On Hyphenating Names

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Anuja Oak-Mathur on Hyphenating Names

Anuja got married! After getting married, Anuja decided to hyphenate her last name (Oak) with her husband’s last name, Mathur). If you’re interested in this kind of thing, read on to hear it straight from Anuja Oak-Mathur: Why I’m Hyphenating my Last Name…

Why I’m Hyphenating my Last Name

I am so thrilled to have found my life partner just over a year ago. My name is Anuja, his is Jay, and I get braggy about the fact that if you put both our names together, no one has to lose any letters #AnuJay.

In that same vein, I’m hyphenating my last name. Here’s why.

Manageability is one reason why I’m hyphenating my last name

The pragmatist in me says that it’s largely because both names are short enough that hyphenating is manageable, but that’s not entirely why. The Mathur community is so large, that there are probably a bunch of Anuja Mathurs that exist out there already, and I would lose whatever piece of identity my brought name me if I made that change.

Reflecting this new chapter is another reason why I’m hyphenating my last name

I didn’t want to go the other end either, and not change my name at all, because I am starting a new family unit with my partner, and I wanted my name to reflect that change.

Logistical convenience is a reason why I’m hyphenating my last name

I am not in a profession where changing my name means going through licensing boards, etc.

It will be a paperwork hassle to hyphenate, but not nearly as much as it would be if I was a lawyer, doctor or another licensed professional. Long story short: I feel proud to be both an Oak and a Mathur and so I want my name to reflect that.

And I look forward to telling my kids about it when they ask why their mom has a different last name than them.

All the feelings are another reason why I’m hyphenating my last name

Jay played with the idea of hyphenating his name too, and while it was a nice thought, it was just a thought and not something he would likely execute on. He is a licensed professional and there is still a certain stigma about grooms changing their names. I wasn’t in favor of the idea when he brought it up, but told him I appreciated the thought. But that conversation raised a whirlwind of questions. It’s ok for me to change my name, but not him?

Why do I care if his family thinks that I made him change his name? If enough males don’t change their names, then we’re never going to change the impression that men changing their name is emasculating. How did the Scandinavians get over this phenomenon? Plenty of Scandinavian men even change their name to their wife’s last name, if they like it better. Our society is very much patriarchal, and am I just reinforcing that? Or is that not my most pressing issue and therefore I don’t want to spend any time stressing over it.

Why I'm hyphenating my last name - Anuja Oak

I feel we should embrace and encourage men making the choice to change their names, just as we support women with whatever choice their name, but for some reason, I didn’t want to be the first couple in our community to do so. It’s like composting. We know we should but it’s messy, and I don’t really want to deal with everything surrounding that decision.

I support those who are bolder to make such changes.


Thanks Anuja!

If you’re married, have you changed (or hyphenated) your name? Why, or why not?

P.S. – A Swedish approach to changing last names, and a post introducing Anuja.

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