What’s in a Name?

The name-change game has already been discussed by several bees, but I would like to throw in my two cents!

To be honest, I never thought about changing my name. I never wrote “Mrs. [insert name of crush]” all over my notebooks. My name is my own and I never entertained the idea of losing it for any reason. To me, it would be like losing a part of myself, like losing my family. I will admit that I’m not even particularly fond of my last name—it’s one of those stereotypical, super-long Spanish last names that ends in Z and is a pain in the ass to spell. On the other hand, Mr. B’s name is short and sweet and perfectly French. It would be soooo much easier having his name, but that’s never been an option. Why?

Well, in Québec, you’re actually not allowed! GASP. Whaaaaaat? Yup. Civil Code, article 393:

In marriage, both spouses retain their respective names, and exercise their respective civil rights under those names.

BAM! Lawyered! There is a super complicated legal procedure to circumvent this, but it’s costly, and most of the time it doesn’t work. The reason for this law was allegedly to maintain a woman’s identity and also to avoid situations of marriage, divorce, remarriage, etc. where a person goes through five different names in a lifetime. And while I personally agree that a name should be somewhat permanent and not linked to marital status (after all, half of marriages sadly end up in divorce), I also don’t think the government should forbid women from taking their husband’s name if they want to!

Some women are most concerned about having the same name as their children. Like Mrs. Toadstool, I grew up with a different set of rules. In the Spanish tradition, a person has two last names, the first being traditionally the father’s, followed by the mother’s. Each person carries both of their parents’ last names, and when they have children the child’s last names are composed by the first last name of each parent. So, for instance, I’m:

Miss Waterfall Middle Name Papi Waterfall’s (first) Last Name Mami Waterfall’s (first) Last Name

My children would be:

Hypothetical Future Child Mr. Waterfall’s Last Name Miss Waterfall’s Last Name and so on and so forth. (If you’re confused, go on over to Mrs. Toadstool’s post—she explains it much better, and even has an adorable little diagram to go along with it.)

I actually really like this system because I believe a child is made of equal parts from each parent, and that includes the names. Sadly, over years of living in Canada, having a first name, a middle name, and two sets of last names was really cumbersome because nobody else had that many names. I always run out of space on government forms whenever I have to enter my full name! Over time, I started going by my middle name and only use my full last name on official government documents.

What about our future children? Well, Mr. Waterfall and I have decided that they will only have his last name because, frankly, his French name and my Spanish name don’t go together at all. And sure, it bums me out a little that they won’t have any part of my last name, but it will make their lives so much easier.

What were your reasons for keeping or changing your name?


Mrs. Waterfall

Wedding Date:
June 2013
A Sunday Kind of Love: Raise Your Glasses
Our Scrapbook Guestbook: The End
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  1. Member
    cosmo_gmr 488 posts, Helper bee @ 8:18 am

    I never thought of changing my name. In my country, Bolivia, you can still have your Name+LastName and if you want, when you get married you add something that translates “OF HIS LAST NAME” like you are some kind of property… LOL

    It’s fairly easy to do, however that means you need to change your signature (and I love mine) and you need to convalidate all the paperwork you did before so they know it’s you. As I said I never thought of doing it and my husband told he didn’t like the sound of the “Of His Last Name” because we are still two people that choose to be in the marriage and I’m not something he got for himself :)

  2. Member
    kristen182 465 posts, Helper bee @ 8:57 am

    I never knew that about Quebec, and always judged my aunt-in-law for keeping her name haha (and other reasons obviously). Well thank you for removing (some) of my ignorance :)

  3. bracelet Member
    Mrs. Bracelet 279 posts, Helper bee @ 9:21 am

    How interesting that they (more or less) forbid changing names!

  4. Member
    beerod527 592 posts, Busy bee @ 9:32 am

    Ah Spanish last names. A part of me is glad that I don’t live in one because the last name will consist of “de” or “del”. I’m not a possession, but a human being. I thought about hypheniating my name like my friends did but it’ll be long. Plus, it doesn’t roll off the tongue that well (it would’ve consist of 5 sylbols). In the end, I’m going to make my maiden name my middle name and use my FI’s name.

  5. Member
    mrssancerre 190 posts, Blushing bee @ 9:54 am

    This is really interesting!

    In the UK it’s still commonplace for the woman to take her husband’s name, although it is possible just to change it legally and still use your maiden name on everything.

    My FI and I compromised – I’m changing my name, and he’s wearing a wedding ring. Win-win!

  6. Member
    bridinmt 205 posts, Helper bee @ 10:10 am

    Can you give future kiddos your last name as their middle name?

  7. Member
    TakeTwo 712 posts, Busy bee @ 10:29 am

    To each her own. I changed my last name because I wanted it to reflect my new identity as a married woman. If I did not change it, I would be breaking a centuries old tradition in my husband’s family. My traditionalist MIL would not have been pleased.

