The Strange Name Debate

Unique arguments begin to arise when you're presented with opportunities you had assumed were never going to be opportunities. Namely, pardon the pun, marriage. For me. My marriage. The one happening this year.


The unique argument in this situation is what to do about my name. Now, if you're a straight couple in America, chances are that this is less of a debate for you. The husband's name is what becomes the family name. It's a patriarchal tradition that is slowly starting to lose it's grip on the younger generation. Young women these days want to keep their name, or couples hyphenate their name, or they come up with some new name.


But, now there's gay marriage.


And I have no idea what the new tradition is supposed to be.


I don't think there is one.


I think I'm supposed to make a decision that feels right.

The problem is one I never really thought about before: I think I like my name just the way it is. Funny, because I always thought my name was boring. It's fairly common, though not as common as a Smith or a Brown, but still fairly common. While it's not as beautiful as some of the more exotic names out there, it's the one I've had for almost 28 years. I'm used to it, and I don't really know that I want that to change.


Also, the more I've thought about it, the more I like my name because nobody else in my family has it. My grandmother has had more husbands than Elizabeth Taylor, and she didn't have any repeats. Because of that my father's last name was actually the name of the man she was married to when he was in 6th grade. He went home from one school year with one last name and came back in the fall with a new last name.


So, other than my father, my mother, my uncle, my aunt (uncle's wife), and my brother...there is nobody else in my family with that last name. Should my brother not have children, and my name changes, there is nobody to pass that name on.


But, then, there's fairness to Partner. Any children that we have will be his children, too. His last name is actually shared by his very large extended family. It has a history and a power and a right to be passed on just as mine is.


I always assumed, I guess, that we'd keep our names and then our children would just have two last names. No hyphenation. Just two last names.


For those of you in same sex relationships, or for those of you who've made non-traditional naming choices, how did you rectify your internal name debate? If you're not married yet, what do you think about the last name exchange/change? Are you for it? Where do you lie? Keep your name, hyphenate, or create a new name?


Love and Lyte,


Fire Lyte



  1. I contemplated about changing my name from the time my husband proposed until more than three weeks after the wedding. In the end, I changed my last name for several reasons, though there is still a part of me that is sad that I did. I have been married for over six years now and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish I had at least hyphenated. I haven't attempted to begin hyphenating my last name because I think it would hurt my husband. This is not a decision to make lightly. I would give it serious thought and write down your feelings. Talk it over with Partner and maybe take notes. It might seem silly, but I truly believe that it will help you make the decision that it right for you and Partner.
    Congratulations on finally having the right you should have had from the beginning and good luck with the wedding planning. Just don't take it too hard when it gets tough. I didn't remember anything from the ceremony and most people I've talked to agree. Enjoy the road to your wedding and pretty please post some pictures. Nothing personal, if it makes you uncomfortable, but I'm sure I'm not the only person who would like a peek at your wedding.

  2. Before I get into giving advice let me just say congratulations! I am so happy for you and I can't wait to hear about the wedding. I would think the best answer for your last name would be for each of you to either keep your last name or both hyphenate them. However, I can tell you from personal experience that in most cases you will just go by the first name in the hyphen. As far as children are concerned I would suggest giving them one last name. My husband had a hyphenated name growing up because his parents got divorced young. Thus he grew up with an incredibly long last name, which I took when we married. I asked him once what our kids last name was going to be and he responded with just the first half of the hyphenated name. When I asked why he told me that he would never curse a child with a fourteen letter last name. So unpess you both have really short last names I would suggest not hyphenating because it causes a lot of annoyences.

  3. I think part of this is why boyfriend and I have put off getting married for so long! We may have a "traditional" male/female relationship but we're definitely NOT traditional in most other ways. I think legal marriage is a great opportunity to take on a new surname. We've debating me taking his surname, him taking mine, and choosing an entirely new one for us both altogether that means something personal to -us-. Buuuuut, I have a feeling we'll end up just keeping our names as-is (and deal with the dilemma of naming kids if/when that happens, haha).

  4. My husband and I have been together over 20 years. When we got a civil union and then were married here in Connecticut, we both kept our last names. I think it is what we were used to and didn't feel like changing. Also saved the hassle of me trying to calm down my father who even gets upset if I write my last name too sloppily. I think if it were TOTALLY up to me, I'd lose the last name all together.


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