The first time my wife was married, she kept her “maiden” name. It confused her father: he was concerned that his daughter would never be “Mrs. So and So.” When she and I got married nearly 40 years ago, she again kept her “maiden” name. Upon learning that Katie remained “Moran”, my mother commented, “that is the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.”
A recent Huffington Post article explained that it wasn’t too long ago that women were required to take their husband’s last name:
“Women were forbade to keep their last names a short handful of decades ago, under the premise that the wedded couple were viewed as “one person” by the law. That one person was the husband, whose identity superseded the wife’s. He was the sole person who could vote, hold property, go to law, etc. In fact, it was only in 1972 that every United State legally allowed a woman to use her maiden name as she pleased.”
Curiously, even if a woman chooses not to adopt her husband’s name upon marriage, she almost certainly carries her father’s name…at least in our culture. As we were considering starting our family, Katie and I felt that there should be a way to free women of this remnant of androcentric tradition. Our solution was that we would give my last name to any male offspring, and Katie’s last name to any female offspring.
Our first born was a boy, so Daniel became a Blatt. Katie worried that we would not pass the Moran name to the next generation, as Doug and Steve, the children from my first marriage, were also boys. What are the odds that the next would be a girl? But, almost three years later, we welcomed Elizabeth Rose Moran to our family.
Our odd naming convention has not caused any problems, although a few elementary school teachers were caught by surprise to see that Liza Moran’s parents were the same people as Danny Blatt’s parents. They probably assumed that we were a blended family until we explained it all. I think the different names actually insulated Liza from any teachers’ expectations from having had Danny in their classes a couple of years earlier.
While most people we have discussed this with have generally thought it was an interesting approach, to my knowledge, nobody we know has used the same naming principle for their own children. Katie and I were taken by surprise a few evenings ago when a character on a TV drama described the same naming convention to explain why he and his daughter had different last names. So, apparently, we aren’t as odd as we originally thought.
Will this ever become a trend? So far, Danny’s wife is still a Klekner, and Liza is still a Moran. It remains to be seen how they will choose to name their own daughters. However it turns out, it is reassuring to know that what’s in a name is more open to choice now than it was for previous generations.