would you take your husband's last name?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

When I got married 3 and a half years ago I kept my last name. It never really occurred to me to take my husband's name; I always knew that if and when I were to get married I would keep my name. There are a few reasons I was so confident in my decision: I'm a feminist and think changing your name is a choice; my mom and most of my female family members kept their surnames; lastly, I love my name.

The one issue that comes up is what to do now that there's a baby on the way. I've heard people say that they want to have the same name as their kids so they feel like a family. To be honest, I would like to give this baby a hyphenated last name but husband hates double-barrelled names! And while I admire couples who create new last names, or use both their last names like this awesome couple, I could never get my fairly traditional husband on board with this idea. That said, I grew up with a dad and a brother with my last name and a mom with a different one. It never seemed unusual to me, and I never questioned that we were a family.

I'd love to know... did you/would you take your husband's last name? How did you decide? Do you like your name? What about kids? SO many questions!

p.s. this is one of my favourite wedding pictures, you can see a few more here

50 comments:

  1. Ooh I love this! I took my husband's last name because I liked the idea of having one solitary family name and have never been overly attached to my own last name. But that's where it gets tricky. My MIL opted to hyphenated her last name and her children's...so my husband has a hyphenated last name legally but really only goes by his dad's last name (my MIL's maiden name is long and confusing). So, when we got married, I only took 'part' of his last name and that's all we will give to his kids. At this point, it seems silly to give his kids (or myself!) his mom's maiden name! And he reallly hates having a hyphenated last name since it confuses things legally in a bunch of annoying ways :)

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  2. First of all, LOVE that photo. Did you ever post any wedding photos on the blog? I must go back in time and find them if so :) I took my husband's name because I am very traditional and wouldn't want to deal with the complication of it all.

    One thing that I didn't expect, however, is that you can't then make your maiden name into your middle name anymore in the US without paying a very hefty fee. I was actually pretty upset by this. So rather than keeping my old last name as a part of me, I had to let it go altogether, which was very difficult. And I really don't know what to do if your husband won't do the double name! AHH. that's a tough decision!

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  3. I'm getting married next November so this is topical for me. I've half jokingly been trying to convince my fiancé for a couple of years to BOTH hyphenate our last names. Why should I take his and he not take mine?!

    It's not going to happen, despite some of his friends and family ribbing him by referring to him as the hyphenated name already (or perhaps because of the ribbing?!)

    So I've decided I'll hyphenate despite the fact that we both have surnames that you have to qualify when giving them to someone. Both have to be spelled out. It's important to me to keep my last name as I have a very small family and he has a huge one. As much as I love them it's part of my push back at feeling like I could get swallowed up. I also want to keep mine as my Dad died ten years ago and when it happened I subconsciously knew that I wouldn't be able to let that link go.

    Re children: his mum has expressed concern about what the children would do when they get married themselves. Ie have a three hyphenated name? I think that decision would be up to them but I'm removing myself from any drama and have said from the outset that they can have his surname only. I will be linked to it and I'll be forcing my families culture down their throats so am confident that they will know where they've come from!

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  4. My mom never took my dad´s last name and when I was growing up I kept thinking that she did it because she didn´t want to be a part of my family. But then when I grew up I understood why she did it and I´m not changing my last name at all because my last name is who I am and where I come from. And regarding kids... I don´t think now that a same last name makes a family. Love makes a family and that has nothing to do with names!

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  5. When Alanna and I get married (when gay marriage becomes legal), we are going to swap last names.

    - Sandy x

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  6. i took my husbands last name, first of all i hated my old last name, and my new last name isn't much better, haha, but it is shorter.

    when i took my husbands last name i feel like it sealed us together as a family.

    my best friends mom and i know a few moms who kept their last names and as a kid i remember always thinking it was weird and it really confused me.

    however, i really don't have very much of an opinion about it besides the fact that i love having the same last name as my husband.

    K

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  7. i did take my hubbys name, but i kept MY last name as my new middle name, if that makes sense.. my old middle name had no sentimental value or anything, so why keep it? and, like you mentioned, i want to have the same last name as my kids..

    i always wonder: if you give your kid a hyphe name, then they in turn marry ANOTHER with a hyphe name, what will THEIR kids be called? that's four last names! i mean.. how?

    so yeah.. my two cents

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  8. ... also, i didn't realize they now charge to keep your maiden name as a middle..??? we were only married two years ago so this must be something new.. or i just didn't care/pay attention when paying..

    probably the latter... honestly...

