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Diary of a divorced woman - 4

Unlike Elizabeth Hurley, I did not plan a ‘special gift’ for my husband. I did not change my last name to his. I am glad, for when we parted legally there was no decision to be taken about reverting to the maiden name.

Recently, a police officer complained that his ex-wife was misusing his name. The Mumbai high court ruled that a divorced woman must not use her former husband’s name and surname anywhere, including in her bank account.

It is entirely possible that some women may misuse the ex-spouse’s name. But reports in the Indian media have been quite crass, especially with reference to high society women. “Often such women continue to keep their marital surnames after a divorce to ensure better networking, or to remain in the social circle.”

It does not take into account that there have been instances where the women find themselves in an awkward position and in the patriarchal system that even the puff brigade follows they become persona non grata. Those who are now talking about misuse quite forget that when the marriage was on, the men used these women as arm candy to up their visibility quotient. In many cases it meant showing off the wife in designer wear, which made it seem as though the male was in a position to pamper her. It is a fact that quite a few of these women got into some sort of business – usually jewellery designing, fashion, charity because of the connection. This is turn gave the men the added halo of being enablers of woman power!

Although I was quite comfortably-placed as a columnist when my ex met me – he got in touch with me as a reader – I know he was looked upon as some sort of saint. After all, I wrote “like that”! No offence meant, but he did manage to get that Pope-like beatific look on his face. I am sure our balcony would have been more Vatican than Romeo and Juliet.

Within marriages, too, there is the use/misuse aspect, but it is seen as legitimate, even if it crosses all limits of decent give-and-take. In family settings or in his work-related social situations, his last name was mentioned. In invitations that were meant for me, though, people went out of their way to confirm his and added it. I cannot understand. If a woman is expected to be Mrs. So-and so, then why does society become politically correct when it comes to male identity?

And what is the guarantee that the former male spouses do not misuse the woman’s name? The fact that she was a part of his social circle and has something going for her could well be enough bait. The male ego often uses it in rather disgusting ways. A certain film star from the South married to a well-known dancer started living in with another film star. He would shamelessly make personal digs about his ex-wife, aware that she was famous enough for people to be interested. She had retained her maiden name.

In the charmed circle, no one really bothers. It becomes difficult for people who lead different lives. If the courts have announced their verdict in one case, and it is said it would set a precedent, it is really a regressive verdict painting women as ‘marriage careerists’. It might also help if the law then gives women who have custody of the children to let them use the mother’s name.

We need to look at the issue holistically and not throw away traditional nomenclature while remaining conservative.

Therefore, I cannot understand why Elizabeth Hurley is making a noise about the special gift for her husband. She is adding his last name to his and that too, as one report states, “when she is not working”. He married her when she was working and the hyphenated  Elizabeth Hurley-Nayar would not affect her career. Her reason is, “Arun is quite old fashioned about these things.” For three years that they were married was it okay? A friend told the papers, “She is doing this to please him. It’s her publicly accepting that she is his woman.”

For years before they were married, it was obvious that they were a couple. To make it more than clear they even tried making out in the first class cabin of a British Airways aircraft. Their wedding ceremonies were the typical exotica geared for ‘Hello!’ magazine. All this was public. She won’t become his woman by adding his name just as he won’t cease to be the guy she married by not adding her name to his.

Relationships, marriage or otherwise, need more than seals of any kind. And if it is a seal that keeps you in it – not to speak of mortgages and children – then that constitutes misuse.

Comments
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When I was married, I

When I was married, I already had a child, and changing my name seemed the best thing to do to close the small circle. And it is easier to all be one name: "Inclan party of four?"

But as a woman, I have never had my "own" name. either my father's (which I have again legally) or my husband's. I don't think women really know what it is like to have their own names. My sister, though, passed our father's name to her children (no hyphen, no mention of her husband's name), so in a sense, she knows something that most women do not.

When Michael and I get married, I am not changing my name, mostly becuase it is a royal pain in the ass. Barksdale is my first name, not mine, but the first, and I think I'll keep it now until the end just so I don't have to fill out any more paperwork!

Interesting blog and weird how women walk the earth relatively nameless.

Best,

J

Jessica Barksdale Inclan
www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

Comment Bubble Tip

When I was married, I

When I was married, I already had a child, and changing my name seemed the best thing to do to close the small circle. And it is easier to all be one name: "Inclan party of four?"

But as a woman, I have never had my "own" name. either my father's (which I have again legally) or my husband's. I don't think women really know what it is like to have their own names. My sister, though, passed our father's name to her children (no hyphen, no mention of her husband's name), so in a sense, she knows something that most women do not.

When Michael and I get married, I am not changing my name, mostly becuase it is a royal pain in the ass. Barksdale is my first name, not mine, but the first, and I think I'll keep it now until the end just so I don't have to fill out any more paperwork!

Interesting blog and weird how women walk the earth relatively nameless.

Best,

J

Jessica Barksdale Inclan
www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

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It often is an easy choice,

It often is an easy choice, the key word being choice. Many women do not have that, or even know they have a choice. And you are right about women not really having their own names - it is either the father or the husband. In some matriarchal cultures, the children do inherit the mother's name, and it was prevalent until a few years ago in at least one part of South India.

mong some tribes the woman would in fact just place the matress outside the door when she wanted to 'divorce' the man. These days they use Twitter!

Best to you and Michael and better the less time spent on paperwork. 

~F

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Before I married my ex, I

Before I married my ex, I told him I didn't want to change my last name. He didn't like that. He thought my not changing my last name was a sign that I was making less of a commitment, that not changing my name just made it easier to leave, and plus, he said, "I always imagined having a Mrs. [So-and-So]."

