The Survey in Which All Married Women Naturally Have Many Different Opinions

Are you a married woman who'd be interested in answering some questions about your background and surname decision? The survey's over here:

As an overanalyzer and loving collector of All The Data, I naturally put together a survey to get the opinions of all my friends and family as soon as I came up with the idea to do this blog. All the married ladies, anyway. Don't worry, there will be SO many other surveys coming in the future, including those looking into the opinions of married men, unmarried people in general, and LGBTQIA folks (married or unmarried) in particular. 

Now, keep in mind that I'm completely untrained in the art of surveying (As always, this entire project is definitely a work in progress so constructive criticism is always welcome.). The answers I've received so far also came almost entirely from my friends and family, which lends itself to a bias since I'm naturally friends with and/or related to the best, most fabulous women ever.

That being said, I've received a ton of different thoughts and opinions from all over the map. I've heard so many different reasons women have for changing or not changing their names. These amazing women have at various turns delighted me, surprised me, shocked me with stories of their experiences, and really made me think.

Photo by Julochka on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license -

Photo by Julochka on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license -

Here's a selection of some of my favorite answers so far. Don't worry, there will be more to come!

On what influenced their decision: 

Religion, Spirituality or Change of Faith

"I am a practicing Roman Catholic. God calls us each by name according to my faith and therefore, I kept the name given to me first, middle and last at baptism."

"I read a lot (A LOT) of articles prior to my decision, spoke with people whom I respected who hadn't changed their own name, and dealt with a lot of backlash from my close family because it wasn't a "Christian" thing to do. I was raised religious, and am convinced it did a lot of damage to me, so I didn't want to consider that cycle of hurt in my life. I imagined myself signing my name "MyFirstName HisLastName" and just shuddered because it would have felt like giving up a part of me. I also chose to make my wedding as egalitarian and feminist as possible within reason (i.e. not wearing a veil over my face, having a female officiant, not having her say "who gives this woman away" to my dad, saying "You may now kiss each other" instead of "kiss the bride"). I didn't want to hyphenate because that was just another concession as a woman that my husband wouldn't have to make and would still make me feel like his property."

"I used to be Mormon, or LDS. It's an extremely conservative religion and feminism was a bad word. I felt a tug between what was expected (changing my name) and what I wanted (keeping my name). As I had a faith crisis and transition I became more feminist and more independent.

"I was raised a Christian, and while there was an expectation from non-Christian friends that I would change my name (simply due to societal conditioning), the expectation within the church that I would change my name was stronger, and I had many conversations with people where I had to strongly defend my decision."

Photo by Julochka on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license

Photo by Julochka on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license

Family Culture and Experiences

"My desire to keep my surname stems from my feminism, and that is my own family culture - I was raised a feminist, as was every other descendant of my maternal grandmother."

"My name change is ultimately based on what I wanted to do. My fiance would have been fine if I hadn't changed my name. I like the idea of the names matching purely because of the tradition to do so. Silly as it may be, I like the sound of Mr. and Mrs."

"My grandmother had a job and owned a business in a small town where that was not normal. A pastor preached a sermon that my uncle's polio was because she had a job. That background rather lets you know you can do what you believe is necessary and proper."

"I had somewhat of an identity crisis before I was married. My husband and I had been dating since 2007 (senior year of high school) and we knew in college that we wanted to get married once we both had stable jobs. We were engaged in 2013 while he was finishing law school. For a period of about 5 years I already felt like we were "married" because of our discussions and promises for the future. So taking my husband's surname was liberating for me because I had felt like we had already been married for a while. I also just really liked how my husband's surname sounded with my first name over my maiden name!"

Photo by julochka on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Photo by julochka on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

On The Practical Implications of Their Decision:

"My surname is much easier to spell and pronounce now and it's just more convenient on paperwork etc to have the same surname as my husband. It's made my life a lot easier in a practical sense."

"I received maybe a little judgment from some of my feminist friends, but changing my name hasn't kept me from having my own identity outside of being a wife."

"I am proud of keeping my name and surprised how few issues it creates. I expected challenges with international travel once we had children. It has been a breeze. Sometimes I joke, that if I were implicated in a crime ...then I would use my husband's last name. (He doesn't find that joke very funny!)"

"Changing my name hasn't affected my life, really. The only effect really is that my in-laws feel pleased and proud that I carry their name and my husband feels honored."

"There are some irritations when checking into a hotel room/rental car to remember who booked it (me or him) and what name it would be under. Sometimes it feels like I am lying "The name is ______. Oh you can't find it? Well, try ______ instead." Occasionally, on a holiday card or a place setting at a wedding -- they will put just his surname. I think that is more out of expediency/convenience as we both have really long surnames. There was one incident at a charity race, where I checked in for my race packet. Then I said, I wanted to pick up my husband's packet. The volunteer said - he's not registered. I got a little testy, because I had registered us both at the same time. She said, "Well, there is only one person with your name." I replied, "I decided to let him keep his own last name when we got married." She blushed and then found his race packet when I gave her his surname."

"I kept my first married name after we separated because I wanted the same last name as the children. It's less controversial at PTA meetings and doctor's offices to have to explain different last names. Just more simple and fewer people intrude. I.E. no one ever asks "Why did you take his name?" But seems like women have to constantly explain if they don't."