Back on the Career Track

Welcome to the Tuesday guest blog. Every Tuesday "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

By Carol Fishman Cohen

In Leslie's anthology Mommy Wars, there's an essay by Washington Post reporter Lonnae O'Neal Parker about her husband vetoing the family's annual Christmas photos shortly after she left her job to stay home. Lonnae's story really struck me. I remember when I had been home full-time with my kids for four years, and my husband sold some stock we had bought a few years before -- without consulting me. I was angry with him. But I was also hurt, because despite my MBA and prior successful finance career, I had become so out of touch professionally that I really had nothing to contribute to the decision.

When I mentioned Lonnae's essay to my husband, he immediately came to her husband's defense. Her husband was just looking for ways to cut costs now that he was the sole breadwinner, he said. Nixing the photo session wasn't meant to be a judgment on his wife or her work status, but just a pragmatic response to their new financial situation.

That's not the point, I responded. To me, her story is about financial dependency and having a place at the table in financial decisions. During my time at home, in addition to not contributing to my family's finances, I gradually became disconnected from anything to do with our finances, except for paying the bills and helping out at tax time. This happened because I became immersed in the daily demands of caring for our four young children, managing the household and doing volunteer work. I am happy I took a career break to be a stay-at-home mom. But eventually I made a personal vow to return to work when the time was right to rediscover the important part of myself I'd discarded when I came home.

Two years later, I dove headfirst into a full-time finance position at a major investment firm. My whole attitude shifted in regard to money. I felt I had permission -- my permission -- for the occasional splurge, and to weigh in on investment and budgeting decisions at home. The defining moment came when my husband started seeking out my opinion again.

Yet, for all the pluses of my newfound financial independence, I ended up leaving that job after a year. I realized I was living out my 27-year-old version of a dream job, except I was a 42-year-old mother of four. The mistake I made was not doing a rigorous analysis of how my interests and skills had changed while I was on career break. I connected with another former stay-at-home mom and together we wrote a candid, practical self-help book about how to get Back on the Career Track after years out of the work force. Together, my co-author Vivian Stein Rabin and I have nine children, two MBAs, and decades of work experience. We wrote our book so other women wouldn't make the same mistake I did.

For every stay-at-home mom who loses touch with financial decisions like I did, there are plenty who do not. My own mother, a traditional stay-at-home mom, expertly ran our family finances. Though now I've made a career switch to writing, speaking and consulting on the topic of women resuming careers, my sense of empowerment about my role in household financial decisions continues to be strong. For me, it wasn't returning to the financial field, it was returning to work that made the difference. It's not just the purchasing power of having my own income that's important. Personal validation and confidence makes all the difference.


Carol Fishman Cohen is a mother of four and the co-author of Back on the Career Track: A Guide for Stay-at-Home Moms Who Want to Return to Work, just out from Warner Books.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  June 12, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
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Comments

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Is it just me or has the Tuesday guest blog become a forum for individuals to self-promote in one way or another?

Posted by: first | June 12, 2007 7:19 AM

I'm confused. When did the author lose her personal validation and confidence?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 7:48 AM

"The defining moment came when my husband started seeking out my opinion again."

Ha,ha!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 7:51 AM

Nothing wrong with a bit of self-promotion from time to time! I don't know if this is true for women younger than myself, but one piece of baggage I carried with me from my 1950s/1960s childhood and adolescence is that women shouldn't promote themselves at all (it's "unladylike," you know!). It took me a long time to realize just how onerous that piece of baggage was! Promote away, Carol! I'm sure there are others out here who appreciate your story!

Posted by: Murphy | June 12, 2007 7:55 AM

I don't even have room for Leslie's friends books today and I certainly don't have room for women whose identities are so fragile that they lose them the minute they walk out of an office.

Plus, it seems it wasn't her personal validation she was looking for, it was that of her dear dear husband (see post above).

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 7:56 AM

I actually liked this guest blog. I also read the Mommy Wars and was a bit surprised by the nix on the Christmas photo. But my thought was that a lot of the decisions that are made when one parent stays home are for economic reasons. It would help if the WOH spouse discussed the financial decisions with the SAH spouse before going a head. But it is logical that there would need to be some cutting back to compensate the loss of income. I don't understand why some SAH spouse loose interest in the family finances and the investment decisions upon staying. I think that is one of the biggest mistakes that a SAH spouse can make. Although barring financial crisis, I am not sure how that helps in revamping your career. I also wondered if a lot of the cut backs could be less severe if alternatives were researched. Family photos do not have to cost $100-200 every time you walk into SEARS portrait studio. Most of these chain photo places offer coupons that can be found on line for as little as $10 plus sitting fees for a package of pictures. Of course you generally get one pose but with digital photography, you can choose the picture. So with some careful planning, you can grab a cheap package, scan your picture and send it via email to everyone you know as well as have some nice pictures to put on your wall. Again, the picture issue is a small one. But cuts can be made less drastic, if people did a little research. My guess is the husband thought that family photo=$100. I also think families going down to one income should discuss a head of time, the type of cuts that would have to be made. Eventhough you can not predict every situation, it might give both parties a realistic view of what it might be like. I personally, would never want to be in a marriage, where key financial decisions were not discussed by both parents. But that is me.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 12, 2007 7:59 AM

There are a lot of self promoters as guest bloggers because they are more willing to write a guest blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 8:01 AM

"We wrote
our book so other women wouldn't make the same mistake I did."

Excuse me, I must have missed the memo.

What mistake?

Posted by: Error? | June 12, 2007 8:01 AM

Yea, Leslie should publish my guest blog!

Posted by: Da' Shark | June 12, 2007 8:06 AM

I think the point that how power around economic decisions in a marriage works is really key to both partners feeling like equal partners.

And I do think a job can make a big difference in that, whether or not one's job is being up on the latest and greatest investment trends. So I agree that far.

But coming from a marriage where my husband and I have been in pretty much every financial situation - both earning the same, one of us earning more, one of us earning less - we worked it out before I went part-time to stay home. For us (I know this doesn't work for everyone) we throw all our money together, and then work on it from there. We make major decisions together; we alternate years of who actually pays the bills and is the "expert" in where the money is going right at that moment. This works for us because we both have a high tolerance for each other's spending habits, despite them being very different.

(Interestingly, for us, whoever is in charge of the daily bills becomes the "no" person...)

Posted by: Shandra | June 12, 2007 8:09 AM

Error?'s question: "What mistake?"

Answer: "The mistake I made was not doing a rigorous analysis of how my interests and skills had changed while I was on career break.:

Posted by: RIF | June 12, 2007 8:11 AM

"But I was also hurt, because despite my MBA and prior successful finance career, I had become so out of touch professionally that I really had nothing to contribute to the decision."


I guess I feel that if a woman (or a man) is feeling like they have nothing to contribute to a decision made in a marriage, he or she needs to get some personal therapy and the marriage would probably benefit by counseling as well. I do not understand anyone who talks about suddenly feeling like a second class citizen or that their say doesn't carry as much weight simply because they stop working to care for their children. I was a stay at home mom for years and never once did my husband EVER give me the impression that my opinion on anything mattered one whit less than it had when I was working.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | June 12, 2007 8:12 AM

"There are a lot of self promoters as guest bloggers because they are more willing to write a guest blog. "

They either haven't read this blog very closer or they have VERY thick skins!

Today's guest is in for a lot of justified ridicule!


"my husband sold some stock we had bought a few years before -- without consulting me"

WHAT A RED FLAG!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 8:15 AM

WorkingmomX. I think you are reading too much into that particular phrase.

The decision was regarding a stock transaction. I believe the author felt that she was so out of touch with the particulars of finance, and of the performance of that particular company, nor did she have the time to research it, that she could add little to no value to an honest evaluation of whether the stock transaction made financial sense.

Posted by: RIF | June 12, 2007 8:16 AM

How much were these Christmas photos? We get out kids photographed at JCPenney with my club card - package for 49.99$ gets enough for the whole extended family and extras. Would this break their budget or are we talking a photo shoot costing thousands?

If I nixed the phots next year (to save the whooping 50$) my husband would not care one bit. I make most of the financial decisions in our family - down to how my husband's 401K is invested. If he popped up and said I want to be involved in the finances I'd probably faint. When I came to I'd welcome him to the world of family finance.

It read like Carol didn't pay attention for a couple years and the cancelling of the Christmas card sent her into an identity crisis, which sounded a little weird. Be happy you could stay home Carol, and stop sweating the small stuff, I am sure your husband was just doing what he thought was right not demeaning you or your MBA (which was mentioned multiple times).

BTW: I don't have an MBA but I still handle our finances.

Posted by: cmac | June 12, 2007 8:18 AM

Thanks RIF. Since I began reading this blog, my comprehension skills have suddenly taken a dive.

Posted by: Error? | June 12, 2007 8:20 AM

Rif, I disagree. I still think for whatever reason the author was selling herself short and consciously appeared to downgrade her own importance within the marriage in terms of making decisions.

I have less than zero financial background but I still want to know what's going on with our investments and my husband would not make a significant change without talking to me first.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | June 12, 2007 8:21 AM

"Answer: "The mistake I made was not doing a rigorous analysis of how my interests and skills had changed while I was on career break.:"

Nooo. The mistake is that her husband became her sugar Daddy when he became the sole provider. She needed his permission to spend money and desperately sought his approval! He didn't need her input to make financial decisions.

She lost a lot more than being in touch touch with financial decisions. What is the source of this insecurity?

Can jointly owned stocks be sold without the permission of both owners?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 8:26 AM

"I believe the author felt that she was so out of touch with the particulars of finance, and of the performance of that particular company, nor did she have the time to research it, that she could add little to no value to an honest evaluation "

Why did she have no time to research a company? Who has more time than a SAHM to keep up skills?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 8:30 AM

I really liked this guest blog, and am very interested in reading the book. I think it's great that someone has written a book that's genuinely meant to be helpful to women, rather than just scolding us for our various choices.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I can totally see why a SAH spouse can start seeing his or herself differently once he/she is not bringing home a paycheck, especially if that spouse spent a number of years defining his or herself by a career. It's a strange feeling, suddenly not bringing in any income (for me, a state of affairs I hadn't experienced since I was 15), and it takes some adjustment to get to a point where you stop defining youself by your paycheck or your job title.

Posted by: NewSAHM | June 12, 2007 8:36 AM

"Why did she have no time to research a company? Who has more time than a SAHM to keep up skills?"

hahahahahahahahahahhahahahhahahahahahaah.

Sigh.

You are a sad little man.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 8:36 AM

I work and contribute plenty to the family coffers. But I'm not at all involved in the family's finances. My husband is WAAAY into investment, numbers, financial analysis, and I don't care one bit. I do keep close watch and have total control over my retirement plan, but that's it.

My husband buys and sells stocks of ours all the time without consulting me. He started out by consulting me, but I really don't care enough and he's stopped sharing all the details. We consult each other on big purchases (think cars, large pieces of furniture) but none of us would "veto" Xmas pictures or little extras.

Some of my stay-at-home-mom friends have much more involvement in their families' finances. They re-finance mortages and whatnot. I'm not even sure I'd know how to go about that right off...

The point is, this has very little to do with stay-at-home vs. working women. It's a matter of interest, talent, division of labor in the household. None of that should affect anybody's sense of self or identity.

Posted by: Nora | June 12, 2007 8:37 AM

I'd like to say something in the author's defense. Sometimes as much as you talk and negotiate and discuss before making a major life decision (getting married, quitting your job, having a baby), things can turn out quite differently once you're actually in the thick of things. I for one was floored by how incredibly sexist my husband became after I quit working -- All of a sudden, despite all his promises to the contrary, he did start making decisions without consulting me and referring to our family income as "my money." I know that Naomi wolf talks about this in the book she wrote after having her first child -- about being at a friend's house and watching her girlfriend load the dishwasher while her husband basically sat on the couch and ignored the fact that there was work to do. And her friend saying, "He told me it was going to be fifty-fifty, but now it's not and what am I going to do? Leave?"

That was our situation. I wasn't about to get divorced just because my husband referred to it as "my money" but I do have to tell you I sure as heck never expected that he would turn out to be someone who behaved this way. In my case, I went back to work -- in order to preserve my autonomy.

Posted by: Just a Thought | June 12, 2007 8:38 AM

I think the point about the stock sale (which even the author seems to have missed) is not that he didn't consult her, but that he didn't even tell her before it was sold. I would expect my spouse to at least say "I'm selling this stock" and give me a chance to give my opinion, researched or not. That she blames this on herself (I didn't have time to research it) is the real problem.

Posted by: jj | June 12, 2007 8:41 AM

I think the best marriages where one parent SAH that I have seen is where the working spouse respects the contribution of the SAH spouse and they work together on the family finances. I don't think it would work really well if the WOH parent gets to make the key financial decisions with out the SAH spouse input. Of course there is always a division of labor in any relationship. And some people do not like finances regardless of their work status. But it is a financial mistake for a SAH to not watch and pay attention to the money situation. A lot of SAH spouse relied too heavily that the money would be there and they are big and surprised when it is not. I also have a sneaky suspicion that my husband would not be very supportive of me if I stayed home. He talks a good line but I know like Just a Thought, he would start to see it has his money and think he is more entitled to make decisions then I am. It stinks but some people just do not respect the contribution of the SAH spouse.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 12, 2007 8:43 AM

NewSAHM

"I really liked this guest blog, and am very interested in reading the book. "

Here's an exerpt. The book is waay too white bread/female guilt/angst based for me:

http://www.hachettebookgroupusa.com/books/9/0446578207/chapter_excerpt24861.html

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 8:44 AM

I am a SAHM, my husband recently got a promotion at work and emailed me that "we" got a raise! That's how it should be.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 8:51 AM

"I can't speak for anyone else, but I can totally see why a SAH spouse can start seeing his or herself differently once he/she is not bringing home a paycheck, especially if that spouse spent a number of years defining his or herself by a career. "

I totally agree, NewSAHM! But it doesn't have to be tied to how economic power works. In my case our actual bring-home income is about the same (just because our expenses changed due to lower interest rates on our mortgage, and having paid off some old loans) with me working PT. But in terms of self-definition I still feel a bit weird - I'm not really on the fast career track, but not really totally focused on our family either.

Posted by: Shandra | June 12, 2007 8:53 AM

Nora

"He started out by consulting me, but I really don't care enough and he's stopped sharing all the details"

The author graduated from Harvard Business School, worked in manufacturing, and had a successful investment banking career at Drexel Burnham Lambert!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 8:58 AM

"The author graduated from Harvard Business School, worked in manufacturing, and had a successful investment banking career at Drexel Burnham Lambert!"

Then why the heck is she so darn insecure?
And why is her husband stupid enough NOT to consult her re: stock sales?

Posted by: Nora | June 12, 2007 9:01 AM

"Then why the heck is she so darn insecure?"

Bingo!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 9:03 AM

There is a touch of irony, I think, in the financial aspect of this story. In the "traditional" case of the stay at home mother, it was she (and not the husband) that saw to most of the day to day important financial decisions of running a household. There is also the aspect of the origins of marraige as a financial contract. Of all the things to consult with your spouse on, finances seems like the no brainer. MBA or no, I guess not!

There is definately a lesson to be learned about the way money works in relationships between people. It's one of those things that can quickly turn all but the most steady of patnerships (and/or friendships!) sour.

Posted by: David S | June 12, 2007 9:04 AM

Can jointly owned stocks be sold without the permission of both owners?

====================================================

The quick answer is yes. If the stock is in a joint account and the account is set up that way. The same way a joint checking account is set up. About the only way joint stock could not be sold without permission of both is that the stock certificate is in actual (physical) possession. Something that rarely happens.

Maybe you need to sharpen your financial skills?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 9:06 AM

Another point made here very succinctly is that she found the business world as it is now not an acceptable fit. So, she used her year back at work, connections, and who knows what else to mold herself into a "expert" on going back to work. From my personal experience, it isn't so much that I lack a desire to "work", it is the lack of part-time "work" in any form that stinks. I guess we could do as she did and start our own business.....

Posted by: nc mom | June 12, 2007 9:10 AM

Do sah moms feel guilty for buying themselves things? I can definately see this as being a problem especially if they have a husband that says no to everything the wife asks for.

I remember when I was between jobs and couldn't bring myself to even having a beer. I had the attitude: Losers shouldn't drink.

And sah moms should only own jewerly that their husbands gives them for gifts. Right?

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 12, 2007 9:27 AM

Father of 4

"I had the attitude: Losers shouldn't drink."

You got over that 'tude pretty fast! Now you have your little kids fetching beers for you!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 9:30 AM

I think that the tie between working & financial decision-making for the family depends on the quality of the marriage.
My mom was a SAHM most of my childhood & she and my dad frequently fought about money. The fights stopped once my mother had money of her own to spend.

I have valued family harmony over fighting so we spend too much -- but then we have a happy marriage, which has some value.

Posted by: happily wed | June 12, 2007 9:38 AM

From reading this blog I would say there sure are a lot of bad marriages. Maybe people should read that billboard in Chicago: Life's short. Get a divorce.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 9:38 AM

Yea, every woman needs some "pin" money!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 9:39 AM

happily wed

"I have valued family harmony over fighting so we spend too much -- but then we have a happy marriage""

See ya two lovebirds in Bankruptcy Court!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 9:43 AM

I found this story very interesting, but more for the feelings it sparked in me than the author's choices. Although I agree that her insecurity, considering her background, is excessive, but who knows what type of personality she is (clearly an insecure high-achiever, I guess).

