8 Reasons Why I Didn’t Change My Last Name (and 6 Reasons I Did)

In less than one week, I’ll be getting married! Once I’m back from my honeymoon, it will be time to adjust to a whole lotta change—a new address, a new roommate . . . and a new name. One item I can already see on my to-do list is:

Go to the social security office and officially change my last name.

I thought you might be interested in why I chose to change my name. So first, here are the reasons that are not motivating me:

  1. I’m not changing my last name because my husband defines me or because he’s my whole world. He’s not.
  2. I’m not changing my last name because I don’t like it. I love the name “Hendricks.” I’ve been a Hendricks—and proud of it—for thirty-two whole years.
  3. I’m not changing my last name because it’s fun or easy. From what I hear, it will be “a marathon, not a sprint” and will include a lot of trips and phone calls to a whole lot of different places.
  4. I’m not changing my last name because it’ll be a good move for my writing career. (FYI: I think I’ll use “Paula Hendricks Marsteller” online for now until people get used to my new name.)
  5. I’m not changing my last name because Trevor coerced me—or even asked me—to change it; this is all me.
  6. I’m not changing my last name for tradition’s sake. (Who cares if “that’s the way it’s always been done”?)
  7. I’m not changing my last name because I think Trevor and I aren’t equal. We have equal value because we both bear God’s image (Gen. 1:27).
  8. I’m not changing my last name because my identity is changing. I am still dead to sin, alive to God, and in Christ Jesus. I am still a sinner-turned-saint-by-the-grace-of-God.

So why on earth am I changing my last name?

When I began to follow Jesus Christ, I was given His name: “Christian.” Now that I belong to Trevor Marsteller, I will carry his name as well.

  1. I am changing my last name because we’re no longer two, but one flesh (Matt. 19:6).
  2. I am changing my last name because my authority structure has changed. Now instead of obeying my dad, I will obey Trevor Marsteller. Yes, we are equal, but God has given us different roles in our relationship, and I joyfully choose to submit to this man.
  3. I am changing my last name because I belong to another now. When I began to follow Jesus Christ, I was given His name: “Christian.” Now that I belong to Trevor Marsteller, I will carry his name as well.
  4. I am changing my last name because we will never, ever divorce, and I don’t have to worry about what might happen in the future with my last name. (Just to be clear, I’m not naïve enough to believe that Trevor and I will always feel love for each other. But we are both wholeheartedly committed to loving each other with Christ’s love for this lifetime, as marriage is not ultimately about us but serves as a visible picture of God’s never-giving-up love for His bride, the Church.)
  5. I am changing my last name because I believe this choice shows honor and respect to Trevor. And that is what I am committed to—showing him honor and reverence for as long as we both shall live, whether I feel like he’s acting in a manner worthy of respect at all times or not (Eph. 5:33).
  6. I am changing my last name because I no longer have to fight for “my rights.” Jesus temporarily laid aside His name (“King of kings and Lord of lords”), His position (Ruler of the Universe), and His rights (to be worshiped and adored by all His creatures). He did this so I might take His name and live with and belong to Him forever. Because of His humility, God the Father has given Jesus the name that is above every name. For this reason, it is my joy to bow my knee and submit my life to King Jesus—and to the man He has given me for this short period before eternity (Phil. 2:5–11).

How about you? Have you thought about whether or not you’ll take your future husband’s last name? Why or why not?

About Author

Paula Marsteller

Paula no longer tries to catch guys' attention by swallowing live goldfish, arm wrestling, and jumping down flights of stairs. (She's married to a wonderful man now!) She spends her days caring for her son, Iren, and writing for Revive Our Hearts. She's the author of Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom, and she and her family live in New York.

