I have a question for you – would you ever consider taking your partner’s last name?
I don’t think I have mentioned here yet that my partner and I are engaged. It’s really a cute story, and I just might share it with you someday! The wedding itself is a couple of years off, but I have been thinking about whether I will want to make a name change then.
My partner and I have had a few discussions about this and a number of choices have come up, which are as follows:
1. First, we could do nothing. Our names could just stay the same. My feeling about this, however, is that I want some marker of our marriage, something permanent that signifies our union to ourselves and to the world. When we marry, we will be forging a new family, and ideally our last names would reflect that.
2. The hyphen is another option, but our last names don’t necessarily have the best ring when put next to each other. Also, if we did the hyphen thing, our last name would be fourteen characters long. Unwieldy to say the least! Plus, whose name goes first in the line-up?
3. Then there’s the possibility of one of us taking the other’s last name. My partner even suggested that she could take mine and I could take hers so it would be equitable. Part of me thinks this is a wonderful idea, yet another part of me wants our surnames to be the same, to signify our unity as a couple and family. Someday when we have children this would probably also be helpful in terms of practical everyday issues, like school forms.
4. I’ve really been thinking heavily about taking my partner’s last name. I actually really want to, but I can’t pin down exactly why. I do want to be a part of her family, and taking her name would be a wonderful symbol of this. However, I’m wondering how much of my desire to take her last name is related to patriarchal brainwashing.
Last year, Portia de Rossi took Ellen’s last name and opened up a Pandora’s Box of debate. If the femme lesbian takes the more masculine/androgynous partner’s name, are they in some way succumbing to heteronormative pressures? If I take my partner’s last name, will it only further induce the ignorant assumption that she is “the man” in our relationship?
5. And finally, there’s Option Five, which is we make a new name for ourselves, either from some combination of our last names or just whatever the heck we want.
Just now as I was writing this, my partner said, “If we make up our own last name, I want it to be Tattoopierce. Or bmxgolfer. Like a screenname!”
“Yeah,” I responded. “Or sexylady69!”
“Can you imagine?” and we fell into a fit of laughter, as we continued to make up more and more ridiculous potential last names.
In all seriousness though, I honestly don’t know which of these options we will choose. I know this is a personal decision and I shouldn’t be concerned about what anyone else thinks. But I am interested in why I so strongly feel an urge to take her last name. Am I analyzing too much? I just don’t want to surrender to the patriarchal propaganda I’ve been fed all my life.
So what do you think? Would you ever consider taking your partner’s last name? Why or why not? Do any of the options I’ve laid out here fit for you, or some other choice that I haven’t thought of yet? Please, enlighten me in the comments!