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Changing names after marriage: Yes or no?

A single name expresses unity

Opinion by Amanda Blackman

Marriage is the ultimate act of commitment. It signifies the union of two people that want to spend eternity together. That’s not a flippant scenario. When making such a life-altering choice, changing last names signifies an understanding of the changes in life that are about to come.

Having one name signifies one unit. That’s what marriage is at its core: a union of two souls to become one. A single married couple is seen as one person. A single person can’t have two first names, just as a married couple shouldn’t have two last names. If a married couple is being treated like one unit and both people in the relationship have different names, a disconnect is created.

Changing last names signifies allegiance to a partner. That doesn’t mean that the bride needs to change her last name to the groom’s, or vice versa. While undeniably more women than men change their last names when getting married, the reason for that is due to cultural norms. There’s a growing trend of both the bride and groom changing their last names. Whether the couple decides to choose a name of their own or one taking the other’s name, name changing does not signify dominance of one partner over the other. Deciding which way to change names is a mutual decision for each couple.

When having children, which name would the kids take? If they take either of the parents’ different names, that would signify an allegiance to only one of the parents. If the parents decided to hyphenate their last names and make that their child’s name, then the child’s name wouldn’t even belong to the parents. Instead of having to decide which terrible route to go down, the process can be simplified by just keeping the entire family unit with one last name.

Having a uniform last name is a mutual decision by both parties involved to show allegiance to their partner. The only thing signified by different last names in a married couple is division.

People need individuality

Opinion by Olivia Couch

Marriage is supposed to be a joining of equal parties. In 2013, according to The Guardian, 50% of Americans thought that it should be legally required for both people to take the man’s last name in the case of marriage. If marriage is supposed to be a metaphor for a team, then why should one person in the relationship be forced to take the other’s name?

Having to take the same name is a serious decision and needs to be discussed by both parties. In a culture such as America’s, where people care so much about names and gripe about their barista spelling their name wrong or their customers pronouncing their name tag incorrectly, taking someone’s last name without pause seems counter-intuitive. Besides, some women have killer last names, such as the author of this piece. Who would want to give up a name like Couch?

Conversely, men don’t always want to give up their last names, either. After all, it’s the symbol of a family’s heritage. Neither person should have to give up a meaningful name that represents their family history.

And if that isn’t enough, the amount of paperwork to change one’s name is hefty, and if the marriage were not to work, there’s the paperwork to change the name back to what it was originally. All of that headache doesn’t seem worth it just to change a name.

Marriage is a huge commitment and is a lot like becoming a team. However, taking someone’s last name is old-fashioned and a silly way of showing that teamwork. Instead of taking someone’s last name, it’s important that people keep their own as a way to encourage the breaking of a contrived display of ownership. Teammates are great, but team members who keep their individuality while working toward the same goal are even better. And that is how marriage should be.

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