Thursday, October 22, 2009

What's In A Name?

I was 20 when I married for the first time, the year was 1976 & I was very young & verrrry naive. I didn't think twice about changing my surname to that of That Other Husband (TOH), every new bride did it. 12 years later, when I grew up & wisely divested myself of TOH, I began to think about my name. I thought it would be a good opportunity amongst all the other changes I was experiencing to revert back to my original name. That surname is very unusual, & as I don't have any brothers & both my parents had died, I thought it would be good to at least carry on the family name in my life-time.

So I did it & it felt good, that is until I met MOTH. After getting over the initial surprise of his marriage proposal (although I still think to this day that MOTH was more surprised than me!!), I began to worry about the name issue again. I'd come to really like my new/old name again & was very reluctant to give it up. But I also didn't want to offend MOTH. I did some research & discovered it isn't a legal obligation for a woman to take her partner's name in marriage, it's just a social nicety. So that clinched the deal for me & I worked up the courage to broach the subject with MOTH.

I shouldn't have worried, as his immediate reaction was 'Doesn't worry me, please yourself'. Typical!! Then I thought about how we would communicate this to our family & friends. MOTH said not to worry, leave it to him, he'd cover it all in his speech at our Wedding. I dug the pic out of the wedding album of him announcing the news, with Son #1 looking totally disinterested! This how he did it.

'Now I need to let youse all know that Millie won't be changing her name to mine. (Audible gasp of horror from all the elderly Aunts sitting in the marquee!) As youse on my side of the family all know, our Family Coat of Arms has the motto 'Deeds Without Words' under the crest. And all of us who know Millie & her love of a chat, would understand that it would be TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE for her to ever do a deed without speaking! As she couldn't possibly uphold our family traditions, she won't be allowed to take the name!'

Any thoughts? Did you or didn't you. And if you didn't, were there any dramas?


  1. I changed my name for my first marriage and that lasted 20 minutes. Then I took back my name that I too was very proud of, it never gets pronounced correctley. Then when found Jason and stalked him until he fell in love with me, we lived together for years. I told him I didn't want to marry again but wanted children. He wouldn't have children with me unless I married him. OK. So with in 7 days we married. I didn't want to ditch my name again so I kept it and added his. The only problem is not only is it not pronounced correctly but it is also very long. I use his name but for legal issues I use mine and his. Sorry for writing a book. Heidi

  2. It never worried me either way. I changed my last name nearly 12 years ago; and that was a time when it was frowned upon especially in the work place. Anyway, Jason's name was fine. Would've been a different matter if his last name was "Lay" or "Root". Imagine, Anita Root.

  3. Changed mine 17 years ago without another thought (young and naive - but not 20, geez Millie.) Would I do it again? Hope I never find out.

  4. I was happy to shed my maiden name as it was unique and therefore constantly misspelled and mispronounced. And because of my unique first name, addressing me always became so complicated! Now I have a good old Irish last name and it feels good to be less 'complicated.' xoTrina

  5. I changed my name when I was married...was divorced... went back to my family name... remarried and changed it again. I have no regrets-I love my family name and I love my husband's family name. The more I hear about MOTH- the more I adore him.

  6. Oh Millie, that MOTH of yours is just divine. I think it's wonderful you kept your name and just as wonderful that MOTH was man enough to embrace it. Hope you're having a great week. Meredy xo.

  7. At first I did maiden name - new last name, only under pressure. Did not want to change it at all. Ten years later after divorce went back to maiden name. Guess I should have stuck to my original wish. Love your adventures...


  8. Oh what a classic speech. MOTH man of words .. that was so funny!

    I changed mine, didn't really think about it at the time to be honest.

  9. I was going to change my name, but my mother-in-law was so awful leading up to and on our wedding day I refused to (I didn't want to have the same name as her). I am sure it is still a sore point with my husband but he was very much a mummys boy. I didn't realise how bad until the day before our wedding, but my mum wouldn't let me pull out. He is so much better after 8 yrs but I tell you he needed to be otherwise he would have been TOH. I remember once asking my mother-in-law "Aren't you glad he has someone who loves him" and she said "No!" She really didn't like losing no. 1 position. And whilst she is better she still can't help making sneaky remarks.

