All the reasons I don’t want to change my last name now that I’m married
…and the one reason I will
1. It’s mine
I’ve never been the biggest fan of my surname. There’s not really anything wrong with it (not like that guy I knew whose surname was Raper, I kid you not).
You may have noticed that Holgate rhymes with a popular brand of toothpaste – something I now use to my advantage on the phone when I’m trying to spell my name. But in my younger years, kids would tease me with it, the little punks.
But even though I’m not the hugest fan of the name, it’s still mine. It comes with a story and a history. I have lived 33 years as Tess Holgate, and I’m not sure I’m ready to let that go.
2. Who is Tess Delbridge?
Seriously. That doesn’t even sound like me. In the two months since we got married, every time I have needed to say my name, I get to Tess De… and then kind of fade off into quiet. It’s WEIRD. It’s not me.
Let’s be honest: there are real questions about why the cultural norm is for women to take the man’s surname upon marriage, and whether it’s time for a shake-up.
I have been married over two months and haven’t even practiced a new signature. WEIRD.
3. My career
If you’re reading this, you know I’m a writer. It turns out there are a few people who know me as Tess Holgate, The Writer. People don’t know Tess Delbridge, The Writer.
Will people still read me? Will people still trust me? Will I be destroying the rapport that has been established over the last four years?
I believe in what I do. I believe it can make a difference. Will I be able to make less of a difference, at least for a while, if I change my name?
Will I need to start again as Tess Delbridge?
4. People might think I am just bowing to the patriarchy
In the current climate, it certainly seems like any woman who changes her name is not only betraying all womankind, but also bowing unthinkingly to an outdated status quo.
And let’s be honest: there are real questions about why the cultural norm is for women to take the man’s surname upon marriage, and whether it’s time for a shake-up.
My husband doesn’t own me. I am not his property; we belong to each other. But if this is true then it seems odd that my name would change while his would not.
I know next to nothing about marriage, but I am getting the sense that it’s only going to work if we are both willing to sacrifice things we want for the good of the other.
5. It just feels like a crazy amount of work
I have a list on my phone of all the documents, accounts and subscriptions that need to be updated with a new name. Currently there are more 30 places I need to notify, and I’m sure I have forgotten a bunch. AND, last year I got a new passport because my old one was about to expire, and now I’ll have to get ANOTHER new one.
Honestly, can I even be bothered?
It matters to me that my husband and I are observably one unit.
But … here’s why I’ve decided to do it
Astute readers will notice that the byline on this story is written by Tess Delbridge. Yep. That’s me. Here’s why I changed it:
It matters to me that my husband and I are observably one unit. It matters more than my career. It matters more than making a political statement. Should we choose to have children in the future, it matters to me that they should feel connected to both of us in this way.
It could easily have gone the other way, where my husband gave up his name and became a Holgate. Or we could both have hyphenated surnames (although Holgate-Delbridge does seem like way too many syllables). Or we could have meshed, and become Bridgegate. But that’s not what we have decided.
I worry that people will think that I’ve changed my name because it’s just what you’re meant to do. I don’t think that’s true, and it’s certainly not true for me.
I know next to nothing about marriage, but I am getting the sense that it’s only going to work if we are both willing to sacrifice things we want for the good of the other. I want to serve our family in this way, and it’s both scary and exciting.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to practise my new signature.