I seriously considered making up a entirely new name. I thought I'd keep the Susan part but maybe Susan Caldwell or Susan Marshall or Susan Grant. I wanted something without any ties to me or my husband or family that was easy to spell and easy to pronounce. I got the impression that my husband to be did not care but I do remember his telling me that no one ever didn't 'get' his name or its spelling.
In the end, I just got lazy. The default, at the time, was to assume your husband's name. Anything else took explanations and constant corrections and caused trouble at the bank, the doctor's office, all over the place. I had one friend who tried it and gave up and urged me not to even try. So I didn't.
Hilariously, it turned out that Susan Dennis - as a name - came with its own set of issues. For some reason that I have never been able to noodle out, a good 60% of people get it wrong right out of the gate. Here's a conversation I've had thousands of times - lately the references aren't hitting home just because they are so old but the names don't change.
Me: Hi, my name is Susan Dennis.
New Person: Sandy! So nice to meet you.
Me: Actually, it's Susan. Susan Dennis.
New Person: Oh, wonder where I got Sandy? Oh wait wasn't she that Wheat Thins girl?
Me: Actually, that was Sandy Duncan. Sandy Dennis was an actress - Up the Downstairs?
New Person: Oh right. Wow. Well, Sandy, it's still really good to meet you!
When I was working at the performance theater and on TV doing promotional interviews a lot, the chyron guy would always get it right - so on the screen under my face it would say Susan Dennis - Spirit Square. But the interviewer would always get it wrong "So, tell me Sandy, what's the best show at Spirit Square this season?" It was never not awkward.
Plus it took me forever to get used to it. I was signing checks (olden days) with my maiden name for a year. By the time I actually did get used to it, I was divorced. And by then WAY too lazy to change it to anything else. Fuck it.
The custom at the time was for divorced women to use their maiden name as a middle name. So tradition said I should now call myself Susan Schubert Dennis. NFW.
What I did do was drop my middle name. So then I became Susan Dennis or Susan NMI Dennis. At the time, in North Carolina, all that was required to change your name legally was to use the new name for a year and produce postal proof (letters, preferably an bill - like electric bill) of you new name and it was a done deal. I suspect that they may have changed that a might in the past 30 years.
To Be Continued