Like many young girls, I remember being super excited about changing my name before I got married. I doodled my new name in probably 100 different ways. I considered it a rite of passage. Years later, as my marriage ended I remember only briefly considering whether I would change my name back to my maiden name. Sadly, very few get excited about changing their name back.
I have known many women who fall on either side of this discussion. Some women want a clean break from the marriage… as if a new life equals a new name (or a return to an old one as it may be.) I understand that. I also understand that sometimes emotions run high and HATING YOUR EX might be a factor. All I can say is, “Try not to make emotional decisions that affect your life.” That in itself is never a good idea. It’s especially bad when its about something as basic as your identity.
I chose not to change my name back for reasons that make sense for my life. It’s an individual decision and there’s no right or wrong answer that fits for everyone. Whether or not my reasons apply to you, maybe they will be food for thought when considering your preferences for if/when the time comes.
Why I chose to keep my married name:
I got married when I was 22 year old and remained married for 22 years, raising a family and establishing a life. When my marriage broke up, I realized that more people knew me as Tracy Shevlin than not. That applied to my friends, acquaintences, doctors, schools and even my kids friends and their parents all knew me as Shevlin.
I might have felt differently if I were in my 20’s or 30’s and not married for my entire adult life. If I were younger, returning to a maiden name would have been less drastic.
Secondly, it gave me a small comfort that as a mother of three, I kept the same last name as my children. This is not the issue that it was 20+ years ago… when it was more awkward to have a different last name, but still it was the only constant that remained during the break-up of my marriage. It sounds silly, but a name change was not on my big issue list.
Additionally, my career history and references are in my married name. I would feel differently if I had certifications, degrees or publications under my maiden name. ** This is the flip side of the argument that some women have when they get married… when they decide whether to change their name at all or perhaps hyphenate it.
Things to consider: Do you have publications, degrees, certifications, academic or otherwise in a different name? What name is your credit in?
** This would have trumped a lot of other considerations had my answers been different.**
Lastly, I will admit, it’s easier to keep your married name than not. Keeping it meant that I did not have to change my name on bank accounts, credit cards, doctor’s offices, etc. If I would have felt strongly about changing my name, the administrative hassle to make the change would not have stopped me. Still, easier is better than harder during this difficult time.
Part of divorce is re-establishing yourself as single person. Making it as easy as possible, with the best possible outcome should be part of your motivation. Divorce is hard. Knowing what to do is not always easy. Whether or not to change your name is only one of many decisions that you will have to make. However, if you think it through, you will know what’s right for you.