Mrs. and Mrs.* Sea-Horse-McGirlfriendLady

Recently, Meg at A Practical Wedding brought up (hesitantly, I was amused to see) name changing.

This has been something of a struggle for us. Changing our name – sharing a name – has felt important to me during this entire getting-married/becoming-a-family process. We aren’t planning on having children, and without children to unite us to the public as a family, the shared last name feels like a big deal. Otherwise, we could just be friends or roommates or coworkers you see hanging out a lot. Who hold hands. And kiss on the mouth. Okay, so maybe not just friends, but still – without children or a name, it feels like a mistake that could be easily made. We will be family and I want that to be obvious.

Okay, so let’s share a last name, no big deal, right? Except, have you met us? Why would we do something that would be simple? When my parents got married, they both took each other’s names, so my parents, siblings, and I all have the same, hyphenated last name; it’s DadsName-MomsName. Let’s say it’s Sea-Horse, for simplicity’s sake. So my siblings, parents, and I are the only Sea-Horses in the whole world. If you look up Sea-Horse online, you’ll get hits that are only people in my immediate family. I am the only Seahorse Sea-Horse, and I think that is really cool.

Fancee’s last name is McGirlfriendLady.** This is not the last name she was born with, nor is it the last name she grew up with. It is her third last name, and it is one that she picked out, and it is very meaningful to her.

Plus, it’s a nice name on its own. She has made it very clear that she is not going to give up McGirlfriendLady, and that she is reluctant to change it. This makes sense to me, and I support it. That said, if I were to take it, I would be Seahorse McGirlfriendLady, which makes no sense in funny blogspeak, so I’m sorry about that, but it’s a relatively common name. Yes, Dr. McGirlfriendLady is a nice name, but I have always loved how unique my name is, and I don’t want to give that up either.

Dilemma.

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such a repetitive, boring debate that Jake cant keep from yawning

We have two couples that we’re friends with who recently changed their last names, and I’ll say their actual last names here because I can’t come up with other cutesy fake names. Sorry, guys. The first couple is a man and a woman who started out with the last names Fulmer and Anderson. I think they had many conversations about the name changing before settling on creating a new last name”¦ they combined both last names and took a section out: fulmeranderson became Merand (pronounced Mair-and). The other couple is made up of two kick-ass women whose last names were Smith and Leonard – and they combined them to become the Leonardsmiths.

I love the idea of being the Somethings, the FamilyNames.

At some point recently, we came up with an option that might work. I will shift my name over, and we’ll take the same last name! I’ll drop my middle name and change my full name to Seahorse Sea Horse-McGirlfriendLady – the future veterinarian Dr. Horse-McGirlfriendLady. Yes? And Fancee will be Fancee Horse-McGirlfriendLady.

This all feels complicated, and difficult, and there are so many ties to our names and to our families. I worry that my dad will feel like I dropped him because I won’t be using his name as an obvious part of my name anymore. I worry that my mom’s feelings will be hurt because we won’t share the same initials, as we always have. I worry that no one will be able to pronounce the Horse part of my last name (because they never have been), and that Fancee will have to share in the misery of always having to correct the way someone says half of your name. AND, I want to create a clear connection to the woman I am marrying, but I also don’t want to lose the obvious connection to the family I came from.

What are you doing? Have you thought about this? Does it seem to make a difference if you’re in a relationship with a man or a woman?

*Oh! And it turns out that you’re only a “Mrs.” if you are a woman who marries a man. And takes his name? I don’t remember that last part. But if you are a woman who marries a woman, you are just a Ms.! These things are so complicated, guys.

**Blog-friendly alternative last names include “McBestFianceeEver” and “McSexyPants”

BLOGGER

Ms Seahorse

Location:
Boston
Wedding Date:
September 2010
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  1. Member
    Miss OceanBeach SF 181 posts, Blushing bee @ 3:16 pm

    To add another layer of complexity to the same-sex, different-sex married name perspective, my fiance and I began our relationship as a lesbian couple. Then my fiance came out as transgender, so now we appear to the world as a heterosexual couple. As lesbians, we felt like we had all the options in the world available to us as to how we should negotiate married names. Furthermore, no one expected us or pressured us to choose any one option – they assumed we’d do something “non-traditional” because we were a non-traditional couple. But now we have the societal pressure of having to explain our name choice to people (family, acquaintances, co-workers, etc.) who see us as a traditional couple making a non-traditional name choice. [Does that make sense to people? It feels as complicated as it sounds, I think.]

    If I had to do *another* dissertation in my life, I would totally do it on how women make choices about this last name issue. So fascinating, the wide variety of decisions out there!

    For the record, we’re each keeping our last names (both of us go by Dr. FillintheBlank at our jobs, so it felt like too much a part of our identities to make a change). But we’ve created a “family name” for our children made up of the letters of all of our parents’ family names (so both dad’s names and both mom’s maiden names). The last name we created is so cool that we’ve both considered adopting it – so we’ll see what happens with that in the next 18 months or so before the wedding.

