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Mike: Something something something, trying to be funny (I don’t really remember what he was saying)

Shannon: *feigned smile*

Mike: Blah blah blah (again, don’t remember)

Shannon: *eye roll*

Mike: Exactly how often are you annoyed by me rather than entertained?

Shannon: Oh. You’ve noticed that huh?

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I have to put this in writing so neither of us ever forgets (not that I would!), and so we have “witnesses.”

The other day Mike and I were driving a long distance together, and I suggested we spend some of the time discussing baby names. Mike was less than enthused, but I pressed on. “How about this? What about that? I like this name, what do you think? What do you mean you don’t care? HOW CAN YOU NOT CARE!?”

Turns out that while I’m obsessed with names and naming, he is pretty indifferent. While I have a Google doc dedicated to name ideas (hundreds of them!), Mike rarely gives it a thought. I broke the news that if we’re planning to have or adopt babies someday, we’re likely going to have to name them, so he better get on board.

That’s when he said the most beautiful words I’ve ever heard:

“Why don’t you just be in charge of naming them?”

Haaaaallelujah! Haaaaallelujah! Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujaaaah!

Are you serious, I asked. Like full naming power? And then I made him shake on it because that’s the kind of deal you want to seal.

So there it is. I get to name our kids. Obviously I’ll take his opinions into consideration, but it’s such a freeing feeling to know I don’t have to find a name we both LOVE. I can’t tell you how tiring it is to shoot off name ideas to him that are constantly met with an apathetic “It’s OK.” So instead of hunting for names that thrill Mr. Indifferent, I can find names that thrill me and secure at least an OK from him.

Now to narrow down my list…

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Now that I’ve written about how happy we are with our last name situation*, let’s talk about the kids. I’ve never really been sure what I’d want to do with my kids’ last names knowing that my husband and I would likely have different names, but I always hoped a good answer would emerge at the right time. Well now we’re getting serious about having (as in adopting) kids, so we’ll probably need a solution sooner rather than later. Let’s review our options so far shall we?

For the sake of this post, I’m going to pretend his last name is Morris and mine is Zone.

Option 1: Zone as their last, Morris as a middle
When we first addressed this issue, before we were even engaged, Mike was strongly considering the idea of giving them my last name and making his last name a middle for each child. His last name works really well for a boy’s middle name, and works just fine for a girl.** I was totally on board with this idea because my name is much more unique and interesting and very special to me. Also, Mike’s family has a tradition of passing on the father’s first name as a middle name to the oldest son.

So our first son would be: First Michael Morris Zone

And we’d probably therefore name any subsequent children in a similar fashion, two last names, the second being Morris. I also loved the idea of starting all middle names with M, and we have the perfect girl’s middle name: Marill (pronounced like Meryl Streep). It’s a combination of his mom (Marilyn) and my mom (Jill), plus he has a great great (or something) grandfather named Merrill.

So our first daughter would be: First Marill Morris Zone.

We were leaning toward this option for a long time, until Mike began to think about Option 3. Don’t jump ahead though. Check out Option 2 first.

Option 2: Morris as their last, Zone as a middle
We could just switch the first option around, right? Well, technically yes, but I’m just not cool with that. I know it’s a double standard — I’m ok with making his as a middle and not mine. But like I said above, my name is more unique and interesting, and it’s very special to me. I want Zone somewhere in their last name, and of course I totally respect Mike wanting the same thing. Which brings us to option 3.

Option 3: Hyphenate
Oh yes, the old hyphenation trick. When I shared with Mike awhile ago that one of my favorite feminist bloggers had a baby, I happened to mention that the baby was given a hyphenated name. I think Mike had an epiphany, and now this is his preferred option. I’m actually not a huge fan of hyphenated names for a variety of reasons. And I just keep thinking, if we weren’t willing to hyphenate ourselves, is it fair to do that to our children? It just seems like it could easily be a burden, and I’m not sure I want to willing put that on my children. BUT! It is a very fair compromise for a couple with two last names, so it might be the way we go.

