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Entries in marriage (2)


What’s in a Name?

My daughter is marrying a delightful man this fall, and the topic of the last name keeps coming up.  This post is intended to get your feedback because I just don’t know.  And whatever my daughter and her fiancé decide is fine with me – I am not trying to influence them.

When my marriage certificate was chiseled out of stone, it was customary for the woman to take the man’s last name.  My wife to be was previously married, and ironically her married and maiden name were the same.  My preference was for her to take my name, and she was happy to change her last name.  The custom continued.

Since then, I’ve seen just about every permutation imaginable:

  • Woman takes the man’s name – got it.  Still seems customary.
  • Woman keeps her last name, as does the man – while invitations for Mr & Mrs are messy, this approach preserves identities.
  • Woman takes the man’s name personally, and stays unchanged professionally – another compromise to bridge the marriage change and personal identity
  • Man takes the woman’s name - This was important to her, and he used his original last name as a middle name.
  • “The Hyphen” – this always strikes me as a short term compromise.  Imagine generations from now being introduced as Sue Williams-Holmes-Kurtz-Horn-Manning.  The third.

Divorce makes all this messier, especially with children.  I’ve seen mothers go back to their maiden name for everything except school events where they continue using their married name.

I know someone who got married two years ago, and never changed her Driver’s License name (she did update Facebook, so it had to be official.)  As a birthday present to her husband, she changed her name on the driver’s license.

At this point, I’m beginning to wonder if this “custom” is something we should preserve or retire.  Customs tend to be nice, and they are “customary” to keep.  That said, is it politically incorrect to expect a woman to change her name?

Presumably you have views on this, and I’m interested in your views.  Please share in the comments.


My Baby gets Engaged

The prospective son-in-law Scott felt obligated to check in with Dad to give the blessing on his upcoming proposal.  He reached out via text.  “How about I pick you up and take you out to dinner.”

Over time, I’ve always felt that was a good thing.  Ironically, on the prior night I found myself having dinner with a client, Dave, whose daughter was on her path to marriage.  We spoke at length about the tradition of asking for the daughter’s hand…and Dave’s view about the relevance.  “I made it clear I did not want to be asked.  It is her decision, not mine.  He needs to focus on his proposal to her, not me.”

Dave was right.  I may have helped raise Erin, but I don’t own her. 

Unfortunately I hadn’t had the opportunity to profess my new appreciation of this approach before Scott reached out.  Heck, when my son got married I told him he needed to go see the parents. 

Since Scott has a great sense of humor (one of the many things I appreciate about him) I responded with, “Sure.  Unless I get a better offer from a hot babe.  :-)”

Scott went right to business.  “Hahaha well that should be expected.  I will pick you up at 6.”

He then went on to say, “….Erin and Leland don’t know about this so don’t mention it please.”

So as the week wore on, I decided there were three options.

a)    Scott is dumping Erin.  He knows I am close to Erin and he wants me to know so I can support her.

b)    Erin is pregnant.  What else could Scott have a vested interest in?

c)    Scott is going to propose.  (Most likely option.)

I like Scott.  He is a good man.  He and Erin have been dating for two and a half years, and I’ve seen them work through each other’s highs and lows.  They seem to “get” each other.

So why was I melancholy?  After all, Leland and April are expecting, and it is natural for Erin to get married. 

After a fair amount of soul searching…it is because my Baby will now have another go-to person before coming to me.  Mom has always dealt with emotional things.  Dad’s always been the fixer.  It’s just the way it worked out.

This isn’t Scott or Erin’s problem.  It is mine. 

So at 5:00 on Saturday he sent me a text…   “Heading out shortly.  Will be there for 6.”

I replied, “How should I dress?”  It’s always important guys dress the same.  Women have to dress differently.  (Another thing that seems odd, but I digress.)

“I’ve either seen you wear button shirts and pant or a bathing suit.  So I guess button shirt.”  His sense of humor was intact.

Of course I couldn’t resist, “I’ll have a bathing suit on under pants just in case.”

Arrive at 6 he did.  He has old fashioned GPS, and went to great lengths to hide the address from me.  And sure enough the GPS routed him in a roundabout way to my favorite local steakhouse, 111 Chop House.

We walked in at 6:25 and he informed them he had a 7:00 reservation.  (Reservation?  He’s planned this.)

We sat at the bar and each had an adult beverage.  We chatted about the restaurant, the owners, and the stylish general manager.  We spoke at length about the shrimp cocktail (I do believe 111 Chop House has the best Shrimp Cocktail on the planet.  (Are we seriously just talking about the restaurant?)

Once seated, we started to consider food.  Scott was trying to make an impression, ordering a dozen shrimp.  Now I’m a big guy, and love the shrimp.  But this is getting out of control.  Scott was quickly negotiated back to a half dozen.  After all, we are going to have dinner right?

As the restaurant got our order ready, Scott had to use the restroom.

I sent a friend who knew about my dinner a text:

Holy shit 111 Chop

Oh boy how is it going?

So far fine.  Just sat at table.  He is off to restroom.  All small talk.  I bought bar drinks.  He was mad as he wanted to buy all.  LOL.

Does he seem nervous?

A little.

Oh boy when will the bomb drop….

Scott returned from the restroom.  I immediately went for the agenda.  “What made you think about dinner, Scott?”

He squirmed.  Just a little.  He smiled.  “Well you know I’ve been dating Erin for two and half years, and she means the world to me.  So I’ve bought a ring, and I would like to ask your blessing to propose to her.”

I immediately took a picture.  He asked what I was doing, and I said recording this moment for the blog.  He laughed.

“Scott, you need to hear me out.  I think you are a great guy.  I like your company.  You and Erin seem great for each other.   And she is her own person.  It is not up to me.  It is up to her.”

Scott works in IT, and at that moment should have been in sales.  He immediately sensed my objection, and responded, “Well I understand that she has to respond.  And it is important I have your blessing to ask her.”

At that moment, I didn’t see the need to keep him on the griddle.  He “gets” it.  “Scott, you don’t need my blessing, and I am happy to give it to you.”

He beamed.  The salad arrived.

Now if Scott were in Sales, he would have stopped talking once he made the sale.  Instead, he kept talking.

About how much he cares for Erin, how he can’t stand the thought of not waking up with her, how he likes the family, how his family likes her….he just gushed.

We then talked logistics.  How the ring is being delivered to his parents (for signature) and his plans to ask her over Labor Day weekend. 

He then talked about the Father – Daughter dance.  Erin and I have always known what it was going to be.  Butterfly Kisses by Bob Carlisle.  (In fact, I played this song on repeat during writing this post.  Sobbing the whole time.)  The debate has always been who will cry more, Erin or me.  This is one I’m going to win without even trying.

So here I am.  In the know, and not able to tell anyone for a couple weeks.  I’m jotting my notes and sobbing, and looking forward to my little girl’s next big step.


PS… While this was written before Scott proposed, he did propose tonight and Erin accepted.

PS2…from About.com

Question: What is a Butterfly Kiss and how do I do it?

Answer: A Butterfly Kiss is a kiss that does not involve the lips. It is when two people put their eyes close to each other and flutter their eyelashes. Think blinking really fast while pressing your face to another person.