Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What's in a Name?

As a female newlywed, I have a lot of work to do AFTER the nuptials have been exchanged.  To change my name, or not to change my name, that is the question.  And, this is a question I had thought long and hard about over the years.  In my twenties, my early feminist days, I was absolutely going to hyphenate - no question.  When I actually got engaged (in my 30s), my thoughts on this had changed.

I love my husband dearly, and am so proud and honored to be his wife.  Heck, the icing on the cake was that I actually got to MARRY my partner and best friend!  Simply put, I WANTED to take his name.  But, what to do about my maiden name?

My maiden name is a 10-letter Polish name, ending in 'icz' (it's pronounced 'its', in case you were wondering).  I used to dread the first days of school, when roll call would cause a bout of apoplexy when teachers came across my name -- it wasn't until college that my last name was pronounced correctly, and without the mildest of hesitation from professors.  In some ways, however, I think I'll miss finishing for people when they attempt my last name.  My maiden name has been my identity for 33 years, and it's not so easy to give up.  Everything I've worked for professionally is linked to that name, and that is definitely a difficult thing to let go.

I debated about changing my middle name, despite it being a family name, to my maiden name when taking my husband's last name.  While it wouldn't be hyphenated, my pre-marriage identity would still be there.  I wish I could tell a great story about me weighing pros and cons and going deep into meditation to aid me in my decision, but I can't.  The reality is this: I had the social security card paperwork at my desk, and when it came to the blank where I had to fill in my name, I simply shouted to my dear colleague (whom I trust in such important situations) over our cubicle divide, "Should I change my middle name or just change my last name?"  The response?  "Just change your last name.  Trust me, it will be a lot easier in the long run."

And that, my friends, is exactly what I did.  No flip of the coin.  No meditation.  No agonizing and going back and forth.  I am now in possession of a new social security card and my new, married identity.  I'm sure it will take time to remember to sign my married name and heck, even respond to 'Mrs.', but I'm happy with the decision.  And hey, if I feel an inkling of regret, I can always devise a plan to convince my husband to take my maiden name, right?   

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