Surname Siege (#80)

Knight looks elsewhere
Guess who’s the white pawn?

Last you heard, our interracial lovers got married and flew off into the sunsets of Playa del Carmen.

It should be the end of this blog, right? I mean, West met East, fell in love, got engaged, and got married, and lived happily ever after. End of story.

In fact, the battles had only just begun.

The war began at the wedding. When the ceremony finished, Andy and I turned to face the guests. The minister announced: “I now present Mr. and Mrs. Ashbough-Wong.”

With the exception of two people, everyone cheered and applauded.

When Andy and I entered the reception hall after the interminable picture-taking, Big Brother had the microphone. He introduced the best man and maid of honor, and then said, “And now, Mr. and Mrs. Ashbough-Wong!”

More cheers and applause. Except for those same two people.

My brand new mother-in-law and my brand new father-in-law.

Cuz they were pissed.

***************************

Back when Andy proposed, I made it clear that I would not be taking the surname Wong. Seriously, the name was already over 20 million strong. And however much I might like to see people’s faces when they first met the Caucasian giantess named “Autumn Wong,” I was also a feminist. I objected to the automatic assumption that a woman should take her husband’s name. If she wanted to, fine. If not, fine. If a couple wanted to hyphenate, make up a new name, or call themselves Foxy Lords of Zeta Centauri Bisquick, also fine. (And though their offspring would curse them, said offspring would also learn the alphabet faster than its peers.)

Andy was fine with me not taking his last name.

He was not fine with taking my last name. Which I thought was an opportunity wasted.

“C’mon,” I urged him. “Think of the fun you could have in job interviews! Andy Ashbough shows up, and bam! It’s totally not who they pictured and they have to re-examine their own prejudices! Meanwhile, you wow them and get the job, both on merit and cuz they don’t want to look racist!”

“And what do I tell them when they ask how a Chinese guy wound up with the last name of ‘Ashbough?’” Andy asked.

“No one would ever ask. They’ll assume you’re adopted and it’d be rude. But if they do, tell ‘em it’s Mongolian.” I cackled.*

Andy shook his head and gave me his best “pity the clueless white girl” look.

“It would solve the identity theft problem,” I reminded him.

Another head shake. I nagged at Andy until he reluctantly agreed that we could both hyphenate our names. He wasn’t super excited about it, but I didn’t care. I loved the idea that we would both have the same name and it wasn’t going to just be the man’s.

Ha! Take that, Patriarchy!

I should have known better. Andy stupidly told his parents about our plan the day before the wedding. They threw a fit, and I spent the rehearsal dinner and the wedding making sure they never spoke to me alone. With a massive immediate family like mine, my avoidance was successful. (Ha, whaddaya know, there are now a total of FOUR benefits to having seven siblings, multiple parental units, and a half-dozen step/ex-step siblings!)

But I couldn’t avoid my in-laws forever.

When we returned from our honeymoon, there were three messages from Andy’s mom, Sunny. There were two messages from his father Jay. There was a message from his sister. And there was one from his brother, too: “Listen, bro. Please call Ma. I don’t care what you call yourself, but I’m tired of them calling me.”

Telemarketers have nothing on my in-laws.

**************

After Andy’s aunts started calling, he finally gave in and called his parents back.

There was saber-rattling first: Sunny told him he wasn’t allowed to hyphenate his name.

Andy said nothing

Warning shots were fired. Jay threatened to disown Andy if he hyphenated his name.

Andy refused to engage.

Sunny peppered his position with mortars. She berated Andy, telling him that in China, only slaves changed their names. Slaves took the surnames of their masters.

Instead of telling his mother in graphic detail about how he was already my LOVE slave, Andy repeatedly changed the subject. Enemy fire continued until he invented a work emergency and got off the phone.

When I heard about the ammunition used, I was incensed. “That is some sexist BULLSHIT! Both of your female cousins took on the ENGLISH surnames of THEIR husbands and no one in your family said a word! But now, you do it, and it’s conveniently now a cultural issue!”

Andy shrugged.

Andy’s sister soon waded in with some half-assed diplomacy. She said, “I know it’s none of my business and you can do whatever you want, but…please, please, please don’t change your name!”

Andy countered with distraction, asking about his niece.

