Marrying surnames

An article in Slate, talks about ‘trends’ (actually a few instances) where marrying couples have fused their surnames into a new hybrid. An example:

As for couples fusing their surnames upon marriage, the New York Times wedding announcements continue to reveal the occasional Luband (Lubinsky + Rittenband) or Ryman (Rawlins + Hyman). Some creative newlyweds work up concoctions that draw a few letters from each of their surnames—like Lumea, which does seem preferable to the hyphenated alternative, Tlumacki-Head.

I think this illustrates the potential and the problem. One of the goals of the blended surname is to deal with the issue of the kids in a time where adopting a spouses surname is antiquated. A blended surname is a strong commitment but also requires phonetic compatability. If you are lucky you can make it work. If not, as we were with Gans and Lippey (not enough syllables to go around), you have to do something else. Hyphenated names (e.g., Lippey-Gans or Gans-Lippey) are one solution but cannot possible stand the test of time as word length becomes of problem across generations. This is something law and accounting firms over 50 years old tend to find out.
One option is to adopt the various blended forms for the children’s surnames. I have seen: alternating surnames for children (but then siblings don’t have the same name); adopting one of the parents’ surnames as a middle name for the child (but which one?). We adopted a randomisation strategy. The gender of the first child would determine the surname for all of the children. In our case, if the first child was a girl, they would all be Gans and it if was a boy, they would all be Lippey. Why that assignment? Well, this way would put most annoy our grandparents who were all dead against any grandchild with the name Lippey. That has worked fine for us. Moreover, the same tradition can be easily passed on to our children and so we have the potential for inter-generational compatability. (I think we worked out this plan on our very first date; another reason we were going to go far).

One thought on “Marrying surnames”

  1. But you didn’t actually end up annoying the grandparents, did you? If that was the motive, why leave it to the chance of gender? (Not that I want to diss your first date or anything…)

    Noting that so many couples who say that they were open-minded about which surname their kids should have nevertheless end up choosing the father’s surname for some reason (it’s a nicer name, coin toss, etc), my partner and I chose to give our son her surname to buck the trend. (Both of our surnames suck. But, then, both of yours did too!)

    But there’s no escaping sexism. A disappointing number of people have told my partner that it was wrong for her to force me to accept her surname for our son! I bet you haven’t received similar criticisms…


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