You Are Not Proud of Your Marriage

Opinion

Also a man that would be bothered by such a non-issue imo, is a man that is not self assured and that is definitely not the man I want to be married to. If me not having the same name with you makes you feel less of a husband to me or gets you worried about how much of a man society would think you are, God forbid that I get married to you!

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That is not our culture. What is the meaning of that, Simi? And your husband allowed you? You are just so weird.

These sentences above and so much more are the things I hear when people find out I did not take my husband’s last name. Some people get really outraged sef and I am always just wondering how it affects them. Is it your name? Is it your marriage?

The way people carry other people’s matter on their head ehn

My usual response to people that ask why I am not taking his name is usually to ask them why exactly I should do so. Then I go ahead to ask them to give me a biblical, cultural and legal justification for why I should do so and so far not even half a person has given me a reason. I ask for those three because they are what form the foundation of my life and guide my actions.

There is nothing in the bible about taking my husband’s name so why do we do it in the church? Why do we insist on it? A friend once told me that getting married is like giving your life to Jesus and you should forsake your former identity because you are a new person. There is no biblical truth in that so that could not apply to me. I gave my life to Jesus, I did not give it to my husband.

Others say that is what culture demands and I ask them which culture? The use of Mrs was never in our African culture, it came with colonisation for crying out loud. I cannot remember reading any old Yoruba history book and seeing Mrs used there. So which culture are y’all talking about, biko? It is definitely not African culture and I am not about to follow the dictates of a culture that is not mine. All I know in Yoruba culture is Iyaafin and Ogbeni and those two honorifics, to be best of my knowledge, have nothing to do with being married or not.

While I was in primary school, I used to be so angry at the fact that I would have to change my name when I got married. As young as I was then, it just looked unfair to me. Then one day I met a friend of my dad who had two surnames, I asked my dad about it and he explained to compound and hyphenated surnames to me. You cannot imagine the relief I felt when I understood that I actually was not required to change my name by law. I told my dad then that I would never take my husband’s surname. He found out two weeks ago that I had not changed my name and his response was “There is no problem with that. I am not surprised, I know Simi, she has always said this as a child”.

Someone asked me whether my husband was fine about it and I said if the person I married is not fine with me keeping my last name then I have married the wrong person. It is not about the name but the fact that someone would think to legislate on that for me is a deal breaker. Also a man that would be bothered by such a non-issue imo, is a man that is not self assured and that is definitely not the man I want to be married to. If me not having the same name with you makes you feel less of a husband to me or gets you worried about how much of a man society would think you are, God forbid that I get married to you!

Interestingly, I never brought up the discussion with the husband while we were still dating, he was the one that initiated the discussion. One day, dude just sends me a message asking me what my surname would be when we get married. He sent an option of just his last name and an option with a hyphenated name. I first thought to myself “Who told this one I would marry him?” (Lol, that man was very proud sha. How would he just assume that? It was still early days o) then I replied him with my name and that was it. There was no need to explain or justify anything, it was not even an issue for him. I was glad that he even thought to ask.

See, change your name, don’t change your name o, it really makes no difference to me what other people choose to do. Do what works for you and your marriage. What pisses me off is the people that choose to consistently introduce me as a Mrs or to call me by my husband’s name. It is not because of the name in itself, what annoys me is that you are refusing to honour my decision and existence as a human being. Can you just respect my wishes and let me be known as I wish to be known? Do not invalidate my identity because you think I am doing something wrong. Just respect the fact that I am a human being and respect my decision. I went somewhere and wrote my name as Simi Olusola, next time I would see it, it had been changed to Mrs Simi xxxxxxx. Why would you do that? I know some folks just do it out of habit or as banter, I don’t mind that. I know they are not doing it to prove a point to me or anything so no hard feelings there. Plus it is not like I resent my husband’s name and want absolutely nothing to do with it.

I recently met an old friend and he wanted to know what my new surname was. Told him I did not have a new one and he went in on me. I asked him why he was so particular about it and he said it was so that he could show respect to my husband. I am like, “You don’t even know my husband, so why do you have to show him respect and why does it have to be by calling me his name?”. Why do I suddenly need that extra respect because I am now married. I am a complete human being on my own and my existence does not need to be validated by a husband.

