The Name Change

Oh the name change. How you plague my feminist tendencies.

To change or not to change? That is a serious question that millennial women find themselves asking as the wedding day draws nearer and nearer. For many, it actually isn’t a question, it’s just done. No questions asked. For others (like me) it’s a pickle.

Current Status: Name is not changed, but I don’t mind or correct people if they call me “Mrs. Martin.” Am possibly considering adding his last name to my name eventually when we have kids.

Before marriage, I personally had no intention changing my name whatsoever. The whole origins of why women changed their names in the first place was distasteful to me. Historically, it was a patriarchal-based practise that indicated the woman was no longer her father’s “property” but her husband’s. And YES (Howie) I KNOW that’s not what it means to the majority of people now but the whole basis of the practise kind of irks me to be honest.

Why me? Why the girl? Why is it the girl that has to change her name? Why NOT the men? (Howie, stop laughing, it’s a serious question).

I get that it makes things more simple, that it unites a household family under one name, that “two become one” and the children won’t “wonder why mommy has a different name.” And for women with particularly unfortunately last names like Crapo or Kuntz (true story) it makes an excellent escape.

I get that it may make logical sense but what about practical sense? I don’t really feel like spending hours in government queues re-issuing documents. I don’t want to pay fees, process paperwork and take time off of work to do these things because these places are only open when everyone works. And, I’m sorry – but I am one of the very few millennials that still have that awesome never-expires red health card and I personally don’t feel like giving that up right now.

But if you shed away all the practical (in my opinion) reasons of keeping a name, I think the sentimental reasons are what’s really compelling me to remain a Duivesteyn right now. I don’t want to lose that piece of my Dutch heritage, I actually love correcting non-Dutchies on the pronunciation of my name. I would miss chuckling at their feeble attempts – the “DOO-VEN-STINES” (sorry there’s no “n” in the middle) the “DWEE-VEE-STEEN” (nice try) oh how I would miss the predictable conversation of “Where IS that name from?” “Oh it’s Dutch actually!” “How cool!”

I grew up Cheryl Duivesteyn, not Martin. I am 5’10” and blonde and look like a Duivesteyn (not a Martin). I went to school as a Duivesteyn, played basketball as a Duivesteyn and when I made friends they were friends with Cheryl Duivesteyn. My report cards, MVP award, and jerseys all say Duivesteyn. I became an independent young Ms. Duivesteyn, earned two university degrees that say Cheryl Duivesteyn, travelled the world and grew up and fell in love with Howie Martin as a Duivesteyn.

I am stoked for my new life as a wife to Mr. H. B. Martin but I don’t think I’m quite ready to say goodbye to Cheryl Duivesteyn. Perhaps I’ll change my mind someday but for now the question is on hiatus.

I don’t think there is a right or wrong last name for women. I think the whole point of women’s liberation was that we actually have a choice now. I think my grandma may have considered remaining a DeKoker because she did not grow up a Duivesteyn. But then again, maybe she wouldn’t have, but at least there would have been a choice.

Cheers ladies, to names, to choices, to us.

Thoughts on name changing?


60 thoughts on “The Name Change

  1. I know the feeling of losing your “dutchness”. My fiance is Indian, so people really won’t know what my background is, but I’m excited to take on a new name and begin a new life as Mrs. Sandhu.

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  2. In my family it’s not a question of “will you change your name” but “WHY would you change your name??” I have always been very impressed by my mom who didn’t change her name in 1975…when it was still very much expected. And as for your children having a different last name, I can honestly say that it made absolutely no difference in my life, we don’t live in the 1800s, we introduce people by their first names now. Plus…my last name is cool… πŸ™‚

  3. to change or not to change, the generation-old question! a good one for sure. i took my husband’s last name but i added it to my three names because, the way i saw it, marrying him added something to my life and who i am. it didn’t replace who i was and it didn’t trump the me i had been for twenty-three years. i just tacked his on the end of mine. no hyphen, no combining of names into a new name. i now have two middle names and four initials and have never looked back. when i publish, i use my maiden name. old habits, you know. cheers indeed!

