Becoming "We": Why I Changed My Name


I have a very distinct memory of hearing a speaker, prior to my marriage, offering advice to married couples and suggesting that they introduce themselves as “we.” As in: “Hi, we are the Yoests. Nice to meet you.”

Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, Eugene asks married women why they changed their names, if they did.

I changed my name so that together the two of us could become “we.” Now, we two have become seven, and the idea of “we” is even more important. Nay, essential.


Charles and Ruth Shaw

My Grandparents

Actually, I can’t express it any better than does one of my favorite poems, written by my Grandmother . . .about being “we.”


I was I and he was he

A ceremony made us ‘we.’

When in the sight of God and men

We pledged our troth and kissed our kin

And set our sails … breathlessly

On the matrimony sea.

My handsome prince

… he held my hand.

My every wish

… was his command

Until one day

… I said, ‘I think we

Should see my friends

… more frequently.’

He said, so loud … it shook the house

That he was man … and not a mouse

And furthermore … he said we should

See his friends more … he said we would.

He said, we would … most certainly

I said, we won’t … we both said ‘we’.

Strange, when we do … or don’t agree

One thing is clear … we both say ‘we’

Now that’s the secret … for love to grow

Through Summer’s sun … and Winter’s snow

Through diaper rash … and teething ills

From P. T. A. … to college bills.

Through three-point circuit … and inner-city

And Pastor Parish Relations Committee

Through Conference moving time … again

When you’re not one … of the bishop’s men.

Through covered dishes … well, thick and thin

Love like this … will never end

For when we do … or don’t agree

We still find joy … in being ‘we’.

Sarah Ruth Baird Shaw and Charles Shaw were married nearly 50 years before his death in 1986, and had seven children together. Baby Boo was her 15th great-grandchild. (My truly amazing grandmother has a website, and more poetry here.)


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