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I took my wife's last name when we married. Friends and family struggled to understand why I did.

Mark Cusack   

I took my wife's last name when we married. Friends and family struggled to understand why I did.
  • People are constantly shocked to hear that I changed my last name to my wife's when we got married.
  • It was difficult to change my name because no one understood why I did it.

We met on a dating app, and it was love at first sight. After two years together, we got married in the UK. It felt amazing to have found my soulmate.

To everyone's surprise, I chose to take her surname rather than her taking mine, which is typical in male-female relationships. It felt great to flip the script. It was a bit daunting because I knew people would find it strange, but I was proud to take her name instead of pressuring her to take mine.

To me, it was an obvious decision, but to so many people, it came as a huge shock.

From the outset, people struggled to understand why I took her last name

I never thought I would change my name when I got married. I grew up with all the same patriarchal hang-ups as everyone else and expected my wife to take my surname. But as a person who prides himself on pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a man, I decided to take my wife's surname.

To do so, I had to overcome a lot of fear and internalized sexism. I knew some would think of me as less of a man or that I was letting my wife "wear the trousers."

It's crazy how, even today, when gender equality has progressed so much, people can't fathom the idea of a man changing his last name to his wife's.

Women have been expected to take their husbands' surnames for centuries, and I don't think that's fair. It comes from a time when women were considered the property of men, and that is such an awful thought to me. The fact that men still think it's their right to carry on their name at the expense of their wives is a lingering legacy of misogyny that I don't want to be a part of.

If I have a daughter, what do I say when she asks: "Why do I have your name, Dad, and not Mum's?" I would have to respond that men still feel entitled in this society to erase their wives' identities because a woman's family lineage doesn't matter as much. No way. It's about the signal it sends to women and men everywhere.

Still, when I told people, they couldn't believe it. Everyone acted with surprise — even superliberal people.

"Wow, really?" they said as if it was radical and weird.

Most of my family members are open-minded, but I had to explain it at length to them. I felt like I had to justify myself. Sometimes I pretended I had changed it because I preferred the sound of her name. This was a white lie to make it feel less "political." I felt so weird having to make this excuse.

Many female friends reacted positively, but I felt I was being congratulated for something I shouldn't be. They also emphasized that their male partners would never do the same, making the conversation uncomfortable.

When I changed my name on all my documents, I was met with even more confusion

From passports to work documents and other administrative forms, I had to change my name on everything legally — and I was met with confusion. Sometimes there wasn't an option for it when filing my name change, or I would have to explain it at length to every person I interacted with.

Even the human-resources officer at work couldn't get her head around it. She asked me why as if it was an anomaly.

"Oh, that's very modern of you," she said after I had explained my reasoning. It was like I was some kind of fascinating novelty.

Many women will tell you that changing one's surname can be complicated, costly, and time-consuming. I now understand what they mean. With passports, driver's licenses, library cards, and other administrative forms, it cost me several hundred dollars.

Despite many difficulties, I was still proud to have my wife's surname

I was honored to be able to give my wife the option to carry on her family name. I feel women and men should be equal partners in a marriage, and this was a symbol of that for me. Everything else in our relationship was equal, so it made total sense.

Most of all, I'm happy because every time I speak about it, there's a ripple effect. Each conversation I have with people about it plants a seed in someone's mind and makes them think.

But as it happens, my wife and I are sadly no longer together, so I had to change my name back, which caused another wave of confusion. I don't regret my decision to take her name. Despite the headache, it was worth it to have her name for five years.

I still tell people that when I was married, I took my wife's surname. I'm still proud that every time I explain it, I get to open people's eyes a little bit and make a small step toward equality.