No hyphen here

The number of women taking their husband’s last name is on the rise.

I love my last name. I really do. I mean, I’ve had it for 31 years. And, when you’ve had something that long, it can be hard to let it go.


It has never been a question for me if I would take my husband’s name. I guess I’m traditional like that. After all, I spent many years as a little girl scribbling things like “Amanda McIntyre“, not “Amanda Talar-McIntyre” in my school notebooks.

While I personally don’t get why women would want to keep their maiden name, I really don’t get why they hyphenate. Maybe it’s a control thing, a feminism thing? I don’t know. Both of those reasons are kind of nauseating to me.

The author of this postformer Olympic snowboarder Betsy Shaw — says, amongst other reasons (admitting maybe she just can’t ‘grow up’), that she didn’t take her husband’s name because she “never liked the way women seemed to disappear into their husband’s name”, which sort of validates my assumption of this “type” of woman.

I’ll be blunt.

An observation I often (not always) have of women who hyphenate…is that they’re cold. They’re often not warm and friendly and they barely show any facial emotions when you’re speaking with them. Their drink of choice is Feminist Kool-Aid. And, they’re usually not happy at all about having to give people their two last names. Uhhellolabel, yeah. Who would be?! Each doctor’s visit, customer service call, making dinner/hotel/airline reservations, etc. — requires giving a last name — in this case, two — and most likely…they have to spell both of them. How exhausting. And, I can tell it’s exhausting by the sighs they let out before diving into it.

I wonder, too, about the husbands of these hyphenated women. Were/are they okay with their wife being like, “Sorry, you came second. And literally…you still do” ?! And, what happens when kids come into the picture? Mom has a different last name from everyone…or the kids have hyphenated names, too?

I mean, everyone has their reasons — and of course, right — to do what they please with their name. It is just a lot of letters, after all. In my opinion, though, I just think some traditions shouldn’t be messed with. Besides, when you’re in love, and married to the man of your dreams — why wouldn’t you want to ‘get lost’ in him, all the while building something — completely together?


13 thoughts on “No hyphen here

  1. To each their own I guess. I understand the hyphen if the kids have dad’s last name. That way the wife can keep her own identity but people can “see” the link to the kids. For example, Miss Smith marries Mr Jones, so when Mrs Smith-Jones picks up Bobby and Lisa Smith it makes sense. Oh, alternatively I can understand keeping the maiden name and/or hypenating in professional circumstances. If you were a professor with a dozen peer-reviewed publications you can’t go back and change the name on those papers. I can think of a lot of cases where the maiden name has become a “brand” that changing could cause confusion. Again, to each their own.

  2. Totally understand where you’re coming from, but having adopted a hyphenated name myself, perhaps I could offer some personal perspective! The hyphen can certainly be a pain (a la making a reservation, as you cited) but my reasonings included professional ones as I was just beginning to become published in academic journals (etc., etc.!) when signing my marriage license. While I knew that I could simply continue to use my maiden name professionally, I found myself conflicted over having two identities (professional vs. everything else?) since my professional development and my relationship with my husband (!) were so deeply linked to my overall identity . Adding a hyphen with my hubby’s name was my desire in connecting myself to him and our future children while maintaining my [professional . . . and everything else] identity. My husband, who is/was exceptionally supportive of hyphenating, was actually encouraging me to keep my maiden name altogether. I have to tell you, I was incredibly conflicted over this issue, even at that moment when applying for our marriage license! I ultimately made my decision at the very last second when the town clerk suggested I hyphenate, seeing as how it’d be easier, legally, to adopt just one of the names down the road.

    • NMF and Betsy — Thank you so much for commenting. I agree completely — having work out there that’s published, professional and academic (AKA not a personal blog 🙂 ) is something I think definitely needs protection by keeping the maiden name in the picture. And, I think it personally says a lot about feeling that conflict about what to do with your last name, instead of just saying something like, “nope, I’m keeping mine and you keep yours.”

  3. Never understood the hyphen, never will, really – I’ve only discussed this with three women who went that route, and none of them could give me an explanation that was convincing/ acceptable. My dad passed before I married Todd, but I truly didn’t feel obligated to honor him by keeping his name – on that day, I honored my husband instead. Besides, there are several different ways that I chose to honor my father on that date, and continue to do so now –
    and yes, entering women with hyphenated names into a database is always excruciating for both parties!

  4. Just because one chooses to keep a maiden name or hyphenate doesn’t mean she doesn’t devote herself to her marriage or honor her husband.

    Similarly, if a MAN loves a woman completely, why shouldn’t he change HIS last name and fall completely into her, get “lost” in her?

  5. My boyfriend and I are headed down this path, and I’ve told him I’m keeping my last name for one completely superficial reason: His last name rhymes with my first name. I’d be like Julia Gulia in The Wedding Singer.

  6. The reason men or women are not accepted for a choice is because others choose to perpetuate a society of shame. It’s very sad. Can we get some Marlo Thomas up in here? A little “Free to Be… You and Me” action?

    You are entitled to your own opinion; however, that does not mean you need to bring down an entire group of people in order to prove your point. Is anyone being hurt by someone changing their last name, not changing their last name, or hyphenating? Is the social fabric torn? Indeed not.

    What about same-sex marriages? How does one balance the last-name equation in that situation?

    If the reason not to hyphenate is based on letters, that’s beyond silly. Is it really just a matter of logistics or convenience? My former husband’s last name is eight letters longer than my last name.

    The tradition of taking a man’s last name is based on women being property. You keep saying that tradition should not be broken. Are you then arguing that you are becoming your soon-to-be-husband’s property? It seems you argue it’s a matter of “romance” – the idea of being a “unit” with your spouse – and not property.

    While I would not call myself a feminist (I believe everyone deserves equality – I guess I’d say I’m a “humanist” before anything else), I think you should re-evaluate your sweeping generalizations of what a feminist is, especially the next time you vote or ask for a raise at your job.

    I understand that you are trying to make a point, I just think you should initiate some due diligence before making just broad brushstrokes.

    • Same sex marriages are completely different, obviously, since we’re not talking about a man and a woman. Their decision to change/not change/hyphenate their last name is up to them — just like it’s up to anyone else.

      “The tradition of taking a man’s last name is based on women being property. You keep saying that tradition should not be broken. Are you then arguing that you are becoming your soon-to-be-husband’s property? It seems you argue it’s a matter of “romance” – the idea of being a “unit” with your spouse – and not property.”

      Yes, exactly. Obviously women today aren’t seen as property, but men and women ARE inherently different. Traditions and their meanings evolve, but that doesn’t mean they should always 100% change, in my opinion.

  7. As someone who just went through a painful divorce and went through the hassle to change my last name back to my maiden name, this hits home. I wanted to keep my maiden name when I got married, but it was important to my ex, so I changed it. I was totally blindsided by his desire for a divorce, and heartbroken. I work in a field where I am known by my last name, and I had no desire to keep his after how badly he had hurt me. Having no children, I felt no need to keep it for them, either. I needed to purge myself of any connection to him, and the complication of having his last name is something I wish I didn’t have to deal with. Many times people forget (or don’t know) and call me by my old last name, and every time that happens, it’s like scratching at a wound. It’s something to consider. Trust me, when I got married 13 years ago, I never thought I’d be in this situation. Someday I’d like to get married again, but I am never changing my name again.

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