This originally appeared on The Daily Telegraph. Republished here with permission.
Honey, I love you, but I want my name back.
They’re not exactly the words a husband wants to hear on the eve of his 10-year wedding anniversary. But, after a decade together, three children, and a career forged under the surname Connolly, I am reverting to my maiden name.
Before you jump to conclusions, we are not divorcing. The marriage isn’t in trouble. We are happier than we’ve ever been. I plan on growing old with Adam and I cherish our marriage.
But, I miss my name. Sloane is the name I was born with, have a blood connection to. I am proud of my heritage and, as I grow older, I miss it more. While being Adam’s wife is undoubtedly the best decision I’ve ever made, being “Mrs. Connolly” has never felt quite right.
Every time I had a professional victory, a career highlight, a newspaper column under the name Connolly, I felt like an impostor. The young girl who dreamt of this life as a journalist and TV host was Kellie Sloane. She would have been miffed.
My great-grandfather William, after whom our little boy was named, won a military medal under the name Sloane. In fact, there are three MMs in our family. Stories I’m unearthing about our history draw me closer to my roots.
Before I met Adam I was adamant I would never change my name. What an absurd idea, I thought, to change your identity and give up the name you were born with.
Adam never asked nor expected me to change my name, but I thought he’d be chuffed if I did. He was a guy with a lot of old-fashioned values and I knew it would make him happy if we shared a family name. It was the best gift I could give him and a sign of my absolute commitment.
I made the decision to change my name, professionally and personally. I didn’t tell him at first. I planned to surprise him when I returned to work after our wedding and did my first TV sign-off as Kellie Connolly.
I remember my boss trying to talk me out of it. “Sloane is such a great name for a journo,” he argued. “And what will happen if you divorce?”
I ignored his cynicism and it was an easy transition. As a TV presenter there’s little confusion because people identify you by your face and voice as much as your name.
So, here I am, 10 years later doing a backflip. It came as a surprise to Adam even though I’d been muttering about it for years.
I buried my head in his chest to avoid looking him in the face. “Do you think people would think it strange if I changed my name back to Sloane?” He looked at me, perplexed. “Yes. Yes I do.”
He’s right. And I’m prepared for the confusion. I’ve never heard of anyone doing this before. Not when they’re happily married. Not when they work in a high-profile industry.
The last 10 years have seen important career milestones for me and I know branding is important, but I believe the next phase of my career will be even brighter. I have an opportunity to start over.
People will get used to it quickly. Adam would prefer I stayed a Connolly, but he is very supportive. As a history buff and an avid researcher of his own family history, he understands.
There’s so much more than a name binding us together as a family. Our children know we’re a unit. They barely blinked when I told them. It’s normal to them for mothers to have different names.
As my boys grow older it’s important to me that they know my background. I want them to know that independence is a quality to be nurtured. Women are individuals as well as the glue that binds a family.
Adam and I celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary in Fiji last month. At the resort I overheard a conversation between honeymooners. The young bride was talking about changing her name and discussing how she’d go about it. I wanted to interrupt her and say, “No! Don’t do it!”
But, of course, she was a reflection of me. I’d had that same conversation too.
My decision is deeply personal. I do not believe my choice is for everyone. I don’t judge those who happily keep their married names. There is also something beautiful about it. I just wish I hadn’t changed.
I know I am in a minority. Since the 1990s there has been an increasing trend in women taking their husband’s names.
As women gain in independence and equality, it’s not seen as concession to take a man’s name, more a liberated choice.
Facebook recently conducted a survey of 14 million married females in the United States: 65% of women in their 20’s and 30’s changed their names.
Up to 85% of women in older age groups changed their names. My favorite wedding photo was snapped accidentally by a friend. It shows us walking out of the church, hand in hand, but looking away from each other with big smiles on our faces. We are tied together but outward-looking.
A name doesn’t bind us anymore. But purpose does. Love. Family. Respect. And understanding.
Thank you, Adam.
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