Once I knew I was getting divorced, I also knew without a doubt I wanted to change my name back to my maiden name. There was a part of me that never knew why I had changed my name in the first place although I think it had to do with demonstrating commitment and maintaining traditions. It was something I had assumed I would do.
My ex is of Eastern-European heritage and little did I know that taking his name, would mean that I would always have to say it and then spell it for anyone writing it down. For anyone who would have to say it, I also had to give them the phonetic pronunciation otherwise they would inevitably say it wrong. I remember my daughter’s ballet recital when she was a preschooler. She was getting an award and the ballet teacher called her name out incorrectly three times, before someone nudged my daughter to say ‘that’s you.’
Then, there were always the people who asked the origins of the name. I didn’t want to possibly spend the rest of my life explaining that my name was my ex-husband’s. Since I’m English and despite having lived in the U.S. for over 20 years, still have an immediately recognizable English accent, my married name seemed even more incongruous.
I asked my children, then aged 14 and 11, how they felt about my having a different last name to them and they just shrugged and said OK – they could both name friends whose mothers were married and had kept their maiden names and it didn’t seem that odd to them. So then I asked them about whether they would like to hyphenate their last name to have my maiden name also. We were in the car, on the way to piano lessons and it was one of those classic sibling moments when they were both in agreement and just melted in fits of giggles – ‘what would happen if we married someone who had a hyphenated name? Would we have four last names then?’ Then they proceeded to match themselves with kids who had a hyphenated name. I took that to mean they were just fine with me changing my name.
The logistics of changing my name were far harder and more tedious than the legalities. There are still two companies – Verizon Wireless and Comcast where my account isn’t correctly listed. I tried twice with both, to get the account correct and just haven’t had the energy for round three even though it bothers me that I get a bill each month with my ex-husband’s name on it. Since Comcast is my phone provider it means that my ex’s name shows up on the caller ID. Maybe I’ll give it another try soon.
The other challenge I’ve noticed is that some of my children’s friends are sure how to address me. They’re trying to be really polite and sometimes call me “Mrs” and use my married name. I guess that’s maybe a common problem for women who don’t adopt their husband’s name. I’ve decided that I should let it go – I don’t want to embarrass them for using the wrong name and most of the time I’m known by my first name anyway.
My quick search of Letitia Baldridge’s etiquette guide leads me to believe it’s my choice whether to stay “Mrs. ” My preference is “Ms” and I certainly don’t want to be a “Miss” at 50-plus. That just smacks of “spinster” and “old maid.”
Would I change my name if I got married again? Somehow I don’t think so … but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.