From Miss to Mrs

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For me, changing my name was a nobrainer. I mean, it was not like I was going to have a name like Julia Gulia, oh no! My new surname was going to be Devine – score! I recall being the envy of friends when we got engaged; ‘Devine by name, divine by nature’ was getting thrown around and I immediately registered business names using Devine in the title – yep, I was that excited! Then, it struck me. Did I actually have to change my name? Did I really want too? What happens to my identity? Will I change because I’ll become Mrs Devine? In typical, “renegade me” fashion, I went into what I call, “dig my stilettos into the floorboards” mode and decided no! I will not take part in this notion of having to change my name just because society says so.

To rub salt into the wound, I broached this subject at dinner with my parents. I remember Dad saying to me, ‘Don’t be so ridiculous! You’re getting married and that’s what happens, you change your name!’ For someone like myself, this made me even more determined to keep my name but when I got out of my head and connected with my heart, I realised I really did want to take on my husband’s name. I stopped looking at it from the “patriarchal ownership” nonsense and thought about it more from a team perspective. Yeah! We would be Team Devine and together we would rock at this marriage gig. However, there was still this concept of identity floating around my head. I was going to be a wife – a Mrs. The thought of being a Mrs conjured images of a tired middle-aged woman, making dinner while darning socks. I was not OK with this. I was not OK with the gender specific roles that were like impending doom lurking over my head. I wouldn’t say at that point I knew who I was completely, but I knew I didn’t want to be the stereotypical “wifey”.

I was far from a domestic goddess and there were grave concerns for my husband’s wellbeing as he has a healthy appetite and my culinary skills are pretty much borrowed from the 4-Ingredient Cookbook. I had watched my mum over the years spend hours ironing dad’s shirts and hankies (don’t start me) and to me, those duties were the official death of a good day. And so, I pushed aside everyone else’s expectations of what I was “supposed” to do and simply had a chat with Paul. An honest chat. A “this is who I am and what you can expect” kinda chat and it was the best thing we could have ever done. We shared our aspirations, expectations, goals, dreams and how both of us could support each other on this journey. We have blended our skills to create a home we are proud of and while there is a slight gender bias on the domestic roles, it’s not expected, it’s shared and encouraged. I love watching him freak out when I say, ‘It’s your turn to cook,’ and he thinks I’m the hottest thing going when I’m mowing the lawn. It’s all about balance and getting that “stuff” cleared from day dot. I can almost guarantee that those “expectations” are merely your own beliefs that have been ingrained from society, family and tradition, but know this – you always have a choice! If you choose to change your name, then rock it! If you choose to keep your maiden name, then own it! If your marriage works best with traditional roles, then so be it. If you decide to mix it up, then have fun with it.

People are going to judge any decision you make regardless of the outcome, right? It’s one of the interesting habits of us as humans so you may as well do what feels right for you and your partner. I don’t believe our name is our identity, that’s too one-dimensional for my liking. It’s your courage, personality, humour, ability to love, tenacity, vulnerability and authenticity that make you who you really are. Your identity is always going to evolve and I can honestly say that marriage will wholeheartedly support that process; it’s all part of the joy.

Tomek Photography

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