Halley Suitt has a common story on Misbehaving about changing or keeping a former husband’s name after a divorce.
A male friend (who’s divorced) asked me what I thought about asking your ex to change her married name BACK to her maiden name.
I had no clue really, despite being divorced, since I never changed my name in the first place and never changed it back.
Behind his question is his desire that she change it — essentially release HIS name — and return to hers. She doesn’t want to.
I’d never thought of it from a man’s point of view, that he might want his ex to stop bearing his name. And that she would want to retain it.
If I had changed my name, I would want to go back to my original name … but it’s moot, as I can’t now and couldn’t then imagine changing my name anyway.
We all know names are important to us, judging from the last conversation we had on name changing and marriage, but what about names in the case of divorce?
In this setup, the former husband seems to think that his name is a sort of property right that his former wife should give back to him after the divorce, but as Liz Lawley says in the comments at Misbehaving, “If the woman he married changed her name when she married, it was her choice to do so, and it became a part of her identity when she did. The fact that she’s now divorced doesn’t nullify that act or that part of her life… I find myself wondering why he’s threatened by her retention of that name. What possible impact does it have on him what his ex-wife chooses to use as her name? Sounds like a control issue to me.”
It doesn’t necessarily have to be a control issue. I remember the nervous, nasty feeling I felt at the beginning of my breakup with E’s father when I received mail from Ethan’s schools and activities addressed to the W—- family. That was not and had never been my name and I didn’t want to be called such. It felt like an identity intrusion, even an affront, and I think if this guy has good intentions this is probably what he is feeling as well, that somehow her use of “his” name intrudes on his new single Self.
What he doesn’t understand by his statement is that the name she chose for marriage is now hers as well, and might do her professional favor to keep it among other numerous factors. I’ll bet he didn’t have a problem with the initial change.
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