To Have, Hold and Hyphenate: Your Married Name


Image Gallery: Engagement Rings You can enjoy all the benefits of marriage and still keep your name. See more pictures of engagement rings.
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What's in a name anyway? Shakespeare wondered the same thing. Remember when Juliet says, "That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet"?

It's a valid point. You're still you no matter what your name is. Still, the decision about whether to take your groom's name or keep yours can be elusive, emotional or stressful for a lot of women who feel torn between honoring precedence and claiming independence and equality in marriage.

The practice of taking your husband's last name can be traced back thousands of years across multiple cultures. In the U.S., it wasn't until the feminist movement in the 1970s that women really began questioning the practice.

Research shows that most women in this country still opt to change names when they get married -- and the younger you are when you tie the knot, the more likely you are to take your husband's name. A much smaller percentage of women chooses to hyphenate. And while some make a careful choice about it after much deliberation, others embrace social norms without much thought.

The name-change debate may prove thought-provoking, self-affirming or irrelevant to you. Modern brides owe it to themselves to explore their options -- starting with the hyphen. Why is hyphenating such an alluring option?