What’s in a name? From Wakefield to Rosenzweig

Oct 8, 2023 | Family

If you’ve been here before, you probably remember me as Helen Wakefield. And you might be wondering why I’ve bothered to change my name.

Yes, I said, “bothered”.

Because I’m sure most of you would realise that when a woman changes her name it usually has something to do with marriage. And if you’ve changed your name before, you’ll know how tedious a process it can be.

And many of you would know that I got married a few years ago now, and didn’t change my name then – not on here, anyway. So why have I done it now?

Here’s the story.

When Thomas and I got married I was tossing up whether to officially change my name. You see, I’d already been married once, changed my name, and then changed it back to my maiden name. That’s two name changes and I wasn’t excited about doing it a third time.

But I’d asked Thomas about it and he said he would like me to change it. And so I did officially, but I kept my work-life (and online-life) as Wakefield. I figured everyone already knew me under that name, so why confuse them? Particularly with a last name like Rosenzweig which continues to confound people as to the spelling and pronunciation. (I promise you, if you understand the concept of the German language and that “ei” is pronounced as “Eye”, it’s really not that hard!)

And that’s the way things stayed for the next 5 or so years.

Last year was an interesting season for me. And of course, when I say interesting, I mean challenging. Breakthroughs that I’d been praying for weren’t happening. The business landscape was changing and I was struggling to navigate through it, and questioning God if I was on the right path.

Family-life wise, we were doing amazing! We were all growing spiritually and flourishing in our new church. So at times that made my personal struggles all the more confusing.

A by-product of my struggles led me to keep seeking God more and more. And in his faithfulness, he sent people to help me through this season and to transition into the next. And part of that transition had to do with my name.

It was like a switch flicked right in my mind at the beginning of this year. I suddenly had a different perspective on my name, and I realised two things about not using my married name:

  1. I was insulting my husband. He’d never said anything to me about it, in fact, he understood why I hadn’t changed it in business. But it was still somewhat of a disrespect to him when I dug more deeply into the issue. There were probably many layers of issues here, including valuing my father’s name over my husband’s. The bottom line was I wasn’t putting my husband first – and the bible calls us to love our spouse above ourselves.
  2. I was denying myself the spiritual protection of operating under his name.

The above might seem like archaic notions, and I could be risking a stoning in voicing them! And I know in many cultures it isn’t the norm for a wife to take her husband’s surname.

But in the Aussie culture, at least historically, it is commonplace for a woman to change her last name to her husband’s when they get married. And biblically I realised I wasn’t completely modelling the concept of one-ness between a husband and wife.

Once this idea was in my head, I went to my friend who’d been walking closely with me spiritually. I told her, “So, I’m thinking I need to use my married name online and in the business.” She just looked at me and said, “Yes I was going to ask about that. I think it’s a good idea.”

And so I changed it right then and there, starting with the most public place of all – Facebook. The only reason it’s taken me longer to do it on this platform is that it involved a new logo and a bit more work that I didn’t have time for yet. But it is done now!

I’m not here to tell you that you have to change your name. All I was doing was responding to a prompting from the Holy Spirit, and choosing to honour my husband in this way. Thomas is an amazing man, who married me and stepped into the instant-father role soberly but without question or complaint. Why wouldn’t I want to bless him with carrying his name everywhere I go?

I’ve felt a peace and a right-ness ever since I took the step, and now wonder why I was clinging onto my maiden name as though it were a sacred and indispensable part of my identity. When my identity is first and foremost in Christ, then no name is more precious than another.

I apologised to Thomas for not having taken his name fully from the beginning. A man of few words, he responded with a nod, but I know it meant a lot to him.

And that folks, is the long story as to why this site is now Helen Rosenzweig and not Helen Wakefield!



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