Someone on Twitter recently asked if a name change was in order after a divorce. I quickly gave my response, but it prompted me to think about how my views on this subject have changed so much though out the years.
I was 21 when I first married. I, of course, changed my name immediately. It was just something a girl did; it was like a right of passage. I remember back then (it really wasn’t that long ago), for a girl, getting married was like a sigh of relief. We made it. We were now part of some special elite club. We were married and every girl dreams of being like “us.” OK, maybe it was a long time ago. Anyway, I remember being somewhat sad about changing my name because it was my heritage; it meant something to me. My name represented where my families came from. Now, I had a new name. A name that inherited me. I became a part of something else, but only in name. My children would carry this name and mine would be lost forever. My name, just like my mother’s before me, was not to live on.
After 15 years, this name had become my new identity. Much like moving from childhood to adulthood, it just happens one day. After my divorce, I did not even think about changing my name back. This was the name my children carried and naturally, their mother should carry that same name. I believe there was a part of me too, that would have felt less their mother if I had changed it. We would no longer match. How would people know that they were my children? I just couldn’t be different from them. Even when I re-married years later, I did not change my name. My husband understood that it was important to me that I carry my children’s name and he felt the whole name-change thing was a silly tradition anyway. When my ex remarried, his wife changed her name immediately. I was angry with her at first. I felt she was a horrible mother for “abandoning” the name of her children and now people would believe SHE was MY children’s mother! I was the matriarchal lioness of this pride and I didn’t want anyone taking claim to my cubs!
I had to eventually swallow my pride and drop the ego. I was driving past a cemetery one afternoon. A cemetery that I have passed literally, thousands of times. A tombstone engraved with someone’s last name in large bold letters caught my eye. I suddenly had the realization that if I died, I would live on forever (on paper anyway) with my ex-husband’s last name. Now, I don’t even want to be buried or have a headstone, but this really mattered to me. I had an instant panic attack! There was NO WAY I was going to die with his name. I immediately started the process of changing my name.
Here is another reason, I did not change my name after my divorce…it is a PAIN IN THE ASS! However, I was determined, but what was I going to change it to? I really wanted to change my name back to my maiden name. Unfortunately, out of blue, my husband now had an issue with this. I really think he thought I wanted my maiden name back because I was thinking of divorcing him and didn’t want to have to go through the process again. I really wasn’t thinking about divorce at the time. I just had no attachment to his name and I really like MY name! I did have to agree that it would make things easier if we matched. So, to make my husband feel “secure” and to make travel plans simpler, I took his name. I am really pissed at myself for making that decision. Not because my marriage is teetering on divorce and not because I may have to go through this whole bloody process again, but because it is not what I wanted to do. I didn’t do it for the right reasons. Maybe someday my name will return to me. I hope it does.
Picture reference: My first name was given after a rose. Thanks Mom.
2 thoughts on “What’s in a name?”
I have thought about the name change and have come to the conclusion that i want to change it but have not yet been through the process. I was ambivalent at first but after a while the wanting a different name from him outweighed wanting the same name as the children (they are all young adults). I did not want to go back to my maiden name as I felt that I had grown from my childhood. I went through a year of trying to choose an alternative from ancestors or names that I like but none of them fitted because it simply was not me. After much contemplation I have decided to simply drop the surname/family name and I will be taking my second name (Elizabeth) as my surname. I am going to do it at the same time as our property settlement as everything needs changing over at that time (house ownerships, mortgages etc), and so it seems appropriate timing, rather than having to go through that process twice. There are some interesting stories about women changing their names or dropping their surname or keeping their names. Cher is an example who legally changed her name to simply Cher but had to fight for that right through the legal system. Margaret Sandra (from UK) dropped her surname and she wrote an article as to how that complicates forms and internet applications that insist on surnames. Nancy Ruth is a Canadian Senator who took her second name as her surname. On the other hand Agatha Christie and Tina Turner kept their married names after divorce because that was the name they had built their success on.
I really like that idea. For me, my name would sound like a porn star lol…no offense to porn stars! I have never really thought of that before and it sounds like a great idea!