whatshername…

Posted on

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.P1010860

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.

Advertisements

43 thoughts on “whatshername…

    Francesca said:
    August 21, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    Congratulations Ella- The changing name thing doesn’t happen much in Europe. Are Australians clinging on to some archaic practice? I do no one bloke who changed his family name to his wife’s after getting married- he preferred hers.

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      August 21, 2015 at 7:38 pm

      The lingering attitudes are a hangover of adopting the husband’s surname upon marriage, I think, long traditional in Anglo Australia (my cultural frame of reference), but I believe there has been somewhat of a relaxation, and at least now preference rather than expectation drives it, by what I encounter among contemporary family, friends and in the workplace.
      I can see the sense in choosing the preferable name of either party… long ago I had a job compiling corporate directories, and encountered some surnames which were just awful.

      Liked by 1 person

        Francesca said:
        August 21, 2015 at 8:22 pm

        Yes, I came across a few in my teaching career too- really catastrophic names for that pr0fession.

        Liked by 1 person

    katechiconi said:
    August 21, 2015 at 7:01 pm

    For me it was equally simple. I liked his surname better than mine. Having spent 40-something years spelling my original surname having to spell his (inevitably) was no hardship. I’d spent years assuming I’d keep my name and Ms status if the unlikely event ever transpired. When it actually did, it never entered my mind to maintain the separation, I just jumped into the attachment of my entire life to his boots and all. No regrets…

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      August 21, 2015 at 7:47 pm

      No regrets are the best kind 🙂 Without the baggage of earlier unfortunate experiences I might have been more open to considering alternatives. In many cases it’s certainly simpler to share a surname.

      Liked by 1 person

    memoirsofahusk said:
    August 21, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    I don’t know where you’re from, Francesca, but in the British bit of Europe it does happen a lot! Very few young women seem to consider keeping ‘their own’ names. It’s something I wrote about a while ago and Kate I can understand changing names if yours is difficult or odd or not changing for the reverse reason (changing from nice ordinary Lawrence to source of a giggle Startup anyone? Two people I knew a long time ago.) But I do have a gap in my usually understanding nature for women who change their names for no good reason. I did write about it and hope Elladee will forgive me for putting the link in here? I just re-read it and still feel puzzled 😉 http://wp.me/p2vL4D-pr

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      August 21, 2015 at 8:25 pm

      Wonderful that you shared it, and ah yes, I remember that post and our discussion. Names and their associations have power. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I eschewed formally adopting Mrs Welsh… shoes to fill, and my own after all these years is just so much more comfortable.

      Liked by 1 person

    Leanne Cole said:
    August 21, 2015 at 7:27 pm

    Congratulations EllaDee, what splendid news. When I got married over 25 years ago when I asked my husband to be whether or not I should change my name he said it wasn’t his name and I should do what I want, the only condition he put was no hyphen, I chose either one or the other. I did change my name, but mainly because I thought his was better than mine, and mine meant my father who I hated, so it was good decision in the end.

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      August 21, 2015 at 8:35 pm

      Thank you 🙂 I enjoy the stories of things… how people ended up together, how they got their names. Sometimes a new name in some way lends its own magic.

      Like

    davidprosser said:
    August 21, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    Have a wonderful first anniversary.The name issue doesn’t affect your feelings for each other so should affect nothing else.Just be Happy.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      August 21, 2015 at 8:32 pm

      Thank you 🙂 I think by keeping our own names we’ve happily continued in our comfort zone built on long familiarity.

      Like

    roughseasinthemed said:
    August 21, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    Have a lovely anniversary. Ours (30) is Sunday. Weird our coincidental date similarities, incl GOs birthday.

    I’m firmly on the side of the no name changers. Th biggest opponent was my mother, who never, ever addressed anything to us in our separate surnames. She would just write first names. I suspect she thought the postal service would be gossiping about her daughter not really being married because she wasn’t Mrs Husband’s Last Name.

    Few English speaking women retain their surname. Few Spaniards/Gibbos change them. Different cultures. Certainly easier on the paperwork.

    Liked by 1 person

      EllaDee responded:
      August 21, 2015 at 8:47 pm

      How interesting… not having exposure to those cultures in situ as opposed to being transplanted to Australia’s currently prevailing Anglo culture, I hadn’t appreciated that. I’ve encountered aberrations but they’ve always been considered just that.

