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Name Change Can Be Powerful

The engagement photo of Laurel and her husband, Matt Morales.
Photo courtesy of the Morales family
The engagement photo of Laurel and her husband, Matt Morales.

I never realized how powerful a name can be, until I chose to change it.

I have been Laurel Druley for most of my life. I chose to change my name to Laurel Morales when I married my husband six years ago. It was a difficult decision to make.

Many female journalists choose to stick with one byline. So I received a few raised eyebrows.

I love my husband but I didn’t do it for him or his dad.

I cover a lot of Latino issues and adore the Mexican culture, but I'm not doing it to claim a heritage that isn't rightfully mine.

I'm an Irish-German Hoosier. People from Indiana think salsa only comes in one flavor - mild.

The origins of this name-change tradition don't agree with me. A rancher branding his cow comes to mind. But I'm still exchanging one man's name for another man's name. Wouldn't it only be fair if my husband and I swapped names or came up with a new one like Morley or Drules?

Today we could do that. Just a few decades ago many women didn't feel they had a choice.

As with most big decisions, I did some research.

I talked to several women about their choices to change or not to change their names. One woman felt taking her husband's name felt like losing a part of herself. Another felt just the opposite, like she could create a new character with a new name. Another says it was easier for her kids to have one name and no confusion. One woman felt changing her name symbolized a fresh start with her new husband. One friend says she never really liked her maiden name, while another can't stand his last name and wouldn't think of changing her own.

I have a friend who has changed her name three times. She didn't get along with her dad so she changed it from his name to her mother's maiden name. Then she got married so she changed it to her husband's name. When they got a divorce so she changed it back to her dad's name.

Each time she changed her name it was like a rebirth. She'd give herself liberty to tweak her identity -- get a degree in social work, practice Buddhism, go on a raw food diet.

Personally I have no plans to try a new religion, lifestyle or career. So why go through the trouble?

While it may be convenient for our kids to have one last name, it's not convenient for the new wife to change it.

Waiting in line at the motor vehicle department for a half hour only to discover I need my marriage license and another form from the Social Security office before I apply for a new driver's license. And the bank wouldn't deposit a check made out to Laurel Morales until I have a new ID and my marriage license. So I wonder, is it worth it?

But when it comes down to it, it's simple. I just like the way Laurel Morales sounds.

What questions do you have about the Statewide General Election coming up on Nov. 8? Submit your questions here, and we'll try to answer them in our reporting.