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by Abigail Van Buren

Newlywed Is Questioned About Keeping Her Name

DEAR ABBY: I'm in my mid-30s and have just been married for the first time. I chose not to take my husband's last name for several reasons. I have a child from a previous relationship who shares my name; I have a unique name that I love; and I am established in a career in which name recognition is important. I am also an older bride. Unfortunately, I didn't discuss it with my husband before the wedding, although I did explain my reasoning later.

We participate in a lot of activities as a couple where our names are written out, and people often ask me why I have a different last name. My husband is really bothered by it and hates when people bring it up. I want to make him happy and make these situations less uncomfortable, but I refuse to change it. Am I being unreasonable? How do I approach these awkward situations? Should I take his name in social situations but just not legally? -- LOVING MY NAME IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR LOVING: Many women these days have more than one identity and more than one name. If you are asked in a social situation why you didn't adopt your husband's name, an appropriate response would be that you are established in your career and felt changing it would be disruptive. However, I see nothing wrong with allowing yourself to be identified as "Janie Smith" ("Howard Smith's" wife) on invitations, place cards, etc. if you're OK with that. While most men these days would not be bothered by the fact that you have different names, it may make your husband feel better, and you might even come to like it.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics | Marriage & Divorce