Terri Cullen of the Wall Street Journal wrote a great article entitled Three Reasons to Pause Before Taking Your Husband's Name (subscription may be required). Her reasons are Creditor Confusion, Account Imbalances and Career Complications. As she points out:
"... there can be drawbacks to adopting your husband's last name, particularly if your hubby-to-be comes to the marriage laden with some unfortunate financial or legal baggage. As women enter marriages later in their lives, often with more established careers and greater assets, they are facing far more complicated financial choices than their moms and grandmoms. The decision to take your husband's name -- once a given -- is one of them."
I was so impressed by her article (even though it sounds like she may/will change her name when she gets married), that I wrote her an email:
BRAVO!!! I loved your article titled "Three Reasons to Pause Before Taking Your Husband's Name". I got married last year to a wonderful gentleman called David Liu (pronounced "loo"). My name is Lauren Wu ("woo") and since they sounded so similar (among other reasons), I didn't bother changing my name.
In this day and age, I'm surprised by the number of people who don't comprehend that my husband and I have different last names. "But his last name is Liu?", they ask, "And you are Wu?". Folks, we're in the 21st century. It happens. A lot. Deal with it. The airlines are the worst. I was unable to make reservations for myself using my hubby's frequent flier mile account because I had a different last name. I explained that we were married and we lived at the same address... but no dice. To book the tickets we wanted, they required my husband to make an in person appearance at a United Airlines office. I couldn't even fax them a marriage certificate. Meanwhile, some other random person with the last name Liu could book a ticket using my husband's frequent flier account and pretend to be an immediate relative.
There's a lot of hassle involved with name changing. If I were to do so, not only would I have to change the name on my driver's license, credit cards, bank statements, etc. in the United States, I would have to change the name on my Canadian passport and Hong Kong ID card. Just not worth the effort.
Form filling would be more complex as well. There's usually an additional line item for "maiden name, if different from surname". I have one less field to fill than most married ladies - less administrative hassle! The only problem, however, is that a lot of organizations use "mother's maiden name" as a security question, so that may be a problem for my kids. I'm often surprised that it's used as a security question in the first place, as though nobody should know who you used to be pre-marriage and it's some big secret.
Along these lines, if I were to change my name, old friends from grade school/high school/university/whatever with whom I had lost touch would have that much harder a time locating me. How the heck would they know whom I married, and what my new surname is?
I love my husband, and I will cheerfully respond to Ms. Lauren Wu, Mrs. Lauren Liu, or even Mrs. Liu, but NOT Mrs. David Liu. It's one thing to call be my husband's last name (I'm proud to be part of the Liu family), but I refuse to be addressed using his first name as well, as though I had no separate identiy and I were merely an appendage.
Finally, what would one do about email addresses? My business school "email for life" is lauren.wu@XXXX.XXX.XXX [disguised to avoid spam bots]. I can't change it. Also, I already own the URL http://laurenwu.com, should I now also purchase http://laurenliu.com? Dave and I have do have a joint website, however, and it's http://wu-liu.com.
Actually, I'm considering just dropping my last name altogether and be known as just "Lauren"... like "Madonna" or "Cher". What do you think?