#232. I Took My Husband’s Name (& How I Feel About It Surprised Me).

Introducing the Katt family!
Introducing the Katt family!

I’ve worried about my wedding day my entire life. Chalk it up to my divorced parents and horror stories from folks who “knew” they were making a mistake as they marched down the aisle, but one of my biggest fears growing up was that I would never find a person I really, truly wanted to marry.

Then, I met Josh. And though I’ll admit that I had second thoughts during our five year courtship (like that time he moved to Mexico for 20 months), when he asked me to marry him, we’d already worked out a lot of the kinks. I was so relieved to be staring my marriage square in the face with only one hesitation: changing my name.

I’ve spent 32 years as Molly Marie Mogren. It’s been great. I have very high name satisfaction and love that I am a triple M. Frankly, the thought of giving up my name made me sad. That being said, eventually sharing a last name with my husband and kids will be my preference. Josh and I both agreed that the whole women changing their name is totally unfair and ridiculous… but what I did eventually end up with seemed better than the following options.

1. Molly Marie Katt

I could ditch my last name completely, but didn’t want to. Though Mogren is regularly butchered (Molgren, Morgan, Mahgren), I like that it’s pretty uncommon. It’s also a part of my family history– allegedly, when my great-great-great-great grandparents (or something like that) left Sweden, they changed their last name from Johanssen to Mogren. Our family hails from Mo County, and the word gren in Swedish translates to branch. Hence, we’re the Minnesota branch of Mo County. At least that’s the story my family tells. I don’t know if that story is true, but I like it.

2. Molly Mogren Katt

Dorothy Marie Jensen on the day she married Arnie Stromberg in 1939. 
Dorothy Marie Jensen on the day she married Arnie Stromberg in 1939.

I could’ve kept Mogren as my middle name and axed Marie… but Marie was my grandma’s middle name (and her grandma’s middle name). It felt weird getting rid of that, too.

3. Molly Mogren-Katt or Molly Marie Mogren-Katt

This seems like an “everyone wins” situation… but don’t be fooled! Your last name will be a mouthful. As a friend who recently ditched her hyphenated last name for her husband’s one-name-last-name, keeping it simple is preferential. A hyphenated name is impossible to explain to, say, your doctor’s receptionist over the phone (it’s Mogren-Katt…. Mogren dash Katt… No, you don’t write the word “dash”… it’s a hyphenated last name… no, like when you add two last names together…. let me just try spelling it out again). And what happens if you marry a person who also has a hyphenated last name? Do you become Jennifer Mogren-Katt-Carlson-Clark? Just make a decision already!

The Verdict: Molly Marie Mogren Katt

This is what I ultimately settled on. Molly-two-middle-names-Katt. I know it’s still a mouthful, but allows me to keep all the good stuff I want, while taking Josh’s last name. Katt is a great last name, by the way– it’s short, sweet and pretty darn cute. He’s the only one to carry on the name in his family, so maybe it’s as unique as Mogren after all!

We made it official at Hennepin County when we applied for our marriage license. I felt pretty sweaty and anxious as we waited in line, but when I finally wrote “Katt” as my last name for the first time, I only winced a little. Then I saw it written in my own penmanship and it was actually awesome. You know how people say nothing felt different when they got married? My new last name made me feel different. It marks a new beginning for Josh and me. I actually like it a lot more than I thought I would. I know it sounds cheesy, but it feels like home!

Our witnesses signing what they thought was our marriage license, but really they unknowingly just gave us power of attorney! Bwahahaha!
Our witnesses signing what they thought was our marriage license, but really they unknowingly just gave us power of attorney! Bwahahaha!

Of course, introducing myself as Molly Katt is still real weird (and I’m planning on using my maiden name for work). I’ve gotten some flack from women who didn’t change their name and are doing just fine, as well as from people who think it’s a no brainer. Maybe I will find my four-part name to be a bit much as life goes on, but I’m very happy with my decision for the time being.

Question:

Did you change your name when you got married? Did your husband change his? Are you currently mulling over this decision? Share your stories in the comments ’cause we all wanna know how you arrived at your decision.

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Comments (34)

  • Claudia Richman 3 years ago Reply

    I too agonized over this decision. I am a feminist. I am fairly anti-traditional. I lived with my husband before we got married. Nothing was going to "change" when we made it official. So I decided that I wanted some tangible symbol that things were different. And I figured that making your own choices is really the core of feminism. So I chose to take my husband’s last name.

    It took about four years to feel like my name. Or should I say, to feel like our name.

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    Thanks for your story, Claudia. I completely feel you on the anti-traditional, feminist thing. I really do think changing your name is a hard decision to make (for some people… I know some people who can’t WAIT to change their name, too.)

    RIght now Katt feels pretty foreign, and I find myself saying things like this when I’m introduced to people: "Well, I just got married, so I guess my name is Molly Katt." As if they would even be the wiser if I just said, "Hi, I’m Molly Katt." So silly, but it’s only been a month. I’ll let you know how I feel about it in 3 years and 11 months 😉

  • Ashley C 3 years ago Reply

    I’m giggling because I too have two middle names. My maiden name is my second middle name now, and while it really only shows up on my social security card, 9 years later I’m still really happy I kept it!

