By Pamela Redmond Satran
Many couples are shocked to find that, while they agree about so many more seemingly important things, they’re locked in an enormous battle over baby names. Why do arguments rear up about an issue that should be fun and pleasurable? And how can you solve these Baby Name Battles?
RECOGNIZE YOU’RE NOT JUST TALKING ABOUT NAMES. Name discussions often tap into deeper issues like religion, family, people’s experiences from their pasts that they may not have discussed openly or even be aware of themselves. It may take more time, patience, and care to thoroughly discuss name tastes and their implications than you anticipate.
DON’T COMPROMISE. Finding a compromise name — one that may not be either of your favorites but that you both like okay — might not actually be the best solution. It can provide a quicker, easier fix to the name problem, but may cover up the deeper issues still lurking.
DIG DEEPER. It’s worth uncovering the reasons BEHIND the names you and your partner like. Let’s say your partner is campaigning for a name from their family — which may be more about pleasing their parents than loving that particular name. That can help you both look for other names that might fit the bill in a way that’s meaningful to the other person but that you also like.
BE SENSITIVE. Rather than snapping, Why do you like that stupid name?, realize you’re really talking about bigger issues such as family ties, ethnic identity, religion, childhood yearnings and disappointments, and use the kind of care those subjects deserve. And treat yourself and your feelings about names with the same tenderness and respect!
TAKE YOUR TIME. Search long and hard, make lots of lists, talk about it with friends if you find that fun and not threatening, and discuss fully the issues that may lie beneath why you like or hate certain names. Searching for the right name can be a great opportunity to learn about each other.
DON’T OPT OUT. Don’t sidestep the struggle and turn the name decision over to somebody else — a mother, a friend. It’s your decision to make and you should keep ownership of it.
REACH FOR A NAME YOU BOTH LOVE. With enough discussion you might reach the ideal — a name you both love that’s not a compromise. Failing that, I actually think rather than a compromise of choosing a name you’re both just so-so about, it’s better to let one person choose the first name and the other the middle, and then switch with the next baby, or find some other way to pick a name that at least one person truly loves and the other person can live with.
DON’T LET THE NAME DECISION UNDERMINE YOUR RELATIONSHIP. Are baby names important? Sure, but not as important as your relationship. If the name decision is really tearing you apart (and we have heard from couples like this), seek counseling, take time to work through all the issues that arise. Things will be a lot tougher when the baby is actually here and the name tension might be symbolic of deeper problems you should address now.
We’d love to hear about your baby name battles with your partner. Did you argue about names? Take a long time talking through your decision? Agree easily? Tell us more!