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DEAR ABBY: I am dating a lovely 29-year-old woman who has a 3-year-old son. We are both very much in love, but the boy is extremely unruly when I am around. My girlfriend is getting tired of having to discipline him all the time. He misbehaves in stores and restaurants and embarrasses us both.

Frankly, it is starting to have an impact on our relationship. She says that he only acts up when I am around. Is there anything I should do so that this doesn't destroy our relationship? -- JASON IN GLENDALE

DEAR JASON: Your girlfriend's son may be only 3, but he's not stupid. He recognizes a rival for his mother's affection, and is doing everything he can at his tender age to drive you away.

I recommend a visit to your local library or the nearest bookstore. Much has been written about "blended families." Also, a short series of sessions with a therapist who specializes in child psychology would give you insight into reassuring the little boy and would be money well spent.

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.

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