Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: My fiance and I are getting ready to be married soon. We’ve already decided on choosing a new last name together and using our previous surnames as a middle name. The names we’re pondering are from our family lines, so it’s something with history. I’m wondering when (and how) to tell certain members of our family about the change? Since I’m the girl in the relationship my family was already expecting me to change my name (which is so sexist, but I won’t even get into that now), but my fiance’s grandparents might be a little upset, knowing he’s taking a new name. Thoughts?

New Name in New Jersey

Dear New Name: Steel yourself for the possibility that your name change will be greeted with reactions ranging from bewilderment to contempt. “It’s OK — we chose something from history” is just not going to cut it with Grammy. Your family members might also wonder what the heck you’re thinking, because if you are choosing a surname from a family line, then why not keep the family surname you already have, and ask your fiance to adopt it?

Don’t discuss this with anyone until you and your guy choose your new name and thoroughly research the reality of assuming a new identity. States seem to differ on what is required to change your name; legally it is quite easy, but changing all official documents and financial accounts can be a time-consuming hassle.

Marrying is a mark of mature adulthood. Choosing to change the surname by which you will be known for the rest of your life is a momentous decision. It is absolutely within your rights to make this choice, and you should greet every query with a very simple explanation. Prepare yourselves to answer questions, some of which might seem intrusive and rude. Family members should eventually adjust to your choice.

If they refuse to adjust, it’s their problem, not yours.

DEAR AMY: My best friend and I work across the street from each other in a city that has food stands in the skyways that connect the buildings. We are able to meet for lunch only occasionally because of hectic schedules. Each time we meet my friend complains that she has to bring back food for her co-worker. This means we have to cut our lunch short to go stand in line at a second food stand to pick up food for the co-worker. Yesterday, the co-worker wanted food from a food stand a block farther from where we were getting our food. We decided to pick up the co-worker’s food first. When we got there, the line was 20 people deep and I said, “I don’t want to wait in line on my lunch hour.” My friend looked hurt. I persuaded her to get food for her co-worker from the food stand we wanted to eat at. Was I wrong to finally put my foot down?

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Hungry

DEAR HUNGRY: Please give my name (and lunch order) to your friend. She seems like a truly soft touch, and ... she delivers.

Your friend seemed hurt when you challenged her because her sense of self seems to rest on pleasing her co-worker (I notice that she doesn’t seem quite so interested in pleasing you). Your choice to push back, even a little bit, is forcing her to face this reality.

If she chooses to pick up food for her co-worker every time she is with you, you should suggest that she do so at the end of your lunches. She will have to budget her own time (and presumably leave your lunch early) in order to accommodate her friend. You should bring along a book, so that you can spend some of your valuable lunch time mentally regrouping for the afternoon.

DEAR AMY: Your response to “Uneasy” was ridiculous. The poor girl was worried about a visit from her Nazi sympathizer cousin, and you wanted to force her to tolerate the intolerable. You need to rethink and apologize for this recommendation.

Disgusted

DEAR DISGUSTED: Scores of readers on both sides of the political spectrum hated my response to “Uneasy,” where I urged the writer to consider tolerating the objectionable cousin, who was coming to visit.

Several points: I believe the person who wrote the question was a young man, not a woman. I further assumed that the writer was young, and perhaps unsure about the cousin’s actual political views (Unsure didn’t report any conversation or direct knowledge).

I wondered if these two cousins might both be laboring under misconceptions about the other. They would only find out if they met.