In playing with Facebook, looking up oldtime friends and acquaintances, I have come across two men and former classmates who now have hyphenated last names. And I will have to admit it is a bit disconcerting.
As I remember, in College these two guys were extremely bright and also rather progressive in their thinking. So, I guess it is proper they would challenge for me the conventionality of this matter of the female spouse accepting the last name of her husband. There is no law against it. Although, I understand many states make it a difficult legal process, likely because it is still unconventional. And I must quickly admit this to be strictly the personal business of the couple themselves. If they want to combine their two last names with a hyphen, it is the right of no one else to deny the matter or persecute the decision. Actually it is a selfless gesture on the part of the husband, a clear statement of partnership and equality.
So, why does it bother me?
In this day and age, it seems to be fashionable to push boundaries, to ask why, to dare to do things differently. But I am convinced that different is not necessarily better. Conventionalities and traditions that have served us well for centuries deserve respect. Most often, it is a mistake to set them aside for the sake of what seems new, different, and better. Traditional family, which includes traditional marriage, I believe to be of bedrock importance for a healthy society. But it seems to be under relentless attack from so many directions. Especially has the nuclear family taken a hit in popular culture. Still, I would like to think there are lots of old fashioned families out there, working hard at being healthy and happy. I respect the man who takes seriously the role of provider and protector of his family. It is not an insult to his wife to love her in this way. And I also think it is healthy for a woman to be comfortable enough with her identity and femininity to encourage her husband and equal partner in this role. To me, it seems appropriate.
So, back to the hyphenated last name. The world will not come to an end because of this matter. Likely I will grow accustomed to it. And if things go according to cue, one of my kids or grandkids will probably take up the tradition. Alas!
Right now, it seems to me yet another chink in the armor.