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5 Reasons Why Women Change Their Surname After Marriage (And When They Shouldn't)

02/04/2015 8:11 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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An aide reaches for a name plate for Delegate Kevin Kelly, D-Allegany, before a committee hearing on a same-sex marriage bill in Annapolis, Md., Friday, Feb. 10, 2012. The state Senate passed a similar bill in last year's legislative session, only to see it stall in the House. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley says his bill to legalize gay marriage offers more protection to religious freedoms than any other same-sex marriage proposal in the country.(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

I am a woman, a feisty feminist, and yet I am going to tell you why women like me change their surname after marriage.

1. To seal the package:

Think of a surname as a 'tag' to group together people. After marriage you and your spouse become a partners in life. Wherever you go, people see you two as a package. Why should the package not have a common tag, a common label for the purpose of identification? So let's say, we have Miss Kumarika Shubhnaam who gets married to Mr. Kumar Upnaam (names have been changed for privacy).

After marriage, isn't it just easier to tag them as Mr. and Mrs. Upnaam? Makes it easy for people to know they belong to one family. If they have children, they get tagged as the Upnaam kids and we know who the mother of the children is. Imagine if she used her maiden surname and the kids got lost in a mela. How would anyone be able to connect the kids to the mother just by looking at the name? Yes, so think of the surname as a tag for the family. For identification purposes. Not to be confused with identity, which we shall look at later.

2. To avoid confusion:

Someone wants to invite you and your spouse for a party. What do they write? If the woman uses her maiden surname, should they write, "We request the pleasure of the company of Mr. Upnaam and Miss Shubhnaam?" Who are these two? Are they related? Or should they write Mrs. Shubhnaam? Or does she call herself Ms. Shubhnaam? At the party, how should people address the lady? Miss S? Ms. S? Mrs. S? Mrs. U? Or just simply Kumarika? Why add to the confusion of life? Why make life more complicated than it already is? Mr. and Mrs. Upnaam are so simple to deal with. Nothing wrong with just Kumarika either.

3. To make paperwork easy:

What name is our lady going to have on her passport? On her marriage certificate? On the birth certificate of her children? On the ration card? Joint bank accounts? Credit card? Will? Property papers? While people will always call her Mrs. Upnaam, her insistence on hanging on to her maiden surname is going to create more hassle in terms of paperwork. Why go through all this trouble every time you start a joint venture with your spouse? People will ask for your marriage certificate everywhere. People will make mistakes. Airline staff, for example, will get confused. Ms. Shubhnaam may not get seats with the Upnaam kids and Mr. Upnaam. Phew!

4. Your name changes, you don't:

We women have a lot to contend with after getting married. A new home, a new additional family, a new husband. There are enough hurdles, enough obstacles to jump over. One has to choose one's battles. Why have a war over a surname? Is it our identity? No. It's just an identifying mark. Is it going to make you a different human or a changed personality? No. Is it going to take away the fact that you will always be your parents' daughter with all the values they gave you? No. Is it going to wipe away your past? No. Is it going to change your future? No. Is it going to lower your self esteem? No. Then why resist the labelling? Just because the label changes, the package doesn't.

5. You don't want people to find you:

Yes, enough women don't want ex- boyfriends, ex-stalkers, ex-husbands or just unpleasant people to find them or know of their whereabouts. So just go with the flow and get yourself a new surname. Problem solved.

Now, here are some compelling reasons why one should keep one's maiden surname. Yes, hang on to it for dear life, come what may:

Your husband has a funny surname:: Yes, you love him but can't bear the thought of going through life with a surname that will make you cringe in embarrassment. Do not part with your maiden surname.

Your name is a brand: : You passed important exams, got degrees and lots of alphabets added to your maiden name. You've got research papers in your name. You want people to Google you and come up with prestigious search results that get you further up on the career ladder. I would say hang on to your maiden surname. Or maybe just keep your professional life separate from your personal life. So Dr [Ms.] Kumarika Shubhnaam for your patients and Mrs. Upnaam for your child's teacher.

You want your old pals to know who you are: : Especially on Facebook where you look for old classmates, people search for old flames and who knows who is looking for you. Maybe someone left you an inheritance and is looking for you in your maiden name. In that case, if it makes you happy, keep your old surname.

If your husband insists on changing your first name as well as your surname: : Yes, plenty of husbands in this day and era do. So now instead of Miss Kumarika Shubhnam, meet Mrs. Ardhangini Upnaam! No! Maybe it's time to have a good hard look at the man you intend to marry and think about what else he expects you to change besides just your name.

The best middle ground is to have a double-barreled surname. One that fuses your past with your present. Your bachelorette days with your married days. One that marries the two labels to get one long, impressive, tongue twister of a surname. But if you have long surnames, just think of how you will be introducing yourself to strangers. Every time you start off it will be like reciting the Mahabharata while the person in front of you stifles a yawn. Will they remember your double-barreled surname? Will they remember to call you Mrs. Shubhnam-Upnaam next time? What about the poor kids? What about your daughter when she gets married? Will she be called Mrs. Shubhnam-Upnaam-Parinaam?

For the sake of our future generations and yourself, please ladies, whatever you do, whatever your label, whatever your name tag, do not lose your identity.

You are what you are. Don't let a name define you.

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