I want to start with a confession.
Being a product of this society; being of a certain upbringing and weakness of character – periodically, I succumb to the very conventions and behaviors I criticize. So with this disclaimer, let me get on my soapbox and state my dislike for the custom of taking your husband’s name.
There are some exceptions, of course, that can present some mitigating circumstances. For example, if you always hated your last name with a passion, for instance, then this might be a great opportunity to create a change. If your parents were infamous criminals and you had to bear that cross throughout your childhood – then that’s another excuse. If you were molested by your father, I can understand your need and desire to distance yourself from tangible reminders. But otherwise – WHY?
If your husband’s last name is Mandela or Einstein and maybe you’ve struggled with some inferiority complex about your self-worth, and having such an illustrious last name will make you proud – this I understand. But if your husband’s last name is just what it is – a last name, why would you take on his name?
More broadly, I often wonder about the unexamined hundreds of actions and decisions we make on a daily basis that we choose to do without even pausing to consider. I see taking your husband’s name as one of those.
… The irony, of course, lies in the fact that so many brides dislike their in–laws!
So we women get married and the next day we have a different name that we adapt to oh–so–quickly, but how many women even ponder the possibility of asking their husbands to take on their last name?
And, why is it so easy to let go of the word that used to define and symbolize who you are and the place and family you come from?
There’s an additional irony, of course. With today’s society and our rate of divorce we’ve created a situation where a woman may have a good number of last names in her life, yet none are really hers. And yet, moving from one husband to the other, the thought about holding on to one’s familiar and familial name does not even enter the picture.
Why are we content to become Jones after our wedding and stop being Smith – a name that was ours from birth? Is it because we are not content, or simply not thinking?
Or, perhaps we just do what everyone else does.
Rachel Bar nee Ezrachi