I've been married for 15 years now. I didn't change my name. Actually, I'm not even wearing a wedding ring right now, because I lost mine seven years ago and never got around to replacing it. Without the common last name and the ring, I don't have the usual markers for marriage. This doesn't bother me in the least, though I do like jewelry, so I really should set up a wedding ring date with my husband.
It does cause some confusion with school officials though, who seem to be the only group of people who need to know my marital status. They don't know what to call me, so they often call Miss McKenna, er… Mrs. Steveslastname, er… . Their discomfort causes me some amusement, so I like to let them flounder around for a while before I rescue them. "Just call me Laura," I say.
It also bothers Ian a little bit, because he has autism and he has trouble dealing with people who don't follow the rules. I'm sure that it bothers some older relatives, too. Whatever. They've gotten used to it.
Jill Filipovic added some nice stats this old discussion.
Ten percent of the American public still thinks that keeping your name means you aren't dedicated to your marriage. And a full 50% of Americans think you should be legally required to take your husband's name. Somewhere upwards of 90% of women do change their names when they get married.
She thinks that to get around this, men should change their last names.
I think there shouldn't be any "shoulds" in this debate. I very much like the fact that I didn't change my name. I also like that I don't have a huge rock and matching band on my left finger. I also like wearing all black and big boots to PTA meetings. But not everybody is like me.
My only suggestion is that young couples pause and think before they follow this tradition (or, really, any other tradition). You don't have to do anything just to please old grandmothers or school officials.