I wanted Andy to tell his family off, but that’s not how he rolls. Andy’s mentality is siege-survivalist. He ignores the cannonballs and arrows. He refuses to counterattack. Andy waits for the besiegers to grow bored, or assume everyone in the town has been starved into submission and declare victory. When the attacking army gets distracted or marches off, Andy opens the gates and does whatever he wanted to do in the first place.

So I figured we just had to wait for Andy’s Hong Kong cousin to get a girl pregnant (preferably with twins), or for one of the uncles to commit adultery, or for his closeted gay cousin to finally come out. Then our little hyphen would be forgotten and the parental siege would end. Andy didn’t actually care if his father disowned him. He didn’t need money from his parents. He had a house of his own, three thousand miles away from them. And Andy and his father were never what you’d call close.

I was sure the Ashbough-Wongs would weather the siege.

I forgot about Popo.

*****************

I was away when that bombshell hit. I mean, when Andy’s beloved Grandmother called. (Or perhaps when Sunny insisted on holding the phone up to Popo’s ear and feeding her lines.) I came home to a suspiciously dark house.

And sobbing.

I found Andy on the couch, holding the phone and wiping tears out of his eyes. Andy is not a crier. I rushed over.

“What happened? Who’s dead?”

“My grandma’s mad at me!” Andy howled, heartbroken.

Of course. Andy adored his grandmother. Popo taught him how to write his name in Chinese characters. She offered him all the hugs and kisses he never got from his emotionally distant father and his working mother. He even lived with her for a while after his younger brother was born. She’d never said a mean word to him in her life. Until now.

And with that, I knew that the Battle of the Surname was lost.

Yeah, I could have thrown a fit and insisted that Andy keep his side of the bargain. I could have pointed out the idiocy of both his mother and his grandmother caring about a common patrilineal SURNAME THAT WASN’T EVEN THEIRS continuing. I could have badgered, bullied, or sex-bribed Andy into filling out the paperwork to be an Ashbough-Wong. But that would make me no better than Andy’s controlling parents.

In fact, I began to wonder if I hadn’t already been something of a bully, relentlessly pushing at Andy to take my name. It’s not like the man was turning cartwheels over the idea.

I wasn’t going to drive a rift between Andy and his grandmother. Even though it galled me. Even though I thought Sunny had cheated at a game she wasn’t even supposed to be playing.

I handed Andy a white tissue of surrender. “Here you go, Mr. Wong.”

We never spoke of hyphenating our names again. Andy remained the target of identity thieves. I remained Ms. Ashbough. We undoubtedly avoided weeks of paperwork.

Someday, I am sure I won’t be angry anymore. Perhaps when I sign a birth certificate for a Baby Ashbough-Wong.

Because if that war comes, I’m gonna win.

IMG_3180

*Mongolians had last names, then the communists took them away, and then in 1997 the government insisted on the return of surnames once more. Mongolian families could pick their names. Most of them picked Borjigin, the family name of Genghis Khan. But there’s a variety of names, many of which do not sound remotely Chinese. (At least, not to white people like me.)

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Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

75 thoughts on “Surname Siege (#80)”

  1. As someone who changed her name when she got married, then changed it back when she got divorced (and is still laboring, five years later, to get all bank accounts and credit cards and legal documents changed back to her original name – it’s not easy to do while living overseas), I am a huge advocate of skipping that paperwork headache altogether and not ever changing one’s name under any circumstances. So at least you’ve got that. Anyway, great story.

  2. Autumn, you have to hold strong for when (or if) a baby comes. In that case, hopefully Momma and Papa Wong will have no power over your decisions.

    Changing your husband’s name.. well, let’s say that is up to him to decide. If he does not want to, then it is his right to say no. But a baby is a joint business (what a romantic view!) and should reflect both heritages in my opinion. Do not allow the monsters-in-law to bully you on that!

    1. Hahahahaa, yes, a baby is indeed a joint business, whether that is romantic or not. I’ve seen enough of them to know.

      Yes, I think it will be up to me to make sure a child is even aware of his Chinese heritage. Andy has no interest.

      Andy’s sister had her parents pick her daughter’s middle name. That seems fair. (BRACE FOR BATTLE!!!)

      So…what are you going to do, Marghini?

      1. I will go out on a limb here and assume you don’t have kids yet.

        Andy might seem indifferent now, but I bet it’s because the idea having kids is just an abstraction at this point.