      Like

      EllaDee responded:
      August 21, 2015 at 8:52 pm

      Separately, Happy Anniversary. 30 years of married, relationship, cohabiting togetherness is truly a wonderful accomplishment, and I wish you many more years together and much happiness always 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    sara said:
    August 21, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    Now I like you even better than I did before :). What other name could you sensibly call yourself other than your own?
    I have always been attached to my names – I use both my father’s name and my mother’s name, and see them as part of my identity and history. To adopt someone else’s name for the sake of convenience, harmony or tradition seems ludicrous and somehow offensive to me. The Bear doesn’t like my logic but accepts it. As for children, my concession is that they have the Bear’s name, but if I had my way, children would be named after the mother. After all, the matrilineal line is the one we can be sure of, right?

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      August 22, 2015 at 7:36 am

      You make it seem quite reasonable but in both families I’m the only married female person retaining my given surname rather than adopting the husbandly surname, and this is my third shot at being married and doing so.
      I’m pleased the Bear respects both you and him enough to accept that your name is your choice, and that you reciprocated with equal respect and understanding. That’s what makes a relationship.
      The G.O.’s grandmother’s family line surname is derived from matrilineal naming because of 2 convict ancestors not legally allowed to marry. I doubt many of the later generations are aware of the origin of it unless they’ve researched their family history.
      It seems our society moved away from identifying with matrilineal kinship as Anglo etc cultures property followed patrilineal lines.
      It will be interesting to see where & how the trends evolve in future generations.

      Liked by 2 people

        sara said:
        August 22, 2015 at 2:27 pm

        Well yes, a patriarchal society doesn’t exactly favour matrilineal inheritance…
        My mother has kept her name, as did my step-mother…I suppose it seems normal to me. However, nearly all of my friends who are married have changed their name which kills me. One friend said she read an article that there was more harmony within marriages where there was one name, and on that piece of research, changed her name. Ffs.

        Like

          EllaDee responded:
          August 22, 2015 at 2:34 pm

          Yep… ffs! Harmony is important but how you achieve it is the thing.

          Liked by 1 person

          sara said:
          August 22, 2015 at 2:37 pm

          Harmony is not in a name, I know that much.

          Liked by 1 person

    Glenda said:
    August 22, 2015 at 12:47 am

    Ella, why don’t people ever consider the male should change his name? Historically women only changed their names to prove paternity of children. Grrrrr all this make me angry. Why don’t children bear the mother’s name, there is no question of maternity.

    Like

      memoirsofahusk said:
      August 22, 2015 at 2:46 am

      Our young central heating engineer changed his name to his wife’s – his own name being French he thought it would be easier to run a small business with her simple name!

      Like

        EllaDee responded:
        August 22, 2015 at 7:45 am

        Practical thinking, I like it, and he’s no more less him than I am less my mother’s daughter for having my father’s surname 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      EllaDee responded:
      August 22, 2015 at 7:44 am

      I don’t believe as a society that we can’t cope with identifying family units by means other than common surnames… surely by now except for cheesy stereotypical diehards we’ve come to accept the nuclear family isn’t the norm.
      Matrilineal naming makes sense to me, but so does having a conversation about it and making and respecting choices here and now rather than inherited social conditioning.
      The attitude of ‘let’s do things the way they’ve always been done’ is not doing our society and country any favours.

      Like

    ardysez said:
    August 22, 2015 at 7:52 am

    Very much enjoyed this post Dale. My name change was purely practical. I really liked my maiden name, which even though it was short I still had to spell, the same as I have to spell the married name, so no improvement there. When we married 32 years ago it was much easier for me to get a resident visa from the USA with a marriage certificate that had the same name as my husband, unenlightened as that sounds. We discussed it and so that is what we did. Other things we did were slightly less conventional and we’ve never regretted any of it. Have a really lovely anniversary. xx

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      August 22, 2015 at 8:24 am

      A recipe for success – reasoned, cooperative choice = no regrets 🙂
      Even now legal marriage and common names practically makes for easier navigation of bureaucracy. Conventional assumptions abound… With reference to my first name I’m commonly assumed to be Mr. Using my own surname it’s been assumed it’s the G.O.’s. Before we were legally married it was assumed we were. And that I/we would have children. And I’m sure if we did, it would be assumed we’d have another…
      And I’ve only barely stepped outside societal convention… I have much empathy for others who have done so and more for those who have ventured further than me.

      Liked by 1 person

    philosophermouseofthehedge said:
    August 22, 2015 at 11:18 am

    People are who they are comfortable being. Do names really matter after some point? Many people have their “formal legal names” and one they actually call themselves. Not really a new thing there.
    Maybe in older corners of the world where the strong traditions still hold, it might cause confusion or consternation. Maybe in schools where teachers have to deal with families are such a jumble or combinations.
    My mom refused to give me a middle name because “when girls marry they have to choose which name to give up” ( you only get to keep 3 – first, middle, and last – on legal documents or something at that time). Without a middle name, a girl was able to keep her family last name as part of her legal name after marriage if she wished.” So I was the odd kid when names where read out loud the first day of school “Mary No middle name Smith” Always got snickers.
    Congrats on knowing who you are and being just that.

