When most women think about decisions surrounding their upcoming nuptials, they think of things such as wedding gowns, bridesmaids dresses and wedding cake designs. However, there is one important decision that needs to be made that most brides don't even think about until just before, or sometimes after the wedding.....changing their last name.
To change or not to change. That is the question. Surprisingly, most women (around 90%) decide to take their husband's last name when they get married. The practice of a woman keeping her last name was first introduced in the United States in the 1850's by the suffragette, Lucy Stone. The practice was then adopted by members of the league by the same name in the 1920's and became popular in the 1970's during the Women's Rights Movement. While the practice peaked in the 1990's, it was still only at about 23%. By the beginning of the 21st Century, only around 18% of women were keeping their maiden names and it is estimated that currently only around 8% do so.
Keep in mind, however, that the fact that most women choose to change their last names after marriage does not mean this decision was entered into easily. When making the decision to change your last name, all kinds of emotions are stirred up. This does not just mean the ones where you want to "go postal" because of all the paperwork involved at the Social Security and DMV offices. It's really a very personal choice that can have surprising effects on a woman's emotions.
Sometimes the decision of whether or not to change a woman's last name is centered around the fact that there are no males in the family to "carry on the family name." Other times a woman does not want to lose her identity by changing her last name. This is particularly true if a woman has a well established career with her maiden name or has used her last name in conjunction with her business or as a stage name.
There are many different options when it comes to the debate of name changing. You can always keep your last name or you can take your new spouse's last name. Some women choose to take his last name and use their maiden name as a middle name. Some women choose to take their spouse's last name legally, but keep their own name professionally. Then there are the women that decide to hyphenate the two names. However, while it is widely assumed that quite a few women choose to hyphenate their last names, only around 6% of women actually choose to go this route.
A 2009 study revealed that women who chose to keep their last names tended to have higher levels or education and marry older. Many likely worked in medicine, entertainment or the arts. The women that choose to take their spouse's last name give many varied reasons such as tradition, they find it romantic and some feel it is easier and more convenient once they have children.
While reasons for keeping your last name or changing it to your spouse's are many, the one thing that is common with all women is that the choice is highly personal and no one choice is the correct choice for everyone.
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