Kim Katz is in her mid-forties and says she’s found her guy. She didn’t hesitate to take his name even though this is her third marriage.
It’s crazy. I’ve always taken my husband’s name. I guess I’m a traditionalist and I’ve always felt that’s what you do. After my first marriage, I did go back to my maiden name. It was a very bad divorce and he was getting into my accounts. I just needed to divorce myself from him completely. I felt that keeping his name simply wasn’t an option.
When I got married the second time, because we intended to have more children, I did take his name. After we were divorced I was going to keep his name. I talked to my daughter about it and she was OK with having a different name from mine. But then I met my current husband, Richard, and I decided to take his name. If all my children had had the same last name, I think I would have stayed with it. I did think about going back to my maiden name – that’s what I started out as so maybe that’s how I should be known? But I also wanted to show my kids that when you do get married, you do give yourself to another person. You can maintain your independence even if you take your spouse’s name.
I thought taking his name was a good way of honoring everything he had given and done for me. He didn’t ask me to change my name and he didn’t expect it at all. In spite of multiple marriages I was never so cynical and jaded that I didn’t believe in marriage. I wanted a good marriage – I just didn’t get one the first couple of times around. I wanted that cohesiveness that comes with sharing things including the same last name.
I don’t think it bothers the kids that we all have different last names. It’s not so unusual for kids to have different last names from their moms now because the moms sometimes keep their original name and the kids will have their dad’s last name. I personally do have a hard time with it. I feel that I have to explain my personal situation to everybody which is not something I enjoy doing. I hate introducing myself and saying my son’s name so people can connect us.
People do tease me about changing my name so much – it’s ‘what’s your name this week?’ I get a lot of grief for that. At home now we joke about my initials. My middle name begins with ‘K’ so now my initials are ‘KKK’ so I tell my family they cannot get me anything monogrammed. They laugh about that.
Listening to Kim’s story I couldn’t help but think life would be easier if we just didn’t have this tradition and culture of changing our last names on marriage. Then we’d all have different expectations and there wouldn’t be the awkward-feeling introducing yourself with new last name. Makes me wonder about other cultures and how they handle this – is there anyone out there that does it ‘right’ ?