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In 2011, TheKnot.com surveyed almost 20,000 newlywed women. They found that only 8 percent kept their last names. Of the remaining 92 percent, 86 percent took their partnerâ€™s last name. Six percent hyphenated or created a new last name.
While Iâ€™ve seen other studies that show the percentage of women who keep their last names atÂ closer to 20 percent, the fact remains: Changing your name after marriage is the â€śnormalâ€ť thing to do.
Changing my name has never felt like the right move for meâ€”my last name is the one on my degrees, itâ€™s part of the name of my photography business, itâ€™s the name Iâ€™ve written under, and, itâ€™s the name Iâ€™ve used my entire life. Iâ€™ve given this some serious thought. I support a personâ€™s right to choose the name that feels like the best fit for them, and I understand the idea that a unified last name presents a unified team.
But, for me, changing my name just doesnâ€™t feel right.
(It also should be noted, that Justin isnâ€™t up for changing his last name either. My last name is hard to spell, and heâ€™s spent too long building his brand to change his name to something else. I donâ€™t think this is a conversation only half of a coupleÂ should be havingâ€”if name changes are on the table, they should be on the table for everyone.)
It wasnâ€™t until recently, when concepts like name changes shifted from hypothetical to reality, did something click for me. Changing my last name would mean separating my name from my familyâ€™s nameâ€”and taking a step away from my Jewish identity.
I know that marrying Justin, who isnâ€™t Jewish, wonâ€™t make me any less Jewish.
It wonâ€™t make our home any less Jewish; it wonâ€™t invalidate the mezuzah hanging on the door, or make my observance of holidays any less meaningful.
It wonâ€™t make my work any less Jewish; it wonâ€™t tarnish my past community organizing, nor will it make my work with Keshet and commitment to full LGBTQ inclusion in the Jewish community less authentic.
Taking Justinâ€™s last name wouldnâ€™t make me any less Jewishâ€¦ but it feels that way.
As an Ashkenazi Jew, with a very classically Ashkenazi Jewish last name, my name is a calling card. Rozensky, with its â€śrozenâ€ť and its â€śsky,â€ť shouts Jewish. I can trace its Jewish history. My name comes with a connection to my peopleâ€”not just in the sense of â€śthe chosen people,â€ť but also in the way it connects me to previous generations of Rozenskys. Iâ€™m not ready to step away from that tradition.
There will be plenty of compromises made in our marriage; after all, meeting each other halfway is an important part of keeping a relationship working. But when it comes to our namesâ€”which hold such important aspects of our identitiesâ€”compromise doesnâ€™t seem like the best bet.
Last weekend, entering the meeting with our florist, my fiancĂ©, my mother and father and I had the distinct impression it may have been the first time a groom entered this sacred bridal territory, as though he were alien to this particular planet.
Weâ€™re five weeks out from our wedding. Life is truly insane. If InterfaithFamily did not have a mindfulness expert and three masseuses visit our staff retreat last week, I might have lost it by now. That, and having a fiancĂ© who is actually planning our wedding with me. Shut theâ€¦ I know, right? Let me repeat that: My fiancĂ©, who is a dude, is planning our wedding alongside me. Times are a changing.
Marrying a person who cares about gender equality and feminism was important to me and now, seeing how my fiancĂ© takes on the same roles in our relationship that I do (OK, he definitely does more heavy lifting, but most other things we share!), Iâ€™m thankful that I fell in love with someone who doesnâ€™t treat marriage as a divvying up of â€śman stuffâ€ť and â€śwoman stuff.â€ť No matter how society might try to box us in–yes, even in 2014–we believe in a partnership where we seamlessly pitch in wherever needed.
Of course weâ€™re in the honeymoon stage of our lives right now. I know neither of us are perfect and there may come a time when one or the other of us gets frustrated beyond belief. Weâ€™re human. But people say if you can get through wedding planning, you can get through whatever other challenges arise. Clearly, with the divorce rate in this country, thatâ€™s not true.
But how many couples planning their weddings are actually doing it together? I have yet to speak to any other couple I know where the groom planned the wedding equally with the bride.
However, on this Wedding Blog, Iâ€™ve seen a lot more involvement from grooms than I see anywhere else. One of our wedding bloggers is male and it’s obvious he’s involved in every wedding detail, one of our other couples often includes a guest post by the groom, and the couple’s blog that just wrapped up was co-written. Perhaps interfaith couples realize early on how much their wedding day is a reflection of their union and that itâ€™s important for both parties to be represented.
Iâ€™m not advocating that my fiancĂ© get a medal for helping to plan his own wedding (though I am a bit biased and were there a medal to give, I would certainly give it to him). I think men should always help out with wedding planningâ€”after all, itâ€™s YOUR wedding, and if youâ€™re in a heterosexual relationship, itâ€™s not your brideâ€™s wedding alone and itâ€™s certainly not her motherâ€™s. I realize that not everyone enjoys wedding planning, and after seeing how much work goes into it, I can fully understand that. Many women will disagree with my point of view. But unless youâ€™ve hired a wedding planner, someoneâ€™s got to do it and I say–it may as well be you.
If flowers or the venue are not your thing, find something that is: the rituals you will perform during your ceremony, the food youâ€™ll eat, song requests for the band or DJ, finding your officiant, your photographer, the list is long!
But the fact is, wedding planning has a long history of being the brideâ€™s domain. The old saying is, step out of the way and let her do what she wants. If the bride has big ideas and the groom is easy going, this may make sense. But that doesnâ€™t mean he canâ€™t be in the loop, help make some of the tougher decisions, and be there for whatever little tasks and errands and phone calls need to get done. And if the groom does have opinions, shouldnâ€™t he be allowed to voice them? Shouldnâ€™t he feel like the wedding represents him, too? Should he be silenced by an outdated idea that he doesnâ€™t get a say in his own wedding? I love that my fiancĂ© is involved, but what if I wanted to just have it my way? Should I be shutting him out of one of the biggest days of our lives that represents our future partnership?
While I donâ€™t think my fiancĂ© is doing anything that any other man couldnâ€™t or shouldnâ€™t also be doing, I happen to love planning our wedding together. I could NEVER do this myself, and taking for granted that he is going to make sure we pay all our bills on time, communicate with our vendors as needed, join me at all the meetings, make decisions together and keep track of our daily to-do list, is the kind of dependability I know he will have for the rest of our marriage. What a great experience to learn this before we get married!
Weâ€™re going to be tackling challenges good and bad for the rest of our lives. Weâ€™re a team, and we each want the other to succeed, to thrive, to be happy. This is why figuring out how to bring our friends and families together to celebrate with us as we express our love and commitment is such an important thing to do as a couple. Weâ€™re learning that we donâ€™t always agree and how to compromise, how to prioritize whatâ€™s important to us, how to handle finances and family members, religion and many other things. Maybe I just got lucky with my man, or maybe, given the chance, many other grooms would gladly lend their fiancĂ©Â a hand and play an active part in their wedding planning.
Are you a groom helping to plan your wedding? Brides, is your groom helping you out, or would you rather he butt out? Sound off in the comments.