When I got married back in 2012, I faced this dilemma. Thinking back on it, I don't know why it was such a big deal. I had no attachment to my last name. I didn't necessarily want to keep mine, but I also didn't really want to take his.
Truthfully, I was just stubborn and unsure of what I wanted at the time. Gone were the days where you just took your husband's last name, and women everywhere were coming up with all sorts of stuff, making it more complicated for me to figure out what I wanted.
But In the end I decided to take his last name. It was just easier and he was more important to me than a name.
It's been three years and I have no regrets. If anything, I can't believe how ridiculous I was.
Most last names are patriarchal. They are passed down from great grandfather, to grandfather, to father, then to son. So I will never fully understand the feminist argument, since in the end you are basically fighting over whether or not to use your grandfather's or his grandfather's last name, and even if you had your mom's last name, that probably still belonged to a male sometime in the past.
I'm not against not changing your name, but sometimes I think the reasons behind them aren't very solid. So here are some reasons why you should keep your last name or consider combining last names:
- If you have a strong attachment to your family history. Some people consider their family ancestry very important and if you are proud or value you lineage, you might want to keep your last name.
- Your partner's last name is embarrassing or could lead to potential teasing when you have kids. I have heard and seen some pretty bad last names, like Poop. In this case, your partner might even want or be willing to take your last name.
- Your the last one to pass on the family name. This kind of ties in with number one. If you want to keep the patriarchy going, then you probably want to hold onto your last name, but you will also want to discuss naming your children as well since if you don't pass on your last name, the family name will end with you.
- You have a strong career/reputation, bills to pay, etc. You probably don't want to deal with the hassle of having to change your name on every single document. (This is why my husband didn't want to change his last name, plus he liked his last name).
- You love your last name (probably because of points one and three).
I'm sure there are some other legit reasons out there, but these are the common ones I see and can totally understand.
I didn't keep my last name because I didn't feel any of the above. To me it was just a name, it wasn't even mine to begin with, it belonged to some really old man. I liked the idea of sharing a name with my husband and our future children, and since he wanted to keep his, it just made sense to take his last name. To me it appears odd when the mother's last name is different from the rest of the family or vice versa. It just doesn't have that "family unit" feel, but that's just my opinion.
I did have a moment where I thought it would be cool if we made our own last name by combining or last names, do some weird kind of mash-up, but that was too "out there" for my husband and thinking back on it, I kind of have to agree. However, I think this could become a trend in the future.
In the end you do what is right for you and your partner, but decide early on just how important the last name issue is to you. If it is a deal breaker, maybe don't wait until he proposes to bring it up, but also don't bring it up on the first date.