Has anyone gone back to their maiden name after marriage?

Posted by
That’s why she’s switching back to it! (Photo by: Byron VillegasCC BY 2.0)
I got married a year ago and changed my name. Now, after a year of honest reflection, I can say that I don’t like it.

I’m currently putting out feelers on resuming the use of my maiden name and in the process, I am running into tons of negativity. For the record, my husband never cared one way or the other, nor did my immediate family (my mom, sister, and stepmom did not change their own last names). For all of the others, the automatic reaction seems to be the assumption that I’m either getting a divorce, don’t love my husband anymore, don’t love my (non-existent) children, or I am wasting my time and money and should just get over it.

Have any of you out there stayed married but went back to your maiden name? How did you handle any criticism or negative feedback? Did you feel better once it was done? -Helen

Comments on Has anyone gone back to their maiden name after marriage?

  1. I was actually really nervous about changing my last name. I’d been [maiden name] for so long after all… So I got a free name analysis done and my new name was supposedly better. There were several reasons, and so far they have been right. More importantly, it had me testing out the new name and feeling the impacts and just plain putting a lot of thought into it.

    I suggest you give it a shot, it never hurts.

    • I took my husbands name and now I want to add it back I dont want to change it back just add mine. Who would i do that? Where would I go? How much does it cost? Pls. Help

    • I took my husbands name and now I want my maiden name back I want to add it back I dont want to change it back just add mine. How would i do that? Where would I go? How much does it cost? Pls. Help

  2. Sort of. I legally hyphenated my name, but just never got around to using it at work. After some discussion, I came to realize that while I like sharing a name with my person (he hyphenated too so we have the same name), we both would use our original names casually but our legal names for official purposes. I’m too lazy to go through the process of changing my name back, but this compromise has worked well for us. People are certainly strange though about it! I just compare it to a business merger where a company is bought out by another company but continues to do business as their original name(the analogy is obviously limited though as nobody was bought out.. Yikes) and promptly change the subject. I haven’t had the guts to change my Facebook name back yet though.

    • Yeah, with the hyphen or, in my case, the “invisible hyphen” it’s sometimes just easier to use my original last name. It’s still the same place in the alphabet.

      But very informally and socially I don’t mind if people call me by my husband’s last name. But it bothers me at work because even though I filled out all the proper paperwork through the proper channels, people assumed it was wrong and changed it in their systems. So I missed a bunch of important emails.

      • My husband and I did this too, taking each others’ last names with an invisible hyphen. I have an irrational dislike of hyphens.
        But we both use our original names for some things and our new combo names for others. I changed most of my legal things, but not my credit car and I won’t be changing my passport till it expires.

        It works really well for us. Maybe you can change your name to include both?

      • I went the invisible hyphen route, too. The social security office said I could write it however I wanted so my last name is “mylastname [space] hislastname” hence the invisible hyphen. I chose that because I wanted to be able to still use mylastname professionally (long term career) and it be legally accurate but it was important to him that we share a last name. Oddly enough, the DMV fought me on it and tried to convince me that I HAD to visibly hyphenate. Huge argument ensued, I showed them the paperwork from Social Security Administration and told them federal trumps state, won on how my name was written, lost on proper documentation. The cranky old man at the DMV actually changed my date of birth in their database by a few days out of spite. Ten months later, massive problems getting medical procedures covered and student aid for school, two issues with thankfully sympathetic police officers, and five trips to the DMV, I finally gathered enough documents to prove to the DMV that they were wrong so they would fix it. The kicker was finding my original license that I was allowed to keep as “a reminder of my old life” as the old man described. BUT after all that, I am very happy with my dual last name and can now use either my maiden name, his name, or both. I am hugely attached to my full three-part original name (refusing to give up a unique middle name) and they flow very well together so for me, the logical decision for me was to tack husband’s name on at the end and it still has a good verbal beat to it.

      • I just took his last name as a 2nd middle name, but sometimes write it out with my 1st middle initial and then almost an invisible hyphen. Jamie M. HisLastName MyLastName. That’s how I show it on Facebook, because it’s more of a social setting and it helps acquaintances understand that we’re married. Otherwise, I’m just Jamie MyLastName. It’s only led to a little confusion from people who assume I have the invisible hyphen, so they try to say both names when introducing me.

    • It is funny, we did the exact opposite. Socially (fb, with family), I hyphenate, legally we kept separate. Professionally, I kept my name as well- it makes sense given my career. Partially, it’s because I prefer my name but is more complicated. Originally, we were both going to change legally and hyphenate, but his parents flipped out about him changing (let’s not even go into how wrong/unfair/sexist that was), so he decided he wouldn’t change so I decided I wouldn’t either. For me it was about us changing together and one person doing it didn’t feel right. Years later, I’m still harboring negative feelings about it… For names, do what makes you and your spouse happy– who cares about the rest?!

