I’m not even close to being married. Hopefully one day I’ll get there. But I wanted to talk about undergoing a name change after marriage because I’ve seen it come up with some of my friends and I’ve also thought a bit about it in regards to “what would I do”?
As the title of this post tells you, I wouldn’t go through with a change. There’s no right or wrong answer to this, just what you would prefer to do personally. I thought I’d share my thoughts on why exactly I wouldn’t change– in case you are on the fence.
1 – What if the guy’s last name is terrible?
This is my most superficial reason for not changing my name after marriage, but it’s a serious consideration. My first name is complicated enough, adding a bad last name at the end will only make life more confusing and difficult for me. I’m trying to live a simple life here people, sans any preventable complications.
2 – I really don’t want to change all my documentation
Changing your legal last name also means changing all legal documents, including diplomas and licenses. Do you know how complicated that is?
A legal name change requires that you first gather up so much paperwork, including, your marriage certificate (proof of marriage), your current driver’s license or passport (proof of lawful immigration status or citizenship), and fill out forms from the Social Security Administration (which you then have to find your local Social Security office and turn in, in person!)
You’ll have to change your name on each of these important documents, PLUS all of this:
- Bank and other financial/investment accounts
- Credit card companies
- Insurance policies
- Utility bills
- Phone/cable bills
- Student loans
- School/work, including retirement plans
- Voter registration
- State tax authority (IRS is notified automatically through the SSA)
- Professional licensing boards/associations
- Magazine subscriptions
I’ve heard of people making mistakes (it happens) and then their name is different on a license or a passport and then there are issues traveling or verifying identity.
Sounds like a nightmare. Plus, there is no way I’d let anything complicate my ability to travel.
3 – All of my accomplishments carry my current name
Besides the technical issues that may occur during the name change process, there’s also the emotional factor. I’m Dr. Vig and have been since I graduated from medical school. I’ve completed residency and fellowship under this name. I’ve become board certified with this name.
This is my father’s name. He not only helped me and pushed me along the way, but also gave me financial assistance. So for me, my accomplishments are also his. He deserves the credit for helping me get here and undergoing a name change after marriage makes me feel like I’m handing over my accomplishments to someone else. I just want to protect everything I’ve done under my name and ensure that it gets the recognition it deserves.
4 – My kids will get my husbands name anyway
I have no argument here. I’m not someone that insists that my name get carried on. Maybe my kids will find it confusing, but I think it could be a great teaching point. A point that your mom can be named something else but still be your mom; the notion that your mom is a professional and those accomplishments have a different name; that names may be different, but the marriage is still complete.
I think that’s a pretty badass example to set for your kids.
At the end of the day..
There’s no wrong answer, but I’ve definitely seen some people I know struggle with this decision and/or get guilt-tripped/forced into changing their name. Being of Indian descent, there’s definitely a large cultural factor at play that encourages a name change after marriage, and I know other cultures exert the same pressure on people. That being said, I have Indian-American friends who kept their maiden names and, from all appearances, have not faced any issues with that decision.
However, in case there is anyone out there who doesn’t want to but feels like they HAVE to…you really don’t. It’s your name and your decision. A new last name doesn’t necessarily make your marriage more legitimate or provide proof of your commitment. Don’t let outside influences affect how you feel about what is right for you and your life.
Have you struggled with this decision or know someone who has? Share your stories below!
(Pinnable and feature images courtesy of Unsplash)