Ask Amy: Wife with no name resists erasure
Dear Amy: My husband, “Calvin” and I have been together for 18 years. We’ve been married for two years. In most ways we get along great. We have many things in common, and enjoy each other’s company.
One thing that has continually bothered me is that Calvin never uses my first name! Mostly he addresses me as nothing, or sometimes as “Honey.” He used to whistle or snap his fingers when he wanted my attention, until I pointed out that I was not a dog, and he stopped.
I have a perfectly normal name, which I am fond of!
I have tried on several occasions to talk to him about it. I asked if he doesn’t like my name, or if my name reminds him of someone he dislikes. He weasels out of the conversation every time I bring it up.
He offers no explanation for why he refuses to use my name. I have asked him to use my name, at least sometimes but he only tried it once.
Why would someone do this? Does it show a lack of respect toward me? Should I give up the struggle since it’s been going on for 18 years? I just don’t get it.
– Not Nameless Wife
Dear Not Nameless: I don’t get it, either. But I also don’t get how you could be with someone for 16 years – and then marry him – if he refused to use your name.
I’m imagining your wedding vows: “I take you …. over there … to be my lawfully wedded wife.” And how does he introduce you to others? (“Mom, Dad, I’d like you to meet my girlfriend, Honey.”
How would he verbally identify you to an ambulance driver or a physician in case of an emergency?
Your husband has proven that he can respond successfully to negative reactions. When he snapped his fingers or whistled at you (wow, how disrespectful is that?) and you pointed out that this was unacceptable, he stopped.
His behavior does show a lack of respect: It is passive-aggressive and quite literally denies your existence as an individual with a specific name. To me, this seems like something of an erasure.
When human beings choose partners, it is affirmative and loving to find large and small ways to respect a partner’s preferences, thereby removing little triggers that might make them feel less-than. I assume you have done this for your partner over the years; he has not.
I suggest that you stop trying to understand this, and insist that he call you by name. Give him positive reinforcement when he does, and don’t respond when he doesn’t. (And, please, if he calls you “nothing,” then your response should also be nothing.)
If that doesn’t work and you want to stay with him (you obviously do), then, yes, accept it, and hope that he can manage to identify you correctly in an emergency.
Dear Amy: My sister and I are hosting a baby shower for our pregnant cousin.
Due to COVID, we are intentionally keeping the shower small.
The mom-to-be wants only fully vaccinated people to attend. We all agree.
Everyone will be fully vaccinated, except one family member who has stated that she is against vaccination and has no plans to get the vaccine.
How should we handle this?
Do we send her an invite, but kindly ask her not to attend unless she is vaccinated?
– Safety First
Dear Safety: I’m quoting the current guideline from the CDC (as of this writing): “Vaccinated people may visit with unvaccinated people from one other household indoors without wearing masks or staying 6 feet apart if everyone in the other household is at low risk for severe disease.”
If all the other guests are fully vaccinated, then they are “at low risk for severe disease.”
However, the decision should be up to the expectant mother.
You should not invite someone to an event, and ask her not to attend.
Either don’t invite her at all, or say, “Because this is an indoor event, the mom-to-be has requested that all guests be fully vaccinated.”
Dear Amy: We went through the same struggles as “Used to be Mom,” who didn’t know how to respond to people about her son’s estrangement.
Our daughter developed a very serious drug addiction, was homeless and destitute.
When people would ask how she was, we would simply say "good enough.”
For whatever reason that always ended the conversation.
– Parents of a Recovering Addict
Dear Parents: Your response was truly “good enough.”
©2021 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.