The nuptials are impending and soon I must choose a moniker. Or not.
My fiance and I are in the middle of 'Simpson VS Froude: The 2012 surname showdown' ahead of our wedding this July.
Do I give up my surname and take his when we get married? Name and sense of identity are often intertwined.
Changing your surname or family name to that of your husband's is generally the tradition for women in the UK when they get married. It does denote a historical gender hierarchy between men and women but discussions over whether to change names or not happen within gay partnerships too. These can become especially 'heated' when a couple plans to have children.
I've certainly read plenty of comments and articles by married women who have kept their own name/their partner changed/they both hyphenated, but in practise the majority of people I know have chosen to give up their surname in favour of his and most I speak to are expecting me to do the same.
I have already decided I shall be Ms not Mrs because I always have been and agree with the French stance that it's unnecessary to constantly state whether or not someone is married.
A friend told me she was taught as a child that 'Ms' directly translated as 'divorced', I never learned that when I was a kid but if that is the case it's a completely outdated term, we should be well past a time of constantly making mention of women's marital status - widowed, single, co-habiting, married, divorced, separated, blahblahblah - perhaps necessary for insurance forms not necessary for filling in a magazine subscription or booking a taxi or a million other things. Men don't have to continually establish their marital status and we shouldn't either.
For those in defence of 'Mrs' - fair enough, it's completely up to you what you call yourself, I'm just saying that people who don't need to know shouldn't insist I tell them.
The most common reason the women I know have cited as their reason for changing their name to their husbands has been that they want their children to have the same name. I understand the principle of a family united under one banner (Stark, Lannister, Baretheon, Greyjoy, Targaryen...) but surely he could change his name just as easily? Seemingly this is where tradition/habit takes over.
The next reason is that they don't like their own surname and prefer his. OK, but why wait to get married to change it? In Scotland you can call yourself whatever you like and the paper work involved in changing to a married name is no less than that of deed poll action. Plus then you could choose whatever name you like... Princess Consuela Banana-Hammock...
For some it is a romantic gesture displaying affection for your partner and the casting off of an old life for a new one. This is also a nice idea but I've been with my partner for 10 years, our life married will not be so very different I imagine (I'm willing to wait and see on that one of course). Often living together is the biggest change, but we already do, so I think if/when we have kids would be the game changer. And that's a whole other discussion.
So I seem to be falling on the no change side - but why do I still feel so conflicted? Is it the expectation of society or do I just think Froude might be cooler than Simpson? (We've thought of Frimpson, which I'm coming round to but he really isn't). Plus Froude is much rarer than Simpson which is a point in its favour because everyone loves an underdog. He's very fond of Froude and not keen to change his name.
Of course your family name isn't the name which defines your place within a family - you are daughter, sister, mother, cousin, aunt, grandmother, niece (or in a non-traditional family you can be the no less important friend) and to my partner I will continue to be his best friend, therapist, lover, care-giver, head chef, holiday/party planner and financial advisor but all under the new headline of 'wife'.
For now at least I'll stay a Simpson because that's who I am (plus I don't want to have to change my passport pre-honeymoon).
Ultimately if I know who I am then my husband will too, name change or no name change.
Follow Rachael Simpson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/simpsonrc