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Why I didn’t change my last name after getting married

Sharon Green wedding day

What’s in a name?

For me, it’s my identity, it’s my professional persona and it signifies the family I come from. It holds significance.

That’s why the thought of giving it away when I got married was not something that sat comfortably with me.

I’m not saying that all women should keep their maiden names, nor am I judging those who have taken their husband’s last names.

In fact, I can understand the desire to change your name because it may offer a fresh start, make you feel part of the same family unit or give you the opportunity to leave behind a name you don’t like.

But, personally, I have never found a reason strong enough or worthy enough to make me want to change my name.

Here’s why I didn’t change my last name after getting married:

Identity

In my family, we have this saying – if you’re a bit out of sorts or not quite yourself, we’ll say “you’re not acting like a Green”. The phrase goes beyond recognising that you’re not acting in your usual way; it’s specific to exhibiting Green traits as part of your personality.

I have always strongly identified with the Green side of my family – many of us are the blonde haired, blue eyed types – and my surname has consequently felt like a natural fit my entire life.

For me, as it is for many others, my name is my identity. I couldn’t imagine being anyone other than Sharon Green.

And for that reason, I didn’t want to lose my identity simply because I got married. I don’t feel I have become a different person after getting married, so why should my name change?

My name is me, as I have always been and will continue to be.

I like my last name

In addition to identifying with my last name, I also happen to like it. A lot. I like the way it sounds, I like that it’s simple and I don’t mind that it’s common.

Most of all, I love that my surname is easy to spell and pronounce. Whenever I am asked to state my name for records or general life admin, I respond with “Green, like the colour”. There is no stumbling over the spelling, I am rarely asked to repeat it and we can move forward quickly and effortlessly. I really like that about my name.

My husband’s last name, on the other hand, is long and difficult to spell and pronounce. He always has to spell it out, sometimes more than once, and sound every letter clearly. Aside from the fact that I don’t identify with it, I didn’t want the hassle of a tricky last name.

Professional persona

For most of the past decade I have dedicated my professional life to being a writer and journalist.

While I have by no means been a famous writer, my byline has appeared on hundreds of articles that I have produced for newspapers, magazines and digital publications.

I have also used my name to build a freelance writing business and personal brand, and I am known in the media industry as Sharon Green.

I have spent years building up a professional reputation and making a living based on my name – it was not something I wanted to compromise.

Avoiding the administrative hassle

The thought of having to change every single identification document with my birth name on it to a married name not only made my eyes glaze over with boredom, I also felt like it would be a pointless waste of my time.

I’d have to spend hours changing my certificates, driver licence, passport, bank accounts and memberships (the list goes on) for the sake of a new name. All the while, my husband wouldn’t even have to contemplate such a task and could spend that equivalent time at his leisure.

I decided I’d prefer to put that time to better use.

Equality

As someone who is striving for gender equality in the workplace, in the home, in the family and even in my marriage, keeping my last name was an important and obvious decision.

I discussed the issue at length with my husband before we were married and he never seemed perturbed by my decision. Nor did he object it.

He did, however, strongly express that he would never change his last name or consider taking mine. Based on that, I decided to close the conversation for good.

I struggle with the concept that the majority of women are willing to give up their name, but men are not.

According to this ABC report, 80 per cent of women in Australia will take their husband’s surname after marriage, while a US study found that 94 per cent of women in America do.

A Men’s Health survey conducted in 2013 revealed 63 per cent of respondents said they would be upset if their wives kept their maiden names. Furthermore, 96 per cent said they wouldn’t take a woman’s last name if she asked them to.

Perhaps we have arrived here because we’ve become entrenched in a very old-fashioned way of doing things.

The custom of women changing their last name after getting married is an archaic tradition, one of a time when women were treated as property by men.

After marrying, husbands owned their wives, children, land and titles, and women had no choice but to assume their husband’s last name.

Yet today, in most countries, there is no legal requirement for a woman to change her surname when she gets married.

So, why aren’t we exercising our right to make the decision to keep our last name? It’s a huge reason why I did.

The choice is yours

If you’re debating whether to change your surname after getting married, don’t make that decision based on what other people say, or even the points I’ve made above.

Rather, take the time to thoroughly think about what feels right. Before diving into ditching your last name, consider what that might mean for you. Ponder what’s important to you and know that you have a choice.

It’s your name, and only you should decide what to do with it.


Did you change your last name when you got married or did you keep your maiden name? How did you arrive at that decision? Share your story in the comments section below.

Sharon Green, editor

Sharon Green

http://shedefined.com.au/author/sharon

Sharon Green is the co-founder and editor of SHE DEFINED.

An experienced journalist and editor, Sharon has worked in mainstream media in Australia and the United Kingdom.

Forever in search of a magazine that confronted the real issues faced by modern women, Sharon decided to create her own.