05/12/2017 16:40 SAST | Updated 05/12/2017 16:40 SAST

To Keep, Change Or Blend Your Surname? That's The Married Question

It's your choice.

Choice word concept
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Choice word concept

People perceive men whose wives don't take their last names as being less masculine and powerful in their marriage, according to a recent study.

The study was published earlier this week in Springer's journal, Sex Roles.

"A woman's marital surname choice therefore has implications for perceptions of her husband's instrumentality, expressivity, and the distribution of power in the relationship," lead researcher Rachael Robnett of the University of Nevada said in a news release.

"But why should it always be about the man?" asked feminist researcher, Professor Lebo Moletsane. "What about what you want as a woman?"

Fortunately, in South Africa, women have the freedom to choose whether to keep or change their (maiden) surnames upon marriage.

Here are a few trends that have emerged over the past few years:

1. Change the surname

Cultural and religious reasons are often cited as the basis for women changing their surname -- in that it symbolises the legal and spiritual unity of a woman.

Other women adopt their husband's surname because they no longer want to be associated with their maiden name -- which they equate with painful memories they want to leave behind. While for others, it's as simple as his surname sounding nicer.

"I would take my husband's last name time and time again because I like sharing my name with him, but don't for one second falsely think this makes me less independent or less or more of anything," Jennifer Hudson told HuffPost.

"I don't look at a name change as the two of us becoming one. We became a team. We are now 'The Asters.' Within the team, I am still Jo and he is still Nick. But just like a football player takes on the identity of a team when he switches between cities, I found it important to take our team name. I've never considered my name a huge part of my identity, but I do consider my marriage to be a big part of it," U.S. journalist Jo Piazza told Elle.

2. Keep your surname

A number of women are choosing to keep their surnames for personal or professional reasons.

"It was a name I was proud of. I had battled so many obstacles and celebrated so many achievements in life with my 'maiden name.' I wrote two children's books, built a business, grew into a confident adult, etc. The idea of changing my name felt like a complete disconnect from my identity," one woman told Glamour magazine.

3. A double-barrelled surname

Often seen as the "compromise choice", some women choose to double-barrel their surnames when she does not want to completely forego her own name. It's totally up to the couple whose surname goes first. It may just be because starting with the wife's surname has a better ring to it.

4. Blend your surnames into a new one

Seen as the newest trend, some couples are opting to blend their surnames to form a completely new surname, to symbolise the newness of their family and because they believe marriage is a partnership of equals and the last name should reflect that.

"We'd retain our last names for our respective work purposes, but for family affairs we wanted to be a united front. If he wasn't going to take my last name (because why should either one of our names get special preference?), then we needed another option. For us, merging was the most elegant solution," Em and Lo told HuffPost.