The day Dean and I went to City Hall to obtain our marriage certificate, we left separately in a rage. I had assumed I was going to keep my name. He assumed I was going to take his. It didn’t end pretty. I ultimately caved in as I didn’t want to get into an all-out brawl in public.
Dean and I are very different and we have our share of disagreements, but this one was a big one. It’s a fundamental difference in how I value my name and heritage versus his view that in marriage there is only one family name and it needs to match the husband.
Gacad is my maiden name. All that I stand for is in my signature. My blood, sweat, and tears through decades of education, honors, and accolades. Not just a brand, but a life…a life that can be whittled down to an almighty signature and name.
And it’s not even about age. You know how people say they kept their name because they’d married late. Marrying at 35 does not diminish the fact that I’d already built up brand recognition at 25 or even 15.
Let me cite two examples:
- When I was a kid, I was in the regional spelling bee. I bonded with the contestant sitting next to me as we spelled our words back-to-back, rooting each other on and high-fiving after each successful round. With the dawn of Facebook, that person discovered me and would never have been able to do so if I’d changed my name.
- My boss copied me on a group email to external clients and said I would take care of a certain task. Someone then replied back, “Is that the one and only Catherine Gacad who went to the University of Chicago GSB?!”
Dean reasoned that taking his name was just the way it had to be, which obviously, is very conformist. When he shared his views with a childhood friend’s wife, she attacked him, “Why? Because Catherine’s your property? You know that’s the only reason why women have taken the man’s last name. Because they were enslaved to their men. That’s so 1900s. Women are successful now and paving their own path. We’re entitled to retain our names. Do you disagree?”
I smirked as Dean cowered under her cross-examination.
Please consider this important point. At birth, a female takes her father’s name. Then in marriage, she takes her husband’s name. That means during the whole duration of a woman’s life she is never connected by name to her mother, the very woman who birthed her! Isn’t that sad and also so wrong?
Men should be happy with the fact that children will forever have their last name. Dean has come around after much debate and grilling from my modernist friends, but his gift is that our children will be Barbellas and not Gacads.
After I signed the marriage certificate with the name Catherine Gacad Barbella, that’s where it ended. For all intents and purposes, I have not changed my name or passport or driver’s license. It is and always will be Catherine Gacad.
Would love your comments!
Did you/Would you keep your name or change it? Why?
What if prior to marriage you had established a successful career (i.e., published a book or started your own consulting firm) with your maiden name?