I tend to agree with Linda Hirschman (is it her?) who feels that women should not give up work. I think that part-time work is a fine choice to balance things out. Perhaps you get a sitter 1 or 2 half days a week and do something part-time (whatever floats your boat). I just feel it is important to keep your hand in the adult world and have some money coming in. I've seen SAH moms who have wealthy husbands, and the power inbalance in many aspects of their relationship makes me cringe. I would never put myself in such a position unless I absolutely had to (it's difficult to think of a situation where that might be the case).

A lot does depend on the type of husband you have. For those SAHs who have the "we're a team" type of husband, I think that is absolutely the best situation for the whole family. I think I have such a husband, but I'm not really interested in going down that road myself.

To those who say things like: Well, don't choose a non-team husband and if you do, it's all your fault...I think those people ignore the reality of life and how women, in many, many ways, are still considered, in our culture, the ones who do household work and raise the children.

Posted by: Rebecca | June 12, 2007 9:48 AM

"I have valued family harmony over fighting so we spend too much"

It's called a "Credit Card Marriage".

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 12, 2007 9:50 AM

Rebecca

"For those SAHs who have the "we're a team" type of husband, I think that is absolutely the best situation for the whole family."

First the couple must pass YOUR fitness test before the state will give them permission to have children!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 9:58 AM

What is wrong with a child bring a parent a beer sometimes? Will the child automatically turn into an alcoholic? If an adult decides he wants a soft drink instead, will the child become obese? Maybe this is a way that a parent can set an example of the proper way to enjoy a drink. By showing that moderate consumption in a controlled environment (not going some place and then driving home) can be a bit of guidance for the child.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 10:01 AM

Money. One of the #1 reasons for divorce. Applicable to my case. Myself - conservative and thinking of today AND the future for the FAMILY. Him - thinking of Today only. Mainly for himself in a lot of respects.

Who was right? Probably both of us when thinking of finances.

Who was the winner after divorce? In a financial viewpoint - Probably both of us. I live financially conservative and have more money in the bank as a single mom / single income than married with two incomes. (to me that is actually very sad)

Him - Married himself a woman with more money that doesn't care if he spends on himself as long as she has herself a husband.

Who loses? The kids. The loss of family unit over financial matters.

Financial decisions - stay at home mom; working mom. Doesn't matter. What matters if that as a married couple you work at the best financial system for you. My minister told me he has no clue about his finances; his wife takes care of everything.

Why is money really the root of problems? It is really the "perceived" issue of CONTROL. Is it controlling to be conservative or fiscally responsible? Is it controlling to spend money versus saving or is that "living life". Who is right? It isn't about the money in the long run. It isn't about control either. It is ultimately about RESPECT for your spouse and your family and making the best decisions that benefit overall. Will mistakes be made? YEP. But remember - money is just money. Your family is worth more than all the money in the bank. Family is worth more than all your stock and big cars in the driveway. Please remember that when making financial decisions.

yeah, i know this got rambling. I just hate thinking of all the broken families due to finances.

Posted by: C.W. | June 12, 2007 10:01 AM

C.W.

"My minister told me he has no clue about his finances; his wife takes care of everything."

I don't care what happens in your minister's house! Isn't it private? What does it have to do with the topic?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 10:12 AM

I don't know why being a stay-at-home Mom would make you not qualified to participate in a stock sale decision. Did the newspaper not come to their house anymore? Did she never have those skills?

It seems more likely that she wasn't interested in the details of stock sale decisions anymore because staying at home had changed her priorities and interests.

You don't have to quit your job to have your interests change over time.

Posted by: RoseG | June 12, 2007 10:13 AM

What does your criticism of C.W. have to do with the topic?

Posted by: to 10:12 | June 12, 2007 10:14 AM

just wondering: why would I want to take advice from a woman whose sense of self is so clearly defined by the outside world and what others think of her?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 10:21 AM

"My minister told me he has no clue about his finances; his wife takes care of everything."

I don't care what happens in your minister's house! Isn't it private? What does it have to do with the topic?

Posted by: | June 12, 2007 10:12 AM

The point is that ministers often lead pre-marital counseling for couples, and continuing counseling for the already-married, and are supposed to be able to offer faith-based guidance. This minister shared information about how finances are handled in his house, so made a conscious choice to give up his (and his wife's) privacy on the topic. I happen not to agree with how he and his wife handle money, but that's beside the point in terms of whether or not he chooses to make that information public.

Posted by: To 10:12 | June 12, 2007 10:22 AM

"During my time at home, in addition to not contributing to my family's finances, I gradually became disconnected from anything to do with our finances, except for paying the bills and helping out at tax time."

I think this is interesting. To me, paying the bills and doing the taxes are a really important part of managing the finances. In my family, I make most of the money, but my husband is the one who pays the bills and does the taxes. He actually likes doing it, and is very good at it. As a result of his good stewardship of our money, we have good credit, nice savings, and an organized system that keeps us on track. We don't have complicated investments, just our retirement accounts and a college savings account for our son, so maybe that's why I consider paying the bills and doing the taxes so important. I think a lot of people get into trouble because they mismanage this routine task, which may seem unimportant, but in the end, is very important to the smooth financial running of a household.

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 10:26 AM

C.W. and happily wed, I agree that most fights in a marriage are about money. It's certainly true in my marriage!

My husband controls the money (pays the bills, does the budget, collects the receipts, does the taxes) because when we got together, I had crushing debt and was irresponsible with money. Now that we've got a budget and I've learned more about money, he's reluctant to give up the power. It is definitely a trust and respect issue with us that we're working on. So I can certainly see where this guest author is coming from.

That being said, we always discuss purchases, no matter how minor. No one really has "veto" power. It took us months to decide to get a new TV. In that sense, we are a partnership.

Posted by: Meesh | June 12, 2007 10:28 AM

"The point is that ministers often lead pre-marital counseling for couples, and continuing counseling for the already-married, and are supposed to be able to offer faith-based guidance."

The faith-based guidance isn't working.
The divorce rates for those who receive pre-marital and/or continuing counseling for the already-married is the same as for that of the general population.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 10:29 AM

I think this is an interesting topic. I'm only engaged but my fiance and I have been talking about money a lot. Here the roles are actually reversed...he knows little about money/investing and I know a lot.

I get very frustrated when some women throw up their hands and say "Oh well, I don't understand money." It makes your head swim at first but after a while you get the hang of it, and it feels VERY good to understand it all.

Hopefully my Hubby to be and I will be able to reach a middle ground.

Posted by: CD | June 12, 2007 10:33 AM

The faith-based guidance isn't working.
The divorce rates for those who receive pre-marital and/or continuing counseling for the already-married is the same as for that of the general population.

Posted by: | June 12, 2007 10:29 AM

If a couple prefers faith-based marital counseling (though I wouldn't), that's their choice. As you note, it isn't any worse than pre-martial counseling on average.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 10:36 AM

You don't need a book, you need a pamphlet that reads: If you are going to stay at home - don't be a sucker and just give all of yourself and your autonomy to your husband and children. Marry a guy who values are similar to yours and who values you as a person. Define yourself by what matters to you, not what matters to everyone else. Figure out what makes you happy and do it.

Easy stuff and free from me! Not $29.99

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 10:58 AM

Meesh, you wrote, "we always discuss purchases, no matter how minor."

But what about gifts? How can you discuss something that's supposed to be a surprise.

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 12, 2007 10:59 AM

Today's blog isn't just self-promotion. It's product placement; publisher advertising; a book tour stop.

Cohen and her publisher are (gleefully, I'm sure) using this free forum to promote a new book they hope to sell hundreds of thousands of copies of. What a great opportunity! Too good not to grab!

Leslie, this is completely wrong.

It's one thing for you and Brian to occasionally tout your books, since you both take responsibility for maintaining and perpetuating the blog. In other words, you work for the right to hawk your wares.

But to invite or permit guest bloggers to write a few paragraphs so that they can get enormous free publicity for their new books is just exploiting your readers and their concerns.

Your MBA may tell you that this is good business practice -- seizing an available opportunity to maximize profits. At least a few of your readers, though, are telling you that it's unethical and downright insulting.

Posted by: pittypat | June 12, 2007 11:01 AM

Sounds like the author is married to a jerk. If you have to go back to work (and leave your kids) to have a say so in what goes on... you are with the wrong guy. I am a SAHM and my husband treats me with the same regard and respect as when I was working. Maybe I am lucky.

Posted by: Rockville | June 12, 2007 11:02 AM


Leslie and all ---

We're so on-topic so far I hesitate to post this, but I saw 2 articles this morning, both of which might be worth further attention/investigation on the blog.

This on a secondary school educator who has plumbed her anecdotal experiences teaching across class divides to develop books and training programs for educators/school systems, sensitizing teachers across class differences:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/10/magazine/10payne-t.html?em&ex=1181793600&en=f7b3f9766a0e0792&ei=5087%0A

One of her books might be good fodder for the book discussion, if that's still going.

(Class is so often shouldering its way onto the blog, whatever the topic, often as a way to dismiss, ridicule, or squelch discussion, and to try to redirect the blog to one's own sensitivities; it seems a straight-on, grounded discussion of it might be helpful.)

This other, on two high-achieving moms' development of a national preschool ratings clearinghouse, in Jay Matthews' column

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/12/AR2007061200606.html

I'm always interested in how infrastructure gets developed to support parents, to help each new cohort as it comes through each stage find resources to balance their work and parenting lives, and in how we possibly remunerate those who develop such infrastructure for us. This is one good example.

Proud but occasional member of the windbag club,

Posted by: KB | June 12, 2007 11:04 AM

Or maybe you were just a better judge of character in a future husband than some other women.

Posted by: To Rockville | June 12, 2007 11:07 AM

A blog a day keeps the intelligence away?

Posted by: to Pittypat | June 12, 2007 11:07 AM

from 11:07

I do agree with you!

Posted by: to Pittypat | June 12, 2007 11:13 AM

Pittypat,
I don't get why you are so insulted by the idea that Cohen is promoting her product. Even if you don't like her blog, or intend to buy her book, it's on topic. Why is it okay to discuss Hirshman or some other writer, but not Cohen? Is it because Hirshman is famous?

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 11:13 AM

Leslie just got bit by her own pet poodle, Pitypat.

Posted by: Yippidy Yap | June 12, 2007 11:16 AM

"What matters if that as a married couple you work at the best financial system for you...
It isn't about the money in the long run. It isn't about control either. It is ultimately about RESPECT for your spouse and your family and making the best decisions that benefit overall. Will mistakes be made? YEP. But remember - money is just money. Your family is worth more than all the money in the bank."

IMO, this was the point of CW's post - not whether or not faith-based counseling is the way to go.

Posted by: eak | June 12, 2007 11:20 AM

"It is ultimately about RESPECT for your spouse and your family and making the best decisions that benefit overall."

It's difficult to respect someone who hasn't read the newspaper or an adult book in years. It's difficult to respect a person who has lost the art of small talk and considers Dr. Phil and Oprah to be "must see" television.

It's impossible to respect someone whose only topics of conversation are breast feeding and poop!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 11:32 AM

anon at 10:58 had it right.

It is all about marrying someone with similar financial values whom you trust and respect. There is no my money or your money; it is all our money to have, save, invest (think college and retirement), and spend wisely.

We agree first on investments and large purchases (say, over $200) without agreeing on it first. If we can not agree, we do not do it.

Posted by: anon for this | June 12, 2007 11:35 AM

Emily,

If Hirshman has written a guest blog for "On Balance," I would feel the same way. Has she?

I started reading this blog around the time that people here were hotly debating Hirshman, but I was never aware that she wrote a guest blog.

Discussing authors' books is quite different from giving an author and her/his publisher free advertising.

Posted by: pittypat | June 12, 2007 11:35 AM

To 11:32 - If you have such contempt for mothers, then why are you here? Get a life already.

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 11:36 AM

"Discussing authors' books is quite different from giving an author and her/his publisher free advertising."

What's the difference? They still get the free advertising either way. And actually, if I am going to discuss a book, I like having the author available. Leslie did that with that guy who wrote the book about his journalist mother (I am bad with names-- sorry).

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 11:39 AM

I agree with pittypat. It's one thing to discuss a topic, and quote someone on that topic. It's another to turn the Guest Blog into a long-winded banner ad for Carol Fishman Cohen's book.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 11:42 AM

I like having the author available


Are there comments posted here from Cohen and/or her co-author? I have not read any. Sounds like self promotion to me!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 11:44 AM

"It's difficult to respect someone who hasn't read the newspaper or an adult book in years. It's difficult to respect a person who has lost the art of small talk and considers Dr. Phil and Oprah to be "must see" television.

It's impossible to respect someone whose only topics of conversation are breast feeding and poop!"

My mom used our nap times to read Time magazine. Have you had an actual conversation about this with the person involved, or do you just complain about it on blogs? If it's the former, and nothing resulted, maybe the issues are bigger.

On topic, my husband was the primary breadwinner (I did a little freelancing, but it wasn't a major contribution) for two years after we got married, while I changed careers. One of the things we learned from that was that we probably can't afford for me to stay home when we have kids--finances were really tight. But our finances were still ours, not just "his," and even now that I'm working full-time, we make joint decisions about everything but very minor expenses. It works for us, at least.

Posted by: Kate | June 12, 2007 11:44 AM

I thought it was a thoughtful, honest blog. She's the author of a book, so it was even well-written.

I can see how she and her husband slid into the situation she described. Here's what I consider a parallel: When our babies are born, Mom is in charge, because she nurses, she's on maternity leave, and she's great with infants. I change a couple of diapers, put together the swing, and tell her what a great job she's doing -- basically, I've got secondary status as a parent. I do as I'm told, and I ask permission to take the baby on a walk. Time passes, baby grows, then I'm bottlefeeding, then I'm spooning pureed vegetables into baby's mouth. I know his food peferences, I know what songs he likes to hear on the changing table, I grudually become an involved parent with some real authority and decision-making abilities. Personal validation and confidence make all the difference.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | June 12, 2007 11:46 AM

It's impossible to respect someone whose only topics of conversation are breast feeding and poop!


When you have an infant, about all you are doing is breastfeeding and changing diapers, sorry if you find caring for your infant to be such a boring an unimportant job. You should have married someone who didn't want kids if you don't value caring for them.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 11:46 AM

"I agree with pittypat. It's one thing to discuss a topic, and quote someone on that topic. It's another to turn the Guest Blog into a long-winded banner ad for Carol Fishman Cohen's book."

Yes, it's self promotion. Big deal. I see it as no different from celebrities touting their newest films or tv shows on tv talk shows. This is not PBS, is it?

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 11:47 AM

I am not sure I agree with the premise of this. I know many women who run the finances and mnay men who don't. This sounds like the husband did a bad job of communicating.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 11:47 AM


Today's guest blog reminds me of a trend I've noticed about many women's work choices. I've noticed that women, more than men, often commit themselves to 'phase of life' type professions, where they have either devoted so much energy to managing and becoming expert on a particular passage in their own life, or have been so experientially transformed and focused by that experience, that they adopt as their profession the role of ushering others through that particular life experience.

There are many examples: wedding coordinators; wedding industries (floral, gowns, photography, cakes, etc); midwives, doulas, and lactation consultants; preschool teachers; birthday party planners; closet/reorganizer types; realtors; college guidance advisors; marriage and grief couselors; teachers, to some extent. I'm not saying *all* adopt these careers after personally experiencing related life events, but in my experience many do. Among nurses/premeds/future doctors anecdotally, I've noticed women cite early experiences as patients or patient's family members as their motivation to serve the medical community professionally, far more frequently than men (that is only my own anecdotal impression, though).

I see women writing life/balance books after their own work-life-rearranging experiences as part of the same trend :-)

And I myself, coming through a traumatic experience with my daughter's medical issues, would often wake up at night considering just scrapping it all, and applying for a Hughes fellowship to retrain physical scientists for questions in the life sciences, to commit myself to researching the specific unknown medical issues myself. It took actually reading much of the current research, especially the entire Ph.D thesis of a Scandinavian researcher who offered a very good summary and analysis of a narrow well-targeted question (immunological differences in breastmilk between mothers of nonallergic and severely food allergic babies), for me to become assured that there actually *were* bright and committed people actively investigating these issues, and not just a void I needed to personally step into, to ever improve the understanding and prospects for these kids. That's what it took for the daydreams of recommitting my professional identity, toward one finding answers for other families like mine, to subside (thankfully, as the bio aspect would *not* have played to my strengths).

I'm curious what others think of this trend --- I don't know if it might be because women are more open to the transforming power of life events; are more immersed in managing life events; are more consumer niche-oriented in looking for a role in the workworld; are more open to change in their work role; are more willing to fuse personal and work identities; and/or are less committed to externally-prescribed career tracks. . . Women re-entering the workworld after breaks explains some of it - since many make a fresh start, the new choice of work role can respond more to adult life experiences.

Just an idle thought I'm curious about others' opinions on . . . back to work myself,

Posted by: KB | June 12, 2007 11:47 AM

from amazon...

Back on the Career Track: A Guide for Stay-at-Home Moms Who Want to Return to Work by Carol Fishman Cohen and Vivian Steir Rabin (Hardcover - Jun 15, 2007)
Buy new: $24.99 $16.49 2 Used & new from $16.48
Get it by Wednesday, Jun 13, if you order in the next 4 hours and 40 minutes.

Posted by: anon this time | June 12, 2007 11:51 AM

What I think, shorten you "thesis" by about 500 words!

Posted by: to KB | June 12, 2007 11:52 AM

Amazon.com Sales Rank: #27,774 in Books

So "promoting" your book on this blog does not result in skyrocketing sales.

