A ladyfriend of mine and I were recently exchanging romantic glances through the light aromatic steam lifting from our morning cups of coffee when mine slipped from my hands and fell to the floor, breaking into a million tiny telltale pieces. The scalding coffee seeping through my pant leg and melting the skin on my shin were but an afterthought as I pondered the untimely death of yet another promising relationship.
In this “fight,” no tears were shed. No epithets were yelled. And no dishes were thrown. But a single offhand comment was made, and that was more than enough. It was when “I won’t take my husband’s name when I marry” wandered out of her mouth that our relationship lost its footing. And it’s a damn slippery slope to climb back up.
Of course, I’m young and I am far from ready to declare myself as looking for a long-term relationship, let alone one that involves a ceremony. I will hopefully enjoy many romantic liaisons over the coming years and share unforgettable nights and never-ending mornings in bed, but principle differences are the strongest interpersonal contraceptive.
Call me old fashioned. Call me traditional. Call me chauvinistic. Call me whatever you will, but don’t emasculate me. Leave my manliness in tact.
I do understand that for centuries women have struggled in a patriarchal society and that the last name is one of the final fronts. But please understand our plight. This isn’t about establishing a hierarchy in the relationship or taking possession of you. As deeply rooted as it is in our societal traditions, it is even more so in the man’s bible. It is a privilege for a man to take a woman’s hand in marriage, and an even greater honor of offering our family name as a token of our undying devotion. Arguably more so than a ring.
If you’re going to nag us about wearing our band during pick-up games and not leaving it by the bathroom sink after we wash our hands, then please remember to take our surname with you on your girls’ night out.
Ladies, I beg of you, allow us this. For if you are asking for our devotion in sickness and in health, pride will allow it to prevail. If we feel like a man, we’ll act like one. And stripping of us the honor of bestowing on you our surname is one surefire way of knocking off a chunk from that pride.
As my surname is “Woodsmall,” I have been on the receiving end of countless jabs, from friendly nudges as well as malicious punches. And, to be honest, I would rather my son, if I am to have one, not have to endure the mindless ridicule that I at times have struggled with throughout my young life. But I’m proud of my father and his father and so forth, as well as my heritage, and I hope to share that with my family, especially my wife.
But I would like to think that I am a reasonable man, and appreciate that family pride isn’t limited to the husband. I would hope that my future wife would be as close with her family as I am with mine, and if she would like to keep you maiden name, then I would gladly oblige. Hyphenation is a compromise I’m more than willing to share vows, as well as morning cups of coffee, over.
Might I have overreacted with my latest girlfriend? Possibly. Will I ever stumble across a woman for whom I would be willing to look past this faux pas? Probably. But as for now, I will be drinking coffee out of my own cup in my own apartment enjoying the latest issue of Reason.