I didn’t change my last name when I got married…

…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.

I Didn't Change My Last Name When I Got Married and I Don't Care That You Think I Should Have | Tyranny of Pink

Here are my reasons

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. I have a number of assets in my name that would be way too much of an effort to change.
  9. I am fine with my kids getting their dads surname. That doesn’t bother me in the least.
  10. 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?

Jonelle |Tyranny of Pink

Comment

17 Comments

  • Rich Kraemer
    3rd September 2015

    I agree that the decision should be made on a personal basis, and as long as you both agree going in to the marriage what will be done then no one else, quiet frankly, is even entitled to an opinion. When I got married, my wife agreed that she would take my name. There are very few things I’m a traditionalist about, and for some reason this one stuck with me. Admittedly my low self-esteem played a part as I saw her not taking my name as her giving herself an “easy out” for when she leaves me.
    When my sister got married she hyphenated her name. She didn’t want to give up her maiden name, mainly for the same reasons you listed above, and both names were short enough it wasn’t too much of a mouthful. When my brother got married, he informed us his wife would be keeping her name, no hyphens or anything. He asked me if that was ok with me, I just asked him if he was ok with it. He said yes, and I made the point that no one else’s opinion matters so why even ask. And no, by the way, it doesn’t bother me what they do.

    • TyrannyofPink
      Rich Kraemer
      3rd September 2015

      I absolutely love this comment! I think the best part about it is that your wife changing her name was so important to you and yet you still have the respect for the decisions of others. That’s exactly what I’m saying here… each of us should do what feels right for us. It amazes me how many people have opinions about things that really don’t affect them. I can’t see how it would affect you whether your brothers wife has your surname or not but it’s nice that he cared enough to ask and even nicer that you told him no one else’s opinion mattered. By the way, did I mention that I love your comment 😉

  • August Roudup and Linky - South African Mom Blogs
    1st September 2015

    […] Jonelle has her own reasons: I didn’t change my last name when I got married.. […]

  • survivingjonkersville
    28th August 2015

    I didn’t change mine until 4 years into marriage and then only because I needed a new ID. There was plenty of pressure for me to change from outsiders (in laws) to change it sooner but that wasn’t what made me do it. It was more like an impulsive move. The schlepp of having to change my last name at the bank and insurance companies was what took me so long.

    • TyrannyofPink
      survivingjonkersville
      28th August 2015

      I like that you did it when you were good and ready in spite of the pressure from everyone else. It was weird for other people in the beginning but I’m lucky that people tend to have a “oh that’s just Jonelle” attitude about the things I do. I can hardly get off my butt to change my address at the bank never mind my name 😛

  • Shanéy Maharaj
    17th August 2015

    I really wanted to keep my surname but home affairs messed up my new I.D … 🙁

    • TyrannyofPink
      Shanéy Maharaj
      17th August 2015

      Ahhh that’s the worst!! You can always count on Home Affairs to get things wrong!!

  • Lindsay
    13th August 2015

    Hi Jonelle!

    I changed my name when I married my ex because I liked his name better than my maiden name. Now, two years after the divorce, I want zero ties to my ex so I really want to change it to something OTHER than my maiden name. You’re so right that names are personal. I think the decision to keep it, change it, whatever should be made with complete disregard for what anyone else thinks. Your name, your choice!

    BTW, thanks for the high-five! Totally high-fiving you back! 🙂 Just saw your message on my blog from over a month ago (yikes and I’m so sorry).

    • TyrannyofPink
      Lindsay
      13th August 2015

      Hi Lindsay

      Couldn’t have said it better myself ” Your name, Your choice!”

      Don’t worry, I know how easily comments can slip under the radar 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a high five for me!

      xx

  • letmebefree
    3rd August 2015

    My partner didn’t want to get married so the kids have my name. It was really important to me that we had the same name. Lots of people give me a hard time about that!

    • TyrannyofPink
      letmebefree
      4th August 2015

      I think that’s only fair though! A happy compromise so all those people giving you a hard time really need to accept that it has nothing to do with them!

  • catjuggles
    3rd August 2015

    I was truly planning not to change my surname as I was already known in my profession. Then we hit a huge admin issue due to two surnames when we were engaged and just like that I decided to take his to make our lives simpler. Now I just do not mind

    • TyrannyofPink
      catjuggles
      4th August 2015

      I think if it’s not that big a deal to both of you then it doesn’t really matter. That’s the problem with putting a one size fits all method to things like this.. there is no way that it will work for everyone!

  • DaniP
    3rd August 2015

    I changed mine and that was of course my choice, I had no real concerns about having to change anything professionally. My husband did give me the option of him taking mine, if I wanted him to, but I had decided long before I was married that I wanted to change mine. Also with our future plans to get our visas sorted out it makes life a lot easier. 🙂

    I know a lot of my friends who haven’t changed their name, and there is nothing wrong with that at all

    D xo
    http://www.lucidramblings.com

    • TyrannyofPink
      DaniP
      3rd August 2015

      I love that he offered to change his! I don’t think enough men are willing to do so. I know my husband would have been willing but he comes from quite a patriarchal family and his dad would have been very angry about it. Anyway I wouldn’t have wanted him to change his, for the same reasons I didn’t change mine. I really don’t think there is anything wrong with changing if that’s what works for you! Everyone needs to do what works for them and the rest of the world needs to butt out 😛

  • Cassey
    3rd August 2015

    I changed mine. It was easy because when I was 11, my surname got changed so I wasn’t very attached to what mine was. We got married when I was 24, my professional life was just starting so there were none of those I’ve built a name for my self concerns. And having the same surname as my kid was important to me.

    • TyrannyofPink
      Cassey
      3rd August 2015

      That’s an interesting situation Cassey. It really does depend on each persons circumstance and feelings on the matter. I can definitely see the value of having matching surnames to your children. I also remember being young and dreaming up my future name, signing my signature with my high school boyfriends name but I never really wanted to get married in the first place so changing my mind about that was a huge step in itself for me as it was!

      x

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