I’m starting to dread this question as our wedding day approaches because the answer is no.
The decision to keep our last names the same, I say our because a man should also consider it, was not an easy decision to come to. We talked over the topic many times, sent each other articles, proposed compromises, wrote out different versions of our names, but nothing was the right fit for both of us.
Some might say, by not “taking” my partner’s last name, I’m not symbolizing our unity or the new family that we are becoming. I can understand that point, but the changing of name is only one gesture you can make. I don’t need a new name to know Jimmy is my family; he’s been my family for a long time, just like my best friends are family. A last name doesn’t mean someone will treat you a certain way.
I won’t speak for my partner, but I have several reasons for wanting to keep my last name (for now). We have decided to revisit the issue when we have children. We might feel differently then. It’s always an open decision which makes me a little nervous as a Judger.
Here are my reasons for keeping Roberts:
* I have a lot of identity wrapped up in my name. My mother and father both still carry it, and I may be the only sibling to keep the name.
*I’ve published under my last name, so in some ways, it is my writer name.
* Last name changes are patriarchal to the core. I’m not saying you’re wrong if you changed your last name, believe me, I know how difficult the decision was. I still think about doing it myself, but I can’t escape the fact that the structure is completely male-dominated.
*In my book, the definition of feminism is questioning gender norms, that’s it. Any gender norms for men or women. This is one of those instances where I have to question why males get to keep their last names, and I can’t come up with a decent answer.
This is a difficult post to write because inevitably someone may feel judged by it. I don’t look down on anyone’s decision about their last name. As I said, I don’t really like any of the options right now. The hard part is I really like Jimmy’s last name–Ryals. I could say, I’m getting all Ryaled up! Which would be really cool. I also know deep down it would make him extremely happy for me to take his name, but it would make me feel extremely compromised.
You have to make sacrifices for the ones you love, I know that. I’m just not sure if this is one I’m willing to make. Maybe someday we’ll come to a compromise or take on the hyphen. Right now, we’re just thankful that both our last names start with R. Our monograms are at least the same, so for right now, that’ll have to do.
On October 16, he won’t be any less my husband, family, or friend when they announce Jimmy & Megan, instead of Mr. and Mrs. James Ryals.