Dear Husband: Regrettably, I Am Not Ready to Change My Name (Just Yet!)

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Charli Penn-Watkins Writer Editor Blogger Media SpecialistDear Man,

I know we talked about this over and over (and over!) again and because of that you’re probably not going to like what I have to say. I know how much it means to you for me to be Mrs. Watkins, and that as a sweet compromise you begrudgingly agreed to let me be Mrs. Penn-Watkins instead. I appreciate you caving in slightly in that department and I know you thought that was the end of the debate about itl. But, here’s the thing: I still want to be Charli Penn – at least for a little while longer. You won’t believe this, but it has absolutely nothing to do with how I feel about your name. I will always be partial to Penn, but Watkins really does have a nice ring to it too. It instead has everything to do with the fact that the act of getting married represents such a big union and ultimately such an enormous change (for the better) in my life that although it brings me so much joy to be your wife, I find just a small part of me still wanting to hold on to something about me that felt right before you were ever the center of my life. Is that weird? Okay maybe a little. Or maybe it isn’t. I don’t know. But this all comes from a good place, promise.

Ninety six percent of me cannot wait to jump up the first time someone yells “Charli Penn-Watkins” at the DMV, or say “this is she” when a telemarketer randomly calls and says “May I please speak to Mrs. Watkins”. But, 2 percent of me is still not convinced I really believe a woman should have to change her name at all (sorry, babe), and the other 2 percent of me has just been too damn lazy to put the tremendous effort forth to do it right now. So there you have it. The answer to the question I know has been on your mind: “Why the hell hasn’t my wife even attempted to change her name to mine.”

And don’t say it’s okay. I know you will, but it‘s probably not. Not to you at least. I get it. I know it’s not okay with you because every time since our beautiful wedding day that you have had to fill out my name you’ve proudly written Charli Penn-Watkins — every single time. Believe me baby I noticed, and I know how proud officially making me your wife has made you feel. I’m proud that you’re the kind of man that takes pride in that. Know that I will get there, I promise. But, I’m just not there yet. Bare with me, please? I love and adore you and being married to you, and calling you my husband instead of my fiancé or boyfriend. I really do and I believe in my heart that you know that too. So know that I’m getting there slowly. I think I’ll even be there sooner than you think, and I appreciate your patience more than you can ever know. Also, just for the record: I agreed to change my name finally because family means everything to me, and I want you, me, and our kids to share a name and a bond that’s unbreakable and recognizable. You surname is a big part of that. That’s gotta count for something right? I love you so very much.


The Wife

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28 Responses to Dear Husband: Regrettably, I Am Not Ready to Change My Name (Just Yet!)

  1. Have to talk about this one! It took me about a year and three months to "officially" change my name. I completely understand! My father has no sons and I just felt like it was MY name, a huge part of me, especially having such a independent personality. The other part was the hassle. The pressure at times felt like that between Kunta Kente and Massa! We had more then a few heated exchanges about the topic. In his ideal world I wouldn't even have kept my maiden name in my new name at all (I kept it as another middle name not hyphenated). That was NOT going to happen. I really don't think men understand what the name change feels like. I felt like the pressure from him was him just wanting to put his stamp on me like macho thing, an alpha male marking his territory. He felt I was disrespecting him (I admit I never really understood that view fully) But in the end once I did change it (When I was ready) it felt good to be Mrs. Oliver Brewer officially and see it on the important documents in my life. I really think the men should just fall back and let this one happen if they marry a woman who struggles with it. The pressure does not help whatsoever and probably made me take even longer. made the transition easier, and actually getting it done at the ss office was much more painless than I expected. Charlie, just know that when/if you do change it you really won't lose who you are. You have worked hard to create a name for yourself and even if that changes people will still seek it and know it. Think about Jada Pinkett-Smith she's no less fly for her married name maybe even better for it. She and Will are a powerhouse. :)

    • ManWifeDog says:

      I'm definitely going to use! I heard it was a great resource from so many newlyweds. Anique, I hear you on the whole macho stamp thing. I believe that whether they admit it or not they're totally into the idea that you take on their name and in most cases give up your own. NOT a big deal for some wives but I'm glad to know others can sympathize with my feeling of loss. It's saying goodbye to a part of you whether you're okay with it or not.

