In the days after first getting married I kept my name on Facebook the same. I figured that I hadn't officially changed my name so why change it on Facebook? The next day after our wedding I logged on to see the congratulations rolling in from both sides of our families. I had made a comment and someone from his side said, "Hey Ashley, time to change that last name!"
Without a thought I changed it- but not for long. My new name didn't feel like... me. And then I started thinking about why women are supposed to change their names anymore, why it's just expected to do so without a thought. Here, I had lived with this name for 23 years and suddenly my identity is null and void and I'm this new person just because we got married? I had gone through school with this name, accumulated credit with this name, and earned my degree with this name. I felt tied to it. It flows well.
I have often asked Russ throughout our marriage if I should change my name and if it bothers him if I don't. His usual answer is, "It's your name, do what you want." But, I've often wondered if he says that because he knows I'm too stubborn to change my mind anyway and he just wants to go with the flow or if he really doesn't care. I have thought deep down that he's probably wanted me to take his name but he will not ever clearly say it so.
And I do understand the other side of the coin about name changing- maybe you have hated your last name because it's always mispronounced or misspelled constantly. Maybe you really like his last name and you want to come together as a united couple and start your marriage that way. That's fine. I'm not trying to preach to women to go the exact route I did- I just want us all to have a choice in the matter. I want all women to think about it before just mindlessly changing it because that's what you're supposed to do.
I almost did just that until I stopped and questioned, "Wait---- why?"
For the last few years I've toyed with three ideas: hyphenating, making 'Wright' my new middle name and 'Cook' my new last name (but I love my middle name already!), or just taking 'Cook' as a last name and going along with tradition.
I have been using Wright-Cook on Facebook since I got married, more or less toying with living with it forever. I even have a gmail account with that name. I've been testing it out for a few years but something happened this week that ultimately made me decide.
I was in a published interview with my truck graphics company and they referred to me as Ashley Wright-Cook from my gmail address. That's it, my mind was made! I loved the way my new name sounded and how well our last names flow together. I'm paying respect to my old name as well as acknowledging my new life with Russ- it's a perfect blend of my old and new lives.
So I sat in the Social Security office for over an hour to get the ball rolling on finally changing my name.
Some people might think that hyphenating is just some PC BS and completely stupid for bucking tradition. To them I say, I don't care. It's my name and my choice. I'm the one that has to live with this name, how about you mind your own business?
Disclaimer: I'm not telling anyone what to do- do what you want.