        He might feel differently if/when you approach him and say, “hey look I peed on this stick and it turned blue. Aren’t you happy?” Once he gets over the initial shock of course.

        1. That’s a good point. Who knows what might happen? Suddenly Andy could be all “Hey, is there a Chinese School?”

          On the other hand, I think that many first generation American kids really just want to fit in. They often turn their back on their heritage in an effort to minimize any “otherness.”

          Will it be kung fu or tennis? 😉

          1. Tennis?? Meh. How stereotypical. Your hypothetical hapa-Chinese kid won’t get into Stanford or Berkeley with tennis.

            X-sports or BASE jumping with wing suits. Now that’s cool.

            Oh btw, I hear there is a good Chinese language school on the Westside, close enough to you guys.

  3. Ah, grandma!! My husband has a special place in his heart for his ‘A-Ma’ as well. She was the sweetest woman I ever met who gave me thickest red envelope ever – the same red envelope she told my husband off about a couple of hours later.

    I didn’t change my name when I got married – actually, most Taiwanese women don’t either. However, I did get an official Chinese name when we registered our marriage, which has been government documented as well.

    Sometimes, things like this are not worth the effort. I know where you are coming from, but it is ultimately up to Andy. Your kid’s name – now you have the power to decide in that situation.

      1. My kids and I all have Chinese first names plus our regular American names. My father-in-law chose them, taking care to choose something with a very good meaning. The kids have a generation name which is the same as their cousins’. The Chinese character of my name came in handy when I did Chinese brush painting.

        1. I’ve never had my name translated into a Chinese character. Hmmm. Maybe I should ask Andy’s parents how to write my name.

          There are undoubtedly multiple translations for “Bossy White Woman” or “Terrible Daughter-in-law” 😉

          1. Usually when it comes to Chinese names you just choose your own (kind of like how many Chinese people choose the craziest English names–I knew a girl named ‘Someday’), so you get free reign! I chose my Chinese name and I think my documents in China list both the Chinese and English name, FYI!

          2. @Ruby Ronin – I’m assuming the girl with the name Someday wasn’t fluent in English? A lot of the time, they pick names or words that just sounded good. Anyway, there was one black girl in my school name Vegina.

            1. I think it was an American woman who picked “Someday” as her Chinese name, unless I read Ruby’s post wrong.

              As for Vegina and ethic names that are unusual, I always think of Uzo Aduba’s funny interview with Seth Meyes:

              Uzo Aduba: I wanted to be called Zoey until I came home one day and…I was like, “Mommy, can you call me Zoey?” She was cooking and she just stopped and looked at me. She was like,”Why?”. Because no one can say Uzoamaka. Without skipping a beat she was like, “if they cannot say Tchaikovsky and Dostoevsky and Michaelangelo, then they cannot say Uzoamaka.” She went right back to cooking.

              Click here for full interview.

  4. Like the first comment said, this was such a loaded and emotional post. Names are a touchy issue. I think grandmas have a special place in all of our hearts…I remember my grandma gave me a Nintendo Gameboy when it first came out in the 90s. Wish I still had it.

    If and when I do get married, very, very unlikely I will be changing my name. I like it, and it’s who I am. That would mean I would still have to put up with people mistaking me as coming from Hong Kong all the time…

    1. Well, I totally missed the mark on this post, since I was aiming for funny. It’s cuz Andy was crying, right?

      See, that’s how I feel about my name. It’s part of me, good and bad. But honestly, if someone had come along with a totally unique and awesome surname , that might have done it. You know, like “House of Windsor.” 😉

      1. I thought the post started off amusing but towards the end I felt quite emotional, and yes, when someone is crying out of sadness a lot of us feel that way :/

        A few months ago at an old work place of mine, the office was discussing what surnames we wouldn’t mind having. One of them was “Power”. We figured that sounded well with any name.

  5. Wow! Heavy duty!

    Surnames can be a topic on its own.

    In some part of the Middle East, surnames convey the tribe one belongs to and the position one holds.

    Surname and clan are powerful factors in the tropics. In the old days, the wealthy would live in a specific street according to his clan.

    There are some powerful Scottish clans who have made their mark in the UK and beyond.

    1. Oh, yes, there are many surname potential posts. Seriously, there could be whole one on why the communists tried to stamp out surnames in Mongolia, even.