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    Yes, I figure the two middle names won’t be an issue in a practical way, so might as well keep ’em! 🙂

    molly mogren 3 years ago

    Just realized if I really wanted to own this name change thing, I should change my profile so it says Molly Katt when i post… eeeeek!

  • Brianna 3 years ago Reply

    I married last year at 30 years old, and it was hard to accept a new last name. I went from an uncommon/quirky last name, to a very Minnesota/Scandinavian last name and I thought it was kind of boring and I don’t have any of that descent in my personal heritage – selfish, right? But whatever. Slowly over the last year I’ve grown to embrace the name just as much as I have the new(ish) person I am in this next chapter of married life. So now I really like it. I think it brought my husband and I closer in some way, and I know he appreciated it, too.

  • Jenny 3 years ago Reply

    I struggled with ditching my last name, too. It felt (feels) like part of my identity! So in the end I hyphenated and I love it. It doesn’t hurt that several people have told me how regal and Downton Abbey-ish my name sounds now. I can’t hate that!

    molly mogren katt 3 years ago Reply

    OOOOO, yes, I hadn’t thought of the Downton-Abbey thing, but the double last name can sound very regal. Good for you!

  • Heather Liedl 3 years ago Reply

    Changing your last name is truly a scary step – agreed! I knew I wanted to change my last name for similar reasons as you (to me, felt like it represented a family unit more, less complicated with kids) but it didn’t make it any easier. I cried when I did it and initially felt like I was losing myself. I was also weirdly scared I was giving up my legitimacy as part of my family clan. On the plus side, it did help us feel more connected and solidified as a married pair, and now I’m completely used it. Except now everyone butchers my name and calls me "Heidi" initially because the ‘ie’ in my last name scrambles in their mind (Heather Liedl…and my work email is hliedl@…). Annoying.

    molly mogren katt 3 years ago Reply

    Feel you on all of that, Heidi! Errrr, Heather!

  • Paige 3 years ago Reply

    Living my whole life with four names and going by one that isn’t my legal first name had me resolved to never introduce new name confusion into my life from a very young age. I’m not married and have only recently begun seeing the guy I’m currently dating. His last name – Hammer – is about the most metal thing ever but even if I find myself in a position to change it I am certain I’ll keep the name I was born with. Maybe if I meet someone with the last name Chainsaw things would be different…

    molly mogren katt 3 years ago Reply

    I think Paige Chainsaw has a nice ring to it.

  • Laura Otto-Salaj 3 years ago Reply

    Twenty-six years ago, I decided to go with the hyphenated name because I wanted to keep my maiden name (in academics, recognition for publications is important), and I rather liked the sound of Otto-Salaj – it softened the Otto part… Having said that, I would NEVER do that again – no hyphen. Technology has not caught up with hyphenated names – I have credit cards for Otto-Salaj, OttoSalaj, Otto Salaj… I still can’t check in online with a number of airlines, the hyphen isn’t recognized by the system… And spelling my name verbally? "It’s O-T-T-O-hyphen-S-A-L-A-J…" Awkward… You’ve done the right thing by omitting the hyphen – looks like you’ve got the best of all worlds going, Molly… 🙂

    molly mogren katt 3 years ago Reply

    Love your insight, Laura! So many people have hyphenated last names that it surprises me that you’ve had so much difficulty with it. AIRLINES??? WTF! That’s crazy.

  • Codi Watry 3 years ago Reply

    OH MY GOD This is exactly what I did with my name when I was married in June. I hemmed and hawed over these same options, felt pretty much as you’ve described, and ended up with two non-hyphenated middle names. I also happen to be a triple threat: Codi Cathleen Crooks, and didn’t want to lose that either. I’ve never seen anyone else make this name choice until right this moment. Another weird coincidence- we also nearly got married at Uppercut Gym, but in the end went with an outdoor ceremony on an historic farm. And I’ll be 32 in a week! Weird..

    molly mogren katt 3 years ago Reply

    Another triple initial! I was always so weirdly attached to that and secretly hoped I married someone with a last name that started with an M. Oh well, I guess it’s not that important in the grand scheme of things.

    As for the rest of it… that is some Twilight Zone shizz right there!

    MMMK

  • Jennifer 3 years ago Reply

    I did the exact same thing!! My middle name, Ruth, meant a lot because it was my great grandmother’s name and I was (and still am) very attached to my maiden name. Having 2 middle names is sometimes confusing to others, but I love that I was able to incoporate my husband’s name in this way. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one!

    molly mogren katt 3 years ago Reply

    Definitely not the only one! Now i have to find the patience to make it official at the DMV. Yikes. #heyeleanor

  • Kate Royer 2 years ago Reply

    I truly agonized over this decision – I got married in September, and decided to keep my last name. I’ve been Kate Royer for 31 years, and just couldn’t bring myself to change it! I still sometimes wonder if it was the right choice, though, for the exact reason others have said. Would it make us feel more connected or closer if we had the same name? Mostly I’ve been happy with my choice, although I get a LOT of crap for not changing it – lots of side-eye and "oh, you’re one of those women" comments.

    molly mogren katt 2 years ago Reply

    Who cares what people say! I like "those women." It’s a hard choice to make and I hate that it’s just assumed that the woman has to change her name. I wish guys had to at least consider what changing theirs would feel like. Definitely weird… but I will say that Molly Katt has grown on me!

