Wedded hands

Why I’m Keeping My Maiden Name

September 14, 2012

in life changes, love, marriage, wedding

Our mothers and grandmothers likely never heard the question, “Are you taking his last name?”

It was not just assumed, but expected, that when she married, a woman would take her husband’s last name.

It quite shocked me how often people have asked me this question since I got engaged. It’s almost as common as “Where’s the venue?” and “Did you find the dress?”

Even though it’s more acceptable for a woman to keep her maiden name, most of the married women I know have changed theirs. That said, my betrothed would likely tell you that I plan to keep my maiden name just because I like to be different sometimes. There might be a pinch of salt of truth in that , but I have more legitimate reasons for keeping my name.

My last name is unique

While “Lauren” stayed in the Top 20 baby names throughout the 1980s, “Fritsky” is nowhere else to be found but in my own family (though there is a Ukrainian scholar/professor named Igor Fritsky who doesn’t seem to be a relation). There are a few unaccounted for Fritskys scattered in places like Ohio and Arizona, but the rest are mostly relatives in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

My last name is fun

All my friends called me Fritsky throughout school. So did my teachers and my dance teachers. There has even been a person or two who has thought my first name was Fritsky (and if that were the case, I’d nominate my parents to be put on this list). Fritsky sounds like Frisky. It got it’s fair share of cat food brand comparisons, but it also became intertwined with my personality — or vice versa. My last name is spunky, spicy, fiesty, brash and forever teeters on being offensive — just like me.

I’ve been published under this name

Since my first byline at age 19, I have been published as Lauren Fritsky.ย The subsequent newspaper articles, book mentions, magazine articles, blog posts and TV interviews have all included this name. Changing my last name would feel like undoing a 12-year career in some senses. I know I could keep my last name the same for publishing reasons, but if I have to have exceptions, why change it at all?

It makes me feel connected to my father

This is a tough one. This reason might seem like I’m choosing my father as a more important man in my life than Brendan. I have no brothers; this surname stops with me, or my sister if she decides to keep her maiden name as well. It might sound trite: another 50 years or extending the Fritsky surname in my immediate family. But there’s something about having a crucial part of my family taken so soon that makes me want to honor it for as long as possible.

When it comes down to it, I identify more with my last name than my first. That might sound crazy to you, but it sounds right to me. And Brendan understands. So while a lot of things will change when I walk down the aisle on April 6, my last name won’t be one of them.

For my lady readers, what are your reasons for changing or keeping your last name?

Featured image by adamjonfuller

22 Comments - Add Yours!

  1. Diana

    I got married back in June and because we had planned an out-of-country trip I decided to keep it until then (to avoid passport headaches!). I am proud of my last name even if there are many others with the same one (Nguyen) but I do want to carry on the same last name as our future children. My compromise: shifting my current last name to my middle name. I’ll lose my middle name (Lynn) in the process but meh, no one knows it anyway! And I can still be “Diana Nguyen” when I need to be. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Thanks for sharing your story Diana. I know other women who have done the same thing and women who named their children with their maiden name as their middle name. I contemplated what you did for myself as well. The only thing that bothered me, personally, was that my middle name, Grace, is after my later maternal grandmother, who I never met. So in a similar vein to my dad, I like the idea of continuing to honor her by keeping my middle name.

      Reply
  2. Amy

    I changed my last name, but made my maiden name my middle name. I had always said, if I didn’t get married until after 30, I wouldn’t change it. Of course, at the time, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be married before then! I had a unique last name too, but I got tired of hearing National Lampoon references every time someone looked at my driver’s license or credit card.

    It’s been a little over 3 years since we got married, and I’ve yet to change my email address, my Facebook page still shows my maiden name (in addition to married), and my friends still call me by my nickname derived from my maiden name. All of my online screen names still reference my maiden name too. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I chose to change my name because I knew I wanted kids, and I figured it’d make it easier when that time came, and a small part of me felt like it completed the two become one aspect of the marriage. I did have thoughts against it though, because of the unique name and making a name for myself in my industry (at least locally), but I figured if I were good enough, that wouldn’t matter in the end, and I’d only been working for a few years and had plenty of time to establish myself under a new name.

    I completely get your reasons though – I think being a writer is a little different. I really think it’s one of those things now where it’s more common for women to keep their maiden names. My best friend became a doctor before getting married, and she’s not planning on changing her name now that she’s established. To each her own! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Isn’t it great that we have this choice more than our mothers and grandmothers did? I love that every woman can decide for herself. The children aspect is definitely something to consider, and I know that in deciding what I have, people might not think I’m my children’s biological mother.

      Reply
  3. Alexis

    I think it’s fine that you are keeping your maiden name. I’ve even seen people/couples combine both last names. It’s part of who you are and I completely understand and agree with the publishing aspect. I think it’s only a name and overall shouldn’t matter too much and plus it’s really difficult to change everything you already have your name on, get a new social security card, credit cards, bills, etc. You may be surprised a lot of people don’t completely fulfill the process. Good luck btw!

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Cheers Alexis — I actually never realized that the bulk of what you do right after getting married involves the woman changing all her accounts and such to reflect her new name. And you’re right, I’ve heard the process can be quite tedious, so I’m not surprised if a lot of women take a while to finish it!