  10. Oh , how priceless Mills, ...I just love the way MOTH turned the tables on the subject !!!!
    ... I got married in 1976 and as a 20 something, I didn't even think about changing my name. Although I was a child of the 60's, a time of rebellion, burning bras young girls just followed tradition and did what was expected (for all those old Aunts and Grandmothers !!!!).I don't think that I gave it much thought. I think that it was a time when you were 'proud' to take your husbands name !!!! Oh, how times have changed. I think that maybe if I got married now, I might be tempted to keep my maiden name as, being only girls in my family, the name would not carry on. It's not something that I think about on a daily basis, but I can understand why you kept your family name as circumstance allowed it.
    Wish I'd been a 'fly on the wall' at your wedding, Mills. I bet the speeches were hilarious. XXXX

  11. Hi Millie,

    I changed my surname to my husbands name over 17 years ago...I remember being at work and working on my new signature!! (Of course when I had done all my jobs). If I had a choice now, I would still do the same thing. If I see a book or something with my old name on it - it feels kinda weird...If I married someone with the surname cock or dick or something like that, I don't think I would change that, although in saying that I'm speaking for myself now and not 17 years ago, when I don't think I would be as assertive...although there are days when I think I still need to work on that!!!
    Have a great day.

    Love Janine

  12. A brilliant comeback by MOTH. I did change mine for the sake of my children but i often think I would like it to be different. I would like to make up a new one all together. Hayley x

  13. Audible gasps from Brunnel's family when I announced that I definitely wasn't taking his name, but was keeping my own. Even louder gasps when during speech my father & I both colluded to imply that my only 'wordly goods' were a pile of credit card bills that Brunnel was now going to enjoy. Thankfully Brunnel got the joke, but 20 years later & his parents still don't!

  14. Similar story. Married young (23) and changed my name in a heart beat. That marriage lasted 3 years so changed back to maiden name. Couldn't wait to get rid of every trace. 5 years later married again and he even proposed "You don't have to change your name, but will you marry me?" I kept my maiden name until we moved countries for his job. I was the wife, the Mrs so there I took on his name. Mum booked me in for a Doctors appointment when I was planning a trip home and gave my married name. They changed their records before I arrived so then had to change Medicare and Health Fund to claim rebate. Couldn't have half and half so had to go the whole hog. So yes, I changed my name to his - twice. It's fine now, 15 years on.

  15. I officially did change my name when I got married but I continue to this day... 33 years later... to use my maiden name off and on.
    I sign my paintings with it and my married name because my dad said he suffered thru my education.. so he deserved some credit.. and he is right.
    I also gave my son my maiden name as his first name.. it does live on.

  16. I was in my 40's when I married for the first time a couple of years ago...and to be honst I'd been "me" for so long I couldn't imagine myself as anyone else and I couldn't imagine being called anything else.

    The funny thing is though, there have been occasionss when my husband has been called by my name.

    He thinks it's hilarious and often introduces himself as Mr Dolittlethingamy, rather than his name...

  17. Wonderful to know about this situation . I really want to appreciate Moth for his nice attitude.
    Your decision is perfectly right.

    Have a nice weekend !

  18. Kudos to MOTH! I have changed my name so many times, I'm not sure if I remember what the original name was? haha, just kidding. I do remember, but I happen to like my married name more. One thing I haven't changed, oddly enough is my initials! How wierd is it that it worked out that way!

  19. What a good speechifier MOTH is. I didn't change my name because I was so well known professionally (not) that it would have been confusing for clients. I think my husband would have preferred if I did. To be honest, even though I am a ranting feminist, the real reason was because I just couldn't face redoing\reapplying for passport, Medicare, bank, HBA, etc etc cards and documents. So not for noble reasons, but for pure laziness.

