Grant Phillips and his wife Jade Phillips.
Grant Phillips and his wife Jade Phillips.

Why I took my wife’s last name

WHEN Grant met Jade at a Blockbuster Video in Brisbane in 2006, he never would have believed that just a few years later they'd be married and he'd be taking on her name.

Back then, he was Grant Davis, a 19-year-old video store employee who disliked his 17-year-old co-worker Jade Phillips so much, he frequently changed his roster to avoid her.

"We actually hated each other when we first met," Grant tells whimn.com.au. "I would intentionally roster myself off if I saw she was working a certain shift. Then eventually we got stuck working together one night and just became great mates."

That friendship quickly developed into something more and on November 11 this year, Grant, now 30, and Jade, now 28, tied the knot after a decade of dating.

It's a cute love story but what happened next is truly remarkable - instead of Jade taking on Grant's name, he took hers.

The couple on their wedding day
The couple on their wedding day

As of this week, he's officially known as Grant Phillips, and couldn't be prouder of his new moniker.

"We'd been talking about it for a few months but I really hadn't decided until it came time to renew my passport," he said. "I was sitting there, staring at the little box where I had to write my name and I just thought, 'I'm doing this - it feels right.'"

Jade was "stoked", not least because of the huge personal significance her surname holds for her.

"Jade's one of two girls so if she had taken on my name, her surname would have died with her," Grant said. "This didn't seem fair because her name means a lot to her and her dad whereas I am not close to my extended family so have no emotional attachment to my name.

"And then I did some research into the history of why women take their husband's names and there was nothing there that recommended it as a tradition that we should be continuing. It was always about ownership. I didn't want her to feel like she was owned by me.

"Everything just pointed to this being the right thing for us to do."

Despite this, it was still a massive decision for Grant and one he mulled over for many months. While one in five Australian women now opt to keep their own surname after marriage, almost none give that name to their husbands too.

"Taking your wife's name is somehow still a big deal in our society," he said. "For some reason people think it makes you less of a man. Even after all my discussion with Jade and all my research, I still found myself sitting there thinking about what my mates would think.

"But then I realised I don't actually care what my mates think. This is not about them, this is about us. And if I can do this for her, to make her happy, then why wouldn't I?"

Happily, Grant underestimated most of his friends and family. Since announcing his name change on Facebook this morning he has been inundated with messages of admiration and support.

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Grant Phillips.
Grant Phillips.

But there's always one.

"One of my colleagues was absolutely stunned," Grant says. "He thought it was emasculating for me to take on a woman's name. That somehow it made me less of a man. I think that opinion belongs in the past, not in 2017."

Sadly, recent research suggests these views aren't as rare as Grant's experience suggests. A study conducted by Rachael Robnett from the University of Nevada earlier this year found men whose wives change their names after marriage were perceived to be more feminine and less masculine than those whose wives took on their surname. They were also perceived to have less power in the relationship.

If a woman keeping her own name is viewed as emasculating by the majority of the population, then one can only imagine how people feel about a man taking on his wife's name instead.

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But Grant said you can't stand around waiting for the world to change - you have to go out there and change it yourself.

He's thrilled with his decision and hopes that by the time he and Jade have their own children, people will no longer be judged for something as silly as their surname.

"When we have kids, I will explain to them your name is actually your choice," Grant said. "You can take his name or her name or even make up a whole new name.

"It doesn't matter about gender, it's about what you like and what works for you and that's no one else's business but your own."

This article originally appeared on whimn.com.au and has been republished here with permission.


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