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My Biggest Complaint About Changing Your Last Name When You Get Married

I know it seemed like a good idea when you got married. I know you believed all that “for better or for worse” drivel. I know your really thought you were going to be with that one person forever.

The reality of it is that about 50% of the time your are not, so before you go doing something stupid like changing your name when you get married, just stop. Stop and don’t. Changing your name is a pain in the butt. Hundreds of forms, red tape, annoyances, money. Everything important in your life is on a form somewhere. You will hate it. Then when your marriage doesn’t work out, you’ll have to do all of it over again at a time when you are probably the most miserable.

Nevertheless, this complaint isn’t written in the spirit of helping you. I mean, you got married and it didn’t work out. It’s not our fault, right? Yet we are the ones who have to try to keep track of what exactly we are supposed to call you. Some people get married and divorced so fast that I barely have a chance to change my address books.

Instead why don’t you consider this. Get married but don’t change your name until you see if the marriage is actually going to take hold. Give it 5 or 10 years, then if it seems right, go for it. Clearly this isn’t a perfect system, but at least it will save everybody a lot of hassle.

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23 Comments

  1. Honestly, I dont agree at all with this posting. Because the fact is, its best to be sure…BEFORE you get married. The reason why there are so many divorces is because a lot of people in this day and time get married for the wrong reasons and are NOT 100% sure in their heart that is what they should do. I have talked to plenty of people like this. Its not the NAME change that makes the difference…I certainly am not gonna change my name or not change my name due to it being a “hassle” to everybody else to keep up with it. Its the marriage itself that makes the difference. Instead of giving the advice “why don’t you wait 5 or 10 years to make sure its right,” why dont you advise people to be wiser in picking their mate and staying in longer lasting marriages. The name change is a minor part of the deal. I don’t think it’s wise to go into a marriage with the attitude of “Let me make sure our marriage is going to work first” because that’s an indication that your still not sure. And if you are not sure, you shouldn’t get married. Period. You say getting a name change is stupid? No, getting married to someone with a skeptical mindset would be stupid. Its like dooming the marriage before it even begins.

  2. I feel that if a woman does not take a mans last name, then she is embarrassed about the relationship.

  3. Comment #1 you hit it spot on. Poster, you are a noob.

  4. I don’t understand the antiquated practice of changing your last name to your new husband’s. That is so stupid and pointless. You don’t need to change your last name to feel like part of a family and the tradition is absurd. Why is it that women are stigmatized for keeping their original last names but men are not required to change theirs?

    I agreed with the poster up until he or she said to eventually change it. I fail to see the reason to eventually change it.

    The people who left comments before me are moronically annoying; especially Kerry.

  5. What difference does it make if women choose to change their names or not upon marrying and whether it’s from a feeling of tradition or something else? If a woman wants to change her name, fine and if not, that’s fine too. It’s no ones business and no ones right to judge. The suggestion of waiting is also ridiculous. Most people don’t enter relationships hoping to fail. All relationships (even friendships) are a risk and sure, it’s a hassel after divorce to update one’s name with all of the appropriate people/business’, what ever but so what? That’s no reason to go through life expecting the worst. One last thing, all traditions are antiquated. Why get married at all if one wants to avoid falling into “outdated” practices.

  6. It used to also be customary for slaves and cattle/ranches to be named after the surname of the “man of the family”. Since I am niether, and the world has progressed (thankfully), I have kept the name I was given on day one of my life. Hey why don’t you all ask your husbands/fiances to take your last name ….watch the brows furrow with confusion. (I know some men do this, but we are talking a severe minority)

    Would you care if your own daughter wanted to keep her maiden name when she got married? Probably not. Don’t be hypocritical.

  7. If you are marrying the person you obviously plan to spend the rest of your life with that person. W ether or not you change your name to match theirs does nothing more or less for your commitment to them. You should already be like family, you should already be close and the fact is same name or not, you ARE married. I don’t see how changing one’s name affects one’s commitment?

  8. I suppose that someone should carefully consider whether or not to change their name when they get married, but I’m hesitant to think that ease should factor very heavily into the matter.

    If my fiance were to tell me that although she loved me, one of her quirks about identity, or something in her upbringing, or a fundamental worldviews or core beliefs either prevented her from taking my last name or prefered I take hers, I’d be willing to engage in a conversation about that.

