For years, I had pondered the "last name question." Namely, what would I do with my last name when it came to getting married? All of the possible options had considerable drawbacks in light of my criteria:
Egalitarianism: This rules out the "I'll take my husband's last name" option. (If my husband would agree to flipping a coin with the winner's last name becoming the last name for both partners, that would satisfy my egalitarian principle. But I think one partner taking the other's last name is suboptimal. Who wants to feel that one's identity is being subsumed by one's partner?)
One last name for the family: Why nix the "we each keep our last name" option, so common among professional couples? Kids. If my husband and I did not want children, then keeping our own last names would be fine. But I have always wanted kids, and I did not want to end up with the fate of so many professional women who have different last names than their children.
Not overly cumbersome: This nixed the "let's hyphenate" possibility. Beyond being onerous (unless both partners happen to have monosyllabic names), hyphenating seems to push the "last name question" onto the kids, who will one day have to figure out what to do with the three or four last names they and their spouses have collectively inherited.
So what to do? I could think of one last option: a joint last name change/merger. Warning: this option is not available for all women, as it requires an open-minded partner willing to make a name change. Most men are not willing, but then, I did not marry most men. I married the incredible Mike Rosenberg. (You're welcome, Mike!)
Mike and I considered how we might combine our last names. Rosenshul? Shulberg? Bergman? We were not happy with the sound of any of these, but wanted to pick a last name for our new family that would contain links to the family identities with which we had grown up.
Then, a week or so before our May 2009 wedding, I had a brainstorm. Shushan! Let me explain.
As I mentioned, Mike's last name was Rosenberg. Rose in Hebrew is "shoshana." Shushan, the former seat of the Persian empire (famous in context of the Jewish holiday of Purim) could be construed as having the same three-consonant root as shoshana (SH-SH-N). Indeed, I have seen Shushan referred to as the Rose City. And of course, Shushan is similar to Shulman. When my paternal great-grandfather came to the US from Lithuania, his last name was Shub. So I decided the "Shu" was the important part to convey my own family's heritage. Given my Middle Eastern predilections, I love that Shushan works both in Hebrew (שושן) and Arabic (شوشان), as well as Persian (written the same way as in Arabic).
So that is our answer to the "last name question." What is yours?