Baby Naming Issue: Husband Is Being No Help

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.




Name update:

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
a name.

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

– Bethany

22 thoughts on “Baby Naming Issue: Husband Is Being No Help

  1. Clare

    My partner was like this, it was infuriating. He’d either come up with a stupid reason why he didn’t like it or suggest a ridiculous name that he made up which was just a swear word pronounced differently. In the end I told him that the kid’s name was George unless he came up with something better. George is now 14 months old.

      1. Megan

        LOVE Max! Great name. Yes, the person being so difficult shouldn’t then be given the golden ticket of finding a name they ‘could live with.’ The name IS the name you choose, unless he takes the time and effort to give a name that could truly work (and not just one you go with because he says well OK this one would maybe be all right).

    1. heidi

      It was just like this with my first! And Alex (Alexander) is now 22. That was my favorite way of putting my foot down. There was no need the next 3 times. He ended up suggesting wonderful names that we ended up using.

  2. Laura

    I agree with Clare! Pick a name that you truly love and just start calling the baby by that name. He will come around.

  3. Suzanne

    “Repressed Panicked Ambivalence” – sounds about right! If you are like me and confrontation turns you into an incoherent puddle, might I suggest reading Swistle’s script verbatim, or even cutting it out and handing it to him? Good luck! Your child will end up with a wonderful name, with or without your partner, at the very least!

  4. Holly

    My husband is also like this – and we have 4 kids who were in fact named. With all of them but the first, we ended up picking the one name he said was “okay” (which of course was a name I liked enough to suggest). If he is like my husband, he will never love any name, its just not going to happen. I agree with Swistle that you have to really sorta lose your temper or cry or whatever – he may just love bugging you and isnt trying to be a jerk. What worked with my husband was very clearly telling him that we would not be able to stop talking about baby names till we agreed on one. ha. He hates talking baby names so much that for the past several kids we have only had to have one discussion to pick the name. Good luck!

  5. Bethany

    Good idea about sharing our girl name! It’s Madeline Jayne. And a couple of the brother names are on our list: Maxwell, Owen, Caleb, Carson, Oliver, Nathaniel, Samuel and Alexander.

    There’s a copy of Baby Name Wizard on his nightstand over which we bicker occasionally, and I was just considering packing it in my hospital bag so the conversation can continue during labor. So he just might get some water thrown at him, if not a hospital tray!

    We have an induction date of August 5, so this conversation has to end soon!

  6. TheFirstA

    Another option would be to table baby names. You had wanted to show him the list at the hospital but he insisted. Make a new list (even if it’s just the same list in a different order). Tell him he’s being an ass and you are no longer willing to have this conversation because it’s stressing you out. No matter how many times he insists, tell him he doesn’t get to see the new list until baby is born. Tell him he’s free to make a list of his own, which you will look at in the hospital. Feel free to sound like a broken.

    He’s been a giant ass and you’ve been trying to accommodate him anyway. Stop accommodating him.

  7. Trudee

    “Maybe this is more of a marriage question than a baby name question, but where can I go from here?” Hahaha! That made me laugh out loud. But I sympathise. I tend to agree with first commenter Clare: tell him the baby’s name is Max Michael unless he comes up with something else you both prefer (before you’re in labour). End of discussion. If it’s important to him then he’ll come around. No point banging your head against the wall when you have a name you love. He’s the one with the problem.

  8. Amanda

    My husband was like this to some extent. I had a list of about 30 names, and he said no to 26 of those….It was pretty ridiculous, and he literally didn’t come up with a SINGLE name on his own. In the end, he didn’t hate 4 of my names, and I had a clear favorite out of those 4. As we got closer I slowly told him I was ruling out the 3 I liked less, until I finally got my way. The name wasn’t really at the top of my list of 30, but it was always a name I liked enough to present to my husband and we are really happy with it now.

    1. Miss G

      That sounds exactly like my husband! He initially vetoed everything, and only made joke suggestions. I eventually handed him my shortlist and told him to cross off everything he couldn’t live with; I was happy to see one of my top 5 remained on the list, and told him that unless he came up with something better, that would be our son’s name.

  9. Shannon

    I’m relieved by the lightness of your tone, as this sure does sound like one of those situations in which partner doesn’t know when it’s time to quit with the joking and the flippancy and start being truly helpful! I hope that doesn’t care over into parenting. Good luck good luck good luck.

    You have some great names on your list, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Max(well) or Sebastian, the ones you came to love after his suggestion. What if you sort of, er, pretended YOU thought HE was joking when he claimed he was joking about using those names? I’m especially fond of Maxwell, which has a lot going for it including widespread acceptance and the approachable friendliness of the nickname Max.

    As for your husband’s issue with Lucas…as a black person with a family tree I can trace back 4-5 generations and that now spreads across the country, and who lives in an area where the racial breakdown is roughly proportionate to the national average–I have to say that I have known and heard of lots of people named Lucas/Luke, in real life and in books and on TV, and other than the single exception of Luke Cage (which, to be fair, is a prominent one right now), they have all been white. It would never even dawn on me to think of this name as “black,” and DEFINITELY not as “too black” (and I do know what he means, though I would love to reject that criticism on principle). It’s a biblical name, which means that like a lot of other biblical names it probably does pop up in a number of African-American families of slave descent, but not more so than Samuel or Daniel or Elijah, all of which are considered very mainstream. Personally, if I had an objection to using this name for my own son, it would be the opposite of your husband’s objection. But I am by no means a spokesperson for anyone, and in fact it doesn’t seem as though this name is a prominent choice for you–just an example of an area in which your husband is being unhelpfully stubborn. Good luck!