How many people are on here anyway -- how many books do you really think she'll sell as a result of sharing her experiences with this audience?

Posted by: Arlington Dad | June 12, 2007 11:54 AM

"Back on the Career Track: A Guide for Stay-at-Home Moms Who Want to Return to Work by Carol Fishman Cohen and Vivian Steir Rabin (Hardcover - Jun 15, 2007)
Buy new: $24.99 $16.49 2 Used & new from $16.48
Get it by Wednesday, Jun 13, if you order in the next 4 hours and 40 minutes. "

Get it FREE from the public library!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 11:55 AM

I don't understand how the guest blogger is in a position to advise other women on how to get back on the career track when her workforce reentry was so brief. Her one year of work as a 42 yr old qualifies her to speak authoritatively about what exactly? Personally, I would rather hear from someone who, after a long career hiatus to raise a family, actuallys gets back, and stays back on track.

As to the substance of the blog entry, I agree. Stay on top of financial issues, but I don't think you have to be working in order to do so.

Posted by: MDC | June 12, 2007 11:55 AM

I think any guest here deserves kudos just to opening yourself up to minute criticism and 350+ posts. Not for the faint of heart.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 11:58 AM

I really enjoyed your post and want to pipe up that I think it would be a good topic for discussion. Work After Kids, rethinking options and why. How is it that "careers" somehow get sidetracked and then changed completely.....

Posted by: to KB | June 12, 2007 12:00 PM

Interesting. Dh is the one with the MBA, I am the one who seems to know more about the finances (financial analyst-me, IT guy-him).

While a SAHM, I did all the bill paying and finances. I am also the one who does the options trading in our house (dh really didn't want to know the details). I still do most of finances, but not as much-dh had to pick up some slack when I went back to work.

The thing is, it's all *our* money. I couldn't imagine living any other way. I'd rather be single. Either we're partners or we're not. If I didn't trust him, I wouldn't have married him or stayed married to him.

We never make big purchases without consulting the other- but we don't really veto each other much(we have the same goals-pay off mortgage, retire early, so we both know each dollar going to other purchases postpones tha-not to say we don't buy stuff or go on vacations, tho).

Posted by: atlmom | June 12, 2007 12:06 PM

Amen altmom - our money is the key word. So many spouses get angry at the other and decided to buy something to show them, but they don't realize they are shooting themselves in the foot since its all the same pot.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 12:10 PM

"So many spouses get angry at the other and decided to buy something to show them"

Ha, ha! Are the couples toddlers? In junior high? I'll show him!! She can't do that to me!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 12:17 PM

"we" got a raise is like those men who say "we are pregnant" (puke!). but the respect behind it is awesome. i think that's what carol is really writing about in her book -- self respect, respect within a family, and respect from society. women who don't work for pay often get too little respect from everyone, and it's not their fault. our world shouldn't be that way, but it is, and bravo to carol and others who are trying to turn their mistakes into empowerment for other women.

Posted by: Leslie | June 12, 2007 12:17 PM

The shark is primed for his jump, any minute now.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 12:22 PM

Father of 4, that's a great question. We each get our own "spending money" that the other person doesn't questionb, so little gifts come out of that amount. We're not really into big surprizes. Like we ask each other what we want for holidays and we stick to the list.

Posted by: Meesh | June 12, 2007 12:28 PM

"I agree with pittypat. It's one thing to discuss a topic, and quote someone on that topic. It's another to turn the Guest Blog into a long-winded banner ad for Carol Fishman Cohen's book."

Yes, it's self promotion. Big deal. I see it as no different from celebrities touting their newest films or tv shows on tv talk shows. This is not PBS, is it?

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 11:47 AM

I don't watch talk shows for this reason, but the point is, I would know what I was going to encounter if I did choose to view them. I don't come to this blog for what's known in the promotions industry as paid product placements. I doubt you do either. This isn't about whether or not this blog purports to be advertising-free. The guest blog has heretofore been the forum for "real" people, e.g., not journalists, and not someone who is using this opportunity to sell me something.

I'm simply expressing annoyance - the promotional nature of this column pales in comparison to the fact that the guest blogger is woefully insecure, as others have noted with more elegance.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | June 12, 2007 12:30 PM

A few points:

(1) I agree with pittypat. After reading this blog, I couldn't help but feel that this blog was written for the sole purpose of self-promotion. So - to try to make it about "balance" - the author threw in an exaggerated story about how she no longer was comfortable making financial decisions - or even being consulted on them - simply because she was a SAHM. Despite the fact that she had an MBA from Harvard. Puleeeaazze.

(2) I thought her blog was actually somewhat offensive to SAH parents in the sense that she justified not being able to make financial decisions for their family since she dropped out of the work force. I think this may be how some women feel after they start staying-at-home, but I just didn't like how she was so willing to accept this. Why should smart, educated women who decide to stay at home be demoted to some second rate spouse? I'm a working mom and even I thought this was offensive.

Posted by: londonmom | June 12, 2007 12:36 PM

Why should smart, educated women who decide to stay at home be demoted to some second rate spouse?

They shouldn't and wouldn't be if they didn't allow it. As my mom always said "no one can take advantage of you without your permission"

The lesson in this isn't about staying on top of the money, its making a careful choice in who you marry.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 12:40 PM

To Meesh and Father of 4,

Think of those print and broadcast ads -- which infuriate me with their view of couples' relationships -- where the husband amazes his wife with an expensive car or diamond jewelry as a gift on a special occasion or holiday, obviously without having made such a huge expenditure decision jointly.

Gee, in what parallel universe do such people live? Obviously a fantasy world that advertisers are playing into -- a close cousin of the fairy-tale prince who rescues the maiden in distress -- where money is unlimited so the woman abdicates her share of responsibility for it in return for... whatever.

Meesh, you're right about each partner having a small amount of discretionary money so that neither is trying to micro-manage the other's spending (which would be awfully controlling, IMHO).

Ultimately, it's not about who earns how much, but rather about mutual respect and responsibility. Evidently some couples think it ought to be proportionate to the amount each person earns, but I disagree.

Posted by: catlady | June 12, 2007 12:41 PM

Interesting situation: BF is a whiz with numbers and finances and is doing great (double majored in EE and finance and will probably end up with an MBA eventually). I am a mess, in no small part due to poverty, school debt, mimicking my parents' poor financial decisions, and just plain personal irresponsibility. Right now I'm slowly but surely digging myself out of the worst kind of debt (credit cards, obviously). By the time I enter law school, student debt is all I will have.

BF and I recently had a discussion regarding how we will handle finances in our household. Basically, he will handle all of them, with me watching closely not only so I can see where our money goes, but also so I can learn everything I need to in order to maximize my financial solvency. And if anything ever happens to him, or if he wants to delegate the task to me, I will know what I'm doing and not mess anything up.

I know I'm making him sound bossy and controlling, but the truth is I don't know anything about money--which is why I'm so deeply in debt and can't keep money in the bank. And he knows quite a bit--which is why, at 24, he's got substantial savings, zero debt, and is about to buy his first house. So even though for awhile, I'll be learning from him, in the end, it will be better for both of us.

Though I'd be very angry if he made a unilateral decision without telling me about it first--I'd expect him to let me know that he was going to do something, and why.

Posted by: Mona | June 12, 2007 12:42 PM

KB, I have noticed this trend too. I like your points. I also think it has a lot to do with women having more options to start off in a new direction. Lots of these women did stay home, and when they decide to re-enter the workforce, they have the luxury of not being the sole supported of the household and being able to follow the niche career prospects without the fear that the family will starve if they don't succeed.

Posted by: Meesh | June 12, 2007 12:42 PM

Ugh, please forgive the typos. I'm in a hurry today.

Posted by: Meesh | June 12, 2007 12:43 PM

I for one am sort of glad Ms. Cohen was the guest blogger today, because it saved me $29.99 or the time at the library to check out the book and read it.

I'm interested in the topic but not in duh! advice like "don't lose your autonomy" or "don't let your skills become stale." And I'm certainly not interested in any whining from the authors!

Posted by: momof4 | June 12, 2007 12:45 PM

Anyone find that gift giving is more difficult since it is one big pot? If I buy DH an expensive pool table, we both make sacrifices to offset that expense or vice versa. When we were dating, the gifts were nifty because each of you was making a sacrifice to give something to the other. Now we mostly skip gifts and do things that we both enjoy such as improving the house or going to a concert together.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 12:46 PM

Londonmom is right - just because Carol (the author) basically got wrapped up in everyday life with 4 kids and her husband made a financial decision without her means very little in the whole scheme of things. Doesn't sound like the end of the world. I'd be more concerned if Carol's husband suddenly emptied out their bank accounts, sold everything possible and left her for his secretary - now that is a problem.

The implication in the article is that SAH mothers are somehow dumbed down by the mere fact that they stay home. Warning - your husband might call off Xmas pictures (the horror!) if you don't keep your finger on his throat and be involved in every decision - financial or otherwise.

Lastly, why do women with MBA's have 3 names? Carol Fishman Cohen, Leslie Morgan Steiner. If I go back for my MBA I going to start adding my maiden name all the time so that I fit in. Of course my MBA would be from a crappy state school so it may not be necessary.

Posted by: CMAC | June 12, 2007 12:52 PM

We usually don't give gifts to each other either. But if we do want something we'll buy it for oursevles. And occassionally, like a birthday or anniversary (not every year just some years), we'll get something for the other person. It's very random, but works for us.

Posted by: A NOVA Mom | June 12, 2007 12:56 PM

12:46, that's how feel. There's no such thing as a "gift", because we both have to find a way to pay for it.

I'm sure there was more going on, btw, with the stock sale, but my husband wouldn't have the slightest interest in me calling him to say do you want to sell X shares of Y today. I don't want him to ask me about expenditures related to any of our IT equipment, either. Maybe it's because we've been together for more than 10 years, but we trust each other to handle the areas that are in our respective zones, and we are fully aware of what decisions -- very, very few -- fall into the zone of joint agreement. It striked me that most of these issues come down to knowing your spouse and what he/she cares about.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | June 12, 2007 12:58 PM

"The implication in the article is that SAH mothers are somehow dumbed down by the mere fact that they stay home. "

Numerous studies support this theory.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 12:58 PM

Why should smart, educated women who decide to stay at home be demoted to some second rate spouse?

They shouldn't and wouldn't be if they didn't allow it. As my mom always said "no one can take advantage of you without your permission"

The lesson in this isn't about staying on top of the money, its making a careful choice in who you marry.

Posted by: | June 12, 2007 12:40 PM

*clap* *clap* *cheer*

Posted by: MN | June 12, 2007 1:00 PM

"They shouldn't and wouldn't be if they didn't allow it. As my mom always said "no one can take advantage of you without your permission"

Your mom was a wise woman, many people here should keep that in mind.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 1:10 PM

You can only be a doormat if you lie down.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 1:17 PM

She freely admits that she put herself in this postion, so let's not blame the husband.

This happened because I became immersed in the daily demands of caring for our four young children, managing the household and doing volunteer work. I am happy I took a career break to be a stay-at-home mom. But eventually I made a personal vow to return to work when the time was right to rediscover the important part of myself I'd discarded when I came home. Remebmer, this is a man she trusts, with whom she rode the changing tides of circumstance during their marriage.

"This happened because I became immersed in the daily demands of caring for our four young children, managing the household and doing volunteer work"

So she gave the "job" of finances to her husband -- with 4 kids, if someone is willing to take on a responsibility, I can see why she'd cross it off her own list.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | June 12, 2007 1:28 PM


I think a big point of the stock sale was, after she realized 1) he was making the decision without her input, 2) she then realized she was no longer prepared to give informed input. That she had been an investment banker, whose work kept her current and informed about such questions, and when exactly such a question pierced the veil into her SAH life, she suddenly realized that her up-to-date expertise had dissipated. That giving up work and attending instead to domestic demands had invisibly eroded her accustomed core expertise.

I imagine her standard for recommending yea or nay on the sale was one of researched professional familiarity with the specific stock, not just not-totally-ignorant-about-finances. It doesn't say she was dumbed down by SAH-hood, but that she was no longer in-the-loop, flush with deep up-to-date analytic knowledge she used to take for granted. Many nonprofessionals invest in simpler ways than timing and individual stockpicking precisely because they don't care to devote ample time to monitor and decide about such investments . . .

So, I think it was more an "I'm not who I used to be" moment,

Posted by: KB | June 12, 2007 1:28 PM

Lastly, why do women with MBA's have 3 names? Carol Fishman Cohen, Leslie Morgan Steiner. If I go back for my MBA I going to start adding my maiden name all the time so that I fit in. Of course my MBA would be from a crappy state school so it may not be necessary.

Posted by: CMAC | June 12, 2007 12:52 PM
It is because the person had some professional standing before they were married. It is to remind the reader who the person was prior to being married. Female statisticians and mathematicians do the same thing. It links our pre marital publications to our post marital work. Or they are staunch feminists who derive their identity from their name.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 12, 2007 1:32 PM

"Lastly, why do women with MBA's have 3 names? Carol Fishman Cohen, Leslie Morgan Steiner."

They do this because, as "professional" women, they feel like they ought to keep their maiden names, but, as newly married women, they wanna please their men.

They don't have the guts to make a choice and stick with it.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 1:32 PM

The best part was when she realized that she was in her 40's with kids and not 27. I think that happens to all of us and if we are lucky, we say ok and count our blessings.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 1:32 PM

"They do this because, as "professional" women, they feel like they ought to keep their maiden names"

Those are their dad's names by the way.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 1:35 PM

**There's no such thing as a "gift", because we both have to find a way to pay for it.**

Does this mean that gifts have to be expensive to be worthwhile?

Thoughtful doesn't have to mean expensive. Some of the best gifts my husband has given me have been incredibly special and phenomenally cheap.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 1:35 PM

A few thoughts:

- if the point of this guest blog is "if you were a stay-at-home parent for a while and go back to work, carefully think about whether you've changed and want to go back to the same type of work", then it's a good point. It's also lost in the self-promotion. DW was an analyst for the Feds; now she's an instructional assistant in the school system - and much happier although not making as much money. But she thought about whether she'd be happy going back to her old line of work, and concluded that she wouldn't be.

- I know this doesn't work for everyone, but I agree with a few people above (Meesh, I think?) who said it's all "our money". That's the way we've been since day 1. It's our money - we are a partnership working toward a set of common goals. Yes, we each do get a pot of discretionary money to spend as we want without the other knowing or complaining. (I like to each lunch out most days; DW likes to buy paperback novels and meet friends at the bagel joint. As long as we're within budget, so what?)

- re: investing: I like to follow the advice of legendary investor Peter Lynch. (Neophyte investors really should read his books, even if they follow other strategies.) He thinks it's important to bounce investment ideas off your partner, to get a sanity check. We find it works wonders. Me: We should invest in Chipotle Mexican Grill. It just went public. It's growing rapidly. We like to eat there and it's always crowded. It's a good niche. DW: okay, we do like to eat there; it is always crowded. There are new ones opening up. Go for it. CHA-CHING!! Me: we should invest in Ciena. They make optical fiber switching systems. Yeah, I know it's been doing badly lately, but there's gotta be a turn around somewhere in there. DW: No! I just don't see the business model in today's environment. The people we know who work there are bailing out before they get laid off. Avoid it! (CHA-CHING in the sense of avoiding a huge loss.) Come to think of it, almost all of our biggest investment losses have come when I felt that something was just so hot that I had to buy it or sell it now before talking to DW. Almost always, that's a bad idea.

- marriage is a partnership where both people are supposed to be working toward a common set of goals (yeah, I know, I said that already, but it's important). You don't have to do the same "job" within the marriage; it's okay to specialize - I cook; you decorate; etc. But if you want your lives to be in balance you'd better be heading for the same place.

Posted by: Army Brat | June 12, 2007 1:36 PM

"Lastly, why do women with MBA's have 3 names? Carol Fishman Cohen, Leslie Morgan Steiner."

What was Leslie's last name during her first marriage?

Posted by: Elaine | June 12, 2007 1:38 PM

Are there any SAH dads on here? I'd be curious whether this whole "abdicating financial responsibility" thing is more a SAH thing or a female thing.

If, as someone said, this is more about being wiped out after a long day of taking care of four little kids and then having your husband say, "Gee, wouldn't you love to take a peek at those financial statements?" and you think, "No, I'd really like a shower/a glass of wine/to flop in front of the TV/some sleep" -- then presumably a male SAH would feel the same way. And Mr. Fishman-Cohen or whatever his name is, isn't necessarily the bad guy -- he might just think he's being efficient.

Do any of the SAH dads have stories about having to ask for 'permission' to make a purchase, or having one vetoed? What do they do about the gift dilemmas? I could see some guys having a hard time with the whole money aspect of SAH.

Also, do any women who earn the majority of the finances want to weigh in on this?

Posted by: Armchair MOm | June 12, 2007 1:39 PM

Also, my mom just sent me the new book by the authors of "The MIllionare next door" about 'the female millionaire next door'. There are some really bizarre statements in this book about how many wealthy women who own their own businesses tend to be married to insecure men who are bad with money. It might make an interesting column -- or maybe a book club.

Posted by: Armchair MOm | June 12, 2007 1:42 PM

"Does this mean that gifts have to be expensive to be worthwhile?"

No, sex is free!

Posted by: Father's Day is Coming | June 12, 2007 1:47 PM

I know plenty of professional women that didn't feel the need to go by 3 names after they were married.

