September 12, 2011

The Little Missus

I've been giving some thought to weddings and marriage since this week I celebrate my eleventh wedding anniversary (I may even let Rob celebrate too). And then this post by Andrea Grimes got me thinking (and okay, a little bit defensive) about the long-held, and somewhat outdated tradition of women taking their husband's name when marrying. I made my decision a long time ago, and have occasionally felt twinges of guilt (as good, privileged liberals are wont to do) about the possibility of having done a disservice to the sisterhood. But then I remind myself, thanks to hard fought battles of the women who came before me, it was my own damn choice to make.

I am a third-wave feminist. I was raised Unitarian, by a single mother, and I majored in Anthropology. And I chose to take my husband’s last name when I got married.

In my defense, I got married at 22. I think it’s downright miraculous that I’ve stuck with any decision I made at 22, including my choice in husband. I often think about all the things I’d do differently if I had my wedding to do over again. I’d pick a different dress, possibly a different venue, and there’s no way in hell I’d do that damned garter toss again. But strangely enough, taking my husband’s name isn’t one of those things.

Given my background, I grew up knowing that taking my husband’s name when marrying was my choice to make. Since I was one of the first to get married among my friends, I didn’t even have a peer sample to compare. My mother, who’s been married three times (don’t tell her I told you that), has taken his name, been a hyphenate, and is now sporting her maiden name for good.

I don’t think Rob cared either way if I took his name. To be honest, I don’t recall ever asking him. If he’d had a definite opinion, I hope I would have at least listened politely. But even at 22, his opinion on this wouldn’t have carried much weight. It was always my decision to make.

Many factors went into my decision.

  • My parents divorced when I was a baby and I’ve never had a relationship with my father or his family, yet I carried his name for 22 years.

  • Maybe because of that, I was never particularly attached to the name. It wasn’t anything special, nor anything especially horrid.

  • It wasn't a difficult name to pronounce, yet people always seemed to stumble over it.

  • I am alive and vital and so very easy to find on the internet, regardless of what name you know me by.

  • There’s one benefit to getting married at 22: Before I became the internet sensation I am today, I was too young to have done anything especially noteworthy to give that name any added cache.

  • Having a uniquely spelled first name (silly as it is) was always my more memorable quality and I’ve always identified more with that.

  • Maybe if I’d had my last name changed to my mother’s family name when I was a kid, I would have felt differently.

  • I had and have a far stronger relationship with the family I married into, than the one who’s name I was born with.

I still worry sometimes (when I forget there are so many more important things to worry about) that some people will make incorrect assumptions about me and my values and background because of the fact that I carry my husband’s name. But never fear ladies, I didn’t lose my chance to fight the patriarchy. I just fought my own.

1 comment:

Schovillova said...

Well said Al. I loved your wedding and I even loved your choice of our harlett red dresses. But Texas in September? I was amazed by Kev's reaction when I mentioned keeping Herron and adding the Schoville. He was crushed. I was shocked. But I figured if he was willing to let me talk him into selling everything and moving to a post-communist country then the least I could do was drop my last name and I didn't miss it like I thought I would. I even got to add an'ova'.
You do not disappoint sister.