Dilemma: collaboration with the non-name-obsessed partner

A couple months ago I felt my top name for boy and girl had more or less risen to the top. We still have a shortlist of alternatives for the boys and a bunch of first/middle and double vs. single middle combo rearrangement options for the girls, but I was feeling like one option was a winner for each.

I told my partner what I was feeling and he was happy I felt more settled, but slightly surprised by what I’d chosen. He likes every name on our shortlist and thinks I’ve done a great job at narrowing down to the list of suitable options. But that was just kind of the tone of his response… like, ‘good job! I know it was a journey to get to this point. I’m fine with any of these names and I also like the ones you have picked for now.’ I asked him to think on it and let me know if his feelings changed at all with time.

Today was the first time we had talked names in at least like 5 weeks, I think. I told him I’ve been feeling slightly unsettled again and asked if we should explore the other options and he was just like… there’s nothing wrong with what you’d picked so why go backward? He had no other helpful insights to share about his feelings about this baby’s name. I can’t help but feeling annoyed by the lackluster nature of his response given that he was so much more invested the last time I was pregnant. We talked a bit about that and he was essentially just like, “That’s inevitable. We had 9 months last time to have in-depth discussions about names over time. We now have two toddlers who take up every last bit of our waking attention and energy, so many logistical things to be dealing with regularly, and just way less face time to actually have these talks, so they’re not a priority compared to everything else that needs to get done or that you want to get done before this baby comes.”

He IS right, but I think a huge part of my hesitancy and anxiety about this in general is that he doesn’t seem elated with anything. He was so much more happy, giddy or ecstatic, even, about the options for our first and with this being our last I personally feel like it’s even higher stakes for me as every other option that we don’t choose is a name left on the table forever, that I will never have the opportunity to use… ever. But my interpretation of his behavior has been that he feels this is just another kid and he will be happy no matter what. That really doesn’t sound appealing or acceptable to me…

How should I reframe or what should I be doing here?

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First of all, I’m sorry you’re going through this. I can only imagine how stressful and draining it could be as you already have so much on your plate!

I’m not a mother, so I’m sorry if my advice isn’t much help, but I think that this is totally understandable. I’m sure it’s scary to think that this is your last chance to use a name you really love. I think that the best thing you can do is to be gentle with yourself, and tell your partner how you feel and how his behavior and words affect your feelings, as well. And I think that once it’s out in the open, a name you love will come to you and everything will work out beautifully. You have time and I really believe everything works out the way it is supposed to!

Again, sorry if this isn’t much help to you, but know my thoughts are with you and that I think whatever you choose will be absolutely lovely :heart:

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Honestly, this sounds like a name lover’s dream situation!

You have hit the very rare jackpot of a partner who is name nerd enough to appreciate more unusual/eccentric (in a good way!) names and be willing to actually use them, but also totally prepared to give you the final say. [name_m]Bingo[/name_m] :star_struck:

I know you have more deep-seated concerns here, but just on a lighthearted (but also true) note to start with, that’s how I’d reframe!

On a more serious note, it sounds like you’re worried that your husband feels less excited or even less bonded to this baby. Honestly, I think a degree of that is totally normal (for both parents) due to a busier schedule, less time and need to prep everything and buy baby items, less sense of novelty, less idealism even… But it means absolutely nothing for the actual relationship with the child. It’s just a different situation second or third time around. But the love is exactly the same.

I definitely felt most “bonded” to my first baby in utero. I spent a lot of time daydreaming about what she’d be like, what she’d look like, what our life would be like. Trying out the name in my head, etc. etc. Second and especially third time, I just got on with my life and the million other things I had to do, and occasionally checked in and was like “Wow, there’s a baby in there!” Not in a bad way, but it’s just kind of inevitable when there’s so much else going on. I know my husband experienced similar.

But obviously, we both love all three to absolute distraction and they are all such unique little characters, they’re incomparable and birth order has no bearing whatsoever on the excitement and novelty of discovering their little personalities!

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Maybe reframe it that he knows names are important to you and is kind of leaving you to it as it’s your area of expertise?

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Thank you everyone! @hannahwren, thanks for the faith that the name will all be right in the end!

