I'm interested if anyone else went through the same existential, emotional experience when beginning the process of changing their names? I almost shed a tear at the DMV. The woman, who could not have cared less, just took my forms, stamped them out, took $20 and sent me on my way with monosyllabic exchanges. I was trying to hold it together and not draw attention from the scowling security guard nearby.
But seriously, my name! Jennifer E. Jones. If you google it just like that, a lot of my old writing comes up. A lot of my journalistic career is there. You can see my picture. It's probably a little more public than I'd like it to be, but nevertheless, it's mine.
There's even a song written about my name!
Not to mention the self-righteous, feminist indignation of it all.. I found myself grumbling, "Why do I have to change my name? What doesn't he change his? What's with this bogus, sexist system set up for women to abandon their identity?!"
The obvious question is, "Well, why did you change it?" After all, it's not 1962. A lady can keep her name, especially if you got married later in life as I did. Plus, my husband was fine with my name as it is. He never pressured me either way. One night when I was sitting in a pile of all the name change forms, he kissed me on the forehead and said, "You don't have to do this."
Then, why did I? Here are a few reasons.
1). I'm an introvert who, at times, is prone to self-isolation. However, marriage is a team sport for life. Or rather, as I like to say, we're now a tribe, and tribes have one name. Different positions within the tribe, but, again, everybody has one name. It's for the sake of solidarity.
2). I don't want to figure out what to call my kids. I just don't have time for that. They get the tribe name too.
3). It's not a bad choice. If I met a guy with the last name Nasalbum, then, yeah. I can live with Scott. It's almost as common as meeting a guy with the last name Jones (came dreadfully close in college).
4). It helps with the change. One thing people omit in the midst of wedding bliss is how different your life will be after "I do". You have to learn how to be a husband a wife, how to be lovers, and how to be roommates. I'm not saying it's hard; I'm just saying it's different. It's change.
5)... which closely relates to #4. It helps you let go. With all the change may come a sense of loss. I feel it. I was independent for a long time before my husband came around. I was used to my stuff, my time, my this, my that. Some of those things weren't necessary to bring into marriage. We can't have two homes and two beds. Kind of excessive. Granted, a name is more than a practical thing, but you still don't need an extra one.
So, it's true. I lost a bunch of things when I got married. I lost my apartment, my bed, my last name, my self-imposed right to be moody and unreasonable in the morning. But I gained so much more. I gained the kind of love and companionship that I seriously did not believe existed. I got an extra set of a family. Not to mention the added income. Just a bunch of happy pluses that add up to more than what I had before.
I'm letting it go, all of it. We had a good run. After all, if being Miss Jones was this awesome, can't wait to see what awaits Mrs. Scott.