    Liked by 1 person

      EllaDee responded:
      August 22, 2015 at 5:19 pm

      I hadn’t know about the 3 name thing, and I always thought Mary Jones Smith was just a nice way to retain family names. Very clever. And I say better no middle name that the horrible what-were-they-thinking ones some kids got lumbered with.
      As my years pass I have more patience for the right things, and less for those things that don’t matter…

      Liked by 1 person

    Cecilia Mary Gunther said:
    August 22, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    It has been a YEAR already? Merciful heavens – time flew! I have THREE surnames and an identity crisis. good for you! And also good for you letting people just assume what they assume – who cares anyway.. time is short! a rose is still a rose and all that.. c

    Liked by 1 person

      EllaDee responded:
      August 22, 2015 at 2:48 pm

      To the bemusement of many the G.O. and I refer to each other by our surnames, a habit too entrenched to change. We quite forget we’re married, life has gone on same same. I wear my wedding ring when it suits me just as I did before we were married. It took me ages to remember to refer to G.O. as ‘my husband’ instead of ‘my partner’ and it still feels pretentious like I’m mimicking the Queen… my husband & I!

      Liked by 1 person

    Lori said:
    August 23, 2015 at 7:20 am

    OMG, it’s a year already! Wow! Time sure flies when you’re blogging.

    I feel ya on the name-changing. I miss my maiden name. I considered not changing it way back in the olden days, when I married at age 22. I did hyphenate it for a while, but got tired of the world getting all confused over my name, and ended up using my husband’s.

    Happy Anniversary, Dale. Enjoy your brief getaway. Happy hugs to you both.

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      August 23, 2015 at 8:46 am

      Thank you. Hyphenating is clunky for me too, and it’s not a device I’ll be commonly using but occasionally it provides useful additional useful detail. I think the world in general, if not in pockets, has evolved to the point it can cope with a married couple having different surnames.

      Liked by 1 person

    diannegray said:
    August 24, 2015 at 7:11 am

    Wow – twelve months already? It has really flown. Congratulations my dear – have a wonderful time xxxx

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      August 24, 2015 at 7:39 am

      Thank you 🙂 Another year has flown, and without a public holiday long weekend to facilitate a break it was time to make one for ourselves.

      Liked by 1 person

    acflory said:
    August 24, 2015 at 10:49 pm

    Congratulations on your upcoming first wedding anniversary – a year already? doesn’t seem possible – and I wish I’d had the sense to do the same when I got married. After all the rigmarole, however, I decided an easy to spell name was something I might keep from the marriage [my maiden name has two ‘Z’s in it so….]

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      August 25, 2015 at 7:11 am

      Thank you. I thought surely 2 z’s numerologically are positive, so I looked it up
      “The Meaning of “Z” in Your Name
      You are naturally upbeat and charismatic. You always walk on the sunny side of the street, so to say, but also have high standards. You balance this out with common sense and understanding — compassion is a strong suit of yours. You are wise and quick to think on your feet, but be careful not to be impatient or impulsive. 🙂

      Like

        acflory said:
        August 25, 2015 at 8:23 am

        -grin- Hey, I rather like that, although I’m not too sure about the charismatic part. Sadly no one could ever pronounce my maiden name so at least I’ve gained that much from my married name. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    Gerlinde said:
    August 26, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    My first married name was great , I was Gerlinde Gable , easy to spell and no problem. After the divorce I took back my maiden name and nobody here in the U.S. could pronounce it correctly. When I married the second time I changed my name again. Even though it is difficult to spell it is the perfect name for me.

    Like

    Gerlinde said:
    August 26, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    Congratulations on your upcoming anniversary , has it been a year already?

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      August 31, 2015 at 8:08 pm

      Thank you. A year, and now almost week. Time flies 🙂

      Like

      EllaDee responded:
      August 31, 2015 at 8:13 pm

      G.G. was very elegant but being happy with your life, and name is more important even if it’s hard to spell, and even simple names require spelling out at times.

      Like

    Bill said:
    August 30, 2015 at 11:16 pm

    Wishing you, belatedly, a very happy anniversary. 🙂

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      August 31, 2015 at 8:07 pm

      Responding, belatedly, thank you 🙂

      Like

Comments are closed.