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Carolyn Hax: Be sure your curiosity has no hidden agenda

Published September 26, 2012 11:51 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Dear Carolyn • When a woman chooses to take her husband's name, is it obnoxious if I ask, "Why is this the right decision for you?" and then really listen to the answer? None of my friends has changed her name yet, so I haven't had to put this in practice, but I'm genuinely curious why people still make this choice. I just hate the assumption that a woman will do this, whereas a man would not. And it is an assumption; the friends who have not changed their names get a shocking amount of crap for it.

Name Changes

Dear Name Changes • So why would you look for polite ways, then, to give women "a shocking amount of crap" for taking a husband's name — finding them guilty of sexist assumptions until they prove themselves innocent? Now, if you simply struggle to see this choice from any perspective but your own and your friends', and you want to understand, and have no agenda to push, then by all means, make like a scientist and start gathering data. But if the agenda is there, then obnoxious it is, and these women will read it right off your sleeve.

Dear Carolyn • My eldest son graduated magna cum laude from a prestigious university and went Army ROTC his junior year. He went into the infantry, got his Ranger tab and a Bronze Star when he was in Afghanistan, among other distinctions. He feels it is the best decision he ever made as he's become a competent leader. I'm frequently asked, "How could you let him go into the military?" I'm floored by this on several levels. What's the best way to respond?

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous • With your dukes a little lower and your chest a little less puffed. Every bit of your pride in your son is deserved; that's not the problem. The problem is, you apparently still feel you have something to prove. I say that because responding to these people is easy: "Seriously? I'm so proud of him I could plotz." While I'm here, thank you both for your sacrifices.

Carolyn Hax's column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.