      • Guest says:

        Girls, why do YOU have to lose a part of you, but not your husband? Why always the women to bear the loss, or make the change, or adjust to the new things, etc?

  2. Joy says:

    Hmmmm. :) I'm a tradionalist at heart. So, come that broom-jumping day, my last name is gone. Chucking up the deuces! LOL But I completely understand why some women (such as yourself) don't jump at the chance. For me though, my surname was never a source of defintion for me, but one of many ways for others to recognize me amongst the crowd. Admit it, you've never met another "Gulledge". LOL But at the end of the day, maiden name or not, I'm still Joy and as long as my hypothetical husband doesn't want me to change that, I'm good. :)

    Love reading your stuff! :D

    • ManWifeDog says:

      Love hearing from a "traditionalist"! In so many ways I can be very traditional but for some reason in this case I find myself being quite the feminist. Ha! Go figure….crazy how hot of a topic this has turned out to be. :-)

      And thanks SO much for reading and commenting girl. Means a lot!

  3. Amber says:

    I so feel you on this! I ALWAYS tell Daryl that I wouldn't change my name if/when we get married. Part of me is joking, but most of me is SERIOUS. Being Amber Brockington is all that I’ve know and it just sounds right! I’m proud to bare my family name and it’s not something that I’m willing to just give up. Like you, I’ve said that I’d be willing to compromise by hyphenating my name to Brockington-Boone (even though it’s ridiculously long!). But Daryl’s not having any part of it! He always questions why I wouldn’t want to have the same last name as him and our son. Quite simply the answer is, I like my name and I want to keep it.

  4. Johanna says:

    Since i've known my boyfriend I have always told him that if we get married i'm NOT changing my name. However, after a million years of dating, I think I have changed my mind. He could care less about my last name(you know him). My mom has been married for 36 years and never changed her name. I always thought this was such a feminist move and I wanted to be like her. However, she tells me now that it would have been easier for her to just change it. I'm not 100% ready for that change though. So many people recognize me by my last name. Like Joy said, have you ever met a Perez-Fox? It's so different, and really represents my heritage. Johanna Penn sounds cool but not so exotic. I would love to hyphenate it but three last names is ridiculous. Well Charli, maybe the Penn's will loose one namesake but gain another (in a few years). :-)

  5. Fahmida Y Rashid says:

    I didn't officially change my name because as a writer, my name is also a professional asset. We compromised – I go by my husband's name socially, but legally (bank documents, work, etc) I kept my name.

    I am not saying it's easy – it's a little scary traveling overseas with my kids, and when in more traditional societies, having authorities look at me suspiciously for having these two boys, who I don't share a name with, with me (both of them clearly resemble their dad).

    People sometimes forget and make out checks to me, but with my husband's last name. Thankfully, most banks are forgiving, especially since we have a joint bank account.

    But it was important to my career that I keep connection with my past work, and in this day of Google rankings and stuff, names are critical.

  6. Matt says:

    I'd like to chime in on this one from a male perspective. First of all, I have to agree with Johanna's boyfriend. I could really care less if a woman changes her last name. This is a tradition that perhaps has met its time. I can't imagine having to change my last name, have to go through all the hassle of doing so, and losing long time contacts in the process because they can no longer find you on Facebook or Linkedin (but it does put some space between yourself and stalkers from high school, lol). It would be selfish of me to expect that if my wife was so committed to me that she show her commitment through changing a name that she's spent years building a professional and personal reputation on. Look, the fact that she's decided to make a lifelong commitment to me is enough. I think a lot of guys enjoy the possessive aspect of their wife taking their name as well. All the other things I'd possess, good and bad, through marriage would be more than enough for me, lol.

    To share an example from my family: my step-sister has always been independent and a bit of a feminist. When she got married 15 years ago, to his dislike, she refused to take her husband's name based on her personal beliefs and budding professional career. When they divorced four years later, she was in a better place for not having to go through the decision of whether or not to change her name back. Five years ago she got remarried and her husband had no quarrel with her not taking his name and she voluntarily hyphenated her last name. Then, two years later, she voluntarily lost the hyphenation and has now wholly taken his name.