  10. liz

    Question: Does he act this way in other areas of your life? When you decided on a couch or a rug or a room color, did he behave this way? Because if so, time to have a discussion about his putting all decision-making responsibility on your shoulders.

    If not, then I say go with Clare’s suggestion or with Swistle’s script.

  11. Kailee

    I think it’s excellent advice to just begin calling your son Max and put the onus on him to either agree or come up with his own suggestions. I also suggest using a fun little baby naming app, called BabyName. I had friends in a similar situation, he didn’t offer any suggestions, but with the app, you swipe left/right, and names that you both liked are kept. It might get you to a mutually agreeable name, or maybe even just a conversation where he agrees to provide more suggestions!

    My husband didn’t offer many suggestions either. He needed an education in non-80s names! We weren’t able to agree until our son was born, and fatherhood was suddenly so real and precious. Good luck!! Oh, and I think Max is a great name!

  12. The Mrs.

    I love the idea that your son will have the initials of MMM!

    It sounds like your husband has already given his main preference in naming your son… that his middle name is Michael. Maybe that’s what he really cared about!

    A lot of men feel nervous (but pleased) at the realization of having a son. That might be why choosing a girl name was easy-going, but naming a son is stressing him out. (I feel like this every time we name a daughter).

    Max is a fantastic name! If you are still list-making, Max+Lucas make me think of Marcus. Peter does have the ever-friendly nickname of Pete. Lincoln reminds me of Landon. Felix+Harrison bring to mind Franklin. Bradley is a lot like Brody. Sebastian could go by Baz. (Baz moo-TAWN is pretty cool).

    Best wishes! Please let us know how it goes and what you choose to brand your sweet son.

  13. Christine

    Yes. Just pick two names you like, or your favorite and be like, “well, this is what the kid is named.” In my hospital they asked us if we had a name picked out and wrote “Welcome Eleanor” and “Happy birthday Julian!” on the little whiteboard they had on the wall. You can tell it to the nurse and there you go.

    Also, there was a baby naming app that was kind of fun ( you swipe left or right and get a notification if you both liked the same name). It might get him more involved if it feels kind of like a game.

  14. Nicki

    It sounds like youve put a lot of effort into finding the perfect name for your child, and have tried your best to include your man in the process. Since hes not stepping up to the plate or playing his position, i say hes out of the game. Drop the whole conversation. It could be that naming a son is too much pressure for him! Maybe praise his contribution of Michael and tell him youll take care of the rest. You have some excellent choices!

  15. Andrea

    Don’t panic. Men are idiots about baby naming. At least, my man was–and I named eight children with him!!! With our last son I wanted to make my husband happy since he’d less-than-graciously allowed me to name the previous baby my preferred name. So I gave hubby name after name after name, just to have them all shot down. Would hubby contribute a name? Of course he did–things like Withington Cheesemore. Finally, after MONTHS OF THIS, I said, “His name is Oskar John or Hobbes Johann unless you come up with something I like.” When we had the little dude, my hubby decided that he “couldn’t think of anything better than Oskar.” So Oskar John he is (which thrills me as that was my top pick). Actually HAVING A BABY in front of the man helps a great deal in the baby naming department. Good luck to you!!!!

  16. Jean C.

    It was hard for my husband to take naming seriously while I was pregnant too–and I came up with hundreds of suggestions that he would veto with comments like “that is a name for a plain girl” or “why are you trying to name our baby after children of the corn?” That was when he deviated from a straight-up “no.” So believe me, I feel you! We were actually able to agree before heading to the hospital on an honor name for the first name, but still hasn’t agreed on a middle name–but I had at least convinced him we needed to narrow it down to 3 and then we could see what felt best when we held her. I actually had wanted to do this with her first name too–what if she didn’t look/feel like the name we picked?? But as soon as we agreed on the honor name it was completely perfect and her name. Having a baby is not as real for (most) men until they’re holding that baby in their arms, and I think that’s why it’s harder for them to take the important task of naming a person seriously. Having a baby is also kind of scary (or a lot scary?!) and how many husband dealt with this was by making jokes–sounds like yours might be similar. I did at one point give him a list, told him he wasn’t allowed to say anything negative, and to tell me the 3 names that he hated the least. That’s really how the naming conversation started in earnest for him. Maybe that’ll work for you :) Good luck!

  17. Jd

    My husbands only suggestion, ever, was Jack Daniels. He was serious too – thought it was memorable and cool. I thought a boy named Jack Daniels would be the laughingstock of the teachers lounge and be in AA by 12.
    First baby I said this is the name unless you have a suggestion that is not jack Daniels- I got the name seven days after the baby was born. Second and third babies I came up with a short list of names which I have him many months before due date. Told him I would add ANY suggestion submitted in writing (note, txt, email because he would randomly shout out names he heard when reading the paper and I didn’t feel those were suggestions as much as thinking out loud). Never got a suggestion other than jack Daniels. Needless to say for #2 and #3 we were waiting with baby in car seat for hubby to pick which name from my list he liked best. Baby #2 was a surprise selection but it was from My list so it was ok. MAKE HIM WORK. Say this is the short list. You cannot reject names until you have contributed names.


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