Let's get real: Why you should or shouldn't keep your maiden name

In last week's blog post, I mentioned the controversy generated by my instastory about women having to take their husbands' surname upon marriage. What Chimamanda was saying was that a woman should have a choice to keep her maiden name or take her husband's surname.

What I mentioned in my instastory was that many people talking about why a woman must take her husband's surname do not even have an idea about where this tradition came from. Since this is a blog post, I will just write a comprehensive opinion here.

Firstly, anyone who knows me knows I didn't take my husband's surname after marriage. As of now, I still bear my maiden name. I don't know about tomorrow, things might change, but I strongly doubt that they would. When I got married, most people started asking for my new surname, so they could "properly" address me. And when I told them I don't have one, I got varied reactions from "Why???" "How could you?" "You just want to be a rebel." Not in those exact words, but along those lines. But one thing every single person who raised an eyebrow couldn't tell me was why I HAD to change my surname. They didn't even understand the culture behind it

Is it for religious reasons? Pardon my ignorance, but I am not currently aware of any religion that says a woman must take her husband's surname upon marriage.
I even heard that Islam mandates women to keep their maiden names after marriage. If there is one stating a woman must change her surname, please, feel free to enlighten me in the comment section, and I will update this blogpost. And I still wouldn't be compelled to change my surname, because I am a Christian, and there is no law in the bible stating that a woman must change her surname to her husband's own upon marriage. In fact, there was nothing like surnames in those days. Read more on the origin of surnames if you doubt this.

Is it for cultural reasons? Absolutely not! And this is where we will delve into the origin of this practice. In many cultures all over the world, women retain their surnames after marriage, including some tribes in Edo state, even till this day. So this is obviously not a 'cultural' or Nigerian practice. The practice of women taking their husbands surname is actually and English Culture, which is guided by the law called Coverture (Research more on this if you are interested). Of course, we were colonised by the British, so automatically, we took on the system of Nomenclature. The Spanish don't follow this, the Chinese don't follow this, the Iranians don't follow this. In fact, several countries and cultures around the world don't follow this. Are the English and Nigerian women now better wife materials because we choose to adopt this practice?

Some people have asked how people would know I am married if I didn't take my husband's surname. Firstly, people don't need to know I am married. Secondly, people who really need to know I am married will be provided a copy of my marriage certificate upon enquiry. If they need proof that I am my son's mother, there's a birth certificate to show that. It's really not that difficult. After all, I have an uncle who is not legally or even customarily married to the two women claiming to be his wife, yet they changed their surnames to his. They have no marriage certificate or wedding to prove this. Now tell me. Who is really married? Me or them?

Surname is actually a means of identification, and in my own opinion, I can choose to identify myself in whatever way I like, once my spouse and I are in agreement about this. And as long as this I am not going against God's will or distorting God's original plan for the family unit, I am fine. The British or Popular Opinion people can keep their naming system ways, while I keep mine.

I know this is a topic that can generate strong opinions. I will like to read your opinion on this in the comment section. Please and please, don't go silent on me.

8 comments

  1. Good morning and WOW... What a piece. God bless you for this piece. I can write an epistle on this matter..... I just don't understand the stress around this change of name. I got married in '17 and after the wedding. I knew that I didn't need the verbal reminder by being addressed as "Mrs" I already knew I was married. But trust our people.... whenever I introduced myself I use just my name no title. Let's not even talk about the stress, ridiculous prices and time wasting when you need to get documents like int'l passport, driver's license, educational
    Documents etc.... it's completely unfair honestly..... but well. It's really up to the couple to agree on if they r ok with this trend..... thank you again. Alwaz love reading your posts....

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    1. Hmmm, that stress is one thing I absolutely refuse to go through, abeg. Let them keep their stress.

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  2. I remember many moons ago, a blogger I followed at the time got married and he and his wife created a new surname for their family. In all honesty, that makes more sense than one taking the other's name since technically you are starting a new family.

    At the end of the day I wish more people realized that it costs you nothing to mind your own business and there's no reason to be in other people's matter when it has 0 effect on you.

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    1. Wow. This is interesting. I'm guessing that blogger isn't Nigerian, lol.
      Let everyone just do what works for them.

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  3. How you did you get your mom and in-laws to be alright with this because I believe many people make the change because of pressure from loved ones (not even outsiders).

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    1. Haaa. You must not know me then, lol. I'm probably the most boundary-minded person you would ever meet. With me, everyone has a place, and you should not cross that line I have drawn for you, no matter who you are. My mum and in-laws cannot object cos their opinion is not relevant. I might sound harsh, but honestly, I am not

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  4. A lady's maiden name is HER FATHER'S surname.

    Wives that do not change their maiden names already have a BRAND attached to it,so they either keep it,or make it double/ hyphenated name.

    I have come to understand that SOME couples have different reasons they AGREED for a wife to keep her name,which they might NOT share with the public. And SOME people will just join the bandwagon,without asking questions,just to belong or for their own ulterior motive.

    Living abroad, made me understand that SOME keep their maiden names for several reasons,which of course they will not discuss with anyone but hide behind the cloak of 'being independent'/ women's right/ feminism.

    In my opinion, if the maiden name is not because of ECONOMIC or LEGAL reasons,a wife should take her husband's surname. And like you said, it is for IDENTIFICATION. Just as women have their wedding rings for IDENTIFICATION. For how long and how many times will a wife be showing her marriage certificate for IDENTIFICATION.

    Conclusively, women should simply know when where dnd how to pick their battles. Just simply KNOW WHO YOU ARE!
    Signed.. Mrs Nitty xxxxxx.😁


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    1. Hi Nitty, long time since you visited us, lol. *sideye*

      I agree with you on some of the points raised, especially about some people joining bandwagon, but I also disagree with you on some

      No, not all ladies' maiden names are their fathers' surnames. Actually there are millions of people around the world who don't have their fathers' surnames.

      I didn't take my husband's surname, and I have never had to show marriage certificate anywhere. Maybe when I am renewing my passport, they will ask me, but they also ask women who bear their husband's surnames.

      I agree with your last paragraph also. It's not worth battling over. If it is important to your husband, then take his name.

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What's your opinion on this? Let's learn from one another.