Monday, August 3, 2009

Culture, Heritage and Feminism...

My name. Coming from a tiny village my family on both my parents' sides are extremely close. I have dozens of cousins, second cousins, third cousins and they are all considered "family". I know my family tree on both sides, what European country they immigrated over from (Norway and France) and even the origins of my last name and my mother's maiden name. (Acadian flag painted on a house in NB. image taken from here)

Having an Acadian mother and attending an Acadian French school has resulted in countless hours of heritage and cultural history being instilled into my brain. I grew up knowing my Acadian culture and heritage, how my ancestor's arrived, built their houses (my Grand-mere's house is over 200 years old), fished, traded with aboriginals, what traditional songs they sang and how they rose above deportation and attempted cultural extermination. Seriously, I assumed all children go through this "culture is essential" and knew just as much about their families and heritage that I did... lol. I have seen "Evangeline et Gabriel" at least 5 times at Universite Sainte-Anne over five separate summers.

Needless to say, my family (on both sides) and my heritage is extremely important. One of the wonderful things about Andrew (besides his awesome Warrior II's and tendency to unplug to the microwave) is his feminist leanings. If he were to partake in labels, as I so flippantly do, he'd fit as a "feminist", which suits me just fine. He assumed that I would keep my last name when we get married, as taking his would just feel weird for us, I don't belong to him and after twenty seven years of having my name it would be strange to suddenly change it.

Then I started thinking about children (gasp... so NOT ready now). FUTURE children, way way into the future lol. I want them to also share a part of my family, my heritage. Especially after I have to go through the pain and torture just to get them here. While chatting I mentioned to Andrew how I was sad that our last names weren't more hyphenatable so we could both change our last names. He replied with: "Why don't we? I think that is a brilliant idea!" So after I teared up a bit, and his eyes leaked maybe just a little we went about sharing the awesome news.

Starting with my family over the phone. They are pumped that we are merging both our families together, stating a bit more publically how both families have equal value in our partnership. If my traditionally family was fine with this bit of news, then we must be in the clear!

Until we told Andrew's family over a fancy dinner, in person. Which resulted in a awkward, rude disaster with a quick trip to the bathroom for my leaky eyes (this time not in joy) and his parents telling him (they had stopped talking directly to me) that it was a terrible idea. Follow this wonderful episode up with a healthy dose of nasty email+fighting phone calls and you have one terrible week. I guess his parents actually expected me to take his last name and are hugely offended that he'd "insult" them by hyphenating with mine. Lets just say that Andrew's parents, although usually lovely wonderful people, are the most traditional people I have ever known. Like the woman does the cooking (with an apron and a smile!) and the man brings home the bacon types.

This same week... our wedding venue fell through completely.

Thank goodness we had a wonderful weekend at my parental units' cottage. Swimming, yoga on the dock, walking with the horseflies.... and drinking copious amounts of Keiths. Yum.

Hopefully 14 months is enough time to accept a name add-on. Hopefully.


  1. what a conundrum! at least you and your guy agree on what to do about your names. i could never hyphenate my last name but that's just me

  2. Oh dear...I'm so very sorry.... times... two have the final say..they'll just have to get used to it. And they will......

    ....unless they're the Capulet and Montague types...;)

  3. I come from a very traditional family and won't be taking my husband's name when (if?) I marry. Names are very personal, and the decision to keep/drop/hyphenate it should only be up to you and your sweetie. It's a shame that his family doesn't seem to respect that. Sounds like they're just going to have to get over it. (And I hope they will soon!)

  4. Oh my...there's always someone just waiting to put a damper on things.Hold your ground and do what you want...they'll come around...or they will just move on to the next big issue which is sure to come especially when you bring kids into the picture.

  5. Thanks for sharing this story! I feel for you, and wish you the best. I'd like to hear how it goes as you continue to resolve the name issue.

  6. With everything said, all the bad things and insults shared it all boils down to what you and Andrew want and decide. The Rents will get used to it... with time.

  7. I'm sorry to hear his parents reacted so negatively. :(

    It is 100% up to YOU TWO to decide. I think you know this, but just wanted to re-affirm.

    It's sad that they were so rude about something that's clearly not their choice to make.

    Oh, and the venue too... :(

    I'm glad you had a good weekend, though! I hope you find a new venue you love.

  8. I've been surprised by how upset even families who are generally very liberal and non-traditional can get about the last name issue...but, they generally come's hoping that happens soon in your case....

    Gotta admit, most of what I know about Acadian history comes from a song by the Band called "Acadian Driftwood" (seriously, until I heard that song for the first time, I'd never made the connection between "Acadia" and "Cajun"...ah well, live and learn...

  9. Yes, they'll come around. At least you are leaving both names intact - I've had friends in this situation choose a new name for both of them. Keep breathing - good advise both in yoga and in merging family systems!

  10. There are always going to be blips... Best to get them done now I guess (and hope). Sending you some hugs...

  11. Thank you so much everyone for your beautiful kind words of support! I do think we needed to hear from others that this merging of names really isn't a crazy, catastrophic thing to do.

    It's funny, if Andrew wasn't also hyphenating there would be no way I'd do that just myself.

    ps Dr. Jay: Acadian Driftwood eh? lol, most Canadians have no clue what "Acadians" are or our history. And you are the first "non-related" American I have met who has heard of us :)

  12. Yikes, that's tough. Glad you were able to have a good weekend though! My man's parents are very conservative, so I understand a bit what it's like. They've finally ceased asking us if we are going to get married.

    there's nothing wrong with hypenating your name. I love hyphens:)

    On the cultural side: I'm guessing you've been to Grand Pre then, I always loved it there.

  13. happy married life!!

