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.
DEAR ABBY: My wife of 15 years and I have been separated for 2 1/2 years. I'm still hoping to reconcile, and I haven't moved on. Although I'm somewhat happy being in our home with my children, and recently our very first puppy, I often get lonely. How do I know, for my own good, if this is one of the doors that's been permanently closed? -- HOLDING ON IN VIRGINIA
DEAR HOLDING ON: One clue would be what your wife has been doing since your separation. Because the children live with you, she has fewer childcare responsibilities. Is she dating? Deeply involved with her career? Does she ask you for advice, money, ANYthing? If the answer to this question is no, then it's a safe bet that she is not interested in reconciling, and it's time you move on with your life. Counseling might help you to do that if you are "stuck."
DEAR ABBY: If you get time to read this, I need some advice about my fiance. We have been engaged for two years, and I recently found out that when he dies, he is leaving everything to his friend if his mom is no longer living.
I gave up my place and moved an hour and a half from my job to live with him. Should I be upset over this? -- LEFT WITH NOTHING
DEAR LEFT WITH NOTHING: Your letter is a classic example of why it's important that people review their wills periodically. Your fiance's will may have been made before you entered the picture. It's important that you have a calm and rational discussion about it. If you are still concerned after that, then you probably should be.
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