It’s been almost a year since I married the cutest guy in the world. (He’s going to hate that I put that in writing, but I say it to him about 4000 times per day so what’s the difference?)
A couple weeks before our wedding, we went over to the applicable government office and applied for our marriage license. I was still undecided and had been successfully avoiding committing to any sort of name change. When we were speaking to the county clerk’s office, though, they asked if I wanted a new name put on the marriage license. I panicked and got a huge spike of anxiety. The person who was assisting us mentioned that I never actually had to change my name to whatever I put on the license, which gave me peace, so I said that he could put my husband’s last name in place of my own.
Looking back on it, I truly wish that I had premeditated my name change more. It was so difficult for me to seriously think about it, because every time I did, I’d get anxious and sweaty and need air and had to stuff it back down. (This is not a healthy way to deal with anxiety.) I still can’t put a finger on exactly why it gave me such a visceral reaction. I don’t necessarily think it was negative or a sign that I didn’t actually want to change my name. I’ve always planned on changing my last name to my husband’s — before I even knew Tim. I’m pretty progressive overall and a thousand percent hate that the practice began essentially like transferring the title of a car — from parental “ownership” to husband “ownership” — but I also really love the symbolism of having the same name as a family unit. Plus, my husband and I very much have an equality-focused partnership, and just because the practice of sharing a last name is super antiquated in origin doesn’t mean that our use of the practice has to represent that negative baggage. And yes, it’ll be nice to have the same last name as my kids.
I think what I was really wrestling with was that I just didn’t recognize the name. When I said or wrote “Amanda Treese,” I kept hearing a voice in my head saying, “Who?” It was unsettling. I like my last name just fine, and I wasn’t in a hurry to change it. I didn’t know who Amanda Treese was, and I didn’t like thinking that somehow, this name that I didn’t recognize was actually me.
Many months have passed since we applied for that marriage license. We had the best wedding ever followed by an amazing honeymoon, traveled a ton, built a solid palate for and collection of wine, and took seven billion photos of our cats. The fact that my last name was different than his mattered not a single bit. And I realized, having the same last name as his also does not matter a single bit. Now, I know this sounds like a “don’t change my last name” post, but it’s the opposite. I decided that our names were really inconsequential and it changes absolutely nothing about who I am, and if I want to have the same last name as my husband, just do it. The only time I have to strictly go by that name is in legal documents. Plus, I was about to be in a rare time in life with absolutely NO flights booked for a couple months — the perfect time to change my last name, if ever. So I went for it.
I still wish that I had made my maiden name my middle name, but I didn’t put that on the marriage license and I didn’t feel like going through the process of getting a new one. Again, I realized, who cares what my exact name is? I’m in the middle of the extremely arduous process now — I enlisted HitchSwitch to help me through it all — but thankfully I’m at the perfect time in my life to take on an painstaking project like this. And when Tim and I move to a new city one day, no one there will even know my old name. It’s not really who I am. It’s just what was written on a birth certificate …a few… years ago.
For those out there who are undecided or chose to not change their name, I hope you know that this is just my personal experience working toward being comfortable with something that I did genuinely want to do. To change or not change your name is an extremely personal decision that involves no one but you, and nothing is right or wrong except doing what makes you happy.
In conclusion, does anyone know how to get a “Dame” honorific from the Queen? Because I think that would really spice up my new name.
Dame Amanda M. (Delzell) Treese
One thought on “Why I decided to change my name”
I had that same anxiety the minute the woman at the clerk’s office asked me what my name would be. I of course had been preparing for this moment, and I still panicked. I gave her the longest name ever, Kelly Michelle Fondren Owens, to keep all my names. Almost immediately I regretted that decision! I ended up having to go to the courthouse in front of a judge to change it to Kelly Fondren Owens. Then I wanted to stall on updating all my documents because it still felt so foreign to be an Owens but we needed to book our honeymoon asap and I needed a new passport. I still feels so odd to see or hear Kelly Owens, like I don’t recognize myself. When people on the phone ask my name I have a quick pause before answering. I 100% relate to the anxiety this process induces!