Dear Swistle –
I’m currently 36 weeks pregnant with our first child – a boy! – and my husband is being NO HELP! Our last name is Mouton (Moo-TAWN), and we have agreed to the middle name Michael, in honor of my husband’s dad.
From the beginning, my husband has been very picky but hasn’t given me enough information to figure out what he likes. Also, he’s very sarcastic, and some of his reasons sound like he’s trolling me to be obnoxious, but I can’t tell anymore and he keeps using the same reasons, so maybe he’s serious?
Here was his responses to my first suggestions:
Titus/Silas – doesn’t like names that end in “us”.
Levi – doesn’t like names that end in “I”.
Noah – no old names (also completely off my own list since it’s so popular).
Lucas – sounds too “black”. Mind you, MY HUSBAND IS BLACK. And he says Lucas sounds this way because of the new series Luke Cage. *eye roll*
Finn – that’s a character from the new Star Wars.
Tobias – Arrested Development.
Justin – “everyone” will think we named him after Justin Timberlake.
Robert – too generic.
Felix – he just stared at me. I think that’s bad?
Oliver – too British.
We can agree that he doesn’t like Bible names (though I keep pushing because they’re classics) and he doesn’t like pop culture references, though I hope this is just something he can get over once the baby is here and he meets his son.
He keeps suggesting names and then telling me he was joking. This is how I came to love both Max and Sebastian, only to find out that he never seriously considered them! And his latest cop-out when asked is that he hates his OWN name, so how could he determine a good name for a kid?
Here are my final ideas, after I (mostly) took out the ones to which he was adamantly opposed. I had hoped to wait to show him in the delivery room when he’s facing a final deadline, but he asked to see it today and – of course – hated them ALL.
Silas or Simon
Maybe this is more of a marriage question than a baby name question, but where can I go from here? I don’t really intend to start over on names, and it doesn’t sound like he’s going to try very hard to consider names in his own, either. Should I cross my fingers that he’ll just let me choose when it comes down to it? (In that case, I would probably pick Max.) Or is there another solution that we haven’t considered yet?
Thanks for your help with our conundrum!
PS – we had a girl name picked out about two hours after finding out we were pregnant, so the good news is that future naming battles might turn out differently!
Have you considered putting your thoughts and feelings on this issue into a screaming meltdown? It sounds as if it might be time for something that knocks Mr. Automatic Comeback back into the land where we are not in a Saturday Night Live sketch but instead choosing an actual name for an actual baby who will be making an actual arrival.
If you are not the screaming meltdown type, we will need another way to get his attention. Whatever your usual style is when you have Had It (eg, long hard stare with clenched jaw, or tears running silently down cheeks as you gaze hopelessly at the wall, or becoming snippy, or dropping the subject until he notices, or saying “We need to talk,” or calling his sister and getting her to yell at him, or whatever), it is time to bring it. What we need here is this, or the equivalent of this: “Listen. This baby needs a name. You are not only not helping me with this, you are actively making it much, much harder. Time is getting very short, and right now I need you to stop making jokes, stop kneejerk-rejecting names, and HELP me with this job that belongs to BOTH of us. Here is the baby name book: make a list of ten names you like. Or if you don’t want to have to do even a small amount of the research work, then pick three names, just THREE names from my extensive list, names that you don’t ‘hate.’ Up to you, but by tomorrow we are having a name discussion that is about names you like, and not about how much you hate all my choices. If you don’t want to help, fine—but then I am picking the name. So suit up, buttercup.”
It might or might not be helpful to know the girl-name choice: it might help us figure out his style. [Edited to add: We have it now: it’s Madeline Jayne.] On the other hand, it’s very common for people to have a different style in girl names than in boy names. And also, his current style might be “Repressed Panicked Ambivalence.” Do you have a copy of The Baby Name Wizard? Quite possibly you have already tried this, but if you haven’t, I suggest looking up your girl name and seeing what the author suggests as brother names. Also look up the style categories the author puts the name into, and see if you like the boy names in that list. For example, let’s say your girl name is Clara. Brother names for Clara are listed as: Leo, Miles, Emmett, Oscar, Charles, Henry. And style categories for Clara are “Ladies and Gentlemen” and “Antique Charm.” But again, this won’t be much help if your boy-name style is different than your girl-name style.
My usual next step would be to go over your list and start discussing names—but in this case, it’s like the factory is shut down and we can’t do anything else until it’s up and running again. You have a wide variety of excellent names of various styles here, and I don’t think any of us think the real problem is your list. To give you some hope, we’ve had a number of letters where one parent is being impossible and saying they hate everything, and then the baby is born and the parent chooses a name they formerly claimed to hate. It can make you want to slam that person’s head into a plate of hospital food, but it is nice to know that sometimes it works out well in the end.
Our son Samuel Michael was born on August 7!
I told my husband about your blog and how I was going to start calling the
baby Max to see if it fit, which is when he confessed that he just didn’t
like it at all. So, I dropped the conversation for the time being, and as
my induction date neared, Trent was more and more anxious about not having
By the time Sam was born, Trent had chosen 2 names from my list that were
passable – Elliot and Sebastian. But THEN, after 30 hours of labor and 2
hours of pushing (with Trent by my side to see it all, of course), he
decided that I could name him whatever I wanted.
Sam went another day without a name because it was WAY too much pressure on
me to choose a favorite name on top of everything else – all I could do was
mourn the ones I wasn’t choosing!
And then it was going to be Peter or Elliot. (I decided Sebastian was too
fanciful for this guy.) But I didn’t feel right when I crooned “Peter” to
the baby, and when I decided on Elliot, it just made me sad it wasn’t Sam.
So, Trent got final veto over Sam, et voìla, our son became Samuel Michael,
just in time to come home from the hospital!
Family has been informed that they may call him Sammy as a pet name, but it
shall not be written down. I don’t know why I’m so particular, but there it
Thanks again to you and all the commenters who gave me advice on dealing
with a picky and indecisive husband! I really didn’t expect him to let me
choose whatever name I wanted, but I’m so happy it turned out perfectly for