Photo by Joshua Dwain Photography (No filter — it’s actually raining.)

I ascend (stepping onto my Soapbox).

If marriage is your goal, that’s fine. But don’t legally change your last name.

Each year we set new goals and create vision boards. I’ve seen “Changing your last name” making the goals list recently. From a woman’s perspective (the blog is based upon my experiences and observations), the aspiration is to find the ideal mate, get engaged, get married, and then change your last time. The final step includes completing all the legal actions required to now assume the last name of your new husband.

Marriage is a beautiful institution. It can be a beautiful relationship if it’s on your goal list. The ideal scenario is the uniting of two whole beings (important note: ½ + ½ ≠ 1 in marriage) coming together in holy matrimony to live happily ever after.

Unified by the last name

In my opinion, the unity of the marriage is best displayed in behavior. The matching wedding rings combined with endearing looks at each other, full support and cheerleading of each other’s dreams, and even coordinated outfits that automatically confirm that the two are a couple.

Black husband and wife hugging and smiling

Meet the [insert the last name]! It’s a beautiful introduction to a newly formed partnership. It also makes for lovely place cards at weddings, e.g. Mr. & Mrs. [insert the last name] at Table 7. But does that mean a woman should legally change her last name after marriage? Well, I say no. Do not legally change your last name. Watch Shellie Soapbox Podcast Episode 2 and/or continue reading to find out why.

Three reasons not to legally change your last name after marriage

  1. It’s an administrative nightmare. It requires taking your proof of marriage and identity to the Social Security Administration, Department of Motor Vehicles, place of employment, etc., in order to execute the change.
  2. Divorce rates. Though no one enters marriage with divorce as part of the journey, it happens. Statistics show that 41% of first marriages in the United States end in divorce and the number increases with each additional marriage. Then you’re back to reason number 1 so you can reverse the name change.
  3. Is it mandatory? I’d argue that it’s a tradition that should be optional. What decree says you must legally change your last name?

One exception

If your new last name comes with the influence that affords you opportunities that you might not have without it, then by all means, legally change your last name. For example, if you’re trying to get a table at a popular restaurant that requires a reservation six months in advance, the name Shellie Obama will likely get a seat. But Shellie Smith will probably be added to the months-long waitlist.

The survey says

I asked several family members, friends, and a few strangers, “Should women legally change their last names after getting married?” It was split almost evenly between women and men. Women were saying ‘no,’ and men were adamantly declaring ‘yes.’

What do you think?

Of course, it’s a personal decision, and there’s no right or wrong answer. But tell me what you think about the question. Comment below or send an email to ShellieSoapbox@gmail.com. Reminder: Please do so with respect and kindness.

I descend (stepping off my Soapbox).



Shellie Soapbox Podcast & Blog series

Sharing my random thoughts and perspectives through blogs and podcasts. Ice cream lover.