DEAR AMY: A dear friend of many years called our president the most horrible racist word imaginable. I immediately made it clear that this was disgusting and unacceptable. We are on opposite sides of the political divide. I try not to talk politics, but the election has been weighing heavily on me. I feel sorry for her that she has this hatred in her heart. But what about our relationship? I cannot “unhear” what she said.
Upset and Confused
DEAR UPSET: Each of us has certain nonnegotiables when it comes to attitudes or utterances that we find unacceptable.
I gather that this racist term is on your list of nonnegotiables (it leads my list, too).
Your compassionate attitude toward her, i.e., to feel sorry for her, speaks well of you, but this does not mean that you must also continue to associate with her.
In honor of your very long relationship, you could try to compassionately reframe her thinking, but she has revealed herself to you, and now it might be best if you reveal yourself fully to her as someone who pays close attention to what she thinks and feels, and as a consequence of that — she is now an ex-friend.
DEAR AMY: I’ve been married to my husband for a year and a half. I never saw myself getting married, but it happened. While I don’t regret our marriage, I do regret taking my husband’s last name. Personally, I love having my own identity. Taking someone’s last name because a piece of paper legally binds you together doesn’t make sense to me, yet I did it anyway! Carrying his surname instead of my own makes me feel like his property. His family and I don’t share the same values and I generally don’t love to spend time with them, so I also feel like I’m forced into being associated with them. I never use my married name. I introduce myself with my maiden name; it’s on my business cards, on my email, etc. My maiden name is who I am and what I want to be known as. Every day since legally changing my name, I have regretted it. We recently discussed my feelings on the topic. He says it’s a “slap in the face” for me to feel this way. He mentioned divorce if I go through with filing the paperwork to have it legally changed back to my maiden name. I’m confused as to why he has to go to such an extreme. I understand that he’s upset, but divorce seems so drastic. What are your thoughts?
My Own Name
DEAR MY OWN NAME: Your narrative contains so many passive realizations — that you “never saw yourself getting married, but it happened,” for instance — that what your husband is responding to now is you finding your voice, and using it.
In a healthy partnership, each party should have the freedom to be his or her own person, even if that causes the other partner some discomfort. Through the course of your marriage, you will each change in large and small ways. This new assertion you are expressing creates a burden for your husband, and rather than threaten divorce, he should work harder to see your situation from your point of view.
The burden for you is to see how your decision strikes him, as a repudiation of him and his family, for instance.
Ultimately, you get to declare to the world who you are. Ideally, you can still be yourself, with your own identity, and still be his wife. If your surname is the most important thing binding you together, then your marriage doesn’t have much of a foundation.
As you explore this process, you should also discuss what name any children would carry, should you passively find yourself pregnant.
DEAR AMY: Responding to the letter from “Lost Mother,” who was still grieving her miscarriage of a decade ago, I am a 33-year-old “rainbow baby,” although I believe that’s a fairly recent addition to the lexicon. I was born after my mother suffered a miscarriage. For years I struggled with why I was never enough for my mother. To this day, she breaks down in hysterics when she hears about the miscarriages of close friends. I feel in my bones she would much rather have had my brother than me. She emotionally neglected and nearly physically neglected me because she didn’t seek counseling or get treatment for her depression. My advice to Lost Mother is: You don’t have to “get over” your miscarriage, but you do have to accept it for your daughter Clara’s sake. Don’t miss out on your daughter’s life by mourning.
Over the Rainbow
DEAR RAINBOW: Your personal experience is extremely helpful. This mother should get help to recover from her grieving.