  3. Not me, but my aunt changed her name when she married. And when her sisters got married a few years later, they didn’t change their names. This made my aunt realise that name changing was actually optional, and she in fact, wished she hadnt changed her name. She decided to change it back. She got the same reaction as you – was she divorcing, what would they do with the kids’ names etc. She ignored them all and did what felt right. That was 35 years ago. She hasnt looked back since. If anything, once her mum (my nan) died, it became even more important to carry a piece of her mum in her name.

  4. Sorry, no advice other than to say, people get over stuff. Really, in a year when you are still happily married and the world didn’t end they’ll have forgot all about it.

    and, also, um, i love that t-shirt. my maiden name, which i didn’t change, is Hazard. as in Danger. I think i need a modification of that shirt.

    (i tell my husband if we had kids their middle name is totally going to be Hazard, so that Danger would pretty much be their middle name.)

  5. I got married while I was still a student. I did change my name, but since the wedding 2 1/2 years ago, I still end up using my maiden name a lot. All my heath insurance is all under my maiden name, and for a long time I was still my maiden name in the school rosters (changing my school computer login was a nightnare!), and a few other big property items were in my maiden name.
    I fluidly go by either, although I introduce myself to new people as my married name.

    I also want to share about my aunt. While she was in college, she published a lot of research in her field. She got married in the 1970’s and legally changed her last name to share with her husband. Sometime in the ’90s she started publishing papers, magazine articles, and is now publishing books on knitting and crochet. For all of her publications she uses her maiden name for continuity – it’s like her pen name.
    I find the use of pen names very romantic, and so I love the name compromise she’s come up with!

  6. I never changed my name, but a friend of mine did and recently went back to her maiden name after about a year. She’s a fairly progressive lady, so I think everyone who knew her just sort of shrugged. And I second the people who are saying, “People get over stuff.” They do. If you want your original name back and your partner doesn’t care, pfft. Everyone else will get used to it eventually.

  7. Did I write this post in my sleep and I just don’t remember?!

    I’ve been talking about doing the same thing – but I’ve had the same concerns. We have a baby on the way so I’ve been wondering if I went ahead and did it now if it would just sort of go unnoticed since there will already be so many changes.

    We’ve been married 3 years now and there are plenty of people who never knew me by my maiden name now, though, so that might be weird.

    The reason I wish I hadn’t changed it is my maiden name is very unique – only like 10 people in the WORLD have it. I don’t know why my dumb ass let that go.

    • I’m really intrigued, what name can be this unique? And how would it be possible?

      (imagines James Bond, Bonny and Clyde, a lost love in China, mid 1920 and a few epic tales)

      please can you tell?

      As for the original poster, whre I live it is not possible to change to the name of the spouse (femisnists worked hard here), but I agree with poeple having a short memory for those kind of things. Once they see that you are still in love, there is only so much one can possibly gossip on the subject. It’s your name and you are the one who has to wear it.

    • For me it was just the opposite! My maiden name, like my first name, is very common. My ex husband’s last name is almost as unique as yours, so when we got married I went from being effectively anonymous to being the only person in the world with my name. In the age of the internet I wasn’t really comfortable with that.

      And to make matters worse, I went from an easy name to one that was almost always misspelled and mispronounced, and a common mispronunciation included the word “sh*t.” Wonderful.

      Needless to say, when we divorced I was very happy to go back to my real name that I like. When I marry again I will probably keep my maiden name, but my boyfriend and I joke that we will combine our names. His name contains mine if you change one letter, as in Milford + Fort = Milfort (not our actual names).

    • Same, my last name is very unique, so I never changed it. You can check on http://www.howmanyofme.com. There are fewer than 118 people with my last name, and only one Jamie MyLastName (spoiler alert: it’s me). If I’d taken my husband’s last name, then there would be 148 Jamie HisLastNames, or over 135,000 people with the same last name. No thanks. I’d always known that unless my future husband had some other awesome last name, I’d keep my own. And I did.

      • Are you me? It also told me there are fewer than 118 people with my last name, and only one person with my first and last (although my first name isn’t Jamie, so I guess I answered my own question.)

        I assume for some reason 118 is the lowest it will go, but that’s an strange number to land on.

        • it goes lower; I had 46 people with my last name and only 1 of me with my first and last. But I also know it is a little inaccurate because there’s another me on faceyspace that a friend found while looking for me.