  2. Guest
    Sarah, Guest @ 3:34 pm

    A male/female couple I know both hyphenated their names, and–forgive me for not knowing what Emily Post would say is correct, but whatever order it’s supposed to go in, they did the opposite. So if the “right” way was Maple-Walnut, they did Walnut-Maple. Which isn’t their names, but whatever, you get the idea. And apparently this conversation happened with each individual member of both families:

    Couple: …blah blah blah Walnut-Maple.
    Family Member: But that’s backwards!
    C: We know, but–
    FM: It’s supposed to be the other way around!
    C: We know, but–
    FM: It’s…it’s backwards!
    C: We know, but that sounds dumb.
    FM: Huh? But that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
    C: Say it. Out loud. Right now. Say it. Do it.
    FM: Maple-Walnut. *pause* *cringe*
    C: See?
    FM: …so…congratulations!

  3. Member
    HolyVowels 338 posts, Helper bee @ 3:37 pm

    My weddingbee user name is HolyVowels due to the fact that I love my last name, and if I hyphenate it with my FI’s name, it will be ridiculously long and full of vowels!

  4. Member
    Mrs. Lobster 668 posts, Busy bee @ 9:29 pm

    I am still thinking about this. I do think about keeping my family name because we’re all girls and *someone* has to carry on our last name. Might as well be me! If I kept my last name, I’d be following the footsteps of my mom who kept her name back when it wasn’t as popular a thing to do! I’m glad you and Fancee are combining your names to start a new family, it’ll be even more special for both of you.

  5. Guest
    cartascartas, Guest @ 10:56 pm

    @miss jellyfish how can you keep your maiden name professionally in the legal profession? don’t you have to sign and be admitted to the bar under whatever your legal name is? i’m wondering bc i’m taking the bar this summer, getting married the next and, as a lot of others here, struggling with this decision!

  6. Guest
    Hannah, Guest @ 12:40 am

    I plan to take the Mr’s name, eventually, but for me it has issues simply because my entire business is built around my maiden name. Rookie business mistake #1 of 1256, I think.

    For the Mr., the name change is a dealbreaker. He wants us to have his family name and given that I am a pretty traditional girl, I am fine with it. I have no sentimentality about my name – largely because I come from a huge family and there are tons of us. The Mr. on the other hand is the end of the line name-wise as he is the only male grandchild and his grandfather’s family all died in the Holocaust.

    So, I can understand your desires to have a family name and can appreciate that you want elements of your own name in there. I just have no such attachments other than that it is my ‘stage’ name haha.

  7. Member
    MsInterpret 1810 posts, Buzzing bee @ 6:36 pm

    I am a woman, marrying a woman.. but in our case that has nothing to do with it.

    I was married before, to a man, and I chose not to take his name because doing so would have given me a silly sounding rhyming name… interestingly enough the SAME name people used to make up to tease me with on the playground when I was in 1st and 2nd grade. So I wanted no part of that.

    He didn’t care, and was fine with it. I already had a child when we met so it was good IMO that me and my son still shared a last name. His mother, however, had a cow and was highly offended that I didn’t take his name and throughout the 10 years we were together she insisted on addressing EVERYTHING to me as if I’d changed my name. Annoying, and worse when it was on a check made out to me, that I couldn’t cash because it was not MY NAME!

    Everyone over 40 also assumed that I had changed my name, even my father, who put me in his will with the wrong name! Big mess!

    Okay so now, me and my fiance are going to change our names to a whole new name but it’s based on her family history. She will be taking her grandmother’s maiden name, a lovely name that means a lot to her since this is the side of the family that has been good and loving. She currently has a last name that is her mother’s first husband’s, someone she never even met, so it makes no sense.

    I have no attachment to my own last name.. my dad was a jerk and my eldest son (with whom I share a surname) is 18 and not bothered by me having a different last name from him. My other son is 12 but not bothered either (he has his father’s last name).. so I will be getting a whole new name after my fiance changes hers and after the wedding. I’m excited! It’s way prettier than what I’ve lived with all my life!

  8. Member
    silversixpence 78 posts, Worker bee @ 5:33 pm

    Some of my friends just went out and chose a whole new name for themselves, and changed their surnames to their middle names.

    I’m taking his name because i haaaaaaaaaaaaaate my name. I’m English, my name is not pronounced the way it’s spelled. Written down, it has 4 syllables and 17 letters, but is pronounced with 2 syllables and 7 letters. I hate having to spell it out for people or pronounce it for people or field the disbelieving looks when they realise that the written and the spoken do not match at all – you should see the fun i have at customs, particularly on the US side.

    I’m not madly in love with his name either, but it’s better than mine and the first part rhymes with a swearword so that can be fun :)

  9. Guest
    After “I Do”: Name-Change Decisions | Weddingbee, Guest @ 9:45 am

    [...] wrote about wanting to change our names here, and we did ultimately end up doing it. We were both really attached to our names, but mine was [...]

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