When Mark and I got married, I
was adamant that I was keeping my last name in my name, so hyphenating seemed
like the way to go. Mark, not to be
one-upped (since he already had a hyphenated last name), added my last name to
his middle name (yes, it’s hyphenated also!).
Why did I want to keep my last name
as part of my married name? One reason
is because of my identity—to myself, to my family, and to my heritage. My last name represented so solidly for me a
part of who I was and am. But Mark’s
last name also represented our new life together, as partners, and that I was joining his family. So, hyphenating seemed a good representation
of this partnership. (In writing this
blog post, I read other blog posts, and there were a few articles that
suggested that hyphenated names did not show unity between the couple. I am not quite clear about the logic of this
argument, since to me, having both names represented shows the unifying of two
A second reason I was
interested in hyphenating (as opposed to changing my last name to Mark’s name),
was for professional reasons. I had
already published (albeit, in tiny, college-level journals), but I didn’t want
my future self to have issues with a name change during the course of my
writing career. (Since my writing career
has stalled, this doesn’t seem to be as critical, but one can dream.)
A lesser third reason is I’ve
never been big on doing something just because it’s tradition or what everyone
does. I believe in doing the thing that
rings true for me—which in this case was hyphenating my last name.
though I have always used my hyphenated name on all correspondence with family
and friends, no one ever seems to get it right.
At the end of our wedding ceremony, we had asked our priest to present
us simply as “Mark and Christy,” instead of “Mr. and Mrs. So-and-So.” This was done for logistical reasons (because
saying Mr. Mark J-N and Mrs. Christy B-J is pretty awkward), but also because,
regardless of what we were doing with our last names, saying “Mark and Christy”
was the best representation of us.
I have, on many occasions,
responded to wedding invitations writing in both of our full names (Mark J-N
and Christy B-J), only to arrive at the reception to find a nameplate with
Christy J. At Christmas, cards come from
friends and family alike addressed to Christy and Mark J. (Even my own mother, who tried to discourage me from hyphenating because it would make my name too long, addresses it this way!) I’ve even gotten shower invitations (from
both sides of Mark’s family) addressed to Christy J. Even more frustrating is when I’m on the phone
making a hotel reservation or taking care of a bill, and I always both say and
then spell out my whole last name, and inevitably, the guy (and believe me, it’s always a guy on the other end) says “ok,
Mrs. J, thank you for that information.”
As someone with a Polish last
name that people pronounced correctly only about 20% of the time, I will admit
that I am a bit sensitive about my name.
But, as I explained above, your name represents you, who you are, and
your identity. If people aren’t getting
your name right, it does feel a bit like they didn’t take the time or effort or
care to make sure they identify you as you.
I try to always make sure I have people’s names correctly as they want
to be called—not as I think or assume their name is—and all I ask is for the
same curtesy. Don’t call me Mark if my
name is Christy-Mark!