21 Jan 2009, 4:31pm
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Keeping It

My mother is the oldest of three girls and the only one that took her husband’s last name when she married. When I thought about getting married, I took it for granted that I would change my name, and felt sad about it. I’m not sure when it occurred to me that I didn’t have to.

megSee, I really like my name. I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with the name Meagan Neely, but that’s not me. I’m Meagan Bayard Call. That’s who I’ve been for 27 years. Meagan Bayard Call is the creepy girl with a sword. She’s slightly odd, she draws a lot. She has big ideas, and sometimes she even manages to implement one of them. She’s not perfect, but after years of depression, struggle, loneliness, desperation, I’ve finally discovered that I actually rather like her. Marriage involves sacrifice, but this person, this self I’ve made myself into, that shouldn’t be one of them.

I’ve heard the arguments. By marrying, we’re creating a new life, the partnership between husband and wife, and so a new name represents the new life. That’s crap. The wife must change to a new person but the husband is the same as always? No. I AM Meagan Bayard Call. That is who my husband married. Part of me feels like keeping my name is a rejection of Matt, and that isn’t fair. It’s the same ugly little voice that had to be slammed into submission when I wanted a blue dress instead of a white one. Different is not the same as wrong.

There are practical reasons that made me want to change my name. Some day, probably sooner rather than later, we’ll have children. I don’t expect to give my children my name. I don’t wish to force a hyphen on them either. Which means when we have children we will be the Neely family, and there will be I, conspicuously Call.

Then there’s the symbolism. As much as I want to stand on my feminist high horse (if you are on a high horse, always sit rather than stand so you will be closer to the ground when it flings you off its back) I do like the idea of having part of Matt’s name be part of my name. Of taking his name.

signingAnd then I thought, you mean I have to change my signature, too?

I kept my name.

But I took his too. Or I will. When I get around to the legalities, I will be Meagan Bayard-Neely Call. As far as I am concerned, I already am.

Life is full of compromise, or at least, successful lives are. I wanted two names. Or I wanted my name with all the symbolic connection of his name. My new name, which is also my old name, does not perfectly satisfy my wants, but it meets my needs. It’s the best I can do, and that is enough.

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  • Kudos for figuring this out now. I too thought I should keep my own name and thus identity. Due to many of the reasons stated, mainly the expectation of hubby and family, I did indeed take his name.

    The marriage lasted almost ten years. The first thing I did following separation was to take back my name. I had no idea the significance I had attached to this simple, ritual, renaming but I feel like I did a number on myself. I not only traditionally took the husband’s name but also somehow tried to take on tradition values. I tried to fit my square peg into that round peg hole. It didn’t work.

    Be smarter than I was. Keep yourself well defined and distinct. Enjoy each other for your differences and do not try to fit each other into roles of Husband and Wife etc….

    creativewhimsy blogged..So Neat

    Interesting.

    I took my husband’s name simply because he’s African and in America it was pretty unique. I had a very common maiden name and I get a kick out of people struggling to get my married name right. LOL

    However, if I chose to keep my maiden name I don’t believe it would have been an issue. I definately do not believe it’s a rejection of your husband. It’s simply a personal choice on how you want to be addressed or identified.

    Olufunmilayo blogged..History in the Making: A Personal Perspective

    Creativewhimsy – Thanks for the advice! So far we’re pretty good at keeping our selves… after all those are the people we fell in love with. I get the feeling it’s a constant effort though.

    Olufunmilayo – I don’t believe that either, and I don’t think there are many people who do… it’s just one of those weird feelings, which I’m choosing to blame on societal conditioning. It might be from something else, but that’s all I can think of.

    I took my husband’s name when we married and didn’t regret it until I got out of college and got my first job (nurese, with a name tag).
    Patients were constantly asking “Who’s your father?” when they’d see it and I got so tired of telling them about who my husband’s people were.

    I deeply regret changing my name and I have three kids. I do write under my maiden name.

    kitty blogged..The Last Time

    22 Jan 2009, 12:25pm
    by Leah Adams


    I took my husband’s name for my first marriage, and I hated it. I felt like I was betraying my family, especially my father, like I was telling him that he was no longer important in my life. I also felt like I was betraying myself.

    I kept my name when I got married again, and have no plans on taking his name. I also have no plans on ever divorcing him.

    I no longer feel like it’s a big deal to keep your own name when you get married.

    Kitty – I considered using my maiden name as a pen name, but when I got to that point I realized I just wanted my name to be my name.

    Leah – Now that I’ve done it, I don’t feel like it was a big deal either… when I was struggling with the question it seemed huge.

    I’m glad that you worked out a compromise! I’m going through the same thing, and I get married in April.

    My real name is Cat Hall. I hate “Hall”. It’s boring. But my dad sort of wants me to keep it. He has always wanted me to be an upstanding lady.

    My “artist” name is Cat Rocketship. Most people in my city know me by that name. It’s not my real name, but it’s really my name, if you understand. My diploma says that I am Cat Rocketship!

    My fiance does not want to change his last name. And I like his name, and I want us to share a name.

    AND I feel that in 10 or 20 or 30 years I might regret having officially named myself Rocketship. Besides that I have a day job and I don’t want all my business cards to need an explanation.

    So my solution is this: Catherine Anne Elizabeth Rocketship Kubie. I already have four names, 26 letters. It’s not that big of a stretch to lengthen it to five names, 37 letters. I can choose which name I use, when.

    Cat Rocketship blogged..Just to assure you

    Cat – I think that your new name is fantastic. It reminds me of the kind of thing a kid would pick for their name… and I seriously mean that in a GOOD way.

    My wife and I ended up with a compromise of sorts, though I suppose I got the better end of the deal. Neither of us really like hyphenated names, so we decided against that as our starting point. Our plan (and I call it a plan because even though we’ve been married for 6 months now, we haven’t actually carried it out) is for her to retain her last name as a second middle name and takes my last name and I will have my name legally changed to include her [former] last name as a second middle name. We’ve been hesitant, however, to get this done legally, because we don’t want to go through the hassle of new passports, so even though she’s currently going by Ms. Sherck, legally she still has her old name, and so do I.

    JohnSherck blogged..Weekend Food Roundup

    I considered doing it that way, but in the end I decided I wanted my last name to stay my last name.

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