What’s in a Name?: Weekend Poll

By: wheatmeister
September 15, 2012

They don’t do it in Asia, where the thought is as reprehensible as rejecting your ancestors and heritage.  They don’t do it in Spain which makes it much easier to do genealogy.

Should a woman take her husband's last name when they marry?

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24 Responses to What’s in a Name?: Weekend Poll

  1. FireTag on September 15, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    Hyphenating will get ridiculous after a couple of generations, but my wife kept both last names. I suppose if we’d thought about it, we should have flipped a coin to see which of us did the paperwork to add the name switch.

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  2. Bob on September 15, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    “People should do whatever they personally choose”.
    It seems to work out OK.

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  3. Jenn on September 15, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    My maiden name stunk- I don’t think I’m offending any of my ancestors by thinking so. I had no problem switching. Personally, I don’t care for the idea of a husband and wife having different last names (I like unity, and it makes it simpler for kids), but I see no reason why the name they both have must be the husband’s. I’ve had friends where the last name that they preferred was the wife’s, and the husband switched to it (in one case, they were closer to the wife’s family, in another, there had been no males to carry on the family name in the wife’s family, and there had been many in the husband’s, in yet another, the wife’s last name had special significance whereas the husband’s was Johnson.)

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  4. Jenn on September 15, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    On a side note, I have a friend where the wife converted to Judaism to honor his family and ancestry, so HE took on her last name to honor hers. So he’s a super-Jewish fellow with the last name Nguyen ;)

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  5. the narrator on September 15, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    Asia is really big. Plenty of culltures take their spouses last name. In fact, my Japanese grandfather took the name of my grandmother, who was the oldest of her only female siblings.

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  6. the narrator on September 15, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    *cultures.

    FWIW, I wanted my wife to keep her last name. The only problem is that the Church’s records force her to take my surname.

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  7. Hawkgrrrl on September 15, 2012 at 7:05 PM

    I do think the church’s systems need to start thinking more globally. Most of the sisters I know in the church who kept their last name are constantly referred to by the wrong name by ward leaders. The records assume a “head of household.” It’s a bit ethnocentric and archaic.

    However, even when a woman keeps her last name, it’s still passed down from her fathet (in Western society anyway), so it seems to me that there’s not too much feminist power either way.

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  8. Eric on September 15, 2012 at 7:27 PM

    The narrator — Are you sure? My wife and I have different last names, and that’s the way it is in the church records. Some ward clerks have be educated about having different names in a couple, but it can be done.

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  9. Will on September 15, 2012 at 8:04 PM

    It sets a tone on who’s in charge, similar to a corporation taking on the name of the founder.

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  10. Jenn on September 15, 2012 at 8:22 PM

    … in which case, my maiden name should have been my mom’s maiden name. She was definitely “in charge”, and she did birth us all…

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  11. Hawkgrrrl on September 15, 2012 at 9:39 PM

    Well, since paternity is only 97% accurate, I’m calling the founder the mother. We know for sure it was her.

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  12. Bob on September 15, 2012 at 10:03 PM

    It must be nice going out on a date using you ex-wife maiden as your’s.

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  13. Bob on September 15, 2012 at 10:08 PM

    your ex-wife’s…

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  14. Jon on September 15, 2012 at 10:39 PM

    Maybe we should just come up with a new last name when we get married. Of course, that would wreak havoc on genealogy work!

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  15. Julia on September 15, 2012 at 11:47 PM

    I was thrilled to no longer have my biological father’s last name after I married. I changed my middle name too, since he was the one who chose it. When I divorced, I didn’t want to keep his name, or go back to my maiden name.

    I ended up legally changing my name do that my last name was the last name of my maternal grandparents. I had been using their last name for publishing poetry, academic writing, personal essays, ect., since I had my first poem published in grade school.

    When I remarried, I took my husband’s last name because it was important to him. When we first got engaged, he suggested we both have my maternal grandparent’s name. I was okay with that choice, but after talking about it, taking his name was more symbolic for our relationship and what it meant to him as he accepts himself.

    He never thought he would get married, and hadn’t even had a steady girlfriend before we met, so we signed up a pre-marital counseling program. During one of the exercises, he realized that emotionally, having me take his name made the idea of getting married more real. As we explored why it meant so much to him, we both realized that part his life long feelings of being unworthy and unlovable, come from his shame about his family.