Posted by: cmac | June 12, 2007 1:48 PM

"Also, do any women who earn the majority of the finances want to weigh in on this?"

I don't. It's silly and stupid for a person to be so insecure in a relationship.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 1:48 PM

Joe and Sam had just finished 18 holes and were in the locker room changing back to street clothes.

Joe noticed that Sam was wearing a particular item of clothing.

Joe, "Sam, not to be nosy or anything, but how long have you been wearing a girdle?"

"Ever since my wife found it in the glove box of my car!" replied Sam.

Posted by: Fred | June 12, 2007 1:49 PM

Those are their dad's names by the way.
Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 01:35 PM

Your point?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 1:51 PM

I know plenty of professional women that didn't feel the need to go by 3 names after they were married.

Posted by: cmac | June 12, 2007 01:48 PM
CMAC: I don't think it is about being a professional per se. It is about being a professional of note. For example, if you did some scientific research on a particular cancer and then you went on to do more research after you were married. You would want the reader to recognize you were the scientist who wrote the original article and this is additional research. At least that is why it is generally used in the mathematical/statistical field. Some women just prefer to continue publishing in their maiden name while keeping their married name for their every day interactions.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 12, 2007 1:53 PM

I have 3 names too (well, technically 4 if you count my middle name), but I wouldn't describe myself as a feminist at all. I happen to like my maiden name (which yes, is my father's name) and I also like my husband's name, but didn't want to be known as Mrs. Husband'sLastName because there are already 3 others Mrs. Husband'sLastName with his two SILs and mother. No MBA here...

Posted by: Arlington | June 12, 2007 1:53 PM

I have a friend who keeps a just in case account. She tells me that it is in her maiden name, and that it's just for her. Everyone else ib the family , I guess, be damned. Cause no matter how you slice it-it is one pot. Her having that money takes away from the rest of the family in that they have a bigger mortgage or don't have as much saved for the kid's college or whatever.
She does it because she is completely afraid. Her parents divorced when she was out of college and she doesn't want to have 'nothing' if that happens. She thinks that since she saved it, it's hers. Which is crazy, b/c she thinks all of her dh's savings is 'theirs.'. I think it's all crazy, but I don't have to live with either of them.

Posted by: atlmom | June 12, 2007 1:56 PM

Those are their dad's names by the way.
Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 01:35 PM

Your point?

My point was that keeping "their" names really was keeping their father's name. So I am not sure what being a "professional" woman has to do with anything. Seems like a matter or preference. My wife keeps her middle anme as her maiden name as a link to her family, so what's the big deal?

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 1:58 PM

"I don't think it is about being a professional per se. It is about being a professional of note. For example, if you did some scientific research on a particular cancer and then you went on to do more research after you were married. You would want the reader to recognize you were the scientist who wrote the original article and this is additional research."

foamgnome,

It's a widespread practice of women in MANY career fields (not just scientists who publish) to keep the name under which they became well known. Sometimes it is a maiden name; sometimes it is a married name; and sometimes it is a married name from a guy the woman divorced. (For instance, my SIL works under the last name of her first husband-- whom she divorced 30-odd years ago -- because that's how she became known in the film industry in which she works.)

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 1:58 PM

altmom: Actually the financial expert, Jean Chatzky, recommends that everyone have his/her own savings accounts in case of divorce or death of a spouse. Again this is not news. I believe it was Elizabeth Cady Stanton that said, "every women should have a purse of her own." It is not about secrecy. It is about economic survival in case the worst case scenario comes true.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 12, 2007 1:59 PM

My wife keeps her middle anme as her maiden name as a link to her family"


Vita vita vegamen.

Should be "She keeps her maiden name as her middle name. "

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 2:01 PM

foamgnome,

It's a widespread practice of women in MANY career fields (not just scientists who publish) to keep the name under which they became well known. Sometimes it is a maiden name; sometimes it is a married name; and sometimes it is a married name from a guy the woman divorced. (For instance, my SIL works under the last name of her first husband-- whom she divorced 30-odd years ago -- because that's how she became known in the film industry in which she works.)

Posted by: | June 12, 2007 01:58 PM

I wasn't saying it was only scientists. I was using that as an example because that is what I am familar with. If you notice, I said ,"For example..."

Posted by: foamgnome | June 12, 2007 2:01 PM

They do this because, as "professional" women, they feel like they ought to keep their maiden names, but, as newly married women, they wanna please their men.

They don't have the guts to make a choice and stick with it.

My name is hyphenated. It has nothing to do with not being able to make a choice. I use my name at work and for most things. However, I use my husband's name for anything related to the kids. For me it's easier than having to explain why my name is different.

Posted by: scarry | June 12, 2007 2:02 PM

My point was that keeping "their" names really was keeping their father's name. So I am not sure what being a "professional" woman has to do with anything. Seems like a matter or preference. My wife keeps her middle anme as her maiden name as a link to her family, so what's the big deal?
Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 01:58 PM

I think you're trying to make an anti-feminist statement here, and, if so, you're way off base from what I was talking about.

Yes, those are their fathers' names. But they're also family names, one of the important sources of identy for anyone.

And, by the way, in many subcultures in the U.S., women's surnames are actually their mothers names -- if the mother wasn't married and chose not to put the father's name on the birth certificate.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 2:04 PM

Since we have gone off topic to discussing name changes, has anyone met a man who has taken his wife's last name or met a couple who choose a totally different last name for them both to take? I have a friend in the office who knows of a couple that both liked walking. So when they married, they called themselves the Walkers. They felt that was the most fair way to do it. I actually asked my husband if he would take my last name but he was afraid his father would get pi$$ed off. But I like the idea of taking the women's name or a totally different name.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 12, 2007 2:05 PM

altmom

"Which is crazy, b/c she thinks all of her dh's savings is 'theirs.'. I think it's all crazy, but I don't have to live with either of them. "

If you mind your own business, you won't have to deal with any of the craziness and blab about it to cyber strangers on the Net!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 2:06 PM

I love Olivia Newton-John

Posted by: Arlington Dad | June 12, 2007 2:06 PM

I couldn't wait to get rid of my maiden name and begin using my husband's name. If you knew what the two names were, you would agree :)

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 2:06 PM

Do you think that some women actually dump thier maiden names and use only hubby's name?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 2:07 PM

" think you're trying to make an anti-feminist statement here, and, if so, you're way off base from what I was talking about.

Yes, those are their fathers' names. But they're also family names, one of the important sources of identy for anyone."

Nope. I am making a statement of fact. Whether they choose to keep it is up to them. I fault someone who would make it a feminist issue though. You are right and that is what my wife does as a link to her family.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 2:08 PM

Of course women sometimes keep their maiden name for cultural or emotional attachments to their families. But they don't always give their children the dual or hyphenated names. So the line essentially ends with them again. I am not saying that it is wrong or anything. I just wondered why they don't give the kids the dual name. Of course if a dual last named kid marries another dual last named kid, the resulting grandchild would have four last names. Which seems way too long.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 12, 2007 2:09 PM

I thought about using my wife's maiden name, which very recognizable, in a positive manner. But she preferred me to keep my (very much less notable) name.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 2:09 PM

I thought about using my wife's maiden name, which is very recognizable, in a positive manner. But she preferred me to keep my (very much less notable) name.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 2:09 PM

"Actually the financial expert, Jean Chatzky, recommends that everyone have his/her own savings accounts in case of divorce or death of a spouse."

In case of death, there's a nice instrument called life insurance.

For divorce, I'd be livid if I found out my spouse had a secret account. If you are so worried about divorce, why not be open about it, and either disclose the account, or sign a prenup. If a partner is withholding money that could be used to pay down debt or increase the family's standard of living - I say that's wrong, bigtime.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 2:09 PM

But I like the idea of taking the women's name or a totally different name.

Only if the guy is totally pw!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 2:10 PM

I would not and I suspect the majority of men would not take their wife's name for the reason I mentioned. It is her father's name.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 2:11 PM

I know of two men who changed their names to their wives' names. It's unusual, but it does happen. Both of them are fairly young (20s and 30s) so maybe we'll see this more in the future. I think the reasoning behind one of them was so the woman's family name would not die out after her (and the children also used the woman's name.)

Posted by: Identical | June 12, 2007 2:12 PM

"Do you think that some women actually dump thier maiden names and use only hubby's name?

Posted by: | June 12, 2007 02:07 PM"

You're joking, right?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 2:12 PM

atlmom: "I have a friend who keeps a just in case account. She tells me that it is in her maiden name, and that it's just for her. "

___________________

The maiden name bit is unusual, if she goes by the same last name as her husband everywhere else, but... when my father died, my mother discovered that she HAD no credit or finances of her own, even though she had worked for 22 of the 26 years of their marriage. Because everything was joint, for whatever reason when Dad died that history just "went away" and Mom had to start building a history of her own. We learned after that that it's always a good plan for each partner (and especially women, because yes there are still some sexist institutions in the world) to have some financial account in his/her own name.

Even when she was a SAHM, DW had a credit card in her own name, and an account at the credit union in her own name, so that she had a financial history established if I were to die. The money in the account and the money used to pay the credit card bills was "our money", but because I had seen what happened to my mother, I insisted that she have her own accounts.

Posted by: Army Brat | June 12, 2007 2:12 PM

Name-changing: hmm. Can't decide. I know I'll take Mr. Mona's name if we get married, because 1) I do not like my last name and want nothing to do with my biological father, and 2) I really really like Mr. Mona's last name. I will become professional before I get married, but I doubt I'll have a hard time dealing with the change. If I were attached to my maiden name, I'd keep it, but I really dislike it, and if I don't end up getting married, I'll probably legally change it anyway, just to get rid of my maiden name.

But I understand why some women struggle with the decision. I don't envy them their plights at all.

One thing that really does bother me is why women give their children their father's name, if the name doesn't match the woman. I never understood that, especially if the woman is the primary caregiver. I'm sure if I decided to keep my maiden name after marriage, that whoever I married would throw a fit if I named my children with my last name, and I'm not sure why they're so insistent on naming the children after themselves. If my husband and I were to have two last names, I would insist on last-name hyphenation at the very least.

Posted by: Mona | June 12, 2007 2:13 PM

"Do you think that some women actually dump thier maiden names and use only hubby's name?

Posted by: | June 12, 2007 02:07 PM"

You're joking, right?

No, I am not joking.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 2:14 PM

"I have a friend in the office who knows of a couple that both liked walking. So when they married, they called themselves the Walkers."

Great idea! My husband and I both like to fock; we could be the Fockers! Or the Motherfockers! Or the Buttfockers!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 2:14 PM

"Do you think that some women actually dump thier maiden names and use only hubby's name?"


Get out much? An enormous amount of women do. These "bubble" posts crack me up.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 2:14 PM

"Actually the financial expert, Jean Chatzky, recommends that everyone have his/her own savings accounts in case of divorce or death of a spouse."

In case of death, there's a nice instrument called life insurance.

For divorce, I'd be livid if I found out my spouse had a secret account. If you are so worried about divorce, why not be open about it, and either disclose the account, or sign a prenup. If a partner is withholding money that could be used to pay down debt or increase the family's standard of living - I say that's wrong, bigtime.

Posted by: | June 12, 2007 02:09 PM
JC was not saying it should be a secret. Just that it should be legally in your own name and not a joint account. The idea is that they have a fall back account and it also forces people who may want to abdicate all financial responsibilities to their spouse be responsible for at least this small amount of money. Again it is keeping up the money/financial skills and giving yourself some financial freedom in case of divorce, death, or disability. It is not to be a tool to decieve the other spouse.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 12, 2007 2:15 PM

"Those are their dad's names by the way."

As is your name, presumbly. In the US, both men and women commonly derive their names from their fathers. It's only women who go on to change the ownership plan later on in life.

And I didn't change my name.

Posted by: Lizzie | June 12, 2007 2:15 PM

Or they are staunch feminists who derive their identity from their name.


Posted by: foamgnome | June 12, 2007 01:32 PM

Wow - My name is my name. There's nothing staunch or feminist or professional or anything else about it. It's who I am.

I'm surprised at the implied slam here that the decision to keep a name I had all my life is somehow either a professional or political decision. Nope. It's just my name.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | June 12, 2007 2:15 PM

"Since we have gone off topic to discussing name changes, has anyone met a man who has taken his wife's last name or met a couple who choose a totally different last name for them both to take?"

Foamgnome, I actually do know a couple where the husband legally changed his name so that it would be an exact match to his wife's hyphenated name. So they are both now John and Jane Jane'slastname-John'slastname. Pretty cool.

I personally never felt the need to change my name. I like my name and would feel weird changing it. And I have never had to explain to anyone why I have a different name than my husband and child. It's just never been an issue.

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 2:15 PM

"Since we have gone off topic to discussing name changes, has anyone met a man who has taken his wife's last name or met a couple who choose a totally different last name for them both to take?"

Foamgnome, I actually do know a couple where the husband legally changed his name so that it would be an exact match to his wife's hyphenated name. So they are both now John and Jane Jane'slastname-John'slastname. Pretty cool.

I personally never felt the need to change my name. I like my name and would feel weird changing it. And I have never had to explain to anyone why I have a different name than my husband and child. It's just never been an issue.

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 2:16 PM

Chris, Are you out there? Wondering how your wife is doing.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | June 12, 2007 2:17 PM

"I married would throw a fit if I named my children with my last name, and I'm not sure why they're so insistent on naming the children after themselves. If my husband and I were to have two last names, I would insist on last-name hyphenation at the very least."


MONA, do you have compromise issues? I am not being snarky but when you love someone all that dogma can be a big ball and chain to carry around. Something to think about.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 2:18 PM

Or they are staunch feminists who derive their identity from their name.


Posted by: foamgnome | June 12, 2007 01:32 PM

Wow - My name is my name. There's nothing staunch or feminist or professional or anything else about it. It's who I am.

I'm surprised at the implied slam here that the decision to keep a name I had all my life is somehow either a professional or political decision. Nope. It's just my name.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | June 12, 2007 02:15 PM

MN: I apologize, I should have clarified for some women it is a political statement. I should have been more thoughtful in my posts. I did go on to say some people keep their name for cultural or emotional attachment issues. Again, it was not meant to be a slam on anyone. But I do know some women who do it purely because they feel that taking on just a man's name is sexist.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 12, 2007 2:19 PM

Emily: That is a cool. But I was wondering if there are any Jane herlastname and John herlastname. Where they use one last name but it happens to be the women's maiden name. I haven't met anyone who has done this.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 12, 2007 2:21 PM

"Emily: That is a cool. But I was wondering if there are any Jane herlastname and John herlastname. Where they use one last name but it happens to be the women's maiden name. I haven't met anyone who has done this."

I suspect that EMILY's choice is political despite her post to the contrary.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 2:25 PM

(The names have been changed to protect the guilty.)
Foamgnome, back in the 80s I used to work with a man named Jones, who married a woman named Smith. They both changed their name to SmithJones (run together as one word), and then gave that surname to their children. The rationale was that they wanted to honor both families and yet at the same time have everyone in the family have the same surname.

We recently got a wedding invitation; their oldest son, "Tommy SmithJones" is marrying a woman named "Jane Jackson-Johnson" (hyphenation of parental surnames). I asked my friend what his son's name will be after the wedding. He said they haven't decided; they really did want to use all the names, e.g., SmithJonesJackson-Johnson, but that was too long - it sounded more like a law firm than a family name. I'm still waiting to hear the result of that.

Posted by: Army Brat | June 12, 2007 2:25 PM

pATRICK


My kids and I have wierdo last-name-combos just to piss off and confound a-holes like you! Works everytime! What do you care? Get a life!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 2:26 PM

Or they are staunch feminists who derive their identity from their name.


Posted by: foamgnome | June 12, 2007 01:32 PM

Wow - My name is my name. There's nothing staunch or feminist or professional or anything else about it. It's who I am.

Megan'sNeighbor: You just proved foamgnome's point. You said "It's who I am." Foamgnome said it is when women derive their identity through their name. Your saying your last name is who you are=your identity.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 2:26 PM

"Do you think that some women actually dump their maiden names and use only hubby's name?"

Get out much? An enormous amount of women do. These "bubble" posts crack me up.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 02:14 PM

It was a serious post to present the other side of the issue which no one had spoken of until Mona's post. That is a woman may want to totally disassociate herself from her parents for whatever reason. Rather than respond with a plausible answer, you chose sarcasm.

And here, we all thought that you had taken your meds today, patrick.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 2:26 PM

"He said they haven't decided; they really did want to use all the names, e.g., SmithJonesJackson-Johnson, but that was too long - it sounded more like a law firm than a family name. I'm still waiting to hear the result of that. "

That is an excellent exmple of the silliness you get down the road.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 2:27 PM

"I suspect that EMILY's choice is political despite her post to the contrary."

Why?

Posted by: Lizzie | June 12, 2007 2:28 PM

MN -
"My name is my name. There's nothing staunch or feminist or professional or anything else about it. It's who I am."

Please don't take this as a slam. It is not meant as one. But I do see your statement as political. You are who you are. You are entitled to your name because it is simply your name. So you don't cave to societal pressure (and there is pressure, less now perhaps than in the past, but still) to change your name, because after all, it is your name. I see this as a political message, and a good one, actually. But I won't label you as a feminist if you think that's a slam (which I don't).

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 2:28 PM

The names have been changed to protect the guilty.)
Foamgnome, back in the 80s I used to work with a man named Jones, who married a woman named Smith. They both changed their name to SmithJones (run together as one word), and then gave that surname to their children. The rationale was that they wanted to honor both families and yet at the same time have everyone in the family have the same surname.