I thought, "All right. I'll give it a shot."

Bad decision. It never felt right.

I went alone to the social security office to make the name change on my card, and when I did, I put his last name as my last name, and my former last name as my middle name.

When he saw this, he didn't like that, either. It wasn't enough that I take his last name - he wanted my last name completely removed.

Apparently, my changing my name didn't, in fact, make it any harder for me to leave him.

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Hi Kristen

I wonder what sort of commitment one makes in such cases. I am often surprised when I read some of you here that it isn't much different in the West.

Here in India, among some communities they even change the woman's first name. My cousin, a psyhciatrist, practising in the US, had to do it since she married outside her religion and converted. There was always the sweet explanation provided that no one really addressed her by that name. 

She is of course in a happy marriage by all accoutns, and it sometimes seems that the 'compromise' helped. Rather simplistic.

My ex added his last name to the club card and I let it go as I was after all using the club because of him. How utterly stupid we can be. 

~F

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A rose by any other...

I changed my name. My first name. Harrison is a name I took over 35 years ago in honour of someone I still honour, because I did not like my first name. I then bestowed it on my elder son and he bestowed it on his son. So now it is a family name. My younger son changed his last name, much to the chagrin of his father and paternal grandfather, because when he was about 12, a celebrity who is a complete idiot rose to fame and his name was the same as my son's. So now, even though my children have the same parents, my older son, younger son and I all have different last names. When I was in the convent, I had a Sister name.When I go to synagogue with my husband, I have a Hebrew name. My parents and childhood friends call me by my legal first name; everyone else calls me Harrison. I did not take one husband's name. I did take my current husband's name because I like it better than my maiden name and because we really are kind of one unit. Solow - party of two. People call me Aunty, Mother or Mom, Mamgu (Welsh for "Grandmother and pronounced "Momgy"- hard "g") Mrs Solow (soon to be Dr. Solow), Ms. Solow and a few affectionate monikers that I will not post here. I'm sure that other people call me other things and I am just as happy not to know what they are. Point being, names are choices - somebody else's or mine. I prefer mine. Just fyi.

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Harrison, these are eclectic

Harrison, these are eclectic choices and they do seem lovely within the specific contexts. It is like various roles we play in life and seek our comfort level with.

Regarding the topic, an example shows how circuitous things can get:

There is this socialite, quite known at one time in her field, who had a long-term relationship with an extremely prominent idiot. He left her for a younger woman, but she was pregnant. She bore him a son. Today, since she uses her first husband’s name, she had to approach him for permission to add to her son’s as well as gave the child this other man’s name although they were never married.

So, who is using whose name here? The ex- husband has his own life, but agreed to give his name to a son not his. Does it help him grab Page 3 eyeballs? The live-in guy for happily flaunting a son although he had nothing to later do with the woman? The woman for managing this coup? The father of her child married again and has a daughter, and apparently everyone lives happily including a daughter from his first marriage who is probably as old as his third wife. The one whose name is there everywhere is the man who had one too many!

~F

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Wow.

But then the men in question got their names from their dads, so no choice there either. I come from an industry or rather two, in which it is customary to have a self-chosen or professional name. I like this. We don't always turn out to match the names we were given, after all. I like too, having a personal or secret name that only ones intimates know. In our family, we all have names or nicknames that only parents, siblings, children and spouses know. And in our business, our personal addresses are unknown. We all have two or three professional addresses apart from where we live. Privacy - a rarer and rarer commodity in this info-mad world.

~H

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Your comment about not

Your comment about not living up to our names hit a raw nerve, for I am constantly reminded of it...mine means wisdom in Persian, and given the number of follies I am given to it just does not fit!

Agreed, men too have derived their names from their fathers. I like the idea of special names by special people. But, as you observe, in this info age, we are often just URLs.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

~F

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What's in a name? A rose by any other name...

I did not like my name as a child--Sue Alice. My mother had contemplated calling me Iris Elaine, and I thought that was the better choice. I loved my last name, which was Martin, because I adored my daddy. I still love that last name. I wanted Gerald's last name, and am still happy to have it, but it saddened me to give up the Martin name. In the fifties and earlier, women did often kept a maiden name for a professional name if they had made a name for themselves in a career or with a talent. I think that is very wise. I had done neither, however, and I truly liked that Sue Glasco was short and simple. I still do.

I would never have chosen the hyphenated choice because it was too long and complicated, but I'm fine with those who choose to do so. Occasionally I hear of a man who takes his wife's last name, and that is fine with me too. I like that we can choose our own name. My mother changed the spelling of her name Katherine from one of the 24 ways to spell that name. Aunt Myrtle changed her middle name, which she did not like. They didn't do this legally; they just did it and it lasted through their lives.

When I first started using the Internet, I found myself in a genealogical group, so I used the name Sue Martin Glasco for that purpose, and I still do. If I had thought of it, I would have also done so on Facebook for the same reason--to be recognized for who I am--someone who used to be Sue Alice Martin. A male Martin cousin made a smart alec remark about my use of my maiden name in the family history group, and it really irritated me since he had never had to give up his name. Ah well.

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Sue, is it not wonderful

Sue, is it not wonderful that there are so many relationships that we can cherish and so many people we get 'bonded' with? I liked the way you traced your own choices, and it was always for love and the sentiments involved.

I am just so glad that today there are these choices and no one is too concerned. I sometimes wonder what Prince, when he chose a 'non-name' for himself and a symbol was trying to convey and why did he revert to it?

~F