Would You Take Up Your Husband’s Name?

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I belong to a highly interesting Whatsapp Group. Perhaps I should give you guys a brief history of the members of this group and why I find it that entertaining.

Well, all the members are people we schooled together in the same year in primary school. Most of the members are people I’ve shared a class with from age 6 all the way to 13. A couple of the members are people I’ve shared a class with from age 6 to 17 which is primary school and high school included. Plus we are at that stage in our lives where some of us are settled down with kids, others are in the wedding planning process and others are kind of starting to feel the heat, to find that someone and make a family.

Quite recently, we had quite a charged debate on the group on whether women should take up their husband’s names after marriage. Of course the opinions were varied with some stating that they would retain their maiden names, while others thought it best to take up the hubby’s name. I lay on the latter form of reasoning.

Marriage to me has always been some sort of fascination. I especially love how other cultures conduct their weddings. I love how the Hindu brides dress up for their big day. The intricate henna designs and the jewellery. Makes any woman anticipate marriage! I admire the Muslim Nikka and all the celebration that goes with it. I will always want to watch a program that is wedding themed. Indeed, the reader can already judge that weddings are a key factor in my fascination with marriages.

Over the years, I have kind of settled on the idea that an official marriage would be good for me in future. I would not fancy a “come-we-stay” arrangement as we refer to them in my country where we live under one roof as partners. That doesn’t mean that I frown upon people who haven’t made their marriages official. I’m of the idea that whatever floats your boat with regards to whom you want to spend the rest of your life with, then by all means, go for it!

However, I find an official marriage in my case to be some sort of a sense of security. I would yearn to make it official whether it will last only 2 years or a lifetime. Quite a number of people from the opposite sex may argue that weddings are an unnecessary expenditure. A tiresome chore for the man. Others of both sexes may conclude that if a marriage made official does not work, then divorce court proceedings will definitely be an otherwise, avoidable cause for sleepless nights. I tend to hear the reasoning “tujaribu” (we try) from some people when they talk of settling in marriage.

I personally would not want to “kujaribu”. I would want to make it work. I would want to go to a church and take my wedding vows from there because I believe in seeking God’s blessings in a marriage and where else, if not in his house! I know it’s probably very easy for me to talk about making it work when marriage for me is not even in the cards yet. I equally know that this whole union needs a lot of tolerance and may not always be “a happy ever after” affair. Heck, I’ve seen enough marriages break all around me to further confirm my fears that it’s quite rocky in that world. However, it wouldn’t hurt if I still did my best to make it work and that is just per my reasoning.

So yes, if my husband-to-be is willing to go through all the steps to be officially hitched to me, I will definitely take up his name. It wouldn’t be something I would think twice of doing. If I’m in love with him and willing to spend the rest of my life with him, then I believe we are one unit and we can’t successfully achieve that one unit, if we are using different names. I would want to show my children the importance of having a family name. I can’t quite say that worked well for my parents but my mother ensured we used our father’s name. It didn’t matter to her that they were no longer together, she still insisted that the name should appear in our school certificates and national IDs.

Personally, I wouldn’t feel less of a woman for using my husband’s name. As a matter of fact, I will have a sense of pride for being accorded a Mrs. So and So status. It would only serve to remind me of the commitment I made to that special someone. I have witnessed many professional women still retain their maiden names then add a hyphen and their husband’s name at the end. That didn’t make them less professional per se. It didn’t make them lose their brand. It only proved that they have moved from one stage into another.

I view marriage as a transition. Of course with all the adjustments you have to make in your life once you get married, it is only befitting to accord it that status. A name change to me simply signifies the whole transitioning process.

So, would you take up your husband’s name?

 

 

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12 comments

  1. As you say, Proudlyfeminist, It is really about how a person feels. There is not one rule for all. In France, a woman always keeps her maiden name on her passport and identity card, followed by her husband’s name. In everyday life, however, she will be called by her husband ‘s name.
    In some part of Africa, until recently, when it became fashionable to bear the same family name, each child would have his own name different from his father, mother or siblings! That is the case for my mother for example and other people of her generation; her name has no relation with her parents or siblings. Her name will only inform you about what her tribe is, but not about who her father or husband is. When I was in France, I was mostly using my maiden name and I liked it that way. I started using my husband’s name when I came to live in Nigeria because this is how it is done here and I like it this way now!