We recently got a wedding invitation; their oldest son, "Tommy SmithJones" is marrying a woman named "Jane Jackson-Johnson" (hyphenation of parental surnames). I asked my friend what his son's name will be after the wedding. He said they haven't decided; they really did want to use all the names, e.g., SmithJonesJackson-Johnson, but that was too long - it sounded more like a law firm than a family name. I'm still waiting to hear the result of that.

Posted by: Army Brat | June 12, 2007 02:25 PM

I love it. My colleague choose a hyphenated name when she married. Her MIL was so pi$$ed off that she had their wedding silver engraved with her husband's last initial, "S." To this day my colleague is furious over her wedding silver having only his initials on it.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 12, 2007 2:29 PM

Wanted to mention a book written by Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary.

"Your Money and Your Man: How You and Prince Charming Can Spend Well and Live Rich" which hits stores on January 31, 2006. In it Singletary guides women on how to manage, plan, and invest their finances. She breaks this information down by age (what to do in your twenties, thirties, forties, fifties...) and by stage of romantic relationship--what not to disclose on the first date, when to come completely clean about your financial history, how much to spend on a wedding and when to start saving for college and retirement funds.

Singletary covers this wide range of issues and also addresses the emotional aspects of money's role in a relationship. She acknowledges that most fights about cash are usually about something else, and stresses the value of open dialogue. Using her professional experience as a financial guide and personal knowledge as a wife and mother, YOUR MONEY AND YOUR MAN is a manual of eye-opening advice that also reads like a conversation with an informed friend.

Posted by: C.W. | June 12, 2007 2:30 PM

"Do you think that some women actually dump thier maiden names and use only hubby's name?"

I don't see what the difference is between dropping it entirely and making your name a new middle name. A middle name is a middle name - ignored by almost everyone. At a party, no one will introduce Leslie as "Leslie Morgan Steiner". She's either, "Leslie, Perry's wife" or "Leslie Steiner". This idea that a woman somehow keeps her name by making it her middle name is silly.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 2:30 PM

"I suspect that EMILY's choice is political despite her post to the contrary."

Why is that?

I kept my name because it's what people call me, up to and including my husband. Also, I am extremely lazy and didn't want to deal with the bureaucratic rigamarole.

Our children will likely have my name, as there are nine thousand billion HisNames running around; my sister and I are the last MyNames; and she can't have kids. Maybe our kids will have HisName as a middle name.

Posted by: Lizzie | June 12, 2007 2:31 PM

"I suspect that EMILY's choice is political despite her post to the contrary."

Patrick, where did I ever state that my choice was not political? I would say that it is.

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 2:31 PM

MN -
"My name is my name. There's nothing staunch or feminist or professional or anything else about it. It's who I am."

Please don't take this as a slam. It is not meant as one. But I do see your statement as political. You are who you are. You are entitled to your name because it is simply your name. So you don't cave to societal pressure (and there is pressure, less now perhaps than in the past, but still) to change your name, because after all, it is your name. I see this as a political message, and a good one, actually. But I won't label you as a feminist if you think that's a slam (which I don't).

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 02:28 PM
I am with Emily that I don't see being called a feminist or deriving your identity from your name as a bad thing. But again, I apologize if I offended you or anyone else.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 12, 2007 2:31 PM

pATRICK

"That is an excellent exmple of the silliness you get down the road."

What do you care? It's none of your business? You may want to learn how to spell "example"!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 2:31 PM

"And here, we all thought that you had taken your meds today, patrick."

That really is a tired insult, please, you can do better. I know that people like you are always open to any kooky post and willing to give it legitimacy, in the real world things are different. You probably think SMITHJONESJOHNSON-JACKSON is just so enlightened too. Yawn

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 2:32 PM

At a party, no one will introduce Leslie as "Leslie Morgan Steiner". She's either, "Leslie, Perry's wife" or "Leslie Steiner". This idea that a woman somehow keeps her name by making it her middle name is silly.

Three words to you: Hillary Rodham Clinton
(and maybe I did not spell it correctly.)

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 2:33 PM

"I personally never felt the need to change my name. I like my name and would feel weird changing it. And I have never had to explain to anyone why I have a different name than my husband and child. It's just never been an issue. "


I suspected that it was political having read your posts. You implied that it was not an issue when in reality I suspect you made it a big issue and often. I don't care, but why did you not in the beginning say it was political? Curious

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 2:36 PM

To this day my colleague is furious over her wedding silver having only his initials on it.

Tell her to grow up! If the silver is such an insult, sell it!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 2:36 PM

"And I have never had to explain to anyone why I have a different name than my husband and child. It's just never been an issue."

Emily you are so lucky. The name change caused a fight in my husband's family, a fight at the DMV in Utah, another at a job, and I have had numerous people ask me why I choose to keep my name. I just learned to ignore them.

It's my name, it is tied to my family and my ethnic heritage, plus, my husband's name is English or so they say. I think it is actually Welsh, which is what I tell my old man.

I don't see the big deal either way. If you like it keep it if you don't change it, but either way it should be the woman's choice. My kid's names are not will not be hyphenated. They are running around with Irish first names and that was good enough for me.

Posted by: scarry | June 12, 2007 2:37 PM

pATRICK, one could ask the same of you re: compromising. Hypenation is a compromise because both people have to change names and both people get to keep their heritage liniked to their names. Refusing to compromise would be to insist that your spouse take your name.

Also, your reason for not taking her name ("it's her father's name") could apply to your wife as well. She is taking your father's name. Is that reason good enough for you but not good enough for her?

FWIW, I hyphenated my name. I was just going to keep my own, but I thought that my husband would like it if I added his name. It was certainly not because I couldn't make a decision.

Posted by: Meesh | June 12, 2007 2:37 PM

Ok. So if I keep my name when I get married, I am making a political statement (says Emily). But if my husband keeps his name? That means... nothing?

Why as a woman am I making a political statement if I keep my name but my husband is not doing anything other than simply using the same name he's used for his entire life? Why can't I have the same right to use the name I have used all my life without it being made into a political statement?

Billie

Posted by: Billie | June 12, 2007 2:38 PM

pATRICK

"I don't care, but why did you not in the beginning say it was political? Curious"

If you don't care, why don't you mind your own businees? You're not curious; you're trying to inflame and polarize.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 2:39 PM

Patrick, where did I ever state that my choice was not political? I would say that it is.

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 02:31 PM

Will we see your divorce announcement in the national or state political section?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 2:40 PM

pATRICK, we don't have compromise issues on the name thing because I am totally fine with taking his, and giving his name to our kids. We are both very stubborn when it comes to things that are important to us; for example, we reached an impasse when he presented his idea that whoever makes less money--regardless of who spends more time working--should do more housework. I disagree wholeheartedly, and was rather insulted by the idea (he makes more than me now, but probably will make less after I finish my law degree). Fortunately, some people he really trusted talked some sense into him and he sees how unfair that idea is. That's really the only thing we had serious problems with. For the most part, we are actually pretty good at compromising. Maybe we're just lucky that the things I will not budge on are things he doesn't much care about, and vice versa.

Now, communication is another issue. That's something we still have problems with. We're working on it, though.

Also, your comment of
""He said they haven't decided; they really did want to use all the names, e.g., SmithJonesJackson-Johnson, but that was too long - it sounded more like a law firm than a family name. I'm still waiting to hear the result of that. "

That is an excellent example of the silliness you get down the road."

prompts me to respond. Were I a woman who wanted to retain her maiden name and apply it to children along with the husband's name, I would not be offended if my child chose a different path than I had. If my child decided to shorten any part of his/her last name, keep it or toss it, pass it down or not, I'd be okay with it. I can understand that future generations would be stuck with very cumbersome surnames, and I would leave that choice up to them. I don't consider my name to identify me, but I do take issue with the automatic tendency of labeling a child with his father's name, simply because of tradition. I'm very relieved that I won't have to make this decision when/if I get married, because as I said before, I can't wait to get rid of my last name.

Posted by: Mona | June 12, 2007 2:41 PM

Megan'sNeighbor: You just proved foamgnome's point. You said "It's who I am." Foamgnome said it is when women derive their identity through their name. Your saying your last name is who you are=your identity.

Posted by: | June 12, 2007 02:26 PM

No, I did not. I respectfully think you are not reading her sentence as she wrote it. She said "they are staunch feminists who derive their identity through their name."

I derive my identity from my name because that is what is on my birth certificate and what I've heard my entire life. It is. Who. I. Am. I am short. I am 46. My name is XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.

I recall discussing this issue for about thirty seconds with DH once - he raised it, saying, I don't know what you think about changing your name, but since I wouldn't change my name for anyone, whatever you do is fine with me. Then we enjoyed the rest of the concert at Wolf Trap. I suspect this must be a more angst-filled issue for others, but that was about it for us.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | June 12, 2007 2:41 PM

His name... her name... the kids' name!

This is another reason why that husband vetoed sending out Christmas cards!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | June 12, 2007 2:41 PM

Ok. So if I keep my name when I get married, I am making a political statement (says Emily). But if my husband keeps his name? That means... nothing?

Why as a woman am I making a political statement if I keep my name but my husband is not doing anything other than simply using the same name he's used for his entire life? Why can't I have the same right to use the name I have used all my life without it being made into a political statement?

Billie

Posted by: Billie | June 12, 2007 02:38 PM
Bilie, my husband said after I took his name, that was a gift to him. He recognized that I was doing something to honor him and his family. But I definitely do see it as a political statement if the man keeps his name. It means he did not wish to change it. Same as a women who keeps her name. It is just that men make that statement more often then women.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 12, 2007 2:42 PM

Billie that sounds like a good plan to me. Every choice in life is yours. Just because Emily says it's poltical for her and I say my choice was based on ethnic and family ties, doesn't mean that your choice can't just be because it's your name.

Posted by: scarry | June 12, 2007 2:43 PM

"And here, we all thought that you had taken your meds today, patrick."

That really is a tired insult, please, you can do better

I guess you missed my irony by talking about your sarcastic reply to my original post and then throwing a sarcastic statement back at you? (Yes, the irony was intended.)

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 2:45 PM

"It's just never been an issue."

It's never been an issue because no one has ever questioned it. My family never said why aren't you changing your last name, nor did my inlaws, nor did my husband. And no one has ever asked me why my last name is different than my son's or my husbands. In my area, I think it is common enough for women to keep their own names that people don't question it.

Saying that it was never an issue for me is a long leap from denying that the decision is political.

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 2:48 PM

Also, feminism influenced my decision to hyphenate my name. And I'm damned proud of it, too! Feminism and politics have shaped who I am and who my family is. I hope people see that when they see my last name. If people like it, cool! If people don't, oh well.

I don't really get the people who try to shame others by saying their decisions are based on ideals or politics. Where's the shame in that? I wonder what influences their decisions. Tradition? It makes me wonder if they've ever questioned anything in their lives.

Posted by: Meesh | June 12, 2007 2:50 PM

The point which was raised wasn't women who don't make any changes to their name due to choice or laziness (as one poster said). CMAC wanted to know why someone would choose all three names. If you choose to take a dual last name or use your maiden name as a middle name, you are making some sort of active choice. The choice may be derived from ethnic ties, emotional ties, preference, a political choice or any combination. But it is not done by default because you have always been known as X Y. Because you were only known as X before. It isn't because of laziness either because you would still have to go through the same channels to change your last name from X to X Y.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 2:51 PM

re: Name Changes

Our neighbor had a dog that was born with a birth defect that caused it to lose the use of its legs.

So they changed his name from "Duke" to "Cigarette".

And every evening they would take him out for a drag.

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 12, 2007 2:52 PM

MEESH, you ask some good questions. First I think hyphenated names are silly but I also respect that every couple needs to decide for themselves. Second, I am a man and I would not take another man's name. Yes, it is good enough because I don't believe in total equality at all times. I think that is dogmatic. My wife takes the lead in some areas and I take it in other areas. I also think it is cultural. A woman traditionally leaves her family behind and joins with her husband to form a new family. It depends on the couple and their beliefs.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 2:52 PM

"I remember when I had been home full-time with my kids for four years, and my husband sold some stock we had bought a few years before -- without consulting me."

You know, I'd be torqued about this move too. If people bought something together, then the decision to sell it should be a joint decision too.

"Lonnae O'Neal Parker about her husband vetoing the family's annual Christmas photos shortly after she left her job to stay home."

And again, what would it have hurt for (in this instance) the husband to have picked up the phone and said, "Honey, we need to look at the budget and really think long & hard about the annual Christmas photo." The woman took a hiatus from her job, she didn't off-load her brains, right?

Posted by: Alice | June 12, 2007 2:54 PM

"It's never been an issue because no one has ever questioned it. My family never said why aren't you changing your last name, nor did my inlaws, nor did my husband. And no one has ever asked me why my last name is different than my son's or my husbands. In my area, I think it is common enough for women to keep their own names that people don't question it. "


No one ever brought it up? No one? Emily I find that hard to believe unless maybe they were afraid to.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 2:57 PM

"I don't really get the people who try to shame others by saying their decisions are based on ideals or politics. Where's the shame in that?"

I totally agree with you Meesh. I see no shame in that either.

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 2:58 PM

I will never understand why someone would throw away their identity. My name is good enough for a lifetime. I like it. I don't see why I have to throw it on the waste-bin to salve someone else's insecurities.

It reminds me of a close friend whose parents pulled out the family geneology and showed it to her--no women's names on it. None. The only people who mattered were the men.

I don't know if all Korean families are this extreme. But she was pretty insulted by their outlook.

Posted by: re: name change | June 12, 2007 3:00 PM

pATRICK my MIL was one of the main reasons I hypenated. She was such a pain in the a$$ about it. My husband didn't care and my old man told me to keep my name.

Posted by: scarry | June 12, 2007 3:00 PM

"No one ever brought it up? No one? Emily I find that hard to believe unless maybe they were afraid to."

Patrick, do you really think I am that scary? In a way, I find that kind of endearing.

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 3:01 PM

pATRICK


"No one ever brought it up? No one? Emily I find that hard to believe unless maybe they were afraid to."

No one has brought up these things with me, either. It's because they have manners and/or mind their own business. It is certainly not due to fear!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 3:02 PM

"I don't really get the people who try to shame others by saying their decisions are based on ideals or politics. Where's the shame in that?"

I totally agree with you Meesh. I see no shame in that either. "

Maybe it is the idea that a political dogma so thoroughly colors even the smallest decisions. I have a friend who refuses to buy cakes from a neighbor because she was pro kerry. I voted for Bush but hey those are some damn tasty cakes she makes, his loss. That would be an example.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 3:03 PM

Patrick,
Where do you live?

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 3:03 PM

Patrick,
Where do you live?

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 3:03 PM

I don't see why I have to throw it on the waste-bin to salve someone else's insecurities

This attitude is just as insulting. Maybe women who take their husband's names want too. Implying that they do it so salve (?) someone else's insecurities is just as bad as saying women shouldn't be able to keep their own name

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 3:03 PM

i make most of the money in our partnership. I think the husband made a little mistake by not consulting with her before he sold the stock.

I thought the blogger really shot her argument in the foot when she pointed out that her mother, who was a SAHM, handled all the financial decisions in her partnership. So how is it that her daughter didn't learn this lesson? Why was it important for Carol to return to work, but it was never an issue for her traditional SAHM mom? I want HER MOTHER to write a blog!! There is a story there for sure!

As for names, I didn't change my name at all legally but did "socially"-- i.e., church and family, including e-mail addresses used for social stuff rather than professional stuff. It reflects the dual nature of who I am now-- Ms. so-and-so during the day and Mrs. such-and-such at night and on weekends. Works for me!

Posted by: Jen S. | June 12, 2007 3:05 PM

Emily

"Patrick,
Where do you live?"

pATRICK lives in Texas - the state that produced George W. and Anna Nicole Smith!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 3:06 PM

"Patrick, do you really think I am that scary? In a way, I find that kind of endearing. "

You misunderstood my post. Maybe your husband told his parents it was a hot button issue and his parents refrained from pressing you. That is what I meant. You have a ways to go to become scary Emily.;)

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 3:06 PM

and L.B.J. You remember that guy? The one that got us into some other war?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 3:08 PM

No one ever brought it up? No one? Emily I find that hard to believe unless maybe they were afraid to.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 02:57 PM

pATRICK, in 12 years, three cities and one very, very small town, only one person has brought up the issue of my last name being different from my husbands - a hotel clerk. Not a professor, teacher, a work colleague, a new friend, a Rector, or relative - and I married into a large, conservative Catholic family. Everywhere we've lived since DC has been best described as culturally conservative. The name thing is not an issue for most people. No one fears me, certainly not my mother in law. This woman commented on our chosen first names for our children. I think it's a safe bet that if my last name had crossed her mind as problematic, she'd have told me.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | June 12, 2007 3:08 PM

pATRICK lives in Texas - the state that produced George W. and Anna Nicole Smith!!!


Yep, as well as ANN RICHARD and LBJ. A wonderful state.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 3:08 PM

pATRICK lives in Texas - the state that produced George W. and Anna Nicole Smith!!!


Yep, as well as ANN RICHARDS and LBJ. A wonderful state.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 3:09 PM

"his parents refrained from pressing you"

Nope. His mother really doesn't care, as long as I bake the Christmas flan every year, she's happy. But she isn't afraid of pressing me for the flan, even when I had walking pneumonia!!! :)

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 3:09 PM

I have a friend who could eat flan by the truckload. Long live flan!

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 3:11 PM

pATRICK

"I have a friend who refuses to buy cakes from a neighbor because she was pro kerry. I voted for Bush but hey those are some damn tasty cakes she makes, his loss."

