Dec 18, 2018 - Things to Do

Why does getting married mean I have to lose my last name?

My name is Mary Gross. I’ve been Mary Gross for 31 years. But all of a sudden everyone expects me to become Mary Ransenberg.


Why do I need to let go of the name I was given while sleeping in my mother’s arms for the first time?

The name printed on my high school, college and grad school diplomas?

The name written by a really mean cop on my underage drinking ticket?

I need to let go of my name because I’m getting married. And when you get married, you take your husband’s last name. That’s just how it works.

The problem is, I’m just not sure that works for me.

It seems like women (and men) are so nonchalant about the woman changing her last name. In fact, people are so accustomed to it that wedding guests are giving brides gift cards to name change sites like HitchSwitch and MissNowMrs. Thank you so much for the gift of losing my identity forever!! So thoughtful!!

I hear what you’re saying, “Come on Mary, get over it. It’s just a name!”

Well if it’s just a name, then why can’t my future husband become Jordan Gross? Sure, people would confuse him with the retired Panther’s offensive tackle. But maybe we would benefit from this name confusion with some hard-to-get restaurant reservations or a hotel room upgrade.

But the truth is, even if Jordan wanted to change his name (he doesn’t), it would be incredibly difficult to do so.

In North Carolina, women can use their marriage license to change names. Men, on the other hand, may have to do the whole legal name-change process which requires petitioning to the court, getting a background check and a lot of other crap.

So not only are women expected to take their husband’s last name, the legal system makes it hard for the man to take hers. (By the way, Georgia is one of the few states that allows men to easily change their name after marriage. We should all move to Georgia.)

Then there’s people who ask, “But Mary, what about when you have kids? What will happen then?”

If I do end up keeping my name, the kids will have Jordan’s last name and I’ll have mine. Could this be confusing to some people? Sure. But is that a big enough reason to change your name? In my opinion, no.

My point is, it’s not just a name. No one’s name is JUST a name. And even if this is the way “it’s always been,” giving up a name is a big deal.

I’m still not sure what my final decision will be. But for now, I’m very happy being Mary Gross.


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