Before I got married, I swore I would take my husband’s name. It wasn’t out of a romantic vision of merging our families, it was from my experience of coming from a family with 3 different last names and the mess that ensued with plane and hotel reservations. At the check in counter for any multi-family reservation, there was always 10 minutes of updating the first and last names of who was actually there versus the parents name who made it. It was super annoying and confusing. When I got married I enthusiastically went through the process of legally changing my name on my social security card, passport, banks and credit cards. It was quite exciting and did feel a sense of union with my husband.
When we arrived in France, I was ready to use my new name with pride. Except, Alexis is a male name in France and with Bridoux at the end everyone got confused thinking I was a French male. When setting up new accounts, we’d get the response: “But it’s Madame Alexis Bridoux not Monsieur?” Even in my French classes when the teacher would do first roll call, I was met with a raised eyebrow and the comment “Oh, Alexis is a man’s name in France.” I also got commentary during informational interviews. Before I moved I had a coffee with an Amazon HR rep from the Paris office. She said she was surprised to find I was a woman and had originally thought I was gay because in my email I said I was moving to Paris with my husband. She and another French business person even tried convincing me to change my first name to Alex or a new one all together. Their rationale was that I was starting a new life, why not take a new name too? In parallel with all of this male/female name issue I was feeling very overwhelmed with my new life in Paris and was having a bit of an identity crisis. So I dropped my husband’s last name and stuck with my original name: Alexis Ferris. But now that I’ve settled into my new life, I’ve reconsidered my decision. I do feel that I am a bit disconnected with my spouse and I like the idea of merging our names, though I will keep my maiden name as my middle. And really, with all my language issues, what does it matter that whoever getting my email or calling about our electric bill thinks I’m a Monsieur versus Madame. What’s the most important is that I have the best husband in the world.
Signed: Alexis Ferris Bridoux