Some Thoughts On Changing My Name


If you've been reading this blog for the past couple of months you'll know that I recently got married. In June, Sam, my boyfriend of seven years, and I finally tied the knot and it was bloody lovely. Wedding planning brought with it lots of decisions - tulle or silk? Marquee or hotel? Sit down meal or street food? But perhaps the biggest decision I had to make was whether to change my name or not.

I have to admit that it's not something I'd given a lot of thought to before I was engaged. Rightly or wrongly, I'd always assumed I'd be totally fine with changing my name and to be honest, I was a bit naive to the fact that there were many other options. I'm one of the first in my group of pals to tie the knot and my family members who have been married in recent years all took the traditional route where names were concerned. So as soon as Sam proposed, I was pretty much on board with the idea that I'd be Mrs Airey in the not too distant future.

And yet as our wedding started to approach, I found myself starting to freak out about it more and more. In hindsight I can see that that's totally normal - my name has been Sophie Cliff for the entire 27 years I've been on this planet, I think it would be more weird if the thought of that changing didn't feel strange. The name Cliff is part of my identity, it's who I've always been. Plus, there's the fact that Sophie Cliff is also who the world know me as - I've built a career and a blog under this name and I worried about losing the reputation attached to it.

I feel like I should clarify now that I never faced any expectation from Sam in regards to changing my name. We have always had a very equal relationship and while he like the idea of us having the same name, he was always very clear that what I decide to call myself is my decision, not his. We did discuss trying to merge our names but Airey-Cliff didn't sound right at all, and Cliff-Airey (or Clefairy)  is cute for a Pokémon, but not so much for a human.

I thought about defying convention and just keeping my own name, and for a while I thought this felt like the best option. But the thing I kept coming back to is that one day Sam and I would love to have kids, and it's important for me personally for us all to have the same last name. To be clear - I'm by no means saying that this is the right thing for everyone and I don't have any logical reasoning behind the decision other than it feels right to me. I know that some people will be thinking "well why couldn't Sam just take your name then?", but similarly to me, Sam has built his music career around his name, so this didn't feel like an option.

In the end, I've decided to keep my own name for professional purposes and will adopt a married name for everything else. So at work, on this blog and in any other professional endevours, I'll still be Sophie Cliff, but Sam and I (and any potential future children) will all share a family name legally. It's a messier solution than I would have liked, and I'm slightly worried I might end up having an identity crisis at some point, but it felt like the only way of ticking all the boxes.

Who knows, at some point in the future I might end up feeling more comfortable with my new name and decide to use that everywhere - I've got a few friends who have said they felt like they grew into their new identity as the years ticked by and married life became the norm. But for now, I'm quite happy to be holding on to my original family name in some parts of my life.

And more than anything, I'm really glad that these days, what we decide to call ourselves is a choice and not an expectation.

What are your thoughts on the marital name change? Is it something you have done or would consider? Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts as I find the whole thing so interesting!