So yes, I love my husband with every fibre in me but I like my last name and see no need to change it. It does not change the fact that we are married and that we are committed to each other. It does not say I am not proud to be married to and associated with him. It does not change the fact that we are one unit. Moreover, I have had the name for so many years and it is a part of me, a part of my brand. I do not dislike his name, the simple matter is that it is his name and not mine.

Btw, this culture of name change started in France and right now, it is illegal there for a woman to change her last name. She can take her husband’s name socially but her legal name must always remain what is on her birth certificate. So you can all stop acting like I have committed a crime by keeping my name, my own name o.

Responses

  1. Naomi
    I dint change my name because of the stress. You think it’s just punch newspaper name change? Hahaha to change all legal documents, passport, bank documents is a major stress in nigeria. I dint go through with it. Imagine you have to go to passport office in Abuja for that? Never mind my husband even said what’s even wrong with your own name? Lol leave it o
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  2. Bimie
    I had an argument with my friends once about this name change matter. I stressed the same points, – it’s not a law, it is my name after all – the guys all disagreed, but I realized all the points they were making came out of insecurities. I don’t know how it happened but name change has now become an unwritten part of our constitution.
    BTW they are all waiting for me to get married and see whether I’ll change my name or not????????.
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    1. Simi Post author
      People were telling me I would change it when I eventually got married. I got married and now they are telling me I’ll change it very soon. Issok

      “the guys all disagreed, but I realized all the points they were making came out of insecurities” This is so true! Most of them do not even realise it. How does someone not having the same name as you make you feel less of a person????

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  3. Larz
    Great write up. Just one sentence I struggled with,”It is not about the name but the fact that someone would think to legislate on that for me is a deal breaker”.

    You would worry about someone caring enough to legislate that when that is exactly what you are doing.

    Also, pls bear in mind that what you are doing is against the norm (by norm I mean what is normal for most) so you shouldn’t expect everyone to accept or even support your decision and you shouldn’t take their actions seriously. In time, ppl won’t even raise an eyebrow when it comes up again.

    All the best

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    1. Simi Post author
      I do not think that legislating upon MY name is caring. I do not think I am doing the same. I would be doing the same if I insist that he should take my last name.

      This is not a case of where do we live or where do the kids go to school which affect everyone involved. This is an issue of me changing a part of me that has always been my identity and affects no one if I change it or not. So why would he legislate on that?

      I don’t want people to support my decision o, I mainly just want them to mind their business. I cannot wait for the day when eyebrows will stop being raised

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  4. Kad
    It’s not compulsory but it can be a bit confusing like are u miss your fathers name or Mrs. Iyaafin indicates woman of the house of……meaning Mrs
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    1. Simi Post author
      I do not go by any prefixes. If I have to, I use Ms. which is a honorific that does not signify the bearer’s marital status. A single woman can go by Ms so can a married woman. Confusion cleared.
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  5. LincayaD
    “A friend once told me that getting married is like giving your life to Jesus and you should forsake your former identity because you are a new person.” I normally tell people that marriage isnt supposed to change what and who you are. Priorities and other responsibilities normally change you or take over your life. Taking his last name is a choice we make, unfortunately some of us are double barrelled. As long as you understand each other with your partner, there are no third parties involved. Remember what kept you both interested in each other and live by your ow rules. our forefathers lived their own lives unfortunately som of those things do not apply to us 21st century kids:):)…
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  6. Tee boy
    Thanks for clearing the air on the origin of this last name palaver.
    Good on you for sticking to your guns and not going with the norm which in my own opinion carries no significant/sacred value.
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  7. Weirdo
    It’s your life really. But one little thing about being part of a community is that the norms tell us who belongs and who doesn’t and therefore how we should treat this person or that.

    There are things that the larger society has no business legislating on but there are other things that we need to adopt a uniform approach to so that community can work.

    Not really interested in working out where names fall in in this case. But I think that if we all rebelled, then the new norm would be rebellion and it would be the meaning of society for us to find norms to break with (something that seems to be the everyday thing these days).

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