  4. I changed my name, just felt like that’s how things go I guess…I do still have my red health card with my maiden name on it though! hahaha. πŸ™‚ Don’t wanna give that up just yet!

    what redwhiteandnew said about adding her hubby’s last name on to the end of hers – a lawyer at my firm recently got married and has done the same thing – so that she can use both last names. at work she is still going by her maiden name. I didn’t know you could do that…! It’s a good idea, you can go by either last name, so still get to keep yours. But for legal reasons, his last name is there, so government…people? will believe you that you’re married without needing paper proof? πŸ™‚

  5. In 1982, most of us changed our names; I wasn’t overly attached to “Lane” and you KNOW how important it is for your dad that I became a “Duivesteyn”! He’s quite a hypocrite – It would have been a deal-breaker for me to keep my name (so he says), yet he is fully supportive of daughters who wish to remain Duivesteyn’s.

  6. I was personally one of those who dreamed of getting married just so I COULD get rid of my last name. It’s not horrible, but I did get made fun of enough to scar me for life. Now I like to say that God was exercising his sense of humor when He matched me with someone with the most generic last name in the country. (Yes, my last name is Smith! Good luck googling me!) But I love it and wouldn’t change it for the world. I love being Mrs. Smith.

    But you bring up some good points, so here’s my two cents. I know for a fact that there’s other cultures out there that do the opposite or even have a hybrid of sorts. I have some Hispanic friends that take on their mother’s name once they get to a marrying age and when they get married, their new name is a hyphen between their new married name and their mother’s maiden name and their dad’s name is dropped. (I may be wrong on those facts, so someone feel free to correct me if I am! This is just what I’ve seen.) However, I’m in favor of the name change, and not just because I hated mine. But to me, marriage is about unity, so why not have the same last name since you’re now seen as a unit? Plus, personally I like how it’s less confusing. I won’t judge anyone for their choices and especially not for their circumstances, but I always have a hard time wrapping my head around situations where family members don’t have the same name.

    Oh, and changing it was a breeze for me. I made an appt at the social security office, and the lady I dealt with actually seemed thrilled to just have someone who wasn’t there to complain about benefits. I took the paper they gave me to the DMV and got a new license and it was all down hill from there. Everywhere else needs to see one or the other and it’s a breeze to change. Even my passport wasn’t too bad because I only had to mail it off. So, I’m for it, but good luck with whatever you decide!

  7. The perfect answer to me was to hyphenate my last name with my husband’s last name. When my husband and I were married, I wanted to rent billboards that said I was his wife! I’m proud of my Malaysian heritage, but then my father is Malaysian/English and my mother is Spanish/Portuguese/Italian. Go back one more generation on each side and there are 12 different nationalities. If I’m afraid of losing my heritage, I’ll wear a tee shirt that lists every nationality every one of my ancestors were, but it will take the front and back of the shirt to do it. Holding onto my heritage will never be a problem for me, but I’m proud to carry my husband’s name too.

    • Lol that’s a good point about heritages – and it’s great to be proud of a husband’s name. I think I just struggle because our culture is so one-sided in that sense… where’s the husband pride for wives’ last names?

  8. I might have a bit different outlook on the name change thing because of what the hubs and I have been through. I was honored to be able to take the hubs last name as my own because not only did it symbolize our union but it provided me with a connection to the hubs father who died 2 years before mine. That being said, it was just as important and meaningful to me to keep my last name so that I always have that link to my family and of course my dad. I made my maiden name my middle name and took my husbands last name as my last name.

    It’s not for everyone though – I know a handful of people who chose to keep their last names mainly because it was easier and I definitely get that (I still haven’t changed my name on everything… just the important things… we’ve been married over 2 years).

  9. Haha, perspectives are clearly different! I could not answer your poll because my answer was not an option! When we got married my husband decided to take my name. Where we’re from it is not that unusual though the norm would still be to have the woman change her name. For me that was never an option as my surname is unique, which is quite useful in these days of globalization and internet. As it is a very unusual surname it has also been an important part of me growing up and I identify very much with the name as you also did, very often people would just refer to me by my last name – so how could I change that? My husband is a progressive guy (I would not have married him otherwise) and he likes my name also so decided that he changes his surname (for a number of reasons he hasn’t done that yet – we emigrated before there was time for administering that, but we’ll get there). No big deal. Thanks for the follow, I look forward to following you as well! /Jenny

  10. There are many reasons pro and con to change your name. Unfortunately one of the biggest reasons people change is to have children that have the same name as you, which really takes a lot of the decision out of your hands. Some couples choose to both hyphenate thereby taking on two new “identities”. Whatever your choice is talk it out with your fiance/husband and come to a decision that you both are most comfortable with!

