Ask Amy: Couple faces issue over married surname

May 12, 2013

DEAR AMY: I am engaged to a wonderful man whom I’ve been dating for more than three years. Very early in our relationship, I brought up the fact that I don’t want to change my last name when I get married. He was upset by it and told me he’d want his wife to change her last name, but at that time the conversation ended at that.

He proposed two months ago. Last week I told him that because I knew taking his last name was important to him, I’d be willing to hyphenate my last name, and his and any children would have his name alone. I thought he’d be overjoyed, since this was a big compromise for me.

He wasn’t overjoyed. He said that if I kept my maiden name in any form, it’d be like a demonstration that I’m not “fully committed” to the marriage and that I’m keeping one foot out the door.

I respect his point of view, but my wish to retain my maiden name (at least partially) is just as strong as his wish for me to take his name. I thought that hyphenating would be a perfect solution.

He’s asking me to reconsider. I love him, but I don’t feel that I should have to give in any more on this issue. How do I handle this? I don’t want one of us to enter the marriage feeling resentful about my decision. -- Mrs. Two Last Names

DEAR MRS.: So far, you and your guy are demonstrating that as a couple you face serious issues by you compromising and him being unhappy and asking you to reconsider.

This dynamic gives you something very real (and very important) to talk about during your premarital counseling, which you (and everyone) should have.

DEAR AMY: My wife and I have a great marriage (it is a second marriage for both), but I see a big problem looming. She has a married son who lives far away. We only see him once or twice a year. It was just revealed that he is moving close to us, which means that he will be around a lot.

He is very cheap. He lets his mother (or me) pay for everything, never paying his fair share for food or drink when we are together. Basically, he’s a 30-year-old mommy’s boy who sponges off of mommy (and, indirectly, me).

His moving is really making me uncomfortable. I am afraid that I am going to erupt sometime and say something that would hurt my wife. How can I tell him to reach into his own pocket? He makes more than my wife and me together, and his wife also has a good job. -- Anticipating

DEAR ANTICIPATING: Based on what you report, I’m going to assume that this son is not hitting up his mother (or you) for large purchases, loans or bailouts, but that he has let you pick up the check on those infrequent occasions when you have dined together. While this is ungenerous, you must acknowledge that it could be worse. Much, much worse.

You and your wife should negotiate in advance what you will (and will not) pay for when it comes to family handouts. You could even set aside an amount strictly for this purpose, to which you both contribute.

You should admit to your wife that your concerns aren’t only about her son’s cheapness, however. Tell her that the close relationship worries you because you wonder how his inclusion in your daily life will turn your loving partnership into a triangle. This is a very valid worry, and you are right to raise it now.

In the meantime, don’t panic, and even allow for the possibility that this relationship could actually turn out to be a positive one for you.

DEAR AMY: You recently answered a letter from “Frowned-upon in Florida” by using the antiquated term “wheelchair bound” to describe people who use wheelchairs. Rather than being “bound” or “confined” to it, the wheelchair has given these people the freedom to move about their communities.

A more appropriate term would be “wheelchair dependent.” -- Board-Certified Physiatrist

DEAR PHYSIATRIST: Other readers have suggested “wheelchair user.”

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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