For someone who was born and lives in Nigeria, I can almost not believe I am writing about whether or not women should drop their father’s name and take up their husband’s name after marriage for the reason that it is generally seen as a given in this part of the world. Apparently, things are changing and it is increasingly becoming a bone of contention among some couples. Some newly married women are not favorably disposed to changing their maiden names especially if they have achieved a lot with it in their professional careers. I was reading a popular blog about 2 weeks ago, the blogger shared the dilemma of a lady who wanted to retain her maiden name along with her husband’s name and asked for advice from the readers on what to do since her husband did not approve of it. She got varying responses. While some felt her husband was being an egotistic male chauvinist by asking her to drop her maiden name totally, others wondered why she got married without discussing such an important matter with him in the first place and advised her to simply go along with what he wanted as it was the right thing to do.
I understand that many women worry about changing their names after marriage for different reasons, chief of which is their career. Women who have built a brand and reputation for themselves as singletons sometimes fear that a change of name will affect them negatively. Another category have maiden names which opens doors, thanks to an influential father. A typical example is the daughter of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, a former president of Nigeria, Iyabo Obasanjo who opted for the double barreled surname Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello when she got married. For others, it is the “trouble” they need to go through to effect this change that puts them off. Some feminists have even challenged the status quo, objecting to the inequality in tradition, wondering why a woman cannot keep her own surname if she prefers it and citing examples of countries like Belgium, Cambodia, China, Greece and a couple of others where women retain their names after marriage.
Ladies, honestly I am with the guys on this one. First of all, the concept of marriage in itself in most religions and cultures of the world places the man as the head of his home and a couple answering to different names doesn’t exactly scream unity. Secondly, in these parts, a married woman is expected to change her name to her husbands.It is one of those aspects of tradition that need not be tampered with. I don’t object to combining ones name with her hubby’s but this should be agreed upon before marriage as there are men who will not even allow their wives do this, so if your boyfriend or fiance falls into this category you may have to rethink the relationship. Call these men egocentric or chauvinists (and may be they are), but let’s face it, it is part of what makes a man a man- his ego! I strongly believe having his wife bear his name constitutes what makes him feel in control as the head of his household. After all I am not sure many women would want to take up major bills like house rent and the children’s school fees, so why can’t we just allow the man be who he is?
For the women who are concerned about their careers, a change of name publication in any national newspaper means you are home and dry as all documents bearing your maiden name remain valid!
The whole debate over name change for a woman after marriage is a non issue as far as I am concerned as it ultimately depends on the couple involved. Some men (however few) have no qualms about their wife keeping her own name. And for the ladies who want to retain their father’s name because of the weight it carries, I have just one question for you; if you were married to Dangote’s son wouldn’t you (as a matter of urgency in fact) change your name? There are many “battles” one may have to fight in marriage, so this distraction should be swept out of the way quickly for the real issues. My candid advice: Be ready to answer to Mrs Frog if that is your husband’s name, if you are not willing to do so- don’t get married!