Reasons Why I’m Not Changing My Name, Ranked


I’m married! Which means some of my acquaintances have mysteriously stopped calling me “Carolyn Homer” and started calling me variations on “Mrs. Carolyn Jones.”

My name has not changed.  It will not change.  I am “Carolyn Homer” for life.  I anticipate and will be amused by occasional mix-ups — but my name is my name.  Names matter.

Hopefully my decision is no longer viewed as a big deal.  But I’ve gotten a bit of pushback from more conservative/traditional corners, including from within the Church.  So for slightly whimsical explanatory sake, here are the reasons why I’m keeping my name, ranked.

15.  Jones is a boring last name.  It’s a Top 5 most common surname in America, held by millions.  I am not a boring person.

14.  I never want to be the target of a “keeping up with the Joneses” joke.  Ever.

13.  Homer is a distinctive last name.  It’s ranked as #5600 most common in America, held by only about 6,000 people.  Almost all Homers are related to me.  I love finding random fifth cousins in the wild.

12.  My husband and I couldn’t come up with an acceptable portmanteau to combine our names.  Jomer? Homes? Johomes?  They’re all terrible.

11.  “Carolyn Homer” has a better Google search footprint than “Carolyn Jones.”  I’m not a 1950s actress.

10.  Any time I hear “Mrs. Jones” I look around for the scandalous lady with whom Michael Buble is crooning about having an affair.

9.   I’m relatively professionally established in my career and forcing hundreds of people around me to switch my appellation (again) sounds tiresome.  Also, I work for a Muslim civil rights organization.  In Islam, women traditionally do not change their last names.

8.  Name-change paperwork is horrific.  I don’t have three full-time weeks to spare, devoted to tracking down and submitting all of the name change legal documentation requirements for government IDs, financial accounts, and airline frequent flier programs.

7.  I’m still fighting with Delta about changing my name from my last marriage, years ago.  To this day, I stumble across approximately one account under my prior name per month.  It’s driving me bonkers.  I’d rather not have three simultaneous legal identities.

6.  I appreciate having an easy way to rank my family and friends based on who respects me enough to call me by, you know, my actual name.

5.  As a socialite, I’m amused by the idea that people in my future wards and social circles will invariably call my husband “Mr. Homer.”

4.  I’m curious about how the Salesforce database used to track Church membership records will handle my marriage to a non-Mormon.  Problems with their name-change-software wizard are legion.  Will it try to auto-change my name and assign my Catholic spouse as the “head of household?”  Torturing a poor membership clerk for stupid Salt Lake programming decisions is precisely the sort of feminist fight I enjoy picking.

3.  Same goes for alumni databases.  I support full employment for name-and-address-programming-script writers and college data entry gigs.

2.  I love and respect my father.  I’ve always been a devoted daddy’s girl.  As I’ve gotten older, we’ve only grown closer.  I want to honor my dad by keeping his family name, which to me symbolizes nerdiness and a healthy disrespect for authority.

1. I refuse to subvert my identity to a man ever again.




  1. I like Holmes. Although it’s the 171st most popular surname

  2. Some questions.

    What’s the thought process down a couple generations?

    Is “your” last name just the last name of your father, not your mother? Is that more legitimate that someone else adopted their husband’s last name before you were born and now that one’s yours for life?

    So which name would theoretical children have? Hyphenated? What would their children have?

    It seems once you move beyond “it’s more convenient for me as an individual to do this” and consider multiple generations across society, it’s no longer convenient.

    I imagine someone creative has come up with a way to solve this “problem”, but that begs the question — why is reordering hundreds of millions of names moving forward the better solution than continuing what we’ve done?

  3. You have now convinced me to change BOTH of my names to Homer.

    –Homer Homer

  4. Came here to say “cue someone jumping in to tell you that your last name is your father’s last name so you still have a man’s name” but someone beat me to it. Clearly you should just keep doing what we’ve always done because it’s more convenient for everyone else and since you’re a woman what you want doesn’t really matter anyway.