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  • Sara

    Hi Paula, I find this post interesting. I chose to change my name once I got married, but I did spend a long time considering keeping my original surname. Now that I’ve been married for several years, I don’t see as a very big deal at all. For one thing, changing a surname is a western tradition that has only existed for several hundred years. Back in Bible times, it didn’t even exist! Maybe changing your name symbolizes two becoming one flesh for you, but historically, it simply dates back to property laws in England (not very romantic!!). I was recently in Iceland, and there everyone takes a variation of a parent’s first name as their last name. In Spanish-speaking countries they have completely different naming traditions. I don’t think one is more holy or Biblical than another. I know that in the Bible names had significance, but honestly, I think that today, a name is simply a name. Change it or don’t, your heart and attitude are what matters!

    • Elisabeth Grace

      I can see your cinoment, @Sara, but when you think about it honestly,when two people who love each other deeply and God too marry,there promising to spend the rest of there lives together, never Truely part and always love each other deeply with an unselfish and romantic love.So in all reality, they Are each other’s property.But not in the since that you can do what ever you want with me now, but to Love , protect, honor and cherish,to such a greater extent then they could do before they were one!!And when you think of it that way,it to the world it sends a rather unusual message of where’re married so keep any wrong thoughts or motives to your self.

    • miss K

      Yes I agree, a name is just a name and in the end, it’s the heart that matters. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with changing your name- I mean, I’m planning to change my name when I get married. I just don’t think Christians should start making it some sort of unspoken law- as that gives room to legalism.

  • Sheila F.

    Tomorrow, I will be married for a month (woot woot!). I decided to change my last name as well (although I haven’t had time to officially change it 🙁 ). My reason being that my husband (still feels weird to say that lol) and I are now one, he’s my head and now my covering. So as you said, previously you had your father’s last name because he was your (earthly) head, now my husband is my head and I gladly choose to take his last name 🙂

    • Elisabeth Grace

      That’s so sweet💗😄👏🏻

  • MoonBrightInTheNight

    This is awesome I always wanted to take his name because I thought it was romantic- shows my dedication and love for him. But also I guess because its tradition. My last name is already hyphenated but not because of my mum but that’s honestly just how it is where I’m from I guess so I can’t hyphenatw with his name. I think I will make it my middle name, I may even name my kid after my last name, only God knows. But seriously, I love your reasons why; I never even thought of some til you mentioned them and I think they’re great reasons!

    • Elisabeth Grace

      Same here!!I have the Best family too!!

      • MoonBrightInTheNight

        Its an incredible blessing. All thanks to the Son.

        • Elisabeth Grace

          Amen!!

  • Elisabeth Grace

    Personally, I think not changing your name is silly,no offense to anyone who thinks different though.In my opinion,I think it’s the most Romantuc thing in the World!!What could be More wonderful then to show the world that you belong strickly to each other and God and Nobody Else!!I think a married couple aught to be So close that if Glue would hold them, they’d Never leave each other’s side!!But then thoes are just my views and I suppose I am a bit of a Romanticisis!

    • MoonBrightInTheNight

      Hahah, just funny

  • I definitely plan to change my name if/when I am married. I hadn’t even heard of not changing your name until recently, and I think it’s a little silly. I mean, why NOT change your name? It’s like desperately trying to cling to the past, fearful that you’ll lose yourself if you change your last name… we were never meant to live in fear, and if your fear of that is legitimate, you shouldn’t be marrying that person in the first place. And hey, it can;t hurt to have a different last name when your current one is “Stone” Haha! 😛

  • C

    I plan on adding on 5o my last name. I love my current last name because it’s unique and I love my present family. And I love the idea of unionizing with one partner and sharing a name, and I think it will be a good gesture to show my submission to my husband, even though (*especially* because?) that’s a notion I still struggle with.

  • Amber

    Yes I plan on changing my name because like my mom has said you are no longer who you were.

