What’s in a Name?

I think I always had that secret rebellious side of me that said I did not agree with women having their last names changed once they get married.  I remember now.  I had always asked why girls leave their father’s last name when they marry the man they love and take their last name instead.

I mean, your father is the very first man you love in the first place.

Then there was I infront of the young woman applying for my first ever Dutch passport.

And so I asked: “Can I change my last name to my husband’s last name?”

She looked at me and said “I am sorry.  Your name will stay as your maiden name.  We will, however, indicate that you are the wife of Mr Dutchman.”

I heard the same thing from my mother-in-law.  She showed to me her identification card with still her maiden name but with an indication that she is married to Mr Dutchman Senior.

I just asked nonetheless.  After all, it was the social norm to do so.

Now both my Philippines Passport and my Netherlands Passport contain my father’s name, mother’s name and my husband’s name.

Nice.  â¤ï¸

The perks of being married to a European! 

Girl power!


3 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. Hi Ms. Rhods,

    I would like to ask something about the conflict of my last name now that I am married to a Dutch here in the Philippines last June 2015. First do Dutch have middle names?

    Our marriage is now registered on the NSO (National Statistic Office). And my last name is now changed to Schalm. However, I just don’t understand that my husband is telling me that my last name should be van Schalm not only Schalm.

    But when we are still applying for Marriage License he wrote down on the Middle Name: van and Last Name: Schalm. That is why on NSO my last name is Mrs. Schalm. But he is reiteritating that it should be Mrs. van Schalm as this is their family Name. Their Middle Nmae is part of their last Name. Which makes me confused!!!

    Hoping to hear from you, any comment or opinions about my concern. Although I don’t think that NSO made error or my husband is just applying their rules in conquering last names for a Dutch Nationality.

    Thank you.


    • Hi Louvina, thank you for visiting my blog. Really a privilege to have someone like you read it 🙂

      To answer your question: your husbands last name is van Schalm. I have a friend whose husband’s last name is van Kan. “Van” literally means “from” in Dutch.

      Unfortunately, the Dutch people do not understand the concept of middle names like we do. Or maybe we also just have a different understanding for middle names as part of our culture.

      When they say “middle name”, they do not refer to the last name of their mothers. A middle name for them is the name or the word that comes in between their first name and their last name.

      My husband, for one, does not have a middle name. He only has his father’s last name – Nelissen. His mother’s last name is not declared in any of his documents as part of his family name.

      His mother (and myself) also still has our maiden names in our passports and id’s. However, there is a part in our passports that say “Echtgenote van Nelissen” meaning “Wife of Nelissen”. Their kingdom sees your “maiden name” as YOUR real last name.

      I think, however, that when you come here and since you will now carry your husband’s last name is your passport, the Kingdom of the Netherlands will give you the right to use your husband’s last name as well. (I have a Thai friend who has his husband’s last name in her passport – well, their concept for names is also different).

      So my advise: Trust your husband. His last name is van Schalm and not only Schalm.

      You have to have it changed. 🙂

      I know a lot of Dutch people with the “middle name” Van is their last names: van Rooij (our family doctor) is one more example.

      Even Jean Claude van Damme (who Belgian-French and with Belgian-Dutch roots (I think, not sure)) also has “van” in his last name.

      Hope this helps! x

      Magandang gabi!

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