  5. My last name is Hispanic, so keeping it was a matter of cultural identity and tradition. I also include my husband’s last name (also as the “creative solution” one poster suggests). It’s an absolute nightmare.

    Some places it’s hyphenated, others not. My driver’s license one time had all the letters squished together from both names into one mega-name. When I renewed it, they separated the two names without a hyphen, but they don’t have space for all the letters, so the last letter is left off of my license. I had to change my voter registration to match. The only ID I have since marrying years ago with my correct legal name is my passport.

    We decided to make it easy on our kids and just give them my husband’s last name. But it’s something that makes me sad. Our first big fight of our marriage was around my reticence to update my Facebook to my new longer married name. I didn’t want people to think it was just a middle name, and my husband’s feelings were hurt thinking I was rejecting his name. I changed it on the way to the reception.

    I hate feeling defensive of my choice and identity and having to constantly correct people. It took years for the church to finally get my membership records right, and leaders haven’t once said my full name over the pulpit (apparently those “lls” in the first half are just too difficult to figure out). I’m 85% sure my in-laws don’t know how to pronounce my name still.

    My name is important. My family fought hard to get it back after immigrating and losing it. They faced vocational and housing discrimination because of it. And I choose to live this life of constant confusion and frustration to honor it.

    Keep up the good fight.

  6. Sorry you ever had to listen to Michael Buble. The only true and living recording of that song was the original by Billy Paul.

    If only you had known, you could have changed your surnames to Paul. Or Billy.

  7. Kevin Barney says:

    16. Homer was one of the greatest poets to walk planet Earth.

  8. Your argument doesn’t hold water because you’re still subverting your identity to a man, your father! Maybe you should just go without a last name if taking a man’s name bothers you so much…just sayin’

  9. Meow. (That’s for Kitty.)

    About twenty years ago a Korean student family moved into our ward and I explained to the ward council that in their culture the woman doesn’t take her husband’s name, so he was Brother B– and she was Sister L–.

    Everyone gaped at me and finally the bishop said, “Are… are … they married?”

    And this was in an ostensibly educated, progressive area!

  10. To everyone who will quickly jump and say “jokes on you, you still have a man’s name,”it isn’t just another man’s name and it isn’t just her father’s name. It is HER name. I chose to keep my name when I married because I loved my name and it was and continued to be a part of my identity. Yes it was passed on to me by my father when I was born, but it was a name I chose as an adult. I found it so empowering to make that choice as a woman.

  11. Good for you!

  12. Exactly! It’s not about rejecting everything that comes from men, including the names we inherited from our fathers — it’s not that caustic. We also inherited DNA from our fathers, which we don’t reject, and if we’re lucky, we have fathers that gave us many important and formative experiences. They are, in part, what we are made of.

    It’s not a toxic us versus them thing. It’s a choice to be who we are AND to be in partnership with the men we love.

  13. Last Lemming says:

    I would think that the possibility of being mistaken for Morticia Addams would outweigh all other considerations–in favor of Jones.

  14. Olde Skool says:

    Re: #4: My non-Mormon spouse is listed as co-head-of-household with me, but the system has changed his name thusly: FirstMiddle Last Skool. That is, though he didn’t take my last name (and I didn’t take his), the system has given him my last name in order to file him SOMEWHERE.

  15. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    The only thing objectionable about Carolyn’s justifications for not changing her name is the very need to justify it. Of course, as evidenced by some of the comments, there will be many who feel like they are owed a justification. It’s not just that she will have to confront numerous institutional and social hurdles that continue to prop up this antiquated practice, she’ll also have to manage the reactions of those who can’t respect a perfectly reasonable decision. Good luck…with everything!

  16. My last name is tied with several others for the 20,076th most common, but i’m only related to like 12 other people with my last name (my grandfather was born with a different last name but didn’t know it until he was an adult, and my father only had sisters)

  17. ” why is reordering hundreds of millions of names moving forward the better solution than continuing what we’ve done?”
    Pretty sure the future generations have not yet been named, so why do they need to be reordered?

