My new bride and I have had an interesting story. But that’s probably not the reason you’re reading this right now. You’re probably reading this because you’re more interested in the fact that I have taken my wife’s last name. And since that’s what the title of this article says, I’ll satisfy that interest with this explanation.
Obviously, it’s traditional for the wife to take the last name of the husband. And firstly, I would like to say that this article in no way proposes (pun intended) that the way that my wife and I chose is the “better” way or that people who chose the traditional way are wrong for doing so. That would literally be every married person I know.
But let’s dive in. Now my name is Blake Rivera-Baggott. So, why did I take my wife’s last name? And why did she take mine?
I Mean… Why Not?
Firstly, I want to say that this whole thing was my idea. I came to Brenda (my wife) with this thought of doing this (no guys… I wasn’t begrudgingly forced to do this by a headstrong wife… tsk tsk). And the idea that first sparked it was, well, what good reason is there for the wife taking the husband’s last name?
I couldn’t find any good reasons other than it was tradition. There’s nothing in the Bible about it. It’s not even a thing that people, specifically Christians, today across the world agree about. It has more to do with culture than religion (which I’ll touch on more later).
So then, once I had figured that there were no strong arguments for the traditional way, I decided to look at the pros of combining our names together.
The biggest positive I could find behind the wife taking the name of the husband was that the idea of the two becoming one (a la Genesis 2) was beautifully embodied in sharing a last name. So, it made sense why one would change their last name after an event like this. After all, God has a track record of changing names (ask Abram/Abraham, Jacob/Israel, and Simon/Peter, to name a few).
I liked that idea. However, I know many modern couples simply keep their names. Still, Brenda and I didn’t necessarily want her to remain a Rivera while I was a Baggott.
We still wondered though, why have it as just the wife changing her name? Obviously, we believe in coming to our relationship as equal partners. There’s no sort of patriarchal, male-centered framework guiding the way we view our relationship. So, what if our names reflected the way we view our relationship? What if we brought both of our names together?
So that’s what we did. Now, she’s a Baggott. But, I’m also a Rivera. The two have become one—and not in a way that erases the other. It’s in a way that includes each of ourselves into each other. Which brings me to my next point.
Maintaining Her Heritage
My wife is Mexican. She was born in Houston to Mexican parents and lived in Mexico for years, where we still visit her family. She speaks Spanish. She uses Mexican slang. And, most relevant, she has a Spanish name.
Brenda Guadalupe Rivera. That’s the girl I fell in love with. And I couldn’t see myself stripping away part of her identity. She is a Rivera—it’s just who she is. Our children will be Mexican; they will have Rivera blood.
Yes, she could have kept it as her middle name. But refer to point 1 as well. And what about our kids? They will be half Mexican. And we thought that their name should reflect that too. Especially since there’s a longstanding tradition in the Spanish speaking world of the children taking both the mother’s and father’s last name.
So now, she’s still a Rivera. She didn’t change that part of herself. But now, I’m also a Rivera as well. I’m honored to be invited into her culture and her heritage, as well her being invited into mine. Our kids share both of us equally, and we will all share a last name that reflects that.
We’re still figuring out life and how to navigate through it as a married couple. Our journey has just started. But we both feel confident that this was a great idea that honored each other’s family, each other’s heritage, and, most importantly, that honored God.
As for our kids, they’ll be Rivera-Baggotts, and when the time comes for them to get married, we look forward to them thinking through some of the same things that we’ve thought through and making their own decisions about their last name. It’s theirs to work with.
And as for why we decided to put Rivera first? Well I mean… it sounds better than Baggott-Rivera, right?