          • It goes even lower than that! When I did it for the name I had when I was married, it said “1 or fewer.” I didn’t like being the only person in the world with my name! I have an extremely common first name (nearly 1.5 million in the US) and my maiden (current) last name is pretty common, too. 1392 people have my firstname lastname, and in the age of the internet I’m totally ok with that.

          • Oh, and it said 118 or fewer for my former last name too, so there does seem to be something significant about that number. The actual number is far fewer than that.

    • You sound exactly like me, my maiden name is very unique, I loved it and constantly had compliments on it. My new married name.. not so much! I knew I didn’t want to change it, but I felt it would be disrespectful not to. Now, 2 years later I would like to at least add my maiden name again and hyphen it with the new one.
      Did you ever change yours? I would like to know the process and how difficult it will be to change it legally.
      Thanks for any feedback.

      • Just now seeing this! No, I never did change it back. But I’m here to re-read this article because I’m still thinking about doing it. Our 5th anniversary is this December, so it’s been a while now…

        Also we have a kid now, so that may complicate some stuff.

  8. This is so well timed. I’ve been thinking about this so much lately. I originally didn’t want to keep my maiden name, but my husband felt strongly about me having his. We compromised and i hyphenated, but I still wish I could go back and just keep mine. I love my maiden name and have a lot of cultural identity invested in it, but the paperwork alone (along with the time and financial costs) to change things again isn’t something I’m looking forward to.

  9. I mourn the loss of my maiden name. It was unique. I really resisted when I first got married. Took my time changing stuff over. I eventually caved and changed it but I wish I did not. I feel like I lost a little part of me. 5 years later I am still kicking myself. Although my married name is much easier for people to spell and say.

  10. I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY ONE!! I lasted all of three weeks with my husband’s name before switching back as it just didn’t feel right. Luckily, I hadn’t done anything legally, so it was just Facebook and socially that I had to do. That said, four years later, and his family and some of our friends who we don’t see often still send letters and address me by his name, along with everyone in his hometown. Most of our friends stopped after a few reminders, but he comes from a very conservative area and I get a lot of dirty looks when I correct his family or anyone else there. I’ll still correct people, but if I’m not in the mood to deal with the arguing, I won’t push it.

  11. I just flat out didn’t change my name but here is my response to questions. Your name never actually changes. In my state your birth certicate, death certificate, and marriage license all contain your birth name and YOUR MOTHER’S birth name. Worried about your name not matching your baby’s name? That is what it looks like on her birth certficate. How is that not good enough in real life? Furthermore, all documents with legal merit ( like licences or credit applications) require that you list your birth name and any other aliases. So the only place your name really changes is insignificant like your Costco card. This decidedly Vulcan approach has gotten the best and least emotional response from everyone.
    In your case it is very easy to say ” well I looked around and realized that my birth name would always be the same and would be with me my whole life, so it just made sense to put it back in place”

    • This.

      I changed my name when I was 13, to my step-dad’s name, and then again to my Husband’s name when I got married, so now whenever I apply for something, I have to bring my birth certificate, my change of name certificate, and my marriage certificate. My marriage certificate doesn’t actually aknowledge a change of name, it just states that Sarah Stepdadslastname is married to Charl Hislastname.

      I changed my name where it was easy enough to do it, but my mobile phone contract and creditcard are both still in my maiden name cuz it was too much fart-arsing around to change them.

  12. I changed mine legally when we got married, but ended up having to change it back about a month or so later which was a huge pain in the ass as I’d changed everything but my passport and SIN. I wanted to continue to work under my maiden name, and keep my work bank accounts under that name, but wanted to have everything else under my husband’s name.

    Bank kicked up a fuss, and even though I could prove that every one else was fine with it, I changed it back to avoid the hassle.

    My parents know I’ve changed it back, and my husband knows and is fine with it. I haven’t told his parents, and socially, on Facebook etc. I go by his last name, and all my legal documentation, bank accounts, and at work I go by my maiden name. I answer to both.

    The only issue is having to keep straight who I’ve called and left what names for for non important things (e.g. hair salons, dog kennel etc.) when I’m calling back to try to not to confuse everyone.

    When I changed all of my documentation back, they asked the reason and I said I got married, or when I had to go into it, I explained the whole process.

  13. In 6 months I’m getting married. Although my fiance has a very cool surname and mine is very common, something within me just doesn’t wanna change my name. My family would lose their minds if I did change it, and fiance doesn’t care either way, so I have decided will keep it.

    But is it weird if I use his surname socially? I like the idea of being able to chop and change…like socially I could use his, and formally/legally I’m still Courtney Walsh. Like if someone calls me Mrs Schofield, then whatever, but I’m still legally Ms Walsh.