Anybody out there grow up with a hyphenated name? I would love love love to hear your opinions on this.

Option 3a: Zone-Morris and Option 3b: Morris-Zone
I need to talk about these two together. It’s hard to talk about these options without revealing our names, but I guess for anyone who knows us, it’ll be easier. Beyond just how they sound, which I’ll get into, are there any kind of “rules” or guidelines for hyphenating? Not that we’d automatically follow them, but I’m curious. In my mind, the first spot is the preferred spot. I’ve known people who were hyphenated in childhood and dropped a name in adulthood, and they always drop the second name.

But I’ve also heard that the second spot is more coveted. I guess the assumption is that when a woman gets married she keeps her name and tacks his on the end, making that the “family name.” My sister, who hyphenated when she was married, tells me that people often assume her “real” last name is the second one, which was actually her husband’s. I’m just really curious what people think about the “rules.”

Aside from all of that, I can’t decide which sounds better. We sort of think that Morris-Zone (only with our real names) makes Morris sound like an adjective for Zone. On the other hand, Zone-Morris maybe doesn’t roll of the tongue as easily.

Option 4: One for each!
I think this is the most bizarre thing, but it has been suggested to us in all seriousness more than once, so I’ve got put it out there. The idea is if we have two kids, we make one a Morris and one a Zone. I just can’t wrap my head around that, but I wonder if it’s ever been done before and how it worked. I also wonder what you do in the event of a third child.

Option 5: Make it up
Zorris? Mone? Zonis? Morone? I remember when the daughter in Father of the Bride 2 says that she and her husband are considering combining their names to create a new last name for their child. I thought, WHAT? You can’t do that, you lose all the meaning and history of the original names. And I still pretty much feel that way. Sometimes it works, and I really don’t have a problem with others doing it. But I would hate to lose either of our names in some strange mishmash. Mike is not a fan either, by the way.

Anything else?
Did we forget or overlook any other options?

I’m looking for major input here. Any advice or opinions or stories you’d like to share would be so much appreciated.

*I guess I didn’t write about Mike’s feelings on the issue, only mine. I think because for Mike it has always been a total non-issue. Maybe that’s something he should write about though, huh? Hon, you want to work on that?

**We like to keep this blog somewhat unsearchable by our names, but I’ll give you a hint for those who don’t know. His last name is a very common English/Scottish/Irish last name starting with M that also works as a male first name. Mine, by the way, is a really sweet Dutch name that, despite its brevity, is almost always mispronounced.

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Yay! We got our first negative comment. I think that makes us official or something right? Because it’s our first, I thought I’d share. On the post about why Mike is so perfect for me, Renae said this:

Ok, so he’s perfect only because he does chores????? Hopefully he has other redeeming qualities. Otherwise, you could just hire a maid.

Thanks, Renae, for reminding me that my husband is more than just a maid. Sometimes I forget and even try to leave him a tip. How embarrassing. Although, I would like to point out that the title of the post is “Some of the many reasons my husband is perfect for me,” which, at least to me, would indicate that there are lots of reasons my husband is perfect for me, beyond the chores thing.

Also, if you read closely, you’ll see that I wrote “as an example, just take a look at all he does to keep our household running smoothly.” Again, offering an example usually indicates that are other examples, too. At least in my experience.

And you may remember that I wrote a little bonus section (it’s the part in the parentheses) where I outline some of the other things that make him great beyond the “chores.” I don’t know, to some that might suggest he has other redeeming qualities.

Finally, I really appreciate the suggestion to hire an actual maid. Oh how I’d love to, but unfortunately we just can’t afford one. So I guess it’s a good thing my husband practically is a maid. I mean, that’s the reason I married him afterall.

Anyway, thanks for making us feel official Renae!

