My fiancé Matt is my best friend, lover 😉, main squeeze, partner in life (and crime), and soon to be husband. Knowing that our wedding day is not far off, Matt and I have been having recurring discussions about me taking his last name. He knows where I stand – it’s not happening. Now, I know that Matt is okay with my decision to not take his name (after-all, my independence and unwavering commitment to my beliefs, is one of the reasons he loves me). Regardless, as ever, he enjoys trying to get a rise out of me, and has recently been protesting my decision.
Let me make it loud and clear – this is why I won’t be taking his last name:
- I feel attached to “Waite” – names are one of THE pillars of identity. If I changed my last name, I would feel stripped of the identity I have owned and nurtured since birth. To me, it’s not just a last name – it is who I currently am – and isn’t that who Matt wishes to marry?
- I have a legacy to uphold – sure, sure, I am young with many years ahead of me. But seriously, I am proud of the years and family behind me. Regardless of size or clout, I have a legacy of 26+ years under the name of Robyn Waite. If I change my last name, what happens to those years? How do I remain indefinitely linked to them? Matt and I did a road trip across New Zealand this past February. We visited the graveyard where his grandparents are buried. Walking through the rows of tombstones trying to locate his family, we realized that women had no maiden names engraved on their headstones. Who were they before marriage? Sure, we live in an age of great technological advances – but I am not confident that the legacy of “Robyn Waite” would follow me if I became “Robyn Herbert” – and I am not willing to risk being separated from my heritage.
- I am not to be possessed – there is something about the history and practice of a women taking a man’s last name that doesn’t bode well with me. Why should I even have to question changing my last name when society puts no such pressures on Matt? Why does coming together in marriage mean that we women, typically and traditionally, take on the man’s family name? I will not enter into a life long partnership with the man that I love feeling subordinate. We are equals.
- When has doing something simply out of convenience ever been a good idea? – the main (and best) argument I have heard for taking Matt’s last name despite my personal hesitations, is that it would be convenient. If we were both “Herbert” it would be clear what family name our children would have; our future children wouldn’t have to question why mommy has a different last name; in social settings everyone will assume I’m Herbert anyways, etc. Well, I am happy for my children to take Matt’s last name, and I don’t really mind if people call me Mrs. Herbert out of assumption. But I will not make a decision to take his last name simply because it is convenient. Besides, the endless paperwork associated with changing my last name seems more like an inconvenience.
I recently told Matt that I would take his last name if it really meant that much to him. I regret making that statement, for if I did take his name, it would be out of pity and against my ethos. Thankfully, Matt would never want me to do such a thing (although I suspect this will be a topic used to push my buttons for years to come). Luckily for you babe, I shall remain, forever and always, the bewildering and savvy, Robyn Waite.
Robyn Waite (July 17, 2016)