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Should I Keep my Maiden Name?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 17, 2024
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Many women are choosing to keep their maiden name after they get married. There are advantages and disadvantages to both choices, and it is a very personal decision. The more traditional step is when a woman takes her new husband's last name after marriage; however, many couples are making other choices, such as hyphenating the names, or even the man taking his new wife's last name. All choices face judgment from other people, so it is always best to go with what your instincts are telling you, and not worry about what the rest of the world will say.

You may choose to take your new husband's name for a variety of reasons. Some women choose to take their husband's last name as a way to signify their new commitment to everyone they know. It may also be of great personal importance to some husbands, which may factor into the decision. Finally, it is slightly simpler for various legal purposes, such as medical insurance; also, if a couple chooses to have children, it may be confusing if half the family has one name while another half has a different name.

There are also many reasons to keep a maiden name. First, it is the name that you have been using for your entire life, and many women fear a loss of self or personal identity if they choose to take their husband's name. In addition, it is likely the name that you have been using in your career, and colleagues and other people in your field may know you as having that last name. This is a particular consideration for women who have been published or who are otherwise publicly well-known.

Another reason to keep your maiden name is for cultural or family purposes. Many women feel a strong attachment to their last names because it is a family name, or because it has a cultural significance to them. Indeed, taking the husband's name is not done at all in some cultures. You may want to keep your maiden name because it just sounds better with your first name than your new husband's last name; all of these are perfectly valid reasons.

Keep in mind that there are other options for merging last names. As mentioned, it is common practice for a woman to hyphenate her last name with her husband's. Some women choose to take their husband's last name, but use their maiden name for a middle name. Another option is to use your maiden name for a first name or middle name for one of your children. These options allow everyone in the family to have the same last name, while still keeping your original maiden name alive.

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Discussion Comments
By anon129404 — On Nov 23, 2010

The tradition of taking the mans last name relates to religion and male dominance, so that the children are kept within the husbands, not the wives family, even though she gave birth to them.

In modern times, women are allowed to disobey their husbands' will, and I think it's better that children have their mum's, not dad's name. Makes multi dad families easier (after divorce etc), and gives the credit of the children back to the women who carried them for nine months.

As for the man, he can choose to take the wife's name, or choose to be left out. Unlike the past hundreds of years when women were forced to take their husband's name.

By anon129199 — On Nov 22, 2010

Of course it's "a personal choice." who said anything about making more laws to follow?

I took my husband's name, gladly. I went through life with an embarrassing, ghastly awful last name, and it was a big relief to lose it.

By anon129132 — On Nov 22, 2010

I have used my maiden name as my middle name for years, and it has worked out very well.

In some countries isn't it a tradition they do that. Even passing down of names for men carries a tradition as well in some, or at least use to.

I remember a fellow in high school who immigrated from another country saying that it was a tradition that the son's carried the maiden name of their mother as their middle name so the linage would be remembered and recognized.

Of course, that has been many many years ago, and the bottom line is, like it says in the article, personal choice of those involved.

By anon129125 — On Nov 22, 2010

I don't see a woman who chooses to keep her own last name as any less committed to her marriage. Just because society has certain traditions doesn't mean they must be etched into some permanent rule book. The appropriateness of our customs are always changing over time, and thank goodness for that.

The rules change over time, and I think it's important to not judge a woman or couple for whatever decision they make in this circumstance, as for many folks, there really is no "easy" answer anymore.

By anon129120 — On Nov 22, 2010

It would be helpful if each issue of the married couple was given the mother's surname as a middle name. It provides an important clue when creating a family tree. EL

By anon129104 — On Nov 22, 2010

Then it will be considered more laws, to a lesser degree, to follow. Leave it as a personal choice.

By anon129044 — On Nov 22, 2010

I think its time men and society got over it already.

By obsessedwithloopy — On Nov 20, 2010

I think it is better for a society to have certain rules, and changing maiden name is one of them.

This new unit that is being created, husband, wife and in most cases children will be all known by the same last name. It shows commitment, and frankly it is just easier.

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