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My Name Is Not Just A Word: Why Should I Change My Surname?

Posted: April 16, 2015

Why should I change my surname after marriage when my complete name means so much to me? Reflections on the traditional practice of taking a husband’s surname.

Before I got married, I fancied the idea of adding my husband’s name to mine and at times I tried various male names to find the one that matched my first name. I know – it was childish! However, when I actually had to change it, I backed out. People started asking me why I hadn’t changed it yet. I asked my husband for his opinion. He said, “Completely your choice”.

I thought I should try it out. The first place I changed my name was on Facebook, but only for two days. I felt as if a part of me was missing, incomplete. The first sentence I learnt at school was, “My name is….” and I realized, “My name” would not be mine anymore. It may not be so difficult for some women, but for me it was.

Not changing my name is not just about gender equality. I wouldn’t change my name, even if my husband added my name to his.

Not changing my name is not just about gender equality. I wouldn’t change my name, even if my husband added my name to his. My name is the title of my story. My name is me, I do not see it as different from me. I have been hearing it everyday at home, schools and work and now it resonates with  me. When my name was called out during award ceremonies or published in the newspaper, I felt proud and so did my parents. I want to see that pride in their eyes in the future as well.

Yes, I am married, but my roots are still in my family and they cannot be taken away. For those who argue that it is just a change of surname, my name was never my first name alone, which is just a word if not coupled with my family name. If I google my name, I see myself at different stages of life. Why should I start afresh with a new identity, when I have a beautiful past?

Why should I start afresh with a new identity, when I have a beautiful past?

I was asked if I wanted to change my name when I applied for a marriage registration, my son’s birth certificate, passport renewal, when my husband added me as his spouse, for Aadhar card and at many other places. If the answer is “No”, a weird expression pops up on the executive’s face and he would look at my husband sympathetically. Even after three years of marriage, people still ask me why I haven’t changed my name.

They frown at my decision and directly link it to my relationship with my extended family. Just because it is tradition or because someone else in the family did it, I am not convinced to drop my family name. Every person has a different relationship with their self. Many get offended if their name is pronounced wrong or misspelled in emails or invitations, and we are talking about a change of name here. A name is not just a word; it is part of one’s soul.

A marriage shouldn’t alter a person’s identity and the decision of the name change should be taken only by her. Let her do what she thinks is right.

First published at the author’s blog 

Concept image of name board via Shutterstock

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