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Name Change

Published on July 29, 2013 by finallysean

So my girlfriend has made it clear that she is against changing her last name. I'm not sexist or traditional or anything like that, however, this one severely bothers me. I understand her point and why she doesn't want to do this, but I'm not sure I could ever come off of the way I feel about it. Neither one of us likes the thought of a hyphenated name, for the sake of future children and the confusion it might cause them. She says she would never expect me to change my last name, so why is it that I feel as though I could not live with any other alternative? I feel like a family should be under one roof and one name. Specifically my name. I feel very wrong and guilty about this whole situation but as much as I love and respect her, I don't think I could get married until this issue is resolved. Selfishly in my favor. Its such an internal conflict that I can't stop thinking about it. I know it's not right of me to be so firm in the matter, but I feel as though the only way this can work is if she decides to make the compromise, as I know that I never could. I don't know what to do. I feel like jerk because I will not have it any other way. My mind won't change on the matter. It can't.


Dear finallysean:

My heart goes out to you both. Your situation seems very complicated, especially since the two of your are so stuck on your individual positions. Remember that before this situation arose you wanted to marry each other - despite your individual assumptions - you, that she would change her name and she, that she would keep her maiden name.

Life in general and marriage especially are all about compromise. Compromise and communication are probably the two most important factors in any marriage, which you will soon find out, I hope. Those two words will be something that comes up often in married life so if you can get past this and enter marriage blissfully, then you're off to a good start.

Here's an idea that I didn't see you mention in your letter - how would you both feel about a hyphenated name - example: Jane Smith-Jones. It is not uncommon (and even in the absence of the hyphen eg. Jane Smith Jones) and people have done it for centuries, especially in families where both had prominent names and the identity of that person was highly attached to their lineage. That's one compromise you should consider - and it might please both of you.

Also, I have to wonder if your fear is that she's not fully committing to the relationship if she keeps her own name. If that is a fear you have, then you should discuss it with her openly. It's hard for me to tell from your letter if this is the case. If it is in fact the case, then here is where communication comes in - talk it over between the two of you.

In any event, there has to be a reason why both of you are so adamant. If you are just basing your opinions on personal preference, then that should be respected and your opinion (no arguing) should be presented in a peaceful manner. Allow her to state her reasoning as well. I think you'll find that if you're honest and open with each other you'll get to the bottom of this and eventually find room to come to a mutually agreeable position.

No one wants to argue with a brick wall. The odds of coming out of that unscathed are not good. But if you take the time to discuss it lovingly, with respect for each other's views, then you can come to a decision that pleases you both.

And if you've already decided to marry, you shouldn't let one single word (or in this case name) come between you. It's only a deal breaker because you deemed it so, but is it really? Would either of you really be happier alone with your principles or together in bliss?

Please write me back and let me know if this helped and also let me know how it turned out - I only like open endings in books and movies. In real life we're all looking for real answers with real advice - and I'd really like to know the outcome.

Thanks, LJ

ps: LJ Innes is a YourTango Expert If you'd like to reply to me personally through my profile here's the link: