There’s a commercial playing on the radio right now where a woman’s voice says, (and I’m paraphrasing so I don’t get sued), “I just got engaged! I’m so happy! I wonder if I should change my name?”
I’m sure if I did massive amounts of research, I could list the social reasons some women in some cultures change their last names to match their husband’s, but that wouldn’t be my point of this blog.
I, personally, am a huge fan of marriage. I’ve known people who have had marriages end in less than pleasant experiences. It breaks my heart. After all, when you get married to someone, there is a huge amount of trust required. If a marriage ends, for any number of reasons, I’m sure there is a pretty powerful feeling of betrayal.
It may be oversimplifying things when I state that in order for a marriage to work, both people involved have to be 100% committed. That means a lot of compromise. Sometimes people see some of the compromises as surrendering their freedom, or giving up things they don’t want to part with. I get that. But I also think that what is gained from a successful marriage significantly outweighs any perceived losses.
As I stated before, it takes two people to make it work. I’ve seen friends that try and try and try to keep a marriage alive, but the other person, by either action or inaction, make that impossible.
When I worked in banking, I often helped couples who had just gotten married with their accounts. On many occasions, the couple stated they wanted three checking accounts: a joint one, and personal ones for their use only—you know, to keep the money they earned away from their new spouse. I would have to bite my tongue because I didn’t (and don’t) agree with that thinking.
Sometimes marriage is called “becoming one” or you’ll hear a person refer to their spouse as “their better half.” That’s important. Successful marriages are when two people work hard toward a common goal. I’m not suggesting that they have to agree on everything, or even like every little thing the other person does.
I’m sure there are those that will disagree with me, but I think a woman should change her last name when she gets married. Sharing the same last name is a symbolic gesture—that the couple is in this together. It helps with the mindset of “Okay, I’m willing to give up part of me to be committed to the marriage.”
Now, the name change may seem sexist, but I think a husband should actually give up at least as much as their wife, and probably more. He needs to be open with his feelings. He needs to let her have complete access to all the finances—made by both people. He needs to be willing to give up a chance to watch a ballgame to instead spend time with his wife. He needs to find out what is important to her and do all he can to make sure she’s happy—just as she does all she can to make him happy. To be clear, these sacrifices and compromises are only of value when they help the couple grow together.
I read a book where a husband and wife got married. She didn’t change her last name. They had triplets. They gave two of their kids his last name, and one of the triplets her last name. He agreed to do this to “make her happy.” But, in my opinion, it’s only going to cause a division—not only that, but a lot of confusion for the children later on in their lives. So, was that a compromise truly meant to bring the family closer together?
Why should you listen to anything I’ve written here? Well, I’ve had some experience in this field. I’ve been married for over 21 years. It’s not always been easy, and there were certainly growing pains, but it’s been worth it.