    If you decide to go ahead with your name change, do what I did – check out because it made my name change MUCH easier. No figuring out what to do which is super helpful for someone like me who cant stand paperwork!

  11. I wanted to change my name. No-one asked me to… or forced me to, even though it was 1984. It was important to me that my family all have the same last name… and I like Ks and Ys – so I went with my husband’s last name πŸ™‚ Hyphenated names are very cool… but then what do your poor children do if they get married?????
    All of my siblings kept their maiden names – and my sister has one child with her last name, and one child with her husband’s last name. EVERYONE assumes they are a blended family.
    It don’t think it matters one way, or another… you should just do whatever feels right to you – for whatever reasons make sense to you.
    Do Millennial girls over-think everything ? πŸ™‚

  12. I guess I always felt like my mom got a lot of crap for not changing her name. And since my parents didn’t stay together, maybe it was a subliminal step away from being fully committed (in my head – I know this isn’t always the case). I hadn’t really thought one way or the other and didn’t feel pressured to change mine – but when I got engaged, I just thought it would be nice. Now, it took me 364 days to actually do the changing b/c it was a pain in the butt. There are still some things that pop up with my maiden name and I just can’t be bothered to do anything about it. Unless I have to.

  13. Loved this post, Cheryl!! I’ve really been enjoying your blog, but this post in particular got me some kinda excited. A great discussion on the question on whether or not to change one’s name. Oh, and fun fact: I have a friend with the name Crapo, and I know for a fact she’d never change her name.

  14. Hey Cheryl,

    I LOVE your blog! It is so much fun to read.

    So 25 years in, I have a different experience. I got married in Montreal, and in Quebec, women don’t even have an option to change their names. The divorce rate is so high, it costs the government a fortune to change names; so I had to keep my maiden name. Honestly though, I think I would have kept my maiden name anyway, because my degree was in my maiden name, and I was proud of it.

    10 years and three kids later, we moved to Ontario. We gave our kids my husband’s name because I find the hyphenated version can be difficult for kids. (I considered giving them my name, I HAD given birth to them after all, but it just didn’t seem right not to give them their father’s name.) Once my kids were in school, the teachers never knew that they were mine, or if they knew they went with me, they called me by my husband’s name anyway. I got tired of feeling like the odd one out! So after 11 years of marriage, I took my husband’s name, and I’ve never looked back.

    What’s the difference, my dad’s name or my husband’s name? Personally, I think it would be cool to make a NEW name when you get married, to represent your new oneness. What would you think of Duivtin? Or Marteyn?

    • Hey cruise buddy! lol

      I am intrigued by what you’re saying about Montreal! I had no idea it was so difficult … government hurdles!

      Very interesting that after 11 years you changed!

      And I actually HAVE thought about the combination thing… Howie wasn’t so into it but come ON, Martinsteyn? That’s a sweet name πŸ™‚

  15. Here in Switzerland, you have 4 options of name change when you get married, but keeping just your maiden name is NOT an option unless your husband takes your name, too πŸ™‚ Made the decision very simple for me!

  16. Hi πŸ™‚

    Sorry for barging in. I came here through your post on Lesley Carter’s blog.
    Since you have a Dutch last name, you may be interested in a bit of Dutch law. In the Netherlands, no citizen is allowed to lose or change their birth name, unless under very specific circumstances (of which marriage is not one).

    It does not matter how often you get married and divorced, your passport will always state your maiden name (with the possible addition of “spouse of..” and then your partners name).

    I’m guessing you’re an American citizen, so the law does not actually apply to you, but if you like to keep your link to the country of Dutchies alive (and Duivesteyn is a gorgeous name) here you have another “excuse”.

