I wanted to address something that I’ve been seeing…. And it is not anything new but I guess now that I am an adult, a married women, mother and aspiring grief and family counselor, this little “thing” has been bugging me more and more.
I am not exactly sure why. Maybe it is because I feel like the issue goes deeper than what we see in writing. I don’t know but whatever it is, it has been on my mind for a long while now and I just need to get it off my chest.
I know you are probably saying okay Kelly, what is it already. geesh…
But really guys, I struggled with this post. I didn’t know if I should pose it as a question or statement, or if people would get offended or what, but I decided I am only one person and this is my opinion, my blog, my space…. So, I guess the best or easiest way to get this post going would be to pose it as a question…
Okay so here it goes…
Why do people (more women than men) continue to keep their ex- husbands (or wife’s) last name after they divorce??? Like what is that about?
I mean really!
Okay so let’s back track for a minute. So, I get the whole idea of leaving and cleaving, and when you get married a woman choosing to take on the husband’s name as a sign of solidarity, announcing to the world. “Hey world, we are now one” … It’s the first thing announced after you are pronounced husband and wife…I do understand and think that sharing a last name with your spouse is important and it can be an amazing thing… But what about after divorce, does the above message still apply or is it somehow “changed” and the sign to the world now amended?
I don’t know; However, I do have a few opinions as to why women choose to keep the ex’s last name.
- I will start with my own personal experience. Okay, so after being married for an extended amount of time my parents decided they needed to get a divorce…. After the divorce was final, my parents moved on with their individual lives but continued to co-parent because they felt it was important for me to have a healthy relationship with both parents. However, there were times, a lot of times in fact where my mom would attend parent-teacher conferences a lone or we would see a parent in the grocery store and I would introduce them to my mom and they would automatically call her Ms./Mrs. Colbert. I would immediately correct them, and interject with her proper last name Mrs. Jackson. They would immediately apologize and life would go on. But one day I did ask, “mommy, it doesn’t bother you that they call you Ms. Colbert?” and she said “no, you are a Colbert and although that is not my last name anymore, you were the best thing I could ever ask for, so why would that bother me? Of course, I was smiling ear to ear…
But I say all that to say, I know one of the reasons women are apprehensive about letting go of that last name is because it links them not only to their ex-husband but it also creates a seem less connection to their children. It is easier at school functions; it keeps unnecessary conversation to a minimum when it comes to your personal life in certain settings… It keeps other children from asking that hard question “why does your mommy have a different last name than you”. And as mom’s who does not want to protect their children.
But is it really “best”? Is having that seem less appearance worth continuing to attach yourself to a person who no longer serves purpose and no longer holds that place in your life? Do you believe the relationship between you and your child will change because your last name is “X” and there’s “Y”? Or are your children an excuse not to face the reality of our own circumstance?
The 2nd reason I noticed people won’t let go of that name is because they think they are Tina Turner…(lol)…
No but for real, for some reason they feel like they earned that name and they are not giving it up… They were married for 30 years (or maybe 1 year) and after all those years that person decides to divorce them …
“Why should I have to give up my last name?, it’s mine”…
Or maybe there is a certain clout or social status attached to it and they feel that by letting go of that name, you will be letting go of all the perks that go along with being “Mrs. Walter Jackson”…
But have you ever thought that maybe what you need is a fresh start? Maybe the things that connect you to this last name are the exact things God is trying to get you away from, not just the person?
And look if the people in those social circles are your friends, they will be your friends regardless of the last name that you carry. They will continue to be friends with you the person behind the last name.
The 3rd reason for holding on to this last name is ….
You don’t have the heart to let that name go… By admitting that you are no longer “Mrs. Xavier C. Smith” you feel like you are admitting failure. That you couldn’t or didn’t make your marriage work. And even if it is not any fault of your own letting your marital last name go, will make the divorce, the loneliness, the emptiness, real.
Wow, I never thought about it like that before writing this post… That’s crazy… Can you imagine after 18 years of marriage having to give back your last name to the person whom you pledged to be with forever, through sickness and health, until death do you part…? I guess, some of you may not have to imagine as some of you have lived this exact scenario.
I know there may be many other reasons as to why people chose to keep the last name or a combination of reasons, however, I believe there is a freedom that you need to move forward.
For some this freedom comes the day they sign the divorce papers, for others this freedom comes when they accept Christ in their life, when they look in the mirror and realize they never needed a man to validate them and that they are strong enough to validate themselves.
And I think all these things are great, but I look at letting go of the ex’s last name as the final stamp, that final statement to God and to the world that I no longer am in union or under the covenant of this man (or woman).
By holding on to so tight to a name that no longer belongs to you, you may be missing out on the next Mr. or Mrs. that is supposed to come into your life.
Remember closed hands can’t receive. You can’t expect some one new to step in and you still acknowledge yourself as belonging to another.
So please open your hands and let the name go… It’s your choice, but I guarantee God will restore all the broken pieces…Does it take courage? Yes. Will it be easy? Probably not. But will it be worth it? Absolutely!
If you need help along the way, please feel free to contact me…
So, tell me, do you think a woman should continue to keep their ex-husband (or wife’s) last name?
Drop me a comment below, I would love to hear your opinion.
Until Next Time. All in Love,