Over the past six months, I've played 20 questions more than I've wanted to about my lack of martial name change. These are the top 10 things married women, who kept their maiden name, are sick of hearing. I'm sharing these with you to start a discussion on how we see people and how we can build each other up. Also, some of the conversations are just made-for-Modern-Family funny.
1."Do you plan to get divorced?" If I was planning to get divorced, I would not go through the hassle of getting married (a wedding is a pain in the butt). My sarcastic side has started answering "yes" to this question to be entertained by the ensuing social experiment. My husband also didn't change his name, and somehow he hasn't been asked this.
2."Guess you aren't going to have kids." My favorite place I heard this one was while shopping in a carpet store with my husband. All of my patience was needed so that I wouldn't leap over the table and shake some sense into the sales lady who was taking down our contact info. As a carpet saleswomen, does it matter if I do or don't want to have kids? Is that part of the intake sheet? How many square feet, room layout, carpet style, pets, and how fertile are you? Now I know kids tend to spill on carpets, but red wine stains just as much as grape jelly. Plus, red wine seems to be in alliance with gravity to only drop in the middle of the white carpet floor. Even if this woman had known me for more than three minutes, it would still not be okay to make an assumption on someone's family planning. Let's keep in mind that making assumptions about family planning can be particular harsh to hear for people who have suffered fertility problems, miscarriage and who have lost a child. Oct. 15 is pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day, and what may seem like simple "small talk" can actually stir up intense emotions.
3."Are his parents okay with that?" I actually heard this one on my wedding day, to which I asked in disbelief why it mattered. I fully believe that marriage unites families, not just the individuals. I would hate to offend anyone by not sharing their name, but at the same time, I choose my husband (and his family) because I could be myself around them.
4."Oh, I guess I just really loved my husband so I took his name." I told you my name, I didn't question if you loved your husband or not -- but thanks for questioning me. I'm not the type to judge women on if they keep their name or not, nor do I need his name to prove anything. Amal Clooney, no matter what you call yourself, here's to a happy partnership.
5."I guess that's okay these days" In 1931, Amelia Earhart married and made headlines because she kept her maiden name. I'd like to think that Americans have made some progress since 1931, but apparently we haven't yet "these days".
6."You're one of those types of women." I'm always confused by this one. A work colleague told me this last week and I had no idea what he meant. When I asked him, he apparently didn't know what he meant either (or he decided to finally just be quiet, hint: one cannot get in trouble for being quiet). Maybe this is a compliment in disguise. Yes, I'm a strong, independent women who values herself, is that what you mean?
7."Maybe you'll change your name someday." Anything is possible, but it's not up for debate while I'm renewing my car registration at the DMV. I know your dream as a child was probably not to be behind the desk at the DMV, but I didn't walk up to your work station and judge you on that choice. It's honestly more likely that I'll be like Phoebe Buffay from Friends and change my name to something like "Princess Consuela Banana Hammock" (but not her fiancé's Mike's "Crap Bag" name idea).
8."But socially you'll go by your husband's name, right?" Socially if someone calls me Mrs. Husband's Name, sure I'll gladly turn around and respond. But will I introduce myself as someone I am not? No. It's a real struggle to remain authentic to oneself in society, so I cannot pretend to be something I'm not. If I wanted people to refer to me by my husband's name, I would have taken his name. It's not like we're in a secret marriage. We both wear wedding bands and we introduce each other as "my husband/wife".
9."Your career isn't that name-centric for you to keep your maiden name." Yeah, as an engineer would I loose clients if I changed my name? Not likely. Would I gain clients if I changed my name? No way. Yet people always want to talk about how my career affects my decision to keep my name, meanwhile I didn't consult my career when I decided to get married or how I spend my weekends.
10."But how will people know you're married?" I'm coming up on my 10 year high school reunion and I was told by someone close to me, "Oh, you should socially go by his name so that people know you got married." This implies that as a married person I accomplished more than my single peers, and is simply another form of single shaming women. How will I know if my male classmates are married? Why is marital status something women have to publicly display for a first impression?