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Why My Husband Changed His Last Name When We Got Married


When most of my friends got engaged, they immediately started referring to themselves as the future Mrs. (insert future husband’s last name here).  I cringe every time I see it.  Why is it still so expected that the girl will change her last name to her husband’s when she gets married?  Not in my house!  I did change my last name when I married my best friend, but my husband changed his last name too.

Disclaimer:  Please don’t take my stance on this issue as a dig at anyone who does decide to take their husband’s last name when they get married.  In fact, I think that’s absolutely fine!  My issue with it is simply that it is still so expected of a woman when there are so many other awesome options.  If you took your husband’s last name and are proud of your last name, then please believe me when I tell you that I couldn’t be happier for you!

Scotty and I ultimately decided to hyphenate our names.  This resulted in the most ridiculous 17 character last name you’ve ever seen, but we LOVE it!

For us, keeping our own last names wasn’t an option.  We both really wanted to have the same last name as a family and wanted to pass our last name onto our kids, whatever we chose.

It actually wasn’t a pretty scenario how we came to our decision about our last name, but looking back, I really do love how it came about.

We were having yet another issue with my husband’s family while we were dating and in a heated argument, I told him I would never change my last name to his when we got married.  In fact, I told him I wouldn’t be giving that last name to our kids either.

He was understandably upset and said (somewhat arrogantly) that his kids WOULD have his last name and on and on the fight went.  Knowing how our fights used to go, I’m sure we threatened to end the whole relationship over this issue.  (We’ve since gotten WAY better at this whole communication, fighting, marriage thing…I promise!)

As things always do, we eventually calmed down.  In the downtime between our argument and making up, I thought why should either of us have to sacrifice with such an important decision?

I gave it some serious thought and tried to decide what I’d be okay with.  Even though I knew whatever combination we came up with would be insane, I really liked the idea of hyphenating our names.

When we finally made up the next day, I went to Scotty and apologized for being so harsh and upsetting him.  My issue was with how his family was treating us, not at all with him.  I told him I absolutely want our kids to share his last name and told him that I just was uncomfortable with changing mine.

I asked what he’d think of a hyphenated last name.  Not just for me and any kids we might have, but for all of us – him included.

Part of when I knew that I would marry this man is when, without a second thought, he told me he loved the idea and was completely onboard and excited!

That’s how lucky I am!  My future husband was standing in front of me, enthusiastically agreeing to change his last name when we got married.

Keep in mind, we weren’t even engaged at the time!

We went on to talk about it more over the course of the rest of our dating relationship, and it just seemed to make more and more sense – for so many reasons.

First of all, we don’t have a good relationship with either of our families.  There’s a lot of dysfunction there and lots of drama.  We definitely weren’t attached to our birth names because we were proud of their meaning or proud of the other people who carry them.

We both just were pretty attached to our identities and to the accomplishments we’ve had under those names.  Hyphenating meant we’d get to keep our last names in some form, but we also didn’t have to associate completely with either family.

In fact, we are the only people in the whole world with our last name.

Hyphenating our names let us create a family name all our own.  It was our way of separating from both of our families and saying to the world “look, we’ve married each other, we love what we’re building, and we’re doing it under this amazing new name.”

The main reason we decided to hyphenate our names?  It just felt more respectful toward each other.

Neither of us was giving up a thing.  We were both gaining something.

We joined together when we got married.  I didn’t just join his family or join to him.  He joined to me, I joined to him, we’re walking through this life together.

Before we made this decision, I would think about changing my last name from time to time when we would dream out loud about getting married to each other.

I’d think about our future kids running around our house and would imagine all of these little people carrying his last name while I’m walking around pregnant also carrying his last name.  To me, it felt disrespectful almost.  I am carrying these babies, delivering them, and then filling out a piece of paper giving them someone else’s last name.

This is my own crazy way of looking at things, but it bothered me immensely.  I promise I don’t judge other families who make exactly the decision I’m saying I could never make.  I’m simply saying I think everyone should really think it through before making such a life-altering decision on a whim.

When we decided to elope, it was finally time to pick what this crazy last name was going to be!  I left it up to Scotty.  I truly didn’t care which way he chose.  I was so excited to be marrying him and so ready to share our last names with each other that I couldn’t choose.  He eventually chose for my last name to go first and his to go last.  His last name was 4 characters longer than mine and he thought it would look really weird in the middle of a name.

We’re proudly the Wilson-Houghtalens.  Yep.  That’s the last name we give our poor children.

I’m fully aware they won’t be able to spell it until they graduate.  I know the IRS and every bank will always hate us for having a hyphen in our last name.  But guess what?

I don’t give a sh*t.

I have a last name I couldn’t be more proud of.  Every time I sign my insanely long last name, I’m reminded of what a loving decision I made with the love of my life.  It works for us.  The rest of the world will just have to adapt to this crazy name because we are so happy with it.

Something that surprised me after we eloped and told everyone about our last name was the reaction we got.  Almost every woman I know told me they wish they would have done something similar when they got married.

One mom in my mommy group who kept her last name when she got married told me how jealous she is of our decision and of how supportive my beautiful husband was about it.

