These are the ways couples commit in 2016

60 odd years ago, things were simpler - when a man and a woman got married, the wife changed her surname to that of her new husband.

But nowadays, the subject is a minefield.

True, some women see changing their name as sweet and enjoy the tradition of it all - in fact, a recent study found that 65% of women in their 20s and 30s changed their names after marriage.

Amongst older generations in particular, you frequently hear of women being “proud” to be taking her husband’s name. 

For a lot of people, if a woman doesn’t change her name, it seems to suggest she’s not fully committed to the marriage. 

And then there’s the issue of what you call your children, should you choose to have any.

But then again, in an age when you could argue that being a feminist has never been cooler, isn’t it outrageous to partake in a sexist, outdated tradition that signifies a woman being handed over from her father to her husband?

And what about your career - having likely spent years building up your personal brand, surely taking your husband’s name will set you back? 

But with rising gender equality and the legalisation of gay marriage, new trends have emerged when it comes to couples’ surnames - it’s no longer simply a case of a woman taking her husband’s surname or not.

According to Louise Bowers from the UK Deed Poll Service, there has been an increase of around 3% in men taking their wife's name upon marriage.

Sometimes, the reason is that the man’s surname is embarrassing (Bowers gives Pratt, Smellie and Cock as examples) and his new wife refuses to take it on, but on other occasions it’s because the man has fallen out with his family and no longer wishes to have anything to do with them.

Over the last few years, there was an increase in couples double-barrelling and meshing their names - whilst the former has been popular for decades, meshing is largely new trend.

Also known as merging and blending, meshing is when two surnames are combined to make a new name altogether - Geoff Werner-Allen and Suzanna Chapman became the Challens, for example. 

Similarly, when TV presenter Dawn Porter married actor Chris O’Dowd in 2012, she became Dawn O’Porter. O’Dowd, however, kept his name unchanged. 

But according to Bowers, both meshing and double-barrelling have stayed static over the past year: “We believe meshing may have reached a saturation level,” she explains. 

There’s one demographic where double-barrelling is on the up though: same-sex marriages between men.

Interestingly, this doesn’t appear to be the case for gay women. According to Bowers, when two women marry they often take on one of their surnames just like a heterosexual marriage.

Despite today’s feminism wave, “the tradition of women taking their husband’s surname upon marriage is still very strong,” Bowers reveals. However she adds that there’s been an increase in women adding their maiden name to their middle name to keep a link to their family. 

And with an increasing number of couples having children out of wedlock, more and more unmarried women are taking their partner’s name as a form of commitment, whether because they can’t afford to get married or just don’t want to. This is especially common when an unmarried couple has children, according to Bowers.

In 2016, anything goes. 

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