August 16, 2004

The Name Game

By this time two weeks from now I'll be married. You'll all finally be able to call me by my married name, Mr. Gordon.

Actually, the name game is something L and I have spoken about a lot recently, mostly because at this stage in our pre-wedding process it's the one question we hear more than any other. (Now that everyone knows most of the wedding details, I guess it's one of the few unknowns left.)

For now we've decided not to decide, since without kids in the picture we don't really see much of a reason to make any changes. We're both trying to make a name for ourselves in our chosen professions and changing who people have know us as doesn't seem like the right thing to do right now. And anyway, we've been who we are for over 30 years. Why make any change at all?

I won't go in to too long a rant about changing one's name, as with less than two weeks to go I still have a ton to do and can more easily articulate stories about burning CDs, printing programs and getting my tux altered. But for an excellent article on this subject, check out this piece on by Lynn Harris.

We have thought about hyphenating and have some friends and relatives who chose that as an option. It works for them, but even they would admit that it can lead to some problems down the road. What happens when Joseph Smith-Jones marries Mary Johnson-Stevens? Do they then become Joseph and Mary Smith-Jones-Johnson-Stevens? And what about the generation after that? In about a generation or two we'll need extra wide phone books.

Some people combine their names, creating a new name altogether. But somehow this feels like an even worse solution than having just one person make the switch. When Laura Bush and John Kerry become Laura and John Berry, instead of losing the sense of history behind one surname, they lose all of it.

Gordon, my last name, is a damn good one. The only problem is that L's last name is a damn good one, too. This would all be a whole lot easier if her last name were Lipschitz or something similarly change-worthy.

Woven throughout all this, I admit, is a fundamentally sexist thread. At no time have I ever considered that I would change my name. I may be a liberal groom, but on this issue I am staunchly conservative.

We have, however, agreed on one modern twist to this whole name issue: after the wedding, L will switch from her maiden AOL to a new email address.

Posted by The Groom at August 16, 2004 09:45 AM

Great topic. Every time there is something just the bride "should" do to get married, fiance and I imagine what it would be like for just the groom to do it. This came up when looking at wedding announcements in the paper where only the bride was pictured. If we do an announcement, we want both of us in the pic, since we both got married (duh, right?). Being told that this is "just not done" by my southern mother, we imagined how funny a pic of just the groom would be. Just finace in a tux by himself in the paper. This is how I feel about the name thing too. A man showing up at work and needing to remind everyone "It's Mr. HACKNEY people, not Rosenblatz" is just kinda funny.

I like the idea of doing nothing for the time being. Worry about officially being The Gordons later.

Posted by: silverqueen at August 16, 2004 10:30 AM

I see nothing wrong with keeping your own names. You aren't changing the people who you are right?

What you name the kids, should you have them, is where it really needs to be sorted out. There is something to be said for carrying on the western tradition of taking the father's name but even that can be questioned.

Posted by: ellison at August 16, 2004 10:49 AM

I have friends who married a few years ago and the husband took his new wifes name. We never questioned it though. If you last name was Bumcrot would you really want to keep it?

Much less subject someone else to it?

Posted by: christina at August 16, 2004 12:09 PM

In Spanish-speaking countries, children always take compound surnames featuring a surname from each parent. Only the first surname (usually the father's) is passed on to a child. A married name may be optionally tacked on as "de (insert surname here)". E.g., Julio Ramos-Fonseca, with his wife Anita Garcia-Flores de Ramos. Women get to keep their maiden surnames.

Posted by: Gwen at August 16, 2004 12:36 PM

I would've totally considered taking my wife's name if I hadn't wanted to cling as desperately as possible to whatever name recognition I had cobbled together in my writing career. It would have been a delightful way to screw with people's expectations, but ah well.

Posted by: Francis at August 16, 2004 07:19 PM

The final decision about name changing is up to you guys, but if you take a email we won't be able to IM anymore. BOOOOOO

Posted by: MOB at August 20, 2004 04:35 PM