He Said, She Said: Woman determined for fiancé to take last name Print E-mail
Wednesday, 16 September 2015
By Shaun and Pamela Collins
Special to GUIDON
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I bit the bullet and asked my wonderful girlfriend to marry me last month. She said yes and now I am starting to wonder if I made the right decision.

I question my decision, not because of the dynamics of our relationship. We love each other and we love to spend time together. What is throwing me off is about two weeks, after we became engaged; she became adamant that I take her last name.  I have never seen a woman take a position like this. Honestly, it’s not making sense to me. She is a conservative woman about most issues — but this one she will not budge on. Don’t get me wrong. I am all about equality, but I also like tradition too. I could live with her keeping her name but expecting me to take hers as my sole last name is kind of emasculating.

I’m a Soldier. What are my buddies going to think of me if I change my last name to my wife’s? I am at such a loss here. I hope I am not being sexist here, but I am just not comfortable with such an unorthodox thing. What should I do?

HE SAID:  Absolutely not!  I do not say this out of any sense of judgment or traditional values, I am saying “Cut-Sling” now, before you have years of regret and resentment built up for allowing someone else to impose their desires on you with no regard for your concerns or opinion.  

I would say that if she suggested it, but was open to discussion and you decided you liked the idea, then, make it so. However, she is demanding you do it her way, which I gather she wouldn’t allow you to do.

 Relationships are not 50/50, and they are not 100/0; they are 100/100.  You must be partners, equally invested in the relationship and in my opinion, with an equal say in major life decisions (such as the taking of another’s name).  

If she was open to possibly taking your name, keeping her maiden name, hyphenating her name, both of you hyphenating your names, or any variation of all options, then I would say you two can work through this and likely any other issues that will no doubt come down the road.  But the fact that she has apparently latched onto a very non-traditional notion, decided that this is the way it will be and it is up to you to go along or go away … with no voice in the matter, strikes me as an opening volley and an insight into the rest of your life with her.  

One wherein you are doomed to live life on her terms without compromise — you may decide it’s okay and if so, I wish you all of the luck in the world and I’ll even raise a glass to toast your happiness together. But for me, I’d say no thank you and move on.  

Trust me, and I say this from my early life experience, the simple fact that this is an ultimatum, not a discussion, would be the only red flag I would need to run and save myself from years of misery and drama.

When I hear stories such as yours, my first thought is that people who refuse to negotiate or compromise on such things will continue to be “adamant” about how things should be done their way.  It’s not so much the issue of the name change that concerns me as much as her insistence that it be done her way or no way.  

It’s this sort of ultimatum that will become the cornerstone of your marriage.  She will continue to couch issues in a way that leaves no room for change or compromise.  With that said, it’s your future and until you actually say, I do, you can always say, “I can’t.”  I would offer a counter proposal — you keep your last name and I will keep mine.  If she doesn’t agree and continues to insist that you take her last name, I think you will know all you need to know about her.  

(Editor’s note: Shaun and Pamela Collins were both career Soldiers with a combined history of military service spanning over a half of a century. They have been where you are, so if you are facing a difficult situation, ask them. Send your question to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it This column and other original content from Mr. and Mrs. Collins can be found at http://militarysuccessnetwork.com. The opinions expressed are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office or the GUIDON.)
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 30 September 2015 )