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Breaking new ground: Men who take their wives’ last names

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Suzanne and Trevor Morrison are seen on their wedding day. Trevor took Suzanne’s last name when they married last year.

Originally published in The Toronto Star, June 11 2015.

Read the online version here


 

When Trevor Morrison took the unconventional step of taking his wife’s last name, he also broke the news to everyone in an unconventional way: by letting his wedding officiant introduce the newlyweds as “Mr. and Mrs. Morrison.”

Trevor, 28, a student at London’s Western University, admits with a laugh that it was a huge shock to his unsuspecting parents.

“Anyone who wants to do it … tell your family members, don’t just surprise them literally at the wedding ceremony,” says Trevor, who will be celebrating his first wedding anniversary with his wife, Suzanne, on Saturday.

While his folks have since become supportive, Morrison admits breaking from tradition has raised a lot of eyebrows, and questions.

They’re the same questions actress Zoe Saldana and husband Marco are fielding this week after revealing Marco took his wife’s last name when they tied the knot.

In truth, there’s no shortage of men — including celebrities such as Jay Z, Jay Mohr and even the late John Lennon — who changed their last names to include their wife’s and their own.

But a man dropping his surname altogether in favour of his wife’s is still unconventional enough to ruffle feathers.

Trevor says his decision was made out of respect for his wife, and the meaning she attributed to her own last name.

Suzanne had only recently decided to take her grandmother’s maiden name as a tribute to a woman who played an important role in her life.

Because Trevor didn’t have as much of a connection to his own surname, and because he wanted to share a name with his wife, he says it was an easy decision to become a Morrison

“People think either that the woman takes the man’s name or they have separate names,” he says. “A man changing his name is seen as not an option, but I wanted to set an example that this is totally a thing you can do.”

Chris Schryer also took his wife’s name when they got married in 2003, but admits it’s less romantic than it sounds.

The Toronto web developer, 32, had always gone by his stepfather’s last name — Smith, but it had never been legally changed.

If he and his wife, Erika, had wanted to become the Smith family, they would have both had to change their names. That made less sense than just taking her name, and filing the paperwork once.

“To us, the last name was such a small piece in us coming together,” he says.

“I was always pretty counter-cultural. I didn’t have a lot of those hang ups about male stereotypes … You obviously get some people who are just against it and question my sanity. They’ve been raised by a different standard.”

The Morrisons deal with similar reactions when people find out Trevor took Suzanne’s name — most people are supportive, some seem offended.

“When you get into things that have ties to culture and community, people get really protective about … those traditions,” says Suzanne.

“But (this tradition) doesn’t make sense in a modern context anymore, and within the framework of pushing for equal rights for women,” Trevor adds.

“It was my choice to change names … because we are equal, we are partners, and together we chose a family name. It means a lot to me to take my wife’s name, I’m happy to carry that and represent that through my life.”

All in the band

Ever heard of Jack Gillis? No? How about Jack White? The White Stripes frontman actually took his wife Meg’s last name when the couple married. They’ve since divorced, but he’s held on to the now-famous moniker.

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