Navigating a partner's grief can be complicated, but skating over your own feelings will only make things harder.
In a popular post on the AITA subreddit, a man asked if he was wrong for banning his wife from naming their baby after her late best friend. He wrote:
Long story short, my (28M) wife (28F) is estranged from her family and has been since a teenager. She met Eva as in school and they were inseparable with Eva letting my wife stay over a lot as well as providing a constant source of support. I met my wife at University. Unfortunately, Eva died suddenly a year into our relationship. I had met her a few times, and she was lovely.
My wife was understandably devastated. Two years ago, we married and she took my last name, Brown. Our baby girl is due in the spring and understandably, my wife wants to honour Eva in her name. This is something that she has said throughout the relationship. I was happy with the idea of honouring her, and we have discussed baby names throughout the relationship and pregnancy.
The leading name we were tossing about was a place name that had significant memories to them. Yesterday she came up to me and said that she had a dream about Eva asking her to "remember her by her name" (she had some like this around the time Eva died but none recently to my knowledge), and to memorialise her, our baby must be called Eva. I said absolutely no way.
She said why not, and I reminded her of the historical figure, Eva Braun (pronounced Brown), wife of probably one of history's most evil figures and reassured her that we will tell our kids about Aunt Eva, and she'll always be remembered, but my wife refused saying it has to be her name. She says few will make the link to the historical character, and she won't be bullied at school.
She said she had fell out with the place name, and a family member has had a baby recently with a similar name (think Brooke to Brooklyn). I suggested things to do with Eva, such as her birthstone or honouring her through a middle name, or even names that had Eve/Eva in. Anything but Eva itself. She started crying and said that she won't name the baby anything else, and it's the ultimate way Eva can live on.
I said it's a sh#$ty situation, and if we had literally any other surname we would, but I literally can't. Not only am I extremely morally opposed, I work in a field where if there was wind that I named my child Eva Brown, my work could be at risk. She's saying I'm making excuses, and not supporting her as she is putting in a lot of effort to having this baby.
This resulted in a fight and now I am on the couch for the second night now. Some of our friends are saying I'm being dramatic but my sister (the mother of "Brooke") is telling me that if she continues to register the baby without her. To be honest, I'm leaning that way if she continues not to compromise. I'm really not sure what to do. AITA for not wanting to name my baby Eva?
NTA. All it would take is a popular filmmaker to make a film about Eva or a film in which Eva is featured heavily and it won’t be just History students and Europeans who will double take. It could affect her getting jobs in the future, as no matter how impressive her CV is, very few people will want to take the chance that they are hiring someone raised by a White Supremacist.
I would ask her what she would do if her friend was named after someone she finds abhorrent. as you’re in a progressive school, I assume she’d understand if your surname was Tromp (so spelled slightly differently), the name Donald or Ivana might be a problem?
NTA. Your baby should have their own identity, not named after someone who (respectfully).. passed away. Your baby should not be used as a memorabilia. As coming from someone who shares the same name as my dad (who’s a effin a-hole) I absolutely hate it.
Can you use your wife's maiden name?
And OP responded:
"My wife is estranged from her family, and was very eager to drop her maiden name. She has said that name makes her think of her horrible past. I know she would not ever change her name back, let alone name a child with it."
"She is also really close to my family who took her as one of their own in when we met due to her situation. name, but also so they could not find her as they are very bad, dangerous people. This is also why we will not consider comments about swapping to her maiden name."
NAH. You've got a weird reason for being against it, and I'm really curious why you'd lose your job over a name, but you do you. Your wife likely needs therapy. I'm deeply sorry for the loss of her friend and I get the desire to honor that friend, but based purely on your explanation it comes across like your wife hasn't properly processed that grief. I hope she can get the help she needs.
I work as a history teacher in a very liberal school, and N*zis is a decent chunk of the curriculum for some of my older students. Not that I would share my personal life in depth to the students, my colleagues and SMT would definitely ask about it.
I hope to rise the ranks at this school, so I don't want to affect that. I also have a cousin who is one of my older students, so there is a risk of students (and defacto parents) finding out my baby's name that way if her friends ask.