    And finally, from my personal experience: my ex-wife got remarried and hyphenated my last name and her new husband's name for the sake of "her business and our children". She has sense gotten divorced from him, dropped his last name, kept mine, and is ruining my family's reputation all over town! Lol

    • adrienne says:

      Sorry, but that last paragraph was funny. lol.

      My ex is still commenting on the fact that I'm changing my name back and I'm like…um we're not married, we don't have kids so?….

    • ManWifeDog says:

      Matt! Thanks so much for chiming in on behalf of the men and for sharing such interesting examples. lmao @"ruining my family's reputation all over town."

  7. adrienne says:

    I took my ex's last name. It was a hassle to change it (and it will be to change it back )and I felt like I was losing something by changing it but that wasn't going to stop me from doing it. I think it makes sense to do.

    I have a friend that didn't change her name and I didn't know it for two years. It seems odd (I have a lot of long term married couples and that's just what was done) but I don't look at her differently. It's just one of those huh? moments. lol.

    Since I've already been married I don't I'd change it again. It's a real hassle.

  8. I changed my name. My dad has 2 sons so I knew the family name wasn't going to die out. I know it's a REALLY BIG DEAL to some women. Just wasn't for me. *shrugs*

    • ManWifeDog says:

      Amazing how divide the debate can be isn't it? I find it fascinating and I can clearly see both sides of the argument too. Thanks for sharing!!

  9. The Man says:

    Hello Wife,

    Thanks for being honest with me. You know I'm looking forward to seeing my last name on your license.But for now I'll settle for seeing both our names on the marriage license. That is what makes it official. The credit cards and things are small things. I love you and I know you'll do it on your own time. (You better LOL) Besides we're already married and when we have little humans as you call them I know their last names better be Watkins. No hyphens honey.


    The Man

  10. The Man says:

    P.S. I will continue to sign your name as Charli Penn-Watkins. Has a nice ring to it. Haha.

  11. Josef Sawyer says:

    I don't really care if the wife changes her last name to mine… I think that is such a small issue in the grand scheme of things and just pure Ego at work…

    I know I wouldn't change my name if it was the other way around… To me it's just a formality… And I hate the whole hypen thing…

    People who have two last names it's just too damn confusing…

    Say for instance Jennifer Stephens-Miller… pick one last name and move on… there are much bigger battles

  12. Even when I was a child (long before I embraced feminism), I knew that I didn't want to change my name. My father is Ethiopian and my first and last name are very ethnic sounding. I used to wish for a more American sounding name like Ashley Johnson or Jessica Smith but I grew to love my name. It sounds distinct and kind of musical. I simply don't want to change it. Hopefully my future husband can understand that.

  13. Summer says:

    I just don't see what the big deal is. Your kids know you as MOM and DAD — not Penn or Watkins. Having a professional name is important. Besides, given the number of divorced folks out there, number of them getting remarried and having more kids, the odds that you, your mom, dad, brothers, and sisters all have the same last name are pretty slim to none, lol.

  14. Pingback: Dear Husband: I Confess, I Snooped Through Your Phone Last Night | Man Wife And Dog Blog

  15. Oh man, the very thought of women still changing their names in 2011 makes me a little sick to my stomach! I've strictly forbidden my wife to change hers. :)

  16. Just found your blog and so glad I did!! It took me FIVE years to finally come to terms with changing my name. And since I never had a middle name, I kept my maiden name as my middle. I never thought I would have a problem changing it until my wedding day. It's so important to be okay with the name change and you'll eventually get there. Love that your man hates hyphens! So does my hubs. Actually, I'm not keen on them myself. Now I'm rambling so I'll stop, but wanted to let you know you're fabulous!

  17. Chrystal says:

    I do not know how I came across your blog (pick a blog hop, any blog hop) but I am glad I did. This post rings true of everything I am currently going through. I was married in 2001. I was never a fan of my last name, my father was not a good man, nor his family. So when I married at had the option to become Mrs. Hall, I could not wait. The process of changing my name on every little thing I had was a pain in the rear! When we divorced I had my name changed to my mother's maiden name, which I love. I am proud of my heritage and my family, not to mention what I have done with my life since taking on that name. This Sept. I am about to be married again and honestly, I don't really want to go through the process of changing my name. But, I know he wants me to. At this point, I am not sure what I am going to do, but I am going to pass this blog post along to him :)
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