Getting Married and Changing Your Name. No, the Other Name.
No topic in names has been more thoroughly examined and debated than whether a woman should change her name at marriage. But that conversation never seems to extend beyond the surname.
I recently encountered a woman who changed her entire name on her wedding day. She decided to take her husband's surname for a unified family identity, but then crafted herself a new first name at the same time. She built it out of pieces of her original first and last name for personal continuity, but took care to make it funkier and more eye-catching than the source material. (I don't want to invade this real individual's privacy, so let's pretend she was born "Joanne Starkey" and after marriage became "Joy-Star Farrar.")
It set me to wondering: why isn't this more common? Not necessarily the Lego-style creative name building, but simply the change of given name at marriage.
Even in this age of creative naming, adults rarely change their first names. Most of us are just too attached to them. At the age of 12 we may bristle at the names our parents chose, but by 25 we've usually grown into the names, or they to us. Yet a surprising number of people spend their whole lives hating their own names. Whenever the Name Lady writes a column relating to "namer's remorse" or strange names, she gets a flood of letters from adults -- many in their 60's, 70's and beyond -- who have never forgiven their parents for their terrible taste in names. But few seem to have given any consideration to a formal change.
Granted, changing your name is a hassle. So much paperwork! Depending on local laws, you may even face costly legal proceedings to make it official. Resistance from friends and family, including the parents who chose your original name, can be a factor too. And never underestimate the power of inertia. Plenty of people dream about a new name but never work up the urgency to make it a reality.
The one exception is at a change in marital status. Every state has a cheap and easy process for newlyweds to switch to a married surname. (For newlywed women, at least. The ease for men varies from state to state.) So a great many brides and a smattering of grooms do swap out surnames, then dive into a stack of licenses, credit cards, subscriptions and contracts to make sure everybody is on the same page. When professional reputations are at stake, a little PR campaign for colleagues and clients might even be required. Some go through this process after a divorce as well.
In other words, these folks take on all of the trouble and inconvenience of a name change, just for the surname. Surely, some of them must rank among the chronic name sufferers. Why do so few take advantage of this prime opportunity to revisit their first names, too?
Did you consider it? Do you know anyone who did?