To Have, Hold and Hyphenate: Your Married Name

Bucking Tradition

Taking your husband's last name is a mainstream tradition. If you keep your maiden name or hyphenate your last name, you're in the minority.

Amy Bierman-Rydel did both. She kept her maiden name, but she always identifies herself with a hyphenated last name (except on legal documents).

"I wasn't ready to give up my last name -- it had been with me for 25 years -- but I wanted to mark this new stage in my life and in our relationship by putting our names together," Bierman-Rydel says. "It felt more official, more visible. I was so happy to be married to him, so proud to call him 'mine' that I wanted everyone to know. I still toy with the idea of taking his name someday, and maybe I will. For now, I'm happy for our names to stand side by side."

Maybe you just like your maiden name and hate to see it disappear. After all, a last name is like an appendage: You get used to having it around throughout your life, and parting with it can leave you feeling strange or incomplete. Your sentiments might stem from an even deeper sense of belonging or feelings of attachment to your father, grandfather or family heritage. If your name honors those feelings, by all means keep it!

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