DEAR CAROLYN: I’ve got a problem with my fiancé and partner of 41/2 years.
The good: He’s brilliant, creatively resourceful, outgoing, easy to talk to, wonderful at supporting me with my health issues, and aligns with me on so many of the big-picture goals that really matter. Kids, money, sex, family, etc. The bad: He’s stubborn, opinionated yet strongly influenced by the opinions of others, and sometimes unable to empathize. I’m no doctor, but we both believe he may have a touch of narcissism.
The problem we’re having is about my name. I’m just not sure I’m comfortable assuming his name, I don’t like hyphenation, and I don’t want to lose my middle name (which holds a ton of family history) by putting my maiden name there. I’m also a feminist and don’t think I like the tradition I’d be supporting by doing this.
My understanding after several unsuccessful talks is that it matters to him because it matters to his family and society as a whole. I want to value what matters to him, but admittedly I struggle to not see that as a really stupid motivator. He is unwilling to change HIS name in any way, and refuses to even discuss alternate ways we could satisfy his needs here.
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Last week we had our biggest fight yet about this. His demeanor was the embodiment of every unattractive quality within him, and none of the good. He had a real chance of talking me into it if he’d come to me thoughtfully and lovingly and stated his case.
His whole handling of this argument is making me think maybe this is a mistake. I mean, this is marriage we’re heading for. We’re planning a wedding. I’m feeling bullied and totally misunderstood and disrespected. I don’t know if we should cancel this whole thing or what. What are your thoughts?
What’s in a Name?
DEAR NAME: A “touch of narcissism” = only somewhat impressed with oneself?
You’ve got your hand on the doorknob, poised to exit a relationship with someone who behaves badly enough for the word “narcissist” to be in play. Can I in good conscience suggest anything, even a thought exercise or schedule adjustment, that might keep you inside?
You don’t need a medical degree or diagnosis here. If you’ve been fair in your depiction of what you’ve witnessed over the past five-ish years – that, for whatever reason, your fiancé is either unwilling or unable to put anyone’s interests above his own – then you know exactly what you’re signing up for with this marriage.
So is this what you want, yes or no? How people in such a marriage would answer this question, I know without knowing – but you need to come to it on your own.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com.