What's in a Last Name? The Choice to Keep the Maiden Name

An Albany reporter and his new wife claim they weren't allowed to deposit their wedding checks at their Bank of America branch after his wife maintained her maiden name.

Pete Iorizzo, a reporter for the Albany Times Union, said that his wife, Mary Jane, visited a Bank of America location in Niskayuna, N.Y., which denied her deposit requests because she didn't share her husband's surname on their joint account.

Iorizzo said the Bank of America branch wouldn't let his wife deposit their checks despite her wearing a wedding ring, phone calls to branch management and her offering to provide a marriage license. They eventually deposited their checks successfully at a separate location.

The pair's problem raises questions about the growing practice of women maintaining their original monikers after they're married, and what social and family complications might arise.

"Personally, I feel my wife should be free to decide her own name," Iorizzo told The Christian Post via e-mail. "I think she feels her last name is an important part of who she is. But I’d like to stress that other couples may view this differently. This is just what works for us."

Neither calls nor e-mails to the Bank of America in Niskayuna or its corporate headquarters were returned by press time.

The Rev. Mike Fox, a marriage coach, speaker and author behind MarriageForToday.com, said that larger numbers of couples like Iorizzo and Jane are keeping their original surnames or adding them to their new ones. Iorizzo wrote yesterday in a blog on the matter that "about 10 percent" of women keep their maiden names, roughly "300,000 women a year."

Fox said that it's an act where the negatives occasionally outweigh the positives. He said its pros include sustaining a sense of family with the newlywed's biological relatives and keeping one's identity independent. Alternatively, he pointed out, it could diminish the other spouse's self-importance, cause financial confusion and even mislead others to think one is still single.

At end of the day, however, Fox said such a choice is for couples to make on a case-by-case basis.

"It's imperative that couples that feel the need to keep their last names do so not because of a lack of dependency on their husbands or wives," Fox said. "If there is some doubt lingering in their hearts, they really need to deal with it on a direct or professional level."

Iorizzo said that both families support the couple’s decision for Jane to keep her maiden name. Though it's created some controversy, he said he wouldn't have it any other way if it meant Jane was comfortable.