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  9. I did take my husband's last name and it was not a popular choice with my family which is full of strong women. It's such a personal choice, I wrote about it a bit here,

    http://projectlittlesmith.blogspot.com/2012/01/smith-by-any-other-name_16.html

    I do like that I share a name with my son and my husband, it makes me feel like we are all part of the same team. I also have many friends with kid's who stuck to their own names and wouldn't have it any other way. Usually they us their last name as the baby's middle name, not hyphenated but still honoring the woman's name :)

    xo Lilly

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  10. I'm in a pretty similar boat as you. I chose to keep my last name when I married my husband. Now I'm 27 weeks pregnant with our first child and *really* had hoped my husband would want to hyphenate. He doesn't. Sad face.
    So, it looks like baby will have dad's last name... and I might eventually start using it informally. We shall see. Obviously, family is family no matter what the name. But I do see the value in being able to say "Hi, we're the _____'s" rather than "Hi, we're the _____ and _______ clan".

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  11. We took a new name to signify our new family. To be honest if I had kept my name I would have used that or a hyphenated name for my children. I struggle to understand why it's so common for children to automatically be given their fathers name when the mother has kept hers. That's not a judgement of people who do that I just find it surprising.

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  12. I will not be taking the name of the man I will most likely marry. I am also unwilling to give our future children his name only (and not only does he think this would be unfair, he is horrified at the thought of demanding so). It will be either hyphenation (which leaves them free to go by one or the other when they get older, if they want), or we will give one my name, the other his name, and so on. We've discussed this at length and agreed on the above.

    Honestly, I don't think I would be very tolerant of being told baby gets his name, period. It's just as much your baby to name, and IMO it's more than a little egotistical and kinda bossy to *demand* kiddo inherits one person's family name only. Hyphenation after all just gives a child the opportunity to use either or both names as desired.

    Also, I've never understood why hyphenation of names after marriage only goes one way. How does that make things more egalitarian if the woman is the only one making a change?

    If you're uncomfortable, it might be wise to discuss and mostly question why you and your husband feel the way they do about names. Why is not hyphenating important to him? Why do you prefer whichever option you do? That way, you can see where you're both coming from, and whether or not these ideas are worthwhile starting places.

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  13. I was married just a month ago today and decided to take my husband's name. I actually just legally changed it yesterday--so funny you should just post this!

    I did deliberate about name changing for a good while. My original surname was Black... and it so happens I was the last person with that name in my family, amongst all the grandchildren, cousins, distant old batty aunts. I was the last one. So I really struggled with whether or not I wanted to take on my husband's name or keep Black.

    I toyed with hyphenating but Black just sounds like a bizarre adjective when attached to another name. For example, one boy I dated had the last name Bird. Abi Black-Bird? No.

    So I adopted my husband's surname. We discussed it, and it meant a great deal to him. And now, it actually is kind of fun to have a new name and a new life. And I really love my new last name-- I think because it came from such a caring good man.

    Family is family regardless of name, and your child will be wholly and uniquely yours no matter what. Congrats, too by the way!

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  14. Here in Brazil it's a bit different but we end up facing the same situation. We don't have "middle names", instead we (usually) get two last names, the first one from your mother's family and the second (and last) one from your father's family. So when women get married here they still have to decide which family name they will give up in order to take the husband's family name. And then, sometimes, they don't give up any of the names and just add the husband's name, anyway. With that said, I really don't know what I will do when I get married... I would really like to change my name but I didn't want to give up any of my last names and also I don't want a super long full name. Argh!

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  15. Hi, love! This is the most gorgeous wedding photo!

    I also took the last name as my husband, but to be fair, I didn't really like my maiden name! ;)

    As far as that new baby of yours, I'm sure whatever you choose will be the right decision for your family. Plus- no matter what, family will always be tied together by blood, and never by a simple name.

    Glad we were able to connect, thank you so much for stopping over! xx

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  16. I find this topic fascinating.

    I'd like to ask – if your mum did not take your dad's name, how did your parents decide whose name you were given?

    I'm not married traditionally – but if a marriage is to be a committed family unit and share your lives together, then you could describe my partner and I as married. Naturally, not being married I never took on his name, however when I fell pregnant with my first child there was discussion as to whose name he would take.

