The Problem With Having Two Last Names

When Cory and I got married, I knew I wanted to keep my maiden name somehow. I felt attached to the name I had grown up with, as many women do, and getting rid of it just felt weird to me. It not only tied me to my family, but it was a name I had worked for professionally over the years. And even though I’m not necessarily religious, I liked that it reflected a part of my Jewish heritage. At the same time I also wanted to feel connected to husband, and taking his name was a symbol of that. So, what’s a girl to do?

Hello My Name Is Blue

Two years after we got married, I went down to the Social Security office, replaced my middle name with my maiden name, and took my husband’s last name as my own. But I also decided to keep my maiden name professionally. The entire process honestly took 5 minutes at the social security window. I was shocked that within minutes, I could essentially wipe out a name I has spent 33 years with. It felt sad, confusing, and as I had anticipated: weird.

As we approach our third anniversary, I’ve gotten used to my new last name. I like that I share it with my husband, and I feel like I got the best of both worlds by keeping my maiden name in the mix as well. But now I’ve encountered a problem that I had never really anticipated: Which name do I use?

An article in today’s NYTimes discusses the same dilemma I find myself faced with. In it the author talks about how she was also ambivalent about solely taking her husbands name, so she did what I did and kept both (and still uses her maiden name as her professional name). But now she’s faced with the same confusing name challenges as I am, like what name do I make a doctor’s appointment under? And should I make a dinner reservation under my professional or legal name? I often find myself using both, so when we get to the restaurant many times I’ve stupidly forgotten which name I used. Also, I never know whether I should introduce myself using my professional or legal name. What if they get confused when I hand them my business card and it has my maiden name on it? As you can see, it’s a little ridiculous.

If I were smart, I would just go ahead and change my professional name to my legal name. After all, it still has my maiden name in it. But it’s not like you go around introducing yourself to people using your first name, middle name, and last name, so it kind of defeats the purpose of me wanting to keep my professional name. Sigh. It’s confusing to even write this!

Eventually I might get there and use my new legal name once and for all, but for now it’s baby steps. In the meantime, just don’t ask me to make a dinner reservation.

Are you going to change your name? What are your thoughts on the whole process? 

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