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 Abby, who lives in Los Angeles with her programmer husband, toddler daughter, and rather haughty cat. She loves tacos, stripes, and chronicling her latest obsessions at http://officiallyobsessed.net
I’m Abby, and my husband is Evan. We were both raised by liberal, progressive (but not activist) families with mothers and fathers who both worked full-time. While I don’t think either of us knew the word “feminist” as children, I can guarantee that we both grew up thinking of equal rights between men and women as a given societal ideal, not a particularly radical idea.
When we first started dating in college, I was already identifying myself as a feminist based on what I was learning in my Communication classes. Evan studied Computer Science, but when we’d talk about what I was learning, we quickly bonded over sharing the same ideas. Remember how exciting it can be the first time you uncover completely new ideas? I think the only thing more exhilarating is when you learn that your favorite person shares your perspective!
Over the next few years, we also realized that our relationship didn’t have to cleave to traditional notions of coupledom, and that whatever we chose to pursue as a couple was our choice alone. Move in together? Our choice. Combine our finances? Our choice. Separate for six months? Our choice. Not every decision was easy, but when we decided to get married, after being together for 4.5 years, we knew that neither of us wanted to take each other’s surname.
Sometimes, this is what perplexes people the most: why wouldn’t I want to take his? (I’m pretty certain Evan doesn’t get asked the reverse.) I’ve never stated my true feelings in response, but I will here: while I feel it’s an intensely personal decision, I also think that it’s patently unfair that I’m expected to take Evan’s name when every other aspect of our lives and relationship are thought to be generally equal. There are plenty of other good reasons out there, but there’s mine.
At the same time, I’ve always loved the symbolism of words, and Evan loves naming things. We both recognized this as an opportunity to do something new and unique to us that would signify the start of our family. To me, marriage is the public declaration that this person, who previously was my dearest love, is now that and my family. So we decided that, in lieu of us taking the other’s name, a new name would be the best path for us. Because our surnames didn’t sound good combined, we felt free to go with something completely new.
We had a lot of fun over the next year or so trying out different last names before landing on Phoenix. The name’s advantages: the symbolism with regards to our start as a new family, the fact that the name was neither Asian (my culture) nor European (Evan’s), and how nice it sounded with our first names. We’d whisper our new names and break out into huge smiles – a sure sign that we were making the right decision for us!
When we decided to start trying to have a baby a few years ago, we knew that part of this was easier for us than if, for example, we had each kept our surnames. Our girl Zoe has our last name, and my only (very light) concern is if she grows up hating her name, she only has us to blame, as we personally chose all of it!
We still come across reminders that our choice is atypical, like when Evan explains that he has a “maiden name.” But for the most part, after six years of marriage, our names now seem pretty normal to us… just as they should be.