Saturday, February 9, 2013

Should Christian Women Change Their Maiden Names After Marriage?

I travel rather frequently across the Sub-Saharan part of the African Continent because of my job.  In the course of my travels, I noticed something rather interesting in Kenya. I noticed that most of the highly educated women I interacted with, still had their maiden names. When I asked why they had not changed their names after marriage, I got some interesting answers such as "It is such a tedious task to change my maiden name in Kenya. It is a long process."; "I don't want to let go of my family name"; "Why do I have to be the one to change my name? Why can't my husband change his name?"; "I haven't gotten round to it". Though they considered the responses rather legitimate, I could not understand the rationale. I also could not believe that the husbands allowed it.

When I asked one of the guys whose wife was still using her maiden name, he said that he tried to persuade her but she refused.

I guess I am too old fashioned. A woman holding onto her maiden name is not very common in Nigeria. You might come across hyphenated names when the bride is from a famous family and she wants people to know she is from that family.

As for me, although the Bible does not address this issue directly, I do think a woman should change their maiden name after marriage based on the following:

  1. Changing her maiden name indicates that she agrees with the biblical concept of the man as the Head of the marriage and the household (1 Corinthians 11:3)
  2. The Bible says that upon marriage, the two become one. It means a woman becomes one flesh with her husband. Changing her maiden name to his reflects this (Genesis 2:24)
  3. Remember the marriage between a man and a woman is likened to the relationship between Christ and the Church. We, the Church Bride, become Christ-ians, identifying ourselves with Him. Christ's bride is rightly called by her Husband's name. A woman who changes her name bears witness to this part of the gospel story.
  4. As part of the marriage rites, Every bride's father is asked "Who gives this bride in marriage" and he says " I do" and he hands over the woman to the husband to be. Now when the father has done this, why would the woman want to keep her father's name?
  5. A woman keeping her maiden name after marriage emphasises a woman's independence from her husband. It unconsciously says I can do without you.

I will like to summarise by saying that a woman who assumes her husband's name upon marriage is not regarded as more emotional, less intelligent, less competent and less ambitious. The woman is indeed a strong woman.

What do you think?


  1. U raise valid points. Personaly, taking up my husband's name ws one of the things I could hardly wait to do. A year b4 marriage I was already practising my 'new signature'.
    But ur arguement fails to take into account a situation like mine.
    I use my husband's name in social circles.
    (which name he only begun 2 use after we got married n I insisted he use, since I was going to be using it. All his life he had been using his, Father's name) But on paper, I still hav my maiden name. Y? The nature of my proffession. Each year I have to take out a practising certificate. They'r issued in one's 'original' names. Those on ur degree certificate.
    I understand the same goes 4 a few other proffesions.
    I therefore end up hyphernating my names. So u see, it doesnt mean I want 2 retain independence, or that I want association wth my family, its just how the system works.

    1. Interesting. Which Country are you talking about? I think every country should ensure that the system caters for issues like this. This is not the case in Nigeria and some other countries that I know about

    2. Anonymous has a point. As a professional, I changed my name when I married but proving I am who I say I am at each job change or official process can prove quite daunting. Changing my name with my professional body was expected, although the process isn't an easy one...

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Great Article Francis! i will be passing it on to some of the affected parties here in Kenya!

  4. Naomi Konditi-KivuvaniFebruary 14, 2013 at 9:18 AM

    I consider myself a submissive wife (to the best of my knowledge and ability) and do not in any way undermine my husband's authority. I am from Kenya and yes, the process is very tedious here! Once you start changing one document you will have at least 10 others to change before you can completely operate as the 'new' you. Hyphenating or keeping one's maiden name should never be confused with an 'exit' strategy for those who are truly committed to the marriage institution.

  5. Well you are of that opinion @naomi, the author simply stated hers, which I agree with, because at the end of it all, what's the point of keeping your maiden name?what are you trying to prove to yourself or the world which is too busy to be bothered about a name..

  6. Why can't the man take the wife's name, if it's all about unity? Oh - and we DIDN'T do the "who gives the woman" thing, either.....I've been self-supporting since I was fourteen!


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