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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Ex’s name commonly used by ex-wife

Judith Martin United Feature Syndicate

Dear Miss Manners: Is it appropriate for the first wife to take back the name of a former spouse?

My husband’s ex-wife is now going through her second divorce and is planning on dropping his last name and taking back my husband’s. My husband and his ex had two children from their marriage, and she claims she wants to have the same last name as her children. He and I are very uncomfortable with this.

He and I have a child together, and all the children attend the same small school. I think it will be confusing at school, and I am wondering if people will assume my husband and his ex are now back together.

I realize she can legally change her name to anything she wants but out of courtesy, should she consider our feelings? She says it is common for women who are divorced twice to go back to a former last name of an ex if they share children. What are your views on this topic?

Gentle Reader: Before we get to Miss Manners’ view, let us have another look at the ex-wife’s view.

Yes, it is common for divorced mothers to want to share their children’s surnames, regardless of whom they married or divorced subsequently. Ah, but in this case, you say, confusion will arise from your and her children all being in the same school.

Don’t you think that confusion has already arisen? Don’t you think that you should consider what the assumption that you, who share a surname with her children, are their mother, has been doing to her feelings?

Miss Manners’ view is that this is more important than your discomfort. As for the gossipmongers you fear, they would only be risking their own reputations for reliability. A rumor that a husband has left his second wife for his first wife is far too interesting to go unchecked.

Dear Miss Manners: We have a wonderful single pastor who comes to our house when we have other pastors over for dinner. I am planning another dinner party in the near future but want to invite a single lady as well as the single pastor. How can I invite the single pastor without him feeling I am trying to fix him up? How can I word the invitation?

I would like him to meet this lady but really would like them to come and enjoy the company of our other guests.

Gentle Reader: So you are fixing him up?

Never mind answering that. It is society’s business to throw eligible people together without being responsible for the results. And the way to do this is identical to the way you invite people whom you have no intention of fixing up – with merely an invitation to come to dinner and an air of innocence about any friendships you expect to come of it.

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