GAWD, is this tedious neighborhood gossip!
Who cares about this level of baloney? Do people really discuss this stuff ?

How many key parties do you attend each week?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 3:11 PM

How many key parties do you attend each week?

What is a key party?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 3:14 PM

How many key parties do you attend each week?

Posted by: | June 12, 2007 03:11 PM

I, on the other hand, can't imagine anything more tedious than talking about key parties.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 3:15 PM

"How many key parties do you attend each week?

What is a key party?"

That's what I was wondering.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 3:16 PM

"A woman traditionally leaves her family behind and joins with her husband to form a new family"

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 02:52 PM

That's right - it comes from the tradition of when women were considered their husband's property and their marriage vows included obeying their husbands.

By the way I remember this as a blog topic a long time ago (changing your name) - very controversial something like 600 comments!

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | June 12, 2007 3:17 PM

"By the way I remember this as a blog topic a long time ago (changing your name) - very controversial something like 600 comments!"

Yes, and today is yet another rehash of questions asked and answered many, many times.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 3:19 PM

"By the way I remember this as a blog topic a long time ago (changing your name) - very controversial something like 600 comments!"

Surprise, considering this is feminist liberal blog. All depends on the eye of the beholder. No man I know considers his wife property ect.I wonder if all those bloggers were against all tradition, like a ring, a wedding etc. If not, then it beecomes incredibly self serving.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 3:20 PM

"A woman traditionally leaves her family behind and joins with her husband to form a new family"

I do think that the point of a marriage is that both parties leave their respective families behind and join with each other to create a new family. Isn't there something in the marriage vows to this effect?

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 3:22 PM

My typing is horrible today

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 3:22 PM

I know three men who changed their names on marriage. One (now 35) changed his name to his wife's name, which he preferred to his own. One (now 39) changed his name to an older (non-Americanized) version of his family name, and his wife took the same. And one (now likely about 50) hyphenated his name with his wife's.

After I remarry, I'm keeping my former spouse's name for professional reasons (I'm extensively published) and likely using my new spouse's name for everyday use. I'm not very concerned about it either way, as I've never felt a strong attachment to any family name I ever had.

Posted by: a rose is a rose | June 12, 2007 3:23 PM

"A woman traditionally leaves her family behind and joins with her husband to form a new family"

I do think that the point of a marriage is that both parties leave their respective families behind and join with each other to create a new family. Isn't there something in the marriage vows to this effect?

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 03:22 PM

But only the woman is expected to leave behind her family name

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 3:26 PM

"in 12 years, three cities and one very, very small town, only one person has brought up the issue of my last name being different from my husbands - a hotel clerk. "

Same here - except it's been 16 years. I think the hotel clerk was slightly amused/skeptical because my husband's last name is Jones.

Posted by: Top Cat | June 12, 2007 3:29 PM

"I do think that the point of a marriage is that both parties leave their respective families behind and join with each other to create a new family. Isn't there something in the marriage vows to this effect?"

Actually, it only speaks to the man leaving his own parents behind and cleaving to his wife. It doesn't explicitly say that his wife is expected to leave anyone behind.

"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."

Genesis 2:24.

Posted by: Lizzie | June 12, 2007 3:29 PM

"I wonder if all those bloggers were against all tradition, like a ring, a wedding etc."

I'm against many traditions. I'm not that interested in a ring because "Blood Diamond" had such an impact on me (yes, I know that particular battle is over, but how do you really know you're getting a "conflict-free" diamond?). I'm not interested in weddings because they set you so far back financially, and the culture that goes along with them is just too feminine and girly-girly for my tastes. I don't like baby showers for the same reason (I could see enduring them if you really needed the gifts and the host really, really wanted to give the shower, but I personally am not a fan). Many traditions just don't seem to work in this day and age and seem archaic to me. If there is a tradition that I really am attached to, like the practice of giving out bottles of sparkling grape juice at Christmas time, I'll continue it. But I generally don't like the practice of doing something just because everyone else does it that way.

Posted by: Mona | June 12, 2007 3:29 PM

I guess no one liked my joke or maybe women don't wear girdles anymore? OK an updated version.

Joe and Sam had just finished pumping iron and were in the locker room changing back to street clothes.

Joe noticed that Sam was wearing a particular item of clothing.

Joe, "Sam, not to be nosy or anything, but how long have you been wearing a thong?"

"Ever since my wife found it in my gym bag!" replied Sam.

Posted by: Fred | June 12, 2007 3:29 PM

"But only the woman is expected to leave behind her family name"

So, and only the groom is supposed to buy an expensive ring. What if he didn't want to because of his "political" beliefs? Probably be labeled a cheap jerk. That is the point, events have traditions behind them.

Posted by: pATRICI | June 12, 2007 3:31 PM

MONA your BF is an incredible man. ;)

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 3:33 PM

Didn't change my name-dh is only son of only son-so he wouldn't want to name kids with my last name (5th girl of two brothers-so no passing on our name). My dh also says he'd sound like a used car salesman if he took my name. So we know when telemarketers call when they ask for mrs. His last name or mr. Mylastname. Of course, I hate to 'honor' my dad, so I do consider changing after all these yrs.

I would not want to spend my whole marriage worried about divorce. If I get burned, I get burned, but I wouldn't want to live each day fearful of the worst-but hopeful for the future. I am not scared of any of it.

Posted by: atlmom | June 12, 2007 3:33 PM

I do think that younger women are now more likely to take their husband's name than when I was in my 20s. I have a couple of nieces who both got married recently and became Mrs. Husband'sLastname. One just got out of law school and the other is in graduate school. At her wedding shower, oe of them was even proudly wearing a tee shirt that her cousin got her, that read "Soon to be Mrs. Husband's last name" on the front. I noticed that all these younger women seemed to get quite a kick out of it. I think that the trend is changing, even in the DC area. Younger women seem to think it's hip to take their husbands' last names these days. Has anyone else noticed that? Or is it just my perception.

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 3:34 PM

pATRICK wrote - No man I know considers his wife property ect.

I don't either I was just discussing the source of the tradition. Do you just follow traditions, because they are traditions or do you think of the meaning behind them?

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | June 12, 2007 3:34 PM

So, and only the groom is supposed to buy an expensive ring. What if he didn't want to because of his "political" beliefs? Probably be labeled a cheap jerk. That is the point, events have traditions behind them.

Posted by: pATRICI | June 12, 2007 03:31 PM

Patrick: I believe someone told us on this blog that they turned down the ring. I think they said it was a sign of purchasing the women or something like that. I think it was pittypat but I could be wrong.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 12, 2007 3:34 PM

"So, and only the groom is supposed to buy an expensive ring. What if he didn't want to because of his "political" beliefs? Probably be labeled a cheap jerk. "

And the couple would realize that the marriage wouldn't work.

I'm sure a sap like you went all out for the expensive ring. Blowhards like you who need to brag about material things always do...sucker!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 3:36 PM

GAWD, is this tedious neighborhood gossip!
Who cares about this level of baloney? Do people really discuss this stuff ?

How many key parties do you attend each week?

Give it a rest already, you ask this question at least once a week.

Traditions:
Love my diamond
Got married in Vegas
Had a lovely baby shower
Don't give out grape juice, but I bake cookies and soda bread for St. Patrick's Day

Posted by: scarry | June 12, 2007 3:36 PM

Ah, surnames: I discovered that there's a family in which every member has a different surname - and it's intentional. When the parents got married, they each kept their own surname. Then they decided that since the whole family wasn't going to have the same surname, they might as well go whole-hog. The oldest daughter was given her maternal grandmother's maiden name as a surname. Then the next daughter got the paternal grandmother's maiden name (honoring the grandparents, you see.) Then came a son who was given the surname of an uncle who was killed in Vietnam.

I discovered this because the softball program I help run has a policy that sisters are supposed to be on the same team unless the parents request otherwise. Silly me - I didn't check to see if the two girls with different surnames were sisters, and assigned them to different teams. We had to fix that later on.

(You can't just assume the people with the same address are sisters, because sometimes people rent space from others, etc. And since we count step-sisters and half-sisters as sisters, just because they have different addresses doesn't mean they're not sisters. It's fun.)

Posted by: Army Brat | June 12, 2007 3:39 PM

I changed my name because a) I always thought my last name was too long b)I wanted my kids and I to have the same last name and would not deprive them of their father's name; and c) my husband who never asks for anything, really wanted me to. I guess some would call that chauvinistic but I was actually quite enamored by his strong desire for me to take his name.

Posted by: fwm | June 12, 2007 3:39 PM

"I'm sure a sap like you went all out for the expensive ring. Blowhards like you who need to brag about material things always do...sucker!"

I bought as much as I could afford for the woman I love. If that makes me a "blowhard sucker", GUILTY AS CHARGED. With your charming personality it may be a while before you have to make that decision.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 3:40 PM

"So, and only the groom is supposed to buy an expensive ring. What if he didn't want to because of his "political" beliefs? Probably be labeled a cheap jerk."

I did not get an engagement or wedding ring because when we got married, we had limited funds and I did not want my husband to go into debt for a fancy rock. Instead, we pooled our money and had a fantastic honeymoon. I did inherit my grandmother's diamond wedding band, which she wore for 50 years. I use that as my wedding band these days, because it is so dear to me. My husband does not wear a ring at all. He does not want one, and I couldn't care less.

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 3:42 PM

pATRICK you have to learn to ignore some of these nasty anon people. I know I bit at the key party, but it hurts them more if you ignore them. Really.

Posted by: scarry | June 12, 2007 3:42 PM

"MONA your BF is an incredible man. ;)"

Why? Because he doesn't have to buy a diamond, doesn't have to attend a wedding, and doesn't have to change his last name? It's true that he's an incredible man, but it's not because I am non-traditional. Would he be considered lucky if I drove us into debt insisting on a $30,000 ring and a $50,000 wedding?

He's always been an incredible guy. Dealing with a non-traditional person doesn't make him any more or less so.

Posted by: Mona | June 12, 2007 3:43 PM

don't see why I have to throw it on the waste-bin to salve someone else's insecurities

This attitude is just as insulting. Maybe women who take their husband's names want too. Implying that they do it so salve (?) someone else's insecurities is just as bad as saying women shouldn't be able to keep their own name

Posted by: | June 12, 2007 03:03 PM

I don't know about anyone else, but I hyphenated my name due to stbh insecurities about me keeping my own name. It should have been a clue to just keep on going. I was younger & dumber.

Posted by: Maryland Mother | June 12, 2007 3:44 PM

pATRICK, actually he didn't buy me an expensive ring-- but we did buy each other expensive wedding bands! We were both concerned about blood diamonds so the big solitaire probably wouldn't have happened even if we weren't cheap!

On Slate (I think) there's a recent article about engagement rings -- I thought it was pretty interesting that in Sweden the tradition is for both men and women to get engagement rings.

Regarding changing your name upon mariage , I have to say it is somewhat liberating! Even though I didn't go whole hog on doing the name change, I still found it refreshing -- like getting a fresh chance at creating a new persona. I hope in the future more people will just create a whole new name to represent the new family so that both men and women can experience this change-- even if it is only a change for "Social" purposes and they keep their original name for professional reasons.

Posted by: Jen S. | June 12, 2007 3:45 PM

My husband does not wear a ring at all. He does not want one, and I couldn't care less

Mine either. I grew up with coal miners and factory workers so to me it is no big deal when a man doesn't wear a ring.

Posted by: scarry | June 12, 2007 3:46 PM

MONA , I was not insulting you, so if you took it that way I apologize. You are very unconventional and you found someone that finds that ok.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 3:47 PM

Oh, and I do know a couple who took both their last names and created a new one.

Dh's fam isn't so happy I didn't change my name. My in laws don't care so much I don't think but extended family stillk sends stuff to me addressed to mrs. Dh firstname dhlastname. Whatever.

After I got married, someone I worked with asked me what my new name was and I said: old name. And he said: no really what's your new name. He was quite offended I didn't chane my name (!).
And my sister had to fill something out for me and took my driver's license and actually said: oh you have it in your maiden name. And I was like: um, no, just my name.

Posted by: atlmom | June 12, 2007 3:49 PM

JEN S, I stopped reading SLATE because it just seemed like that they thought everyone and everything was stupid and they were so much above it. I tend to dismiss professional pessimists.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 3:50 PM

Mona, most precious gems are mined by people who are essentially slaves (diamonds in Africa, emeralds in Colombia, etc.). You are right to avoid them. The jeweler who made my CZ eternity wedding band told me that it's worse now than it ever was. I guess he could lie, but wouldn't he want to lie that his were "conflict-free" so that I would opt for the diamonds over the CZ?

pATRICK, it's not a tit for tat about who gets rolled in the wedding tradition. Wedding traditions are based on outdated stereotypes. Why not get rid of the ones that don't apply to your lifestyle? If they all apply, then keep them all. If none of them do, get rid of them!

Posted by: Meesh | June 12, 2007 3:52 PM

Did these comments go a little off-topic?
I was a SAHM and my husband consulted me about every purchase. If a husband doesn't consult a well educated wife about money, it ain't about wheter or not she has a job. Let's not forget contempt for and disrespect of women predates working mothers.

Posted by: Diahni | June 12, 2007 3:53 PM

I changed my name for purely aesthetic reasons. I'm pretty sure my father's name died in my generation as there are no males left that we know of and no one having kids that will pass on the name. It is a bit sad, but who cares, it is just a name. I liked my husband's name so changed mine, he didn't care much as he is not overly fond of his biological father so the name has little signficance to him, and my in-laws probably didn't care either way as his Mom is remarried so they have their own different last name.

I like how changing or not changing your name is political either way. If you don't change you are called a feminist in a negative way. When I told people I was changing I got a lot of people saying I was submissive, or traditionalist. Really, I just liked the name better (and how it flowed with my first name) so that was the big motivator.

Posted by: Miles | June 12, 2007 3:55 PM

" Why not get rid of the ones that don't apply to your lifestyle? If they all apply, then keep them all. If none of them do, get rid of them!"

MEESH, I agree. Because that is what is going to happen anyway.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 3:56 PM

pATRICK, it's not a tit for tat about who gets rolled in the wedding tradition. Wedding traditions are based on outdated stereotypes. Why not get rid of the ones that don't apply to your lifestyle? If they all apply, then keep them all. If none of them do, get rid of them!

Posted by: Meesh | June 12, 2007 03:52 PM

Meesh - this comment is spot-on.

We didn't get an engagement ring, because we had already pooled finances long before that and paid for our wedding and our honeymoon ourselves.

WRT, the idea that a man who doesn't spring for the formulaic ring might be deemed cheap, I think this says more about his choice of bride, her friends, and her values more than anything else. The good thing about couples discussing all these traditions is that they learn quickly the values of the person they are marrying -- while they still have time to exit. All of our conversations on rings, weddings, showers - and the thirty-second name conversation -- confirmed that we were right for each other.

Posted by: MN | June 12, 2007 4:02 PM

I also want to chime in on the blogger's main topic of financial decisions. I've noticed at a mostly male work environment a LOT of resentment from the men towards their wives who don't work. However, many couldn't fathom why I was still working full time and going to school part time. They thought it was my husband's responsibility to support me when I went back to school.

Staying at home to care for kids makes a lot of sense to me, but I do find it amusing that for a variety of other reasons (couples where no kids are involved) the wife just doesn't work. If the husband did that, he'd be called a freeloader or worse. I also don't see why it's a given my husband should have to cut back on the way he is used to living simply because I want to go back to school. No one would expect the reverse, it is more common for men to work while going to school.

I think income level difference is a HUGE disagreement between husbands and wives. I respect couples who say "our" money even when only one person is the earner, but I'm pretty sure there is still disagreement there. If one person is working, shouldn't that person be the financial "no" person? They should be able to veto a lot of spending ideas from the spouse who is NOT working to support the family. I've seen husbands give wives allowances, I've seen money shared, and I've often seen stay at home wives spend a lot of money on stuff that isn't in the budget. They usually want a lot of "me" money for clothes and miscellaneous items, however see the entire husband's salary as "our" money. When stay at home moms go back to work, their salary is usually theirs alone while the husband's salary continues to be "our" money. Funny. I respect couples that have made it work perfectly, but I think so long as one spouse makes less than the other or doesn't work at all there will always be money issues. Unless you are very well off, then there isn't as much to struggle over.

Posted by: Miles | June 12, 2007 4:03 PM

MILES, you are right becuase outside of this blog, A man who relys on his wife to support him is considered a slug by society. By both men and women.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 4:07 PM

You can find diamonds from Canada that are conflict free.

Posted by: scarry | June 12, 2007 4:07 PM

Yeah people think-oh how silly , it's just a rock- but symbols do matter. Mona if you found someone who wanted to give you a big diamond then you would know that person wasn't for you.

I dated a guy who would have gottne angry if I didn't change my name (or been upset?). Well, that was just one clue that he wasn't for me. My dh thinks it's kind of funny- old boyfriend thought people would think that he wasn't a real man that he couldn't make his wife take his name. At least that's what it sounded like to me....

Posted by: atlmom | June 12, 2007 4:07 PM

"When stay at home moms go back to work, their salary is usually theirs alone while the husband's salary continues to be "our" money."

Huh? I no one who operates like this, unless her idea of going back to work is to become a consultant for Creative Expressions.

Posted by: MN | June 12, 2007 4:08 PM

"in 12 years, three cities and one very, very small town, only one person has brought up the issue of my last name being different from my husbands - a hotel clerk."