    Also I was named after a cricketer and my parents are both stupidly proud of it, so I don’t wanna take that away from them haha!

    Probs shouldn’t be oversharing my name so much online :/ whoops

    • This is what I did – I can use both names legally in New Zealand. I’ve kept my maiden name for paperwork, my career, studying etc and the idea was that I’ll use my married name socially and if we have children. Our joint bank accounts and mortgage are in my married name but my personal bank accounts and everything else are in my maiden name.

      In practice though, I don’t really use my full name socially, so I’ve never really gotten used to using my married name. I often use it for appointments and that kind of thing, mostly because my maiden name is difficult to spell. I still think of myself as my maiden name, though, and so does my husband. My married name just hasn’t stuck, for some reason.

      • I wonder if it’s the same deal here in Australia? I should probably check it out. My degree has my maiden name, all our mortgage paperwork has my maiden name, my car etc etc…Although honestly, I don’t think it really matters. I don’t care what people call me, and I’m very lazy so want to avoid paperwork. I’ll probably end up doing the socially/informally Mrs, legally Ms thing.

    • i think a lot of people do that.

      i didn’t change my name, anywhere, but if someone i don’t really deal with often calls me “Mrs. Smith”, i just don’t bother correcting them.

      But, in just over a year, i think it’s happened about twice, and they were, like, great aunts of my husband’s introducing me to someone else. They probably have no idea what my last name even is (or was, in their minds, i guess).

  14. Yup, I did it. And honestly, in my particular circle – it pretty much didn’t matter. There were a few points… when it came to mail and things, I didn’t worry about whether it was ‘right’; not a battle I cared about. When it came to my own elderly family members… the ones who didn’t like it, I didn’t push the subject over, and in time, neither did they. There was still occasional awkwardness, but I’ll admit I took the ‘easy’ route and just didn’t bother arguing with ones I felt didn’t matter.
    Finally, with those who did matter; it all worked out in the end. Just do it if it feels right.
    (And when the divorce happened, I didn’t even get an ‘I-told-you-so’ from *anyone* and it was wonderful.)

  15. HEY! I photographed a sign out in the boonies that said, instead of SLOW CHILDREN …wait for it…DANGER CHILDREN
    I think you need this thoto! you can turn it into t-shirts for your kids!

  16. I have a similar regret but not quite the same… I changed my name to exclude my middle name, making my maiden name my middle name. I now wish I had just kept everything and had either 2 middle names or 2 last names. I love my maiden name and have used it with my artwork for years so I wanted to keep it somewhere, but I loved my husband’s last name too. Plus I didn’t like the thought of me being Mrs. [maiden name]… haha.

  17. The day after we were married I proudly changed my name on Facebook and introduced myself as Mrs. Lewis. My work had my business cards, e-mail, and door plate changed to my new name for me by the time I went back to work. I created a new e-mail and started using my new name in my every day life. I stopped short of changing it legally mostly because I had just paid for a new passport and drivers license. But it just didn’t work. Give it a little time, I and everyone else said – 6 months later it was still not right. So I went back to using my maiden name. It feels so much better. I’ll sign our Christmas cards this year as “the Lewis’s” but I don’t think it’ll ever be MY name. Even though he said he didn’t care if I changed my name, my husband has started asking me when, not if, I am going to change my name. We’ve started talking about having a kid and his opinion is that we should all have the same name. I have a feeling there’ll be some awkward conversations about the name thing in the future but I know my stand: my name is my name and my choice. All I can say is you have to do what you have to do and your partner needs to respect that.

    • Once kids come, if he still feels like everyone needs to have the same name….could you take his last name as a middle name? That’s why I did. So at work and on paper I’m generally just Jamie MyLastName, but it feels like since I also have his last name as a 2nd middle name, I can still answer to Mrs. HisLastName and our kids can have his last name (with mine as a middle name) so that there’s some cohesion in names.

    • Tell him to seriously think about him changing his own surname to yours. See what his reaction is, then tell him, “How you feel, is how I feel. If you don’t like the idea of you changing yours, don’t ask me.”
      If he says the old nugget of “But women have always done this” Remind him many things are done just because, doesn’t mean it’s right.”

  18. Where I’m from it’s quite common for the wife to make her maiden name into her middle name and take the husbands name as her surname. I did this and I’m very happy about that. When my husband is able to he will take my maiden name as his middle name too. He can’t do it yet since he’s not from the same country we live in.

