The last time I applied for passport renewal at the Philippine Embassy in Seoul, I contemplated whether I should change my last name or not. I already had a passport before I got married and have been using my maiden name in all my legal documents up to the present. For the sake of convenience, I decided to keep my maiden name.
In Korea, women keep their family names even after marriage but children take their father’s surname. Koreans are extremely conscious of familial values and their own family identities. They say that they keep their surnames based on the traditional reasoning that it is what they inherited from their ancestors, and cannot be changed. For Hubby, it isn’t really a big deal if I use his surname or not. He said that what is important is that my name is already in his family register and it couldn’t be removed even if we get a divorce. *Followed by an evil laugh* LOL 🙂
I had been thinking deeply about it because in my home country it is a common practice for women to change their last names after marriage. HOWEVER, it isn’t mandatory. According to Republic Act 386 Article 370 of The Civil Code of the Philippines, married women may use (1) her maiden first name and surname and add her husband’s surname; or (2) her maiden first name and her husband’s surname; or (3) her husband’s full name, but prefixing a word indicating that she is his wife, such as “Mrs.” Well, this means that a married woman does not automatically lose the right to use her maiden surname by virtue of her marriage. Because of the term ‘may’, the law in effect gives the woman an option not a duty and although not stated categorically, this implies that she may opt not to use her husband’s surname.
The fact that most women are willing to change their names doesn’t mean the decision is just an easy one. Making that choice can bring up all sorts of emotions. People say that when you get married, you are making a ‘new team’ and your surname is your team name. Hmmm.. how about making my last name our team name? Nah.. that won’t happen in Korean society. Other people also find it romantic. Hmm.. sorry but I don’t think so. I decided to keep my maiden name for the following reasons:
- Convenience is the word! If I change my surname in my passport now, I also have to get my surname changed in all of the following: Korean ID, bills, insurance, banking information, Andy’s family register etc. I don’t want to go through all these processes. Haha!
- I’m proud of my name. I take care of it all my life and I don’t want to give it up.
- My name isn’t about my husband. It’s my love for who I was, who I am and who I’ll be. Changing my last name doesn’t make me feel ‘more married’. Duh!
- I feel it’s an antiquated custom that I don’t need to follow. Hubby is fine with it, so why bother? I’m not fusing myself with another person, I am joining him in equality.
- My name means my heritage, my history and it keeps me connected to my roots. In the future, if our children ask me why my last name is different from their dad’s, I’ll have a great story to tell them. 🙂
Well, we all think differently and we all have our own reasons. How about you? What do you think about changing your surname after marriage? Will you take the plunge or not?