Ask Amy: Parents fret over daughter’s married surname
Dear Amy: Our 28-year-old daughter recently became engaged to a wonderful young man. We couldn’t be happier for them. They plan to marry in two years, after they complete their graduate degrees.
So, what could go wrong?
His parents are adamant that our daughter take her fiance’s last name when they are married. She already has research papers published with her current name, and she likes her name and doesn’t want to change it.
To his credit, her fiance has told his parents that she’s not changing it and that’s that.
Nevertheless, they continue to bring up the issue. They claim that people will think their son and our daughter are divorced if they have different names. More hurtfully, they say that this young couple won’t be a “real” family without the same last name, as if sharing the same name or same religion or ethnicity is more important than the love, understanding, and support for each other that should be the heart of a family.
Our daughter feels that she is disappointing his parents, and she has begun to feel uncomfortable around them. This is a sad way to begin what will be a long personal relationship.
My husband and I offer advice to our adult children only when it is asked for, and we don’t pout if the advice isn’t taken. We hope her fiance’s parents might see this letter and resist the urge to butt in where their advice is not wanted. — Non-Meddling Mom
Dear Mom: Around 1 in 5 American women choose to keep their surname upon marriage. Some couples choose to hyphenate, and some take their spouse’s name but continue to use their surname professionally. It’s hard to imagine that — in this day and age — a woman’s choice to keep her birth surname is still an issue that upsets people.
You aren’t meddling directly (good for you), but your attempt to communicate with your future son-in-law’s parents through this column speaks volumes. You are actually quite attached to this issue and worried about the outcome. You are meddling-by-proxy.
Your daughter’s fiance has stated unequivocally to his parents that your daughter will not be changing her name. Your daughter should also handle this directly, respectfully, and with good humor understanding that her in-laws may always feel a little bit wounded or judgmental about her choice. After she explains that keeping her surname is nonnegotiable, there really is no reason to discuss this further.
Handling this well, firmly, and with certitude will set the stage for other choices the couple will make.
Dear Amy: Since the (second) lockdown began, I have been completely dry on ideas for my writing and art, which I am pursuing in classes.
I need to submit work in my art class, but because I am uninspired, I feel like my grades will suffer.
Do you have any suggestions of what I can do to light the creative spark? — Quarantined Artist
Dear Quarantined Artist: First, a note of solidarity (and a note to my publisher: that book is NOT going to be finished on time).
For many people, the first flush of quarantine seemed to unleash a lot of creative energy (all of that quilting! Another round of sourdough!).
As the weeks turned into months, ennui set in. Quarantine necessarily limits a person’s real-world experiences, which provide inspiration. Global anxiety has a way of suppressing free-flowing creativity.
My advice is to approach your work as if it is a daily practice. Do not wait for inspiration or expect it to come. Go to the table (or the workbench, easel, or page) every day and simply practice. Miniaturize your vision and draw and paint what is in front of you. Do this on a schedule and — if your work is uninspired, ugly, or empty — do it anyway.
I highly recommend the “morning pages” exercise described in “The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity,” by Julia Cameron (2016, TarcherPerigee; 25th Anniversary edition). This is a “freewriting” exercise that I assume could also be applied to visual media. Every morning, approach the blank page (or canvas), and simply fill it.
Dear Amy: I was disappointed in your advice to “Feeling Different.” She said her live-in partner drank 15 beers a day and was belligerent to her and her son. You should have told her to get out! — Upset
Dear Upset: Feeling Different sought ways that she could change her partner. I urged her to stop enabling him, and to put her and her son’s safety first. I hope she does.