You've known for years that you want to keep your last name when you get married.After all,it's part of who you are.But when you tell your S.O.in no uncertain terms that you won't be taking his name,he's unenthusiastic and upset about the news.
"They can take it personally," saysJane Greer,Ph.D.,a New York City relationship expert and author ofWhat About Me?Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship."A lot of times,the men are confused as to why it's so important to you to keep your own name,why it isn't more important to become a couple united under the roof of the same family name,whatever that name is."
But,while that might be incredibly frustrating—doesn't he know that about 20 percent of women keep their last names when they get married,according toa survey conducted byThe New York Timeslast year?—that doesn't mean you should respond by being upset with him,say experts.
"We can't assume we don't owe guys an explanation about what that means to us," says Brandy Engler,author ofThe Women on My Couch.Why?It's generally assumed that you would take his last name,based on tradition,so it's understandable that he may be confused if it's not your thing.She adds that anyone you're seriously considering marrying deserves to be part of a conversation about what your last name means to you.After all,if (or when) you tie the knot,you'll be entering into a partnership in which you'll be making lots of big decisions together.
"This is a common problem in marriages in general," Engler says."A person makes a unilateral decision and assumes the other person probably gets it,but they don't.And then a lot of times,when people don't have a clear answer on things,the knee-jerk reaction is to take something personally and think something's wrong with you.It's just a common human experience."
Greer agrees: "I would encourage a woman to bring it up and say,‘This is really more about my own self-expression and not about the way that I feel toward you,'" she says.
In addition to explaining what's going through your head,you should also ask what's going through his."The conversation would look like,‘I'm considering keeping my own last name,here's why,but I wanted to check in with you and ask what it would mean to you if I did that,'" Engler says."Both people should start speaking their truth."
Then,once the two of you have expressed your needs,you can figure out ways to address them—ways that may or may not look like the ones you two originally envisioned."That's what it looks like when you're not just making decisions for yourself," Engler says."Taking the name isn't usually a deal-breaker for most couples,but it probably is one of those first big decisions,and you want to start the practice of making decisions together."