    We bandied about hyphens, name combos, my name (would have made my dad very happy). Then settled with his name. I think Abigail above is so right, no matter the name your child would be wholly and uniquely yours.

    Strangely though, I do not feel very attached to my surname. It was passed down from my dad, not my mum, therefore isn't there something unfeminist in that?

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  17. Oh, and Rodge is Uruguayan so we discussed the traditional South American method, where the child takes on both names, but I felt more comfortable just choosing one surname.

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  18. I come at it from the other angle - my mum hung onto her married name after a bitter divorce so she would have the same name as us kids. And now I feel committed to that name so I didn't change it when I got married. That, and my husband's name is a whopper ;)

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  19. for me, i will keep my last name in the business world. people know me as my name and i think it makes things easier in that sense. i can see how it would be strange for a child though...but i honestly think it depends on the last name! if its short and easy, go with the hyphie!!

    my only other issue though: i kind of want to name one of my children's first names with my last name.
    it's hard giving up your identity!!

    xo the egg out west.

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  20. This was exactly my situation complete with feminist angle traditional Italian husband and liking my name! I thought when I had kids that the kids would feel odd having a if different name from their mum but they love it. They know i have their poppy's name and my daughter who is 4and a half going on 14 has already declared that she's keeping her name when she get married.

    My kids have a special name from my family as their second name so that they carry a bit of my identity with them.

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  21. In Mexico women don't change their names (weird thing being a "machista" country hu?) but the kids use both last names, so, I kept mine when I got married and now we live in Canada and our baby was born here so he has his dad's name and we also registered him as a mexican citizen with both last names, so we are all happy hahaha...
    I'm sure you guys will make the right decision :)

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  22. I took my husband's maiden name when we got married, although I did like my maiden name a lot I knew by taking his name it would be an honor for him. Trust me I'm not 1950's at all and sometimes sway a little feminist, but I knew it was something I could give up so that he would feel loved. You're right, it's definitely a choice, working in the wedding industry I'd say only about 50% of our couples change their names

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  23. I just got engaged a couple of months ago and have started getting this question a lot. I have known for a while that I would want to keep my name. It's the same with me - I love my last name, am a feminist and recently my paternal grandpa past away and I somehow feel even closer to the name!
    I told Fabian (my fiance) that I would be happy to take his last name as my middle name if that meant something to him, but I was keeping mine.
    I think once I have kids, a lot of other parents/kid's friends will assume I have the same last name as my husband, and I'm fine with that - I'll go by both!

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  24. Big question! I seriously considered this when we got married last year. I love my family and where I come from so I was torn about what it would mean to change my name. It was a really big deal to my husband that I took his name so that definitely played a big part in my decision. Also, as I am starting out my academic career, if I was going to change my name at some stage, it was best to do it before I had lots of publications. I completely respect your decision, tough call about what to do with your babe! x

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  25. I never realized how much of a feminist I was until I met my now-husband hah. However, I did/am taking his last name. I've never been close to my dad's side of the family and they've done a lot of mean things to my mom. Then after my parents divorced, he hasn't bothered to be a part of my life. Growing up, my last name was always mispronounced and no one could spell it properly. Also, I walked down the aisle to Coldplay's Paradise(yes, by myself hah)and in the song they say "the sun must set to rise." So by changing my name, it feels like I'm leaving the badness associated with the name behind and my husband and I are starting our own family - even though it's just us and the dog for now. That being said, I've kept my maiden name on Facebook and added my new name behind it. I think eventually I'll change it, but it's still a part of who I am.
    Good luck deciding what to do, lady, it can be hard and confusing!

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  26. I would totally take my husbands last name. Just because I have no relationship with my father and no real emotional tie to my current last name. I have thought about changing my last name to my Mom's maiden name, which she currently holds. If I did that then I may consider keeping it!

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  27. I was so excited to take my husband's name. Plus I absolutely loved it. It was something I always looked forward to growing up. However my aunt kept her maiden name and hyphenated it with her husband's. Her boys have my uncle's name. I think it is a personal decision.

