10/22/2014 02:32 pm ET Updated Oct 22, 2014

When A Name Is All That's Left: Why I Changed My Name After 8 Years Of Marriage

Photographed by Victoria Phipps © via Getty Images

After I got married, I started getting mail addressed to Mrs. Michael Anderson. I hadn’t actually changed my last name from my maiden name, Dahlstrom, but elderly relatives and companies offering credit cards or discount oil changes seemed to assume I had.

That Halloween, I contemplated dressing up as Mrs. Michael Anderson. I imagined her as my alter ego: She sounded like someone who would be an amazing cook who also enjoyed polishing silver, I thought. She’d be organized and proper. Maybe she’d wear pearls while she baked cookies that weren’t burned. In short, she was not me at all.