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AIBU to be surprised that in 2013 people are up in arms about a woman keeping her surname on marriage?

(239 Posts)
ComposHat Thu 31-Jan-13 23:45:48

For clarity's sake, it is worth stating that I am a gentleman mumsnetter who is due to get married in the spring.

My fiancée is keeping her surname after the marriage. It wasn't something we'd discussed, it was just something both of us assumed that we would both keep our surnames on marriage.

Anyway over the last few weeks I've been shocked at some people's reaction to this.

My fiancée met her Aunt who was over from Australia who asked her what her surname would be after marriage, to which she responded 'same as it is now.' her Aunt was a bit dumbfounded and her Aunt's husband who is a bit of a stereotypical unreconstructed Aussie male, starting going on about 'what sort of bloke would stand for that' I'm amazed he hasn't put his foot down' etc etc.

A male friend of my parents had a similar reaction. He asked my mum how she felt about there being another Mrs Hat in the family and when she explained there wouldn't be, he was beside himself.

Am I really surprised that people have such definite opinions on such things and feel entitled to express them to us in quite vehement terms?

Morloth Fri 01-Feb-13 08:15:59

I am Australian and got married 15 years ago.

Didn't change my name, most people went 'meh' if it came up. Quite frankly nobody gave a damn.

Weird response there.

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeGoes Fri 01-Feb-13 08:18:40

I have used Ms Ownsurname most of my adult life, but I get called Miss sometimes (it is still on my bank card that I have had since I was 18 and my driving licence ditto), when asked for my name by shope etc I give my surname and they end to write down Mrs, if asked I say Ms.

ZillionChocolate Fri 01-Feb-13 08:23:27

Congratulations ComposHat!

Utopian I don't think you can read anything into a woman keeping her name other than it's a choice, given that it's not the default option (in the uk at least).

Fwiw I kept my name and definitely did want to get married, I was the one that proposed. I did find that people were quite rude about it and it's difficult to respond with why I didn't change without implicitly criticising name changers, which I don't want to do. I did find "I have a name, I've had it 30 years, I don't need a new one" and "if you like Mrs Zillion DH so much you're very welcome to it" shut people up.

BoringSchoolChoiceNickname Fri 01-Feb-13 08:23:47

To veer off topic, can I just say that I love the phrase "gentleman Mumsnetter". Congratulations OP, and YANBU, obvs.

GailTheGoldfish Fri 01-Feb-13 08:24:28

Can I just say I absolutely love the phrase 'gentleman mumsnetter', it is very genteel and a bit like a title that should be bestowed upon those who are male and write polite posts! Have a wonderful wedding ComposHat!

GailTheGoldfish Fri 01-Feb-13 08:25:10

Ooh X posts Boring!

YouKnowNothingoftheCrunch Fri 01-Feb-13 08:25:39

I've got a weird one. Vile now XH was happy for me to keep my own name and even considered taking my name (until MIL put a stop to it).

All the dcs have my name too, but when dd was born and he went to open her bank account, I didn't find out for ages that he had opened it with HIS surname. That was three years ago, and because he opened it the bank wouldn't even discuss it with me, even though I was telling them that that person doesn't exist.

Couldn't pay in cheques for her, etc etc

He has finally sorted it in the past month.

Funnily enough we divorced this week and I couldn't be more relieved.

ChildoftheMonkeyBasket Fri 01-Feb-13 08:32:06

I didn't change my surname when I got married. My husband's family (mainly women!) all put Mrs Hisfirstname Hissurname on mail they send to me - makes we want to scream.

slug Fri 01-Feb-13 08:39:03

If you really want to get a reaction, the next time you see or talk the uncle and aunt say something along the lines of:

I've thought about you're comment and you are right. A family should have the same surname. I've decided to change my surname to DF's one.

Then step back and wait for them to pick their jaws up off the floor. A friend of mine did this. He said it took his parents a month before they could formulate a coherent response.

CailinDana Fri 01-Feb-13 08:43:51

I took DH's name on marriage mainly because I wanted us all to have the same name and I like the idea of being "The X Family." I wasn't attached at all to my unmarried (I refuse say "maiden" - blagggggggh) name but if I were I'm sure my DH would have taken it, he's not bothered either. It does get my goat massively though when my MIL writes letters addressed to "Dr and Mrs [DH's initial] [DH's surname]." I may have changed my second name but I certainly didn't change my first name!!! It may be extreme but seeing that honestly makes me feel like I don't exist any more. I hate it.

