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by Abigail Van Buren

Toddler Fixes Youthful Sights on Rival for Mom's Affection

DEAR ABBY: This is my first letter to you, but after reading several letters recently regarding the etiquette of name placement for newly married ladies, I had to write.

I have a son who went the extra mile and had HIS last name changed to his wife's. How many men do you think would be willing to do that? You wouldn't believe the red tape and disbelieving looks he got when he went through the process of having his name legally changed. It was almost as if his masculinity was in question!

He and his wife are both proudly serving our country in the U.S. Army, stationed in Fort Bragg, N.C., and I'm very proud to be the mom of two of our finest soldiers. -- JODY HAHN, ADVANCE, MO.

DEAR JODY: Although a man changing his name to that of his wife's is unusual, it is not unheard of. I believe the practice originated in England, when men married into families that had no male heir to carry on the name.

Today the "name game" has many variations. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Your advice to "Shirley B. from Roswell, N.M." about how a woman should change her name when she marries was good information -- but presented only half the equation. There are many of us men who choose to hyphenate our last names with those of our wives. As a married couple, we share our money, our home, our bed, our hearts and souls -- why not our names?

For me, it was a matter of practicality. We both wanted to have the same last name and saw no reason why we shouldn't. Also, by using both names, our children could have the last name of both of us.

After my family's initial shock (which they quickly got over), the only problem I've encountered is that it's a bit awkward filling out forms with my "maiden name." -- DANIEL SAPON-BORSON, A HAPPY HYPHENATED HUSBAND IN PORTLAND DEAR DANIEL: If this idea takes hold, creators of forms will have to change the designation to "surname or maiden name" to accommodate secure gentlemen such as yourself. Now that women are coming into their own, it's encouraging to know that some men are willing to meet them halfway. Bless you all.