My whole life, I’ve been waiting to get married and finally shirk my last name, which causes a storm of confusion to all. It’s Rodrigue—not Rodriguez, or Rodrigues—and people, rightfully, think the end of it got chopped off in a printer somewhere whenever they see it.
It hasn’t meant much to me for most of my life—especially since no one in my French-Canadian family really knows where it came from. So, I’d tell myself, feminism be damned, as soon as I’m hitched, Rodrigue is getting ditched (or at least hyphenated).
Only, when the time actually came, and I finally tied the knot with a Joseph Presser, I got cold feet about the whole thing. Would taking his name and tossing mine be like losing part of my identity? Would my fiercely feminist girl tribe be judgey? Is hyphenating a gimmick? Can’t we both just pick a new last name, like Middleton? Now, ten months after we’ve left the altar, I’m still a Rodrigue, he’s still a Presser, and I’m as undecided as ever.
Change is Tough
First, the obvious roadblock: Changing your name is annoying. Who knew? Imagine the worst experience you’ve ever had at the DMV, then multiply it by every card you have in your wallet, add every auto-filled form you have saved online, then subtract any knowledge of what you’re doing whatsoever. Too hard, no way.
Compounding my hesitation? The fact that, if I were to take Joe’s name, I would have to do all this turning-my-life-upside-down paperwork, and Joe would have to do… nothing. Except sit there and look handsome. And my reward for all this work? A name I don’t even like that much. Like, I’m not dying over that last name. A Lauren Presser sounds like an occupation that requires a hazmat suit and OSHA training.
Beyond ruminating over my future of becoming a professional Lauren Presser, I have to think about our future children and all the favorite baby names I’ve collected over time. It turns out, they all sound like occupations when paired with our potential family name: There’s little Fox Presser, which sounds like something you could go to jail for if caught by a park ranger. Then there’s Clementine Presser, who sounds like a juice-maker (trendy!). So on, and so forth. Joe Presser is the only one that sounds even sort of normal. And even then—a coffee press!
A Me By Any Other Name…
But, all joking and nonexistent babies aside, taking Joe’s name, now that it’s an option to me, sounds a little like abandoning myself. What has felt so liberating for my whole life—losing the complicated last name and starting anew—now feels like a decision that could mean saying goodbye to something that is so uniquely me, and my connection to the family that is so uniquely mine. “Lauren Rodrigue” is the name on all my college newspaper bylines. “Lauren Rodrigue” won all those At Least You Tried awards during school sports. “Lauren Rodrigue” is somebody! And so are the Rodrigue women, all of whom can insult you so sweetly in their native Quebecois, you’ll blush thinking it’s a compliment. “Lauren Rodrigue” even wrote this! Who the heck is Lauren Presser, and what has she ever done, besides press a lot of Laurens, probably?
A Clumsy Compromise
There is, of course, the matter of hyphenating. We’ve discussed it, and we’re both equally into giving up parts of our identity to build a new family that’s half him and half me. But with that, we’d also be committing to one mouthful of a last name. Would it even fit on a credit card? Or would the character count runneth over, dripping off the edges of all of our official documents till people started confusedly calling us the Rodrigue-Pres family, essentially rendering us right back at my own personal square one—a Rodriguez with no “z?” Even more: Would Joe’s family judge me for dragging him into this hyphenated-name nonsense with me?
Taking our Time
You probably thought that by this point in the story, there’d be a nice finishing paragraph where I reveal that together, Joe and I finally came to a decision we both loved. But actually? Nope. The more we ponder, the more I realize that deciding what to do with your last name when you get married isn’t a decision you can make as lightly as the one that led to your choice of cocktail napkins—it’s not a wedding decision, it’s a life decision. If it takes years time to find the right partner, then years to decide to get engaged—maybe it’s OK to take a long time to pick your new names.
So, I guess we’ll keep throwing around the options and getting used to working as a family unit until something that finds us. And in the meantime, I’m just happy to be his Lauren, and to have him as my Joe.
Style Me Pretty Contributor – Lauren Rodrigue is a writer based in NYC. She lives for cocktail hour, long scrolls through Twitter and her rescue mutt, Molly.
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Post tags: Advice, Name Changing
Post categories: Planning & Advice, The Blog