To Change or Not to Change? (My Name)

Hey readers. I got married! Awesome wedding post is coming up but I had some thoughts today and wanted to write them down for the blog.

This post is about my decision to change my name.

Those of you who knew me when I was married the first time might know that I changed my name at the insistence of my ex despite the fact that he previously was totally on board with me keeping my birth name. I did the dual last name thing and saying my name sounded like reciting a coffee order at Starbucks, always ending with “two last names no hyphen.” So I didn’t want to do a dual name or hyphenated name. It was a hassle the first time and I wasn’t that into it.

The same weekend I got married (the first time), I got my birth name tattooed onto my right ankle. It was my first tattoo. It says “Reed” in a script font. My sister has a matching one. I was a little salty about changing my name and felt like he had forced my hand and essentially thrown a tantrum and manipulated me. What better way to stay attached to my prior life than to tattoo it onto my body for all eternity, right?

Only months into my first marriage, my ex “gave me permission” to change my name back legally. This cost over $100 in legal fees plus the cost of new ID, etc. Bummer. Twice the name change means twice the hassle and twice the cost of new ID. So this time around I wanted to make a decision and stick with it. Stephen told me he was 100% okay with whatever I decided and he did not have a preference. (WOW AMAZING YES).

Then there are the feminist concerns. Down with the patriarchy! Women aren’t property! Name changes upon marriage are archaic and horrible! Are they? Is it really antifeminist to change my name to my husband’s name? What about combining names into a cool hybrid (Herreed? Rerron? Reedron? No, those are not great.)? What about picking a totally new name from a favorite show or book to celebrate your love and unity without having to have a winner? I wasn’t super into those ideas either and neither was my husband. The true feminist way to do things is HOWEVER YOU WANT. Feminism is about equality and choice.

What about my own family of origin? My dad had no sons, so if my sister and I don’t “carry on the family name,” then Reed dies a sad, pathetic, flopping death at the roots of our family tree. Only, it really doesn’t. It’s fine. There are more Reeds out there, and seeing my aunt chronicle our genealogy going back centuries has actually really helped with this concern. I’m not any of those names on my family tree through the ages. I was a Reed and that was cool. And now I’m a Herron and that’s cool too. I’m me. I’m Caitlin.

What about what other people would think? Will people think I’m bowing to the patriarchy if I change my name? Will people assume we’re unmarried with kids out of wedlock if I have a different last name than my children? Do people still say “wedlock”? Does any of this matter and does anyone’s opinion affect my life at all? Spoiler alert: No. Only my opinion matters about my name. My husband gets a slight vote. If he had a strong preference I would take it into account but this man is not the type to try and force me into something I don’t want to do (wow, this is quite nice).

I had tied my identity up with being Caitlin Reed for a really long time. Through years of therapy and self-help books, I finally felt like I had healed and blossomed into who I was meant to truly be. Caitlin Reed was a cool chick. However, maybe it’s the fact that I’m older and wiser than I was the first time I got married or maybe it’s just because I got married for reasons other than crippingly low self esteem, but I felt really good about changing my name this time.

I want to be a family. I want to start something new. A new chapter of my life. And I’m starting it as Caitlin Herron.

065 Purple Heron copy

Majestic AF, flying away from the haters.

Photo source: http://www.pers-birding-pages.com/www.pers-birding-pages.com/Purple_Heron.html

Do you want to know the secret reason? The reason that really sealed the deal for this decision? Do you want to know? I will tell you.

It’s the bird puns now available to me.

#NoEgrets
#NotBittern

5 thoughts on “To Change or Not to Change? (My Name)

  1. NicolaB says:

    The bird puns definitely make it worth it 😅
    I’ve though about changing my name should I get married- I’m leaning towards not. I think, aside from not liking the symbolism of changing my name, I have been called by my last name as a nickname for years, do I am extra attached to it.
    I wonder if I would feel the same if I had children and we didn’t all share the same surname, but I could cross that bridge when I came to it.

    However, your most important point is that feminism is about choice…also I’m glad your new husband sounds super supportive and generally nice!🙂

    • Caitlin says:

      He’s pretty amazing🙂 And yeah, those bird puns are a significant factor in the decision hahaha!!!

      You can always change it later if you decide having the same name as kids is important to you🙂

      • NicolaB says:

        That’s what I thought- I might be fine with having a different name, I might not- but I don’t need to decide now!
        People have so many different family circumstances and makeups these days that having different names wouldn’t be unusual.

        Looking forward to ate set one bird pun in each post😉

      • thecfomom says:

        I didn’t change my name when I got married 10+ years ago (yes, that’s me being too lazy to do the math calculations). I honestly couldn’t be bothered with the paperwork. Two kids later, I sometimes pretend my name is hyphened when I am writing emails to the school. I’m sure I confuse the heck out of people, but whatever. The people who are important to me know I’m married.

  2. The Enchanted Outlook says:

    Hahaha! Love the bird puns! Yeah the name change is a hassle- even when you do it of your own free will. Six months in and I’m still finding things I need to change. But I hated my maiden name and my husband is also of a different culture, so I knew it would mean a lot to his family as well in a “welcoming to the family” kind of way.

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