Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What's in a name?

This Friday will be our five-month anniversary of being married, and I decided last week that it was time to stop dragging my feet about something. It was time to decide what the heck I was going to do about changing my name and actually do it. Not too hard... just had to figure out what I want my new name to be.

Um. Good question.

I have been on a multi-year journey when it comes to changing my name. First I said I'd absolutely do it. Then, there was no way I was even going to consider it. Then, maybe I'd hyphenate both names. Then, maybe I'd just take both names but use one or the other depending on the situation. Always comforting was knowing that I still had more time to decide.

Well - I'm out of time. I mean, I guess I could wait longer to change my name legally, but this has become my normal:

"Hi, I'm Tara, um, uh, uh, nice to meet you."

I have no idea how to introduce myself, because I'm not really sure what my last name is. And that just makes me look like an idiot! I needed to figure out what I was going to do, and just jump in.

I have some friends and family that would be totally appalled if I didn't change my name; I have some friends and family who would be totally appalled if I did change my name! I consider myself to be a feminist, and while that certainly influenced my decision, I have two friends who have very conservative, traditional values, and both of them struggled with the decision to change their names.

So... here's what I ultimately decided. My maiden name will be come my middle name, and I'll legally take my husband's last name. If you ask me what my middle name is, I'll still say Nicole. Sometimes I'll use both my maiden and married last names; sometimes I'll use just my married name. This works for me and my family. It may or may not work for you and yours.

But, since it was such a ridiculously long and stressful decision making process for me, I thought it might help others to share why I ultimately decided to do this:

  • I couldn't shake the feeling that I wanted to share a name with my husband. I didn't want to only use my maiden name. I like my married name, and it sounds nice with my first name.
  • It mattered to Zac the perfect amount. By that I mean if he had cared any less, I wouldn't have changed  my name, and if he had cared any more, it would have felt forced and I wouldn't have changed my name. It was his preference that we share a last name, but he would have been okay if we didn't. Perfect amount of caring.
  • I want to have the same last name as my future children. To be frank, mostly for convenience and to avoid confusion at school and the doctor's office. 
  • A friend of mine who kept both last names said to choose one or the other. It's way too confusing to find your records anywhere because you never know which last name people file you under.
  • Zac's last name is shorter and easier to spell.
  • People just assumed I was changing my name anyway, which made the switch easier.
Those reasons seem to be a little bit shallow, but I don't think anyone else's reasons are more or less legit than mine. It's what I've decided to do, but I think each person has to do what's right for them. It doesn't make my relationship unequal or give Zac more power because I took his name. Believe me... I still make most of the rules at our house! =)

I think Shakespeare said it best when he said, "A rose by any other name... is the same damn thing."

Or something like that, anyway.


  1. I didn't like my last name really much, so I didn't have this kind of problems.. I took his last name and said goodbye to mine..

  2. I would have changed my name, but it seemed like too much paperwork to get all of my med school/board exam/Kentucky and Minnesota paperwork. Oh, laziness...

  3. Congrats! I am glad that you went with what worked for you! You discovered that everyone (including me!) has opinions on this and I am happy you are happy. Yippee skippee! Though, I am still in shock that it's been 5 months!!!

  4. I did the same thing with my name! Kept the maiden name as my middle name :)


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