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The disappearing hyphen: Fewer women hold on to surname after marriage

October 27, 2008

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Brenda Peterson-Smith, owner of Hair Experts Salon, 2100 W. 25th St., Suite B, works with client Jan Stewart. Peterson-Smith chose to hyphenate her name because of business purposes after getting married at 44.

Brenda Peterson-Smith, owner of Hair Experts Salon, 2100 W. 25th St., Suite B, works with client Jan Stewart. Peterson-Smith chose to hyphenate her name because of business purposes after getting married at 44.

Amy Stotts and Josh Peters plan to marry in September 2009 in the Japanese Friendship Garden in downtown Lawrence. Peters may take Stotts' last name after they wed so that the Stotts family name doesn't disappear.

Amy Stotts and Josh Peters plan to marry in September 2009 in the Japanese Friendship Garden in downtown Lawrence. Peters may take Stotts' last name after they wed so that the Stotts family name doesn't disappear.



Go Click It

www.frugalbride.com/changeofname.htmTips and forms on how to legally change your name, whether you're keeping your surname or not.

www.parents.com/pregnancy/baby-names/In the parenting magazine's Web site feature on baby names, there's advice for parents with hyphenated last names trying to decide on children's surnames.

Before saying "I do," some brides are saying "I won't" to their fiances, opting out of giving up what many consider their identity by taking their husband-to-be's last name.

Other couples, as in any good marriage, opt for a compromise. The brides agree "to have and to hold" - and to hyphenate their maiden name with their future spouse's last name.

Brenda Peterson-Smith, who owns Hair Experts Salon in Lawrence, says for her the choice was simple.

"The reality is I was 44 when I got married," Peterson-Smith says. "Because of that, everyone in Lawrence that I do business with knew me as Peterson."

She says when she was younger she never thought she would hyphenate her name, but when she married Tom Smith 11 years ago, she decided to put the two names together to avoid causing confusion among her clients.

"It was a lot for business purposes," Peterson-Smith says. "It just so happened that my name went well with my husband's."

The decision to hyphenate may have spared her clients confusion, but having two last names does cause Peterson-Smith some problems every now and then.

"When I'm doing stuff online, certain businesses don't recognize the dashes," she says.

For instance, try buying an airline ticket online using a hyphenated last name. Peterson-Smith says oftentimes her boarding pass doesn't end up matching her passport or her driver's license, each which contain the hyphen.

Perhaps that's why fewer women are choosing to hyphenate after tying the knot.

"I don't know anybody who does, even in my age group," Peterson-Smith says. "That was pretty common back in the '60s because of the feminist movement."

In fact, a 2007 survey of brides in America by Conde Nast Bridal Media, showed that only 11 percent of brides chose to hyphenate their last name, 6 percent chose to keep their own last name and a whopping 83 percent took the plunge all together, dropping their maiden names in exchange for their spouse's last name.

"I'm not seeing it as much," Lawrence wedding consultant Carmen Hocking says of hyphenated names. "The majority of all the couples I work with, the woman does take the man's name."

And then there's Amy Stotts and Josh Peters. The two are planning a September 2009 wedding ceremony at the Japanese Friendship Garden in downtown Lawrence.

"I've never really been a fan of hyphenating," Stotts says. "It just doesn't sound like me. I always felt like I'd be a traditionalist and take my husband's last name."

But after realizing the Stotts branch of the family tree would come to an when she and her sister got married, Amy's last name took on a whole new meaning.

Now, she and her groom-to-be have tossed around the idea of him taking her last name instead.

"Josh has never really been completely attached to his last name," Stotts says, "and my sister and I are the end of our last name."

The couple has just under a year to sort out what their new last name will be. In the end, Stotts says, it's not about the name, it's the union of two people.

"I think when it comes down to it, he's the man I love and he is my future," Stotts says. "My dad gave me my last name, and now he will be giving me to Josh as we begin our own family."

Comments

planetwax 6 years, 10 months ago

"I think when it comes down to it, he's the man I love and he is my future," Stotts says. "My dad gave me my last name, and now he will be giving me to Josh as we begin our own family."This is one of the most sexist statements I've read in a long time. How sad. I've been married since 1996 and kept MY name. I didn't have to get new checks, could leave the country on the same passport, and didn't confuse anyone, besides the relatives who cannot get their heads out of the dark ages, and continue to send me letters with my husband's name attached to mine.Face up to the fact that no one "gave you away." You made the choice to marry this man, as he did you. And, don't forget that if children come of this marriage, they are also YOUR children, just in case you need reminding.

imastinker 6 years, 10 months ago

Oh give me a break! It's a common term hat has nothing to do with the situation. People say it all the time!

