The Matrinomen Ceremony: A New Marital Name-Change Option

Jill M. Coleman, Robyn T. Oliver


The goal of the present paper is to present a new, gender equitable option for marital name changes. At present, social norms in the United States dictate that women adopt their husbands’ surnames upon marriage. While this practice is not required, it is the traditional practice and reflects what the vast majority of women do. However, expectations for women to adopt their husband’s surnames can create a sense of identity conflict. Some women resist changing their surnames at marriage because they do not feel comfortable with the consequent changes in their professional or personal identities. Thus, we propose the Matrinomen ceremony, a practice that would randomly assign one partner’s surname to a newly married couple. While this practice would not eliminate the patriarchal biases embedded in modern American surnames, we believe that moving forward it could provide a more gender equitable way of promoting a shared family identity for married couples.


Women; Identity; Marriage; Names

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