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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?

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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