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What’s in a name? On marital status & keeping your last name

Obviously this is an issue that only applies (affects?) women because men don’t need to fret about taking the last name of their wife or not.

Why do we even need to know the marital status of a woman?

Also on that topic, men don’t need to ever announce their marital status on any records, they are always “Mr.” and yet women need to be classified into “Mrs.”, “Ms.” Or “Miss.”

Why?

Why does society today, need to know whether I’m married, a single older woman (I guess this is the Ms.) or a single younger woman or little girl (this is the Miss?) but we couldn’t care less about a man’s status?

My mother always insists people call her “Ms” instead of “Mrs” and I never understood why when I was young – I get it now. It is not what defines her, her marriage. She took my father’s last name but those were different times and she did in a sense, want to escape her old life.

I’d keep my own name, it’s been too long now….

Personally, if I ever formally got married, I’d keep my last name — I’ve more than earned my name.

Little Bun has his father’s last name out of convenience but his cousins, actually have their mother’s last names.

Both of them have their father’s last names as their second middle names, and then their mother’s last name is their last.. name.

I guess I could have given Little Bun my last name as his middle name as well but I couldn’t be bothered. He will earn and grow into his own name as well.


But what about your illegitimate child?

This is outdated thinking to me, but you’d be surprised how even my cousins, look down on me because I am not married. It’s like I couldn’t convince my partner to put a ring on it, so I am clearly not worthy enough to be considered his forever life partner.

Or I am ‘unwanted’, because apparently mistresses are the only ones who are unmarried (yeah I know, BIG EYE ROLL HERE because you know I am NOBODY’s mistress).

My mother used to tell me tactfully that it was so unconventional for me to not be married (A) and then (B) to have a child *gasp* out of wedlock, and for him to be illegitimate.

I laugh at illegitimate because it is ridiculous. Of course he is legit. He was born from my body and is a living, breathing little boy. How could anyone deny that he is not real?

I suspect my mother has even fudged a little to her relatives that I am indeed married, because I have been getting correspondence with my partner’s last name instead of my own. *shrug* Whatever. If it helps her stay on top and avoid questions, I don’t mind.

It hasn’t been an issue for me personally however, to be honest. I still don’t consider it a problem. I will only get married if I have to, like to get the papers for France.

The other aspect to consider is also that I live in Québec where basically all women keep their last names even when married. I blend right in with them.

No one assumes things or makes comments that it is “weird” my last name is different.

And they don’t care I am sure.

Note: In Québec it is not allowed for a woman to take the last name of her husband. Apparently it is a hassle administrative wise (especially if you then divorce)… so if you marry you must keep your maiden name.

What about changing your last name for racial reasons?

I also respect the thorny issue of women who take their husband’s last names either from the start or after they are married, because their own names are holding them back.

When you have a very ethnic last name, it should come as no surprise to anyone who does, that you are pre-judged and a bias appears when you are not perceived as Caucasian.

On the phone you may “sound white” (oh how I DETEST SAYING THAT but it is the only way I can say it to be clear), and get treated differently.

You may even have the chance to not be unfairly pre-judged because of it, because they may find out later that you are not Caucasian, and decide it doesn’t matter because you’re so great at your job (or whatever).

Thoughts? I’d like to hear from everyone, men & women!

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have paid my $600K home in cash (my half was $300K), my $180K casr in cash, worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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10 Comments

  1. Clara

    Slightly late to the party, but never mind! I conveniently circumvented this whole issue by getting a PhD, so I’m now Dr C. Lastname forever amen. And it is SO DARNED WONDERFUL. I always used Ms, because my marital status is the business of nobody except for me & partner, but I had no idea how annoying it was being confined to a gender-specific title until I didn’t have to use it any more.

    Re. keeping name after (hypothetical) marriage: my major publications are all under Dr C. Lastname. No-one is going to take that away from me. This preference has led to some amusing conversations, which usually go like this:

    Sexist male lawyer/doctor/investment banker/whatever: “Oh, but you could keep one name professionally and use the other name socially.”

    Dr. C. Lastname: “Of course! That’s a great idea – you should do the same with your fiancee’s name!”

    Whereupon Mr. Professional starts looking uncomfortable, because he’s been given a hard-hitting reminder that in some careers, “professionally” and “socially” can be hard to separate…and because he’s also just realised that he’s sassed a science PhD from an elite university. Whoops…!

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      AAAAAHHHHHHHHH I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is the best comment I have read so far. Good for you. I love that you’re challenging them as well.

      I should get a PhD and be called Dr. Just to have a title.

      Reply
  2. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life

    MS FOREVER because it’s none of their damn business whether I’m married or not. And add a gender neutral one for the people who are non-binary instead of forcing them to be Mr. or Ms.

    My favorite is my friend who changed his name to add his wife’s and she changed her name to add his name, so that’s an equal amount of work on both sides.

    I also hate calling it “maiden name” – from when we were considered property and valued for virginity and all that nonsense. (Wait, we still are.)

    An old friend going through a divorce advised me never to change my name on marriage because if you divorce it’ll be a lot of bitter work changing it back but really, I kept my birth name because it’s my name. If we both chose to combine to have a family name, I’d consider it but a name is not a family, so it’s not necessary.

    “Illegitimate” children – that issue is so not an issue in 2019! Whether or not you were married doesn’t negate the fact that you birthed him, or that he’s from you and your partner. So weird that anyone still cares about it. Seems like it now really just matters to Catholics and other religions that want you to follow their every rule.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I know right? TELL ME ABOUT IT. I just love my own name. It is me, and I cannot be called anything else. That’s just it.

      Reply
  3. Catherine

    I kept my maiden name (it’s who I am), and it’s “ethnic” sounding. Over the years, I’ve heard many of my girlfriends who have changed their last names comment that they are treated SO MUCH BETTER with a Caucasian last name. So, I have been tempted to re-evaluate my stance. But it doesn’t feel right, still.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Ugh. Racism is still alive and kicking.

      Reply
  4. Anda

    Where I live it is actually possible to choose a) to keep maiden name, b) to choose husbands name, c) to keep maiden name and add husbands name “maiden-husbands”, d) for both change the names to her-his or his-her, e) for husband to take wife’s name. The one rule though is, that you can’t have more than two names, if one already has two, no adding options. First three are most popular, last usually has some specific explanation, like rare name for wife or not-so-nice for husband.
    I did not want the double one, and my husband felt very strongly, that I should choose his. So I started from clean slate 😀
    Oh, for Miss, Mrs, Ms, I think it goes Ms if you don’t want to specify your marital status.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      In Canada that is the case, except in Quebec. You cannot change your last name, you have to keep your maiden name.

      In Ontario for instance you can do what you are mentioning I believe. I know my friends have both kept and also taken their husband’s last names, and I even heard of hyphenations of last names, and merging of last names as well.

      I want them to do away with the whole Miss, Mrs and leave it just as Ms. Ms and Mr. Erase the other two options, no one cares or should know what your status is.

      Reply
  5. Anne

    When I got married and moved to my husbands home country, I took his name because of studies according to which people with foreign names have difficulties getting employed here. The funny thing is that one of the first jobs I got had project funding that required a certain percentage of employees being immigrants, which certainly was one of the reasons they chose me.

    I had no special feelings about my family name, so it was not a big deal to change it. At least my new family name is easy for people to pronounce correctly.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I know friends who are thinking about taking their husband’s last names to have a more “Canadian” name. I find it interesting and do not judge them — it is hard to be pre-judged on the phone or in person because of your last name. It is racist, but unfortunately, a thing here

      Reply

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