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Con: Women shouldn't have to change their names when they marry

By Camille Doty
July 8, 2012 at 2:08 a.m.


Should women change their last names after getting married?

Two people pledge their undying love for one another. With their lives altered by saying "I do," some women say their surnames should not be among those changes. But others maintain a name change is tradition and should go with the nuptials. A 2010 TheKnot.com survey showed 86 percent of those surveyed agreed with taking the man's surname in marriage.

NOTE: To read about why women should change their names, click here.

Marilyn Cuevas bruised her boyfriend's ego when she told him she plans to keep her name after marriage.

The MBA candidate's main reason for wanting to keep her birth name: She already has built her personal and professional reputation.

"I've had this name my whole life," she said.

Cuevas said one of her life strategies is to make sure she covers her bases.

The veterinary office manager said she's not planning for her future marriage to fail, but she wants a contingency plan.

"If the marriage goes south, I at least have my name," she said.

Divorce statistics give her a compelling reason to consider her options.

Census data shows that nearly half of marriages end in divorce. Texas fared a little better than national statistics.

In 2009, of the 179,800 weddings, 76,900 ended in divorce.

"I understand why women feel it's a romantic thing to do, but it's foolish in my opinion," she said.

A woman wanting to keep their identity, not fear of divorce, was cited as the main reason for keeping their maiden name.

Activist Lucy Stone was the first American woman to not change her name in the 1850s, according to her organization's website.

The league named after Stone offers this reasoning: "My name is the symbol of my identity, which must not be lost."

The number of women who kept their names peaked in the 1990s at 23 percent, according to the Social Behavior and Personality journal.

Stephanie Gierisch-Moore found middle ground and hyphenated her name.

The 39-year-old San Antonio native spoke with her father about keeping the family legacy when faced with making the choice.

The mother of three said women shouldn't be required to make the switch. Gierisch-Moore, a former accounting student, said women already make more sacrifices than men in marriage by postponing their careers. She now home-schools her children.

Jokingly, she said, men can make a minor commitment, "I even joked with my husband asking him to take my name," she said.

Sofia Valdez changed her last name when she said, "I do" 36 years ago.

However, she wishes now that she didn't. The 58-year-old Beeville native started questioning her decision later in life.

Once she starting raising a family, Valdez realized the children took their father's name, not hers.

"You become a part of someone else. You lose a little bit of yourself," the Howell Middle School Spanish teacher said.

The mother of two told her daughter it's OK to keep her name when she marries. Valdez adopted a new school of thought regarding name change and commitment.

"If a man loves you enough, why can't he respect your decision?" she said.

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