Should You Take His Last Name?

The first thing I’d like you to know about this is that there is no right or wrong answer to this question. The choice belongs to you, and secondarily, to your spouse.

I’ve always thought it was hard, even odd, that I should be expected to abandon my last name and adopt someone else’s. My name is who I am and, personally, changing my name would feel like moving my nose to a different place on my face. 

But that’s me.

However, there are also practical and undertandable reasons for sharing a last name with your husband, or perhaps him sharing a last name with you. 

So, should you take his last name? Here are some pros and cons to consider:

Pros to changing your last name


Sharing the same last name gives everyone a better understanding, all around, of who’s related to whom. If you have a different last name than your kids, some traditional thinker out there always seems to get it wrong, and your kids end up paying for your independence. Unfair but true.

I have always used my own name, but there have been so many moments of confusion. I actually opened a checking account for myself, with my husband’s last name, so I could write a check and have it match the last name of my kids.

I didn’t want them missing out on limited space situations or have anyone think their parent was a deadbeat.


By and large, it’s still expected that a woman takes her husband’s name. Some men feel offended when their wife chooses to keep her own identity intact. Understandably, because they’ve been conditioned to think that way.

Yet I don’t know one guy who has chosen to take his wife’s name. Why not? They’ve just not been conditioned to think that way.


Most women I know have changed their last name, not necessarily because they wanted to, but because it was expected. Even a woman’s own family expects them to change their name when they get married. 

And there are in-laws out there who would feel slighted or offended if you opted not to assume their family name with enthusiasm. So, if you do choose to maintain your own name, exercise some sensitivity.

Cons to changing your last name


Who you are is who you are, and part of your personhood is your name. I speak with a lot of women who feel subjugated and even objectified by a person who expects them to drop their name. 

Imagine if marriage came with the tradition that you change your first name. “Hey, Sharene! Your name is now Brianna!” You’d likely not oblige them. So why should you change any part of your name? Conditioning. Patriarchal or archaic structures. Deferential thinking.

Professional recognition:

Lots of women have already made a name for themselves before they find the right person to spend their lives with. Rebranding yourself, professionally, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to most.


No one getting married likes to think of divorce as a possibility, but 42.03% of people getting married in the United States, today, will divorce. That’s a good argument for not changing your identity, name and personhood, twice.


Hyphenating your name is a choice that many are making. Other cultures have done it for centuries. It’s not a choice I would make because I like that my name is short and tight, but it’s a great compromise for many.

I have clients who just delivered their first child. Their son’s name is not only hyphenated, but the last name hyphened is his mother’s.

So don’t pay attention to other people’s rules. Do what works best for you and your partner. Do what is easiest and most practical. And never, ever compromise your personal identity for anyone. 

If a person doesn’t love you “as is,” then keep looking.

Lisa Ryan LPC

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