A ladyfriend of mine and I were recently exchanging romantic glances through the light aromatic steam lifting from our morning cups of coffee when mine slipped from my hands and fell to the floor, breaking into a million tiny telltale pieces. The scalding coffee seeping through my pant leg and melting the skin on my shin was but an afterthought as I pondered the untimely death of yet another promising relationship.

In this “fight,” no tears were shed. No epithets were yelled at. And no dishes were thrown. But a single offhand comment was made, and that was more than enough. It was when “I won’t take my husband’s name when I marry” wandered out of her mouth that our relationship lost its footing. And it’s a damn slippery slope to climb back up.

Of course, I’m young, and I am far from ready to declare myself as looking for a long-term relationship, let alone one that involves a ceremony. I will hopefully enjoy many romantic liaisons over the coming years and share unforgettable nights and never-ending mornings in bed, but principle differences are the strongest interpersonal contraceptive.

Call me old-fashioned. Call me traditional. Call me chauvinistic. Call me whatever you will, but don’t emasculate me. Leave my manliness intact.

I do understand that for centuries women have struggled in a patriarchal society and that the last name is one of the final fronts. But please understand our plight. This isn’t about establishing a hierarchy in the relationship or taking possession of you. As deeply rooted as it is in our societal traditions, it is even more so in the man’s bible. It is a privilege for a man to take a woman’s hand in marriage and an even greater honor to offer our family name as a token of our undying devotion. Arguably more so than a ring.

If you’re going to nag us about wearing our band during pick-up games and not leaving it by the bathroom sink after we wash our hands, then please remember to take our surname with you on your girls’ night out.

Ladies, I beg of you, allow us this. For if you are asking for our devotion in sickness and in health, pride will allow it to prevail. If we feel like a man, we’ll act like one. And stripping of us the honor of bestowing on you our surname is one surefire way of knocking off a chunk from that pride.

As my surname is “Woodsmall,” I have been on the receiving end of countless jabs, from friendly nudges as well as malicious punches. And, to be honest, I would rather my son, if I am to have one, not have to endure the mindless ridicule that I at times have struggled with throughout my young life. But I’m proud of my father and his father and so forth, as well as my heritage, and I hope to share that with my family, especially my wife.

But I would like to think that I am a reasonable man and appreciate that family pride isn’t limited to the husband. I would hope that my future wife would be as close with her family as I am with mine, and if she would like to keep your maiden name, then I would gladly oblige. Hyphenation is a compromise I’m more than willing to share vows, as well as morning cups of coffee, over.

Might I have overreacted with my latest girlfriend? Possibly. Will I ever stumble across a woman for whom I would be willing to look past this faux pas? Probably. But as for now, I will be drinking coffee out of my own cup in my own apartment, enjoying the latest issue of Reason.

By Michael Woodsmall

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