The clerk at the Wake County Register of Deeds office showed my soon-to-be-husband and me the form we need to fill out if either of us wants to change our last name after the wedding.
“I’m looking at you here, sir,” she said, sounding very much like a flight attendant. A feminist flight attendant, perhaps.
My fiance, Ryan, won’t be taking my last name when we marry next month. Nor do I plan to take his.
I’m all about girl power and equal pay, but I can’t say my decision to keep my name is deeply rooted in feminism.
It’s just that it’s my name, and it has been for all my 33 years.
I colored in the bubbles to spell N-A-G-E-M on countless school tests. It’s the name that appears on my byline as a journalist. The name I signed when I adopted my hound dog from the animal shelter.
20% married women in recent years choosing to keep their maiden names
Plenty of other women are opting for their maiden names. About 20 percent of women married in recent years chose to keep their names, according to a Google Consumer Survey conducted by The Upshot, part of The New York Times. That’s up from 17 percent of women keeping their names after marrying for the first time in the 1970s.
Sociologists say women’s decision to keep their names isn’t so much about independence or feminism, according to The Upshot. The story quotes a woman who gave the same reason I did for keeping her name – because it’s her name.
Maybe it’s different for women who marry when they’re younger. Maybe some people hate their names or aren’t close with their families.
Whatever the reason, it’s a personal decision that every couple should make without worrying what other people think.
Ryan says he doesn’t care if I keep my name, and I believe him. That’s not to say, though, that I might not change my mind at some point. If we start a family, maybe I’ll want our child to take his name, and then perhaps I’d change mine to eliminate any confusion.
I’m not interested in hyphens, mostly because it seems like a lot of work every time I’d sign a form at the doctor’s office or introduce myself via email.
I like Ryan’s last name – Quick. The origin is unclear, at least to us. Ryan is black, and we suspect a long-ago Quick might have been a slave owner in South Carolina.
It’s his name, and I wouldn’t ask him to ditch it for mine.
I admit that keeping my name offers a sense of self. The idea of two becoming one always seemed a bit silly to me. I scoffed at the idea of a unity candle at the wedding ceremony.
I spent years wandering around without a clear idea of who the heck I was as an individual, and I worked hard to gain some clarity on the whole thing.
I discovered what makes me who I am – a fondness for cheap wine, a willingness to watch countless dog videos on the Internet, a desire to shut out the world sometimes and lose myself in a novel or a “Law & Order” marathon.
I certainly consider marriage a union, a team, a package deal. But I also still want to be me, the person I’ve been all along.
Hopefully even a better version of the person I’ve been all along.