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Name change after marriage in regard to Christianity
Is it expected


25 replies to this topic

#1 wombat

Posted 19 February 2013 - 10:33 AM

Just as the title says, in your experience is it expected that Christian women will automatically change their surname to that of their husband?  I ask because it has never entered my mind that my faith would be questioned due to DH and I having different surnames, but within a new circle of friends I have that is what is ocurring.  Anyone else have similar experiences?  Not upset by it, just curious.

Edited by wombat, 19 February 2013 - 10:34 AM.


#2 Z-girls rock

Posted 19 February 2013 - 10:42 AM

I didnt change my lastname.

some people (I'm looking at you mother-in-law - in fact kind of all my in-laws) have given me a hard time about it. It doesnt have anything to do with Christanity because I am Buddhist and they are all either nothing or non-practicing Christians.

I think if people dont like your choices they will use whatever 'reasons' they want to try to make you feel bad about your choices and pressure you into conformity. Christian or non-Christian.

#3 s'peachykeen

Posted 19 February 2013 - 11:06 AM

I think it's probably common in Christian circles for women to change their names when they marry. But you can tell 'em from me: if they think that's how you know if someone is genuine in their faith, they're doing it wrong rolleyes.gif

#4 elizabethany

Posted 19 February 2013 - 11:11 AM

I would say that it is traditional to change your name, and there is a correlation between religion and conservatism.  That being said, I would NEVER judge someones faith on whether they changed their name.

Actually, I would never judge anyones faith at all.

#5 opethmum

Posted 19 February 2013 - 11:11 AM

I guess it is expected in Christian culture for women to change their name. The idea of being one flesh and the role of marriage in creating a family unit and being united under one name is why most women change their names or there is expectation for them to do so is there. For some churches it is the done thing and depending on their leanings of their understanding of marriage and the roles of husband and wife it is seen as poor form on the woman if she does not change her surname.
For some churches and cultures the surname is not the be all and end all of all things and happily get on with life.
I know in some Orthodox cultures that where in absence of a male to carry the surname to the next generation some women do not change their names and if they have a son then the surname is given to him and they give the father's surname as a middle name.

I say do what you feel that works for you and your situation in life and if you don't change your name post marriage that's a personal decision and I don't judge you at all.

#6 jill1972

Posted 19 February 2013 - 11:19 AM

I'm a Christian & I don't think changing your name has anything to do with Christianity.  I think it may be a bit of an outdated view & if you decide to have different surnames is no one's business but your own.  



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#7 Dame Twoinaboat

Posted 19 February 2013 - 11:21 AM

I'm a Christian and I changed my name because DH is uber-conservative, not because of religion.  I'm a feminist.  Interestingly I made this decision after having too many drinks - made it easier to digest.

#8 Apageintime

Posted 19 February 2013 - 11:25 AM

We're Catholic and I kept my own name.

In our circle of religious friends most people seem to keep their names on marriage and double barrell the kids.

#9 Jekaho

Posted 19 February 2013 - 11:28 AM

My desire to change my name had nothing to do with my faith. But I can understand how people think of tradition being intertwined with religion.  
I wouldn't even think of "questioning" someone's faith just because they don't take their husbands name. How bizarre!

#10 HGL

Posted 19 February 2013 - 11:44 AM

I don't think an expectation for women to change their surnames is exclusive to Christianity. I think a number of people expect women to charge their name regardless of their religion.

Of course, I could open a can of worms and say 'some' religions and churches still have an idealogy that woman are second to man (Christian & non Christian religions) and expect women to obey their husbands, raise the children, change their name etc, but I won't. wink.gif

#11 MrsLexiK

Posted 19 February 2013 - 11:54 AM

QUOTE (wombat @ 19/02/2013, 11:33 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Just as the title says, in your experience is it expected that Christian women will automatically change their surname to that of their husband?  I ask because it has never entered my mind that my faith would be questioned due to DH and I having different surnames, but within a new circle of friends I have that is what is ocurring.  Anyone else have similar experiences?  Not upset by it, just curious.


I am catholic but my DH's family is christian and some are very christian.  Not one has a double barralled surname nor have they kept their own name.  I am trying to rack my brian where the wife is breadwinner as well (expect for my DH's mum, thankfully I meet one of the lapsed religous ones in the family) I think they are more traditional so taking the name, not living together before marriage, the women taking the time off work, the men providing etc are not always a show of faith but a show of how backward they are. (After spending 4 years not having them speak to me at functions to suddenly speaking to me in the last 2 years has soured my view of many of them.  Once we were getting married it was all ok, but before then well there is no way we should have brought our house or done what we did. My DH would have been the oldest to have gotten married in his family on the strict side, he was 33 so IMO not old at all. Most of his cousins were married before they were 25)

The fact that I held onto my name and basically kept part of my name does not mean my faith is not as strong as some of his family members.

#12 statua angelam

Posted 19 February 2013 - 12:28 PM

As others have said, I think it depends which flavour of Christianity you're talking about.

There is no Biblical imperative to change names, nor has it been a "thing" through most of Christian history.

But it is true that some Christians get hung up on perceptions of marital unity (you should hear the flak DH and I get for worshipping separately!), or even of male headship/wifely subservience and would see taking a man's surname as important for those reasons.  On the other hand, some Christians have a strong feminist, socially liberal streak and might be horrified at the change of name!  

It sounds like you've ended up with a group who might lean a bit in the former direction.  Is this the only issue you're encountering, or am I right to suspect that it's a bit more than that?