    I don't like idea of taking or hyphenating my partner's name.I will feel strange if I do that.I also understand if the other person feels the same

  14. Andrew sure sounds like an awesome guy, and together you make a terrific team! His parents may come around some in time, but if not it sounds like you have made your decision as a team, regardless :) And hearing about it sooner rather than later lets them fuss and fume now instead of close to the wedding day.

    I'm glad you were able to have some enjoyable time at the cottage and I'm sending you good vibes for a new wedding venue!

  15. I am really excited about your decision - that is exactly what I hope to do someday (assuming I end up with a guy as open-minded and awesome as your Andrew!). There may have to be some adjustments, as my name is long enough as it is...but it is important to me. I totally understood exactly what you were talking about - history, culture, our family...all that is so important to me, and I don't want to lose that - or my name! :)

    I'm so sorry to hear about the future-in-laws' reaction, though! I'm not entirely surprised, I'm sorry to say. I have seen stuff like this happen a LOT - on the male side. I am still a little shocked by how important it is for men (and their families) to want to pass on THEIR family name to the next generation. Every time my male friends have had a baby (their wives, that is!), even the second or third one, they always say, "Another Smith to carry on the family name."

    I understand being proud, but what about carrying on MAMA'S name? Isn't that important, too?

    So yeah, I can see how his family would be disappointed, and maybe even feel disrespected, like you two are trying to "dilute" their name, ha ha, count, too, as Andrew obviously believes.

    I'm sure they will grudgingly come around, so hang in there! You two are the only ones that count here, as far as how you want to conduct your marriage.

    On another note, your venue fell through? As in, no more vineyard?! :( What happened?

  16. Grace: yup! although my family isn't from Clare specifically :)

    actually, Grand Pre Vineyards was where we were going to get married, had signed a contract and everything... and then they go ahead and send all brides/grooms a new contract with previously not shared numbers.... numbers that made us go WTF??? it was the perfect ending to a poopy day.

    We've politely declined to sign the new contract and thankfully won't be charged the deposit fee. Already venues for October 2010 are booked! sigh. so hopefully we'll find something soon (our photographer was kind enough to say she would follow us wherever our "little eco wedding" takes us- thank goodness since we've already paid her deposit!).
    maybe on the ocean? :)

  17. I already have a hyphenated name from my mum and my dad, and I really like the idea of hyphenating when I get married, but I feel like a triple hyphenated name might be a little, er, ridiculous.

    I'm glad it works for you and Andrew though!

    And hey! My roots are Acadian too! Voyons donc!

  18. Hi.

    Do what you want to do. Ignore everyone else. It's your life, not theirs.

    I kept my maiden name. But our kids both have my maiden name as a middle name. So their names both follow the format [given name][my family name][my husband's family name as surname]. No hyphenation.

    I'm glad I kept my maiden name. But you have to do what is right for you.

    Marriage is about the coming together of two families, not the ownership of one over the other.

    Trust your heart. You'll know what to do. And good luck! :-)

  19. What? You don't wear your Apron all the time? What about when you go to bed, what if you wake up and want to bake a pie? LOL

    I think the last name idea is Brilliant! I too label myself as a feminist. How else did I get here? It bothers me when women aren't feminist... Like, really come on...

    I can understand the traditionalist views, but times are changing! ;) Get with the flow!

    Love your and Andrews idea. Remember its your family ;)

  20. Oh oh oh. Sorry about the hall venue falling through... I am sure the universe has something VERY special and unique in place for you. Sure a little added stress now, but trust that all will work out.


  21. I have heard of people jokingly saying that they are going to combine their names but I have never actually known anyone to do it, legally. I am anxious to see how this story ends ;-) (I am rooting for the combined name and for it to start a trend) It will probably take more than 14 months for your new in-laws to come around though. Good Luck!

  22. I'm so sorry about how awfully his parents reacted! This is close to home for me because my fiance and I will be doing exactly the same as you - because we want to share a name, but not with either of us having to give up our identity to do it! I really like the feel of combining them ^_^
    ...we haven't told his folks, and yeah, I'm thinking they're gonna be not-so-thrilled. I think we'll probably hold off on that until way closer to the date so that they don't feel it's possible/necessary to change our minds.

    Also really sorry to hear about your venue! I had found a place I really really wanted to use as well - not a "wedding venue" because that wasn't really what I was after, so it was a case of asking if they'd consider it. It seemed a good possibility, but in the end they got back to me and said no! I was pretty sad. But just recently, I found an amazing place, which is free! So hopefully there's somewhere even better for you just waiting for you to find it ^_^

  23. so are you accusing his mother of being anti feminist?

  24. I asked Lisa if I could cover this one, as it's my mother and all.

    Is she anti-feminist? Well, I guess that depends on what you mean by that term. She is certainly not politically active against the idea of feminism - it doesn't really enter her sphere of concern. She might call it "silly"..

    The thing is, both my parents self-describe as "very traditional". One of my brothers was a trained chef at one point in his life, and as a result he's a pretty decent cook. Mom has been known to lament that it's too bad his wife doesn't cook so he wouldn't have to. His wife is a terrible cook. Forget feminism at all for a minute, if I am an awesome cook and my wife is terrible it stands to benefit everyone involved if I cook. Mom doesn't really see it this way. She also feels bad for my brother when he has to look after his own kid on his days off, when I'm pretty sure thats part of having a kid. She would much rather see his wife do that job.

    To keep this (relativelty) short, Mom is traditional to a point where feminist values are pretty opposite to her own (same with Dad), so one could say that they oppose feminist values but don't have an opinion on the political idea of feminism.

    Does that make sense?

  25. I'm probably not usefully adding to the discussion here, but I just want to say how much you guys rock!


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