Only one person brought it up to you. I never questioned someone directly about their name being different, but I would question indirectly by asking others. I don't really care if someone keeps their maiden name or takes their husband's, but I did care if the people were married. When my children have friends and ask to play at the friend's house, I like to know the dynamics in the household - is the Mr with a different name actually the husband, non-husband but father of the children, or boyfriend who lives there but is not the childrens' father.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 4:11 PM

I think men who insist on separate accounts are red flags for cheating.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 4:12 PM

Stolen from Weingarten's chat today:
"Washington, D.C.: Gene,

Serious question, sorry. I just got married. I don't want to change my name. My husband wants me to "at least" hyphenate, and is pretty hurt (although he realizes it is irrational) that I don't want to change it. While the hyphenated name wouldn't be a total tongue-twister, it seems silly for me to always have to say that extra syllable, spell out my name to people, explain it, etc., just so that he feels more comfortable and that people in general know that I am married to him. I really don't want to hurt his feelings and I feel terrible that it does, but I feel strongly about keeping my family name. What should I do? Is hyphenating really a compromise? I'd still have to go through the whole process of a name change.

Also, I've found it very interesting that while so far most of the males in my life have not questioned my decision, many female friends (mid-20s) tend to argue with me about it and ask me why I'm not changing it. What's up with that?

Gene Weingarten: This is not your husband's business. Don't change your name.

Or, wait. Sure, hyphenate it. But insist that he does, too. That he gets new driver's license, etc.
__________________________________________
This is not your husband's business. Don't change your name. : Great answeres Gene.

I never changed my name. My husband acted "hurt" for a few minutes. I explained it was part of who I was and if he wanted to marry me, he got the package deal.

I like the question of if he'd change his name; maybe he coudl see how it affects one's sense of self.

Gene Weingarten: See, to me, that's the big deal. I know many women who are feminists, and strong willed, and modern and whatnot who have changed their name, and I still don't get it.

Why the guy change his (expletive) name to hers?

I think that will end his objection.
_________________________________________


Name change: I'm an upstanding, liberal guy -- I side with the ladies on almost every issue. However the ONE sexist position I maintain is the woman changing her name when getting married. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, socially, the whole confusion once kids come around and they don't have the same name as their mother (also, if you're listed on a sheet for some activity somewhere it's not apparent you're married/related). Second, hearkening back to the poetry discussion, it always makes me think of Browning's "My Last Dutchess" -- as terrible as it may seem, part of me thinks "she's spurning the gift of my name."

Gene Weingarten: Well, you are just flat wrong. Why are you the one giving the name? Is her lineage less important than yours? Why don't the couple take the name of the set of parents who make the most money, or something?

It's all nonsense.

And I can assure you that there is no confusiong among the children. Dan and Mol know who their mom is.


Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 4:16 PM

"When stay at home moms go back to work, their salary is usually theirs alone while the husband's salary continues to be "our" money."

Huh? I no one who operates like this, unless her idea of going back to work is to become a consultant for Creative Expressions.

Posted by: MN | June 12, 2007 04:08 PM

I mean especially in that the man continues to make payments on the house, be the main contributor to "their" retirement, pays the bills, and buys the food. The woman's income is usually considered "extra." Maybe the husband wishes he could splurge a bit more often, but he is usually shouldering the responsibility of supporting the home. Money for fun things can come only from whatever income of his is left after managing household responsibilities. Maybe the couples you know don't use terms like "yours, mine, ours" but it tends to be how they operate, usually AFTER the woman has been out of work for a few years.

Posted by: Miles | June 12, 2007 4:16 PM

I think men who insist on separate accounts are red flags for cheating.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 04:12 PM

Maybe. Or maybe one of the people is bipolar and is opting to protect their families from the ever-present possibility of sending them straight into bankruptcy.

That's why we have separate checking.

Posted by: Maryland Mother | June 12, 2007 4:21 PM

"Gene Weingarten: This is not your husband's business. Don't change your name."

This GENE guy is an idiot with a political axe to grind. They are getting married everything is both their business. I would advise the groom to run like hell just like ALTMOM did.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 4:21 PM

Miles:

"I think income level difference is a HUGE disagreement between husbands and wives."

It can be, unless you've discussed it and planned it all out. And yes, even then there are always going to be disagreements and it's really tempting to say "but I'm the one who makes it; it should be my decision" but you've got to get past that. In our case it helps a lot that DW did a lot to support me when she was a SAHM; in terms of letting me take a job that involved a lot of travel but advanced me very quickly in my career; etc. I know I owe her a lot.

" I respect couples who say "our" money even when only one person is the earner, but I'm pretty sure there is still disagreement there."

There's disagreement in every marriage I know, whether there's one person working or two. It's how you handle that disagreement that determines the success of the marriage.

"If one person is working, shouldn't that person be the financial "no" person? They should be able to veto a lot of spending ideas from the spouse who is NOT working to support the family."

In a word - NO! The "no" person is the one with more financial discipline; if you both have financial discipline then you can take turns saying "no". DW reins in some of my silly spending ideas; I rein in some of hers (like that 12-year old Beamer for sale on the side of the road yesterday). We don't "veto" anything because that implies a relationship that we've just never had, and that quite frankly I've never wanted.

"I've seen husbands give wives allowances,"

Ooh, bad idea - every marriage I've seen with that arrangement has ended in a very ugly divorce. "Allowance" implies it's mine and I'm deigning to share it with you, like I do the kids. It's ours; we share. Yes, we each have a bit of the budget that's ours to spend as we please, and you could call that our "allowance" if you want, but it's not the same.

"I've seen money shared, and I've often seen stay at home wives spend a lot of money on stuff that isn't in the budget."

If money's tight, spending a lot of money that's not in the budget is guaranteed to cause problems. If you're rich enough that you don't really need to budget, okay, but that's not a world with which I'm familiar.

"They usually want a lot of "me" money for clothes and miscellaneous items, however see the entire husband's salary as "our" money. When stay at home moms go back to work, their salary is usually theirs alone while the husband's salary continues to be "our" money. Funny."

Not so funny - inconsistent and going to cause trouble. When DW first went back to work, the money she made was put in a separate account to pay for specific purchases we wanted to save up for and eventually make, but it was still "our money".

"I respect couples that have made it work perfectly, but I think so long as one spouse makes less than the other or doesn't work at all there will always be money issues. Unless you are very well off, then there isn't as much to struggle over."

Unless you are very well off, there will always be money issues, even if both partners are working full time - I speak of experience with my mother the schoolteacher and father the Army NCO, and lots of others we knew. When money's tight, people fight (with apologies to Johnnie Cochran).

Posted by: Army Brat | June 12, 2007 4:22 PM

Miles- I so disagree with you. Wow. If you want to be in perfect control, don't get married.

When I stayed home we spent less money- that was part of my contribution. We didn't eat out- I cooked more. I was able to go to consignment sales for the kid's clothes. I was able to shop sales more efficiently. I was able to do a lot of stuff, so I *was* contributing. Even if I didn't, dh was happy-we never discussed it (probably why we're a good match-he probably knew I'd do all this to some extent). I was able to do the research and spend less money. We still try-but with less time, we probably spend more on some stuff than if one of us was staying home.

Posted by: atlmom | June 12, 2007 4:24 PM

Gene Weingarten is not only funny, he is also smart as a whip and a gifted writer. But yes, he does have a political opinion. But so do you, Patrick. Does that make you an idiot too?

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 4:27 PM

"I do think that younger women are now more likely to take their husband's name than when I was in my 20s.. . . I think that the trend is changing, even in the DC area. Younger women seem to think it's hip to take their husbands' last names these days. Has anyone else noticed that? Or is it just my perception."

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 03:34 PM

Yes, I have noticed this at the weddings I have attended over the past few years.

On the subject of hyphenation, I knew a couple who met at the Law School. She became a well-known feminist lawyer who helped Ruth Bader Ginsburg argue a famous case before the U. S. Supreme Court. He was quite a feminist, too. They both took the hyphenated name, "HerMaidenName-HisName," and that lasted as long as he was practicing civil rights law. As soon as he began practicing high-powered corporate law, he took his birth name back.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | June 12, 2007 4:27 PM

"To this day my colleague is furious over her wedding silver having only his initials on it."

In this day and age, how the h&ll can anybody justify getting "wedding silver" to begin with???

People are hungry in this country, starving in others. We have a homeless population growing faster than we can respond to, and schools across the country are falling apart.

And people still have the gall to buy wedding silver?

Our civilization is truly in decline.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 4:28 PM

But I won't label you as a feminist if you think that's a slam (which I don't).

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 02:28 PM

Emily, I only saw this a moment ago - didn't intend to ignore you. I don't have a problem with the label, per se, and didn't see it as a slam. I was rejecting the initial comment that suggested the ONLY women who keep their names are capital-F feminists. I know many women who, more from inertia than any real though, kept their names.

In my case, my beliefs didn't inform my choice though. There was no pressure from any direction to change it or not change it, so there was nothing to resist. I was 31 and was the first of my friends to get married, so as you might imagine, I was not surrounded by the sorts of women or men who sit around contemplating weddings, kids, styles of wedding cake, etc. To this day, I have only two female friends who changed their names, and btw, I'm including anyone who hyphenates or makes their given name a middle name - to me, it's all the same - you're not keeping your name if you move it, hyphenate it, or change it. NTTAWRT.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | June 12, 2007 4:28 PM

What do same-sex couples do as far as taking / keeping / hyphenating / making up new names?

Posted by: Arlington Dad | June 12, 2007 4:30 PM

Armchair MOm -

My Husband is a SAHD. He has control over our finances. I'm horrible with budgeting and paying bills, so I am perfectly fine with that. I occasionally ask him how much we put away in savings or what our credit card bill was last month, etc., but other than that I'm not really involved.

I know at times he feels like the money we make is my money as opposed to our money (ie feeling like he's not contributing). I do my best to reassure him that he is contributing more than I ever could by staying home with our son. I feel that the money I make is "our" money and when I get a raise, i feel that "we" got a raise.

He doesn't need to talk to me before he makes purchases. I'll come home and he'll say, "Look! I got a new drill press!" That's fine by me. Obviously, if we are working on major purchases or investments, we talk about it.

Posted by: Kristin | June 12, 2007 4:30 PM

'Gene Weingarten is not only funny, he is also smart as a whip and a gifted writer. But yes, he does have a political opinion. But so do you, Patrick. Does that make you an idiot too?"


Probably to him it does....

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 4:31 PM

Good answer, Patrick!! :)

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 4:32 PM

'Gene Weingarten is not only funny, he is also smart as a whip and a gifted writer. But yes, he does have a political opinion. But so do you, Patrick. Does that make you an idiot too?"

PART 2- I can only imagine the howls of disgust if someone told the husband" You tell her it's none of her business". Try some balance EMILY, that is the problem, it's all about the women's needs and to hell with the man's in line of thinking. MEMEMEMEMEMEME, that is what it sounds like.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 4:35 PM

MILES, you are right becuase outside of this blog, A man who relys on his wife to support him is considered a slug by society. By both men and women.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 04:07 PM

pATRICK, I bring in significantly more income than my husband to our checking account. I also bring a boatload of debt. Both the income differential and the education debt are fairly apparent to his friends who range, in career choices and perspective, from professional to professional fisherman. They all think he's got the best deal going. No one questions his manliness. I suspect that if he stopped doing household repairs and mowing the lawn - then - and only then - might they question his manliness.

Posted by: MN | June 12, 2007 4:38 PM

I am sure that if women were insisting that their husbands take their last names, that many people would object and think that the women has no right to expect this. The outcry would be strong.

Patrick, what would you say if your wife expected you to change your last name to hers in order to prove to others that you are her husband. What would your family say?

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 4:38 PM

Miles- I so disagree with you. Wow. If you want to be in perfect control, don't get married.

When I stayed home we spent less money- that was part of my contribution. We didn't eat out- I cooked more. I was able to go to consignment sales for the kid's clothes. I was able to shop sales more efficiently. I was able to do a lot of stuff, so I *was* contributing. Even if I didn't, dh was happy-we never discussed it (probably why we're a good match-he probably knew I'd do all this to some extent). I was able to do the research and spend less money. We still try-but with less time, we probably spend more on some stuff than if one of us was staying home.

Posted by: atlmom | June 12, 2007 04:24 PM

I don't want to be in perfect control. I just don't want to argue about every single expense. This is why I plan to keep working, regardless of what my circumstances may be. Dual incomes brings a lot more to our state of life and means we argue less over fun expenditures the other person might see as a waste. I don't consider myself a control freak. I think it's healthy to want a good, strong grip on our finances. If I have my own income and he has his own income it means we are on an even playing field. I consider it a relatively new right of women to work and work in a field of their choosing. I don't plan to go backwards in time and lose that freedom, just my opinion know it's not for everyone.

Posted by: Miles | June 12, 2007 4:39 PM

"To this day my colleague is furious over her wedding silver having only his initials on it."

In this day and age, how the h&ll can anybody justify getting "wedding silver" to begin with???

People are hungry in this country, starving in others. We have a homeless population growing faster than we can respond to, and schools across the country are falling apart.

And people still have the gall to buy wedding silver?"

Our civilization is truly in decline."

YES and can you believe it, they buy cake and punch too and celebrate! Oh the humanity! The horror!


By the way, MN, your husband is not relying on you, he is contributing. You and your husband are not what I was referring to.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 4:40 PM

"What do same-sex couples do as far as taking / keeping / hyphenating / making up new names?"

Depends on the couple--there are no rules to follow so you have to make them up.

In my case, I'm keeping the name I had for professional reasons, and will probably take my partner's name for social occasions. It will make her happy and delights her family--fine with me.

She will keep her name because she's very attached to it and her family, and my name isn't the name I was born with; I'm not especially attached to it except for branding purposes in my field. It makes no sense to either of us for her to take my last name.

Ask six couples, you'll probably get six answers.

Posted by: a rose is a rose | June 12, 2007 4:40 PM

MILES, you are right becuase outside of this blog, A man who relys on his wife to support him is considered a slug by society. By both men and women.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 04:07 PM

pATRICK, I bring in significantly more income than my husband to our checking account. I also bring a boatload of debt. Both the income differential and the education debt are fairly apparent to his friends who range, in career choices and perspective, from professional to professional fisherman. They all think he's got the best deal going. No one questions his manliness. I suspect that if he stopped doing household repairs and mowing the lawn - then - and only then - might they question his manliness.

Posted by: MN | June 12, 2007 04:38 PM

He was referring to the husband NOT working while the wife supports him (where no kids are involved per my original post). Your husband may contribute less, but he is still contributing. That's a completely different situation.

Posted by: Miles | June 12, 2007 4:43 PM

And, one other thing. I had always thought I wouldn't change my name. But once I realized all the work it would take, boy, did I not want to do *that* I guess you could call it laziness (and remember gals, you can call yourself anything you'd like as long as it's not for illegal purposes-so even if you don't 'legally' change it you could call yourself something else )

When my mom was in her teens she decided to change her name so she just did. We never knew her as anything else. Even on her deatth cert they used her 'made up' name (and aka).

Posted by: atlmom | June 12, 2007 4:43 PM

"Patrick, what would you say if your wife expected you to change your last name to hers in order to prove to others that you are her husband. What would your family say? "

That depends. If it was traditional and reasonable, I would not have a problem. If she insisted that we hyphenate our names and it was that or lose her, I would hyphenate. If in the real world she insisted I take her name ,which is not traditional or reasonable to me,I would not.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 4:45 PM

"A man who relys on his wife to support him is considered a slug by society
......
By the way, MN, your husband is not relying on you, he is contributing."

So Patrick, do you think that SAHMs and SAHDs are not contributing by raising the kids and running the household? Is making money the only way to contribute?

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 4:45 PM

Only one person brought it up to you. I never questioned someone directly about their name being different, but I would question indirectly by asking others. I don't really care if someone keeps their maiden name or takes their husband's, but I did care if the people were married. When my children have friends and ask to play at the friend's house, I like to know the dynamics in the household - is the Mr with a different name actually the husband, non-husband but father of the children, or boyfriend who lives there but is not the childrens' father.

Posted by: | June 12, 2007 04:11 PM

You know - it's pretty obvious who's married if you watch them communicate, LOL. I'm not sure what you'd find out by talking to anyone else other than, yup, they're married. When your children ask to play at someone's house, I certainly hope you're asking a lot more questions than whether the heads of the household are cohabiting.

I've also never had anyone question the fact that my name doesn't match my kids. Of my son's 6 closest friends, two have the same last name as their moms -- this through divorce and her taking on Husband 2's name. On that topic, I find it ironic that the same women who say they change their names to avoid the whole "confusion" issue tend not to be concerned about "confusion" when they remarry and change their name to match Husband 2 and then have a different name than the kids from Marriage 1.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | June 12, 2007 4:45 PM

"A man who relys on his wife to support him is considered a slug by society
......
By the way, MN, your husband is not relying on you, he is contributing."

So Patrick, do you think that SAHMs and SAHDs are not contributing by raising the kids and running the household? Is making money the only way to contribute? "

I think the context is important. I personally don't think SAHD is a good idea. Now some may make it work and that is fine. If the husband is just going to stay at home that is infinitely worse. I don't think that SAHM are slugs becuase by definition they are contributing. I do think stay at home wives are kind of sluggy. I used to work at club and saw women who played tennis, had drinks at lunch, played tennis, shopped and then went out to dinner with their husbands. Day after day. Seemed like such a useless, sluggy way of life.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 4:51 PM

There are men out there who take thier wives last name. My cousin took his wife's name because her name was and interesting ethnic name they both liked. His was about as boring and common as Smith. I also have friends who both took a hypenated name after they got married.
I personally took my husbands name becasue I wanted the entire family (me, hubby, and kids) to have the same name. We talked about him taking my name but decided we liked his better.

