DEAR JANE: I am REFUSING to take my husband’s name after marriage because I think it’s sexist – he says it means I don’t love him

Photo of author
Written By Maya Cantina
  • In her latest agony aunt column, best-selling author Jane Green offers some sage advice to a woman whose marriage has been thrown into turmoil 
  • She also gives guidance to a reader who has found herself with no adult friends
  • Do you have a question for Jane? Email dearjane@mailonline.com or ask it below 
  • READ MORE: I discovered something horrifying in my boyfriend’s laptop 

Dear Jane,

I have been married for six months now – and thus far it’s been a bit of an up and down experience thanks to an unforeseen hiccup between myself and my new husband. 

Before our wedding we had all of those ‘big’ discussions that everyone advises you you should have – shared finances, kids, political affiliations… all of that stuff. But we left one topic completely undiscussed, I think largely because neither of us thought it would be an issue: name changing.

As silly as it might sound, I’m incredibly fond of my name, and feel as though I’ve worked hard to make that name matter in my industry – so when people asked whether I’d be changing it, my immediate response was always ‘no’. Which is exactly what I told my husband when he asked a few days after the wedding. 

The thing is, rather than ‘if’, he asked ‘when’… which made my response somewhat awkward as you might imagine.

In the weeks that have followed, the subject has become more and more of an issue in our relationship. Turns out, my husband believes resolutely that a woman should take her partner’s name after marriage – an idea that I think is so outdated and frankly a bit sexist.

But to him, my refusal to change my name apparently means I don’t love him enough?

Several friends have told me to just give in, that a name isn’t worth putting my relationship at risk over, and that I can just continue to use my maiden name professionally. 

Which… I get. To an extent. But I can’t help but think that if we just brush this issue under the rug, I’m not really doing myself or my marriage any favors?

What do you think I should do?

From,

Newlywed Upset

Dear Newlywed Upset,

The practice of changing names goes back to a time when women were, quite literally, considered ‘chattel property’, or the ‘personal property’ of men. In those days, women had very few rights, and were prohibited from owning property, or having control over their personal finances. 

Remarkably, this was the case until the early 20th Century, but happily we’ve come a long way since then. Unlike generations before ours, we women enjoy full and equal rights, and don’t have belong to anyone in order leave our parents’ houses and establish an independent life of our own.

Whether they are bowing to or embracing age-old tradition, many women choose to take their husband’s family name often as a show of their love and commitment, and/or to share the same last name as their future children. 

International best-selling author Jane Green offers sage advice on DailyMail.com readers' most burning issues in her Dear Jane agony aunt column

International best-selling author Jane Green offers sage advice on DailyMail.com readers’ most burning issues in her Dear Jane agony aunt column

For many, if not most, it’s a no-brainer, and something they happily do. Interestingly, as an aside, in some cultures, it is the men who take the family names of their wives.

The bottom-line here is that this is a personal choice for women. Meeting and marrying, especially when we are older, can make taking a husband’s name more complicated. 

While hindsight is a wonderful thing, and this could have been something you both discussed along with that prescient list of topics you so carefully explored before taking the plunge, I imagine you had no idea how hurt he would be at the prospect of you continuing your life with the name you have always had.

According to a Pew Research survey, eight out of ten women still take their husband’s name, while five per cent hyphenate their name to incorporate both, and others still change their name legally while maintaining their maiden name professionally (which I did, and have some misgivings about, given how much confusion it causes at times).

I love my husband very much, and adore being his wife, and took his family name reflexively in celebration of our sharing our lives together as a married couple. And, I later realized that my personal and professional identity was more important to me than I had thought. 

So, while legally I have his family name, I happily remain Jane Green to most.

For you, your name is an important part of your identity, and only you can choose what to do with it. You might consider pouring yourself and your husband a drink, slipping into something cozy, and curling up with him, telling how much you love him, love the couple that you are, and share why keeping your name is so important to you. 

You can assure him this has nothing to do with your love for him, and perhaps dig a little deeper to explore why he thinks this is the case. If your relationship is as good as it otherwise sounds, I suspect you’ll find a way forward that honors the wishes and needs of you both.

Dear Jane,

My whole life I’ve been a bit of a loner. I moved around a lot as a kid, never really had a ‘home base’ and as a result never really formed a core friendship group when I was younger.

To be honest I’m pretty good at spending time by myself and I don’t mind being alone at all, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that making friends is a life skill that I should at least have tried and tested over the years? 

The thing is, I have no idea how to do it. And ironically, I have no friends to ask. I can’t bear the thought of asking people at work how to make friends (can you imagine the looks and the whispers), and my family would just turn it into some ‘project’ that would involve every single relative sending suggestions for people I should hang out with.

Where on earth do I even start? Tracking people down on the internet seems strange but – much like dating – is there any other way?

From,

Clueless Loner

Dear Clueless Loner,

I applaud you for writing in to this column to ask this question. I’m also really glad you enjoy your own company and are fine being alone – it’s a rare gift that shows real comfort in your skin, and will assuage loneliness as you get older.

Dear Jane’s Sunday service

It often feels that we are our own little celebrities in our heads, with our fan followings on Instagram, but online is where we communicate, not where we connect. 

Human connections can only happen when we step out into the world, when we are willing to be honest, and vulnerable, and open, and those connections can bring us more joy than anything else.

Advertisement

But as you may be starting to realize, the real joy and beauty of life comes through human connection. Finding people who share the same views, or humor, or delight you with different opinions, is the glue that helps to keep us healthy and sane.

If you don’t have hobbies or interests, now’s the time to pick some up. Most public libraries have classes where you can find others with similar interests, as do community colleges. Acts of service will always find you good people – volunteering at local organisations will throw you into a busy mix.

Go to a class or workshop with an open heart and mind, a friendly attitude, and people will want to talk to you. And remember to smile! 

Some of my best and most beloved friendships have started with me complimenting someone – they’re wearing a coat I love, or they have a great haircut. That has led to a lively conversation, and suggestions of grabbing tea sometime. 

Cultivating warmth and curiosity is a great start. When you see someone who looks interesting, tell them. Ask questions. Most people love talking about themselves, particularly to someone who genuinely wants to know more.

The internet may not be your first choice, but it is a good one. Just as there are dating sites, there are now friendship sites, catering to people, many of whom I suspect are just like you. A couple of suggestions are friendmatch.com and friendshipmatchmaker.com. 

There is also an app that comes highly recommended called Friended – it’s a social platform that is specifically designed to not only meet friends, but to boost your own confidence while doing so.

Curiosity, kindness and warmth will draw people to you, with true friendships the next logical step. Not everyone will become a friend, but we only need a few. Wishing you much joy and fun on your quest!

ᴀʀᴛɪᴄʟᴇ ꜱᴏᴜʀᴄᴇ

Leave a Comment

data data data data data data data data data data data data data