Thursday, March 10, 2011
Maiden Names in Colombia
When I got engaged to Colombian Daddy, one of our early discussions was about me changing my last name. Like most women -- almost 90% of married women in the USA -- I assumed that I would change my name. I clearly remember him saying, "Why do women change their names?" We talked about that being the tradition in most English speaking countries and that most men just assume that their wife will change her name. We talked about how people assume that if a woman keeps her name that she is trying to make some kind of feminist statement. His response, "And they think we are Machistas!" :)
But seriously, in Colombia marriage has no impact on either person's surnames. This means that people keep their same surnames their entire life. If you were Lucía Reyes García before you were married, you will continue to be Lucía Reyes García after you are married.
In the past, it was customary for a wife to use her husband's first surname (in social situations) in the following way:
María Rodríguez Gómez married Juan Ayala Buitrago. Therefore, she would be called María Rodríguez de Ayala. The DE in the De Ayala means OF (as in possession).
Because of the negative possessive connotations of this, fewer and fewer women use this today. Usually, you will only hear it among the oldest women in Colombia.