#13 rose888

Posted 19 February 2013 - 12:39 PM

Christian Chinese do not change their family name unless they live in the west and even then many do not. In Taiwan it is not usual. I think it is a western tradition rather than a christian tradition.

#14 Matthias' mum

Posted 19 February 2013 - 12:46 PM

I suspect it's more related to culture then religion. My DH is Asian, and the majority of women in his family have not changed their name as its not traditional to do so. This is despite many of them having converted to Christianity. The ones who have changed their names tend to be of younger generations and have married Caucasians.

#15 Leeloomina

Posted 19 February 2013 - 12:49 PM

QUOTE (rose888 @ 19/02/2013, 01:39 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Christian Chinese do not change their family name unless they live in the west and even then many do not. In Taiwan it is not usual. I think it is a western tradition rather than a christian tradition.

This. Most Chinese women retain their maiden name, even those who live in the west and are Christian by faith. Funnily though, those I know of who change their surnames are the ones married to Caucasians. So definitely a cultural rather than religious tradition.

ETA: Lol Snap Matthias' mum!

Edited by Leeloomina, 19 February 2013 - 12:51 PM.


#16 Lokum

Posted 19 February 2013 - 12:49 PM

QUOTE (opethmum @ 19/02/2013, 12:11 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I guess it is expected in Christian culture for women to change their name. The idea of being one flesh and the role of marriage in creating a family unit and being united under one name is why most women change their names or there is expectation for them to do so is there. For some churches it is the done thing and depending on their leanings of their understanding of marriage and the roles of husband and wife it is seen as poor form on the woman if she does not change her surname.
For some churches and cultures the surname is not the be all and end all of all things and happily get on with life.


In very Catholic Spain and very Catholic Portugal and very Catholic south America  it is not usual for women to change their names/ take their husbands' names.

It's cultural, not religious, but some religious/conservative people might try to make the link.

#17 Furfeathersfleece

Posted 19 February 2013 - 02:17 PM

I'm a Christian and kept my last name. My dad is a Presbyterian minister and had no issue with it. My ILs on the other hand are atheist and seemed a little put out that I didn't want their name.

#18 Bart.

Posted 19 February 2013 - 02:28 PM

I kept my name, too.

#19 Mrs Bunny

Posted 19 February 2013 - 02:35 PM

In my experience, faith has nothing to do with it. I'm not religious and I did change my name. I remember two colleagues - a strident Catholic and another woman - having a loud discussion when I got engaged. They were both horrified that "in this day an age, can you believe it, she changed her last name to her husbands! Can you BELIEVE it?!" (discussing someone else, not me). Neither of them had changed from their maiden names and they were aghast that women "still" did it.

To me, it's a matter of personal preference, impact on career etc.

#20 4kidlets

Posted 19 February 2013 - 02:44 PM

I am a Christian.

I changed my name when I married.


But  I see no correlation between the 2 things.


As I have said in other such threads I am not bothered by whether others do or do not change their names, nor do  I read anything into whether they do or do not.

#21 Sir Dinosaurus

Posted 19 February 2013 - 02:57 PM

I don't think it's unique to Christianity - I come from a large family of 3rd, maybe 4th gen athiests and there is a definite expectation that the women-folk change their name.

Now I have a major dilemma, because obviously it never occurred to me that I would ever change my name however now I am getting married next year and if I hyphenate mine and DH's name it will (IMO) be HILARIOUS every single time.

DH thinks it's a bad idea but really, how can you walk away from a running joke?

It'd be like having the last name Power and NOT calling your kid Will. Should practically be illegal biggrin.gif

Anyway OP - I think your friends are just judgmental, ignore them!



#22 debsinhanoi

Posted 19 February 2013 - 03:18 PM

Changing your name is traditional in western society, it doesn't have anything to do with religion. I've lived in a number of countries with Christian women who do or do not change their name. It's never caused an issue in their religion but sometimes an alternative choice has caused some issues in their cultural group. In Vietnam even the most devout Christians don't change their name. Culturally women don;t change their name and children take on the mother's name. Religion doesn't come into it at all.

I haven't changed my name and lots of people don't now. There are lots of reasons, including:

1. The changing of names used to symbolise a change of ownership from father to husband which isn't relevant any more.
2. If you've got an established career then changing your name can cause difficulties for career development
3. Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork

Make a decision that suits you, it's completely up to you and you shouldn't be judged. Just make sure you're making the decision for the right reasons and not because of religion, because using religion as a reason just isn't valid.

#23 somila

Posted 19 February 2013 - 04:36 PM

Absolutely nothing to do with Christianity.  Zilch.

#24 redkris

Posted 19 February 2013 - 04:45 PM

Nothing to do with Christianity.

My church has quite a few married couples where the wife has kept her name. It's a city church with a pretty high percentage of university educated professionals, so I think most of the time the decision was made due to being known in their chosen profession/having publications under their maiden name, so changing surnames wasn't even thought of. There is also a pretty strong feminist presence in this particular church (which is also agitating for women's ordination) which may have something to do with it.

So by no means universal OP

#25 IsolaBella

Posted 19 February 2013 - 04:52 PM

I don't see it as a faith item.

When getting her Italian passport mum has to go back to her maiden name for the first time in nearly 35 yrs. the Italians keep their maiden name. So I have Aussie in double barrel surname and Italian in maiden name. Italians being nearly 90% Catholic.

German SIL kept her name as that was the norm there.



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