Nearly three years ago, I got married and became Mrs. Florian. Right? Well, actually, it’s complicated. Like so many other things today, there are many factors at play where there used to be essentially one factor: whether you were married.
When I got married, I had every intention of changing my name. However, I discovered it would take a lot of effort on my part. I had to initiate the process, and the task seemed time consuming and overwhelming amid a new marriage, full-time job and a baby on the way. An elderly friend from church expressed shock when I explained why I hadn’t changed my name. “Oh,” she said. “They used to do that for you.”
Meanwhile, a recently married co-worker who wanted to change her name took a whole day off to stand in various lines, including the dreaded DMV. That’s a lot of potential billable hours, at a busy and prosperous law firm, spent on a mundane task. Does it even matter anymore?
It certainly mattered to past generations. Growing up, I remember calling every married woman a “Mrs.” It was a common expectation for children to address adults formally as a sign of respect. There definitely seems to be a cultural shift happening, however. I discovered that most of our married friends want our child to call them by their first names, preceded by “Aunt” and “Uncle.”
For me personally, it’s much more comfortable for my friends’ kids to call me “Miss Lizzie” or “Aunt Lizzie.” There is still a separation between what they call me and what people my own age call me. It’s less formal and more affectionate, however, and I think it reflects the kind of relationship I want to have with my friends’ kids. There are other ways they show me respect that are more important to me, such as saying please and thank you.
So, if no one’s calling me Mrs. Florian, what’s my motivation to change my name? Well, I do want to officially become a Florian, if only for the symbolic unity with the rest of the family. My husband and baby are both Florians, and I would like to be as well. Plus, I simply like the name Florian. I guess that’s what it comes down to in the end: doing what feels comfortable for you. So, I will eventually be Mrs. Florian as far as the U.S. government is concerned, but I will remain Miss Lizzie to the young ones I hold dear.