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What Does It Mean When a Man Takes His Wife’s Last Name?

Men taking their wives’ last names? Unconventional or revolutionary? Here’s what it means when it’s the men who are changing their surnames.

wife's last name

Change is in the air, and a big leap in the frontier of gender equality is quickly gaining recognition. The recent controversy revolved around Zoe Saldana and the newly-dubbed Mr. Marco Saldana nee Perego. Everyone was asking why Marco decided to take Zoe’s name, when it’s not the customary habit in the – well, the world!

Are they trying to prove something? Are Zoe and Marco feminists? The answer, unsurprisingly, is only known to them. And that’s how it’s supposed to be.

The choices that a couple makes is not necessarily bogged down by societal influences, but it is simply a decision that the couple chooses together. Still, you can’t help but wonder why a man would choose to go against the grain and take his wife’s surname. Frankly, it’s neither good nor bad, but it does make everyone stop to ponder the reasons and how it can affect society today.

Why would a man want to take their wife’s last name?

Marco Saldana is not the first man to take his wife’s name, but he might just be the only one connected to a celebrity. That’s probably why this issue is gaining so much popularity. There are a lot of men out there who are proud to carry their wives’ names and vice versa. Do you want to know why? Then, maybe you should ask them.

For the time being, we’ve come up with a general summary of why these men took their wives’ last names.

#1 They like their wife’s surname better. Blame the mindset of most of our ancestors because we can all agree that a lot of people got the short end of the stick when surnames were registered hundreds of years ago. Taking their wife’s last name is probably a godsend for the chaps with the last names Peanisbreath, Pornsak and Assman.

#2 They want to distance themselves from their former surname. Some researchers believe that there are men who have distant relationships with their fathers, who want to separate themselves from that identity. A last name has a significant connection to one’s father, which means that it might be an acceptable option for some men.

#3 A symbol of support. Men who are proud of their wives can decide to take their wives’ name instead of the other way around. It’s not an act that can affect one’s overall standing within a community, but it does send a message that tells people that they are proud of their wives.

#4 A testament to a couple’s stand against gender norms. It’s a choice that doesn’t have to make waves. It is just something that the couple wants to do, regardless of what society might think. The fact that it’s a progressive take on gender equality is just a bonus.

#5 An act of love. People choose different ways to show their love depending on their beliefs and lifestyles. A man changing his name to his wife’s last name is just the same as the wife taking her husband’s last name.

What it’s not supposed to be…

The act of taking a wife’s last name is considered commendable in this day and age, but there are those who think that there are negative connotations connected to the gesture.

Below are some of the most common assumptions that people have against taking a wife’s last name:

#1 A cry for help. According to most Negative Nigels and Nancies, anything that people do that goes against the normal operations of society is a cry for help. Why would changing a last name be a cry for help? What is that? Like, “Help. Save me from the burden of being a loving husband?”

#2 A sign of dominance. It’s the complete opposite, actually. The man is removing his dominance by allowing himself to take his wife’s name. It does not mean that his wife rules everything in their marriage now that her name gets printed when someone sends an invitation.

#3 Dissolving an identity. Taking your wife’s last name is actually a renewal of an identity. You are now a husband and a part of a married couple. Wouldn’t that be that case if your wife took your name?

#4 The end of a legacy. Or the beginning of a new one. We all know that names can carry a lot of weight, but it’s up to the person who owns it to decide how much value they are willing to put on their name.

#5 A misguided claim for feminism. We can all admit that taking your wife’s last name is an epic act of feminism, but it does not necessarily mean a claim to the idea. We can appreciate the gesture as a win for feminists, but it should also be respected as an act between two people who love each other very much.

[Read: Marriage advice – 11 tips for a happily ever after]

Is this an issue for most men?

Marco Saldana, an artist in his own right, said to his wife, “Ah Zoe! I don’t give a shit.” And rightly so. Why should a man care what other people think? Emasculation is not a thing anymore. For most men all over the world, it still looms over them, but there isn’t a big enough issue to merit any cry of outrage from their side.

And actually, why should there be any side at all? By taking your wife’s last name, you are inarguably telling the world, “To hell with sides. I’m on my family’s side.”

Should all men change their last names?

With a public expression of gender equality acceptance like this, the answer would probably be: If they want to. The fact that it’s okay to take a wife’s last name means that it’s also okay to keep your name. But a man should extend the same courtesy and respect to his wife and discuss the possibilities of keeping, changing, or even exchanging names.

Whatever your decision may be, just know that the most important thing to consider is how it will affect your relationship. A couple should agree to these things and allow their spouses enough leeway to make up their own mind about it. You can go so far as to request the gesture, but it does not mean that you should hold it against them if they decline.

Still, Zoe Saldana has a few choice words to say to the people who think it’s a strange and bad decision. It’s directed to men, but women will learn something as well:

“Men, you will not cease to exist by taking your partner’s surname. On the contrary — you’ll be remembered as a man who stood by change,” she writes. “A real ‘man’ leads alongside his partner. A real man accepts his mortality. A real man acknowledges that nothing can be done alone.”

[Read: Should a woman take her husband’s last name?]

Controversial or not, changing one’s surname after marriage is primarily the concern of the two people involved in a relationship. Whether you choose the wife’s, the husband’s, or a hyphenated surname, it’s your business, so do what makes you both happy!

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Danielle Anne
Those who can’t do, teach. I can neither do nor teach as well as others, but I can try. Aside from being a writer, I am also a physical therapist. My dream is...
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