When the G.O. and I eloped last year, once we’d weathered the gamut of welcome congratulations and not-so-welcome “unflattering amazement” as Kate so aptly described it, the next assumption we dealt with, after reassuring my new mother-in-law the absence of a big to-do wedding wasn’t because I was pregnant, and I wasn’t planning on -at 48 and childless- becoming pregnant… was about what I should thereon be called.
The answer for me was easy. My name. The one my parents gave me in 1965. Twice in my life I changed it, and was sorry both times. The first time at age twenty I was trying to do as many of the correct newly-married things possible. The second time I was nearly thirty, knew my mind and should have known better. I did make a stand, hyphenating the old and new surnames to begin with before conceding to husbandly expectations, lingering societal norms and laziness.
Like a boomerang, my own name -the one my parents gave me in 1965- kept coming back. And this -third time lucky- I was determined to hang onto it. We sensibly discussed it early in the proceedings before settling on wedding plans, and the big day. The G.O. was unconcerned; we’d been referring to each other by our respective surnames for more than two decades. I was who I was. So long as he didn’t have to take my name. Okaaayy, I could live with that.
Married for the first and hopefully only time several months before us, for my younger sister changing her name was a rite of passage. She assumed I’d be just as keen. And was somewhat nonplussed while understanding its place in her marriage & children plans, I rejected the idea for myself. No small practical consideration being the amount of necessary paperwork I wished to circumvent also.
For our Dad it’s plain confusing. My sister’s married name is Wells, and mine if I used it would be Welsh. For our husbands, Dad uses the surnames interchangeably.
Next came well-meaning reminders, from certain recipients of the note the G.O. and I mailed out sharing the happy news of our marriage, prompting us to procure return address labels updated with Mr & Mrs to supersede those featuring both our names that had been -in their view injudiciously- applied to the backs of the envelopes.
Regardless, several items of congratulatory mail came addressed to the new Mr & Mrs, and continue to do so. No problem. I’m happy to be the other half of Mr & Mrs and it’s never occurred to me to direct people’s preferences one way or another. I have no issue with their naming protocol even if I don’t refer to myself as such, and remain Ms. by my own hand. Although the G.O. sometimes refers to me as “The Missus”. Which he did even before we were legally married.
Very occasionally, usually in the vicinity of Taylors Arm where the G.O.’s family name abounds, if there’s a form to be filled in or a name to be offered up I opportunistically hyphenate our last names to put me in a local context. I’m not above a double standard when it suits me.
Coming up to a year of married life with the G.O. nothing has changed. We simply “put a ring on it” and carried on with our lives. We’re no less married than we would be if I had adopted his surname.
“It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.” ~ W.C. Fields
Note: From mid next week I’ll be offline until early the following week, as we’re taking a few days away to celebrate our first wedding anniversary.