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Halley Knigge Headshot

I Took My Husband's Name and Kept My Identity

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I was never the kind of girl who was going to change my name for my future husband.

Until I was.

It wasn't that I was particularly attached to my maiden name -- Halley Griffin -- though we had been through some mighty good times together. I consider myself to be a badass, independent woman, and changing my name seemed to go against everything I'd ever read on that subject.

"You are not property," I read. "You'll lose your identity -- so sad, so old-fashioned."

But six months ago, I changed my name. So what, now? Are you telling me I'm property? I'm sad and old-fashioned with no sense of self?

When I say I was never the kind of girl to take my husband's name, I'm not kidding. I never gave the subject a great deal of thought, but knew it wasn't in the plans for me. Halley Griffin landed me my first newspaper job out of college, and a short time later became my first professional byline. Halley Griffin was a trusted finder and reporter of the news. Halley Griffin was me.

Even after meeting my now-husband, I was committed to remaining a Griffin. I mean, 'Knigge?' (Are you kidding me? Can you imagine the mispronunciations? ('May I speak to, uh, Mrs. Nigg?') Yeah, right.

But as time went on, things began to change. My husband has a very small family. His immediate family all have different last names. He doesn't know his grandparents. And as I watched him become part of our family Thanksgiving, interact with my grandparents and my brothers, I started to feel more and more strongly that I wanted to join him as one half of Team Knigge.

So I changed my name. I took a half day off of work and got a new driver's license, a new Social Security card. It was no fun. If I remember correctly, I came home that day, slammed down my stack of paperwork and yelled, "Fine, I'm a Knigge. We are never, ever getting divorced."

No one ever asked me how to pronounce Griffin. But now "Knigge: like a 'hickey from Kenickie.' With Gs." has become a standard part of introductions.

I've never regretted it for a second.

But that's not the point. The point is that I'm tired of the "Change your name!" vs. "Don't change your name!" debate. Let's instead consider letting each other off the hook a little bit. Recognizing that everyone has their reasons, and whether you think I should be a Griffin or a Knigge, that's not for you to judge.

Feminism is not a bunch of my fellow women telling me what to do, or now that I've done the opposite, telling me that I've lost their respect for doing it.

I was a badass, independent woman before, and I am a badass independent woman after.

I love being one half of Team Knigge -- an awesome couple that does not adhere to traditional gender roles (see: lady breadwinner, stay-at-home husband, etc.) Chuck folds the laundry, makes the world's best lasagna and fixes my car. I vacuum the floors, bake cookies and make sure we have health insurance.

And you know what? I would have felt just as awesome if I'd decided to remain a Griffin. You can be a badass, independent woman if you change your name, and you can be a badass independent woman if you don't.

I changed my name because I felt like it, and that's all there is to it.

And after all -- isn't that what being a badass is all about?