Should You Change Your Name

One of the most common questions a woman who is engaged hears is "Will you change your name?" This issue can be a tougher, more emotionally charged decision than you might think, as people grow understandably attached to the names they have had all their lives. Your name is a key part of your identity.

While 90 percent of women who get married take their husband's last name, women who have established a professional reputation may be afraid that a name change could cause confusion for current or future clients. Also, you may experience pressure from your husband-to-be or future in-laws to take his name, and pressure from your parents or friends to keep your name. Here are some of the options, pros and cons of keeping or changing your name.

Keeping Your Name
Those who wish to avoid any professional confusion, want to keep their names to honor their family or do not feel the need to change their name at all can keep their names as is. After all, having a wedding doesn't mean you have to change your name.

A variation on this is those who use their maiden name professionally and their married name in their personal life. Some women who do this might feel like they have a split personality, however, as Mary McKracken at work, and Mary Smith at home.

Hyphenating
This option is fairly popular, and allows you to keep your name while adding your husband's name to your own. It makes it easy to retain your professional identity while also having your husband's name. Disadvantages to hyphenating are that it can create very long last names depending on the length of each name, and also when there may be children, the children's last name - if hyphenated too, could be difficult for them to learn to spell or say. Also, sometimes the maiden name and the spouse's name don't sound good together, may rhyme, or when paired may create some unintended meaning (Sally Bright-Green). Sometimes, the husband also takes the maiden name and hyphenates it with his own so both spouses' names match.

Adding Your Husband's Name to Yours
You also have the option of keeping your maiden name and adding your husband's name to yours. This may mean making your maiden name your middle name, or having a fourth name (if you already have a middle name). This gives the option of using your maiden name whenever you want to, especially in professional settings or on published work. It can be the best of both worlds, so to speak.

Changing Your Name
Finally, you can legally change your last name to his. While some staunch opponents of doing this would say that you are giving up your identity, or succumbing to an oppressed role, many women feel that this is a relationship-strengthening expression of love. Changing your name could be a simple way of saying that you and your husband are one family now. Whether you hyphenate, change your name to his, or the two of you come up with a combination of both of your last names (Sue Brown+Joe Stone= Joe and Sue Brownstone), having the same last name can serve to unite your family. You also won't have questions to answer about your children with a different last name from yours.

Legalities
If you change your name in any way, you will need a new Social Security card, driver's license with your correct legal name, and will have to change your name on any credit cards as well. Here is a partial list of the other changes you'll need to arrange or alert: passport, IRS, post office, voter registration, banks, doctors, medical insurance, employers, retirement plans, wills, trusts, contracts, and powers of attorney.

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