Thursday, April 19, 2012

[Sue] The Last Name Project

 In this new series co-hosted by from two to one and The Feminist Mystique, we will be profiling an array of individuals and couples about their last name decisions upon marriage or what they expect to choose if they marry. The goal is to explore how individuals make decisions about their last name, and to highlight the many possibilities. We will be posting profiles periodically and encourage you to stay connected via Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  If you would like to participate in this series, email Danielle at danielle [at] fromtwotoone [dot] com or Shannon at hill [dot] shannonp [at] gmail [dot] com. 

The following post is from Sue. At the time of her marriage, Sue was living in the California Bay Area working on energy policy issues and spending a lot of her spare time doing environmental education on a wonderful farm. Her husband is a linguist who, at the time of their marriage, was a PhD student at UC Santa Cruz. Currently, Sue lives in Connecticut and is an MBA student at the Yale School of Management. 

My (and my husband’s) last name is AnderBois. Prior to marriage, our last names were DuBois (me) and Anderson (him).

When we were planning to get married, we put a lot of thought into what our last name should be.  There is always an initial assumption that the woman will just take the husband’s last name, which for a variety of reasons, I was not really interested in doing. (Why?  1. Anderson is a pretty boring last name. There were two people with his exact name in our graduating class in college. He only has one aunt, and her name is Sue – so even in a really small family, I would be duplicative. 2. I really liked the last name DuBois – I had a lot of nicknames related to it, it was my family name, etc. 3. As a feminist, it didn’t seem right to just immediately give up your identity and accept the identity of your husband.). We both immediately rejected any idea of hyphenation – we just had gut reactions that we hated that idea (in general, and specifically with our names).  I tried to convince him to take my last name, unsuccessfully. We briefly considered just keeping our own last names – but since we were getting married and becoming an official ‘family’, it was really important for us to have the same last name.

What was left? Making up a new last name. We joked about picking something totally random. And then we joked about combining our names. We didn’t really take it seriously at first (and probably were just assuming that in the end, we would just keep our own last names or one of us would ‘cave’ and take the other person’s), and we joked about it with our friends – who really enjoyed helping us brainstorm names.  Ideas we came up with: AnderBois, Duderson, DuSon, among others. Duderson has DUDE right in it, and was rejected. DuSon, if you say it fast enough, rhymes with Susan – and that was a dealbreaker. But AnderBois – that sounded like a real name. It didn’t even really sound made-up. Our friends made facebook groups and invited all of our friends to join to help pressure us to go through with it. And one day, we had joked about it enough that we realized…wait..we could ACTUALLY do this—and we realized it was the perfect plan for us.   I think our families at first thought it was a little weird – but no one was angry or upset by the decision, and everyone got used to it pretty quickly. I think my husband being a linguist helped people come to accept it more quickly – thinking in unique ways about communications/words comes with the territory.

Interestingly, a lot of people ask me if my husband also changed his name. Yes, he did. I don’t think it would have been worth my changing my name to a made-up hybrid if only I was changing my name. If he hadn’t been into the idea of changing his, I likely would have just kept my own last name (and he would have kept his).

That’s our story! We want to spread the idea as far as possible – I obviously think it’s like the perfect solution to the last name question! We’re not planning on having kids, but I imagine it would be really helpful for folks who were – instead of having different last names (which is potentially confusing for schools, etc.).


  1. I love this! Sue, we thought a lot about combining names, as well, but unfortunately both our names were two-parts with capital Vs in the middle. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Two young friends of mine married almost ten years ago. The wife said she wouldn't take her husband's name (the name was a little problematic and she isn't that thrilled with her in-laws) so, sitting around one night, we came up with a combo of their last names that totally worked. They were just starting their professional lives so it was just the right time to change their names. The husband didn't really care -- the wife is a smart, ambitious, total babe and he knows it, so whatever she wanted was okay with him. I never heard that either of their families pushed back.