It used to be a no brainer. If you’re a female, when you got married, you changed your name. In the decades since the women’s liberation movement, increasing numbers of women have decided not to take their new husband’s last name, and now things are getting complicated! Some women are choosing to keep their own name. They feel it’s part of their identity and they can’t imagine being known as someone else. The only problem with this is that the husband and the kids all have one last name and the mother has another. It can be an issue when traveling or registering the kids for schools.
There is an upside though. One study found that women who take their husband’s name earn $400,000 less over their lifetime than women who keep their name. They were judged by others as older, less educated and unmotivated compared to those who kept their own names - even if they were the same age and background. That’s according to a 2010 study in the journal Basic and Applied Social Psychology. Other couples choose the hyphenate option. So you end up with names a mile long. What happens when two hyphenated kids decide to get married? You’d have something like the Cooper-James-Jones-Smith family.
A small but increasing number are actually choosing to take the wife’s name as their married name. It’s a tough road though. Get this: only seven states actually allow men to change their name after marriage the way women can. Men have to go through a lengthy and expensive legal process that women get to skip!
Then there’s the latest trend. More and more couples are bucking tradition completely and making up a whole new last name. One newspaper report on this said that these couples want to stand out and show their individuality. Whatever you decide, it’s important to talk about it with your partner. Your name is your identity, and it should be a decision you make together.