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The pros and cons of taking your husband’s last name after marriage

By Nina Steele 

Newlywed CouplesI recently came across an article about Cheryl (formerly known as Cheryl Cole and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini ), which raised the issue of her only going by her first name, since her latest divorce. The article was speculating on whether or not she would be going the same way as celebrities such as Adele and Madonna, who are only known by their first names, or whether she would revert back to being Cheryl Cole.

The article caught my attention because, like the majority of women, I too chose to take on my husband’s last name upon getting married. From what I can gather however, there is growing criticism of this trend, with some going as far as to suggest that men change their names instead. The reason often put forward by those who are against women changing their last names upon marriage is that, by continuing this tradition, we are pandering to conservative values, by reinforcing the image of the man as the head of the household, as opposed to an equal partnership.

I changed my name soon after getting married, partly because it is easier to pronounce Steele than it is Traore, which is my maiden name. When I was still Traore (pronunciation: Trawrai), I always found myself having to correct people about the pronunciation, and it got a bit tiring at the end, to be honest. I would have changed my surname anyway, because I am that way inclined. But, had my maiden name not been an issue, I suspect that I may have waited a little longer before making the switch.

Obviously, I don’t have a problem with tradition when it comes to a woman changing her surname. As a matter of fact, it matters to me that I share my husband’s surname. It makes life easier, I find. A case in point was when we went to India on holiday in 2011. Our host, like many other hotel owners, was worried about having unmarried couples staying in his establishment, as this is generally frowned upon in Indian culture. We had to show our passports on arrival and we could not fail to notice the relief on his face when he saw that we shared the same surname.

The thought of having to carry our marriage certificate around, on our trips abroad, in case we need to prove that we are married, does not appeal to me at all.

What is your view on this issue? Do you share your husband’s surname? If so, what were the reasons behind your decision? And if the answer is no, what made you decide against it?

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