Thursday, January 3, 2013

Technically I'm Not a Mrs.

My husband and I have been married for 21 ½ years. We'll be celebrating our 22nd anniversary this June. For various and sundry reasons that would have involved a paperwork nightmare, I did not change my name when we married. I also happened to like my name, so I was fine about not changing it. Since my husband is fairly easy-going, he didn't seem to mind one way or the other. My last name begins with R. My husband's last name begins with H. Sometimes I'm addressed as Mrs. H, usually by the neighborhood kids; sometimes Mrs. R, usually by people who know me but not my husband. And what about the children? They have my husband's last name. I still have mine. It's never been an issue.

Most of the time, I don't even think about the name difference. Occasionally, I'm reminded that I'm still in the minority of women who kept their names after when I'm on Facebook and I'm looking at my friends' names. Besides me, only two of my friends who are married have kept their own names. Some of my friends are listed as Firstname Maidenname because they are divorced or they never married. Some friends are listed as Firstname Maidenname Marriedname. And some are listed as Firstname Marriedname.

The only time it ever truly bothered me to have my first name paired with my husband's last name was when our insurance company decided to change it for me. For reasons I can't remember, we decided to combine our auto insurance policies by adding him onto mine after we married. The following month our bill was addressed as Hisname and Myname Hislastname, complete with new insurance cards with my "new name". This was problematic for me because legally I was not CH; I was CR. My driver's license was still CR and my auto loan was still in my name. Furthermore, I had not asked them to change my name. They automatically did it for me.

When I called the office to make the correction, the agent's admin just couldn't understand why I didn't change my last name and she wasn't sure if the database could accommodate this request. (This was the pre-Internet stone age of 1991.) Oh hell no. Funny how people react when other people go against the grain and don't do what they think is right. So I wrote a flaming nastygram to the corporate office excoriating their company for imposing their patriarchal attitudes onto me, a paying customer, and reminding them that legally only I could change my name and if this wasn't fixed then the next letter would be from my lawyer....blah blah blah. Never mind that I didn't have a lawyer. ☺ Lo and behold, the next month it was fixed. Imagine that. We've had no problems since.

While I won't go so far as to say that I'm an easy-going person, I really don't care what other women (or men, for that matter) do with their names after they marry. Seriously. I.don' Whatever floats your boat. It's the 21st century, so do what you want. The only judgmental opinion I have on the matter is this: if you think all women should change their names or that all women should keep their maiden names after marriage, then you have control issues and you need to lighten up or seek professional help. I realize that for some women it can be an emotional decision. For me it wasn't. In my opinion, changing your name like deciding to marry, should not be done lightly but rather with careful thought and consideration.

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