    • Thanks for checking my blog out! I love the Dutch perspective πŸ™‚ I lived in Tilburg for 6 months in 2007 and it was great to get back to my roots. Just a minor correction – I’m Canadian. Not much difference between us and Americans but us Canadians are proud of our heritage and must correct people when we are mistaken for Americans.

      • Ah, very glad to be corrected. My apologies.

        Did you study in Tilburg or did you do something else? And did you learn Dutch?

      • I studied in Tilburg but strategically scheduled only 3 days of class so the rest of my time was spent travelling in Europe and throughout the Netherlands. I learned enough Dutch that I could understand conversations – being able to formulate quick responses and extend vocabulary was the hard part. Also, because almost every Dutch person I knew spoke English, when they heard my attempts at Dutch they would switch to English… so it was hard to find someone to practise with!

  17. I came in through the Lesley Carter blog as well, loved your post about Peru. This is interesting too, I got married nearly 1.5 years ago and my husband asks me from time to time whether i will change my name and I keep postponing it. Mainly because I just got a new passport a few months ago (I am German) and still haven’t corrected the mistake in my middle name. I figure correcting my name then changing it is too much hassle. But subconsciously, I have been struggling with the idea overall. My husband feels it should be my decision but made it clear that once we have children, it would be nice to all have the same name. I personally don’t care that much as I don’t think the name makes family ties. I do think it helps shape you though, and I am having a hard time letting go of that identity (even though I don’t particularly like my maiden name). We are now considering the following option very seriously: both of us take the partner’s name in addition to our own, so we both end of with a (possibly hyphenated) double name, and so will our children. This way we really compromise and come together as a couple.

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  19. I definitely know how you feel. I changed my name, it was something I wanted to do and I’m glad I had the choice. But the process was quite long and felt very very strange.

  20. I came from a childhood with three different names on the mailbox. Because of the identity crisis I was faced with as a child, I knew I would take my husbands name. We now have two children and one last name- and I take pride in that. We are represented as a unit- as a family…and it feels great.

  21. I was so conflicted. In most Latin American cultures the woman doesn’t change her name, ever. Instead the children carry on their family tree by becoming Joe DadLastName MomLastName, and the mother’s identity is never lost. My husband, however, isn’t from Latin America and really wanted me to change my name so that I had the same name as our children. He won, but there are still a ton of papers where I have my maiden name. Sometimes it just isn’t worth the hassle.

  22. I added my husband’s name to the end of my name, which makes my name extremely long. It wasn’t a hassle at all to change it. I thought about not changing it, but it makes things simpler to have the same last name. And I still have my maiden name if I want to use it, though I rarely do. My husband’s name is way easier to pronounce and spell! I think it’s a personal decision and whatever you choose is right for you. πŸ™‚

  23. I chose “the practice is sexist” (and I’m disappointed more people don’t think like me! Everybody should think like me! I need clones!!) but really, the point for me is that my name is my identity. It’s not a matter of being attached to it, it’s a matter of it being how people know me, how my degrees are written, and how I step into life every morning. Attachment hasn’t got the right connotations for me, and I do think of the name change thing as sexist, though I feel like I’m judging those who DO choose to change when I feel that way, so that isn’t EXACTLY it, because I DON’T care what others do, but then….

    sorry. my brain just exploded.

    Anyway, happy SITS day!!

  24. I don’t understand putting all this thought into the issue. There are people on here talking about giving up their identity when they change their name. Really? Your name change means changing who you are?! Y’all think to hard! Happy SITS day!

  25. You know what’s fascinating? I didn’t even really think about it before deciding to hyphenate. (Well, I got rid of the hyphen and I just have a space in between. I thought about that before I did it, haha!) But I still sign my name the same way that I did, without his last name. For a while he found it irksome that my signature hadn’t changed even though my name has legally. I think he’s over it now, though. It’s not about him anyway.

  26. I’ve changed my name…not my identity. I’m still the same girl I was when I had my maiden name. Okay, there have been a few changes but none had to do with my name.

