This letter was posted on Reddit this week:
When we found out we were having a boy, my husband requested we name him after his father. I had no problem with this, though his father’s name is not one I like at all. But we both agreed to make his father’s name our son’s middle name. For clarity, let’s say the name we agreed on was Thomas Shaun.
Two weeks ago my father died very unexpectedly. I have had a wonderful, close relationship with my father and I have never felt anything like this pain and devastation in my life. It’s made worse by the fact that he’ll never even meet his grandson. So I asked my husband if we could reexamine the name situation.
Let’s say my father’s name was Gregory. I have proposed that we name our son Gregory Shaun (we still keep our original plan regarding the middle name but we honor my father with the first name). My husband refuses. He says he won’t have Gregory as any part of the name because he dislikes it. I told him that I felt that way about Shaun but I knew it was important to him so I put that aside.
A few days later I broached the subject again. And this time I think I got him to tell me the real issue; he thinks his dad would feel less special if the baby is named after my dad too, especially if my dad’s name is the first name. So I offered to name the baby Shaun Gregory. He still said no and reiterated that he wants his dad to feel special. I got a little frustrated and snapped at him that, if he needs his dad to feel special, he can just wait and name the next child after his father.
Since then we haven’t been able to have a constructive conversation about it and my husband continues to refer to our son as Thomas. And the worst part of all of this is that I’m hurting so much right now but I can’t turn to my husband for comfort because of this tension over the name. What should I do?
Most of the advice on Reddit, at least when I last checked, fell along the lines of: “Tell him how much it would mean to his father to share a name with your father, whom he admired so much.” FUCK THAT. How about, “Tell him how much it would mean to YOU, who have been carrying his baby for the last eight months, to name your son after your father who just died.” Honestly, that should be persuasive enough, and, if it’s not — if this asshole is still carrying on about how important it is to make his dad feel special by naming your baby after him and only him — tell him that, if you have another baby, you can discuss the topic then, but the death of a parent trumps all informal agreements on names and that would go for any unfortunate death of his parent(s) in the future, too.
And speaking of the death of a parent, tell your selfish, clueless husband that he needs to step up and give you some emotional support instead of laser-focusing on the name issue, which, as far as you are concerned, is as settled as sediment on the ocean floor.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.