    While I appreciate people who kept family names for genealogical finding, it only helps in finding the patriarchal line. So long as there is some record of the connection to me, I could name my next child Mortimer Snerd and not trip up any future genealogists.

    Truly “being the same as everyone else” is a poor reason to keep anything, much less a name. My wife took my name cause she liked it better than hers. At some point I’ll change my name to something more obviously female, taking into consideration my mothers wishes if she ever expresses one.

    The name we give our children is based on whatever we feel at the time. If they want to change it, for whatever reason (anything from abuse to whim), that’s up to them. Parents only get the choice when the child can’t say for themselves.

  18. Technically, wouldn’t it still be subverting you’re identity to a man to keep your father’s name instead of your mother’s? And yet she probably got hers from her dad. #sigh #daddyissues #feministproblems

  19. Ugh, stupid autocorrect. *your, not you’re

  20. Ur sTiLl sUBveRtINg uR iDenTitY 2 a MaNs cuZ uR dAdS a mAnS

  21. Mr. Schmidt says:

    You know, I think we could all get pretty far along if we could just make our decisions and let others make theirs. Carolyn has obviously made hers, and is welcome to it. Others have made the opposite decision for themselves, or together with their spouses, and they are welcome to that. I struggle when people espousing their perspective are condescending to people of other persuasions. I find such a condescending tone in the comments here that mock Carolyn for her decision, as well as from Carolyn’s perspective in the original post.

  22. Although the list makes sense to me, for Carolyn Homer on the occasion of marrying a Jones, I want to add there are also thoughtful well considered reasons people change their names, in different circumstances and different times in their lives, not just about marriage. For myself, I would take the discussion in the direction of why we make it difficult and what we could do about it, in a world where identity is increasingly complex and important. (Voter registration, anyone?)

    Of course, suggesting there is any identity or role for a woman other than daughter and wife is radical in some circles. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints being one of them. But we know that discussion.

  23. the Other Brother Jones says:

    As a Jones, I can identify with #15. Although I know a surprisingly few Joneses outside of my family, Where are they?
    I disagree with #14. I tell people we are trying to make it easy for them to ‘keep up’. My lame excuse for slacking :)

  24. Just Sayin' says:

    Update this column when you’re divorced again in 5 years. With your attitude, this will never last.

  25. @christiankimball: totally agree. One thing I’ve learned in having variations on this discussion over the years is that names are deeply important, deeply meaningful things. And that the considerations each person makes are all equally valid. I support a culture where all men and women — and trans individuals! — are supported in thoughtfully considering individual and family names, in any configuration of embracing or rejecting culture they choose.

  26. Just Sayin’: don’t be a jerk.

  27. Sharing a different point of view that my feminist daughter adopted: She’s quite progressive but when she married and took her husbands last name it surprised me. I thought she’d hyphenate or keep her maiden name. She explained to me that her maiden name is still a man’s last name (her fathers’) and she wanted to signal that she was in a new family now, not her parent’s family. Also while her maiden name has a positive history, if she kept it she feared that her children losing their parents’ legacies. (If her kids hyphenate what becomes of the grandchildren’s last names, and so on). Either way someone loses part of their family identity – or potentially all of it with a brand new last name. That’s probably a good thing for some families.

    The logic dizzies the mind, but the point is that the answer is not straightforward and we must respect everybody’s name and decision – and that times are changing. I don’t think the OP would disagree with this conclusion.

    Best wishes in your marriage Carolyn.

  28. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    JKC: I would have used a four-letter word that rhymes with “stick.”

  29. Best wishes in the upcoming marriage. I can’t believe the number of folks who seem to have a problem with how you choose to self identify. Taking the last name of the spouse is a cultural/traditional norm, and neither a legal or moral requirement. I like your reasoning, but obviously there is still a lot of pushback out there. This quote about consequences from the original Ghostbusters seems appropriate

    Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!

    Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes…

    The dead rising from the grave!

    Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!

