Dear Blake,

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?

Signed, Millie
From Lincoln, Nebraska

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Dear Millie,

Obviously there is no law that mandates you take your spouse’s last name. And because this is a private matter, I would suggest that you respond to people in a way that will make them drop the subject forever, and/or never speak to you again. Here are some ideas. When people ask why your last names are different, tell them that you’re not married because your husband can’t stand your son or daughter. Or, you can tell them that you’re keeping your last name, because your husband has a very violent temper, and he has hospitalized several people for asking stupid personal questions. And this response might raise a few eyebrows. Tell them you are keeping your last name because your parents thinks he’s a loser, but they are fine with you two just shacking up and having children. But if it’s really that important that the two of you have the same last name, then I suggest you try a different approach. You should tell your husband that you feel that he’s an insecure wimp, you demand that he takes your last name, and you’re not flexible on this issue. But before you make your case, call the police, because I deplore domestic violence. I hope this helps.