kristyj 6 years, 10 months ago

I vote newlyweds create a new last name for their new future together by combining their old last names. As in the case of Josh & Amy, either something like Sters or Petotts.Or use a modified anagram-Poetress, Possee

jonas_opines 6 years, 10 months ago

Haven't had enough posts pulled today, ese?

mom_of_three 6 years, 10 months ago

Instead of his taking her name, why don't they both hyphenate their names. then they would both get to keep their family names

daddax98 6 years, 10 months ago

"Oh give me a break! It's a common term (t)hat has nothing to do with the situation. People say it all the time!"True, but never let facts get in the way of irrational ranting

worker_bee 6 years, 10 months ago

when i married, i took my husband's last name and changed my maiden name to a middle name, because it's pretty unique and i've always been proud to wear it. That way my legal last name matches his and reduces confusion that might arise with hyhenation, but I can go by either or both whenever i choose.

POTATOCHImPPS 6 years, 10 months ago

I sure am glad to have held on to my name. I know lots of other liberal women that did it with no reason. Especially ones without a degree. Well a reason is a reason and nobody owes anybody explanations for that anyway do they?

daddax98 6 years, 10 months ago

"You really need to realize that women are more than just someone to get you a beer, cook your food and share you bed. I pity the women in your lives."true, there are also dishes, laundry and vacuuming J/K lighten up people

ceccarp 6 years, 10 months ago

Apparently most people posting and saying disparaging remarks about the Mr Peters possibly taking his fiancee's name are under the mistaken impression that Miss Stotts is forcing him into it. Did they ever stop to think that maybe he is thinking about it because he loves her and doesn't want to see her name disappear? My best friend and her husband decided that he would take her name because he hated his last name. Unfortunately, after they divorced (he was an abuser), he kept the name rather than go back to his. When I married I took my husband's name it was for similar reasons. With an 'S' sound on both my first and last name I was tired of the illiteration and wanted a change. Now as we are divorcing his new girlfriend was the one getting all upset that I wouldn't go back to my maiden name. She has since changed her mind.The practice of the woman taking the husband's name comes from the time before women were considered more than property and child bearers. We're not in that time period any more. Invictus and Bossa_Nova, it sounds like you are living in the Dark Ages and have decided that unless a woman does what you want that she's a "self-centered wench-mamas". You really need to realize that women are more than just someone to get you a beer, cook your food and share you bed. I pity the women in your lives.

Bossa_Nova 6 years, 10 months ago

amen invictus for all the self centered wench-mamas, enjoy your solitude!

Beth Bird 6 years, 10 months ago

I am shocked at how rude many people are towards couples and their personal choices. I think it is awesome that Josh is willing to do that for Amy. If you don't like it, don't do it! Get over yourself and have respect for others.

Wendy magillicutty 6 years, 10 months ago

50% get divorced...who cares about the name thing. I added my husband's last name so now I have four names; It made life easier. My female cousin and I were also the end of the line so we both named our first daughters our maiden name. Stotts Peters would be an awesome boys' name, heck why be sexist, it'd be a great female name too.I know Amy is VERY proud of her family and the Stotts name so all you negative types can take a flyin...oh never mind. I dont want to waste my energy; you're already in your own version of hell. Oh, and as long as I'm not avoiding debt, just FYI, anyone can change their name to just about whatever they want.fartface!

storm 6 years, 10 months ago

How to file: If the name is Mary Smith, file under S. If the name is Mary Ann Smith, file under S.If the name is Mary Ann Jones-Smith, file under J.If the name is Song Ping Lee, file under L.If the name is Mary Ann Jones Smith, file under S - unbelievable that people would file under Jones when there isn't a hyphen. Finally, all woman whether they are married, single or divorced, are Ms even if they share the last name as their husband. But if they want to be a Mrs, who cares - it's just an old term when women were the property of the Mister, and women couldn't have property in their own name.

Chocoholic 6 years, 10 months ago

It's kinda nice that people today feel free to choose what happens with names when they get married--how they represent themselves to the world.I think the history of the way names come about is interesting. These days, in our culture at least, names are no longer about identifying someone by their line of work, or (with women, children) who they belong to.I wonder how it will affect the work of future geneologists? Will it make it harder to track ancestry?

Music_Girl 6 years, 1 month ago

I can't imagine not taking my future husband's name but then I am pretty traditional. I may reconsider if his last name was similar to my first name ex. Kelly Kelly or a fake name like Jane Doe but I seriously doubt either case.

maybeso 6 years, 1 month ago

To want to keep one's own name, of all things, is far from a sign of disrespect. If there is anything in this world to actually claim as one's own, seems like it is your name. More disrespectful is implying an adult should not make her or his own decision about what name to go by.

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