    So, I left the shame of my family by leaving it behind, and he found a way to “take back” his sense of self worth, by sharing his name with me as we create a family together.

    I definitely come down in the “let people do what makes sense for them.”

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  16. Jon on September 16, 2012 at 3:49 AM

    “People should do whatever they personally choose.”

    Oh my! That would be chaos! We need the State to intervene and tell us what to do! Letting people decide for themselves, my, the next thing we know it people will be choosing what charities to donate/volunteer for and they’ll be saying we shouldn’t be forced to put our money in with the State to help the poor! Or worse, people will say they can choose who will will defend them. We can’t have that. Don’t you know we need those military personnel in in all those foreign lands to defend our freedom! My goodness people might start thinking that having military in Japan and Germany is insane. My goodness, we can’t let people think for themselves and act for themselves and others with a voluntary mind!

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  17. Michael G on September 16, 2012 at 5:33 AM

    I know more of my friends and acquaintances maiden these day due to Facebook. It seems fairly common in the circles I’m in for a married woman to display their name as [first] [maiden] [last] so that both recent and childhood friends can find them.

    In many cases it seems that this done for searchability reasons and not ancestral respect I think, ultimately, it has the same effect. The identity of the woman becomes the sum of her pre and post-married life.

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  18. NewlyHousewife on September 16, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    I took my husband’s name because I thought it sounded cool. What name do the children take in Spain?

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  19. el oso on September 16, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    In Spain, they take the name of Don Juan.
    Or they take the primary last name of both parents, I believe.

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  20. hawkgrrrl on September 16, 2012 at 7:36 PM

    Yes, they take the primary last name of both parents, which means the maternal last names take an extra generation to get stripped out.

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  21. Mike S on September 16, 2012 at 10:35 PM

    I like the system in Iceland (and old Scandinavian countries). A child’s last name is generally the father’s FIRST name with either -son or -dottir added to the end, depending on whether it is a boy or girl. BUT, it’s not always the father’s name but can also be the MOTHER’s name.

    Here is an example from Wikipedia:

    A family will normally have a variety of last names: the parents could be named Jón Einarsson and Bryndís Atladóttir, and their children might be Ólafur Jónsson and Katrín Jónsdóttir. With matronymics, the children in this example would be Ólafur Bryndísarson and Sigríður Bryndísardóttir.

    This leaves the last name up to each family, male or female, after father or mother. It’s how it used to be in Scandinavia. You can also extend this and be named after your father’s middle name, or a grandparent.

    I like it. I don’t know how the Church’s computer system manages it, but hopefully it does.

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  22. Hedgehog on September 17, 2012 at 1:13 AM

    Right up until I got married I thought I wouldn’t… but then I did. I like the name. I have plenty of brothers anyway…

    Japan is kind of interesting… Women do take their husband’s name in practice. I’m not sure how things stand on the legal paperwork front though. If you’re not Japanese it seems to work a bit differently in the paperwork at any rate. My husband went to register the birth of child 1 at consulate and was asked if he wanted to change my name to his at the same time (all that time I thought we had the same surname, we had registered our marriage, but in Japan apparently that was not legally the case until he’d changed it.. I really can’t remember if I had to sign anything to make the change ;-)). The real blow was to find that as a non-citizen I am not entitled to use the Kanji character! Yep.. a Japanese surname written in katakana (the script for ‘foreign’ words) how rubbish is that! It would bug me a whole lot more if we lived there.

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  23. Henry on September 17, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    A man loses his masculine leadership if he takes the wife’s name. I asked a young woman and and older one if they would like it if their man took their name. Both of them said they wanted a man to be a man. At least keep his own name at a minimum.

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  24. Douglas on September 18, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    They do surname = given name of father because it was an easy way to denote Sven, son of Olaf, as “Sven Olafssen”. Not necessarily confusing on a island that held about ten thousand souls some five hundred years ago.
    Yes, the woman taking her husband’s surname is symbolic that she leaves her father’s home and comes “under” her husband. In common law, it also gives her title to his property. Nowadays, with divorce and remarriage far more frequent, the meaning is watered down.

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