Playing the marriage name game

My wife and I got officially married a little over a year ago, taking the courthouse route to the official status. In that time, because we got married at the end of the year, at my suggestion my wife put off legally changing her name. This was in part due to the fact that tax season was coming up and I didn’t want the additional hassle of trying to finagle all of the various accounts to have her name updated.

In the mean time, it was entirely her choice as to what her legal name will be. She would receive no pressure or persuasion from me because, frankly, I didn’t care what she decided to do. All I needed to know was the end result so I could make sure everything was properly updated – our bank account, her insurance policy, and so on.

So did she take mine, keep her maiden name, hyphenate? How about… none of the above. Okay not exactly “none of the above”, but a combination of the first and second.

A little known thing about the Social Security Administration is that, when you file an updated SS-5 after getting married, you can have whatever middle name you want. And that little loophole is what allowed my wife to take my surname as her legal surname but keep her maiden name at the same time, all without hyphenating.

To demonstrate this, I’ll say my wife’s full maiden name was Brianna Marie Dean (obviously it’s not). My surname is Ballard. My wife’s new legal name, borrowing on the example, is Brianna Marie Dean Ballard, with the full middle name on the SS-5 form being Marie Dean – two middle names, in other words.

So brides to be, consider this a viable alternative if you really want to keep your maiden name as part of your name. Now bear in mind that your various government offices might give you a little runaround because this isn’t common practice. And if your husband to be objects to you doing this, then assert that since it’s going to be your name, it is ultimately your decision in the matter. And I say to do that because it is your decision.

But I’m sure some of you are wondering why she did this. My wife is the youngest of three daughters and has no brothers. So under traditional practice, if all three were to get married, none would be keeping their maiden names. With my wife’s decision, she at least gets to hang on to that part of her identity, meaning this is actually a good idea for women who are an only child and, like my wife, women without any brothers.