With this name, I thee wed…

To change or not to change, that’s the question every bride faces after the Happy Day. “CityNews” proposed the problem to two young women with completely differing views

Kathryn Vukovljak.


KATHRYN VUKOVLJAK (nee Moss) took her husband’s name without pressure – or hesitation
FIVE years ago when I got married, I changed my name from the simple and straightforward Moss to the confusing pile of consonants Vukovljak.

It’s a big eastern European name to take on, and my husband’s three sisters found it incredible that I was willing to do so – they couldn’t wait to change their names when they got married after a lifetime of explaining how to pronounce it and spelling it out.

I wasn’t fazed – I’ve spent my life spelling out my own particular variety of Kathryn anyway, so what difference did it make?

I never really cared for Moss – at school in Wales I was “Bossy Mossy” (I just know what’s best, okay?) and “Mosschops” (after a trippy cartoon cat on the telly). I longed for a lovely normal Welsh name – Jones or Evans, like everyone else in my class.

It wasn’t at all important to my husband that I took his name. In fact, he half expected me not to, and left the decision up to me.

But I saw that his father was fiercely proud of it, and that his only son was the one carrying it on.

Of course, I could have kept mine, and our two children could have had his – or we could have done some dreadful double-barrelling, although with those names, that’s just cruel.

In the end, I wanted us to be a unit, with the same name. It’s as simple as that.

I’ve particularly enjoyed inflicting my new name on my editor, who still can’t spell it and keeps a post-it on his desk to help him whenever he has to add my byline to a story.

And there’s the crux, perhaps – changing my byline as well as my name. Have I confused my readership and removed myself from my previous work? Sadly, I’m fairly sure no one noticed, and I just wanted Vukovljak to be my name across the board. It doesn’t make me feel any less “myself”, or diminish any previous achievements, such that they are.

I pretty much got the opposite of the Welsh surname I dreamed of, but that’s okay. I’m happy to be a Vukovljak, even though I don’t think I pronounce it properly myself half the time. The knack seems to be to say it angrily, and I can’t pull that off on a regular basis. And spelling it? Just type a V then bash the keyboard randomly a few times; that’ll be close enough!

Melanie Tait


Melanie Tait absolutely won’t be changing her name when she marries

AS we get married later and later in the 21st century, haven’t most of us carried our names for around three decades? We’ve started school with our names, won merit awards, played sport, sat exams, built careers, achieved goals, had relationships, rented houses, travelled overseas, helped people, loved people, built a life with them.

One of the benefits of living in a society where feminism has done amazing things, is we’re able to make the decisions that suit us, but how can any woman of my generation who truly believes in equality change her name?

The minute a woman changes her name to match her husband’s, she’s telling the world one person in the relationship is more important than the other.

“It’s a whole heap easier for us to all have the same name.”

Families in 2011 come in all sorts of spicy blends. Can you argue a pair of sisters with different dads or mums aren’t really family because they have a different name? Not for a second.

What’s easier about schlepping around to the bank, the RTA, Medicare, Births Deaths Marriages, gas, electricity, real estate agent, payroll etcetera, hocking a marriage certificate, changing your name and having to deal with judgmental clerks like me? It’s actually a lot of work to change your name.

And if you have to explain to the school secretary why you have a different name to your child? Tough. It’s worth the extra bit of conversation to retain who you are.

“It’s important to him, not that much of a bother to me.”

It’s important to your husband that he deletes a part of you that’s been with you since… your life began? Why is this acceptable? How about you suggest he changes his name to yours, and see the reaction you get? This isn’t a conversation I’ve noticed many of my friends having and you know why? It’s not fair. It’s not fair for either sex to be expected to change their name.

“If you’re such a feminist, why don’t you take on your mother’s name?”

That’s not the point. As it happens, my surname is my father’s name, but over the last 30 years, it’s become my name. It doesn’t belong to my father, it belongs to me.

The only argument I can see that justifies taking on your husband’s name is if you’ve had a rough time with your name. If you’ve despised where it comes from and have a fractious relationship with your name family.

Or if your name’s Catsanus. Or Bumston. Or Penishausen.

Melanie Tait (Twitter: @melaniejanetait) is the producer of 666 ABC Canberra’s storytelling night “Now Hear This”, next on at The Street Theatre on September 14 with stories about “Change”. If you’d like to be involved: www.abc.net.au/canberra

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