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  2. I always love how you give me insights on how things are conducted in other countries. In Kenya all the children use their father’s name. So you have three names. Two of yours, the English name and the traditional name which often betrays your tribe and at the end of the two is your father’s name.
    It was fashionable to take up your husband’s name after marriage some years back but with the ‘independent woman’ wave and more and more successful women, you will find women retaining their father’s name or adding the hyphen and their husband’s name after their father’s.
    I know that there’s that attachment to your family name but funnily enough, I have never been too attached to my father’s name. Except in official documents where inevitably has to appear, I hardly use it nowadays.
    Thanks for the insights Glory and yeeey for using hubby’s name and loving it in Nigeria!

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  3. I kept my own name when I married, but since I was born into a patriarchal society (USA), that really just means I kept my father’s name. Not so feminist after all. I just hate the notion behind the name change – the idea of “belonging” to my husband makes me cringe, and when people go by “Mrs. Husband’s first and last Name,” I get downright nauseous.

    There is no easy answer of course. I understand wanting to have a family name, and keeping my father’s name doesn’t scream independent anyhow. I think maybe the more important thing in my culture is changing the language. We identify women by “miss” or “Mrs.” Depending on their marital status, but all men are referred to as “Mr.” regardless of marital status. I go by Ms. which is commonly used by feminists to indicate: “my marital status does not define me and is none of your business.” 🙂

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  4. @where we are, in 2012, French government officially abolished the use of “Miss”, on administrative forms. You can only tick between Mr or Mrs. I didn’t wait the official go ahead to banish “Miss” for women in the workplace. If you are not a student anymore and old enough to be working, why on earth would I call you “Miss”? Unless you insist on it as some Feminists who did not want to be mistaken for married women.

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  5. Interesting question. I recently had a conversation about this with a friend. She felt she needed to take on her husband’s name because she felt somehow “left out” in her household (her child and husband share the same surname). I, on the other hand, have never felt the urge to change my name. In fact, I’m reluctant to do so. I would feel like a different person, and it will surely take me a long time to adjust. My hubby and I are married traditionally. We’re planning the civil wedding, so I need to make up my mind soonish (lol). I know he would be super happy if I took on his name. The only concession I can make is to add his name to my current one, and become one of those people with double-barrelled names, lol.

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    1. I think it would be super nice to have the two names. Your maiden name and your hubby’s. It just shows that you value them both and didn’t feel threatened as a woman by taking up your husband’s name. I would do the same if I had much attachment to my surname. However, I choose to drop it (and have already partially done) because I do not think it represents who I am as a person seeing that the initial bearer of the name hasn’t been really that active in my life. I especially like it when people live up to their names. That way it is easier to take up their legacies. So you go for it Kongomum and have the double-barrelled names as you say it ;)!

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  6. @Where are we, it has been a long time! Glad to have you back on board.
    I would hate to feel like I ‘belonged’ to my husband. However in partriarchal societies (and I didn’t know the USA was one) the woman automatically belongs to the man after marriage.
    I’m of the idea that we belong to each other. Therefore if a man is willing to go through the whole process to be officially married to me without having a belief that he’s being pushed or pressured to do it, then it just proves to me that we are both ready to belong to each other.
    However, in my country nowadays, there’s a reluctance by men to make everything official. Almost like they are getting into marriage with a 50-50 idea of making it work all the while planning a quick exit if things don’t work since nothing’s on paper. And you expect me to take up your name in such a situation?? No thanks, but mine will do.
    I wouldn’t really judge a woman for wanting to be accorded a Ms. or a Mrs. I’m a respecter of personal choices. But a Miss when you are a middled aged woman in a profession and perhaps with kids in reference to Glory’s comment sounds a bit awkward. Thank you Where are we for your contribution.

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  7. On that Nambisia, I beg to differ. People attach meanings to names. Remember, for people whose fathers have played a huge role in their lives, the name of their father matters a lot. Of course there’s the feminist side to it where women may not see the need to take up a husband’s name as they prefer to be totally independent. And taking up a man’s name just because of marriage conjures up other connotations.
    However, most women place a meaning to their father’s name. It signifies their origins and identity. It’s a name they have had all their lives. Dropping it therefore becomes a little difficult and that is why they may retain the name but add their husband’s too at the end.
    Gladys Boss Shollei for example. Her father is ‘Boss’ and just so that it is clear she is a married woman, her husband is ‘Shollei’. Watched her explain it on Jeff Koinange’s the bench.

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