…and I don’t care that you think I should have!
I don’t know why but before I got married, every dog and his uncle asked me if I’m going to take my husband’s name once we get married. Of course they all asked with the expectation that the answer would be yes and when it wasn’t – SHOCK AND HORROR!! The reaction was mostly the same.
People were curious and asked why I wouldn’t do so and a number of them tried to lecture me about why it was vital for my marriage and my future to do so. Some even said things like “Oh you’ll change your mind” or “you’ll see once you’re married” and proceeded to give me a long list of reasons which included “being a family unit” and “not isolating my children” because how could they possibly know I’m their mother if we didn’t share a surname.
So let me start with that one. My parents were divorced when I was 3, you can read about that HERE if you want to. My mother changed her name back to her maiden one and oh the times I wandered around wondering who my mother was because that lady with the different surname couldn’t possibly be my mother. Could she? Well, turns out it wasn’t an issue for us at all.
Has my marriage been affected by it?
Not so far. It honestly hasn’t been an issue for us in the nearly three years we’ve been married. I can’t help feeling like it’s a very weird thing for someone else to feel so passionate about. I can’t help wondering why it’s so important to other people that I change my surname?
It’s such a personal thing
I want to emphasise now that I really don’t care if you change your name or not. I am not advocating for keeping your name when you get married or not. It is a very personal thing. My only issue, is with people insisting that I should/ should have changed my own last name. Keep that in mind when reading the following list outlining my reasons for not changing my last name.
Here are my reasons
- My name is my identity! It’s who I am! It’s who I have always been and who I always intend to be! It’s even weird thinking of myself with a different name.
- I come from a very proud family. Our name is important to us. So being a du Pont, has always been something that I’ve been very proud of and after 29 years, that wasn’t going to change.
- I am the only daughter of four children and it’s important to me that I’m not the only one of my siblings who has to change my surname.
- My father died when I was 23, having his name has always been very important to me. I feel that in some way, I’m keeping him alive in this way. Like it somehow keeps me linked to him.
- I have built a brand around my name. If you google me, various thing come up to do with my career (my Social Development stuff). Changing my name would mean starting over.
- I like that when you search for me on the internet, I am the only Jonelle du Pont that comes up. Go on, try it if you don’t believe me. The only one in the world! Now that’s pretty rare.
- I also think it’s a practice that is pretty outdated. I get that each to his own but it feels a bit like becoming property to somehow change what I’ve always been called and become MRS someone else! Especially in situations where no one has ever asked if my husband would be taking my surname. Instead they ask if he minds that I didn’t. It’s a bit sexist in my opinion.
- I have a number of assets in my name that would be way too much of an effort to change.
- I am fine with my kids getting their dads surname. That doesn’t bother me in the least.
- My husband has no issue with me keeping my name so there was very little to think about.
So you see, I’ve really thought this through
These are my personal reasons for keeping my name. I’ve heard a number of reasons in favour of it from people who HAVE taken on their spouses last name and I’m okay with that working for them. It just doesn’t have to work for me. It’s really important to emphasise that I have no issues about other women changing their names. If our names allowed it, we might have double barrelled our children’s surnames (if they were shorter names) but then “Oden Christopher du Pont – Janse Van Rensburg” becomes a bit of a mouthful doesn’t it? Poor child.
A major concern is that people won’t know what to call us as a family. Well, so far, I’ve discovered that this isn’t the case. If a service provider for example first interacts with me, they will refer to my husband as Mr du Pont whereas if they first interact with him, they will refer to me as Mrs Janse Van Rensburg. I’m okay with that. I don’t need to complicate the matter by saying “oh no… we have different names” but I just feel at ease with my decision to not change my surname officially.
I think it’s a really personal thing and depends on the people and the situation. I won’t judge you for changing yours so perhaps you could hold off the judgement on my decision.
Did you change yours? Are you planning to do so? Why/Why not?