To Hyphenate or Not to Hyphenate

This is the question, friends. What do I do with my name now that I am married? I want to keep my whole maiden name and just add my new married last name, but do I hyphenate it or not? If I don’t hyphenate, what becomes of my maiden name? Do I then have two middle names or two last names? Do I get to choose? How does one make such decisions? And most importantly, when we still live in Cary in ten years and I’m a soccer mom, WHICH SWIRLY PINK LETTERS WILL I HAVE MONOGRAMMED ON MY MINIVAN NEXT TO MY STICK-FIGURE FAMILY?!?!

My friend Dre got married a week after I did, and she was chomping at the bit to change her name because her married name is so much easier to deal with than her maiden name (too many confusing superfluous letters). But I’m BethParent. It’s just one of those names. I don’t know when it started, but people seem to like using both my first and last names, and I’ve gotten used to it. Also, it’s easy to explain. I say, “Parent. P-A-R-E-N-T, like your mother or your father.” This never worked for the Wilkesboro Pizza Hut (apparently they refer to their moms and dads as “parrot”), but for most folks, it’s pretty clear.

I recognize that I’m in the middle of a very common identity crisis, and that in three years, no matter what I change it to, I’ll be used to it, but right now it feels like a very big deal, so I bring it to you.

I’d like to hear from women who:

  • hyphenated
  • kept their middle and maiden names as middle names
  • kept their middle and maiden names and added their married name (un-hyphenated) to make two last names
  • dropped their middle (or first) names
  • dropped their maiden names
  • changed their names completely (Princess Consuela Bananahammock, anyone?)

What was this time in your life like? How did you come to your decision? What factored into it for you? How long did it take you to get used to being “someone else”? If you could do it again, would you do anything differently?

Author: beth

I'm told that I'm cleverly stupid, and that's why people are friends with me. And here I thought it was because I was so dang cute...

3 thoughts on “To Hyphenate or Not to Hyphenate”

  1. Hey, hey! I’ve only been married six months, but I went the traditional route and took my fella’s last name. I didn’t drop any names, nor did I hyphenate. That’s what seemed like the best plan for me/us, and so far I couldn’t be happier about it. I’m still getting used to the new last name but “Mr. & Mrs.” makes me giddy every time I see or hear it. Since it hasn’t been very long, though, most of my stuff is still in my maiden name. It’s a long process to change names on everything but I’m checking it off the list one thing at a time!

    Congrats again! Wishing you peace in your decision making. 🙂

  2. Obviously Josh and I got married when we were tiny babies (or so it seems now) but I dropped Katherine and kept Orcutt, no hyphen. On my CV and all that they get to see all the names. Pretty used to the Riggsbee now, almost 10 years later. But why did I introduce myself in Nepali as Sarah Orcutt last week….hmmm. Love you and congrats!

  3. I’ve been married for a year and half now. I hyphenated. I hate it.

    To be fair, it wasn’t my original intention. I wanted to drop Anne, my middle name, and just be Lauren Franklin Steinmetz. That way, I could use the whole thing professionally if I wanted to, but I had options. But there was a fateful day, taking part in one of my first experiences with German bureaucracy, and the translator said, “She said no. You can’t get rid of your second name, you can either keep your name as is, change your family name, or hyphenate.” I was unprepared. I panicked. I didn’t want to leave my name as-is. I wanted to share his name! But was I really ready to get rid of Franklin completely? “I’ll keep them all!” I said. And then I became Frau Lauren Anne Franklin-Steinmetz.

    It’s not a big deal, but I think I would just be Lauren Anne Steinmetz if I had it to do over again. I am often annoyed by how long my name is, and I occasionally am embarrassed because I think it sounds pretentious. Who do I think I am, anyway? I sometimes just say “Steinmetz” to make things easier, but then sometimes I can’t remember which name I gave and it annoys people. And really, it’s kind of nice to have my old name professionally, but am I really so famous that it would matter? NO. So do what you want– in the end it doesn’t matter, but I would just say that in my experience, hyphenating is a hassle, and if you just keep your name, what for? If you want to make a statement with your name, then go for it, but I often feel like I’m making a statement with mine that I’m not particularly interested in making. I thought that it would be too weird or hard to give up Franklin, but now I just being Steinmetz seems completely normal. But whatever you choose will be fine!

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