Open Phones: Love and Married Names

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A man in Florida took his wife's name when they got married as an "act of love" . . . and lost his driver's license.  New York is one of the few states where it's as easy for husbands to take their wives' names as the other, more traditional, way around. Did you take advantage of that?  How did you solve the love/marriage/legal name dilemma?  And what about your children's last names?  Call us at 212-433-WNYC, 212-433-9692, or post a comment here.


Comments [16]


I married a Cuban man whose family's roots go back to Spain and Italy. Their tradition is to hyphenate the last names of the bride and groom. This is a great tradition that helps to track lineage. For my children it gives them the option of choosing a Spanish or Americanized Eastern European surname. It also saved me the pain of giving up the name I was born with; which I absolutely love.

Feb. 14 2013 09:50 AM
mylpei from New Jersey

The mayor of Los Angeles combined his original own last name, Villar, with that of his then wife, Raigosa, and came up with Villaraigosa. Alas, they have since divorced.

Separate from this is the Chinese practice of a daughter from a family with only daughters marrying a man who agrees to allow the son(s) of this marriage to take the mother's surname.

Feb. 14 2013 02:06 AM
DM from NYC

The man in Fla changes his laegal name but did not change his name on his drivers license. If you legally change your name you have to make that change on all legal docs as well (not easy!). The DMV were just being diligent and doing their job. Would happen to a woman changing her name as well.

Feb. 13 2013 12:02 PM
Sean Sakamoto from Manhattan

I took my wife's name. We decided that her name sounded better with my first name, than my last name did with her's so I went for it.

It's funny because I'm a white guy named Sakamoto now. Sometimes when I meet people, they ask, "Are you half?" And I say, "Yes, my mom's side was German and my dad's side was Dutch, so I'm half German, half Dutch."

Feb. 13 2013 12:01 PM

How about just abolishing the patriarchal institution of marriage??

Feb. 13 2013 11:59 AM
John Lumea from San Francisco

My wife, Alisha, and I took a different approach. Our initial instinct was for both of us to hyphenate. But my surname was "Head" -- and hers was the Polish "Tlumacki," whose Anglicized pronumciation is "tuh MACK ee."

Neither of the available options -- Tlumacki-Head or Head-Tlumacki -- sounded very appetizing.

So we took the "l-u-m" from her name and the "e-a" from mine, to create a new name, "Lumea" -- which we pronounce "LEW mee uh."

It wasn't until after we'd hatched our plan that we discovered, through our research of New York state law, that a couple's creating a completely new surname by merging "fragments" of the partners' previous surnames is one of the specifically detailed options for changing one's surname through marriage. No separate legal fees were required.

We were the Vows column in the New York Times on 15 April 2001.

A nice serendipity: After we'd made our choice, we were delighted to discover that "" directed to a Web site of love poems. (Alas, not any more.)

I confess that -- although I didn't lose my license -- the DMV did give me hell.

Feb. 13 2013 11:59 AM
Ann from upper Manhattan

My brother took his wife's last name when they married in 1983. It was, i believe, a feminist statement, and it emphasized my brother's enthusiasm for and commitment to the union. Finally it saved his having to spell our impossible last name, which he moved to the middle position.

Feb. 13 2013 11:54 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Yes, doing silly things according to their gender. We know better than nature.

As more and more research comes to light, we are learning how profoundly different we are as male & female, and how important these different behaviors and cultural cues are to us, precisely AS men & women.

And the more we dismiss them all, the more confused we seem to get.

Political correctness notwithstanding.

If you doubt this, read Naomi Wolf's current book: "Vagina."

Feb. 13 2013 11:54 AM
Susie from Jackson Heights, NY

I have a distant cousin in the Milwaukee area who took on his wife's last name (Stewart) because he liked it, and it was simpler and more common than his own last name. As far as I know, things went ok for them; this was at least 20 years ago or so!

Feb. 13 2013 11:54 AM
John from Fanwood

A friend in my NJ town did take his wife's last name when they married. I believe they were married in Boston, and they have two children with their mom's last name.

Feb. 13 2013 11:54 AM
Laura from Staten Island

My husband took my last name. I knew I wanted to keep my own last name. When I said I didn't want to change my name, he asked if he could take mine. He became instantly adored by my feminist friends, and my family :) He immigrated here from England, so it's been very nice to have the same last name when we go through immigration with passports from different countries. Also, he likes the way his first name goes with my last name, because both of them have a Y as their only vowel.

Feb. 13 2013 11:53 AM
Matthew Browning from Southwest Virginia

I took my wife's last name when we got married in TN three years ago. I had no problem doing so legally. I chose to take it, because I thought it would be a nice gesture to her family, I liked the sound of her name, and I felt my parents already had enough of a legacy: They have three grandchildren all with my former last name.

I have never regretted the decision, and I still think positively about it.

PS - I added my former last name to my middle name; I still am my biological parent's child and always will be!

Feb. 13 2013 11:39 AM
Tulis McCall from New York City

I am a wedding officiant and have seen this a few times as well as couples who combine the two names into one. On the wedding license it is very easy to do. There is a space for "New Surname" and you can change it right there.

Feb. 13 2013 11:33 AM
Chris from Was Brooklyn, now Dublin

I didn't take my wife's name when we got married, nor did she take mine. But when our son was born we decided to give him her surname. I knew people would find it unusual, but I am continually surprised by how rattled people get by the idea that the family name doesn't necessarily go through the father.

Feb. 13 2013 11:07 AM
Joanne Goodman from Manhattan

I believe that the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, took his wife's last name, "Schneerson." This is in keeping with a Jewish tradition that the husband take the wife's name if she comes from a family with a great rabbinic lineage and there are no male heirs to carry on the name.

Feb. 13 2013 10:10 AM

yea i left brooklyn when this started happening

Feb. 13 2013 10:09 AM

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