  19. I have not known women to change their name back legally unless they are getting a divorce, so you will probably run into stigma for a couple of years while people readjust. However, I know several women who changed their name legally but still go professionally by their maiden name, since that is the name their career was built upon. You can potentially try that out first and let people get used to it that way (including yourself).

  20. I know you are asking about changing it while still married, but I have a different but simular issue. See, I got divorced but kept his last name. It’s unfortunately linked to practically everything like my school, GI bill, bank accounts and so forth. It’s seriously inconvenient at the moment for me to change it legally.

    I see others use names other than their legal name, so I might do that so my family will stop asking when i’m changing it. Thing is, my maiden name isn’t their last name, which is what they are trying to get me to take. I wasn’t legally adopted under my adoptive fathers name, so I still carry my mothers maiden name. Dilemma dilemma!

  21. Decisions, decisions. I do not want to change my name. I’m not anyone’s property, and moreover I really do not get along with my partner’s father, so I want nothing to do with his name. However, I’m not very proud of my own last name either, and my dad wouldn’t be upset if I changed it (we’ve talked about it, I just never did it. I wish I had). Problem is, I never really settled on changing it to anything in particular. My grandfather whose name I got is the one I don’t feel too proud to be associated with. I’m not close with my mom’s side of the family, and even then it’s all my grandma’s side that I know. I was VERY close with my other grandpa, who was my bio-gran’s second husband, so she has his name and not her maiden name. But I don’t feel right taking that grandpa’s name (and his children would be livid if I did). I think it would be weird to take my grandma’s maiden name, even though that’s the option I feel most strongly connected to, and even have a clan crest tattoo for it.

    My partner is committed to keeping his last name. He’s uncomfortable with the idea of us not having “a family name,” for future children, and frankly so am I. In my heritage, back in clan times, men joined their wive’s clan, so it wouldn’t even be out of line for him to take my name based on that (and if he did we’d both change it to my clan name together), but he doesn’t want to. I can’t really be mad at him for that, because I’m just as vehement about not taking his. Of course to top it all off, we’re not sure we’re getting legally married, so it’s not like changing it would be easy for me anyway.

    It’s just a mess. I know if I changed my name I’d regret it and change it again later. I’d rather we could settle on something now, but we’re both pretty set in our opinions right now. Maybe it will be different after the wedding.

    • Friends of mine chose a new surname together. The looked at lots of names and then decided on one and both legally changed it. A fresh start for them both 🙂

  22. I am so glad to have found this thread. I have been married for 2.5 years, and the past few weeks I sm really regretting my decision to change my last name. I feel no connection to it, sort of an identity crisis if you will. I have no idea what I am going to do.

    • Amber I am in the same boat, have been married for 13 years took my husband’s last name but really regret it, miss my own name and still don’t feel connected to his name, don’t know what to do!

    • Wow, the two of you just hit the nail on the head by saying you have no connection to the new last name, it’s been two years and I still can’t get use to or almost cringe when I hear someone say my new last name.

    • After many years of marriage (and still married now) I have reclaimed my maiden name. Husband is not too happy about that but I was never comfortable taking his name. I love him dearly and although it may seem strange to go back to my maiden name – I feel so much better! It’s me.

      • I’m still strongly considering this. After being married for just over 5 years, I am still evaluating this decision. With an impending college graduation in the next year, I have been giving a lot of thought to what I want to be on the diploma. It may seem silly, but that kinda put it into perspective for me.

        I already have a hyphenated middle name, so hyphenating our last names isn’t really an option for me. Also because I already have trouble fitting my name on legal forms (My husband’s last name is 9 letters, my maiden is 3).

        • I was very happy to change my name back when I divorced. I didn’t quite realize how much I missed it until the opportunity to get it back was staring me in the face.

          But honestly, my biggest regret about changing it was letting go the URL myname.net and its associated email address [email protected]. It has since been bought by someone else, and my first and last name are both so common that I don’t expect to ever get it back.

  23. I am separating from my husband who has recently committed adultery. As practising catholics we got married in the church over 20 years ago. I always had regrets after taking his name and giving up my maiden name as I have neither liked his parents and his family nor looked up at them. I look forward to coming back to my maiden name- Weber and getting rid of anything which can remind me of him, including his name Jurga.

  24. I’m not married yet, but I have my own business, so I gave this a lot of thought. My mom’s side of the family has a tradition of dropping your middle name upon marriage and turning your maiden name into your legal middle name… then giving your middle name to your first born. I acquired “Ann” from my mom and I’ll give it to __ Ann or __ Andrew in the future. I guess it’s an invisible hyphen… but it means that my business runs without interruption whether it be as my last or middle name 😀

Read more comments

Join the Conversation