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I changed my name for both of my failed marriages. I'm never doing it again.

Andrea Javor   

I changed my name for both of my failed marriages. I'm never doing it again.
  • I never felt attached to my maiden name, and took my first husband's last name.
  • When our marriage ended, I went back to my maiden name.

When I faced the inevitability of divorce for a second time, I was forced to deconstruct the life I built with my ex-husband and his three kids. I sold the dream house and moved into a stark and empty condo. I hired another lawyer, booked sessions with my therapist, and found a support group.

The devastating reality of starting over, again, at age 40, was overwhelming. But, during all of the emotional, logistical, and legal stresses of going through my second divorce, one problem often felt worse than others: changing my name, again.

I had changed my name before

I never felt particularly attached to my maiden name. When I met my first husband in my mid-20s, I held naive notions of a "happily ever after" and was thrilled to signify our forever union with a shared last name. I thought it meant that I was settled, happy, and fulfilling my dreams.

My first husband struggled to know himself and was often in and out of steady work. Conversely, I was flourishing in a prominent new job in my field just after we married. Then, as I was trying to make a name for myself, literally, at this new company, our marriage completely fell apart.

I was faced with sheepishly asking my IT department to change my email address to my maiden name — a name my colleagues at that company never knew. Soon after, a coworker stopped by my office to see if I was still employed, assuming that since he couldn't find my name in the directory I had been let go.

In addition to the humiliation at work, I also changed my Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn profile names back to my maiden name. It felt like a slow death in my marital status, as thousands of "friends" slowly, but eventually, detected that I was going through a divorce. It's ironic, really, that I worked in marketing for decades and didn't value the brand of my given name.

The second time I didn't change it legally but did publicly

In my second marriage, while I didn't change my name legally, I did adjust my social media handles to reflect my marital status. He brought his children into our home, and sharing his name signified we were a family. When we divorced less than two years later, I again wanted to delete my social presence altogether rather than experience the shame of changing back, once again, to my maiden name.

During a business dinner at a bustling table, a sales rep I vaguely knew leaned in over appetizers and whispered, "By the way, I saw you were back to Javor on LinkedIn, I hope everything's OK." I wanted to crawl under the table and hide. My public name change translated to an opening for curious acquaintances to pry into my life.

As I look back, both marriages took me away from who I really was. And it didn't take long after each wedding to realize I got it all wrong, twice. I lost myself in the demands of trying to resuscitate relationships that never had life to begin.

Now, at age 44, in a healthy long-term relationship, I've explained to my boyfriend how I feel about taking his name if we ever marry. I confirmed that while I'd be proud to commit to him, changing my name is not the way I'll show it to the world.

He understands that I'll forever be building the brand of Andrea Ellen Javor, a brand with a storied past anchored in who I've been since I was a little girl — someone strong enough to get through two divorces and still find connection with myself more than just on paper.

Andrea Javor is a Chicago-based writer working on her first novel. Connect with her on Instagram, X and LinkedIn.

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