      Or maybe one on why matrilineal descent makes more sense. 😉

  6. As someone who first married when woman ALWAYS changed their names I am a great advocate of women not changing names ever for a variety of reasons. (As incredible as it is, I have remarried but still carry my former husband’s name as that is my business identity. As you can tell, I am married to a very liberated man.) As for hyphenating, it can get long and tedious. In the end you did the right thing for the right reasons. Sunny is a very controlling person. Obviously she plays dirty. Perhaps she could use some therapy?

  7. Interesting note on Mongolian surnames!

    I changed my name after marrying, for the sake of my kids, I guess. At times when growing up, I hated have a different last name from my mom (and step-dad). On the other hand, I really did like my name and didn’t want to change it, mostly because it was easy to spell and at the beginning of the alphabet (Davis). Now I’m Zhao, which is ridiculously common in China but no one in the US can spell or pronounce. It’s also at the end of the stupid alphabet. And of course people are confused when they meet me if they saw my name first. Sigh.

      1. Hi, PT! Thanks for the comment.

        I only know about Wong, so I’ll speak to that one. There are multiple Chinese characters for the English translation of Wong, probably because Westerners can’t catch the tonal variations. Andy’s last name is actually better pronounced “Huang” which means yellow and translates into the Chinese character for yellow. Other American Wongs we’ve met have the Chinese character for “Emperor,” which is way cooler.

        I was kinda bummed out by that.

  8. Yeah, see, that was my crazy family. Which is why I wanted everyone to have the same last name.

    For you, living in China, it makes excellent sense to have the same name — and a Chinese one — as your children. I mean, I’d want documentation that clearly shows I’m related to my kids if I was an international traveler.

  9. My dad’s Filipino so I have a cool last name, which I have no intention of ever giving up! When I got married there were lots of discussions because my ex wanted me to take his very Irish last name. I do not look Irish. Eventually, he gave in and was my biggest advocate after we got married. Of course his mom addressed every card, letter and check to me as Mrs. Ex’s first name Ex’s last name. My niece’s mom is Japanese; her last name is hyphenated but our last name is first. My mom wasn’t thrilled but what can you do? Glad Andy and Popo are good.

    1. I think I must be like your ex’s mother, because I specifically made return address labels that say “Ashbough-Wong” and put them on every card/ letter I send to Andy’s parents.

      If I were to label them accurately, they would say “Autumn PETTY Ashbough-Wong.”

  10. i’m glad that Andy is still cool with PoPo. I LOLd when I saw the image you have at the top of this post. Poor white pawn! However, the pawn can still become a queen if she can make it to the other side of the board! Hang in there! 🙂

    1. I think the other Queen has to die, right? Isn’t that how it goes? “The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen!”

      History major, here. I merely stole someone else’s chess set for the photos! But I m glad it was effective.

  11. I am currently also thinking about weather if II should take over Mr. Panda’s surname, which appears to be Wong too, or if I should keep mine. Unfortunately, it is out of question for Mr. Panda to take mine, as it does not match his first name at all. So complicated…
    And Mr. Panda is the same as Andy and never ever talks back to his parents. Even they ridiculously blame him for something which is not his fault (like yesterday when Chinese mom blamed him that it was his fault she could not divorce from Chinese dad).

    1. I’m telling you, more Wongs are unnecessary. Stick with your own name. Unless you plan on tons of international travel with kids.

      It’s probably not right that I cracked up over Panda Mother’s ridiculous placement of non-divorce blame. But I laughed, even as I felt your pain. 😉

      That is ludicrous to the point of awesome.

  12. I smiled when you talked about Andy’s mentality being siege-survivalist. Last week we visited the “Do You Know Bruce?” exhibit at the Wing Luke museum, and I bought “Bruce Lee: Artist of Life.”

    Here’s some of Bruce Lee’s words that I read this morning over breakfast: “When being attacked, he (a gung fu man) will not resist, but will control the attack by swinging with it… The branches of a fir tree snap under the weight of the snow, while the simple reeds, weaker but more supple, can overcome it … Because he can yield, a man can survive.

    You can’t argue with Bruce Lee.

      1. Actually there is a lot of truth to that quote. Andy already knows that the best way to deal with his parents is to listen to them (tedious) but refuse to do anything they say.