  30. Great list, Carolyn. Really, I’m surprised at how many commenters feel the need to push back on this. Especially ones like Just Sayin’. I don’t know if this is intentional, but it seems like they’re expressing a seriously negative view of marriage if they think the only way it can work is if it’s strictly hierarchical, with one person’s identity is completely subsumed to the other’s. (I’m not saying that this necessarily happens when a person changes their name when marrying, but the *insistence* on it sure looks rooted in a belief that hierarchy is *necessary*.)

  31. So hyphenate it. IF having ‘his’ name is important to you, but you don’t want to lose your autonomy nor be the butt of all those tired jokes you mentioned. OR keep “Homer” (a last name which I wouldn’t care to sport…Homer Simpson made that name disagreeable and the butt of its own unique set of jokes). Just be aware that IF you hyphenate it, you best get used to writing it, hyphenated, on every single piece of legal paper or documentation you might encounter. I was married for 18 years when my husband died. I’m still wandering around hyphenated, but oddly enough, HIS last name is the one I’m most widely known by. It’s what’s important to YOU that should count, not what you think society or some popular trend might ‘want’ you to do.

  32. The father of one of my violin students legally changed his last name to his wife’s last name when they married. His wife’s parents had two children – both daughters – and their family name was going to end. My friend saw how much this hurt his future in-laws so he offered to legally change his last name so their family name would continue. I thought this was a lovely gesture on his part he really wanted to honor his in-laws because he loved them so much. Everyone in both families was very supportive of the name change.

    It shows how much names matter. And how much love matters….

  33. Names matter. Identity matters.

    A lot of people don’t seem to understand how difficult it is, and how long the issues follow a woman when she changes her name. Passports, drivers licenses, provenance on your name. You have to carry documents with you to prove not only what your name is now, but *how* it became that. My name has changed via adoption as a child, marriage as a twenty-something, and then again after my divorce. It’s a massive headache and paper weight.

    When I got remarried, my husband wasn’t threatened by my identity, nor by the fact that I have an established identity with the family name I *chose* after my divorce. He loves me, and it mattered not to him that we might have different names. He rolls with it when he gets called Mr. McKay, and I generally roll with it when people at church call me his name.

    People who are shaming of the choices others make need to step back and shut up.

    And making insulting assumptions and then declarations about the state of anyone’s marriage is way over the line. “Just Sayin'” if you comment like that again, you’ll be banned from BCC.

  34. We solved this problem by not giving our daughters middle names. If/when they marry, their spouse’s surname is an addition to their name, not something that replaces.

    At the end of the day though, is this really so important that people are attacking the op and her marriage over it? It seems kind of… non-essential to salvation…?

  35. “Because I don’t want to” should be the only reason ever needed.

  36. ReTx, that actually doesn’t solve any problems. What if your daughters never marry or don’t want to take their spouse’s surname? Most of my female friends who weren’t given middle names for this reason resent their parent’s sexism.

  37. Kevin Barney says:

    My paternal great grandfather changed his surname from Stockfisch to Barney after immigrating to the U.S. West from Denmark in the late 1800s. So my Barney name only goes back three generations, and but for that change I would be Kevin Stockfisch!

    Barney is considered a “funny” name in the culture, which isn’t ideal when one is growing up. Kids will tease about names; for my dad it was Barney Google, for me it was Barney Rubble, for my son it was Barney the Dinosaur (poor kid got the worst of the lot!).

    My wife took my name. I don’t think either of us gave it the least bit of thought; that was just what one did back then. At the time (38 years ago!) I suspect I would have been offended if she did not want to take my name; today of course that’s a more common thing and would be perfectly fine with me.

    In fact, if I knew then what I know now, I might have considered taking her name. (“Lothson,” a cool Swedish name). Her family is now my family, and I would be proud to carry that name. (But if my father were alive when I did such a thing, it would have killed him, especially since our family name has only a short history and is therefore so tenuous and subject to dying out.)

    Then again, I’m not sure I would want to subject myself to the very extensive hassles of formally changing my name. I’m probably too lazy to deal with that much bureaucracy.

