and went to buy a ring together.

Family and friends on the other hand are weirdly outraged by me keeping my name. I've been told by basically all of the women that I'm being silly because I want to retain my own identity. They have ignored my requests to stop calling me Mrs DHsName, or addressing mail to me like that too. I am really saddened by this. Just like I am saddened by my mate who got accidentally pg by an arse, and aren't together, yet their new daughter has his surname. What in the actual fuck?

It's my right to retain my name and although I can see it causing problems in the next few years as I am pregnant at the moment, I think that I'd be doing any child of mine a disservice by doing what I 'should' and changing my name. I need to feel confident that I can pass on my feminist principles to my child, and if I change my name, how can I do this with conviction?

duchesse Fri 17-Jan-14 20:52:18

Well, I'm already dead for sure, along with my last child. I was 41. Good old tradition. Damn medical advances for ruining tradition!!

funnyvalentine Sat 18-Jan-14 13:38:06
TheDoctrineOf2014 Sat 18-Jan-14 14:15:23

Interesting fv!

GarlicReturns Sat 18-Jan-14 15:04:37

I like their deductions ... that a woman who takes her husband's name is perceived as more submissive, therefore less of a go-getter ... and that this makes sense pragmatically.

By way of consolation, all you married name-changers: you're seen as more caring grin Our male-patterned economy, apparently, sees 'independent' as worth $500 a month more than 'caring'.

You know, I've always wanted to be called a ball-breaker. My time has not yet come wink

minipie Sun 19-Jan-14 00:26:31

Very glad to see a post from a man considering this question.

I have started to think that if we are going to become a family it would make us all feel more united if we both had the same surname as our child. My wife agrees with this.

See this right here is where you have allowed traditional assumptions to infect your otherwise logical analysis.

There is really no reason at all why having the same surname makes you more united as a family.

You don't all need to share the same hair colour to be a family do you? Or the same first name? So why do you all need to share the same surname? Is it simply because society expects families to have the same surname? Well society expects women to take their husband's surname too - so if you can reject that expectation then you can also reject the one about families having the same surname.

I speak as someone who has a different surname to my mother - made no difference whatsoever to how "united" we felt or feel as a family - and someone whose daughter has a different surname to me - again, no effect on our family "unitedness" at all. It is a complete myth.

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