Women changing their surnames: what does the free market say?

Many of the claims of social change can be tested by observing what the free market shows. This was a point made I think by Warren Farrell. In that case, he remarked that what men and women actually spent their money on, for example what magazines they bought, was a very good indicator of what they were truly interested in.

It is often claimed that young women don’t change their names on marriage as much as they used to in places like Australia. The existence of prominent advertising for this product suggests that many are still keen to do so:

Marriage Name Change Kit [Australian]

13 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Roman Lance on January 11, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    My brother didn’t learn until after the nuptials that his first wife wouldn’t take his name. The marriage didn’t last six months after that. It seemed she said she was unwilling to part with her daddy’s name after her daddy gave her to my brother.

    Something about losing her Identity.

    My wife on our wedding day couldn’t wait to take my name. She was like I’m bored with my family name I want yours. I was like “OK if you insist”.

    So now instead of Dusty Piddlepot, her name is Dusty Lance. Has a much better ring I think. 🙂

    (Note: Names have been changed to protect the innocent.)


  2. Name change kit? You need to do all that in Australia?

    I just went down to the DMV, and even then I had been writing Mrs. [SAM] for 6 months before I got around to that.


  3. Posted by Julian O'Dea on January 11, 2018 at 10:07 pm

    My wife wasn’t excited to change her surname but she did it. In my opinion, her married name sounds better. I mean the entire name sounds right. Her original surname was an odd-sounding Cornish name.

    I am surprised to hear of a man not knowing his bride wouldn’t change her name until after the wedding. I would have thought that would have been discussed beforehand.


    • Posted by Roman Lance on January 11, 2018 at 11:00 pm

      Funny thing about that, I’m sure it would have come up if he had taken the pre-cana class, but he felt that was for kids like my wife and I when we married, not for established adult business types like himself.

      Oh the wages of haughty mind.


      • Posted by Julian O'Dea on January 11, 2018 at 11:09 pm

        I have always assumed that courting couples of any maturity would follow a certain pattern. And part of that is establishing roles as man and woman and eventually discussing in depth what kind of life you might lead together. A topic like whether the woman will change her name after marriage seems an obvious part of this to me. Once it would have been assumed but it has become another issue. So it’s an obvious one to come up in the discussions one naturally has with someone one is getting seriously interested in.

      • Posted by Julian O'Dea on January 11, 2018 at 11:14 pm

        The great majority of girls I have known even in recent years do change their names. I also knew of a case where the woman didn’t which also ended in divorce.

      • Posted by Roman Lance on January 11, 2018 at 11:21 pm

        “Curiously, a case I heard of where [the woman didn’t change her name ] ended in an annulment.”

        Was that cited as a reason for the annulment? That would be interesting information to get to my brother. I don’t think he got his first marriage annulled, though I am uncertain of that.

      • Posted by Julian O'Dea on January 11, 2018 at 11:40 pm

        My apologies. As you can see I changed that statement. You must have replied before I did.

        I don’t know but I doubt her refusal to change her name was part of the grounds for annulment. At most it might have been part of a general failure to commit to living as man and wife.

        But really annulments imply that there was no true marriage. Going in without a Catholic intention to, for example, stay married and have children if they come would be grounds. Maybe an obvious lack of real commitment might show the same thing. A woman failing to become Mrs Smith or whatever might tend to show she wasn’t very interested in actually being married. But it wouldn’t be grounds for annulment in itself I imagine.

        To a certain extent one is expected to take what comes along. For example if a girl promised to change her name or do the cooking or accompany a man to a new city or claimed to be a virgin, subsequent discovery of the falsity of all these statements would not invalidate the marriage.

        There has been a creeping tendency to find more grounds for annulment these days. But annulments should be unusual. However the very short duration of your brother’s marriage does suggest something seriously wrong from the start. If I were him I would look into an annulment.

      • Posted by Roman Lance on January 12, 2018 at 2:32 am

        Thanks for the reply Julian. I wish I were in contact with him so I could bring it up, but we haven’t spoken in almost a decade.

        I pray for all my siblings. I’m hoping it helps, but our family fell apart decades ago, and almost all of them have left the practice of the faith, so not much chance for a restoration of close familial relations or of their submission to Church authority.

        Still, with God all things are possible.

      • Posted by Julian O'Dea on January 12, 2018 at 3:06 am

        Yes. I am in a similar situation. But I have seen some of my relatives make tentative movements back to the Catholic Faith. As you say, with God all things are possible. Nobody’s story is written until it is over.

  4. I would think of the new name as a sort of status symbol. Yeah, I know how that sounds.

    I suppose I can see why a woman who doesn’t want her worth tied to acquiring a man would balk at my suggestion.


  5. I suppose I’ve always seen changing your name as part and parcel of the most essential component of marriage – the two becoming one. As you leave the tribe of your father, you enter the tribe of your husband, and you take his family name. If you don’t want to be under the demesne of a man, then you’d object to this, naturally. (How you then get around the point of being married, becoming one, I don’t understand, but then that sort tends to not want to become one anyhow).

    If one is being PARTICULARLY snarky (of course I’d *never* do this) one can insist on old-school courtesy and ask to have one’s husband’s ENTIRE name used with Mrs. attached. That really ticks ’em off. 😀


    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on January 13, 2018 at 9:04 am

      Yes. I know another woman who does that and it does annoy certain folk.

      Of course all that women are doing by “keeping their name” is using their father’s surname.

      There are certain cases where it might make sense for a woman to retain her maiden name for some purposes at least, but how many women are in that category?


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