  38. Kevin Barney says:

    Unfortunately, we’re not exactly sure what the name “Homer” means. One school of thought is that homeros means a “hostage” (in the sense of a surety or pledge). Another is that homeros is a Cumaen word for typhlos, i.e. “blind,” or that the verb homereuo is the Ionic equivalent of hegoumai “guide the blind.” There are other theories; we’re just not sure which is right.

  39. ReTx, I realize it is your choice and you aren’t the only ones who choose that, but I have always felt that girls who aren’t given a middle name are given a message that they aren’t a full person unless they marry because they don’t have a full name until/unless they marry. Plus, I do not see how your way solves the problem of she either changes her last name or she doesn’t change her last name. You simply gave her fewer options for which middle name to put on her passport.

  40. Aussie Mormon says:

    Toad: You just hyphenate for a few generations, then decide that your German ties don’t look good to the British public and change your surname to match the castle you live in.

  41. Personally, I kind of like Jomer.

  42. I changed mine to my husbands and I like having one surname as a family, but I kind of wish we used my maiden name. I married at 20, so I didn’t even think of an alternative. I just kind of hate my married name, it’s so incredibly common that it causes headaches always. Sometimes google anonymity is a blessing though.

  43. Also, sometimes last names aren’t that old. My Father in law’s last name is only 2 generations old as his father took his step father’s last name as an adult. That man’s father also took his step father’s name. So I am stuck with a super common last name that literally has nothing to do with anyone’s heritage, but I still had to do the expected lady thing and take my husband’s 2 generation old last name. It didn’t really tick me off until I was naming kids and trying and failing to get them into databases that weren’t duplicates with their last name,

  44. ReTx, Not giving girls middle names has to die. My inlaws did this, one daughter never married, and the other didn’t take her husband’s last name. Both are forever 2 names. I know plenty of men and women who use 4 names. I am one of them. Both of my husband’s sisters had to make up fake middle names for Doctors and databases and school in order to be differenciated. Females are full people and deserve as much naming consideration at birth as males do.

    It also ticks me off when boys are given heritage names as first or middle and their sisters are named something that just looks cute, as if only males need heritage to pass on. If you are just using cute names for their brothers, by all means use cute names for the girls too- just make sure it’s equal.

  45. Sister Homer and Brother Jones, best wishes on your recent marriage. I wish you all possible happiness.

  46. wreddyornot50,345,235.580 says:

    I don’t know what Adam and Eve were thinking. Uninspired? They could’ve made it all so simple: Adam1, then Adam2, then Eve1, Adam3, Eve2, etc., etc. When Adam3 married Eve10 and had kids, it was just a matter of everybody up and down the generations keeping track of the next unused numbers. Family, friends, and even we ourselves call us anyway a nickname or a mock-name, and often various ones for say a single Adam54,235,345,057. They’re closer to our identities or at least how we’re seen. So we have our official name: Adam54,235,345,057 and our wife has hers: Eve55,335,435,052, but our nicknames are all Fun or Good or Terrible or Awful. Or not.

    There now. Fixed. Genealogy done. Clerks everywhere celebrate.

    Great post, Carolyn, you’ve-hit-a Homer. More ways than one.

  47. My parents didn’t give me or my sisters a middle name. I was annoyed by it when I was young because I hated my first name and wanted to go by a different name. I never thought I didn’t have a “full” name, and it never occurred to me that my parents were being sexist in thinking I would keep my father’s name as a middle name. I took my husband’s family name when we married because he had dreamed of the day when there would be a “Mrs. His Last Name,” and I didn’t really care one way or the other. It amuses me now to sign my name using my maiden name initial, just like a General Authority. I don’t remember it being particularly difficult to change it on my official documents, but I only had a Social Security card and a driver’s license. I can see how a name change after divorce would be a headache. I’m really amazed at how many people get upset about people choices about their name after marriage or divorce. Live and let live!

