My Husband Took My Last Name

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imageWhenever I’m asked to define a unique trait or some sort of trivia about myself I seem to always forget one of the the most interesting conversation starters I have: My Husband Took My Last Name. It’s funny because when I tell people this I can never quite predict what type of response people will have. The type of response usually depends on the amount of time that person has known me, but they are all interesting and worthy of remembering.

I remember when my husband and I were getting married we tossed around ideas of what we would do about our names. Sometimes we discussed combining both of our names into some zombie-Frankenstein monster of a last name. Sometimes we discussed my taking of his name. But a few times he said that he would just take my name. There where many times where both of us just wondered what does a last name mean anyway?

As time progressed and the wedding date drew closer he begin mentioning his name change more frequently than mine. Jokingly at firs and increasing in sincerity and honesty as time went on.

There were many practical reasons for me to keep my last name. All the bills were in my name. My licensure would have to be changed. My uniforms had my name embroidered on them and they would also have to be changed. There were probably over a hundred places that my name would have to be changed.

There were also personal reasons. My father was the only male in his family and I was his only child. The Wilson name would die with with me. It’s not like there aren’t boatloads and boatloads of Wilsons, but not mine. Heck there are even a few Brittney Wilsons floating around. But I felt like I was letting my dad down.

My husband had a troubled relationship with his father. There were times where his dad even questioned openly whether he was my husbands father by blood and it cut like a knife each time. He told me stories of his father’s drunken episodes and of the many childhood beatings he had received. Even though he spoke with his father he could never completely forgive him for what he had done to him as a child. He has no fond memories of his family name and had no desire to pass it on to another generation.

When we went to apply for our marriage license I asked him “What do you want me to do?” He replied “Keep your name. It means something to you. Mine doesn’t mean anything and there needs to be at least one more generation of your Wilson’s in the world.”

imageSo my husband took my last name. The name of my father, and a man he looks up to. The name of a leather company who produces fine leather goods. The name of a volley ball that Tom Hanks befriended in the movie Castaway.

Boy was the court clerk almost appalled when we told her he was taking my last name. “There isn’t a field for that on that form!” To which I replied “You’re going to have to write it in because it’s 2008 and this woman’s prerogative to have my husband take my last name.” So she did. Everything was typed, except for the last name for him. “I don’t know if the judge will approve this,” she said. “We’ll he better unless he wants a civil rights case on his hands.” She huffed and walked away.

We were married in a church. The social security office and the DMV changed his name without batting an eye.

When people who barely know me find out my husband took my last name they think I’m weird. When people who know me find out they just know that I’m Brittney.

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8 thoughts on “My Husband Took My Last Name”

  1. I hear this is becoming more common, but I’d never heard a real-life example of someone doing it. It seems like there were many reasons that this was a good idea for you and your family. Thanks for sharing!

    1. ElizabethXu I’ve never met anyone else that has done it, but I had heard it had been done. I really like telling prudish and uptight people about it. They get so uncomfortable their skin nearly crawls.

  2. Love this story!  What a perfect example of how we all should embrace change and support individuals in making choices that are right for them.  Who does it harm if your husband takes your last name?  Oh, we can’t, because the form doesn’t have a line for that.  Really?  
    Your story reminds us of the importance of training our front line staff – they set the tone for the entire experience of that visit during the intake process.  Using your story as an example, a name change is such a common, routine procedure for judges.  But this intake person was setting up a barrier with her personal bias and comments.  Fortunately, you were articulate and assertive.  I can’t help but wonder, however, how many other people she has stopped from getting to the judge before they even began the process, or stopped them from bringing up certain questions.  I’m glad you stood up for yourself – it will help those who come after you! – Raney Linck

    1. RNNext Unfortunately, you are right. And not so much unfortunate that you are right, but that the situation exists, of course.
      Whenever I encounter a challenge in my own healthcare (or my 4 year old who has a hypertension diagnosis)I know what to do to break through the walls that are being built in front of me. I often think about the uninformed and the passive patients and family members who are afraid or unable to advocate for their needs and concerns. It’s up to nurses to see this and advocate for them, but what if the nurses aren’t paying attention, or are the problem themselves?

  3. elizabeth scala

    That is freaking awesome, Brittney! I actually can understand where you are coming from. When I got married I wasn’t taking my husbands name for many similar reasons. It is a TON of work if you own a business, are a nurse, and have your name/brand all over the place already. I would’ve had to start from scratch. What a great story. I will share this page with my husband and see what his reaction is. I kept saying he should take mine, lol. Now I have some evidence that others are doing it! Thank you!!!

    1. elizabeth scala At the time I didn’t have a business started yet, but I had a ton of other things in my name. It would have been a no brainier to keep my name if I was getting married at this point! But I’m super blessed to have a husband who actually wanted to take mine. 🙂
      thanks for the comment! When you tell your husband I would love to know what he think.

  4. What a wonderful story to share, Brittney!  Filled with courage, love, and dialogue!  Beth

    1. BethBoynton thank you Beth. It’s one of those stories that I forget about, but nearly everyone I tell finds it interesting  Some find it weird, some find it awesome, but the all find it interesting and usually it sparks a great conversation.

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