Why You Shouldn’t Get Husband or Wife Name Tattoos

  • Written By Dan Hunter on November 10, 2020
    Last Updated: January 1, 2021

Getting a tattoo of your partner’s name might seem like a romantic gesture or display of lifelong commitment, although these symbols do not always hold up over time. Husband or wife name tattoos have associations with bad luck, divorce and painful tattoo removals across cultures and tattoo experts. 

As tempting as it may be to ink your spouse’s name, there are other ways to memorialize your devotion to one another. Read on to learn more about husband and wife name tattoos, why they’re not a good idea and what you could do instead.

Bad Luck in Love

Superstition lurks around individual tattoos and tattoo locations, from the stigma surrounding face tattoos to concerns over ancient symbols. Spouse name tattoos fall into this category for their notorious association with failed relationships.

A tattoo of your significant other’s name tops the list of seven unlucky tattoos listed in a 2019 article from Bustle. A tattoo artist quoted in the article, refuses to tattoo spouse names no matter the length of the relationship because these relationships inevitably fall apart.

The Bustle article also links to a 2006 post Body Modification Ezine that references the “curse of the name tattoo,” which resonated with dozens of readers and commenters. While there are exceptions to the rule, the writer estimates that breakups happen to around 80% of the people who get husband or wife name tattoos.

The estimate is not too far off from reality. Divorce rates in the United States currently stand between 40-50%. Although there aren’t ironclad statistics regarding spousal name tattoos, anecdotes and popular culture examples point to this outcome for couples who get each other’s names tattooed.

Do Tattoos Lead to Divorce? It’s Possible

It’s worth noting that divorce stems from numerous causes beyond body art and a tattoo of your spouse’s name doesn’t automatically sign and seal the papers. On the other hand, couples who get each other’s names tattooed may choose this kind of tattoo as a way to compensate for the ways that the relationship is lacking, or as a way to keep up appearances.

Getting a husband or wife name tattoo will not magically heal the relationship or strengthen your bond with your spouse. The permanence of the tattoo despite a failed relationship could potentially act as an unwelcome reminder that isn’t easy to escape. Rather than setting yourselves up for failure, it’s recommended to avoid this kind of gesture and opt for something less direct.

Removals and Coverups

Tattoo removal is painful and expensive and tattoos of ex-lovers are painful beyond just the physical sensation. Breakups can feel freeing and even euphoric at first, yet more permanent reminders of the relationship don’t go away as quickly as erasing a phone number or deleting old photos.

Tattoo removals through laser procedures encompass a variety of tattoo types and circumstances. Sometimes a tattoo fades awkwardly and it’s easier to remove. Other times, you simply grow to no longer like the design. Those reasons aside, tattoos that are done on a whim often end in regret. 

Name Tattoos are Popular… Until They Aren’t

In a 2018 article from The Conversation, a laser clinic stated that the names of ex-lovers were the most requested removals at the clinic over the span of five years. However, this information does not take into account several factors that lead to this choice.

A husband or wife name tattoo, like any other, is a choice made under a specific set of circumstances. A couple in a long-term relationship that goes to get name tattoos together likely stands a greater chance of staying together than a person who gets a drunken name tattoo after only a few weeks of dating. Either way, it’s probably not worth risking your relationship’s future at any stage, when avoiding the situation is the more accessible and smarter option.

Of course, you can choose to retain your ex-spouse’s name on your body to save yourself from the trouble of tattoo removal. Depending on the size and placement of the husband or wife name tattoo, keeping the original tattoo may not cause too much distress and save you some time and money in the long run. 

However, there’s always a chance the tattoo will come up in conversation when meeting new people, particularly with a new partner wondering why you still have your ex’s name on your body. Removing the tattoo from view might provide peace of mind in this situation.

Coverups serve as another alternative to tattoo removal and provide a new means for expression. Selecting a new design—and refraining from getting another name tattooed in its place—kills two birds with one stone. Even though coverups are a great choice to hide the old tattoo, not getting a name tattoo in the first place eliminates the need for a coverup entirely.

Alternatives to Name Tattoos

Let’s say that by now, you’ve decided not to get your husband or wife’s name tattooed—a good choice! Nevertheless, your desire to commemorate the relationship hasn’t entirely disappeared. Luckily, there are plenty of other ways to celebrate your love, including different types of tattoos less obvious than a name.

One alternative to name tattoos is getting matching tattoos. The tattoos could symbolize a special date, place or experience unique to your relationship that can also stand on their own if the relationship doesn’t last. 

If matching tattoos are too cheesy for you and your partner, choosing art in a similar style or picking the same placement on your bodies are other ways to display your affection for each other. For example, you and your partner could both get tattoos on your left forearm or get two different pieces by the same artist who specializes in a distinct style.

Final Thoughts

Husband or wife name tattoos appear harmless and sweet at the onset, but these tattoos often precede breakups, divorce and general relationship troubles. Even the most stable relationships risk obstacles and hardships when tattooing each other’s names. 

Instead of getting each other’s names tattooed, consider tattoos of meaningful moments or symbols in your relationship that stand the test of time, even without the relationship behind them.

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