        If he gets into it with them, then they all risk saying something they might regret later, and might remain that way since no one wants to lose face.

        Pretty classic strategy for the Asian families I know.

  13. My parents are from Hong Kong , and my mom never took on my dads last name. It’s a typical Chinese custom for the wife to keep her last name. She does not take the husbands last name. The tradition of taking the last name is a western tradition. Only the kids carry the Husbands last name in Chinese tradition[of which I took , since I am the son].

    1. My mother took my dad’s last name, and my grandmother took my grandfather’s last name. They all grew up Baptist in Hong Kong, so I think it is a Western thing.

  14. Aww, that’s tough. After 5 years of marriage…I steer well clear of the elders in my husband’s family. I generally try to not do yet one more thing to make another black mark on my record with them. They’re nice people, but parents-in-law are one of the hardest things about cross-cultural marriage. My husband’s grandparents are all passed away except a grandma who lives in a remote village, so I haven’t had any experience with that generation.

    Hyphenating never entered my mind. I traded an unpronounceable and un-spellable Dutch surname for an unpronounceable and un-spellable Spanish surname, and I enjoy the confusion brought about by being a white girl who rolls the rr’s in her surname. The hyphenated combination of those two names would have been nearly 20 letters long…yeah, no. I don’t care about my last name. However, if my husband or in-laws calls me “Raquel” instead of Rachel…that bothers me. I don’t like it one bit, and I have let them know. However, I don’t have a lot of room to stand since I, and the entire English-speaking world, pronounce my husband’s name “Angel” the English way instead of the Spanish way. He doesn’t mind, since the English-speaking world is a little hard to argue with when you live in it.

  15. I’m impressed you can roll your rrs! I never could.

    I sympathize with Angel & Rachel! Yes, if there’s one thing that’s irritating in LA, it’s the Anglicization of traditional Spanish words. Sepulveda becomes “Say-pull-VAY-da” and Calle Mayor becomes “Cally Mare.” I got lost trying to follow a white man’s directions. Don’t get me started on kids so unfortunate as to be named Xavier.

    Are Spanish in-laws as culturally, um, different as Chinese ones?

  16. Mom’s reaction to finding out that PSCS was keeping her name was a perfect opportunity to use the word nonplussed. “Oh,” said my mother after a short, uncomfortable silence.

    Of course this was after we’d been married and she’d sent something to Herfirstname Mylastname. I’m 99% sure that I discussed this with her before the wedding, but there’s that one percent that says, “Yeah, I probably ‘forgot.’ After all, we had enough to argue about.”

      1. Well, she’s been 39 for almost as long as I’ve been alive, so her selective amnesia is very convincing at this point.

  17. Changing your surname after getting married is truly a weird custom for me, as we don’t do it in Spain and Chinese people don’t do it either…

    Fun fact #1: in Spanish speaking countries we have 2 surnames, one is dad’s first surname and the other is mum’s first surname. Traditionally the dad’s surname would be placed in first position but now you can choose the order of the surnames for your children, so women can actually pass down their surnames 🙂

    Fun fact #2: the word for surname in Chinese is 姓, the thingie on the left means woman, the thingie on the right means life. Surnames were passed down from the mother in ancient China 🙂

      1. Yes! For sure it is done in all the Spanish speaking countries (well, having both surnames. I am not sure if they can choose the order yet). Portugal and Brazil also do it, and Philippines 🙂

  18. I gotta say, the picture you placed at the start of the post really made my day. It’s perfect.

    Hmmm… this post was slightly different from the other ones I read so far. I could feel your frustration flowing through the words. (Sure, it did have funny moments too, but it was mostly, in my opinion, conveying your revolt towards the name issue you’re facing.)

    So, you caught up to present day or not? xD (And nope, I did not catch up. XD I just jumped, only to return, ahahaha.)

    Ah, I just remembered one thing. Regarding the names, my ex’s mother also called my first name differently (I think she couldn’t pronounce it… or maybe it’s because she was so used to the American names pronunciation and spelling or something). He was annoyed at her way of calling me and repeatedly said “Mom, her name is *Beeep*, not *Beep*”, though I was totally fine with it. Pfft, if people from other countries are to pronounce my last name, it’d be like Hell for them cause even my people mess it up. ._.