I would never comment on someone else not changing their name though - why would I? I don't get why people think they are entitled to have an opinion on this, it's go absolutely nothing to do with them.

carabos Fri 01-Feb-13 08:50:16

5madthings it is not a requirement that you re-register your mad things births should you marry their father, it is an option.

DS2 was born a couple of years before I married his father. I had no intention of re-registering his birth as I don't believe in re-writing history (especially to benefit a man wink), but DH slipped off one day and did it anyway shock. The registrar told him that in her long career as a registrar she had never done that exercise and had to go to her manual to look it up. This was 20 years ago.

TBH I'm always mildly surprised when young women today change their names on marriage. Seems very old fashioned to me.

When I married XH almost 30 years ago, I announced my intention to keep my own, very unusual surname. MiL's response was " over my dead body". I was so young that I was intimidated into changing and regretted it. I regretted it more when, at the point of divorce, I received a letter from their family solicitor instructing me to resume my maiden name forthwith!

PenelopePipPop Fri 01-Feb-13 08:56:41

Agree with slug DH did this with my stepmum. She soon changed her tune.

Anyway I think YABU to be surprised. I did not change my name on marriage either and it ruffled feathers 8 yrs ago. But I think it will continue to ruffle feathers as marriage becomes more and more atypical. Because marriage seems like an increasingly conservative option people assume you'll go for the traditional hoopla that comes with it because if you did not want that why would you not just live together and raise children together without it?

Personally I married for pragmatic reasons. It still makes life easier legally to make a single binding commitment regarding family and property rather than multiple separate commitments (or worse no commitments and be left with no home when your partner fucks off). I pointed out to anyone that asked that changing my name would require paperwork at the bank and sending off my passport and would defeat the object of the exercise. DH and I are clearly as romantic as rich tea biscuits. But very happy - I hope you and the future Mrs Not ComposHat will be too.

EasilyBored Fri 01-Feb-13 08:57:17

I took DH's name, purely because I wanted us all to have the same name, and I wasn't attached to my maiden name in an emotional way. It was my choice completely, DH wouldn't have minded either way, but didn't want to change his.

I think most people of my generation (latetwenties) wouldn't bat an eyelid over whether someone changed theirs or not.

I do love when people make a whole new surname and wish I could have got DH onboard with that!

Trills Fri 01-Feb-13 09:00:37

I agree with slug

^If you really want to get a reaction, the next time you see or talk the uncle and aunt say something along the lines of:

I've thought about you're comment and you are right. A family should have the same surname. I've decided to change my surname to DF's one.^

YANBU to be surprised that people make such a fuss. I think the "criticising their choice" answer is most likely the correct one. Some people seem to think that whenever there is a choice to be made there is a right choice and a wrong choice, and if you choose differently to them then you are stating that they made the wrong choice (rather than that different decisions can be correct for different people).

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 01-Feb-13 09:00:59

It might be relevant on this thread, in case anyone doesn't know:

- There is no legal reason why you can't use two names for, eg., two bank accounts. You're perfectly entitled to have one account under the name 'Mrs John Smith' and one under 'Ms Jane Jones'. You just bring in your identifying documents (marriage cert in the first case and whatever your normal ID is in the second). It is a good idea to explain to the bank that you are known as both names if you do this. Some nice banks will also put a note on your account to say that Mrs John Smith is also known as Ms Jane Jones, but they seem more reluctant to do it the other way around.

While this is all perfectly legal (unless, I guess, you're doing it specifically in order to commit fraud ...!), some banks will tell you it's impossible. My bank told me it was 'illegal' for me not to change my name to DH's now I was married. Don't trust the bank to know the law! We found it easier just to go to a different, more friendly bank.

I'm mentioning this because it's a total bugger getting cheques for your wedding that kindly well-meaning people have addressed to a woman who doesn't exist and has no bank account - especially if those kindly well-meaning people turn out to be quite angry if you ask them to re-write a cheque.

(Btw, I can understand people having an irrational/emotional response to names, I think it's very natural.)