    If, on the other hand, she were to tell me that she didn’t want to change her last name because, while she recognised that it was a symbol of unity and love she didn’t want to stand in a line at some government building, it might lead me to reflect on the foundations of our relationship.

  9. I did not take my husband of five years’ name because I had no idea how to do it. He has never even thought it was an issue. Our relationship needs no outward signs of any kind for anyone to take it seriously. It is quite obvious we are deeply in love-strangers on the street stop us and comment on how cool it is to see two people talking to each other happily who so obviously love one another. I have my birth name on all my documents, but my personal stationery has my married name on it. We have couple’s stationery with our married name on it. So I use my married name socially and my birth name in business. Works great for us because we are not insecure about our relationship.

  10. I prefer having a standard name-change thing if only to more easily figure out the family tree. But we have a lot of womans libbers today who secretly hate men (and are in denial of that) so they shun the man’s name.

  11. I don’t understand why this is such a big deal. I -like- having my husband’s last name; it gives me the warm fuzzies.

    If a guy wants to take his wife’s last name instead, then that’s fine and understandable, if unusual. I just don’t see what the big deal is either way.

    All in all, I agree with the first two comments, and think it’s a little self-centered for the OP to not want people to change their names just because she has a bitter and cynical viewpoint on life. Seriously, wtf. x_x;;;

  12. BTW, “hundreds of forms”? No, not really. Sure, there’s some documents that need to be changed, but it’s by no means “hundreds of forms”. Driver’s license, Social Security, maybe some insurance forms, but that’s all I can think of right off the bat.

    I seriously wonder where some folks are getting their information.

  13. To some, a name is strongly linked with identity and family. Some women don’t have brothers to carry on a family name, and some women want to change it. For me, it was a matter of a life-long pursuance of education- I have 4 college degrees I’ve earned on my own without my (now) husband. In my eyes, keeping my name was something I felt I had earned. My family were the ones who supported me whole-heartedly, and I didn’t see a need to change my name. Like SLady said, it’s basically a non-issue.

  14. Well personally, i think taking your husband’s last name is something important. All people dont have to do it but to me it is a symbol of connection between you and your loved one. If feels great to hear people call you his last name, you feel perfect and it makes you smile. I was excited to take my husbands name. We been dating since i was 14 and we got married at 24. Im still happily married and i love him with all my heart. We have 1 son and i feel like i have a perfect life. So take it from someone who knows, if feels special when you have his last name. This is just an opinion so take it how you want.

  15. I plan on taking my husband’s name when we marry because I’ve always hated my maiden name. His last name has such a nice ring to it. I’d rather have that as my last name even if we weren’t getting married.

  16. not sure i want to change my name when i get married…had this name most of my life….and we are trying to keep the marriage a secret…sounds weird yes…but it works for both of us…so i guess it all depends on the people who are getting married.

  17. Well, I’m Spanish, so we don’t have to decide about this. In Spain everybody have two surnames, the first is the father’s and the second the mother’s surname. So mothers NEVER have the same as their husbands or children. The only people who have the same two surnames are the brothers and sisters. So, this is the reason for us it’s so strange the anglo saxon system. People in Spain never change their name in their entire lives and for us couples with the same surname seem to be brother and sister. It is more practical because it’s very improbable to find someone named exactly like you. You also can name a child like her mother or father and they are never going to be confused because although they have the same first name one surname is different. English people have asked to me “but how do you write the couple?” like if it were a big problem. You simply could write to Fernandez Gonzalez family but we generally don’t do that, we simply write one of the adults name with the address on the envelope and then we refer to the hole family in the text, beginning with a “Hola a todos” (Hello everybody)

  18. I’ve been married for almost six years I never changed my last name but i regret it now because anywhere i take my kids i need to have either the birth certificate or ssc of my boys to make sure they really are my kids. i think that’s the only reason i would change my last name. i tried to change it but i need some kind of insurance card that has the name i want in order to change it since i waited to so long. which i don’t understand why because i thought all i needed was my marriage certificate

