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New Year, New Name: When To Double-Barrel

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by Laura Howes

Once upon a time, a double-barrelled name was a sign of wealth and class. However, since the turn of the millennium, people have changed the rules of naming and double-barrelled names seem to be cropping up everywhere. So where has this trend emerged from and is it for you?

The Symbolism Of Joining Yours And Your Partner’s Names

Traditionalist or not, it is evident that women have been striving for equality with men for many years and society is now acknowledging this equilibrium in a number of areas. One particular place that has seen a huge change over the centuries is in the marital home.

No longer are women seen as the property of men, there to cook and clean up after them. Women earn their living in the same way as their counterparts – working full-time to get the income they need to meet their obligations in terms of mortgages, utility bills and so on. Similarly, it is no longer seen as the woman’s sole responsibility to care for her children, with men being offered equal opportunities to take parental leave while the mother of their baby/babies returns to work.

With all of this in mind, what better way to celebrate your union in marriage, whether husband and wife, husband and husband or wife and wife, than to join your names together as a sign of true solidarity?

Putting your surnames together and making them one is an act of joining two families in matrimony, which has a far greater impact than just thinking of a pair of beings becoming one. Even though your wedding is supposed to be about just the two of you, it is nice to think that you are not leaving your family behind and losing your maiden name, but that you are taking your family and past with you as you travel into your future.

The double-barrelling of names is very popular for same-sex couples, because religious tradition does not apply in their circumstances, yet many heterosexual couples are also following suit as a sign of respect to one another and their backgrounds. After all, when you grow up for twenty or more years with a particular name, you don’t necessarily want to wipe that identity from existence by taking another’s surname, even if you do consider getting wed as the start of your new life.

When Double-Barrelling Just Isn’t An Option

Sadly, if you or your partner already has a long or double-barrelled name, then joining your names together becomes a bit tricky. Triple-barrelling, although we are sure does happen, is far less common and only complicates matters rather than offering a sensible and fair solution for modern couples.

As we’ve mentioned, however, the name game has been changing for many years now and you can effectively change your name to whatever you please. This means that if your partner already has two names, then you can pick one of these to compliment your own surname if you so wish. What’s more, if your partner isn’t up for changing their name then they aren’t obligated to! Just as long as you are both happy not to have the same family name, you can make up your own mind about renaming after your wedding. 

Did you know that many unmarried couples are now bringing up children with double-barrelled names to honour both sides of the family? If this trend continues, in years to come we’ll no longer be referring to families as ‘the Smiths’, for example, as each individual family member could have their own unique ‘tag’.

What are your thoughts on the rituals of family names? Do you think that these are outdated and do you welcome change in this area? Let us know in the comments!