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As most of you know, I decided a long time ago that I wouldn’t change my last name when I got married. Before I met Mike, I heard several times from several people that once I met the right guy I’d change my mind. Once I was actually getting married, I’d understand why most women want to share their husband’s last name. I also heard that if you really love a man, you take his name. You just do. I called bull shit every time I heard it, and even though spite is not at all the reason I stuck with my last name, it sure feels good to say, “See? Suck it.” to all the doubters.

Kidding. About the suck it part. But I am proud to say that I don’t regret my decision for a second. It’s been almost 8 months since the wedding and not once have I thought maybe I’d rather be a M—–. It just doesn’t suit me. I am and always will be a Z—.

So what has it been like to be a married couple with two different last names? Pretty insignificant. There have been a few times that I’ve had to explain the difference, but it’s usually a non-issue. When I called my car insurance provider to add Mike to my policy, my agent asked for his name, and when I gave it, she paused and then asked, “So did your name change then?” When we go to adoption meetings, I usually introduce us like “I’m Shannon Z— and this is my husband Mike M—–.” I make a point to say my husband so nobody assumes we’re not married when I say his last name, but I also make a point to say his last name so nobody assumes it’s the same as mine. That’s about as complicated as it’s gotten so far.

We do get the occasional piece of mail addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Michael M—–, but unless it’s someone we think should be aware of our situation, we just laugh about it. I don’t go by Mrs., I’m not a M—–, and what? A Michael? Definitely not a Michael.

I love my last name and I’m glad I didn’t lose it. Plus, it’s extra special because one of my (married) sisters is still a Z— too, and another one hyphenated. Of four sisters, that’s pretty cool. How modern of us, right?

Now, the other thing I’ve heard is that I’ll change my mind when kids come along. One happy family with one happy last name. Who knows. I’m still willing to bet we’ll find another solution, but I’d hate to eat my words, so again, we’ll just see.

Speaking of kids and what last name to give them, we’ve been discussing it a lot lately. More on that later.

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On organization

Mike and I are attempting to be a bit more organized so there isn’t so much crap weighting down our lives. One move we made in that direction was to get a small filing cabinet. We had one on our wedding registry but never received it, so when Christmas rolled around and his dad was looking for ideas, we threw the filing cabinet out there and voila! we got one.

So recently we went from this type of organization:

To this:

Bathing it in sunlight was not intentional, it’s just that glorious. We spent a whole day a few weekends ago sorting through all our saved paperwork and organizing it in these two drawers. The filing cabinet now resides the room that serves as our office/storage room/Mike’s closet. So far it’s worked well — we went from two separate messy systems for keeping important documents to one cohesive (and stylish) system. Ah marriage.

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Did we ever tell you that we were rock stars at premarital counseling? We were pretty much star students, the valedictorians of premarital counseling, as Dooce might say. Before our first appointment, we were given an assessment to take separately. It was supposed to tell the counselor what areas we needed to work on, where we were strong already, etc.

At our first meeting with the counselor, she was looking over our results and basically told us we had no weak areas. The whole time, she seemed to be grasping at straws for advice on how we can improve our relationship. Now I don’t know how accurate or effective those assessments are, but even in our conversations with her, she kept stumbling, like she didn’t know where to go next. And she kept repeating, “you’re very strong in that area” or “you don’t seem to need any improvement in this area.” There were a few issues that came out in our discussion, but nothing we weren’t fully aware of already (like the fact that I don’t hold back on my feelings, and Mike sometimes does in order to keep the peace).

At the end of each session, our counselor said she normally assigns some sort of homework to her couples — something to help them work and talk through their problem areas. But she admitted she didn’t really have anything to assign us. And at our fourth and final session, after about 10 minutes, she finally gave up. “We don’t really have anything else to go over. You guys are great, so unless you have any questions, I think we’re done.”

Yep, we pretty much rocked that shit. Too bad she totally screwed up our certificate of completion. When it came in the mail, we discovered it said “Mr. and Mrs. Michael M—–.” Clearly she didn’t understand that I was not only keeping my last name, but my first name wasn’t changing either.

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