Ask Wendy

Why Won’t She Take My Name?

September 13, 2016
Hey Wendy,

My fiance is refusing to take my last name. Why would the woman who says she loves me not take my name?

Troy T. — Boston, MA

Hey Troy,

What’s your last name? Hitler? Dick? Crapper? These are real possibilities, ya know.

Maybe she loves her last name. Maybe she hates yours. Maybe she’s built a long-standing career around her name. Maybe it flows better or is easier to spell. Maybe she’s rebelling against convention (and there’s not one thing wrong with that!).

I beg you to consider that this issue has nothing to do with her love for you. And I’d like to give you a history lesson for perspective.

This whole “take his last name” business started in England. The term used for it is Coverture, which means when a man and woman tie the knot,  the woman’s legal rights and obligations are subsumed by those of her husband.

This tradition, Coverture, means her legal status and rights as a person are lessened.

A married woman’s legal status became feme covert. As an unmarried woman, her status was feme sole, and that gave her the right to own property, make contracts, and do any damned thing she wanted to in her own name.

I don’t know about you, Troy, but I think a healthy balance of autonomy in a partnership rocks! It’s also really, really, really good for the longevity of a happy relationship.

Maybe you need to understand why, and that’s fair — ask her. But I offer for your consideration that she loves you and she’s a person who wants to remain her own person after she says “I do.”

Happy wedding!

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