I’m needing something lighter to discuss today. Will you join me? I read this tweet last week and it made me chuckle.
At the same time I was laughing, I was also thinking: YES. This is so smart!!
I’ve said this for many, many years about married names: If the goal is equality and fairness, then choosing a new last name for the new family you are creating when you get married, is the option that makes the most sense.
In case it’s not clear, I’m saying it’s most fair and equal if you don’t choose the last name of one spouse, you don’t hyphenate, and you don’t keep separate names. Instead, you work together to choose a new last name that neither spouse has used before — the same way you’ll hopefully work together to choose a name for your child, should you ever choose to grow your family.
The reason I think it’s the most fair and equal is because you could choose a name that has no baggage for either of you and that doesn’t favor one family or another. You can think about what your hopes and dreams are for the new family you are creating and name it accordingly. You, your spouse, and your possible future kids can all share the same name as a unified team, without feeling forced to make what sometimes feels like a political statement. Well, at least until your kids get older and decide to choose a new name for the new family they want to create. : )
I’m aware this idea would make genealogy a total mess, and I’m not trying to stress you out my family history fans. I’m also aware that when I bring this idea up, very few people like it (hah!) — so you don’t need to fear it’s going to become popular. I’m just saying that if you’re trying to be objective about a family name, we would all avoid a lot of angst and drama if we worked with our spouse to choose a name we both love that doesn’t have an association with either of our birth families.
I should also note, this advice makes best sense if you and your spouse are both young and haven’t established professional names for yourself. Then again, I’ve seen professionals change their name mid-career with no ill-effects, so maybe it doesn’t really matter?
Tell me, Dear Readers. If you had to give your current immediate family a new name, right now, today, what would it be? What would you choose? And what about your kids? If they someday followed this idea and chose a new last name that had nothing to do with your last name or their spouse’s last name, would you be okay with that? Or does the idea make you uncomfortable?
P.S. — This idea for naming a family came to me not long after Olive (our 3rd child) was born, when we’d already been married for 6 years. Six years in I was still irritated at name-changing pressures and unquestioned social conventions and I wrote an essay about it. It was back before blogs and I had nowhere to share that essay. I wonder what became of it? I’m also wondering if I had thought of this idea before we married, would I have talked Ben Blair into it? Or at least tried to talk him into it?