Weddings and Names

So. Traditionally, when a woman gets married, she changes her surname in the UK. Not so much in France, where legally I gather you keep your birth surname come hell or high water, though you can choose to use your new husband's surname socially, if you feel like it.

I'm still undecided, and at some point, I'm going to have to make a decision, aren't I? Should I keep my current surname, or change it? The advantages of mine are that it's short, it's easy to spell out to French people, and I've had it for the last 25 or so years. The advantages of his are that it's Brand New And Exciting, and feels like I'm dressing up, in a costume of Wife. Also, it shows that we're properly married and all that, which is probably worth doing, after going to the effort of having a wedding. Downside is that it feels a bit like I'm stealing his family identity and, well, it feels a bit like dressing up as someone I'm not. Which is silly, I realise, but still true.

(For various reasons, not least The All-Seeing Google, those of you who know what his surname is, please don't mention it here. Let's keep this a discussion in the abstract.)

Women who are/have been married, did you change your surname? Why/why not? Men who are/have been married, did your wife change her surname? Why/why not? If you've not been married, do still feel free to share your thoughts - would you change your name/expect your wife to change her name? Why/why not?

Fran –   – (25 August 2010 at 11:41)  

Why don't you take hubby-to-be's surname on a personal basis, so then everyone in the places you need to inform know you are married, but on a professional basis, keep your own?! Best of both worlds - you can still retain your own professional identity and not infringe on his, while taking his for everyday life you can still write Mrs... Also, what are you going to write for your name if you don't take his surname, are you going to be a Miss, Ms of Mrs Hill? And what'll you do in French, Madame? Hmm...

Nicole  – (25 August 2010 at 14:28)  

French is easy, I'm Madame His-name, since that makes our life much, much easier here. The bank, particularly, had issues with us being unmarried (the Living In Sin concern was only half-joking) - I'm changing that as soon as the ink on the certificate is dry. I've been answering to a mix of Madame Hill and Madame His-name since we got here anyway; it's easier than correcting people, particularly people I won't see again.

Professionally, I think I might stay me - certainly with the side projects, like my jewellery and writing and all that crap. The Big Grown Up Job, I might change my name when I go back - it'll be easier to do it then, I think, and it lets them all know I've got married without me having to tell them, which is nice.

If I didn't change my name, I'd be Ms Hill, which is what I've been on forms since I hit 18 anyway... I can hedge it for a few months - it only really becomes an issue in the spring, when I need to renew my passport. By then I need to have worked out what I'm allowed to do in terms of legal paperwork in his name, and what I'm not. (If anyone has any ideas about this, do shout...) Then, secondarily, I can work out what I want to do - by then I might have got more used to the idea of being Mrs His-name. Maybe.

It's more complicated than I expected it to be. And I'm not sure why.

Heidemarie  – (25 August 2010 at 14:50)  

Why not Nicole Hill His Name? As a traditionalist, when I was married I took his name; when I was divorced I maintained it for a variety of reasons, but mostly because of the kids. Sure made it easier when they were in school. Although when my father had interactions with the schools and they called him "Mr. My ex-husband's name," he did get really pissed.

Nicole  – (25 August 2010 at 16:08)  

I don't know about double barrelled names. In principle, I like the idea - it's sane and sensible and simple. But when I actually imagine introducing myself as Nicole Hill His-name, well, I don't think I could do that without laughing at myself.

And, also, double barrelled names are somewhat of a class indicator in the UK - they tend to indicate either proper upper-class people, or those who aspire to it. Neither of which is me.

(This may, in fact, just all be in my head. But since I'm the one who has to introduce myself, it's my head that matters.)

Fran –   – (25 August 2010 at 19:23)  

You don't have to do a hyphened double barrelled as in Hill-His name, you could just tag his on the end so have Nicole Hill His name, so you retain yours and keep his at the same time, though on the majority of stuff, it just goes down as His name as your surname

Joe Hill  – (25 August 2010 at 23:46)  

Well, I suppose it should be mentioned that your mother took my surname when we married (hence you have it too), as indeed did the other two ladies I married. I know Stu's mum kept it after we divorced and I believe the first one did too! Of course, that was all normal here in the UK at the relevant times.

Not sure it would still be so normal, or perhaps it's just that the possibility of not taking it is a bit new.

From the point of convenience, I think His-Name is not very long either, though probably more difficult to spell out to a French person since they would perhaps have difficulty with the arrangement of consonants, which couldn't really occur in French.

I quite like the double barrelled solution myself! Without a hyphen of course.

PigletinFrance  – (26 August 2010 at 09:41)  

Nicole, I shared the same surname as you before I was married and three years later I'm still floating between Mrs Hill and Mrs His Name, and sometimes even Mrs Hill His Name. It depends. His name is harder to say and people always get me to repeat loads of times, it drives me mad. My Hubby wanted to be Mr Hill so it's not so much of an issue here in that I haven't officially taken his name yet. Although I too need to make a decision ref the passport. My bank details are now in His Name but Carte Vitale etc are still in my name. It all gets so confusing, especially when I make appointments, I can never remember what name I gave! Good luck in deciding :)

Post a Comment

Copyright Nicole Hill, 2009-2010

All photos and text are mine - ask me *before* you use them elsewhere. Don't just copy them and hope I won't notice, it's theft.

  © Blogger template Shush by 2009

Back to TOP