Taking His Name

When I get a chance to listen to Dennis Prager on good old fashioned radio, our San Diego’s 1170 am station, I enjoy it. The 2nd hour on Wednesday is called the Male-Female Hour. The hot topic this week was about taking your husband’s name when you marry: Did you? Did you not?  Why or why not?

I did it in a hyphenated fashion, like a true latina. 

Mrs. Benjamin Walter Greene

Of course, como siempre it sparked a memory. After the decision to marry my Benjamin came the realization that my name was going to change. Honestly it wasn’t even a question of would I? Taking his name in this traditional fashion is what I wanted, it connected me to him and I felt that it covered me, in the biblical sense “for this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and the two shall become one flesh” Mrs. Benjamin Walter Greene.

I know that young girls  in their little dreamland fantasy world, dream about getting married. I can’t say I did that, but I definitely remember playing around with my childhood crush’s last name next to mine. Two latino names went well together for the most part. Pero, when it came time to marry my gringo, I was going to put on his name. His old English name. Hijole!

I examined the name change with a microscopic lens! 

I would no longer be the last person on the list or the last person called. However, the change meant I would take off my mothers maiden name.  No longer would I be Rosalba Flores Zepeda.

Then, I figured since Zepeda would be my middle name I would no longer have to make the needed pronunciation corrections: Not Zeepeeda, not Zepayda or Zepahda. Just Zepeda, like this, Cehpehdah, in spanish, soft c sound, short e’s, short a.  Not a big deal to anyone else I’m sure. 

I practiced writing my married name. Rosalba Zepeda Greene Hijole! I was comforted by the fact that it was still long. It is a well known fact, latinas have long or several names, verdad?. My greatest concern became how my new name combo would sound! (hand over face Emoji) It sounds odd, unmatched. This Spanglish speaking girl had no problem rolling out the Spanish name with the English one, but I knew it would be destroyed by others…and it has been. Spanish only speakers say Green-ee and english speakers drawl out the “sal” part of Rosalba and after 33 years I find myself correcting the pronunciation of my name still… “It’s Greene, like the color, with an ‘e’ at the end.” To the spanish speakers I say “no es Grini” (pronounced in spanish) es Green (pronounced in english) Did that confuse you? Welcome to my Spanglish world.

The idea of how unmatched or odd it sounded did make me nervous. A reminder that we were embarking into a whole new world. Sometimes we love the mixture of spices and other times things are quite bland. We leave the rolling “Rs to me.” 

I’m not going to pretend, 33 years of practice hasn’t helped  my name flow smoothly. Imaginate the shock I felt the first time I heard my son’s Spanish immersion teacher say “Buenos dias Senora Greene” My name in it’s various versions is  like going on a 30mph road and having to slow down suddenly because were not actually going 30mph, and the speed bump whacks us. I can hear myself saying “Aye Ben! be careful.” I have embraced my hyphenated Spanglish name, but to make things easier, I don’t mind if you just call me Rosie.

Your name or his name? or Both?


Did you take your husband’s name? Did you keep your own or mesh the two? Maybe you kept your mothers maiden name as well and just added his name to the list, like a true latina! Tell me about it in the comments.

2 thoughts on “Taking His Name

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