  20. I took my hubby's name because it sounded better than my maiden name but now it just reminds me of his side of the family. They have not spoken to us in 11 years, since we had a 'naming ceremony' for our first born which they didn't agree with.... as it was not of their religion (cult). They were never happy with my hubby's choice of wife as he was not 'yolking' with oh yee of the same faith (cult)...ra ra... they made us miserable with their bickering and attempted brainwashing for the first year of our marriage and then they 'dis-fellowshipped' us after that. We have been blissfully happy without their judgements since then but every time someone calls me Mrs R, I think of his, mischief making mother and it makes me feel very unwell. What's in a last name?.... heaps of emotional baggage!!! A-M xx

    PS MOTH you have always had such class! Heidi - you made me laugh! My hubby stalked me until I fell in love with him!.... and that's my book Millie!... longer than Heidi's? Sorry! had to get it off my chest. Grrr!

  21. Hi Millie,

    That is wonderful ~ loved Moths speech.... and youse!
    Glad it worked out with the name in the end and everyone was happy with it.
    I changed mine, never really gave it much thought, back then.
    I do however have my maiden name for my bears, as Green bears just did not sound right.


  22. Millie, abit of the same story here, got married young back in the day and changed my name to his. Had children, divorced years later. Met someone new a few years after divorce living with very happy now for 10 years, no real plans for marriage or changing my name. Doesnt bother him, Im able to talk about my past freely, and Im so happy about that. I kept my married name only for the fact to me it was important to have the same last name at the time of my kids,(back then) and now I dont even think about it... Im happy- we're happy :) Julie in Holland....

  23. I changed my name, however my own family name is quite unusual and a name I really like. I really wish now I had kept it, but like so many others, I didn't really think about it at the time.Ican imagine the shock/horror it would have caused if I had, it was enough that we rewrote the traditional wedding vows!

  24. What a lovely story!

    If I should marry I do not plan on changing my name. At 40, I have been me way too long and my name has a certain ring to it so changing would just be weird.

  25. This was such interesting reading Millie.

    I didn't think twice about taking my husband's name the time I didn't feel any particular attachment to my name and was (subconsciously) quite happy to distance myself a little from the family name. I haven't really thought about it since. I have 2 brothers and my Dad has lots of brothers so the name will definitely carry on. mother (who is divorced) often uses her maiden name and I think it is great she does that.....and my son is the only one who will be carrying on my husband's surname since he is the only boy, in this particular branch of the family anyway....and I really like that.

    Yay for MOTH....he is fast climbing my table of "Australian Males We Love to Love"....actually I think it's just Hugh J and him on the list right now....quite a combo!! ;)

  26. millie.....

    *interesting subject.

    i was married in the same year (the first time) and i took his name.
    but i hated not having my own name.
    i took my name back after the 6 month (big mistake)marriage.
    *it is a 'daddy' thing for me.
    i adored my dad and felt disconnected with the name change. and no, i am not a weird spoiled daddy's girl, i am one of 3 girls.
    it's just that he was extremely COOL, successful, kind, classy, generous, and handsome.
    (i still haven't found anyone that was half as cool as dad)
    not to mention...i always liked and still do like the name.
    (fiends call me 'fin' just as dad's friends called him 'fin')
    in addition, because my dad is gone since 2000, it is just another way for me to feel close to him.
    so....i am very happy being a 'finberg'.
    and besides, I AM AND I WAS BORN ONE.
    why should a woman change her name?

    love to you xxx

  27. There was drama when I married 34 years ago! I wanted to keep my maiden name. I had published under that name. I knew that person. My mother-in-law was upset. Thought I was being "overly sensitive." I compromised and took my last name as my middle name. I gave my son my family last name as his middle name. By the way, while I worshipped my father, I still didn't want him to "give me away." I wasn't about to be "given" to anyone. Still a raving libber and proud of it as now I just turned 60!

  28. I took Dan's last name, but kept my maiden name as my legal middle name. It isn't hyphened, and I do not go by a double last name, it's just my middle name!
    My mother, and older sisters did the same.
    I personally love having both names.

  29. MOTH really had you pegged from the beginning didn't he dear Millie? He couldn't have handled the name situation better. Perfect! ♥Rosemary


And none will hear the postman's knock
Without a quickening of the heart.
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?
~W.H. Auden

Related Posts with Thumbnails