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  28. i love my name and i'm a feminist too. and my husband has a really lame name, so our future kid will have a double-barrelled name. and it totally ok for him. :-)
    and i'm so envy because you live in australia, there is a shoe company called wittner in australia, and thats my name. :-)

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  29. I am not married yet, but am taking my husband's last name when we are married. Because he is the love of my life I want be be as much as part of him as he is of me. Having the same last name is one more way that I can show my love for him and display my commitment to him. By marrying him, I am joining my life with him forever and having the same last names is one way to show that life-long commitment.

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  30. My family is very traditional, so it was always assumed that the women would take the husbands' last names. As I got older, I struggled with this. I think the person I was dating (now my husband) had something to do with it too.

    My husband didn't care if I took his name or not. He even offered to take MY LAST NAME! How awesome is that? Unfortunately, the entire wedding process was very accelerated for us (four months), and decisions had to be made quickly. I didn't want to be too hasty in my decision, and ultimately, I took his last name. I prefer that we have the same last name, but honestly, if we had an appropriate amount of time to discuss things and plan the wedding (instead of focusing on finding a new home, moving out of the state, planning the wedding, and wrapping up my job), I really think it would have been very "us" for him to take my last name.

    I've had a post about marriage brewing in my drafts for awhile, and this just inspired me to finish it! Husband and I still talk about how we didn't need to get married. And we don't need rings. But I think most people would think we're crazy. ;)

    I love this post. I love your thinking. If I move to Oz, just tell me how I could apply to be your new best friend. ;)

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  31. I didn't take Kyle's last name. Kept my own because I love. My sister kept hers too. Gwynnie has a different last name than me but it doesn't bother me at all. Maybe someday I'll reconsider but right now it's not that big of a deal to me. I suppose if G ever asked me to I might... =)

    Kacie

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  32. I'm in the process of changing from my maiden to married name - I just got married last month. I always thought I would take my husband's name, largely as an echo of what you describe above - the whole family having one name. It helped that the new name has a very similar feel to my old name.

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  33. It's very personal and totally up to you and your husband. Everyone has opinions on these things. I took my husband's name as a kind of bartering tool - i really wanted a church wedding, he was indifferent. He really wanted me to share his name, i was indifferent. So i took his name and we had a church wedding. I do like that our kids and we all have the same name, I have to admit, but i don't for a second think you'll be "less" of a family with different names. Good luck, whatever you choose! x

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  34. It funny I missed this because we just had this conversation. Living in Latin America, I of course kept my name when I got married. And now we have to figure out our son's last name situation. My big concern is that if we do the traditional first middle hislast mylast of Argentina (hislast is the more important one and will commonly be used alone)... on US documents... he's going to end up with my last name. Which I don't love because it makes the 3 of us look like not family. But if we leave it off, he'd end up with his dad's paternal last name on US documents. And my husband would end up with his maternal last. So we'd all end up with different names. So we'll do the traditional hislast mylast. And if we go to the US, we'll all change our names to hislast-mylast. Including my very traditional husband. He wants all to be unified somehow. And although I never really labeled myself a feminist before, I absolute love it that he's willing to take my last name as well. The next generation, however, is screwed. No idea what they'll do. Haha.

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  35. Here I am commenting again. I see this point as well (the same last name and being one unified family). Occasionally when I take my baby to his dr. appointments, I feel odd not having his last name (it's usually for stupid reasons, like, I want to yell out, no I am not an unwed single mother). But like you, I grew up sharing a last name with my siblings and father and not my mother, but that did not make me feel like she was not my mother. It made me more aware of that other side of my family.

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  36. Gaby, before I got married I never thought to change my name. But I did because something in me decided that while I'm still the same person, I am also different - I am now wife to my husband and hopefully future mother to our unborn children. And I wanted my name to reflect that.

    PS: I would like to invite you to enter the inHomewares giveaway at my blog. Enter for your chance to win $50 voucher! http://www.underlockandkeyblog.com/2012/11/inhomewares-giveaway.html

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  37. I haven't changed my name - I was never one of those people who was so excited to take my husband's name and we were living in Africa when we got married and the idea of trying to complete and send in all of the paperwork gave me nightmares. Here we are, 2 years later and I still don't feel the urge to do it. My husband isn't upset by it and I'm perfectly happy with my last name as it is but I do have the same questions as you when/if we do have children. I'm not against hyphenating however, the husband is. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the comments and seeing what you both decide.

