There are many option afforded to women in today's world and we have come a long way! Women have many choices that they did not have sometime ago. Women can choose to work, women can choose to vote, women can choose to have a child, women can choose not to take the surname of their husband. The decision of whether or not to change your name after marriage can be a difficult one. There is no right or wrong, just deciding what is best for you. I don't know if as many women struggle through this decision as I did and I am fortunate that I have this decision to make and that it is not one that is dictated to me. However, the process of making the decision was a difficult one.
I contemplated this decision during our entire engagement (over a year!). On the one hand, the traditional part of me wanted to take my husband's surname. I liked the idea of taking his name and making us appear more united and more like a family. I realize that a common surname does not make us a family nor does it make us more married by any means. What a family is goes beyond a surname and family can be defined in so many different ways. So was that enough of a reason to change my name?
Because I knew that we would be a family no matter what surname I chose, I also wanted to keep my maiden name. I love my maiden name and I had that name for over 30 years! I worked very hard under my maiden name to gain my professional degree and publish papers. In addition, being an Asian woman marrying a White man I liked how my maiden name kept me tied to my culture. But my maiden name did not define me professionally or culturally, I am who I am no matter what my last name is. So was that enough of a reason to keep my name?
Luckily, Mr. Bear was supportive of what ever decision I made and didn't have a preference one way or another. He even thought that I should keep my maiden name for professional purposes. So basically, he was no help! It was all up to me to make this decision (As I guess it should be).
What really made the difference in my decision making process was my father-in-law. I don't think he knows that he was instrumental in my decision and he had no idea that I was struggling through this decision in the first place. A few days before the wedding, we were sitting on the porch and he said (unknowing of my uncertainty) that it was going to be nice to have a Mrs. Bear in the family again, we hadn't had a Mrs. Bear since his mother (Mr. Bear's grandmother) passed away several years ago. My father-in-law is not married and he has two sisters who have long since taken the surnames of their husbands. His comment was really meaningful to me and something I had not even thought about. Even though I knew that if I had told him I was not going to change my name that he would have been fine and supportive, it was at that moment that I decided to take my husband's surname.
I did, however, keep my maiden name as part of my full legal name, and I do use it professionally, but legally I have taken my husband's name. It does make for a long name, but I am really happy with the decision I made. I like that I have retain my maiden name so that it is always a part of me and I like that I have taken my husband's name so that there is now a Mrs. Bear in the world again. It was definitely the best decision for me and for my family. In fact, I also changed Chase Monster's last name at the vet too! Chase also keeps my maiden name as part of his full name. :)