  19. I am currently debating on changing my name and have read everyone’s post with a mostly open mind. Unfortunately, no one really discussed some of the issues that are close to me. I really like my name, it has a nice ring to it. My husband has a normal name, but it just isn’t as catchy to me. I also don’t really particularly like a lot of my husbands family and they don’t like me either. So I feel weird about losing my family name to take theirs. Before we were married (over four years ago) I had always said that I didn’t want to change but I would do it. After we got married I told him not yet, when we have kids. Now I’m pregant and it’s kind of time to do it or tell him it’s not going to happen. But the issue that most makes me lean towards traditionalism is definately kids. My mother remarried when I was 18 and when she changed her name from my fathers name I felt really betrayed. I can’t explain it rationally, it shouldn’t have mattered, especially at that age, but you feel what you feel. And at my own wedding in all of the programs and announcements I refered to my parents and used my dads last name. So, I don’t want my kids to feel like that. I don’t think I want to sign an extra name on my check by hyphenating, but sometimes I feel like that’s the only way I can retain my own awesome name and still feel like a part of my family too, but at the same time fullfill my obligations to my husband and kids.

  20. Wow these are amazing ways to look at things. I am already married but I am so ready to take my husbands name , I just need to find the time to get off work and do it … I think my kids are more excited they keep asking why is my name different from theirs and their fathers ! and when am I going to change it !

    But I you should do what works for you. If you want to change your name than fine..
    In the business I work in there I see a lot of married couples with different last names !

    So do what makesy ou happy ! and Enjoy your marriage and family !

  21. I think a few people on here have a misconception about the divorce rate in this country. I know the media portrays it as being a whopping 50%, but that’s inaccurate. It’s been shown that couples who have married in recent years are less likely to get divorced and that only 3.5 out of 1000 people actually get divorced each year. Does that seem like 50% to you? The divorce rate is at it’s lowest level since 1970 (it hit it’s peak in 1981 and has been decreasing since). So stop worrying about the divorce rate. If you’re willing to work hard at your marriage, you’ll be fine. Even people who have nothing in common can have a happy marriage. It all depends on how hard you’re both willing to work.

    Also, changing your name isn’t THAT hard. Do some research on the internet, fill out the ONE FORM you need for the new Social Security card and go from there. The worst part is going to the DMV, but it’s still really not that big a pain. If you get divorced, you can change your name back. Not that you have to. Many women don’t because of children, careers, or just not seeing the need. It’s not a big deal to keep your married name.

  22. I’ve been married more than once. First time I was very young and was thrilled to pieces to be Mrs Somebody, but he wanted a divorce a few months later and I took my maiden name back.

    Second time, I didn’t want to change my name, but my husband was in the service and they refused to acknowledge that, insisted on using his name on my dependent ID card and records and when my child was born, had me sign the birth certificate with my husband’s name. I was hyphenating my name at that time (myname-hisname). Marriage went under after that.

    Third time, I wasn’t going to change my name either, especially since my child was using my maiden name and did not want to use my ex husband’s name (bad memories for both of us). But it meant a lot to the guy I was marrying so after a lot of thinking and discussion I changed it. After a couple decades and the guy going crazy (thanks to Vietnam) and refusing to get treated, I split. Boy, is it harder to change my name now. First stop, SSA, second stop, DMV, then all the forms where you work, credit cards, hotel discount cards, anywhere you have an account of any kind, etc. A lot of places have more than one database and the databases may not talk to each other. More than one occasion I’ve gotten tripped up 1-2-3 years later with the name deal and had to convince someone I was the right person, and since it’s been so long had no idea in my previous name. What a pain in the ***. Definitely not worth it.

    My fiance can’t believe I don’t want to change my name when we get married and he’s still trying to wrap his head around the idea. Hopefully he’ll get used to the idea.

    Although I do acknowlege that many people want to change for the tradition, carrying on the family name, maybe exchanging a less nice name for a better one and so on, with all the identity theft issues nowadays, it’s not easy…It’s no one’s business but the couple’s on the name change issue. I’ve known a couple who combined syllables from both their names to create a new, unique name, and another couple who selected a new surname that had nothing to do with either of their names. It’s whatever you want to do.

  23. I MARRIED FOR THE SECOND TIME AFTER MY HUSBAND DIED…I DIDN’T CHANGE MY NAME THIS TIME…I WAS QUESTIONED TODAY AS TO WHETHER IT WAS LEGAL…I HAVE NO IDEA…

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