So you haven’t changed your last name yet?
Why have you kept both your surnames?
Everyone considers these questions as their birth right to ask a lady who has been recently married and mind you this does not apply to Indians alone!
I have all along wondered why it is such a talked about issue. It’s my name and it’s my personal choice. Today a lady can retain her maiden name, and there aren’t any legal hassles. All that she should have is the marriage certificate as a proof of her marriage to her husband. Her name is a matter of her personal choice. Yet we are to accept it as a norm. The norm that is easily accepted is to simply take up your husband’s name right away.
Why exactly? I don’t see the husbands changing their name to their wives’ name! (Have I turned on the feminists, one more point to debate about?) I don’t even want people to do that, that’s being foolishly extreme, but surely the girl must have a choice in retaining her maiden name, keeping both surnames or changing over completely to her husband’s name. That choice should be hers and hers alone. It’s her name and identity we are dealing with. We talk of educating the women, giving them liberty and yet when she chooses to retain her maiden name or keep both surnames, it is often met with raised eyebrows. And raised eyebrows are not only from the older generation but from your own friends and peers. Your own generation! (In fact I have found it easier to convince the elders than my peers)
I find it increasingly funny when I hear justifications that no one from any side in both families has done it before. Well that is not a reason for me to not do it :-)
I have simply thought about it on a few lines:
- For most of us it’s our parents who are responsible for what we turn out. We do owe them a lot. Tell me how can one suddenly stop identifying as somebody’s daughter simply because she has become someone’s wife? They are the ones who give you your identity, so what is the need to drop their identity from one’s name.
- To look at it practically and logically, the name change process can be quite a pain. These days most girls get married after they have been working for sometime. This means that their bank accounts, initial investments, correspondences, documents like passport, credit cards, etc all are in their maiden name. Imagine the pain one has to go through to communicate to all of them about the change in name. (Surprisingly the men don’t seem to go through this hassle when they get married!) So the ideal situation would be to not change the maiden name at all and continue as is.
- But then when you are a mix of traditional values and rebellious streak, the two-surname choice is a more lucrative one. I love both of them, my parents and my husband. I have to have them both in my identity. They after all are important in defining me :-)
- It is definitely easier to relate to the old and new identities if both names are retained. For e.g: I’d relate to 'Miss Maya Ray' as 'Mrs Maya Ray Sen' much better than only 'Mrs Maya Sen.'
- By keeping both names the lady depicts the union of two families forever
What I hate is the safe universal assumption that the lady getting married will change her name to her husband’s. I can choose to call myself Princess Consuela (But I’m no Pheobe and I won’t go to those extremes) instead , it’s my choice after all. Earlier I tried giving everyone my point of view but I now see it as a fruitless exercise and I’ve come back to telling myself the same thing. It’s my name and I decide what I do with it. No more questions asked, no explanations given.
Surprisingly the one person who should have raised some concern is completely okay with whatever I choose :-) Ah the wonders of having an understanding friend in a hubby!