Couple decide on married surname by tossing a coin

This couple threw the rule book out the window. [Photo: Getty]
This couple threw the rule book out the window. [Photo: Getty]

A married couple may have settled the great surname debate once and for all – after tossing a coin to decide who would take whose.

Traditionally, women have taken their husband’s surnames when married.

However, given western society’s move towards gender equality in recent decades, many couples are rejecting this practice.

These days, more and more couples are opting to double-barrel their surnames, keeping their respective surnames, blending their two surnames or take the bride’s (although the latter remains uncommon).

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Bride and groom Darcey Ward and Jeff Conley decided to throw the rule book out the window and decide their shared married surname based on a coin toss.

During their December marriage ceremony at Wakulla Springs, Florida, the couple tossed a two-side coin with their respective surnames (Ward and Conley) on either side.

They are now becoming Mr and Mrs Ward, after the coin flip landed in the latter’s favour.

“You could say I won,” Jeff told The Palm Beach Post. “I was the one who received something new.”

Meanwhile, Darcy, a midwife, said it was a “good first step” for the couple.

“Being with someone who was willing to start the marriage from a creative and teamwork and fair place felt like a really good first step toward an equal partnership,” she said.

Married woman taking their husband’s surnames

Historically, women have taken their husband’s surnames - a practice that led to the term “maiden name” and “married name”.

Up until the late 19th century, this was legally required by coveture laws, with meant a woman’s legal rights were subsumed by her husbands.

In the 21st century, this essentially patriarchal practice proves problematic for many couples.

The majority of women still intend to take their husband’s surnames after they marry (59%) and 61% of men want them to do so, according to a 2016 YouGov survey.

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Yet, this is a drastic decrease in just over two decades. It compares to 94% of women who took their husband’s surname in 1994, based on a Eurobarometer survey.

Couples are still divided on this issue with some choosing to stick with tradition, and others finding the idea of taking their husband’s surname unpalatable.

What a woman does, or doesn’t, do with her surname after marriage can have implications on how she’s perceived by society.

In a study conducted by researchers at the University of Nevada, based on UK and US based undergraduates, participants were asked to comment on a hypothetical situation where a heterosexual woman had kept her surname after married, and asked how they perceived a couple’s relationship based on this information.

According to the results, women who kept their surname were regarded as “having a higher status, wielding more power, being more self-focused, ambitious and assertive”, while the male spouses of these women were regarded as “disempowered” by those who held on to traditional gender roles.

Whatever you choose, it’s a decision that’s personal to every couple.

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