Why I Took His Last Name


A couple of months ago, we talked about changing last names after getting married, and we even made a YouTube video about it. Today, I’m (Thomas) going to discuss why I took PJ’s last name in detail, and why I never gave it a second thought.

Growing up, I never loved my last name. It was never one of those sophisticated names that rolled off the tongue, and it wasn’t especially beautiful after my first name either. It just wasn’t a name I was super attached to, but I also never planned on changing it. When you’re a young boy, society teaches you that girls will eventually change their names once they’re married, and they’ll take your last name. Society doesn’t teach you that one day YOU might want to change your last name after meeting the man of your dreams. Society should really step their game up a notch, don’t you think?

When we first got married, I kept my last name for the first six or so months. We had talked about me changing my name eventually, or maybe hyphenating it, but we didn't take action right away. One day, I finally decided to make the change, and I went to the DMV to get a new driver’s license. After that, I got a new social security card with my new last name, and just like that, we were The McKay's. From there, I got a new debit card and changed my name on my social media accounts and the rest was history.

There’s a couple of key reasons why I decided to take PJ’s last name, and they’re all pretty straight forward:

I wasn’t attached to my maiden name. Like I mentioned above, it’s not a great last name. I never loved saying it out loud, either, but I did always love the name McKay. In my mind, it was much more sophisticated than mine and I liked the way PJ & Thomas McKay sounded. I never had a problem leaving my old name behind.

PJ, however, was attached to his last name. We were fortunate in that one of us didn’t care about changing their last name, and one of us did. PJ has always liked McKay, and his family name goes back more than 100 years in our hometown. My dad’s side of the family moved all over, and they don’t have deep roots here. Also, PJ already has four names (the initials PJ are his two middle names), so having him hyphenate my name would just be a mouthful that neither of us wanted to deal with.

It was important our kids have the same last name as us. When we have kids, we wanted everyone in the family to share a last name. Even if it was hyphenated, it was important that, as a family, we were all connected by our last name. And since we knew PJ wasn’t going to change his, that was just one more reason to take his name.

I’m big on symbolism. Just like wearing a ring, taking your spouse’s last name in a symbol of love. It’s a symbol you wear proudly for everyone to see, because you want it known that you are part of a couple, an unstoppable force where, together, the two of you can accomplish anything you set your minds to. It’s the reason I have PJ’s name tattoed on my wrist and it’s the reason I didn’t think twice about taking his last name.

Lastly, it kinda felt like a new beginning. Even though it’s just a name, it felt like a fresh, new start once I changed it. You know how nothing’s really different between December 31st and January 1st each year, but for some reason when you wake up the next day, in the new year, something just feels different? That’s how I felt when my last name became McKay. It was like I was given a new lease on life and I was determined to make the most of it. It sounds weird, but it’s almost like it became more real, more serious, like the stakes were higher once I changed my name and it was exciting and weird and wonderful all at once. Do you know what I mean?

Even after almost two years, it still feels weird sometimes to say Thomas McKay when people ask for my name. I love my last name, but I have to make myself say McKay. At this point, I’m still getting used to it. It was such an important decision to me, and luckily, one of the easiest I’ve ever had to make. Why can’t all of life’s major decisions be like that?

What about you? Did you change your last name after you got married or did you keep it? Maybe you hyphenated it, or came up with an entirely new name all together? I would love to hear what you ended up doing!