What’s in a name? While marriages between opposite-sex couples have been in gradual decline in the UK since the 1970s, with nearly 250,000 marriages in England and Wales in 2016, the vast majority of wives still take their husbands’ names. Although there are no statistics available for the UK, only 3% of men in the US changed to their wives’ surnames, a 2016 study found.
For Nick Black, the decision to take his wife’s name was part of a wider refiguring of his family’s identity after he got married last year. “I was never that wedded to my former surname, Earley,” he says. “I’m part of a compound family, and have a sister by birth and two siblings by marriage, so we have always had different names. For me, family isn’t tied to a name. My wife, on the other hand, is from a very small family, and so it was more important to her to keep her name.”
Although Nick’s father was taken aback when Nick first mentioned the name change, and initially responded with silence, he says the ensuing reactions have been generally positive, with his wife’s colleagues even labelling him a “modern man”.
Read the feature in the Guardian.
[This piece was published on 20/08/19]