You helped me out less than a year ago when we were expecting our first. Now we’re expecting AGAIN.
Besides the craziness that is having two babies less than a year apart, we have a new naming issue.
We don’t know the gender of this baby, but if it is a girl, we would like to name her Marina Lynn, after both our mothers. (His mother = Marina, Mine = Lynn). I love most everything about the name Marina. I love that my husband loves it, I love the way it sounds, I love that it is a precious namesake like our first child. The ONLY THING I don’t like about it is that Marina is a thing in English. (A place, actually. “Let’s have lunch at the marina.”) To me, a name that is a thing/place like Marina is different than a name that is a thing like Rose. I can’t explain why, exactly, but it just bothers me. As an avid reader of your site (and because you steered us so right the first time and we took your advice and couldn’t be happier!) I thought that I’d get your take on it. Should I get over it? Is there a way to frame it that might help me get over it? I also thought of spelling it Marinah. Does that seem like a viable solution? Is there another solution I haven’t thought of? I thought you might take the opportunity to talk about names that are things (or places) in general, to help more readers than just me.
This is the kind of question where I have to rein in my urge to PUSH you to use the name. You love it! It’s a family name! Place names are a totally valid category of names! I want to FORCE the place issue not to bother you! But if something bothers, it bothers, and there’s no “just don’t let it” about it. So let’s work on the reframing idea.
In this particular case, it would influence me whether you live near a marina or not. DO you ever suggest having lunch at the marina, or is there no marina? Proximity/confusion issues matter to me, which is why I also wouldn’t suggest using Madison in or near Madison, Wisconsin, or Brooklyn in or near Brooklyn, New York—but wouldn’t blink at either one of them used in Michigan. But of course people can move later on, so it still doesn’t dismiss the point.
It also matters to me how tied the name is to the place. I don’t immediately think of Madison and Savannah and Florence as place names even though I know they are; Georgia is definitely a place name but also strongly a name-name; and India and Ireland are places until I shake off the confusion and realize that in this case it’s someone’s name. For me, Marina is somewhere between Savannah and Georgia: I’d know it was a place, and I’d know to take that into account—but it wouldn’t bother me to use it, even knowing that the child might later move to Georgia or near a marina/savannah.
In fact, maybe it would help to think how quickly a place association can vanish. Brittany! Austin! Jordan! Devon! Cody! Chelsea!
Or, this one may backfire, but: do you think of a marina whenever your mother-in-law’s name comes up? (If so, never mind and forget I said anything.) Has anyone you know ever commented on the connection? (“Marina? Oh, like the place we have lunch!”)
Or it helps me to think about how serious a situation it would be if the connection WERE made, or if the child DID move later on. How much of a problem/issue would it be for a girl named Madison to live in Wisconsin? There were 152 more of them born there last year, so my guess is it’s not too bad. And Brooklyn is #15 in New York even though it’s only #34 nationally. Place names are common honor names, so the connection can be a positive one.
Do you LIKE marinas? If someone hates roses, Rose is probably a non-starter of a baby name for them; but if they love roses, it adds to the appeal and makes the name an even more personal choice. The appeal of a forest or a haven or a savannah or a sky can be the very thing that makes someone CHOOSE a name like Forrest or Haven or Savannah or Skye.
It’s too bad about Mirena, or I’d recommend that spelling. Marinah looks like mah-RY-nah to me, probably because of Mariah. I suppose you could use Marena (though I might say that one mare-ree-na or mah-RAY-nah instead of mah-REE-nah), but I think it’s probably best to stick with the standard spelling.
You helped me name our first child, and then we had a question about our second child who we wanted to name Marina. That child was born a beautiful baby boy. Four years later we welcomed our third child, a girl. We named her Marina Lynn, after her two grandmothers. We took your wonderful advice and kept the name as it was, without changing the spelling. We are thrilled. We love the name, and it suits her. I don’t have any hangups about a Marina being an actual place (in part because we no longer live near a marina.) Also, my mother was incredibly touched and honored at the namesake. Thank you for your great advice! Even years later it’s helpful. You helped us name two out of three of our children.
Oh here’s a photo of little miss Marina Lynn!