The decision to marry Mr. Ice Cream was an easy one. The idea of getting old together was a natural and comforting thought. So I was a little surprised at how anxious I felt when the conversation came up to change my name. I’ve always loved my independence, but I also love the idea of a name unifying a family. After doing a little googling I found that the practice of women keeping their last names was first introduced in the US by suffragette Lucy Stone in the 1850s. That trend toward women keeping their maiden names after marriage peaked in the 1990s, when about 23% of women did so. Nowadays, although the decision continues to spark some debate, research shows more women are taking their new husbands’ names. According to a 2009 study published in the journal Social Behavior and Personality, by the 2000s only 18 percent of women were keeping their names. Among the many factors that guide the decision, one study reported that women who married when they were 35-39 years old were 6.4 times more likely to keep their names than women who married between the ages of 20-24.
I was 30 when I got married and in the end I decided to change my name. I moved my last name to my middle name and took Mr. Ice Cream’s last name. Since the email address I was using at the time contained my last name, the name change required an email change as well. Even though it has been almost 3 years since I made the change it still causes confusion for a couple of reasons. The first being, you have no idea how many things you have linked to your name/email address! At the time I thought I was thorough in making a list and diligently going through each service/account and changing my name, but I still come across accounts where I still have my maiden name. The other challenging thing for me was that I’m a research scientist and have publications under my maiden name. For that reason, professionally I decided to keep my maiden name. This was more complicated than I thought because I still had to formally change my name at my job. This means I regularly get asked about what my name is and how I should be called. It’s not the worst thing, but it comes up very frequently.
Another reason it was a tough decision to change my name is because I’m Asian, meaning I was born with an Asian last name. However, I married a non-Asian guy, which means that now I’m an Asian woman with a non-Asian last name. I know it’s silly but it always makes me think of that Seinfeld episode, “The Chinese Woman,” where Jerry meets a Caucasian woman named Donna Chang. It’s not to say I’ll never get used to my new name but it has taken a while to really feel like it is my name. Did anyone else feel weird when they changed their names?