The name change thing
Unfortunately so often, not taking your husband's surname brings to mind an aggressive stereotype of stubbornness and overwhelming authority, some women feel deterred from doing this in order to not come across this way. Many do to keep their surname in a bid to fight against the loss of identity in giving up one's maiden name, as well as to stand up against the sexist premise on which traditional name-taking is based. We are now in an time where there is more awareness of the other options available. However there is still a lot of divided opinions on the choices people make.
Whilst it is still very much the norm to adopt the husband's surname, there are of course other options to consider. The legalisation of gay marriage also means that the legal and societal view of marriage, in terms of a legal arrangement between two people who love each other is becoming more about equal partnership rather than about ownership which it has in the past. When it comes to matrimonial identity, there are a host of alternatives, for different reasons than simply sticking up a middle finger to the patriarchy/family/conservative values.
Marriage is not just a union of love but also a legal process. During the circumstance of marriage, the common law right of a person to change their name is officially recognised by the court system. Traditionally the woman will take the man’s name and lose her maiden name. This is generally what is expected.
From quite early on David and I considered alternatives to taking his last name, but we were unsure what this would look like. We never thought of ourselves as the “Moseleys”, and there are already too many David Squires in the family for him to take my name. Even if we decided to take his name, we felt it was important to understand the roots behind it and why that tradition is in place. After weighing it up, we arrived at the decision of “name-blending” and creating an altogether new name.
Obviously this a more unusual option, and we understood that not everyone will agree with our decision. Even if you don’t completely agree, some of your feminist ideals will be screaming ’Yaaaas queen Yaaasss’. But this isn’t really about feminist ideals or being different for the sake of it. Marriage is a union which creates a new identity, both legally and personally, and the name change is a big part of that. It's a change that we both want to go through. In this way, both of us will take on a new identity, not just me.
We’re proud of our heritage and respect our family names deeply and choosing to take on a new name together isn’t supposed to be a rejection of that. Since making this decision we have taken it upon ourselves to investigate both our family trees in order to make sure we have those records to pass on. Family, heritage and culture is more than just the name. It’s about understanding where you come from, and in a way marriage is about leaving your family to make a new once. We’re hoping that we can strike that balance, and feel that a new name is part of it.
Getting a deed poll is actually quite a straight-forward process. You just apply online, pay about £50, and it arrives in the post telling you that “Miss Ruth Naomi Squires will now be known as Mrs Ruth Naomi Rose”. It’s valid once you sign it. The difficult part will be changing all our other documents to conform with this. It’s something that I’d have to do anyway, so David is going to go through it all as well. In the end it will be worth it to be united under our new name, jointly chosen at equal cost to both of us.
From our wedding day in July 2018, we will legally change our surname to “Rose”. We experimented with various combinations of surnames and Christian names, but arrived quite organically at “Rose”. We’re not mad into the flower or anything, but it’s got a nice sound, has meaning for the two of us, and turns out that 4 generations back there was an Ada Rose in David’s family. So there is a kind of rhyme and reason to it after all.
We’ve been working on our creative ideas, expressive writing and poetry, which we’ll start collecting and publishing here under Real Rose, inspired by our new surname.