In heterosexual marriages, it's long been tradition for women to change their last name to their husband's after tying the knot. In fact, it's still very much the norm. According to a 2023 Pew Research Center survey, 79% of women said they took their spouse's last name when they got married.
But what most people don't talk about is how much work it actually takes to change your name everywhere (and I mean EVERYWHERE), as well as the mental toll that can take on the person doing the changing. Delanie Kristek, a 27-year-old marketing consultant and newlywed from Dallas, Texas, recently went viral on TikTok for breaking down the "mental load" involved in changing your name after marriage.
"Men in heterosexual marriages will never understand the mental load and time investment of changing your last name," Delanie says in the video — which currently has over 1 million views.
"Holy cow," she continues, "I'm in the process of changing my last name right now. All I've changed is my [social security], and now I'm on to the point where I'm changing my driver's license. So, I'm in the very beginning stages. I even have one of those NewlyNamed boxes. ... But even with the exact instructions, this is just incredibly time consuming."
"Everything's on the government website, which we already know is trash," Delanie says in the video. "Now, post-COVID, I can no longer just show up to the DPS [what Texas calls the DMV], I have to make an appointment. I go to schedule an appointment...all the DPS's near me, in DFW? There's no openings until January 2024. Guess what? I have a flight in December 2023...the name on my ticket is my new last name." As a result, Delanie had to schedule an appointment at a DPS over 40 minutes away.
"And then, at that point, I've only changed my social and my driver's license. I've still gotta change my insurance cards, I've gotta change my bank accounts, I've gotta change my passport...Global Entry, which means I'm gonna have to go to the airport."
And that's not all. "You've gotta change your name in all the systems you're in. Most of us have multiple doctors. I have primary care physician, I have a gynecologist, I have a therapist. There's so many places where my name appears, and now I'm gonna have to go change it. The mental load that it is taking on me...every time I see my name, I'm like, 'Oh my god, that's ANOTHER place I'm going to have to change my name.'"
"I know it's not forced upon me, but I want to. I want to change my name. But holy cow, the process? Hetero men will never know," Delanie concludes in the video.
Thousands of people commented on Delanie's video. Some shared that they're currently in the name-changing trenches with her.
Others gave their reasoning for deciding NOT to change their names.
And some even shared stories about husbands stepping up and changing their own names/making things easier on them. We love a flip of the script!
Delanie told BuzzFeed that she knew she wanted to change her last name pretty quickly after getting engaged to her partner. "There are so many options when it comes to changing your name. ... It was really about figuring out which of these options felt most authentic to me and what would be the best for my family throughout the years and as we grow. ... I landed on Delanie Roselle Majors Kristek. I wanted to have the same last name as my husband. I didn’t want to fully get rid of my maiden name, but I also didn’t want to hyphenate my last name or lose my middle name. So I moved my maiden name to a second middle name."
But the process hasn't been easy. Delanie described the name-changing process as "tedious" and also said that the long wait time for appointments leads to a kind of "name limbo" that can cause even more inconvenience. "Some of your documents say your maiden name, and some of them say your new name. Because of this, when you go to the airport or a new doctor, it puts you in this situation where you feel a need to bring all your most valuable documents with you just in case there are any issues."
"Additionally, I was surprised how this 'name limbo' can make you feel a little off psychologically and emotionally," Delanie told BuzzFeed. "Many of us hold so much identity in our names, so when there’s ambiguity around your name, it can feel like you yourself are a little bit in limbo as well. It’s, of course, temporary and not something changing my brain chemistry or anything, but definitely something worth recognizing."
In addition to name limbo, Delanie also elaborated on the "mental load" she talks about in her video. "As someone with severe ADD, the mental load has been the toughest part. It's the sitting down at your desk on Monday and remembering, 'Oh yeah, I need to apply for my new driver's license today.' Then asking yourself, 'Okay, what all does that entail? Wait, where is my NewlyNamed box? Oh, okay, NewlyNamed is telling me I need at least two of these six proofs of residency, but I don't have two of those six. What are some others I can provide? NewlyNamed said the answer would be on 'XYZ' government website, but I can’t find the answer I’m looking for. Let me click around some more. Then, all of a sudden, you look up, an hour has passed, and you haven’t even booked the appointment at the DMV."
"Beyond that, all these tasks added together are stressful and frustrating. Any time something is stressful, it takes up even more brain space. It affects your day and mood," she continued. "It physically feels heavy in your mind, and that's a form of mental load."
And while hetero husbands are often blissfully unaware of all this, Delanie believes there's opportunity for that to change. "While in the past I think many hetero men have not understood this, I hope this TikTok has shed some light to hetero men so that they can better understand. I think hetero men should make an effort to understand and help their partner during the process where they can. Whether that's helping directly in the name-change process or even taking on a different task that maybe their wife typically managed. In turn, freeing their wife up with some time and brain space to go through this name-change process."
When asked if any of this has changed her perspective on women changing their names after marriage, Delanie responded, "If anything, I think it has enforced that this is a very personal decision everyone needs to make for themselves. Each couple and person is different, so they need to decide what works for them versus just changing their last name because that's 'the thing you do.' It's time-consuming, it costs money, and there are pros and cons to whatever decision you make. Changing your name after marriage shouldn’t be an automatic yes, it should be a thought-out, conscious decision."
"I’ve loved seeing couples who take on the woman’s last name, hyphenate both their last names, or create an entirely new last name altogether. But I also love seeing women who have thought about the decision and discussed it with their partner thoroughly, and feel confident about going the 'traditional' route. It's great to see that the world is opening up to so many possibilities. I hope this video encourages more couples to have a discussion about their last name versus just doing 'what has always been done,'" Delanie concluded.