  48. I spent almost 10 years as a membership clerk, so I had the keys to changing names, and I would always double-check with members who got married, to make sure that the temple had accurately recorded their name. About half didn’t like the automated name change format (first name, middle name, husband’s surname, with the maiden name completely dropped). About half had considered not changing their name at all, but did, and about 10% didn’t change their name.

  49. The Captain says:

    I didn’t realize that neither of my kids (one girl, one boy) are full people because they don’t have middle names. I grew up middle-nameless and actually enjoyed being different. But as a subhuman I guess I probably can’t tell the difference… :)

    I will take comfort in the knowledge that, at least until they grimly recognize the humanity I have denied them, my kids can feel smug about the strong simplicity of their names in contrast to the florid vulgarity of their peers.

  50. I love my maiden name. It’s weird and really uncommon. My married name is so, so common. I didn’t want to change it, but my now-husband was so crestfallen when I told him that I caved. Half my life later, I still wish I hadn’t changed it.

  51. I was one of those girls who wasn’t given a middle name because “I can just use my maiden name as a middle name after I get married” I’ve felt like I missed out on something my whole life. All my friends had middle names and I wanted one desperately. I do resent my parents a little because of it.
    As it turns out, I don’t really care for my maiden name so don’t use it legally. I also don’t really care for my husbands last name, so I use it sparingly. My first name is the only name I identify with. I wonder if church member records has an option for just one name?
    I was 20 when I married and changing everything took about an afternoon. I have since been employed in the finance world and my advice to women who are at all established in life with accounts and careers and degrees and whatever else is collected legally in life is do not change your name. There is so. much. paperwork to fill out.
    If I could ever talk my husband into it (I can’t, I’ve tried), I’d like to have a made up last name. One with at least three syllables.

  52. I didn’t take my husband’s name legally or at work, because (a) I like my name, (b) I’m from a different culture/ethnicity than my husband and my name reflects that (and like Carolyn’s name, everyone who has this last name is related; there’s a lot of history with this name), (c) I have professional papers published under my name, and (d) I’m sooooo lazy that even if the other reasons didn’t exist, I’d still have kept my name because I can’t be bothered to change it. But I don’t really care if people call me Mrs. or Sister Husband-Last-Name, and I usually introduce myself as that in social situations, and that’s how I show up in the ward directory. My kids have my name as their middle name. I rather enjoy having the freedom to use both my name (legally) and my husband’s name (unofficially).

  53. As to what to do about the children when a couple doesn’t change to the same names: we picked a last name for our son that we liked out of our family histories, and voila, now everyone’s got a unique last name. Gotta keep things interesting for future genealogists, after all.

  54. Geoff - Aus says:

    I have 4 daughters with interesting names. My next brother has 2 sons. When my brothers sons had their first children, my father who was in his 80s at the time, told my wife they were his first real grandchildren, because they carried his name. Our 12 grandchildren don’t count because they don’t carry his name. His real grandchildren don’t live in the same country.
    Names used to count much more

  55. I choose not to says:

    I choose not to go by a name.

    I choose not to is the only reason that should ever be given.

    Except, this dumb website insists on me having a name. So I have to give myself a name in express contradiction to how I identify my humanity.

    You can see where some of this logic goes.

    Not pushing back against the original poster. She can do whatever she wants and she is. Since she’s putting her feelings out there, which directly contradict the feelings of others, she’s inviting discussion and push back. That is as it should be in a free society where we believe the exchange of ideas leads to growth.

    The thing about pruning a tree and watering it – sometimes the tree suffers and weeds grow up around it. The tree gets stronger though.

    Stop freaking out people if someone posts a reply you don’t like.

  56. For all those people who feel incomplete because they don’t have a middle name: just sit down with George Washington and John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and Abraham Lincoln and you can all have a good cry together. Think of poor Alexander, conqueror of a huge portion of the ancient world, who suffered through life without anything more than one name, unless you consider “the” to be his middle name and “great” his last.

