Life Advice


Health & Spirit

Taking her spouse's last name could disconnect her from her family

Carolyn Hax on

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Hi, Carolyn:

I got married two years ago. Neither of us changed our last name. Now I would like to change my last name to my spouse's. I'd like to tell my family before I do this.

My family hasn't been supportive of our relationship until very recently. We're a lady couple and the 'rents had big problems adjusting to that. I don't talk to them often. Part of the reason I am changing my name is because I am more connected to my spouse's family.

I guess I'm worried my family will take this personally and it will be seen as me disconnecting from my family at a time when we are working on being more connected. Thoughts? -- Last Name

It is personal, though, so they would be right to take it personally. Yes?


You have every right to take your spouse's last name, of course, with or without justification. It's just that actions always have consequences and there appear to be some foreseeable consequences to what you plan to do.

Are you ready for those consequences? If your family does take offense, and they respond by undoing your recent progress, will you regret the name change -- or at least your decision to do it now, amid "very recent" progress?

If you're ready to proceed now and to accept the consequences, then I suggest just telling your family in a declarative way. "I've decided to take Spousie's name. I just wanted to let you all know before I started the process."

Your phrasing suggests you want both to do something upsetting and not upset anybody -- i.e., detach cause from effect -- and the answer to that is, always, you can't. You can only choose your priorities and hope for the bets.


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