names can cause confusion

especially when they change.

After a previous blog post of mine, in which I clearly stated that my marriage to Gunlaug Solås is the highlight of my life, I have received a few comments from friends and family raising confusion about “the name”.

They seem to remember that Gunlaug took my surname – Sørtun – when we got married, and now they wonder what has happened since she has changed her name.

They are right of course. Gunlaug has carried the name Sørtun since July 19, 1996, until early June 2013. And, if further explanation is needed, here it follows…

In May last year Gunlaug tentatively asked if it was alright with me that she took back her maiden name – Solås, as it meant a lot to her to get it back and be able to use it officially.
She then also wondered how best to put our two family names – Solås and Sørtun – together in her official name.

I had no objection to a change of name for the reasons she gave. However, I could not see why on earth she should have to carry one of those “constructed” family names just for the sake of keeping mine in there. Gunlaug Solås sounded just fine to me.

Thus, after necessary reminders1 from me at times when she was to pass near the right public office on her shopping trips to town, her name-change was formalized.
And with that done, every­thing was alright in the “name” depart­ment at our end.

We did not spread information about the name-change, or the reasons behind it, past those in our nearest day-to-day circle of family and friends. Maybe we should have spread “the news” a little further right away, because after a while confusion started to creep in around us. Far from everybody got it…

In my view it is a pity that Gunlaug did not take back her maiden name the day we got married. Having left it out once2 should do. The two of us must have been too pre­occu­pied with other matters back then…

Be that as it may, at least for a year now her rightful, official surname has been the one she was baptized with. It is her choice to make, and the name Gunlaug Solås still sounds just fine to me. Now it is up to others to get it right.

public records … no good

Not all public records are regularly updated, so we soon got used to receiving mail addressed to both Gunlaug Solås and Gunlaug Sørtun from public offices, and in a few cases both family names were included for good measure. No big deal we thought … they would probably get it right soon.
Clearly we were a little too optimistic on the matter, as it took at least eight months, and a couple of notes from us, for the local3 public offices to get the name right. And, we are not sure if all official records are put straight yet.

To complicate matters a little more: her private business (the farm) does for the time being go by the name Gunlaug Sørtun in official records, as changing business name is an entirely different issue.
Apart from that, the “name issue” is pretty unproblematic in contact with officials – we are just numbers for taxation to them anyway.

One of Gunlaug's regular farm business connec­tions also got seriously confused, and even after having been told several times that there had been a name-change, one or more people in their ranks kept on changing Gunlaug's surname back to mine, probably with good intentions since they knew we were not divorced.

After several months we finally managed to make the right people understand that this was all about a simple change of name, notchange of status, and then things fell back to normal.

On the internet both surnames are found for Gunlaug S. This will probably always be the case, as old info will exist along with any new, and new info is not always correct or corrected. No big deal, as in general information on the internet is not very accurate.
On-line phone registers vary in how updated they are for Gunlaug S. Depending on which register you look at, one or the other surname is found. Both names are pointing to the correct phone number, but you may not find the surname you are looking for so that doesn't help much.

Lately I have had people I know dismiss my phone calls – business and private, because our land-line phone number is registered on Gunlaug and it therefore is her surname that shows up at the other end.
Not everyone is familiar with Gunlaug's “new” surname in relation to me, and on busy days it is easy to dismiss phone calls from “unknown” people.

On rare occasions some also try to play with the fact that my wife and I now have different sur­names, in ways and for reasons that are not entirely nice and honest. That kind of “game” tends to stop rather quickly when we start to play along…

Now and then even Gunlaug and I stumble on her surname, and have to correct ourselves. We don't get more fun in life than we create ourselves though, and such unintended name-mixups on our part can be very efficient icebreakers when handled right.

for the record…

It is very much an official fact that Gunlaug Solås is married to Georg Sørtun, and that she has been so for about eighteen years now. Or, as my wife states whenever she feels like clarifying: “I am Mrs. Sørtun, and my name is Gunlaug Solås”. Cannot be said much clearer than that, me thinks.

The slight confusion we see in some people's faces the first time they hear that we, as a married couple, don't share surname, is only fun. The confusion lasts maybe for five second, and then they get it.

I am however dumbfounded that such a little thing as a name-change can cause any real confusion and practical problems, but, apparently it can for some. Must be traditions gone wrong, or something of that nature. After all; our different surname solution is not all that unusual here in Norway.

I love Gunlaug very much, and I also love the fact that she and I share everything but surname. Have seen too many cases where it evidently was the other way round…

sincerely  georg; sign

Hageland 05.jun.2014
last rev: 06.jul.2014 advice upgrade advice upgrade navigation