One a seperate note how do others feel about the fact that if a woman changes her name after getting married the name change is free. If a man chnages him name for any reason (even if its to take his wife's name) then he has to pay a several hundred dollar fee to make the change legal. My cousin thought this to be extreamly sexist and even consulted a lawyer about sueing the government over this. He dropped it when the lawyer pointed out that the most likely outcome wouldn't be that men could change thier name for free after marriage but that everyone, male or female, would most likely end up having to pay the fee.

Posted by: cw | June 12, 2007 4:53 PM

There are men out there who take thier wives last name. My cousin took his wife's name because her name was and interesting ethnic name they both liked. His was about as boring and common as Smith. I also have friends who both took a hypenated name after they got married.
I personally took my husbands name becasue I wanted the entire family (me, hubby, and kids) to have the same name. We talked about him taking my name but decided we liked his better.

One a seperate note how do others feel about the fact that if a woman changes her name after getting married the name change is free. If a man chnages him name for any reason (even if its to take his wife's name) then he has to pay a several hundred dollar fee to make the change legal. My cousin thought this to be extreamly sexist and even consulted a lawyer about sueing the government over this. He dropped it when the lawyer pointed out that the most likely outcome wouldn't be that men could change thier name for free after marriage but that everyone, male or female, would most likely end up having to pay the fee.

Posted by: cw | June 12, 2007 04:53 PM

There was a case in California about this. I don't remember the details. Oh, and it isn't precisely "free" but you pay only for replacement identification (DMV, social security) whereas men have to pay a name change fee.

Posted by: Miles | June 12, 2007 4:56 PM

He dropped it when the lawyer pointed out that the most likely outcome wouldn't be that men could change thier name for free after marriage but that everyone, male or female, would most likely end up having to pay the fee.

Posted by: cw | June 12, 2007 04:53 PM

Silly me. I would have asked, why would you want to spend upwards of $250,000 in fees to recover $700?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 5:01 PM

One of most entertaining reasons I've heard for a woman changing her name to her husbands is that of some friends of mine. They were married about 10 yrs with the wife keeping her name. This couple does almost all of their shopping online and order lots of goods from specialty companies. As a result thier mailbox is always full of catalogs. Only they would get two copies of everything one addressed to Ms. Jane at 101 street, anywere, USA and the second to Mr. John at 101 street, anywere, USA. No matter how many times she would tell these comapnies to only send one catalog the next time they ordered something they'd start getting two catalogs. So in order to reduce the amount of mail they recieved she took her husbands name and now they only get one catalog addressed to the Mr and Mrs John or the John family.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 5:01 PM

"Silly me. I would have asked, why would you want to spend upwards of $250,000 in fees to recover $700?"

Because protesting injustice no matter how trivial is what people like that live for.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 5:03 PM

"Silly me. I would have asked, why would you want to spend upwards of $250,000 in fees to recover $700?"

It wasn't to recover the fees it was more the principal of the fact that the policy is sexist.

Posted by: cw | June 12, 2007 5:04 PM

5:01, the time we save when telemarketers call and ask for a person who doesn't exist, Mrs. Husband's Name or Mr. Wife's Name, is infinitely greater than the time we spend sorting and discarding junk mail.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 5:05 PM

"I think the context is important. I personally don't think SAHD is a good idea."

Why do you feel this way?

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 5:07 PM

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet!

I'm not hung up on the name thing. call me Sally or Mildred - it doesn't change who I am at all. I too my husband's name because I liked having a marker between those two periods of my life. When I think of my mother by her birth name, she seems like this very exotic woman with a totally different life, because I've only known her as Mrs. My Dad's last name. I liked that.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 5:10 PM

I can relate to this. Once my mom quit her MD job to become SAHM my dad became so stingy with money that he ended up doing the groceries because he didn't trust her enough to give her grocery money. She literally had to ask him for every single penny she spent. He expected her to tell him what she needed it for, and how much, and then he would dole out the exact amount of cash needed to buy the object in question. It was so humiliating for her. Of course, the reason she left her MD job in the first place was because he was so sexist, so I guess she just chose the wrong guy. I think she would have left him except she would have had to move back to her home country and the kids would have suffered. She toughed it out and now they get along ok, and she just writes checks for what she needs, but she still doesn't have direct access to the information in their bank account, because the bank manager is his friend. It's messed up.

Posted by: m | June 12, 2007 5:14 PM

"Silly me. I would have asked, why would you want to spend upwards of $250,000 in fees to recover $700?"

It wasn't to recover the fees it was more the principal of the fact that the policy is sexist.

Posted by: cw | June 12, 2007 05:04 PM

Without the ERA, cocktail parties are where you protest sexist policies. There's nothing unconstitutional about discriminating against someone on the basis of gender.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | June 12, 2007 5:14 PM

"I think the context is important. I personally don't think SAHD is a good idea."

Why do you feel this way?

I don't feel men in general were designed to stay home. Now keep in mind that like anything a few men are probably fantastic SAHDs. I think men enjoy working and the competiton of work and bringing home money. They don't have the same nesting skills as women, they would probably not feel valued by either men or women in this society. Look how poorly SAHM moms are viewed in some quarters (which is a shame). I think men and women are wired differently with different emotional states, desires and values. I think children are more partial to moms. Now of course some will flame me with examples of this or that, but you asked ME why.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 5:15 PM

I won't flame you. But I do disagree with you. I think some men and some women make great SAH parents. And others not so much. But I think it depends on the individual and not the gender.

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 5:19 PM

"They don't have the same nesting skills as women, they would probably not feel valued by either men or women in this society."

You know, I know so many men in their 40s whose experience in the IT industry has left them not feeling valued by society. When they chased jobs gone overseas for several months, then tried to learn to sell real estate and were lousy at it, several realized that the opportunity under their nose was to stop sending that resume out and excel at being dads. These are some of the happiest men I know and they don't miss the crap of corporate America one bit. Sometimes it takes a job crisis for men to appreciate the opportunity to be stay at home parents, but once they have a couple of months of introspection, they often realize that society or the village, as you often call it, doesn't matter squat compared to the happiness of themselves, their spouses and their kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 5:21 PM

EMILY, we will just have to agree to disagree. How boring! ;)

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 5:21 PM

"I think men enjoy working and the competiton of work and bringing home money."

Seriously? I can count on one hand the men who actually enjoy work so much that they'd keep their jobs and wouldn't chuck it all in a heartbeat if they won the lottery. They want to take care of their families and like being responsible. If they could do that and fish or play golf all day, and build that addition on the house at their leisure, that - THAT - would be heaven.

You are in an occupation that draws men who like competition, pATRICK. As you well know, it is not a cross-section of American men, by any stretch of the imagination.

Posted by: MN | June 12, 2007 5:30 PM

Viva flan!!!

Posted by: catlady | June 12, 2007 5:31 PM

"You are in an occupation that draws men who like competition, pATRICK. As you well know, it is not a cross-section of American men, by any stretch of the imagination."

You are wrong in a way. I would chuck it all too if i won the lottery. I think every thinks working sucks in some way. But I was talking about working or relying on your wife while you stay home and take care of the kids, the house, the groceries etc etc. Where do I sign up for that lottery anyway?;)

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 5:34 PM

"A woman traditionally leaves her family behind and joins with her husband to form a new family"

OTOH, "A son is a son till he takes a wife, but a daughter is a daughter for all of her life"

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 5:36 PM

"Viva flan!!!"

Flan, it's not just for breakfast anymore.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 5:38 PM

pATRICK, Visit North Carolina where we, along with many states, have an underperforming lottery that was supposed to fund our schools on the backs of poor people. We'd welcome your purchase of a scratch-off card or too, LOL.

I'm glad to know you'd quit your job, too. I was imagining Glengarry Glen Ross and couldn't figure out which character you were, but it wasn't pretty.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | June 12, 2007 5:38 PM

"But I was talking about working or relying on your wife while you stay home and take care of the kids, the house, the groceries etc etc."

But Patrick, when you make this statement, you undermine your statement that men don't do well as SAHDs because they love the competition of working and making the money. Your REAL reason that men don't do well as SAHDs is that they can't stand the idea that their wife is the one making the money. Because you freely admit that if you won the lottery, you would love to stay home with your family and would chuck the rat race. So your temperament is amenable to staying home, but your sexist pride won't let you!!!!

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 5:42 PM

MN LOL,hopefully it wasn't Alec Baldwin's character, what a jerkwad. Not sure I want to be any of those characters actually.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 5:43 PM

But Sean Connery was so sexy!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | June 12, 2007 5:44 PM

EMILY afraid you misfired on that one. if I won the lottery, i would be financially secure, hiring people to clean or cook etc. I would be retired. My wife would be retired. I would always like to be around my family under those conditions. Lottery rich, retired-YES. SAHD, making no money doing childcare, cleaning maybe cooking-NO

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 5:46 PM

"SAHD, making no money doing childcare, cleaning maybe cooking-NO"

Okay, so what if your wife was a big corporate type that made globs of money and could hire you a cook, nanny, and housekeeper? Could you stay at home then, and enjoy an early retirment?

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 5:49 PM

Lottery - a tax on people who don't understand statistics.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 5:51 PM

Emily,

But then he'd have to supervise a playdate or two by himself, or trek with his daughter over to everyone else's house thus really weirding out the mom who just wants to bake brownies while the girls play in the playroom, and we'd have to repeat another conversation . . . .

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | June 12, 2007 5:53 PM

I have to admit, that when the jackpot gets really big (maybe a few times a year), I go ahead and by a few lottery tickets. I know it's probably a waste of money, but who knows? Someone has to win.

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 5:54 PM

"SAHD, making no money doing childcare, cleaning maybe cooking-NO"

Okay, so what if your wife was a big corporate type that made globs of money and could hire you a cook, nanny, and housekeeper? Could you stay at home then, and enjoy an early retirment?

How would that make me any different than the stay at home sluggy wives I mentioned? I told you before I would not want to rely on anyone to support me, that would make me feel useless. My whole family works in our companies and my dad pays for their cars, gas etc. All except me, I never asked him for a dime because I wanted to be my own man and now I would sit home and depend on my wife?

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 5:56 PM

probably a waste of money

PROBABLY? Are you serious?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 5:57 PM

MN - LOL - I agree that I don't want to go back to that conversation.

Also, I am ashamed to do this, but I also admit that I like to work because it gets me out of the daily grind of laundry, cooking, and cleaning. Or at least out of being entirely responsible for it. But I doubt anyone really loves the daily grind of housekeeping, even women who love to stay at home and raise their kids. I have a friend who is a SAHM. She insists that she does not "keep house." She raises children. That is a huge distinction for her.

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 5:59 PM

Love all this names stuff. And it's true that one of the most popular On Balance blogs was the one about keeping your maiden name -- got almost 700 comments.

Hard all around, this name thing. (Guys, if it were so easy, why don't you do it?) Your name is your name and a lot of us just want to keep it.

But if a woman doesn't change it to Husband's, and they have kids, often the kids have a different last name than Mom -- I would hate that.

First marriage, kept my own name. Second married, added Perry's last name -- but (tried) to keep my own.

For the record, at a whole lot of parties I get introduced as Leslie Morgan Steiner. I like it that way.

Posted by: Leslie | June 12, 2007 6:00 PM

Emily,

But then he'd have to supervise a playdate or two by himself, or trek with his daughter over to everyone else's house thus really weirding out the mom who just wants to bake brownies while the girls play in the playroom, and we'd have to repeat another conversation . . .


Once again, since it obviously got distorted. I would NOT have young girls over by myself, I would let my girl go to another playdate with a female in charge at this age (4), I would let them go with a man I felt very comfortable with alone when they are older. Not too hard to understand. So there.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 6:01 PM

We are not going back to that conversation. NO NO NO NO NO.

Please!!

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 6:03 PM

The happiest SAH wives I know have maid services and their kids are schoolage. They are able to get to the gym every day and spend zero time on housework. They are not exhausted when their husbands get home. That's the life.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 6:03 PM

"We are not going back to that conversation. NO NO NO NO NO.

Please!!"

I am not but since MN took a shot at me , I wanted to be clear.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 6:05 PM

Okay, so she took a shot. I think, after that converstion, she gets a free shot at you. Just suck it up, dude!

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 6:06 PM

Once again, since it obviously got distorted. I would NOT have young girls over by myself, I would let my girl go to another playdate with a female in charge at this age (4), I would let them go with a man I felt very comfortable with alone when they are older. Not too hard to understand. So there.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 06:01 PM

Seems fair to me...can't believe I am seeing your side of things today. Must be something in the water, I'm sure I'll go back to not getting it by tomorrow.

Posted by: Miles | June 12, 2007 6:08 PM

"Seems fair to me...can't believe I am seeing your side of things today. Must be something in the water, I'm sure I'll go back to not getting it by tomorrow."

MILES, were I ran afoul is I based my argument (and still do)by gender. That is a cardinal sin here regardless of the facts. (Such as the vast majority of pedohiles are men)

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 6:12 PM

Patrick,
You promised we were going back there. You are a man of your word, right?

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 6:15 PM

I think it's fair for parents to protect their children from being alone with a single male. People have repeated stories on here of having a neighbor whom they trusted and turns out they were a pedophile. You just don't know no matter how nice or happily married that guy as. As a male who is presumably NOT a pedophile I respect you for never putting yourself in a situation where other parents would question trusting you. Some things you HAVE to judge by gender. I won't accept a car ride ALONE with a man who is not my husband or related to me. I'm not saying every single man is just itching to take advantage of me, it's just a safety guard for myself. A woman? Sure. I think many women here would agree with that bit of gender bias, playing it safe with your kids in that way seems a DUH factor.

Posted by: Miles | June 12, 2007 6:16 PM

pATRICK, where you ran afoul was in calling parents who disagree with you careless, and in suggesting that their disagreement is likely to result in personal harm to their children.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | June 12, 2007 6:16 PM

It's a losing battle. And it's late. Signing off.

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 6:17 PM

make it stop. please, someone, anyone, make it stop.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2007 6:17 PM

MN, I have said all I ever plan to say about that.

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 6:19 PM

PS
What MN said.

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 6:19 PM

EMILY, a promise is a promise. Now what about you?

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 6:22 PM

Sorry. Just couldn't help myself.

Why am I still here?! Bye.

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2007 6:26 PM

Hey, pATRICK, let's call a truce for the day, and go over to Emily's house for homemade flan -- yummmm!

Posted by: catlady | June 12, 2007 6:28 PM

Lets go! I am always in for flan!:)

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 6:40 PM

pATRICK, Classic flan or flavored? Although I prefer classic, amaretto-flavored is pretty good, too!

Posted by: catlady | June 12, 2007 6:43 PM

HMM, can we have both? HAHA

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 6:46 PM

KLB wrote: "But Sean Connery was so sexy!"

No, no, KLB. Sean Connery IS so sexy!

Posted by: catlady | June 12, 2007 6:48 PM

pATRICK, maybe we should hold a flan-tasting party where everybody brings their favorite flavor, and we can compare. It's a dirty job, I realize, but someone has to do it!

Posted by: catlady | June 12, 2007 6:51 PM

count me in!

Posted by: pATRICK | June 12, 2007 6:53 PM

Well, pATRICK, we'll have to pick a mutually convenient day when we can both have flan at the same time at our respective locations. It's late, so I have to run now.

Posted by: catlady | June 12, 2007 6:57 PM

Hi All, Carol Fishman Cohen here. I wanted to address some of the comments raised in response to my post as guest blogger on Tuesday, June 12th. First regarding self promotion. Actually, Leslie edited my blog a little to include those sentences a number of you found self promotional. She is very enthusiastic about Back on the Career Track and its message and knowing how hard it is for a first time author to get exposure, she was generous enough to offer the guest blog opportunity, and took the liberty of adding the sentences about my book. I also thought those sentences sounded self promotional and asked her to take them out, but I'm sure with all good intentions she left them in. Sorry about that.

Also, I wanted to clarify that although I blogged about a personal experience to illustrate a point, I don't generalize at all from my own situation linking my work status to my power in making financial decisions at home. In addition to the sentence in the blog about my mother's aptitude for running home finances, my original blog included two quotes that were omitted (probably due to word count constraints) giving a broader perspective on the relationship between work status and clout in family financial decisions. I'll include them now. "A mom who worked full time, then part time, took a break, and then went back full time told me 'I can only speak for my own personal experience, but my involvement in financial decisions has never been connected to my work life. It's been solely an issue of whether I've chosen to pay attention.' Another mom wrote 'I don't know whether it's a 'chicken and egg' thing: are you really unworthy of contributing to a financial decision or is it that you feel you are and then become so? I do know women in my community who never wanted a career and still authoritatively run the financial decisions in their family.'

Oh, and one more thing - about the three names! There was quite a discussion about that. Because I went to college, business school, and established my career with the name "Carol Fishman", I didn't want to lose the connection with former classmates and colleagues years later by using just "Carol Cohen". So retaining Fishman as my middle name helps me keep my early networks intact. Since women tend to get married later than they used to, they are building careers using their maiden names. So that name retains more professional (and in some cases, personal) value to them than it might have in the past when women married earlier and changed their names before establishing themselves professionally.

Thanks for the opportunity to respond to the many comments posted. Carol

Posted by: Carol Fishman Cohen | June 16, 2007 2:21 PM

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