YTA for suggesting you would register the baby without your wife. That would be grounds for an instant divorce in my book. Obviously, everyone is different but I'm Jewish, spent most of my career at a Jewish workplace, and am hyper-aware of the Holocaust and antisemitism. Naming a baby Eva Brown doesn't even raise my eyebrow.
Brown is also one of my family last names, and I have a distant cousin whose name is "Eva Brown" - one of her parents was a Holocaust survivor. So I'm just going to pump the brakes on your concern about potentially losing your job. That's an excuse, not a reality. Brown and Braun also are not typically pronounced the same.
It's also strange to me that so many are concerned with naming your daughter after your wife's best friend regardless. Again, maybe this is a Jewish context, but babies are ALWAYS named after a deceased loved one. It doesn't need to be the exact name, though - the same first letter or a variation on the name is acceptable. But names are two yeses or one no, so if you truly hate the name then that's different.
If I were you, I'd keep pushing on the variation idea if you can't get over the vague connection. Eve, Evelyn, Evie, Evangeline would all be pretty names that would still honor your wife's friend. Depending on how the name is pronounced, you could even go with Ava which would be a strong visual difference from Eva Braun's name, even if actually pronounced the same.
Hi all, it's been a while and I didn't realize I was still logged into this account. I didn't expect my AITA post to blow up so much, and I'd like to thank you all for your comments. They really gave me food for thought. Well, soon after posting I called up Eva's sister (Rose) as my wife (Lou) is really close to her and explained the situation.
I know, I shouldn't get people involved in marital matters, but Rose's opinion really matters to Lou, especially when Eva is involved. Rose agreed with me, that naming a daughter Eva Brown would be harmful, and she mentioned something that we believed to be a game changer. One thing you must know about the late Eva, dear reader, was that she was a writer.
She kept journals, which her sister held on to after her death. In one of these journals was a baby name list, where she gave five names for a girl and five names for a boy. Rose held onto these names when she was having children (one of her sons is named the top boy name), but she is done now and wants to give it to my wife. We believed we have to introduce this carefully, so we launched a game plan.
The next day, I sat down with Lou, and said on no uncertain terms would our daughter be called Eva. Brown is the only surname we have, and Eva is not something I'd feel comfortable pairing with it. As I mentioned in comments, my wife is estranged from her family and often jokes that we got married so young (at 22) so she could get rid of her maiden name.
She agreed that our child will take our married name, but continued to stress about forgetting Eva. I also mentioned that by naming a child Eva, you'd be pressuring that child to live on for dead Eva and that's a big burden for young shoulders. My cousin was named after a dead relative and my grandparents often compared him to that relative, and that's not something I want for my own child.
That seemed to resonate, and she admitted that pregnancy was bringing up old feelings as she and Eva always said that they'd be pregnant together. I suggested therapy, and she started therapy last week. I then talked about mine and Rose's conversation, and she was very interested.
We agreed that it would be lovely giving Eva the opportunity to name a child, knowing it was something she was seemingly passionate about and have narrowed it down between two of the five girl names. Turns out the girl had taste.
Being able to discuss baby names and thinking about our daughter as her own person has been a blessing, and I can see my wife is on the mends. I think this will be the only update, and I can't wait to meet my daughter. Thank you all for your help.
This is beautiful i’m so glad you guys were able to work this out, and I’m so sorry for your wife’s loss. I’m so glad you guys have found a way to honour her late friend whilst not looking like a white supremacy dog whistle. Hope all the best for you guys and baby <33 Also you could also make Rose the baby's godmother I think that’s also a lovely way to honour Eva :)
I am so glad for you. I was worried that your wife would insist on still using the name Eva, but the issue was resolved perfectly. Congratulations on your daughter and I hope you will have a wonderful time with your family.
So glad you could find common ground. I personally have always hated the idea of a first name after someone because then it's not their name, it's someone elses. My daughter's middle name is after a friend who passed, but she has her own first name nobody in the family or that we knew had.
My blessings on you, your wife, and your beautiful daughter! If one of the names Eva had chosen flows well with Eva, that would work too :)
The name journal was nothing less of a miracle for this problem and it’s a great resolution and way to remember Eva.
This worked out well in the end, in a refreshing stroke of fate.