Keeping my last name
By Dani Addante
It was two months before my wedding, and my fiancé and I had gone to get our marriage license. The woman at the county office explained what I had to do to change my surname. I listened closely, since I was planning to change my surname after I got married.
Later on came a nagging feeling. I started feeling horrible about the idea of changing my surname. My surname is Italian and I absolutely love it. It goes perfectly with my first name. And since I’m a story writer, I want my own name to go on the covers of my books, not someone else’s. So I decided that I didn’t want to change it after all. Also, it’s an Italian tradition for women to keep their own last names.
But I was worried. I had recently read a book in which a woman had married, intending to change her surname, then decided against it, and her husband was sad about this decision. Would my fiancé be upset by this?
“What do you think if I didn’t change my last name?” I asked my fiancé, curious to hear his answer. “Whatever makes you feel better is fine with me,” he responded. Now I knew even more that he was the right person for me.
But I was nervous. What would my family think? What would people in the ward think? I felt a lot of pressure to change my surname, and was reluctant to tell anyone that I was planning to keep my surname.
I live in a pre-dominantly Mormon culture. I hadn’t heard of any other woman who had married and kept her last name. I didn’t know how other people would react or if they would even accept it.
After getting married, I decided to try out my husband’s surname unofficially to see how it went. At church, when I wrote my name on the new member form, I used my husband’s last name. I feared the members wouldn’t accept my decision to keep my surname.
At first, my mother hinted that she wanted me to change my last name. But then she accepted that I decided not to change it. My family was very accepting of my decision. I was surprised because, for some reason, I had expected disapproval from them.
My in-laws later found out I hadn’t changed my last name. They accepted this quickly, and my father-in-law even told me I had made a good decision. Ever since my in-laws found out, they now write my own surname whenever they address a letter to me. A few other people also said positive things about my decision. I was very surprised.
At church they still called me by my husband’s last name. I regretted writing the wrong name on the member form and wondered if I’d be called by the wrong name until I changed wards.
I began writing my own surname at church on the attendance forms and tithing slips. One day, one of the counselors in the bishopric asked me if I went by my maiden name. I said yes. He told me I could get my name changed in the records and told me the name of the person in charge of that. I talked to that person and he went ahead and corrected my last name in the ward directory. I felt so much better when I went to the ward directory online and saw my own surname written there!
I began using my own surname more freely and have been happier because of this. I realized from this experience that my previous fears were in vain. The ward members have accepted me going by my own last name. Occasionally, there is a slip and they accidentally call me by my husband’s name, but for the most part they refer to me by my real name. I am extremely lucky to have wonderful accepting people in my ward.
Dani has a B.A. in Creative Writing and loves to write fantasy and science fiction. She loves to eat anything with chocolate and her favorite animal is a guinea pig.