Jessica Crooke on Why Are Millennial Women Choosing Not to Take Their Husband’s Last Name?

Changing your name post-wedding is definitely not easy—it requires a visit to the Social Security office, the DMV, the passport office, not to mention all the credit cards and banking information, email lists, magazine subscriptions and even social media handles that need changing. Needless to say, the task is somewhat tiresome.

So, why do it? That certainly seems to be the question many millennial women are asking themselves when it comes to taking their husband’s surname. In fact, 30% of Americans don’t feel that a woman should change her name after marriage, and the trend appears to be growing in popularity.

I’m 10 months into marriage and the paperwork for my name change still sits on my desk. I’ve adopted my husband’s last name in theory—I even changed my email signature! However, I still haven’t made the change official. My official documents still bare my maiden name and should someone ask for my legal name, it would be my maiden one.

Do I plan to change my name? Yes. However, I can’t say that the idea of just removing my maiden name and tossing it aside like an old sweater is a concept that comes easily to me. I love my maiden name and have spent 27 years making it my own. It’s the name I share with my family who I love dearly, and I’m proud of it. This makes the change emotional and sparks a little pain of identity crisis in my heart and gut.

I want to stress that the point of this article is not to convince you that you should, or should not take your husband’s last name. Rather, it is to explore the reasoning and decision making behind the name change, how it started and why it seems to be going out of style. And more importantly, as a millennial woman in a modern world, how do you decide what to do?

To fully be able to discuss the topic in an intellectual manner, a bit of education into the history of the name change is needed. In taking a look back, the tradition of a new bride changing her name after marriage is due to the historical underpinnings in English (and subsequently American) common law in the ninth century, when lawmakers began to ponder the legalities surrounding personhood, families and marriage. As a result, the doctrine of coverture was created and women—who were forbidden from entering into contracts, engaging in litigation, participating in business, maintaining any right over their children or exercising ownership over real estate or personal property—were required to assume the husband’s surname.

But, to take us back even further to the Medieval times—the only name that mattered was your “Christian name” such as Thomas or Elizabeth, which was conferred at baptism. Surnames gained popularity as time progressed only as a practicality to distinguish between the many Thomases and Elizabeths out there.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Jessica Crooke