    Oh, and if, IF, I will ever get married, I dunno whether or not I’d take his name. xDD I mean, I didn’t really use my last name for any business or anything of the sort.

    Anyway, good luck, Madame Future Reine (Queen). 😀 Fight-o!

  19. Oh, yay! Another vote for the picture! Andy thought my whole chess thing was silly. Take that, dude! Two votes for chess pictures!

    Ah, yes, the frustration was definitely there. I thought I was over it, but apparently I still have residual issues or something.

    Well, if the lucky future Mr. Cosette has a cool last name, go for it! Otherwise…meh.

  20. Another awesome post Autumn!

    I’m totally with you about name changing–wtf! Why do the women get the shaft? Why do we have to give up our name? It’s awful! When women change their name, they also have to go through the long and horrible process of changing ALL their documentation.

    It was refreshing to go to China and see that women kept their surnames, but sadly, the kids usually take on the husband’s last name. Like you and Andy, when I mentioned to my boyfriend that if we have two kids we can give one surname to each one, he didn’t seem too thrilled. Hey, at least I’m being fair!

    Plus, I love my surname. I’m not giving it up ever. And similar to Andy, my bf’s last name is just as vanilla as wang, chen or zhang. The kid would totally like my name better. I’m sure your kid would rather be an Ashbough too, haha!

    Good luck in the battle, Autumn!

    1. Thank you, Mary! I think your surname idea for two kids is great, and more than fair. I mean, seriously, which sex has to swell up like the hippopotamus with gland problems and push a very large object out of a very small hole?

      THERE SHOULD BE COMPENSATION!!!

    2. Well put, Ruby Ronin! I did keep my surname because I happen to like it — and I think the idea of giving kids both surnames is a nice idea. It’s too bad though that patriarchy still reigns when it comes to the kids (especially here in China). Sigh.

  21. Semi-long-time reader de-lurking just to put in my $0.02 on the surname thing.

    Traditionally, in China, women don’t change their surnames once they get married… because it shows that they “don’t belong” to the husband’s family (since women tend to go live with their in-laws and are not considered part of their own family after marriage. (Obviously, things are different nowadays, but this goes back to feudal times etc. etc.) Women still don’t change their surnames today, and actually some women go the Chinese-hyphenation route. They just add their husband’s surname on to their name (but there’s traditionally no punctuation in Chinese, so no added punctuation needed to the name). This “Chinese-hyphenation route (sans hyphen)” is rare, but it is done. My Chinese friends found it odd that women had to change their names to their husband’s names in the West, because changing your Chinese surname just sounded odd when your name was said out loud in Chinese, and in worst case scenarios, changing your name could actually result in a very inauspicious name. (Which is a whole other topic about how a proper Chinese name is picked out.)

    Generally speaking, nobody cares about women’s surnames in China… because their surnames aren’t the ones that count(ed). I honestly don’t think your in-laws care what you do with your surname–whether you change it or not, hyphenate it or not–I don’t think it was a big deal to them. The one whose surname matters? …Is the husband. Especially if he is the oldest son, which I believe, your husband is. If he was the younger son, it might still be a big deal, but not as big of a deal as it ended up being. Traditionally, the oldest son is the most favoured son with the most rights/privileges etc., but he also has the most responsibilities, and responsibility to the family name is sacred, because he is the primary tool through which that name is passed on down.

    Your next name fight will probably when your children are born. =P Enjoy the peace for now.

    P.S. I really sympathize with your husband, because his siege-survivalist mentality is very similar to mine. I always feel utterly wrecked during the siege, dealing with all that family bs is really quite draining, so I’m glad you were there for him. =) Actually, his parents sound very similar to my mother, so trust me when I say I can understand where you are coming from sometimes. Ah family…

    1. Delighted that you came out of the shadows, Yueni!

      Thanks for bringing up all the things I never considered, like the oldest son issue. That would explain the disparity in the reaction of Popo to Andy’s marriage versus his cousins, though since it isn’t even Popo’s name, I still find their vehemence a little bizarre.

      Do you think the fact that a married woman did not take her husband’s surname in China was an early feminist statement in China (i.e., not your property)? Or do you think it was a subtle way of showing she wasn’t REALLY part of the family?

