Newly married, Deborah Tan writes about the first of many problems about life as a wife. Today, she asks if she should take her husband’s name.
This is my first Love In Lines post as a married woman. We ROM-ed last Friday. The actual wedding party, however, will happen at the end of the month. One of the things I get asked a lot is if I’d be taking on my husband’s name. You see, he’s got a rather interesting last name and everyone is waiting with bated breath to see if I – The Girl Who Loves Her Black Dresses – would change my name to …
Yep, my husband’s last name is Pink.
It is quite a big thing – in some cultures – for the wife to take the husband’s name. The wife’s own last name is called her “maiden name” and that is why, in marriage, she is expected to assume her husband’s last name. Some women do the double-barrel thing and combine both last names. In my case, if I wanted to go double-barrel, I’d be called “Deborah Tan Pink”.
There is a growing debate whether women should still be expected to take their husband’s name. In the United States, it has been found that the number of women opting to keep their maiden names is shrinking. From 23 percent in the 90s, the number has fallen to a paltry 8 percent in 2011. Some feminists find the trend disturbing because it is akin to a woman choosing to lose her own identity – the one she was born with.
For the women who have chosen to keep their own names, often, the reason is professional. If her name is already a well-established one in her industry, it seems counter-intuitive to change it. This is the biggest reason for me as well for not wanting to change my name. I have been publishing under my own name since I started working in magazines. “You have no idea how much work I’ve had to do to get onto the first page of Google!” I’d tell my friends. There was a period when if you had Googled “Deborah Tan”, you’d get the principal of a girls’ school.
To change my name to Deborah Pink would – in the words of my inner-geek – mean losing my search engine juice! And just what would happen to my personal domain, deborahtan.com? My ego is telling me to keep “Deborah Tan”.
The first complication I foresee arising out of my decision to keep my name would be if formal invitation cards should address me as “Ms Deborah Tan” or “Mrs Deborah Pink”. Obviously, I’m not a Ms but it would be weird to call me Mrs Deborah Pink if I’m going to introduce myself as Deborah Tan.
Earlier on, I mentioned how some women go double-barrel but for me, I cannot consider it an option. “Tan Pink” is just asking to be made fun of! If I happen to spend a minute too long in the sun, I’m going to have to sit through all manners of sunburn jokes because I’m Mrs Tan Pink!
The arguments supporting “Deborah Tan” are mostly professional, based on my crazed need to keep my identity. The arguments supporting “Deborah Pink” are most certainly more emotional. The women who have opted to take on their husbands’ names often say that marriage is not the place for personal egos. Rather, it is a partnership where two people have promised to work as a team. Of course, we can discuss why can’t men take on their wives’ name but this isn’t the point of my post. What messages would I be sending out if I chose to remain “Deborah Tan”? What messages would I be sending if I chose to become “Deborah Pink”? Does it even matter?
To my husband, he has said no, it doesn’t matter to him if I become one or the other. I guess the reason why I’m bringing this up is because I’d love to hear a second, third, fourth … tenth opinion. I’ve heard the, “It’s so cute to have Pink as a surname” argument, I’ve heard the, “Deborah Pink will also get you on page 1 on Google. How many Deborah Pinks are there?” consolation.
Beyond saying, “I do” and putting on the wedding band, I think many women struggle to establish what their new identity really entails. As a wife now, should we set aside our personal ego and recognise that we have to work with our husbands now to build a new life together? As a woman, should we remind ourselves that we shouldn’t forget our own person just because we are now married?
I think I’m only just beginning to scratch at the surface of a whole new personal growth topic. But tell me, what do you think I should do? Stay as “Deborah Tan” or be “Deborah Pink” or thicken my skin and just go by “Deborah Tan Pink”?
Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Deborah Tan talks about the trials and tribulations of being newly married. Stay tuned for more!
About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. She does openly wonder if people would take her seriously if she goes by the name, “Deborah Pink”. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.