Picture taken by my lovely friend Denise
Stephen's family is pretty traditional so I mentioned it once but didn't talk much otherwise about it to them. It never bothered me when his family would send us mail addressed to us under Stephen's last name, since after all we are married. Sidenote though that I still don't understand why people address couples as Mr. and Mrs. husband's first and last name. Other relatives are very far on the traditional side and probably would have fallen over backwards if I had pushed the issue - I spent my in-law's wedding ceremony seething from my bridesmaid's position on the altar while the Lutheran pastor went on about how marriage is about wives obeying their husbands, serving them, etc. etc....and then was introduced as the pregnant wife at the wedding reception/asked how nursing school was going (the concept of female physicians is still foreign for some)...but I ramble. My family is also pretty traditional, but they know me well enough not to push the issue (yes I can be a little stubborn) although my fairly not-traditional uncle blatantly told me that he felt there was no reason for women not to change their name unless they were planning on a divorce (wow).
And you're probably wondering what Stephen thought of all of it, since his opinion obviously matters most. Sweet Stephen never once said that it bothered him, or really said much either way. He loves me for me, and ultimately he married me for me whether I took his last name or not (and he knew that I might not...actually I'm pretty sure that he thought I never would). But deep down, I can't help but think that he probably did hope/wish that I would eventually change my name...
The factor that pushed me to finally make a decision was when we found out about the baby. I always knew that I didn't want my children to have a different last name then me, or people to wonder if their parents were married because we had two different last names. I've heard of people hyphenating their children's last name, but like I already said, ours would be quite cumbersome. Plus, what if we had a daughter and she wanted to hyphenate her married name (triple last name?)
So last week I marched my pregnant self down to the Social Security office after work and changed my name. I decided that I wanted to keep my last name, but add it as a second middle name. This way I could still hold on to a little piece of my identity over the last 28 years and potentially use my maiden name professionally (although I don't know that I will, since Stephen's is much easier to pronounce). I expected to maybe feel a twinge of regret as I walked out with a piece of paper with my new last name on it, but instead I felt kind of liberated. And when I told Stephen, he didn't say much but his (a little shocked/surprised) smile said enough. He has made enough sacrifices for me (medical school, moving, now residency) that it felt good to something small for him...and ultimately, I did it for myself too.