There are many occasions when two is always better than one. Ice cream scoops. Shoes. Orgasms. Minutes before you have to get out of bed on a Monday morning. Two wins. Every single time.
Then there are times when two just seems like one too many. Two 4pm deadlines. Two 4am tequila shots. Two former girlfriends in a new relationship, together. I’m sorry, I can’t handle more than one of you, thanks.
As you prepare to marry, the stress of the wedding will probably be overshadowed by the agony of choosing your new last name. Will you take hers? Will she take yours? Will your decision to take hers open up a can of “she’s the man in the relationship” worms from traditional friends and family?
My grandfather was born in the former Yugoslavia, what is now Slovenia. He and my grandmother arrived in Australia after the war with nothing but their love for each other, two empty suitcases and a very Slavic last name. It starts with a K, ends with a C and is hard to write, repeat and remember. Much to my mother’s chagrin, but with my father’s blessing, I started using Michaels at work and then later changed it officially.
My wife’s parents are divorced, her mother remarried, so for us it was an easy choice to both use Michaels. It’s not mine or hers, it’s ours. And now it is our daughter’s. It’s our family name with no history but what we create.
But for many it’s not that easy – they love their family name and can’t imagine giving it up. And in the interest of equality, they can’t imagine taking on their wife’s family name and giving up their own. So-they hyphenate-their last-names.
I have many friends who have double-barreled their last names, and some of them even work. The simple ones like Rogers-Smith or Cooper-Black are manageable. It’s when you come across the Gifford McClymont’s and the Hendrikson-Burtowski’s that I’m left tongue twisted and it physically hurts a little part of my brain.
I find myself channeling every conservative minister and thinking, “for the love of Buddha, think of the children!” Seriously, what happens when little Bobby Gifford-McClymont grows up and marries Charlie Hendrikson-Bertowski and, neither wanting to give up their last name, they become the Gifford-McClymont-Hendrikson-Bertowski’s? Yeah. See, it gets complicated. You can’t even apply for a passport with that many letters.
The answer? If you can’t come to a sensible, child-friendly, international travel allowable solution, just do this – throw the letters of both your last names in a hat, shake it up, pour them out and see how the letters fall. Hazzah! Clare Rodrigues and Harriet Jessop, I now pronounce you Clare and Harriet Groper.