  8. Member
    triciag 438 posts, Helper bee @ 10:31 am

    Fascinating! I had no idea! I just read Miss Toadstool’s post as well. We learn something new everyday :)

  9. Guest Icon Guest
    Samantha, Guest @ 10:38 am

    I’m not sure what I’m going to do. Currently I’m thinking of not taking his name. But then it saddens me that we will have different last names. I don’t want his family name because his family doesn’t like me (for no reason other than that they hate “sharing” him with someone else) and they hate “newcomers” to the family. I’m trying to talk him into taking my name. My family loves him and are really happy for us so it makes sense to me.

  10. Member
    futuredratkins 5538 posts, Bee Keeper @ 12:35 pm

    I am in my own name change conundrum. I have always wanted to take my FH’s last name. I have always envied the way my entire name sounds with his last name substituted for my own…. and I always thought we would be married by now! My main problem is that we’re not married yet, and as a PhD student, I’m beginning to publish. Because we are not yet married that gives me 3 options: 1. publish under my maiden name and keep my maiden name 2. publish under my maiden name now and then hyphenate my name: maiden-Atkins 3. scrap my maiden name and publish in the future under Atkins and not have my old publications “count” towards my H-index :/

    Taking FH’s last name is truly important to me… unfortunately, for women in science in America it’s kind of hard.

    I guess I am going to go with option 2 and publish under my hyphenated name. I will use his last name for all my personal things, but I will hyphenate for professional publications and official documents :/

  11. mspony Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 3:12 pm

    I had no idea about that law in Quebec, that’s very interesting. I kinda wish it were that way here so that the decision were made for me!

  12. Member
    pocketfox 677 posts, Busy bee @ 9:12 pm

    I had no clue about this law! My aunt and uncle got married in Montreal, but she has his last name. I guess she changed it when she moved to Ontario.

    Also, I find it interesting that SO and I were (inadvertently) planning to follow a Spanish style on naming our future children.

  13. Member
    desiree.0615 772 posts, Busy bee @ 10:06 pm

    Wow! What an interesting bit of info I have learned today! I always love hearing different point of views in regards to changing your last name! Great Post!

  14. Member
    blonde17jess 1290 posts, Bumble bee @ 5:32 am

    So it isn’t weird for kids to have only their dad’s last name and not share a name with their mom? Wow, I had no idea that’s how they did things in Quebec… and only in Quebec, not all of Canada? Mind=blown.

  15. Member
    MissPoohBear 1 posts, Wannabee @ 7:31 pm

    Huh, that’s really interesting about Quebec… I’m kind of glad I’m allowed to take FH’s name here, though my situation is kind of unique: I have a traditional Irish last name, complete with apostrophe, which computers really hate. I often have to clarify with official places that my legal last name is different than what shows up in their computers… O’Malley as opposed to OMALLEY for instance. That plus I’m a lot closer to my mom’s side of the family that my dad’s and I’m marrying a guy whose last name goes pretty well with my first name, and, really, I’m actually relieved to be changing it. Yet another bonus of getting married…38 days and counting :-)

  16. mswaterfall Member
    Mrs. Waterfall 1403 posts, Bumble bee @ 9:38 pm

    @cosmo_gmr: @BeeRod527: I totally know what you mean about DE or DEL. For some reason when I was small, I decided my Barbies’ last name was Soza De Soza 😀
    @kristen182: Depends when they got married, the new civil code was only after 1994, so before that, judge away 😉
    @Mrs. Bracelet: @TriciaG: @Mrs. Pony: @desiree.0615: I was really suprised too when I found out in law school!
    @bridinmt: Unfortunately, it’s VERY long and last namey. Think Fernandez, Rodriguez… that sort of thing. I wouldn’t wanna do that to future waterfall babies 😀
    @TakeTwo: I agree. To each her own! I think it should be a personal choice and not a government dictated one!
    @Samantha: Him taking your name would be a really cool alternative!
    @FutureDrAtkins: That IS a connundrum! Sounds like you found a good compromise though. I guess I would have to file a name change with the Bar if I ever did change it since I’m registered to practice law under my current name.
    @pocketfox: She might have done it before the law passed or simply done the loophole version of the name change. I really like the Spanish way of naming children, though probably out of habit more than anything else :)
    @Blonde17Jess: Well, Quebec already has the lowest marriage rate in Canada since a lot of people are in domestic partnerships. I’ve seen it done all sorts of ways, Dad only; Mom only; Dad + Mom, Mom + Dad, Dad-Mom and Mom-Dad! But people don’t seem too concerned if the children have a different last name. Mr. Waterfall has his mom’s last name only, actually.
    @MissPoohBear: Lucky you!

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