Only a few of our guy friends gave my husband flack for it and now and then he’ll get teased about it at work.

I married him because he doesn’t give a sh*t either.  Otherwise, he wouldn’t be my husband.  I love a man with some confidence and a backbone!

Initially, I told my husband to lie to people who picked on him and tell them that we made this decision because I’m an only child and there would be no one else to carry on my dad’s last name.

This couldn’t be farther from the truth, but it sounded good at the time.  Now, I’ve corrected my mistake and told him to tell people the truth.  We decided this together and we’re proud of it!  The only thing I’m ashamed of is the fact that I ever cared enough about what other people would think that I encouraged my husband to be dishonest about our reasoning.  We should be so proud of this decision that we came to together.

Now, we carry a long last name, we started a family with that last name, and we both still get butterflies anytime we use it.  What more could I ask for?  I’m such a lucky girl!


Did you change your last name when you got married?  Why did you make the decision you made?  Would you change it now if you could?  Let me know in the comments!



Friday 17th of June 2016

When I got married, I took my husbands last name. We are mostly traditional and this suited both of us just fine. However, I have since met a couple who took her last name. Given that my husband didn't know his dad and has nothing to do with him, I wish I would have thought of this myself! I know we could still do it but it would mean a change for my kids as well and that's just too messy for me! Thanks for the great post!


Saturday 18th of June 2016

Oh my goodness, changing your last name is a huge ordeal if you don't do it right when you get married! I found out the hard way that hyphenating is also not the best idea because the IRS doesn't really like it. Oh well, it's just one of those things :-)

Tabitha Teeter

Friday 17th of June 2016

Interesting. I'm Hispanic so we do this without the hyphen. Conventionally it's the father's surname followed by the mother's, but it's fine to switch the order if the parents so decide. My parents never gave me a middle name so my maiden name is now my middle name.


Saturday 18th of June 2016

Wow I never knew that about the Hispanic culture. I really love that. It seems so much more fair than just defaulting to the father's last name.


Thursday 16th of June 2016

My parents thought about hyphening their surnames but that would have been 20 characters long. So they went for the traditional option of my mam taking my dad's surname. My other other and myself had a LONG discussion about surnames while I was pregnant with our first child. A while before I met him, him and his dad had a fall out to the point where he changed his middle name and surname (middle name was his father's first name) to his step dad's. Before we got pregnant his mam and step dad broke up but he hadn't changed his name back. We talked about if he was going to change his name back or to his mam's maiden name or what, as I didn't want our child and future children to have to change their names or anything like that. He said he wouldn't mind taking my name, and just my name. He said he wouldn't mind our children having my name. I wasn't to convinced in that though as to me it just didn't seem right (can't really explain why). He eventually decided he would change his name back to his birth name. We discussed hyphening our surnames but not matter which way around it went it didn't seem right. In the end we ended up going traditional and just using his surname and I would change mine to when we get married (next year - excited)! We now have a son and a daughter both with the same surnames as my partner and I do feel a little left out. I recently found out that in some countries son's their father's surname and daughter's take their mother's surname. Which I do find rather sweet in a way (surnames are less likely to 'die' out that way I guess), but surely that must make families feel quite divided. So sorry for the long comment.


Saturday 18th of June 2016

I can see why you feel kind of left out - I'm sure you guys will find a solution that works for you! Our last name is 16 characters long, so it's a tough one to pass on to our kids, but we still really like it because it means a lot to us. Hopefully our kids can spell their names by the time they graduate high school :-)


Thursday 16th of June 2016

I LOVE this post and it's probably something I've been waiting to see or hear. I got married and am totally not fond of my husband's parents or his last name and I have yet to change mine. My last name is extremely unique and it's not that I'm attached to it (I always envisioned changing my last name to my husband's when I got married), I would just rather stick with my own last name than have the last name of his family. I love him, I just don't want the same last name as his parents... I don't want to be known as "one of them".

I would totally be for hyphenating my name but they are not two names that look good together (my last name kind of messes it up). My husband jokingly said he would like to change his name as well, to MY mother's maiden name. It's a cool-sounding last name and pretty known for where we are from. I just wouldn't want to disrespect my dad and the last name I was given. I always end the conversation with "Let's just change our last name to Disney..." and then the conversation drifts to something else.

But I'm glad I'm not the only one with the same situation. I'm also an only child :)


Saturday 18th of June 2016

I totally get where you're coming from! My last name is Wilson-Houghtalen...that's the crazy name we gave our kids haha. I knew they didn't work well together, but it means a lot to us. I signed up for a life of always spelling my last name, but I don't mind. If your husband is up for changing his last name, I'd consider it. You can talk to your dad about your reasoning. If you would have changed it anyway if you had in laws you liked, maybe it won't be a big deal to him if you take your mom's maiden name. I hope you make a decision that makes you both happy!


Wednesday 11th of May 2016

What name are your kids intended to pass down when they have children of their own?


Wednesday 11th of May 2016

Whatever name they want! They can keep the same name, create one of their own... It's their name to go by, I just want them to have a last name that means as much to them as ours does to my husband and I.

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