    When I married the first time I changed my name. When I got divorced after only a year, I was so attached to my ex emotionally I didn’t want to return to my maiden name. Plus, I viewed it as a transition. I went from maiden name to my married name. If I went back to my maiden name and then re-married (I did) it would just be too confusing. I kept my married name and changed to my current last name when I remarried. It was no big deal to me. I like my current last name (Ulmanis) so whether I am this name or my maiden name, it works for me.

  27. Happy Sits Day! I too had a difficult time changing my name. For 26 years I was a Resendez and I didn’t particular like my husband’s last name Ferrell. I struggled with the choice. I didn’t want to lose my identity. Ultimately I changed my last name because at the core of me I’m an old fashioned girl. 5 years later any time I’m referred to as my maiden name it feels so weird!

  28. It felt weird to change my name because for so long, it had been “mine”. I did in the end.

  29. I liked the idea of changing my name to my husband’s. for me it wasn’t a question at all although his female cousins and even his aunties all made a point of asking me and making sure I was aware that I could keep my own name if I wanted. *L* Maybe they were trying to tell me something. Anyways, it doesn’t mean what it did before but it does make life simpler. When mailing out wedding invitations to his female cousin who kept her name, it was awkward.

    If we question keeping our name on marriage, then maybe we should question what our children’s last names become. Why should it automatically be the father’s last name? I know that’s a whole other topic. πŸ˜‰

    Happy SITS day!

  30. Stopping in from SITS and I’m so glad I found this post! I totally know where you’re coming from and I am not planning to change my name either, at least not right away. The basis of the practice is too important to overlook. It really just isn’t fair!

  31. Great look at the pros and cons of an old, old, super old practice. I haven’t changed my name yet, but I’m not particularly against it. That said, we have a toddler with dad’s last name, and a part of me would like to be a part of the clique πŸ™‚ I can understand why, at this point in your life, changing that part of yourself seems more like a loss than a gain. Really cool post, lady!

  32. I took my hubby’s last name but I left my maiden name and actually hyphenated my middle name. I didn’t want to get rid of my last name. I felt it was a huge part of me after being known as it for 25 years. My hubby was offended that I kept it. He couldn’t (and still can’t) give me a reason why. I took his last name and am known as it, but I kept my maiden name as part of my full name.

  33. I can relate, completely. It’s an irksome issue to me. Particularly because despite everything that feminism has ‘achieved’ folks still expect women to change their names to their husband’s names as a matter of course. People even refer to me as Mrs My Husband’s first and last name. Which is the absolute pits. Like I’m just his appendage now with no identity of my own.

    Well. I love my name. And I didn’t want to change it just because it was expected. And I didn’t want to deal with the hassle either. On top of that, it seemed like a bizarre practice to adhere to just for the sake of it. When we talked about it, my hubs loved his name too and kinda liked the idea of us all having the same name. We discussed various options- him changing his name to mine (no), my changing my name to his (no), making up a totally new surname (no), making up a name using both our names (no) and finally settled on both of us using our names together, hyphenated so the whole family would have the same (long ass) name. So, we both use the hyphenated name but neither of us legally changed our names (did I mention the hassle?) and our son has our hyphenated name. πŸ˜€ Phew.

  34. I couldn’t wait to change mine. Not because I didn’t like it – it was beautiful, but because I couldn’t wait to be connected to my husband that intimately. I had a friend who was happy to change his name to hers, but she wasn’t interested in that. Personally I think it would be awesome if you could both decide on one together and change to that – start a whole new line…

  35. I changed my name, it *was* a huge amount of hassle and paperwork, but at least now I have a name that people can spell! πŸ™‚

  36. Great post! I loved reading it.

    I never, ever thought I would change my name. I’ve read many feminist articles about how women’s names are transient (and therefore less important) than men’s. Men never even have to contemplate giving up their names. But then I married a man whose last name was changed when he was adopted by his stepfather as a child. Plus, I really disliked my birth surname. So I lightened up, and I’m happy to have his last name now. But I understand how attached you might be to your name, particularly because yours reflects your Dutchness. Isn’t feminism really about women making the best choices for themselves?

  37. I very much like your thoughts on this. I am so far from married, my current opinion is rather void. But from where I singlely stand, I’m not changing my last name for many of the reasons you just said.

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