Perhaps the question itself wasn’t so interesting but my reaction, and my thoughts about other people’s thoughts on the subject were definitely interesting, in that a new point of view suddenly became a possibility to me.
I was asked what my new married name was. My response was that I didn’t have a new married name; that it was still my ‘old’ married name; that I could barely spell my beloved new husband’s (complicated) Swedish name and that, in any case, I wanted a link to the name that my daughters carried.
When I was asked why I still had my original married name it occurred to me that perhaps my ex-husband thinks I don’t have a right to it any more and that might be why our relationship is so difficult these days. I am so sorry if that is the case but he is wrong in this situation.
Wayne (the new husband) definitely doesn’t have a problem with me not taking his name. He doesn’t have a problem with me not wearing a wedding or engagement ring, either. Who I am should not be immediately classified by a quick look and an assigned status based on jewellery I wear. If I wanted people to know me in that sort of superficial way, I could just as easily flash them my nipple rings and invite them to call me ‘hoe’. It just isn’t relevant.
My maiden name never flowed particularly well to my ears and I was teased mercilessly about it. I never developed enough self esteem to rise above the often brutal bullying I received at school and when I married a man who had what I thought was a ‘normal’ name, I embraced it with a heartfelt sigh of relief. It also flowed very well with my Christian name and subsequent nicknames. I thought I owned that name for life and I was proud that I did.
When my first husband and I divorced, I had no intention of going back to my maiden name and I am sure he didn’t think that I should, either. I was the mother of his daughters, after all, and I shared a common bond with him, through them. But when I married somebody else he probably did think that I would take my new husband’s name and he isn’t alone in feeling surprised that I didn’t.
What I want to say is that I earned my current surname. I worked hard for it, through 17 years of marriage: loving my husband and my daughters and holding the family that we created as close as I could. I went sky high in love, I bled for it, cried for it, laughed in it and with it and had some of the best times of my life, ever, when holding that name.
I want, always, to have a link with the people that also share that name.
I earned that name in the trenches and I wear it as proudly as any battle medal.