"You didn't change your name ?" 

"No I didn't because... "

I have answered it so many times now in the last few months.

No I am not offended by the question since it is a norm for centuries and so people are curious when someone decides not to change their name. And then comes the second question

"What would your name be if you had decided to change?"

"Ermm.." ...the conversation continues for 30 more minutes as I explain the various aspects of a south-Indian name.

So this post is to explain the answer for the above question.

Being a South Indian in the United States (I felt) that this name change has a lot of layers to it and gets complicated.

Here is why:

We have no family names

My last name is my dad's first name. I don't have a family name like Smith or Reddy or Shah. So if I do have to change my name , my new last name would be my husband's first name.

In my husband's case , his last name is his dad's first name. So even if I change my name , we both have different last names anyway.

I am JV and the husband is RG

If I change I will be JR and he remains RG

Having a hyphenated name

Say I do want to change and do justice to my maiden name, I can be hyphenated with three first names

My first name, my dad's first name- my husband's first name

J V-R

And say the husband wants to be fair and take my last name and hyphenate it :

His first name, my dad's first name-his dad's first name

R V-G

Or say I take his last name so that we both have the same names I am either

My first name, my dad- his dad

J V-G

or

My first name, his dad - my dad

J G-V

And yet we have no last name :P

Being referred by last name

Being in a country where you are mostly referred to by your last name , being married just confuses people more. Especially if I am assumed to have gone through the norm.

  • Anyone who see's R's name first is going to address me as Mrs G, which isn't right since G is his dad.
  • Anyone who see's my present name but knows I am married is going to address me as Mrs V, which isn't right either since V is my dad
  • People who know me or those in India will call me Mrs R , which is alright but still isn't my name

FYI - The preferred way of addressing me is Jan, Janani or Ms. V :)

Coming back to having same last names:

Since I am really not against (would have preferred) having the same last name I did think through it. If we did want the same last names , we could have

  1. Decided on a common name that relates to our roots and made a change
  2. Agreed on one of the hyphenated forms
  3. Either of us could take the other's last name

Since neither were ready to give up the names we grew up with (and since it was too complicated) , we decided to make no changes to our names !!

P.S. I did (kindof) bug R about the fact that nobody would ask/asked him about his name while I faced this question almost every other day.

What are you thoughts on name changes after marriage? Do you have an experience to share? Did you/did you not change your name? Please do share your stories here with me :)

Published by Jan's Doodles