FAMILY – Céline and Dimitri let “fate” decide for them. They got married this Saturday, June 25 in Vendée and Dimitri took the family name of Céline. An approach still rare today in France, where in the majority of cases, it is the woman who takes the name of her husband.
At 28 and 30, they met 7 years ago and have just spent three years in a motorhome, going through the agricultural seasons in market gardening. They recently moved into a house in Vendée to pursue “other projects”. Including a wedding that is approaching. And who says marriage says choice of family name.
Initially, Dimitri had never asked himself the question: for him, the wife automatically took the name of her husband. “There was a part of ignorance and this tradition is so entrenched that I hadn’t particularly tried to understand it”, admits Dimitri.
“We are in 2022, the woman no longer has this need to associate herself with the name of her husband in order to be able to enjoy society.”
– Dmitri, 30 years old
The beginning of their reflection came “a bit by chance”, by evoking the future marriage with Dimitri’s father. “We were talking about surnames and for fun, I told him that Dimitri would take my name and not the other way around, she says. And it made us laugh, because Dimitri’s dad is not very steeped in tradition.
It was after this joke that the couple began to research and wonder about this custom. “We realized that not so long ago, the woman until she was married had no rights and that to access certain rights, she had to have the name of her husband,” she says. Really topical considerations. “We are in 2022, the woman no longer has this need to associate herself with the name of her husband in order to be able to enjoy society”, adds Dimitri.
The possibility of each keeping their name did not suit them. “We still like this idea that in marriage there should be some kind of ‘sacrifice’, a dedication to that love and the fact that one of us substitutes his name for that of the other,” explains Dimitri. One or the other, no preference.
The double name option was also ruled out. “I found it imposing as a surname and then if we have children, I did not want that, if one day they marry, it becomes an impossible headache”, adds Céline.
Their last name in the draw
“We did a draw and it turns out – and it’s a good thing – that Céline’s name came out!” rejoices Dimitri. A way of letting “fate” decide, which also allowed the couple to less “rush the family”. “Even though I have an open-minded family, it was hard for some to hear,” he says. The weight of traditions is very heavy.”
Their relatives had several types of reactions. “My brother-in-law was over the moon, happy, he wanted to spread the news at the national level, Dimitri laughs. Many women around us were delighted.” But others have been more hostile. “I think it scared some people, he interprets. For them, the pill struggled to pass and it still hasn’t passed.”
One of the arguments put forward by those who oppose it, often older, is that of transmission. “In the perspective where we would have children, the fact that the name of Dimitri would not last to the next generation bothered them”, develops Céline.
A certain “anti-conformism”
However, the couple believes that their choice is “not political”. “We simply wanted to build our union on common values, such as parity, explains Céline. And we start our marriage in the best way by giving each other the same chance to take the name of the other.
When asked if this act, which they do not claim, is “feminist”, Céline admits: “For me, yes, but more in the idea that it is not the gender that should determine who takes the other’s name.” Dimitri, if he doesn’t really know what feminism means to him, still calls himself a “non-conformist”.
“But it’s a very personal choice and it was not at all intended to hurt anyone, he insists. We know that we are in a society where traditions have been deeply rooted for millennia, and it is not easy to change the world overnight.
However, Céline and Dimitri hope that future generations will not need to draw lots and will be able to “assume their choice freely”, whatever it may be. “If it can allow people to know that it is possible, we will be happy”, they conclude. Today, he is a musician, she is an illustrator. The couple had planned a wedding “very intimate and family, simple and rural, in the beautiful Vendée countryside”.
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This couple chose their last name by chance for their wedding, despite tradition
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