A few months after leaving sam, I reclaimed my name professionally. I was on the verge of filing for divorce (which I never did) and I was starting to write again (which I'd done very little of in the second half of our marriage), and I didn't want his name in print above my work.
A few quick keystrokes and I was back to the woman I'd been forever, the woman I swore I'd always be. Sure, it was just a symbolic change. But there's a big lot of truth in symbolism.
When I got married, I didn't give much thought to giving-up "Goodman." I figured I'd always write under it, so no big deal if I became Blacksmith for everything else. Huh! What total crap. Or as my good friend says, TFBS — you can figure what it stands for.
I had the foresight to recognize and to tell Sam my writing comes from all the people who came before me. Even if they didn't publish or do this for a living, I come from generations and generations of writers and the name on my work should honor the family it comes from. "Blacksmith" had nothing to do with it.
Funny thing, though: The further I got into marriage, further I got from myself, the less it mattered. "Goodman" became "Goodman-Blacksmith" in print and eventually, when I discovered it wouldn't fit over a single newspaper column, I dropped Goodman. By then, I was so far away from my original self, I didn't care what I was called.
I know a lot of women who regret taking their partner's name, and a few who have recently taken back their own. They've incorporated it with a hyphen or reverted to it for professional purposes while keeping their partners name for personal matters.
Those of us who changed our names in marriage, I don't think we had any idea what's in a name. The subtle way that trading our names for another disconnects women from themselves.
I like the continuity of sharing a surname with my kids, identifying us as a clan that way. But I'm not us, I am me.
Maybe it is just a symbol, but reclaiming my name was the single most empowering thing I've ever done.