How I Really Feel About Changing My Last Name

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February 10, 2020

I want to start this off by saying that I know there will be some strong opinions on this one. More-so than probably on my decision to “break tradition” and to do a first look and see Dustin on my wedding day prior to the ceremony. But, last time I checked, it was my name up in the header of this blog and I have committed myself to being open and honest about the experiences I face from wedding planning, to business stuff, to personal struggles and everything else in between. So here it goes: I don’t know if I want to change my last name after marriage.

There are parts of me that I would consider to be very traditional, and other parts of me that thinks that shit’s for the birds. It doesn’t have anything to do with my fear of commitment or not wanting to be “a part of his family.” It has nothing to do with the need for independence or gender roles or anything of that nature.

This topic sometimes leads to uncomfortable feelings and opinions, which I can totally understand. It makes me feel weird myself, and I also think it’s a topic that gets pushed aside many times, to spare hurt feelings, uncomfortable situations, or to avoid the assumption that the woman isn’t totally 100% committed to the relationship or the idea of marriage. But I’m here to say, that couldn’t be more wrong.

Honestly, I wish I had a better or stronger argument for you other than the fact that I like my name just the way it is, and I am NOT a fan of change. I’ve actually already changed my name once. Before I was adopted and became a Fenner, I was Cristina Creishaun (pronounced cree-shawn) Honestly, I doubt i’m even spelling that correctly (sad, I know) but I was a baby and THANKFULLY Cristina Fenner sounds much better. If you know anything about my story, you know that I am thankful and lucky to have become a Fenner in the first place.

On the flip side, a part of me has always wanted and valued the monogramed doormat which applies to EVERYONE under that roof. I love the idea of being “The Stebbins” and honestly, I probably will legally change my last name, and I’m okay with that, and it’s also okay to feel a tad bit unsettled about the idea of just letting “Fenner” fade away. This is a HARD topic for me to write about because I have such mixed feelings and a part of me feels like a selfish shithole for even having such resistance on this matter. I don’t think I could be more committed to my relationship unless we were mutated and physically connected at the hip. (lol picture that in your head for a sec)

**Here comes the shallow bit of my argument** I have worked so HARD for my name to mean something. I LOVE when I introduce myself and someone says “oh, you do the photos, right?” YES. Yes I do. Is this my ego talking? Absolutely. But my job has become such a huge part of my identity and I’m not ashamed of that. I love what I do and it feels weird and uncomfortable to think that I’m letting a part of that go.

And no, I will never hyphenate. Fenner-Stebbins? Come on.

It’s taken me a long time to actually grow to love Cristina Fenner. In my younger years, I wasn’t always so kind to her. Now that my frontal lobe has fully developed and I’ve chilled out a little, I’m actually pretty content with her. I like myself and my identity just the way it is. Dustin and I have never had a “typical” or traditional relationship, and with that too, I like it just the way it is. I do value marriage and all that comes with it, which is why this is such a struggle for me.

I think I have my parents to thank for my freedom of expression and opinion. My parents would be considered very traditional, married for over 30 years, dad went to work every day, mom stayed home with the kids, etc. Very “normal” and traditional shit. But even so, they’ve never once made me feel like I was doing something wrong if I went against the “norm” or did something totally opposite of what they had done over the years. I don’t think there could have been more supportive parents to a 19-year-old who one day told her parents, “yeah, I met this guy, he’s got a kid, he’s like 10 years older than me, and we’re pretty much living together now.” So, I guess I could argue that my upbringing has everything and nothing to do with how I’ve formed my values and opinions over the years. And for that, I’m grateful. I’m grateful that it has enabled me to have the lady balls to write something as uncomfortable and potentially controversial as this blog post.

I hate to end it this way, but I don’t really have a solid answer or solution for you. I’m writing this and putting my personal feelings out there for all of the other women feeling weird, shameful or guilty for not immediately running down to DMV (also, side note, I actually have a pretty great license picture now sooooo, I really don’t want to chance messing that shit up LOL) I’m very thankful to have such a supportive partner in Dustin. I do a lot of shit that irritates the shit out of him (and vise versa lol) we have very strong and different opinions sometimes, but at the end of the day, I know that whatever I decide to do, he supports and loves me just the same. And THAT my friends, is what you should focus on, no matter what your name is or becomes.

So in conclusion, know that it’s okay to feel certain ways about certain things. It’s okay to fall from tradition, or to hold value in other areas. You know what’s best and what works for you and your relationship, and newsflash, it’s nobody else’s damn business.

Signing off, Cristina Fenner (for now) 🙂