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  38. We haven't managed to get married yet (but have been together for 14+ years and have 3 kids!). So we do have different last names. But I included my last name as kind of an 'extra middle name', when naming our children, so it is officially present on their birth certificates. They don't ever have to use it if they don't want to, but it's on their birth certificate and passport etc. My last name is not very common and I wanted it to be carried on in some way. So my kids have first name, middle name, my last name, then their dad's surname. Sometimes when I am filling out forms etc I only list their first, middle and last names, but in very official circumstances, my last name is on record - and if they choose to use it at some point in the future that's up to them! xx

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  39. I couldn't wait to take my husband's last name! I wanted us all to have the same name and I wasn't attached to my old one so...

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  40. Great post! I just got married this summer and took my husbands name. There were several reasons for this.

    Unlike you, I hated my last name. It was "Seward". I kept getting "Sewer", "Stewart", and "Steward". Only about one in five people would say it correctly.

    Second, I wanted to unite us as much as possible. My husband is my rock in everything and I've had a semi-rocky relationship with my dad at best. Separating myself from that surname a bit was a relief for me.

    However, a combo last name would have been great. We would have ended up with Lizard. Hah! Although as teachers we would never hear the end of it!

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  41. This post is so interesting, and I LOVED reading the comments! From a young age I was always fascinated by names and genealogy, so when we were talking about getting married I didn't hesitate to take my husband's name. I like the tradition of it, and while I understand that some people feel like it's unfair or patriarchal in some way, I also like the unifying aspects of it. I wound up keeping my middle AND my maiden names, so I have four initials. It wasn't a perfect solution, but it works.

    I think that's really cool that a lot of the women in your family have kept their own names and then their children have their father's names- I think it's neat that your family has kinda started it's own tradition! :)

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  42. This is such a hard question! I think that it really depends on the couple. While I'm incredibly independent and see the taking of the last name to be an outdated tradition, it meant something to my husband. It also didn't hurt that I was completely unattached to my maiden name (not especially close with my dad or his family). My husband's father and grandfather passed away suddenly in the same year so his last name came to mean a lot. SO all that being said, I changed my last name because it meant more to my husband for me to take his last name than it meant for me to keep my maiden name. Had I been attached to my maiden name I think it would have been a different situation. And of course my husband would have been fine with that choice. Just in the end it was something I could do for him. On another note, I grew up with a mother who had a different last name and it was never an issue. As a mother now, I like that I share a last name. Have you thought about taking your last name as a middle name? Or hyphenating your own name? Good luck and congrats on the baby! xo

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  43. I think it really depends on how attached you are to your name.
    Generally I think every married couple could create a new name for themselves, as they are creating their own family and generally it would be a nice symbol for a new start etc.

    I love the wedding picture! You look absolutely stunning and so happy!

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  44. I changed my name (it's a long hyphenated name that doesn't include my maiden name). I never thought that I would. But I did! After my husband proposed, he said, "now we're a family". I kind of melted. I know you can be a family with different names. It just felt right for us. I did keep my maiden name for my profession. And that felt pretty cool I must admit :) Everyone is different. So I don't judge either way. And believe me, we're the least codependent couple around...but it feels good to be connected in this way. For us and for our children. x

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  45. I'm getting married in fall 2013, and I am not taking my fiancé's last name. I just don't feel the need, but I have never felt the need or obligation to do this.
    Also, I am about to graduate from medical school and I want my name to stand on its own for this accomplishment that took me a lifetime of academia, student loans, blood, sweat and tears. I want the recognition for my efforts reflected. Lucky for me my fiancé doesn't mind.
    My sister didn't take her husband's last name either. She's an MD too, and she thought it would cause too much confusion professionally. Also, she didn't want to go through the hassle of changing the name on her medical license, registration, university degrees, etc...

    To each their own, that's what I say. I don't look down upon ladies who do change their surnames; I just have never felt the impetus to do it.

    P.S. Congratulations on the babe :) Best wishes & good health.

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  46. This is such a toughie, but I would love to keep my name for one simple reason, because it is Wait. And that in itself is such a unique surname.

    On the other hand, I cannot wait to take his name, because I will be his entirely. Does this make sense?

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  47. I never considered NOT taking my husband's first name -- we became one, and that was symbolic of our oneness and my submission. But one side benefit is that I use my maiden name as my middle name now because I was not given a middle name at birth. My sweet mother-in-law gave me a monogrammed sweater for our first Christmas, something I'd never been able to have before!

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