What’s in a Married Name?

For the past few weeks, I’ve been handling the catering orders for our Jabberwocky Audio Theater recording sessions and revisited one of my life’s perennial sources of both comedy and drama.

People get flustered with my name.

This, in and of itself, is not an issue. It’s more when people seem to feel that I somehow picked this name just to make their lives more difficult is where it gets annoying. All of you with “odd” names know exactly what I mean. Despite all logic and personal experience for how people are named, the flustered person gives you a look that says, “Why did you choose to name yourself that and do this to me?”

I mean, I have mused before that perhaps I should have adopted a pen name for my writing, but it’s arguably too late now.

And people do choose how to name themselves all the time when they get married, though I would argue the flustering still belongs entirely to the flustered person, who really needs to get out more.

Nevertheless, since it’s so statistically unusual for a man to take his wife’s name, Carolyn Kitchener decided to write about it over in The Atlantic. There’s also some interesting follow-up in the form of letters from readers.

It could be the background studying anthropology and history, but I’m still surprised that some people are so adamant that the wife change her surname to the husband’s. My favorite solution is to combine the names into a new one (no hyphenates), but not all names are compatible in this regard.

We could also all go to a single name a la Javanese tradition, but the resulting head explosions from bureaucrats and record-keepers worldwide would make Krakatoa look like a solitary bus backfire.

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