By Stephen & Adam Podowitz-Thomas
By the time Adam and I were planning our wedding, a number of our close friends had already married. Beyond getting advice on how to pick the right caterer or florist, we also looked to them for their thoughts on name changing post-marriage. Our friends made choices that ran the gamut from keeping their given names to reviving a family name that had died out. Some of our friends wanted to distance themselves from associations with the traditional notion that husbands have property rights over their wives by choosing not to change their names. Others saw changing their name as just another part of getting married.
When making our decision, we considered a number of options:
Keeping our last names — We debated whether it might have been easiest to maintain the status quo and keep our names the same, largely for professional reasons. However, we weren’t satisfied with this solution. On the one hand, we were happy with our given names and felt that our social identities were related to those names. On the other, marrying each other was part of evolving our identities, so we weren’t caught up on keeping our same names.
Combining our last names into a new one or select a completely different name — This was a fun idea to think about (would it be Thomowitz or Podomas?), but we felt it would lead to the opposite problem as keeping our given names. We still felt some connection to our given names, which were also our family names.
Taking one of our names and scrapping the other — Our biggest problem was the conception that one of us taking the other’s name was a “gendered” act. It’s too easy to for same-sex couples to be stereotyped into gendered roles – who’s the “woman” and who’s the “man?” Though we don’t find anything inherently wrong with couples that fall into traditional binary gender roles, it’s not something that rings true for our relationship, so this option did not seem like a good choice for us.
Hyphenating our last names together — Clearly this is the option we went with. It checked all of our boxes in terms of maintaining our own identities, while creating a shared identity for us as a couple.
And what about our kids last names? — I’ve been talking a lot about how we felt about our last names in light of our personal identities, but the deciding factor for us was what name we wanted to give to our future children.
Sticking with one of our last names for our kids would create the same problems as the two of us taking only one of our names. Giving them entirely different last names from us would mean we wouldn’t share that name, and thus identity, with them. As much as we had similar apprehensions as our friends who wanted to buck the expectation that they would change their names for marriage, we felt that as gay men it was liberating to be changing our names. To us, changing our last names signifies our ability to form a family on equal footing with any other. It’s exciting for us to share this name with our kids and have it be so normal.
Stephen looks to his PB&J sandwich for the answer!
Check out more about Adam & Stephen’s adoption journey on their profile page.