So I have reached the point in newlywed-dom where I have to make a decision – do I adopt my partner’s last name or keep the one that I’ve had for the last 26 years? Now, I realize that if this is my only confusion in life, then I really don’t have much to complain about, but nonetheless, it is a fairly huge hassle and certainly a decision sure to endure for quite some time.
I must begin with a little background. I am not what you might consider a traditionalist. I am a feminist and also generally very practical. These things conflict more than you might think. First, I have identified with my name for 26 years. It’s me and I like to believe that while marriage might help me evolve as a person, it will not “change” me. In other words, Ragan is essentially the same person now that she was pre-marriage. So that’s part of the Keep the Hensley argument.
The other side is probably very similar to the argument that many feminists have made throughout history, which is essentially, “Screw you patriarchy. Why should I have to abandon my identity when that asshole I married doesn’t?” Or something like that. The one you’ve heard was probably much more eloquent and diplomatic, but you get the gist. And I wholeheartedly believe it. It makes no sense that I’m expected to not only sacrifice my identify, but that I should also spend a significant amount of my time filling out all of the paperwork if he doesn’t. The aversion to paperwork is my practical side shining through. What a waste of time.
In the same vein, why is it his family name that endures through generations and not mine? Chances are that I’m going to be more involved in the gestating, birthing and rearing of said posterity than he is (another conversation for another day). All this to say that I’m not comfortable with having to do all of the legwork and receive little benefit (not that carrying on one’s name is the sole benefit of parenthood).
But on the other hand…is it more practical to have just one name? Less explaining, less logistic hassle, etc. I’m just not sure that’s a good enough reason.
Our initial plan was to hyphenate both of our names, thus creating a shared family identity that recognizes both of us. But part of me, most likely the part indoctrinated by a patriarchal society, is still a little hesitant to make that move. Also, I’m not sure Hensley-Nichols would fit on most forms and would certainly be irritating as a signature…
What are your thoughts on the To Change or not to Change question?