When my husband and I got married, neither of us automatically assumed that I would take his last name. We are both progressive thinkers with rebellious tendencies, and the whole idea of the woman sacrificing her identity for the sake of patriarchy didn’t sit well. Plus, I liked my last name and there was something unsettling to me about changing it after a quarter of a century living as a “Hunt.” At the same time, we thought of our future children and knew we wanted the unity that comes with sharing a family name. My husband is probably more of a feminist than I am and offered to take my name, but that didn’t feel right either.
My husband’s father was never around when he was growing up, and he hasn’t heard from him in over 10 years, so he felt no particular attachment to carrying on the “Palmer” name and embraced the idea of forming a “new clan.” It must be a Mel Gibson “Braveheart” guy thing. We talked about the hyphen, but those names just look like corporations. “Hi, my name is Susie Proctor-Gamble.” We considered the combination names where you sacrifice certain letters to make up a new word, but our options were pretty bizarre. Did we really want to be known as the Halmer’s or the Pant’s? Finally, I read about a couple with the last names Green and Smith and they just became the Greensmith’s. Genius. It rolled off the tongue and sounded completely normal. Problem solved. Shortly after our wedding, we had our names legally changed by court order to Bryn and Richard Huntpalmer, and our daughter is now the world’s firstborn Huntpalmer.
Many people have asked me how my combined last name has affected me day to day. Honestly, once I got over the initial adjustment period (which I would have had even if I just took my husband’s name), the hardest part has been having to slowly spell it out every time my last name is required. Two years later, I have my spiel down to “It’s Huntpalmer, all one word, H-u-n-t-p-a-l-m-e-r, no hyphen.” Usually that gets the message across, but not always. Growing up with an unusual first name, I guess I always took for granted how simple my last name was and didn’t consider how much people would struggle with Huntpalmer. Our daughter will have never known anything different, so I imagine it will be a non-issue for her. Mostly, I look forward to the day when she asks about her last name. I will proudly explain the thoughtful decision her father and I made to honor both of our pasts while celebrating our union and the future of our family.
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