What’s in a Name?

10 Oct

I am a very happily married woman.  I’ve been married for more than 12 years now, and I can say with certainty that hitching my wagon to MOMD’s star was the best decision I’ve ever made.  And our wedding?  It was awesome, if I do say so myself.  The ceremony took place in a lovely church which we had been attending regularly for more than a year, in the Beach of Toronto.  Our reception happened at the Westin Harbour Castle, in Toronto on the waterfront.  It was the best party I ever threw, which is exactly how you’re supposed to feel about your wedding.

When MOMD and I tied the knot, I did not take his name.  If you’ve been around this blog for a while, this will come as no surprise.  What we did do though, was each of us took each other’s name.  Yes, you read that right: MOMD took my last name and added it to his.  I took his last name and added it to mine.  On our driver’s licenses, passports, health cards, all official ID we are hyphenated.  The rationale I used when I pitched the idea to MOMD was that if a hockey player leaves one team to join another team, the player gets a new jersey with the new team’s name and logo on it.  You’ll never see a TML jersey on a player on the Senator’s team.  Despite not being a sports fan at all, this analogy made sense to him.  Thus the SB moniker was born.

This weekend just past –  Thanksgiving weekend – I attended the wedding of my longtime friend to the love of his life.  It was a wonderful ceremony, and their reception was the party of the decade.  The bride, I am sure is keeping her last name.  Also getting married this weekend was another woman with whom I am a business associate.  She has taken her husband’s last name.

Neither occurrence is uncommon: every day people get married, and every day people choose either to change their name or not.  I try not to have opinions on the subject; it has no affect on my life, and frankly is none of my business either way.  What did you choose to do when you got married?  Are you happy with your choice?  Because really: to me, that’s all that matters.

So like I was saying: some people I know got married this weekend.  One of them posted on on facebook a few days later something about how it’s weird to have a different name.  This status update garnered some attention, most of it saying, “Yeah, I remember that too!” and one comment saying basically, “I just couldn’t get used to it and so I kept my name.”  That one little comment caused someone to post a very opinionated, non-supportive, response.  And the response had nothing to do at all really with the original post.  The jist of the reply was to the effect: “Part of the deal when you get married is taking his name.  Why get married if you don’t do this?  No matter what, you are ‘Mrs’ now.”

MAN did that comment set me off!  Who was this woman?  Who died and made her the judge of facebook nation?  More to the point: what is her problem?!?!  That one comment sent me back 12 years to when we first got married, and one of MOMD’s aunts said of our name “What’s this? She’s a Brown now!”  She was very put out that 1) I would choose not to take her family name and 2) she could not find us in the phone book, since she never bothered to learn how to spell my last name.

That one comment, made by a virtual stranger to me, set me on edge for months.  Literally.  I could not think of this woman, could not hear her name mentioned, without reliving that comment.  Looking back on it now, through the wisdom (*snicker* *snicker*, she thinks she’s ‘wise’ now *snicker* *snicker*) of my years, what I felt at the time, though I could not express it, was betrayed.  I felt judged by someone who was older than I was, and betrayed by a fellow woman who was not supporting a woman’s right to choose.

I’m sure she didn’t mean it that way; I’m sure choice has nothing to do with it.  In her mind, I joined the greatest family God ever created, and why wouldn’t I want to proudly proclaim that?  She wasn’t thinking about how it had been my name for my whole life, my own attachment to my family, my own pride in our history, about me at all in fact.  She was speaking her knee-jerk reaction.  (Emphasis on jerk.)

My marriage is just as important as anyone else’s.  It’s just as real, just as committed, just as loving, just as everything as someone who chose to take their husband’s name.  Or not to change their name at all. And don’t you dare call me “Mrs”.


Posted by on October 10, 2012 in Family, Opinion, Vexations


Tags: , , , , , , ,

6 responses to “What’s in a Name?

  1. Skwishee

    October 10, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    I’m very pointedly “Ms.” I don’t feel like the fact that I’ve chosen to join my life with someone means that the previous me is obliterated. I’m still the same person, so why would I change my name? That said, when we discussed it, we also decided to hyphenate because both of us were starting this new life together. (And then never got around to it because we’re lazy.)

    • realfoodcooking

      October 10, 2012 at 8:29 pm

      I hate it when mail comes to the house adressed to “Mrs Brown”. I lose it!! Seriously. I know I shouldn’t, but really people: if my grandmother who was in her mid-70’s when we got married could adapt? So can you! Yes, very pointedly “Ms.”

  2. red5

    October 10, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    I know one couple who, when they started discussing marriage, were going to just pick out their own last name, as neither had any particular meaning to either of them (his father picked the last name when immigrating; don’t know her story). In the end, they didn’t. We didn’t have the discussion; more to the point it was probably like “are you going to take my name?” “Nope” “OK”. The bigger discussion happened with the kids.

    • realfoodcooking

      October 10, 2012 at 8:29 pm

      That’s a tough one: so what did you do? Did they take one of your names? Or both? A few friends of mine kept their names but gave the kids the husbands name.

  3. gilbertloretta

    October 11, 2012 at 12:58 am

    – agreed, I’m a Miss or a Ms. Never a Mrs., married or not. I have had so many last names at this point in my life, I’m not changing anymore! Ha!

    However, there was a time when even the hospitals would not let you put the husbands last name on the ID of the child if your last name was not the same as his. Talk about politics!!

  4. Jules

    October 11, 2012 at 1:33 am

    I chose to become a mrs mostly so that our future kids and i would all have the same last name — I like what you did but my hyphenated name would not have had the same syllabic melody as yours! Besides, I’ll always be a Valentini girl at heart 😉 and a Keenan girl too for that matter even though it was never part of my legal name :). I have a friend who together with her husband chose a new surname, from the ancient Greek language in honor of his heritage and after an animal in honor of her passion and love for the earths creatures. Not sure how their families reacted to the choice but they are both happy. Another friend who kept her name, gave her children her surname while two of the three kids have given names that are from their dads family line — his own surname and his mothers maiden name. All are happy, and no regrets!


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