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A Jones by Any Other (Married) Name

I recently got engaged, and despite the fact that my byline is short and simple, figuring out what to do about my last name will be tricky. While I write under the name Abigail Jones, my full name is Abigail Goldsmith Drachman-Jones. That’s eight syllables, 29 letters, four words and one punctuation mark. It’s a lot of baggage to carry around: My name never fits on forms, makes booking dinner reservations or picking up prescriptions at the pharmacy difficult, looks like one gigantic typo on my driver’s license (“DRACHMANJONES”) — and don’t even get me started on the mispronunciations (BraCH-Man Johns). But it’s been my baggage and my name for 32 years.

And so when I started to think about whether or not I would change my name after getting married, suddenly I became paralyzed.

A wedding requires countless decisions — about colors, flowers, dresses, hair, makeup, food, registries, photographers, guests, invitations, seating assignments — but for many women, myself included, the hardest, most meaningful choice is about whether to change our last names. My fiancé is supportive of whatever I decide. But let’s be honest: He has it easy. Changing names after marriage is a traditionally gendered issue; women are the ones who typically make the big shift, not men. And so there are no great identity crises in his future, just the looming possibility that he might get to share his last name with his future wife — plus the fact that he will pass on his last name to his future children. For me, the coast is not so clear.

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More on: Marriage, Name
3 Comments

When I got married, my first decision was not to change my last name. I talked to my future-hubby about it, he was open to the idea. However, I could see the sadness in his eyes when I told him about the decision. After several years of being together and after giving birth to our child, I decided to change my last name and used his.

Hi Abby - Your piece put a big smile on my face. My last name is Becker. I didn't change it when I married my husband c. ten years ago. His last name is Schwartz. We have 2 children whose last names are Becker-Schwartz. A family of 4 with 3 last names. Ridiculous. And meaningful to us. My son is in second grade at a community Jewish day school & we enjoyed his Chagigat Chumash yesterday. Each of the 40 kids in his class got their own chumash. On them, the teachers engraved their Hebrew names (first names) plus the first Hebrew initial of their last name. Except my son - his last name required 2 Hebrew letters - Bet. Samech. I loved it. (Almost) makes the confusion at the airport security line when we all hand over our passports worth it. He'll get to decide what he wants to do when he marries. In the meantime, when he opens his Chumash, he brings a bit of me and a bit of his father with him.

p.s. Though I felt strongly about keeping Becker, I was willing to go the "traditional" route & give our kids my husband's last name. The hyphenation was his idea. ; )

Both change last name to a third you both choose together. I know several who did.

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How to cite this page

Jones, Abigail . "A Jones by Any Other (Married) Name." 15 February 2013. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on July 26, 2017) <https://jwa.org/blog/jones-by-any-other-married-name>.

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