Although I’ve only talked about this to close friends up until now, I think this is an important topic for women my age who struggle to understand what it means to be a successful woman but also a loving wife and (eventually) mother. One of the personal things about our wedding (and marriage in general) that I’m worried about is changing my name.
Ever since I was very young, I always assumed I would change my name when I got married. I fantasized about the day that people would read my name off of a list and be able to pronounce it at first glance. Although I haven’t made my final decision yet, I know that I will be adding Shaun’s last name to mine in some capacity when we get married. I haven’t yet decided, though, if I want to hyphenate, change Chaloupka to a second middle name, or just become “Kimberly Ann Hardtke.” (As of right now, I’m leaning towards adding a second middle name)
My hesitations have nothing to do with Shaun or the name or his family. For that matter, my hesitations don’t have that much to do with my family. I have a brother, and I think it’s pretty likely that someday he’ll get married and have children. The name won’t die if I don’t keep it (unlike the likely fate of my mother’s maiden name, at least in our lineage). This is hard to explain to him, because he understandably took it quite personally the one time I tried to talk about it.
I know that having a different name will not change the person that I am. But I have accomplished a lot as Kimberly Chaloupka. I think it would be difficult for me to wrap my head around the fact that she would not technically, legally, on paper exist anymore. It’s hard to think that this person I’ve become over the past 22 years will no longer be the same for the remaining 3/4 of my life (or possibly longer).
Sometimes, it makes me question why women still change their names but men do not. I know some couples who both hyphenate, or who combine their last names to make a new, unique name. I also know that this is unconventional, and I’m not suggesting that it’s what Shaun and I do. But I do like my last name (unusual as it is, and maybe that’s why I like it so much) and I’m not quite ready to part with it…yet. At the same time, I’m not sure if I’ll ever be ready.