I’ve been reading your posts as inspiration, but it’s time to ask for personal help. I am due December 19th with a baby girl, and we are so excited! We have a little boy named Evan, and he’ll be 3 in January. Our last name is Smithler.
I love classic and girly names; my favorites being Holly and Samantha. I also love S names… Sierra, Sarah, Scarlett. My husband said Holly (and any other seasonal name) is too cliché, and he does not care for Samantha, nor any of the S names I suggested. He wants a name that is not super popular, and likes Kendra, Eva and Sloan. Kendra is our “agree to disagree” name…. if baby has no name come birth, I said fine, we’ll use it. It just doesn’t feel perfect though.
We’ve gone through every Internet site and baby book. It leaves us frustrated and me ready to throw in the towel and call her “Hey You”. My husband stands his ground with the 3 names above. If anyone is going to give in, it will be me.
Other names I’ve thrown out that he said no to include:
Erin, Ava/Avery, Nora, Macy/Lacey, Emily, Melody/Melanie, Kyla/Kayla… the list goes on.
Please help! We will update you of the name when our precious gift comes.
Anna and Nick
Am I understanding you correctly that your husband has vetoed all your favorites, has narrowed the list down to three names he likes, and now he will not budge? For the sake of my blood pressure, I am trying to think of another interpretation, but without success. I suppose there is the possibility that he chose the three names off your favorites list, but your feelings about the name Kendra don’t support that interpretation.
I will say this: that it definitely can be intensely frustrating and discouraging to look at name after name after name and not find anything that feels right—but that the solution to that is not for one parent to say “I’m not looking anymore: we choose one of these three names I like, and that’s it.” If he wanted to give up the search, he could say, “I’m done: let’s just pick one of your favorites”: that would be an acceptable (if not completely satisfactory) way to bow out. But to say “I’m done: we’re picking one of MY favorites”? No.
But something else catches my attention in this letter: the word “perfect.” I’m not sure anything inhibits the naming process quite as insidiously as the search for perfection. No name will be perfect: every name will have something that is not quite right about it. If you have gone through every website and name book and haven’t found anything perfect, then there is no perfect name: you will need to choose your favorite among the non-perfect options.
Kendra is the right name for this baby if it is your joint favorite among all the non-perfect options. It is probably not the right name for this baby if it is one of your husband’s top three and much much lower on your own list. On the other hand, if you find yourself going round and round in a search for unachievable perfection, and your husband is earnestly and openly considering all your favorites and trying to like them but he just doesn’t, and the ONLY place where your tastes intersect at all is high on his list and low on yours, it may be that this is the only way this baby will be named. It is not uncommon for parents to have to make a compromise like this. Of course it isn’t ideal: the ideal would be for the name to be the favorite of both parents. But considering how different people’s tastes are, it’s only surprising to me that two people are EVER both happy about a name choice.
Looking at his list, though, I notice that the name Eva is only one letter off from Evan. And I found the name Sloane Smithler challenging to say, and unpleasant in the mouth. And the name Kendra feels past its prime, and makes me think first of the Playboy model / reality-TV actress. I think if only one of you is going to have to give in to the other, it would be a good idea to reconsider which of you that should be.
I think what I’d prescribe if I were a Name Doctor is a week’s break: don’t think about or talk about or research names for one week. Think of it as resting an overtaxed muscle: if you keep using it so hard, you’ll end up with a real injury. When the week is over, sit down together as if at the very beginning of the name hunt: no finalist lists, no “if we can’t find anything else, we’ll use this” names, no “it has to be one of these three.” Don’t think of it as starting all over; think of it as starting fresh, free of the big tangle the name hunt had become.
I’d suggest starting by talking about what you BOTH want in a name; that is, look for places where your priorities intersect, places where you can agree, categories of names you can BOTH rule out. Do you agree on the level of femininity you’d like the name to have, or the general popularity range? Do you agree on any “not” areas, such as “not starting with an E,” or “not a family honor name” or “not the name of any kids we already know”? Add those to the list. Would you both like to find a name you both like? Then add that to the list too. Speak frankly when a name is one you don’t want to use, just as he has spoken frankly about the names he doesn’t want to use. If you made a deal you wish you hadn’t made, say so: “I’m sorry I said x; I’m afraid I’m not willing to do that after all.”
Think of places where you can both make compromises to increase your mutual satisfaction with the name: would you feel happier going with one of his favorites for the first name if he would go for a holiday-themed middle name? Could he look through the S section of a baby name book and make a list of all the S names he’d consider? Could you look for less-common versions of some of your favorites (Seraphina instead of Samantha/Sierra, for example)? Are there names you both love that have been ruled out because they’re too popular, and could that preference be softened? A good practice exercise is for each parent to look at the list of the other parent’s favorites and think, “If I HAD to choose from this list, which would I choose?”: it subtly shifts the focus from “finding reasons to dislike” to “finding reasons to like.”
Another possible solution when parents can’t agree on a name they love is to choose a name for a different reason than love. Honor names are great for this: maybe you both merely like the name Catherine, but it would honor a great family member. Your feelings for the name itself might be only as strong as for any of the other not-perfect names on the list, but the added benefit of the honor will likely increase your overall satisfaction with the choice.
I’d also suggest looking in The Baby Name Wizard for sibling name suggestions for the name Evan, not just in the individual listing for the name Evan (Audrey, for example) but also in the categories that include the name: the name Evan is in the New Classics category, which contains names such as Sabrina, Jillian, and Cassandra as well as Kendra and Samantha.