It only took me a year, but I finally changed my last name on Tuesday.
Fortunately, my experience with the Social Security office was far less exasperating than I’d been led to believe it would be. To anyone who is planning a trip to the M Street location in Washington, my advice is to get there very early (45 minutes to an hour before it opens – the line is no joke).
I know a lot of women hold on to their maiden names and there are obviously tons of reasons, professional and personal, for doing so (i.e. why does the woman have to change her name?) and I also know a lot of women who change their names as a gift to their husband or to avoid future confusion, among other things.
I always intended to change mine but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it after we got married. It wasn’t that I had doubts about the longevity of our marriage, or that I developed an aversion to the idea of changing of it…I just wasn’t ready.
When I look back on the progression of my relationship with Jake, the word that comes to mind is fast. Jake is a little bit older than me, he was married before, and when we got together he never made any secret of his desire to be married and have a family in the near future.
I, on the other hand, was less certain about my timeline and my thoughts on marriage. But knowing where he stood and knowing his intentions was a game changer for me, because it gave me the emotional security I needed to figure out what I really wanted without worrying that he wasn’t as serious about me as I was about him, or that he would date me for years but never propose, or any of the other fears that had impacted my judgment in previous relationships.
But that’s not to say I didn’t drag my feet a lot in the beginning. I held off on moving in with him until we’d been dating a year and a half (that’s not a long time in most relationships but as I mentioned, Jake was anxious to get the ball rolling) and I was beyond shocked when he proposed a month later. I still didn’t know how I felt about marriage, but I knew how I felt about him, so saying yes was easy.
As some of you know, we fast-tracked our wedding and got married three months after we got engaged – less than two years after we’d started dating. In the course of a year, I went from having my own place to living with Jake, getting engaged to Jake, marrying Jake…all great things!
But my head and my heart still needed to catch up.
From the get go, I loved the idea of “us” but it didn’t always feel like I wanted it to. In the constant noise surrounding newlyweds (How’s married life? Isn’t it the best?? Are you guys house-hunting? What’s your timeline for kids?) I felt, and still sometimes feel, this unbelievable pressure to say the “right” thing. So when people would ask why I hadn’t changed my name yet, I’d just say I was too busy, or that I was still working on the paperwork, and while those were legitimate responses, I only said them because I was worried that people would somehow think less of me for telling the truth: I just wasn’t ready.
But oh, how time and experience change things!!! Fourteen months later, walking into the Social Security office was as unemotional as a trip to the drugstore. When the clerk handed me a piece of paper with my new name on it, I was thrilled to see it written there. It wasn’t jarring or shocking, as I know it would have been a year ago. It was the most natural feeling in the world, which is, I assume, how it’s supposed to feel.
Is this something anyone else has struggled with? Did you – or would you – change your name? I’d love to know your thoughts.