      Yeah, I think your method of dealing with family is probably more effective than mine. As you will see in upcoming blog posts. 🙂

  22. I knew of someone who changed his surname to the wife’s surname because she was Italian and it was Ferrari. I had a client who changed his surname to hers because it was Hoare. I think this is a post war Western influence. My mum just added my dad’s surname to hers. I think even this Western influence is a fairly recent one (like last 200 years). Long time ago (maybe back in the feudal days) the surnames were picked after the dad’s occupation – hence the Smiths, Butchers, Fischer, Parker etc

  23. *lets out a long whistle* Dang. Bummer. Shit. Fuck! What a nasty game, but in the end, what matters is you and Andy are happy. Extended family bullshit has to be put into perspective. It’s kind of sad, actually. Traditions runs sooo deep that people are willing to die and create divisions for the sake of it.

    1. Good point. Death over tradition — or a NAME — is nuts.

      I think a lot of people tend to glom onto one issue — whether in family or politics — and make that The Most Important Thing. They often then refuse to consider the issue from multiple perspectives, nor attempt any sort of empathy for others with different viewpoints. They dig in and refuse to budge.

      Sigh. Humans.

  24. Awwww, I’m sorry to hear about that.
    Ryosuke was going to take my last name because he really liked it (I think his parents thought he was just joking when he told them that) – but his company refused to allow him to change his surname, since they hired him under a different name.

    Ugh. Of course if he was a woman, it wouldn’t have been a problem. We wanted to have the same last name, though, so I took his. No biggie.

    We’ve already decided our babies will have American/Christian first names thought and every time his parents complain that they won’t have traditional Japanese names, I tell them “They have a Japanese last name. I get to pick the first name.”

    1. Yes, I think if you travel internationally and have kids, it’s a good idea to keep all the last names the same.

      Are his parents still complaining? Hold off on having kids until they are so grateful to have grand babies that they say nothing. 😉

  25. Hi Autumn, my name’s Ross. I found your blog just looking to distract myself from feeling down that i wasn’t able to share Christmas with my beautiful Piggy this year. No lazy sleep in and piggy and puppy cuddles on Christmas morning, I’m not being sexist, my lady is born in the year of the boar, me in the year of the dog. I’ve just read #80. My heart goes out to you both. I guess I’m lucky, my lady’s family, Chinese, think I’m great, my family, adore her. The only resistance we will ever field will come from my father and step mother, and that’ll be mine to deal with. Keeping in mind I’m not afraid to pull out the napalm and the nukes when diplomacy fails. Probably the thing that fired me most is the “back door’ tactics used by your MIL to win, on something that is totally, entirely, and unquestionably, NONE OF HER BLOODY BUSINESS ! I’ve been in Andy’s place, sorry mate, she’s you mum, but that’s just low. On a softer note, There is so much I’ve read in the last 24 hours here, I’ve got say, I don’t like this, I LOVE THIS. Autumn, you sound like a woman who’s had a rough ride, but never let it blacken your heart. You have one hell of sense of humour, and no one, even yourself, is safe from it. You guys have something to be proud of. Thank you for sharing. Ross

  26. Oh, that’s a bummer about Christmas! No one should spend it alone. At least you got to cyber-spend it with us — and we are honored. Hope you get back to Ms. Piggy soon.

    I hear you on the nukes and napalm. I would totally use those on my own family, without hesitation, if I got any racist crap about my husband or his family.
    Luckily, I haven’t had to. But it does make it hard, sometimes, to understand Andy’s very different, non-confrontational policy with his own parents. There are times when I’m like, “Why don’t you stand up to them? Why don’t you fight for me? Cuz I would battle demons from hell for you and you’ve only got to tell your dad to shut up.”

    But then I remember that one of the reasons Andy and I get along well is that he’s not confrontational. He ignores me when I go ballistic until I calm down, which is way better for us than arguing. He also knows that I can fight my own battles…which I can, of course, but the one battle I don’t feel I have a right to fight is with his parents. It’s my job to follow his lead, and let him set the tone in that relationship, just like he supports me in our dealings with my family.

    Thank God they live three thousand miles away. 🙂

    I appreciate all the lovely comments, Ross! They made my day. You are very kind.

    I feel somewhat unworthy, though — my life hasn’t been perfect, but when you look at the refugee crisis now, or the lives of most of the people on the planet, I feel very, very privileged. And sometimes very whiny.

    It’s all worth it if you laughed! 🙂

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