Meet the Sawochka-Daltons!

(Check out my “What’s in a Name?” post before you read this. This post will be much clearer if you do.)

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After yesterday’s visit to the Social Security office Pete and I are now legally known as Sara Sawochka-Dalton and Pete Sawochka-Dalton.

My last name change hasn’t taken on too much attention because most people expect a woman will either stay with her maiden name or hyphenate her maiden name with her married name.

But I’ve been fascinated by people’s responses, both negative and positive, to Pete’s last name change.

Pete’s last name change has received the strongest positive response from women (with a few exceptions). Female friends, co-workers and family that we’ve told generally have been in favor of Pete changing his last name to take on my last name in addition to his own. Women have also been the most appreciative of his change. Men’s responses generally have been more ambivalent—they think it’s a bit odd and typically want to know why he bothered.

One exception to the generally favorable response from woman has been Pete’s mother. After our visit to the Social Security office, Pete called his mother to let her know about his new last name. Pete’s mother asked why he did that because men don’t do that—at least she’s never heard of the man hyphenating his last name. Legally, of course, any couple can change their last names the way Pete and I did.

But most don’t, because the idea that a woman should take the man’s last name, but not the reverse, is a tradition in our culture. This tradition comes from the stale, patrilineal belief that upon marriage a woman becomes a part of the man’s family (and even the man’s property in many times and places), so she must change her last name to reflect her new family’s (owner’s) last name. But marriage isn’t a one-way union, and no woman should be considered property of any man (or vice versa) in a day where women and men have equal rights. I’m a member of a two-party union. However, I do not belong to Pete and Pete does not belong to me.

We aren’t the only married couple in the country that has legally done a dual last name change. We won’t be the last. I’ve read stories where the man even takes on the wife’s last name only, with no hyphenation.

I’ve learned that my husband is more of an out-of-the-box thinker than I’ve ever given him credit for. Pete went against the norm to change his last name change. I’m so proud of him! When I presented my idea of both of us changing our names, Pete was open to it. Pete didn’t see any arguments against it.

It takes guts for a man to change his last name. I admire and very much appreciate Pete so much for his decision and willingness to make the change! To me, the change shows that he honors our union as much as I do, and our newly combined last names reflect that honor!

Namaste,

Sara Sawochka-Dalton

“What’s in a Name?”

First of all I’d like to wish my husband, Pete Sawochka, a happy 2nd wedding anniversary in advance. Our anniversary is this Sunday, April 13, 2014!

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My father-in-law and mother-in-law sent us a cute card and a monetary gift for us to put towards our annual trip to Bloomington, Indiana. We received this monetary gift in the form of a check made out to: Pete and Sara Sawochka. Both of us are very appreciative of the gift towards our trip! There is one problem with that check, though.

Legally the “Sara Sawochka” on the check doesn’t exist! And soon the “Pete Sawochka” on the check won’t exist either.

When we got married two years ago my intent was to keep my maiden name—Dalton. After the wedding I decided I should probably adopt my husband’s last name of Sawochka. That’s what most women do after they get married. I told my employer that I wanted a new name plate to read “Sara Sawochka” and I changed my last name on Facebook from Dalton to Sawochka. Legally I did nothing. Two years later I’m still Sara Dalton.

About six months or so ago I finally got the urge to change my last name to something completely different. And not only did I want to change my last name but I wanted my husband to change with me. I asked Pete if he would mind changing his last name as well to reflect the combination of both of our names together. Pete agreed and said he was willing to make the name change as well. My plan was to hyphenate both of our last names to either be Pete and Sara Sawochka-Dalton or Dalton-Sawochka.

Why did I want my husband to change his name to match mine? The reason is that I define marriage as a union of two people’s lives. The two people, in my opinion, can be any gender combination (male–male, female-female or male-female). I believe, as a part of that union of two lives, the names should reflect the legacy of both parties involved.

This is not the traditional way we do things in this country. However this country is changing. With gay marriage becoming legal in more and more states terms such as “maiden name” will become part of the past—even in the traditional marriage of a male and female. Think about it like this—in a marriage between two men there is no “maiden name” to be found. Neither is a maiden!

As a part of the celebration of our 2nd anniversary I’ve finally decided to head to the Social Security Office to make a name change. I even took off Monday 4/14/2014 so I’d have time to do this. Pete and I are still discussing what order the combination of names will go in. The important thing is that we’re going to make the change together to reflect the union of our lives that we made two years ago.

Namaste,
Sara