The married name game

Something New


Back in the day, a woman taking her husband's name when she got married wasn't so much a conversation as it was an expectation.

Now, it's a huge decision for a woman to make - whether to keep her maiden name, take her husband's name or even hyphenate.

Personally the name change was a long conversation between my fiancÉ and I, but we eventually came to a compromise. It was quite the process for us, so I was curious what my other friends were thinking of doing, and how my already married friends came to their decisions.

To open the topic of discussion, I took to my Facebook to ask my engaged and married friends about it. Little did I know how popular the subject was, and 90 comments and many debates later, I realized how controversial and difficult the decision was, and is, for many women.

What I took away from the lengthy discussion was that the decision to keep, lose or hyphenate your maiden name is completely personal for everyone, and at times, a compromise between the couple.

Some women are fiercely proud of their maiden names and wanted to keep them; others were willing to take their husband's name, or felt they should in order to keep the family unit under one name if they planned on having children (which apparently just makes life a lot easier for everyone).

I learned that taking your husband's name is expensive and a pain in the rear end, but that it makes things a lot easier when it comes to medical emergencies and travel.

I also learned that no decision on the subject is the wrong one, no matter how opinionated you are about your decision, because it's become a complex issue in the 21st century.

A woman's maiden name has gone from something that's disposable upon marriage, like a ghost of their unmarried past, to something that has begun to define them for many years, especially as the married age of women keeps getting higher and higher as they decide to build their career first before settling down.

That means their maiden name becomes who they are in the business world, on social media and in society, making it much harder to part with at the altar for something some see as an archaic tradition.

For me, a writer, my last name defines me. People know me by it, call me by it and Google me with it. It's on academic papers, newspaper articles and even on a children's book. As a former athlete, my last name was also on jerseys and rosters and defined me as a player. It still connects me to my small hometown where people see me and say, "You're a Maximick, aren't you?" It's me.

So when it came down to it, I thought it would be an easy decision. I was going to keep my maiden name no matter what.

But then, when I told my fiancÉ that, I saw how much it hurt his feelings. It's important to him that I take his last name; that we unite under one name as we move forward and plan a family together. But it's also important to me not to lose my last name just because I'm getting married. I'm not that old fashioned.

So this is where we compromised.

I get to keep using Maximick when it comes to my writing, but I'll use his name for everything else.

It wasn't an easy decision to come to, and I still feel like I'm giving up a lot, but it's a decision that makes us both as content as possible considering the situation.

So to those women out there going through this, don't let anyone pressure you into doing something you don't want to. Talk it out with your fiancÉ, think about it long and hard and go with what your heart tells you. It's your name, or will become your name.

There are no wrong answers here.

But on the upside, if you do end up picking the wrong name, you can always change it back - for a fee.

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