      Reply
      1. Mark

        We met 5 years ago, when each of us was 28. Carol had just started as a lawyer while I worked at a bank. We got engaged in early 2010. So . . . about six months after that she started talking about what she was going to do about her name. Should she keep it, hyphenate, take my name . . . and what about the kids we’re planning to have. All that stuff. Then she asked for my opinion, and I told her that I’d prefer me, her, and the kids to all have the same last name. I’m not sure exactly why I feel that way. It’s just something that I said at the time and still believe in. About two months after our original discussion, Carol brought the topic up again, and reminded me of what we’d both said. Then she said (and I’ll never forget this), “If we all have the same last name, why can’t it be mine?” She said it as a joke, but I told her that I’d think about it seriously. So I did. And then I found myself in the position of the typical female. Hyphenate? Too bulky. Keep my name? But then we’d have different family names. Take her name? Yowww. Big blow to male ego. Then I thought about it some more. She is well established in her career and I am not. Our plan is for her to be the primary breadwinner and me to be the primary parent. That was part of our deal when we got engaged. Carol was (and is) extremely dedicated to her career. She made more money than me, and has much better earning potential going forward. She’d always assumed that when she started having kids, she’d keep working and would hire a nanny. But we talked about it A LOT, and decided that I’d try to be the primary parent. I was in banking, but not really going anywhere, and with all of the talking and reflection I decided I really didn’t care for what I was doing but could take a totally different path of being the primary caretaker, despite my very limited experience in that area. So, it was better for her to keep her last name for her career and not terribly important that I keep mine.IShortly before the wedding. I decided to make the change. Told her on Christmas Eve. She was stunned. Actually, she asked me to reconsider, that it was cool with her for me not to change. But I told her it was too late, and then she said GREAT! After New Year’s we told everyone and the reaction was about 60/40 negative, which means that what people were thinking is probably 80/20 negative. A number of people just rolled their eyes at me, a few called me a wimp or more colorful terms, and many more directed negative comments to Carol. Oh well, that’s the way it goes.

        Reply
  4. Heathaer

    I *love* my last name. In college people called me first name + last name, saying it like it ran together, since there were two Heather’s in our friends group.

    I will be changing my last name, but I still haven’t decided whether I’ll drop my current middle name (which I really like) and put current last name in its place OR use all four names (which is a lot!).

    Even if you changed your last name, I’d still call you Fritsky ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      It is a great name! It’s a name that could be famous (baker/cookbook author/cook show host?) because it flows together so well. But Gav’s last name is pretty great, too.

      Reply
  5. iliana

    My reasons to keep my maiden name overlap with yours – I publish under that name and I wanted to save the family name for a bit longer (luckily a male cousin of mine just got a son, so the name is safe for another generation at the least). While my maiden name is not fun per se, I am having fun hearing Americans and Dutch pronouncing it all wrong ๐Ÿ™‚ And when I decided to drop the ‘-ova’ part , which sounds Russian, but it’s not, a Belgian friend protested ‘That’s the name of my home town =Genk. You can’t have it as your family name. Oh well… And my last reason to keep it…first marriage lasted a year, second – three years, worth changing it then? No ๐Ÿ™‚ But I’m sure your marriage will be a happy and lasting one!

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Thanks Iliana — it’s interesting that you thought about actually altering your last name a bit. I’ve heard of a couple that combined portions of both of their surnames to create their own name. Kind of cool!

      Reply
  6. Rebecca

    I definitely understand when it comes to your unique name ending. My family is the only family in the world with our last name and thankfully I have male cousins who have already passed down the name to their (male) kids, so it’s not going away anytime soon.
    When my mom was married to her first husband, she didn’t change her name, but did when she married my dad, so we could all have the same name. That would be the only reason I would ever change mine.
    I don’t understand the girls that go out, like the day after they get married and change their name! Talk about an added, pointless, expense!

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      You know I based my flight home on the knowledge I wouldn’t be changing my name. I asked other brides what you have to do in the days after your wedding and they said go to the bank, the post office, DMV, etc. to change your name. Glad I don’t have to worry about that!

      Reply
  7. Ayngelina

    The only reason I would lose my maiden name is if I chose to name a child Brogan. I doubt I`m going to have kids so if I get married I would keep mine too. It just seems natural nowadays to keep your maiden name.

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      That’s actually a really cool name! Yeah, it would be interesting to look at the numbers to see what the trends are as far as changing names, if it’s tipping toward the majority keeping maiden names.

      Reply
  8. Leah Christensen

    I was born Leah Mary Allan (name my parents liked, paternal grandmother’s name as a middle name, Dad’s last name). From a very young age I didn’t think it was fair that women had nothing of their mother’s in name, and that not being enough, would eventually be “given” to another man, and he’d pin his name on us. Then when I heard where certain wedding customs originated, I really hated the idea.

    When I turned 19, I moved Allan to the position of second middle name, even though I hyphenated it on a book I published, and legally took my mother’s maiden name, Christensen. I did this for two reasons. 1) Buck the tradition (I know that’s my grandfather’s name, but one has to start somewhere) 2), I wanted to reflect my mother’s Danish heritage. I was born in my Dad’s homeland of Canada, I speak his native language, and I live 20 miles from his childhood home.

    When I married Walker Bennett on Sept 6, 2007, I kept my name as it was, and he kept his. I refuse to use the term “Mrs.” since I did not actually change my name, and since Ms. is as maritally neutral as Mr.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *