Monday, March 11, 2013


When Rick and I decided to enter into the Formal State of Being Married last year, we had a few conversations.

The first, admittedly, was "should we do this?" Now, to most people, if you love each other and want to spend the proverbial "forevs" together, it stands to reason that this question would be a no-brainer. Rick has always said "from day one, the first time we dated, ten years ago if you wanted to get married, I would have married you," and I always said "I will get married when I'm stupid AND on my deathbed." I've turned down every marriage proposal I've ever gotten (either at first or later on - I've never been legally married), and I always wanted to live in a perpetual state of relational freedom. Not because I'm promiscuous (I'm very not.) or because I'm too "feminist" to "buy into the patriarchal construct of buying a woman" (because whatever, marriage is what I make of it - no patriarchal construct could topple me, ever) - but because I can't even plan ahead solidly one week into the future, so the idea that an entire DIVORCE would have to stand between me and my ability to rapidly leave any situation of my choosing... was never very appealing. To say the least.

Now, there were some political apprehensions: 1. marriage is basically "hey we're in love, let's make sure the State is okay with this!" - We're anarchists. Both of us. Not just one of us, not anarchist-leaning leftists... we're anarchists. Soooo, the idea that we have to subject ourselves to filling out paperwork to inform a government we don't believe should exist that we love each other, and hope that we're not too interracial, homosexual, diseased, pre-married, unfaithful, etc (all the things that have historically meant two people couldn't get married) - so they'll say "okay, you're legit." Because we don't need a government stamp of approval to say we love each other. We both went back and forth on the idea that we should or should not get LEGALLY wed, and in the end we decided that marriage would just make the rest of our lives a bit easier (paperwork), cheaper (taxes), and more rightfully ours, together (end-of-life rights, etc - not that either of our in-laws would do something so terrible, but still).

Then, we were both talking about name changes. I am a Keorkunian, through and through. I love my roots, my family, and my name (big ups, Armenia!). I did not really WANT to give up my last name, and I think Rick understood this - even without me saying "look, pre-husband, I don't wanna change my last name, I like it. Even YOU don't like your last name, though I think it's pretty cute!" There was a point at which Rick was saying he would change HIS last name to MINE, so he'd be Richard Keorkunian - but then we both grimaced because that's my father's name. Uhm, awkward, plus he brought up how mixed up their mail could get. I don't know that the world could handle TWO Richard Keorkunians. Then, Rick volunteered to do the best thing ever: "we can both hyphenate our last names." So, on September 21, 2012 at 9am (9.21.12 at 9 - notice the palindrome, we're both kind of horribly nerdy like that) we became Kristi Keorkunian-Rivers and Richard Keorkunian-Rivers. So that was cool.

The resulting shockwaves were hilariously unexpected. My grandfather-in-law kept calling me Mrs. Rivers (now, that's my last-last name so I guess it's perfectly suitable), until he was abruptly informed by my new husband that we both hyphenated our married names. The ladies at the DMV were a bit miffed by our decision (they said in 25 years of working there, they'd seen this ONE other time) - so we doubled their workload, to their chagrin. All the paperwork we normally have to fill out (my Independent Contractor W-9s and his financial aid stuff for college) became rather intense, but it was an experience we could share together, instead of Just Me incurring this massive pain in the ass. We decided that we wanted to have a Family Family, rather than a Dad's-Head-of-Household/Mom-Just-Hangs-Out-And-Nods Family (true story, Rick once referred to me as The Alpha Spouse, if that gives you any indication as to my role in this-here-marriage). Most of my relatives figured that I would do this, so that wasn't very funny. However, my mother was shocked beyond belief that I decided to get married, at all. We've both awkwardly used the term "maiden" name with Rick's last name, even though it's SO NOT A MAIDEN NAME. If anything, it's a bachelor name, but I don't even know if that term exists. In twenty years, it'll be trendy as hell to do this - we're just ahead of the curve. Forms EVERYWHERE are too small to hold the beautiful weight of our combined married name. A quarter of the time we just say "look, just put ______" (where blank is Rivers or Keorkunian, only). We usually laugh about it.

Dahlia's still deciding on whether or not she wants another last name, which is fine by us. For now, she loves being a Keorkunian.

At any rate, I was pleased with my decision, even if Bloggers and Bureaucrats and Bitches say it's silly, rude, or annoying. People always complain about hyphenated names because the women are deciding to keep their own name tacked on rather than being swallowed by their husbands' names. It's "Too Feminist" and "uppity" and "yuppie scum" or whatever. Our marriage name situation is even WORSE by those standards, so I prefer to call it "kiss my ass if you don't like it."

But, hey, I'm the alpha spouse. It's expected of me. ;)


  1. I can relate to your post so much. Thank you for writing this.
    I was googling to find how women took radical decisions to deal with traditional concepts like marriage and motherhood and I found your blog. I am from India { which is a highly traditional society with strong gender bias}, I am married and I too have challenged the traditional "role playing" and other issues.
    As for me and my husband, we have not changed our last names { I have kept mine, and he, his and I am always asked the age old question" why didn't you take his surname ? " .
    I am not a mom yet, and I hope to learn something from you about how to raise a radical family. I want to be a mom but at the same time, not sure how would I deal with that you said "I always wanted to live in a perpetual state of relational freedom" and "I can't even plan ahead solidly one week into the future"- I am like that too !

    1. Thank YOU for writing about your appreciation! Many times I feel like I am the only person in a hundred mile radius that agrees with me, because people are so prone to following tradition and precedents! :) It must be very difficult to live (or have grown up) in a society that is even more gender biased than America's South (which is basically 50 or more years behind most metropolitan areas of America in terms of gender equality, but definitely not as rough as India, I'm sure!).

      I was very afraid of becoming a mother as well, but I have found that a lot of people actually admire how I raise my daughter (while there is a small percentage who think I'm very wrong about things, because they're very traditional) - for example, in America, it isn't all that common to be a vegetarian (and because many people don't know that majorities of entire COUNTRIES raise children vegetarian from birth, the popular wisdom here is "meat is healthy and 'depriving' children of meat is terrible, they're going to be deficient and you're being mean to the children for this") - but despite this, many people I know are considering raising their children vegetarian because they see how amazingly healthy and energetic my daughter has been since she was born.

      Have a great day, and "stick to your guns" as we say where I am from! :)

  2. WooHoo for the non-traditional! I wish I had a DIL like you. Oh wait, I do; it's you! Love, Mama Virginia

    FACT - Even Rick's mom is no longer a Rivers. That is so last Tuesday. Wanna add Trudeau to the mix?

    1. Hahaha! I'd love to add Trudeau but then our last name would go from 16 letters to 23 and we already only get half of "Rivers" into an application before we run out of boxes! :D

      And I'm only an awesome DIL because I have the greatest MIL!

      Love, Kristiiiiii :)