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by Abigail Van Buren

Second Wife-to-Be Wants Man's Name All to Herself

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I both got divorced about the same time, but his took much longer to become final. It is finally over, so we have begun talking seriously about marriage and starting a family.

During one of our conversations, he mentioned that his ex-wife doesn't intend to change back to her maiden name. I was shocked because she took advantage of him financially and was emotionally abusive all during their marriage. They had no kids, so it has nothing to do with her wanting to share the same name with them. They were married only a few years, so she isn't well established under that name, either.

When I asked him why she wasn't changing it, he told me she said his family was always nicer to her than her own. I suggested he ask her to adopt another last name of her choosing if she doesn't want to go back to her maiden name rather than be falsely associated with a family she is no longer a part of (or welcome in). He won't consider taking on my last name, so I'm thinking about keeping my own maiden name after our marriage until she changes hers. Am I overreacting, or are two "Mrs." too many? -- SOON TO MARRY IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR SOON TO MARRY: You are overreacting. When a man has divorced, his ex can retain his last name if she wishes. Some do it because they think it may be to their advantage socially to be associated with the family. I have heard of others doing it because they didn't like their maiden name.

Please keep in mind that after your wedding you will -- if you wish -- become "Mrs. John Smith." The ex can use the last name, but will have to use her own first name with it (Ms. Jane Smith) without reference to your husband.

Of course, if you wish to keep your maiden name, you are free to do it -- many women do. But if you make that decision, please do it for any other reason than because of the one you put in your letter to me.

Read more in: Marriage & Divorce