    Instead of moping because you don’t have a middle name, or gloating because you’re better off than Alexander the Great, why don’t you just make up a name. Who’s to stop you? Or you could go all English and get three or four middle names. But, like Juliet’s rose, you’ll smell just the same no matter what you choose.

  57. I’m with the OP right until that last comment. Number 1 seems awfully judgmental of women who choose to change their name.

  58. We gave our daughter two middle names, because names are awesome and we get to name our kids whatever we want. Figure if and when she gets married, she can add her spouse’s name to hers, or replace one or more of her names, or otherwise do whatever she wants because she is a person who will be able to make her own decisions about her identity.

  59. The Captain and Mark B.
    My issue isn’t not giving kids a middle name. My issue is giving sons 3 names and daughters 2. If one gives their sons just a first and last name, and does the same for their daughters, it doesn’t send the same message. Or giving sons middle names after grandfathers, and ignoring female ancestors completely with daughters.

    I use my maiden name as a second middle and it gives me no hassle. Except on church records where they insist on using my middle name instead of maiden, which is not my preference when only one can be used. I don’t really feel slighted, I am sure it was some membership clerk who decided that for me 15 years ago and it’s still my name.

  60. Also, Having 2 names was probably fine for John Adams before databases and credit reports became a thing. Now it would be a nightmare to find his info. My relative has someone with the exact first and last name she does, both don’t have a middle name working in the same company right now and it’s a bit of a nightmare.

  61. To Mark B.
    “Instead of moping because you don’t have a middle name, or gloating because you’re better off than Alexander the Great, why don’t you just make up a name. Who’s to stop you? Or you could go all English and get three or four middle names.”

    Because, just like renovating a house, it’s so much easier if it was just done the right way in the beginning.

  62. Laura I-don't-know-my-last-name says:

    4.5 years into my marriage, I’m still not sure what my last name is. My parents/siblings call me “Laura [husband’s last name]”. My husband’s family calls me “Laura [dad’s last name]”. To be fair, I’ve never taken a firm stance, but that’s mostly due to SO MUCH PRESSURE to change my name (my family) / to not change my name (his family). They’re both impossible to spell / pronounce, so it really doesn’t make a big difference to me.

    So now I’m a weird hybrid… one name on DL, the other on SS and passport; socially, I use them interchangeably depending on my mood. And I try not to take it personally that both sides of the family vehemently shift ownership of me onto the other side…I do think they like me otherwise ;-).

    (Note on middle names: I had a mission companion whose parents didn’t give her a middle name. She invented her own middle name in middle school — “Dot,” for the way she had to fill in standardized forms — and *loved* that it was a name she’d gotten to choose for herself. Everyone’s different with that.)

  63. Laura IDKMLN,

    Internet anonymity is sacred, and I don’t want to jeopardize that, but I think I might know your mission companion, in which case you would have served a mission with my wife. If you don’t mind me asking, what general region was your mission?

  64. Laura I-don't-know-my-last-name says:


    She was an MTC companion who served on the coast of southwest Europe (I was stateside). She’s a wonderful person — I hope you do know her!

  65. I changed my last name to my wife’s last name, via the courts because gay marriage wasn’t legally recognized in my jurisdiction at the time. I did it because it would help folks who don’t approve of gay marriage still assume we were family, and I wanted the little bit of protection that would provide us when in Utah. I wish that wasn’t the reason, but it was.

  66. Just a comment on the ward clerk issues. Name change is quite easy. Although some clerks may push back, you can have it changed for any reason. I just remembered that a sister said last Sunday that she goes by a different name now. I just changed it for her.
    Also, you can have just a single preferred name on church records. You may be able to change that without the clerk being involved.

  67. My wife never changed her name either, mostly because of reason #8 and the fact that I didn’t care one way or the other. We thought unless there are some tax benefits or something, why do all the paperwork? At church though, it would appear that she takes my last name by default, regardless of legalities. We just roll with it.

  68. EnglishTeacher says:

    I’m in this position. I was glad to keep my last name as a middle name when I married, but it didn’t feel like a choice I’d made. It felt like my parents made it for me.

