To change your name or not to change your name. That is the question.


To change your name or not to change your name. That is the question.

 

Once upon a time in a land far away, a young bride stood to the left side of her father so that his right hand was free to draw his sword and fend off any objectors. That day her ownership was transferred from her father to her husband.  She also had to take her husband's family name.  Over the past 200 years we have seen married women be elevated above livestock and property holdings, be allowed to keep her job even after marriage and, in theory, achieve the same pay for the same job.

In the second half of the 20th century we saw a dramatic increase of age at first marriage and improved career prospects for women. And now we can thank the trailblazing career women of the 70’s and 80’s for more than just crazy shoulder pads and big hair – they bought the name change debate front and center for all married women.  Women can freely evaluate and decide what to do with their surname post nuptials.

In a recent Easy Name Change survey, only 15% of brides had limited emotional attachment to their maiden name. It's often a struggle for the other 85% to let go of something that has been with them on journey through life from the very beginning. Yet in 2012 around 80-85% of brides will go onto change surnames, but not without a rigorous internal debate. Yes, if you, the reader, are about to get married, or have been married, you are no doubt internally nodding your head in agreement.

Most married women still face the conundrum; To change names and be bogged down with paperwork, bureaucracy and, for small business owners or professionals, face the potential loss of customers and referrals. Or stick with the familiar and have a different name from your kids, observe family and friends raise eyebrows or believe you are trying to champion some kind of women’s crusade.

What the past 30 or 40 years has taught us is that women can have it all, but it’s unlikely to be caused by our decision to keep or ditch our maiden name. Yes, you can still be a doctor/lawyer/business owner/driven professional no matter what name you take - it might cost you a few referrals though. When married women are asked what influenced their name change decision, it was personal preference that dictated choice, and very little to do with societal expectations. Most women just don’t have a vested interest taking a stand for a greater cause. They would rather do what suits them and their family. Sorry to all the championing feminists out there!

Interestingly, married name change is back in vogue and the reasons and motivations are more diverse and complex that ever. There certainly were some interesting ones in the Easy Name Change survey from 2011; ‘marriage is an achievement and changing names reflects that’ was a statement that particularly resonated with older brides. But by and large, married women saw it as a way of sharing a bond with their new family, with most respondents ‘wanting the whole family to have the same surname’. Over 70% of brides surveyed changed names because as they saw it as a sign of commitment to their new family.

So it seems women have come a long way from being property passed from father to husband, along with the cows and country estate. The cringe worthy historical origins of marriage name change have been swept aside and now the act of changing names is associated with romance , commitment and tradition. It’s just how modern society works and going against it, simply for the sake of disagreeing with feudal English legal principles, doesn’t seem as important as what’s best for the bride and her family.

Are you changing names?

Hold onto your hat if you’re changing names. Ore more likely, hold onto the phone. It takes about 8 hours to research procedures and process paperwork and more than half that time will be spent on the phone. Let Easy Name Change take care of virtually all your name change paperwork. Where possible we’ll provide you with ready to send name change letters and faxes, plus any special forms you need. In many cases you can just sign your old and new names, add a copy of your marriage certificate and send!

 

 With its history in ownership, name change is now viewed as romantic and a symbol of togetherness.  Still, it’s not easy for a new bride to farewell her birth name. 

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