Name Game: Does Your Last Name Match Your Kids’?

I have about two months left until my wedding, which means that I’ve been trying to throw my indecisive tendencies out the window. After months of revisions, the invitations are finally at their (almost) final stage. The flowers have been picked; the ceremony has been adjusted to fit our picky “interfaith but not too long” requirements. There seems to be just one large to-do left on my pages-long list of wedding prep: I need to make a decision on whether to change my last name.

Growing up, I always assumed I would change my name when I stepped up to the marriage plate. It is what nearly all of my friends’ moms had done when they’d tied the knot. But now that it is almost time to make the switch, I’m having reservations both big and small. Big: I’ve worked my butt off to get my byline out there throughout the years. I can’t change my name now! Small: The paperwork looks so annoying. Plus, my out-of-state driver’s license expires a mere 20 days before my wedding, complicating things more. (And what if it’s a sign?!)

As I began to play around with the idea of keeping my last name the way it is, I dug around on the Internet a bit. It turns out that more than 50 percent of people in America think that a woman should be legally required to take her husband’s last name for the sake of creating a sense of family identity. It’s not just the older generation that feels that a name swap is a good thing. According to a joint study by Facebook and the Daily Beast, 65 percent of women in their 20s and 30s changed their names when they got married. I was surprised to discover that a number of my friends and family have a strong opinion about this topic as well. With the exception of my mom, everyone seemed to think I should bite the bullet and go through the paperwork, because they felt my future kids should have the same last name that I do. (Not that kids have to take their father’s name, but that’s the traditional way of doing things.)

Will it really matter if my kids have the same last name as me? How much does a name really mean anyway? I’ve already committed to plenty of identity changing. I uprooted my life in Tennessee to work in fast-paced Manhattan and come home to our little fixer-upper in Long Island. And yet, there is a part of me that feels a degree of comfort with the idea of solidifying our family unit with a name change. I guess I’ll keep this one marked as TBD.

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