  • Carrie 2 years ago Reply

    I had always assumed I would take my husband’s name when I got married and I did but I still second guess my decision from time to time. I got married a year and a half ago at the age of 40. I had already earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree and had a professional identity with my maiden name. But I have a son from a former relationship and I thought it would be weird for there to be three different names in our household. I don’t love hyphenated names so I just went for it and took my husband’s name. I don’t regret it but I cried on the way home from the Social Security office. I hadn’t thought about the idea of giving up my identity after 40 years. It was much harder than I thought. I still have accounts that I haven’t changed my name on. I kinda like still getting mail with my maiden name!

    molly mogren katt 2 years ago Reply

    I completely understand your tears! It’s 9 months later and I’m still like, "What in the hell is my name anyhow?" I still introduce myself as Molly Mogren all. the. time., but almost always add a ‘KATT!" after a few seconds.

    Guys never have to think about this stuff, which really pisses me off.

  • noblepower 2 years ago Reply

    I did the same thing, and for similar reasons (my middle name is the same as my mother’s, and I just straight-up like my maiden name and that connection with my family). I did have one silly reason as well – my maiden name is Noble and my husband’s name is Power. When you say my whole name out together, well, it’s easy to remember, and I get the greatest comments on it, many of which make me laugh.
    As for people giving you flack, there’s someone who will do that no matter what you decide, and when it comes down to it, that says more about them than it does about you, whose name, and therefore choice, it is to make!

    molly mogren katt 2 years ago Reply

    When presented with the opportunity to have the name Noble Power, how could you not?! I mean, that is a gift from god!

  • Katie Lee 2 years ago Reply

    My husband and I both shared the same middle name (both in the male form) so we took that as our last name and made our last names our middle names. It was controversial at the time, but everyone is over it now and I love my name. It just feels right.

    molly mogren katt 2 years ago Reply

    I had no idea you did that. How cool! No weirdness over not "carrying on the family name"?

  • Catherine Freesmeier 2 years ago Reply

    I kept all of my very long names when I got married some 21 years ago, but I did not want to lose any of them as they were a part of who I am and my history. My name is so long that the DMV has eliminated letters to make it fit on my license. The easiest thing to have done would have been to cut out my middle name, but it was my grandmothers name and she meant the world to me so it stayed. I am glad I kept it all even if it is ridiculously long!

    Catherine Genevieve Baillon Freesmeier

    molly mogren katt 2 years ago Reply

    Wait… which letters do they omit? all of the vowels or something? I am so intrigued!

  • Randy Huyck 2 years ago Reply

    My wife and I had a deal when we married 22 years ago – after 1 year she would take my last name or I would stop wearing my wedding ring. You see, I NEVER wear jewelry. I didn’t feel the need to wear a ring to remind me I was married, since I am very much a one-woman man. She relented, and I’m glad she did. A year ago she was taken from me by kidney cancer, and when I buried her, I buried her under BOTH her names next to the rest of her family, because although she married me and honored my by taking my name, she never stopped being an integral part of her birth family. To wear your given name and a chosen name is a beautiful thing, in my opinion. The key is "chosen."

    molly mogren katt 2 years ago Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story, Randy! Brought a tear to my eye.

  • Sita Crounse 2 years ago Reply

    I took my husband’s name (Crounse) mainly because I had two names consistently butchered (Sita Legac). And, while I don’t regret taking his name, it was the greatest pain in my ass. By the time you’re in your 30s (got married at 33), you have a lot in your name – professional licenses, credit cards, loans, car, passport (on and on). Remembering what I changed (and what I didn’t) was impossible. Or calling in and giving my name to hear "I’m sorry, that’s not the name we have [uncomfortable pause]." Or, just stumbling over your name as you introduce yourself because you have no idea what your name is… I don’t regret becoming a Crounse. Though, I learned that the grass is not always greener – Crounse is butchered in ways I could never have fathomed.

  • Avery Baird 1 year ago Reply

    My parents got married 26 years ago and my mom did the same thing you did. I always thought that every woman got to have four names when they got married! She even keeps the W from her maiden name in her signature.

  • Shellie Gruber 1 year ago Reply

    I took my husband’s name. But I am old-fashioned that way. I also think tracing family trees will be harder with everyone keeping their names. And it makes your kids look "illegit". See, I am old-fashiond. Last but not least….I anticipated the whole Johnson-Melton-Garcia-VanGelder scenario way before the smart, educated, feminists did. What to name the children? Duh.

  • Jasmine JJ 1 year ago Reply

    I was so excited when I found out that here in NZ you are legally both names forever. Both partners can choose to use either name or a combination of names hyphenated or unhyphenated. I thought this was the best. Until now 6 months down the track I have no idea which name I have used where! Time to make a decision and it has gotten no easier. sigh

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