When Two Hyphenated Last Names Fall in Love

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One hyphenated last name is already pretty cumbersome, but when you augment a hyphenated last name with another hyphenated last name, things can get pretty weird, especially if you're at the DMV and nobody ever calls your name because it's just too much trouble. A whole generation of people born 20- or 30-something years ago, however, is having to sort through the problem of choosing which of their hyphenated last names makes it into the marriage amalgamation, and which parent's heart they most want to break.


NPR's Tovia Smith reports that hyphenated last name people are starting to marry each other, a fact that seems to be causing those couples a whole lot of stress for the sake of their unborn children. For example, starry-eyed couple Breandan Green-Walsh and Leila Rathert-Knowles know they can't just ruin their kids' lives by imparting to them a four-name-long last name, strapping a backpack over their shoulders, and say, "Good luck with teachers and shit. Hope you don't plan on playing team sports ever." So they instead toyed around with the idea of just mashing a bunch of random letters together (they came up with "Growlsh"). When that obviously didn't work, they thought maybe they could just pick a name at random and watch the other three branches of their family heritages just dissolve into the tall, fizzy drink of history. Finally, they thought the absolute best thing to do would be to just forgo last names, an awesome idea if they followed through with it because last name kids would be really cool and avant-garde.

The trend of hyphenating has waned since feminism popularized it in the 80s and 90s. Now that those hyphenated kids are all grown up and trying to start families with each other, they're realizing that infinite hyphenating isn't sustainable. According to Smith, "Hyphenating was destined to hit a wall after one generation."

When Hyphen Boy Meets Hyphen Girl, Names Pile Up [NPR]

Image via fotomak/Shutterstock.



Question for the marrieds—I've always wanted to legally change my name when married but for work purposes keep my maiden name. But I'm wondering if that complicates legal things at work...say a paycheck?