The Lord called me before my birth; from within the womb he called me by name.
~ Isaiah 49:1 from NLT
My last name is not my husbands, nor my sons. My last name is the name I was given at birth, and, for me, it is just as much my name as is my first. I have tried to give it up, to no avail. I have thought of combining my name with my spouses, but I prefer to write no more than I absolutely need too. I harbor no ill will for those who have chosen to take their spouses names. I do, however, get many ill-fated and well-meaning comments in regards to it. And, yes, there are those who refuse to acknowledge the difference.
I did the Britt and whoever the current boyfriends last name was as I was growing up. If you do not know what this means, it simply means I practiced writing my name with my “future” spouses name. The problem is, even as I was writing that I was thinking, “Why?”. I would have loved(perhaps not) being conventional. It would have saved me some grief over the years. I never truly thought I would give my last name up. I never understood why.
I know that people do this for many reasons: committing to their husband; disliking their own last name; disliking their family. I’m sure there are more reasons then those. Keeping my name was a bit more simple then all that. It was the name I was born with. It wasn’t meant to be a statement, but, to some, it has become one.
Though my husband would probably like me to take his last name, he understands why I chose not to. He understands that it has nothing to do with our marriage, or my commitment. It has to do with beliefs. When telling others, I usually make the quip that I “allowed” him to keep his name. It is a joke. I wouldn’t expect him to change his name any more than I would want him to change mine.
It’s not that I didn’t try to conform. I went around for a short time with his last name tried on for size. I just did not get it. Please, I can be rational. After all, I am surrounded by women who took their husbands names. They are happy with that choice. I am happy for them. It was their choice. Keeping my name was mine.
I am greatly into my family history. The last names have changed, as expected, over the years. Unfortunately, it is harder to find the women in the family and their histories. It would have been easier had they kept their last name, but that wasn’t the way it was or has been. So, difficult searches are a given.
In my head, as you well know is where I reside. I am a part of my husband’s family but my health history, my family history, is not his family. It is, however, my children’s. Had I given it more thought I would have combined my name in theirs. Much of history has shown children given their mother’s maiden name as their middle names. I could have hyphenated their name. I chose, a long with their father, to give them his last name. That is as traditional as I get, I guess.
History has shown us that a woman went from her dad’s last name to her husbands. It was a sign of ownership. Even knowing that my husband does not “own” me, I did not take his name. But, I could use that has more of a reason to not take his name. Thing is, that was the past and the past has grown and changed(I hope). For a long time, a woman was always a man’s daughter. In that tradition, my name would be Eugenesdotter or O’Eugene or Mc Eugene, if I chose to follow that. I chose not to. I chose to keep the name I was given.
I have heard that I must not love my husband. Truth is, is that there is not a man I respect more. He lives with me. He embraces my quirks. I am blessed.
I have been asked, why get married? Seriously, why wouldn’t I? We wanted to make a life commitment to each other. Life has shown me time and again that taking a spouses name does not a commitment guarantee make. If I simply wanted to change my name I could have gone down to the courthouse.
Won’t my kids be confused? Well, at first they were confused that other’s weren’t that way. Then they were confused that I didn’t include my name in theirs. I’ve remained consistent in my reasons. I think they are no longer confused. I think they understand acceptance. I do know that whatever they decided, they know their parents will support their decision.
It is never a matter of not agreeing with people who chose to take their spouses name. We live in a great country where freedom of choice is a right, not an option. I think nothing less of people who differ from me in thought. I can only hope that people respect my decision and if not respect it, then accept it. After all, it’s what my parent’s taught me to do.