  • Jerusha

    I have thought about this a lot actually. I don’t know…the thing with me is I’m like the only Palihena granddaughter left. I mean there’s no one else. And I love my fathers side family and one day he got a pastor to pray for him and my younger brother (I’m a daddy’s girl) and I was not included and I asked why they were specially praying just for my brother and my dad said cause his going to carry out the family name and I felt really really really upset. I just don’t know why I feel like it’s unfair that boys get to carry out the family name and boys get to lead the dance and boys get to be dominant and the girls always have to submit! I don’t want to rebel against God and I want to follow his plans and do as he says but this really really upsets me. It makes me angry when people talk about the day I might get married, I’m still 16 and there’s plenty of time for that but in my culture if you’re a girl the elderly ladies will always talk about marrying you off or something like that. But my parents wound’t do that. But people especially from my country when they see me sometimes like for the first time they just jump into the whole boyfriend and marriage area and I really hate that! Do girls HAVE to get married? I mean I would like to I guess someday maybe but is it a MUST?

    • Sarah @ Revive Our Hearts

      No, Jerusha, it is not a MUST. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 7 that God calls many to marriage, but some to singleness. Commit yourself to prayer in these years of growing up and ask God what He has for you. Some people are not aware of God’s Word in that area, so don’t be angry with them. Smile, and have a ready response that you have one desire as you grow older, and that is to follow God and live a beautiful Christian life. Then, as you live before them and honor Christ, they will hear your heart and not just your words. God will direct you; He will mold you as you seek Him. Live for Jesus and press hard into Him. “When I think of You as I lie on my bed, I meditate on You during the night watches because You are my helper; I will
      rejoice in the shadow of Your wings. I follow close to You; Your right hand holds on to me.” (Psalm 63:6-8) It is my pleasure to pray for you tonight, Jerusha.

  • Grace M.

    Before I say anything about the whole subject of if/when we get married if we’ll decide to change our last names, I’d like to say CONGRATULATIONS, PAULA!! I read your book at a point in my life when I really needed it. I was looking for verification from guys, and when I say that, I mean I was Really looking for approval from guys! I was constantly disappointed and didn’t understand why. Your book changed my outlook in such an amazing way! It was such an inspiration to me, and I think I can speak for everyone, we were all rooting for you. To hear that you’re entering a relationship with a God-loving man, in God’s special time, is soo awesome! 🙂
    So, after that, I think I will change my name upon getting married. I mean, I LOVE my last name a lot, I love the history behind it, I love my family. But I’d be starting a new phase of my life and ya kinda have to leave your childhood, starting a new legacy with your husband. It shows your husband that you are committed to this relationship, willing to change something to make it work…

  • Catherine

    Congratulations Paula and nice seeing you at Revive’15, serving the Lord passionately, even in just a few days to your wedding. Your wisdom and passion for God’s word that you shared with us was a huge blessing. I agree with you regarding name change; but I didn’t change mine due complexities of some details involved.

  • Sabrina

    I did not change my name when I married because of an established career. After two kids and twenty years married, I have realized that God doesn’t care about names, only people do. Early on in my marriage, it always interested me how irritated some people would get when they found out my name had not changed. People don’t believe marriage is heart felt or secure unless someone’s name changes. God has blessed my marriage and my children. For me, name changing is just a societal nuisance.

    • Kretel Kh

      Yes, I totally agree with everything just said here!

  • Hannah.

    I don’t know whether or not I’ll change my name if I get married. On one hand, it’s nice for everyone in the family to have the same surname and it kind of creates a sense of unity. On the other hand, it doesn’t really matter what you do with your name. It isn’t a biblical concept at all and people have no right to look down on those who choose not to change their name.

  • Clara Madok

    I just thought it was a given I never really thought that I wouldn’t.

  • Teresa Rincon

    Latina women don’t change their last names, they just add their husband’s name after “De”. So you would be Paula Hendricks De Marsteller.

  • Leslie Sheets Jefferson

    I am actually in the social security office now about to start paperwork on changing my last name after getting married for the first time almost 2 months ago. I have been a “Sheets” for 36 years and am sad to drop it, but I am thankful for reading your article because you are right. It’s more about who we are in Christ and who we are as a godly couple. I am just praying for a heart change before I do the name change!