Why I Changed My Last Name
Changing My Name
I changed my last name after I got married and while it wasn’t necessarily a hard decision to make, both Jon and I put a lot of thought into it. Today, I’d like to share those thoughts with you, because whether you’ve also changed your last name or hope to do so one day, I think it’s important to know what it means, what it doesn’t mean, and have reasons for doing it aside from it being the typical societal norm.
For those of you reading this who have not, or don’t want to change your last names after getting married, I just want to say that I recognize there could be many reasons not to, some of which actually influenced the way I went about changing mine! But I want to challenge you to discern what is truly at the bottom of that and perhaps take my reasons to heart enough to consider it 🙂
Now let’s get right to it!
What Changing Your Name Means
1. Leaving one family and starting a new one
Changing my last name is a tangible and practical way to reflect the new union Jon and I have formed in marriage. It is a legal change that requires recognition of the fact that we have been joined as one. Of course, a marriage certificate does the same thing, regardless of whether the last names match or not, but the significance of having my last name match his is the representation of me cleaving from my family and clinging to Jon as we start our new one.
2. It recognizes your husband as the head of your new family
Me changing my last name to Jon’s recognizes him as the head of our family – and that structure is a Biblical one. *The feminists cringe* Allow me to elaborate. Ephesians 5:23 says that “the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church” – this parallel stems from the church being the bride of Christ. Therefore, with Jon as my husband, the head, me taking his name instead of vice versa, is not only fitting, but Biblical.
A third reason, and one that’s perhaps more-so my personal opinion than anything else, is that it’s one of the biggest ways I can show Jon respect. Foregoing the last name I was born into and grew up with, and taking on his, is respecting him. It’s taking on this new banner for the rest of my life, one that’s his, sharing it with him, and making it mine and ours.
What Changing Your Name Doesn’t Mean
1. It doesn’t change who you are
Changing my last name doesn’t change who I am or make me a different person. I’ve heard it said “I didn’t change to be a completely different person overnight – why would I change my name just like that?” My response to that is, I would hope it takes more than a different name to change an entire person. So that takes care of that. Secondly, names are indeed very important and have been valued for centuries as the word that identifies and oftentimes defines you, so I understand the weight of it. But I would say that’s all the more reason to change it than to not. While everyone is who they are for their whole lives, we change a lot during the course of our lives. Whether it be interests, hobbies, responsibilities, likes, or dislikes, we are constantly growing and changing. Yes, I am the same person I was ten years ago, and nothing will ever change that – but something has changed; I am now a married woman. And, spoiler alert – a lot of change is yet to come! None of these changes will alter who I am as a person; a daughter of the King, loved and most-cherished by the God of the universe.
2. It doesn’t dismiss who you are
Changing my last name also doesn’t dismiss who I was before I got married. I will say though, when your full name on paper doesn’t look like it used to, it definitely sets things in. Though I knew I always wanted to change my name when I got married, getting used to seeing, writing, and responding to a new last name is an adjustment. An exciting one for sure though! It’s an adjustment that doesn’t disregard who I’ve been up until this point, rather, it adds to it and builds upon who I’ve been.
3. It doesn’t mean you are less important
Jon is just as much a part of our new family as I am, so a very natural question could be “why doesn’t Jon change his last name to mine? Wouldn’t that also have the same significance?” Great question! 🙂 See reason #2 of What Changing Your Name Means above. No, it doesn’t make me less important, it doesn’t mean I don’t matter or that I’m easily dismissed. To me, it’s an honor to represent Jon and my’s union as husband and wife by changing my last name to his. I’m just as much one of the two people in this marriage as he is, so just because my name is the one that gets changed, doesn’t determine any level of value or importance.
What Changing My Name Means to Me, Personally
1. It respects and honors the family I came from
A few weeks before our wedding, my parents had asked if I was going to drop my last name completely or in some other way, keep it part of my full name. Jon and I were talking about this and though I had mixed thoughts, I hadn’t landed on a firm opinion yet. It was very much to my heart’s delight that Jon jumped in and said he thought it would be cool if I kept my maiden name in some way, but still took his last name as my own. He said this for a reason that those of you who know me well, will know warmed my heart. In a lot of ways, my last name connected me to my roots – my Brazilian heritage that I treasure so much and, keeping that, Jon said, would be a special way to still honor that part of me. *Cue puddle of mush*
2. It reflects my status as an adopted daughter of Christ
I recently learned that the cultural context behind Paul referencing adoption in Romans 8 is so much more significant that I ever understood it to be. In those Roman days, adoption was typically a wealthy person who did not have an heir of his own to pass his legacy on to, adopting an adult, usually one who used to be a slave. There was a ceremonial wiping away of this person’s past life, and they were given a completely new one. Now, track with me here because I’m talking about two different biblical analogies that I think strengthen each other – if we are adopted as sons and daughters of Christ, our old lives are washed away, we are given new lives, a new Father, and become heirs to His legacy AND we, as believers are the church and the church is the bride of Christ, who is the head of the church, how fitting is it that brides leave their old names behind and take on that of their bridegroom! I think, very fitting.
While I don’t know each individual situation you may be in, if you find yourself about to get married, maybe recently married, or even married for a while and still with your family name, my challenge to you is that you ponder why you haven’t changed or don’t plan on changing it. Is there an identity connected to that last name stronger than the one you’ve been given in Christ? Is there a fear of giving something up that’s been yours for your whole life? Maybe there’s a legitimate reason, and ultimately that’s a conversation I think each husband and wife should have with each other to come to a mutual consensus on. But if anything I said resonated with you and has challenged your perspective on this, I encourage you to take action on it 🙂 And share with me your perspective in the comments below – I’d love to hear your thoughts!