NotADragonOfSoup Fri 01-Feb-13 09:05:11

I did not change my name when I got married. It never occurred to me I would and, frankly, I find it unbelievable that people still do such a thing, I think it's sexist and something out of the dark ages.

This attitude is just as bad as the people who get "up in arms" about a woman not changing her name.

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeGoes Fri 01-Feb-13 09:05:11

I do get a bit stumped when asked why I didn't change mine (invariably by married women who did change theirs), as Zillion said, it's hard to explain without appearing to be critical of their choice. I never even considered changing it for a moment to be honest, it just wasn't going to happen.

I've never had any properly offensive comments about it, but I didn't really tell anyone much, just carried on using my own name, only mentioning it if I have had a wrong name on a cheque for instance. It has become apparent over the last two years that even my close family members thought that my official name was DHsurname and I was just using my own surname out of habit, not got round to changing email address etc. Even though it is 12 years since we got married.

Moominsarehippos Fri 01-Feb-13 09:10:29

I've been married 20 years now and its never been an issue (even from my mum who was ever so proper).

PuffPants Fri 01-Feb-13 09:20:29

I haven't changed mine. But most people change it for me! From the moment we were married, birthday cards come to Mrs X and Christmas cards to Mr & Mrs X. One aunt even addresses me as Mrs husband's first name and surname!

When I receive cheques in the name of this fictional me, I have to take my marriage cert. into the bank and they always sat I should change my name of the account and look at me like I'm Germaine Greer when I say no thank you...

RuleBritannia Fri 01-Feb-13 09:20:43

I kept my surname before marrying my late DH. At a ladies lunch a few years ago, my friends began asking why didn't I change my name. They had been told many times before that that it had not changed but kept they picking away at it. In the end, I just asked them all together, Why did you change yours? They had no reply and it hasn't been mentioned since.

Alligatorpie Fri 01-Feb-13 09:22:15

I don't change my name when we got married 10 years ago, dh's family were surprised and expressed it, but they got over it, although we still get Xmas cars to mr and mrs...

But getting dh's Barclay account converted to a joint one 2 years was a huge pita. The guy was about 23 and couldn't get over it.

ethelb Fri 01-Feb-13 09:31:19

My fiancée met her Aunt who was over from Australia who asked her what her surname would be after marriage, to which she responded 'same as it is now.' her Aunt was a bit dumbfounded and her Aunt's husband who is a bit of a stereotypical unreconstructed Aussie male, starting going on about 'what sort of bloke would stand for that' I'm amazed he hasn't put his foot down' etc etc.

^^ Why did they ask her then? hmm

naomilpeb Fri 01-Feb-13 09:37:29

DP and I aren't married, but this has come up because the children have my surname, not his. No one in DP's family asked us what we were doing with surnames before first DC was born, and we didn't feel the need to tell anyone of our plans, but on reflection we should have because it called an almighty upset after she was born. DP's brother said to him, "But the school will find it really strange that you have a different surname to your children" - um yes, I'm sure they've never come across that in this day and age?! DP's father was already praying for the unborn "they have a word for children born out of marriage, you know, DP" so his reaction was no surprise. DP's mother was utterly shocked and was very odd to us for the first 9 months of DD's life, culminating in her saying she felt there was no point in her bonding with DD as she didn't feel like she was really her grandchild and I could 'take her away' at any point. Yes, seriously. My parents thought it was odd, but didn't, obviously, have the same emotional reaction against it.

It is all fine now, four years and a lot of work at relationships down the line, but it's probably best to tell people your plans if you think there's going to be any fall-out... Dealing with all of that with a newborn baby and no sleep was not fun on either of us!

wherearemysocka Fri 01-Feb-13 09:44:08

I agree it's difficult to justify why you haven't changed your name without giving the impression that you're judging those who do. I've been asked if I'm going to and find it's easiest to just say 'No, I've chosen not to' and change the subject. Ultimately it is one of the few things in life that is entirely your own business.

CMOTDibbler Fri 01-Feb-13 09:49:18

Congrats OP!

I've been married 15 years, and just before we got married someone asked me what my new name would be. I told them it would still be the same, and they asked if dh minded. I had to phone him and ask as we'd never actually talked about it - and he said it had never crossed his mind that I would change it. But lots of people have odd views about it and I've even been asked if I was legally married. Ds has both our names, and I don't give a stuff what anyone else thinks about our names.

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