  69. Exactly “EnglishTeacher”! I was amazed at how many girls I knew who were told by their parents that they didn’t “need” a middle name because when they got married….Seemed so offensive to me as a kid to say that. Like they weren’t worth the effort of coming up with a middle name for. One set of sisters in my ward were so upset about the lack of a middle name This was the days of preppy clothing and lack of a middle initial made monograms a nightmare :-) They finally all picked their own middle initial to use on sweaters, etc.

    I did end up choosing to use my maiden name as my middle name upon marriage, but that was to give my horrible middle name the boot :-) Why not give daughters a full name and let them decide how to shuffle things, or not when they are adults?

  70. #5 not always funny.

    In Japan in the 1970’s, a man changed his name to the name of his new wife under some circumstances. I dated this beautiful Japanese girl. She was the oldest daughter and had no brothers. It was her responsibility to carry on the family name and with it went the primary responsibility to care for her parents when they got old.This was not left to chance.

    This was serious enough that her father called me on the phone from Japan, not easy or cheap then. He made it clear that when or if we married, I would be changing my name to Umemoto. He didn’t ask me, he told me. He expected nothing less than a humble yes sir.

    No, that is not the reason we didn’t marry. She dumped me for other reasons.

  71. I have always assumed that the last name was the name of the Y chromosome. As such it could follow the male line. (assuming strict monogamy and faithfulness, of course). The other system of patronymic for the men and matronymic for women. but that is a mess for record keeping.

    I remarried 11 years ago and my wife kept her name. Every so often, especially when she makes hotel reservations, I am addressed as Mr. C… I think I would be ungracious to complain, but I do not feel like that person after so many years as Mr. SVbob.

  72. Jon Miranda says:

    Feminists not wanting to submit. Family life is all about submission parents submit to children children submit to parents wife submits to husband husband submits to wife. Those who choose not to submit will probably be separate and single forever and ever and ever. Eternity is an awful long time.

  73. It’s good that my wifes parents gave her a middle name, because she was very happy to scrub her parents last name from her identity. She would not have gone for using her parents last name as a middle name.
    So Carolyn, if not “the Joneses”, how do you want others to refer to your new household? I really like referring to one name for the household name.

  74. Oh, come on, you can come up with something original that would suit you both. How about Morph or Glomph or Trump?

  75. Jon Miranda
    If her husband cares, then he can submit to using Homer. I don’t think a name matters that much in the grand scheme of things for marital harmony. I am sure they sacrifice all kinds of things for each other.
    In genealogy, we all revert back to our birth names anyway.
    I can’t tell you the headache geneology is before middle names became a thing. I am working on some welsh lines, trying to figure out which John and Elizabeth Jones parented which Sarah Jones and which Sarah Jones out of like 5 belongs with the family. I wish middle names were a thing longer! It’s impossible to be truly sure.

  76. Aussie Mormon says:

    I had something similar. In the BD&M there were two of the same first and last name, in the same area, in the same birth quarter year, and I think they had the same middle initial too. Luckily we knew the middle name, and so we could get the right birth certificate (to get parental information), otherwise my multi-great grandmother would have lost a branch of descendants, and after the sealings were done some other random person would have a lot more that they didn’t know about.

  77. Why should one change the name? I can’t understand the logic.

  78. Jon Miranda says:

    Apparently you don’t understand exaltation and family life after this life.

  79. Over 40 years ago I married and kept my name. Many, many jokes were made at Church by people who were uncomfortable with someone actually thinking for herself and making her own decision. But what I remember is being privately approached by sister’s at Church who told me how much they missed their maiden names and how they wished they still had them.

  80. Jon Miranda, perhaps the issue here is respect for each other’s agency.

  81. Jon Miranda
    With all due respect, no one really understands it. Will surnames really matter in the afterlife? That is news to me. Plenty of cultures don’t have changing your surname upon marriage as a thing. Caring what someone does with their last name is straining at gnats.

  82. Aussie Mormon says:

    Chile is a good example of the surname rules that Mormom refers to.

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