Absolutely. He definitely said he can never match my enthusiasm or knowledge of names in general… so true. So he feels we reached the limit of his expertise with his involvement in the shortlist.

I nearly included this as a caveat when posting. I totally get that most couples struggle on the opposite side of the spectrum in not finding overlap for a single name combo they both really like. I am very fortunate that we have so many options he finds good enough to use without compromising my more zany and uncommon style. Gratitude for having an awesome partner in this respect will definitely help me reframe.

He said yesterday, ‘You’ve seen how I’ve been better about bonding with both of our kids once they actually arrived. I think it’ll definitely be the same this time, too. It’s harder for me to conceptualize the realities of the future than it is for you.’ I have definitely felt guilty about how little parent-to-fetus attention we’ve been able to give. I do take time out of my day to try to feel connected to them but it is undoubtedly different and so much more of a to-do list item than it was during my first pregnancy when, at least in the later months of pregnancy where I am now, it felt completely natural to be spending time with baby throughout the day. I guess I just worry that if this baby seems like an afterthought now, they’ll remain so, and I certainly don’t want to choose an “afterthought” kind of name… as if that were even an option given my level of overthinking up to this point… [name_m]Even[/name_m] if I were to just pick a name at random from our shortlist, ultimately there has already been more than enough thought and intention behind each combo to make up for a dash of reckless abandon in the end.

I’m feeling slightly better about the relationship and connection side. Still unsure about the actual name and do feel it’s an awful lot of responsibility on just my shoulders if there’s no more real guidance coming from my partner. But maybe he will have a final two cents to throw in when he actually meets baby [name_u]Bao[/name_u].

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It sounds like he’s just happy to have a fulfilling life and is happy to mostly delegate the naming to you, the one who has the most interest in naming. Maybe he feels like he can be more true to himself this time and not be super outwardly enthusiastic to show his support for you because he has plenty of opportunities to show it in other ways now. I really doubt he’s thinking it’s "just another kid’! I think he really trusts you to do this job of sorting names since you enjoy it. It might help to be more specific about the kind of feedback you want from him as well, not too open-ended. Maybe “which do you like more?” rather than “how do you feel about…?”

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There is no way on [name_f]Earth[/name_f] you will choose an “afterthought” name [name_f]Lilian[/name_f]! [name_f]Every[/name_f] single name on your list has so much meaning and symbolism behind it, it blows me away. [name_u]Trust[/name_u] yourself and trust your excellent (naming and parenting) instincts!

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I’m not sure if your feelings have changed much since you last posted but these are my thoughts in case they’re of any value.

It sounds to me like you and your partner understand where the other is coming from as well as the external factors that have made this naming experience different to your last pregnancy. The sense I’m getting from your posts is that while you’ve acknowledged these differences, you are yet to fully accept them. It’s a difficult feeling to long for something. The decision making process you went through with your first pregnancy sounds like it not only reinforced your connection with your child but also with one another. Hoping your experience will be similar this time is the right starting place even if it’s less practical than it was before.

I’d like to suggest something. It may or may not be right for you but it’s what came to mind when thinking about how great a responsibility the decision feels on your shoulders. How would you feel about choosing the short list and giving your partner the role of deciding the final name from your list? It still requires a lot from you but I wonder if the prospect of giving away the final decision feels freeing or relieving? An agreement like this has the potential to counterbalance the different levels of passion and time you and your partner have put into your names.

It seems like you have each fallen into the roles you are most natural and comfortable in. I can’t help but wonder if challenging your partner to take a final position might spark deeper feelings for the names on your short list. He feels he’s reached his limit of involvement, perhaps he truly has, perhaps not. For this to work, you would both need to be on board and your partner would need to see a way to prioritise this amongst the daily onslaught of other important and necessary things he already faces. I also think the short list needs to be a manageable length. I’m imagining three to five names, with a calendar specific option as a wild card.

I hope that unsettled feeling you’ve been having recently resolves itself whichever way you go with this. I also feel strongly that any name you ultimately choose for this child will feel perfect and complete.

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Lordy! Be thrilled! Be grateful! I have no patience with the men who say no to every day beloved by the person bearing and delivering the child.

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