Of all the things I was nervous about regarding getting married, changing my last name had never been on that list. I had always known I would take my husband’s last name, though admittedly, I don’t remember actively making that decision. It was just something I knew I would do. Like my mom, my grandma’s and their mothers had before them. I was so sure, I even signed up for a new email address months before our wedding!
Then one day, about two months before the wedding, it dawned on me that by taking Rob’s last name, I would be letting go of my last name and I suddenly wasn’t sure that’s what I wanted to do. The thought of not having the same last name as my brother and sister anymore, not responding, “Sonja Konevich” when someone asked me my name, and not having a (literally) one of a kind name anymore filled me with a surprising amount of sadness. I was going to miss being Sonja Konevich.
I immediately called my mom. I never knew this (because I had never thought to ask), but she too had been sad about changing her last name, so she had plenty of wise words to give me (as usual). One of the things she said, that struck me the most, was that she didn’t feel fully connected to her new last name until I was born (seven years after she got married) and she began sharing that last name with her children. In that conversation, she also reminded me that Sonja Konevich wasn’t going anywhere. Everything that makes me me, came from being Sonja Konevich for 28 years and I would never lose that. Moms. They always know exactly the right things to say.
My brother and sister are also very good at knowing what to say and what to do when I’m having a life crisis. As soon as I told them my hesitations about changing my name, they planned a day of sibling bonding. We brunched like true San Franciscans, and they surprised me with an appointment to get matching tattoos. We got the Croatian word for family, obitelj, written in our mom’s handwriting (a majority of our ancestors came from what is now Croatia). It was just the type of bonding that I needed to remind me that the connection we have would not diminish or be lost if I had a different last name. With the words from my mom and the tattoo on my ribs, I finally had the confidence to think about whether or not I wanted to change my name, instead of just doing it because it was expected.
In the end, I took Rob’s last name because that was the right choice for me. I’ll be honest though, it wasn’t an easy decision and it is still something I think about. It still feels unfair that it was expected of me but not Rob and I still get a little sad (especially when we meet new people who won’t ever know me by my maiden name) when I introduce myself as Sonja Hunter. However, the pros on my list heavily outweighed (and still do) the cons.
1- I knew deep down I wanted to have the same last name as Rob. I love that we are The Hunter Family and I am excited to expand this family someday and share a last name with our kiddos. 2- The OG Hunter family are some of the most amazing, inspiring and kind people I have ever met and I am honored (and knew I would be) to share a last name with them. And 3- was Rob. When I expressed my doubts about taking his last name he told me that it was my decision and my decision alone. He would be happy with whatever choice I made as long as I was happy. It was the best thing he could have told me. Because there was no pressure or expectation from him I knew I would never feel like I was losing my identity or becoming his property by taking his last name. I like to think of it like this: I am simply Sonja Konevich doing business as Sonja Hunter. And that makes me very happy.
If you’re married, did you decide to keep your last name or take your partner’s? Why? If you aren’t married, do you have an idea of what you will do when you get married? Why? I am always very interested in hearing how and why people make the big life decisions that they make, so please share!