Estrangement is a terrible thing to experience, and it can be extremely troubling and hard to process.
It can make the whole process of making clear decisions that much harder, as well, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor NegotiationBrief9580 was torn by his future wife’s decision to keep her family name, only after her estranged father showed up out of the blue.
When feelings in the family were mixed, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if he was wrong for holding his ground.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for digging my heels in with my fiancé concerning our surname?’
The OP had one request when he got married.
“My fiancé (27 [Female]) and I (30 [Male]) are getting married next year. I’ve pretty much let her run the show when it comes to the wedding and reception.”
“Her last name is from her biological father who left when she was 2. Her mother remarried and she’s said for years that she can’t wait to get married to change it.”
“For 6 years I’ve heard about what a piece of garbage this guy is.”
“I am the last male to carry my name. There are only 4 people with the name. So it’s always been important to me to pass it on to my children.”
The OP was willing to compromise on other things.
“She wants to get married in a Catholic church. I’m not Catholic but it means a lot to her, so I’m in the process of converting.”
“She wanted to be close to her mom and sister, so I left a job I loved, found a new job, and we moved 4 hours away from my family to be closer to them. “
“Her sister is a recovering alcoholic, so we don’t keep liquor in our apartment despite that I like to have a beer after work.”
“I’ve made many changes to accommodate her.”
“She’s acknowledged it and I always respond that all I care about is passing my name on, and she responds with the number of days until our wedding.”
Then the future bride’s father came back into the picture.
“Shortly after we arrived, biodad contacted her out of the blue. He heard from relatives she was getting married and decided it was the perfect time to reconnect.”
“All of the sudden, I now hear what a wonderful guy Paul is, how hard he’s trying, and how wonderful it is that he’s back.”
“Often, I get home from work and she’s gone, only to arrive home past midnight after being out with Paul and her half-siblings.”
“I hate that I don’t see her as much, but I know how much it means to her to have a relationship with him.”
“At the same time, after years of hearing her trash him, I’m not even allowed to think bad thoughts about him.”
“She’s planning on having him walk her down the aisle, which I don’t think is appropriate, but it’s her decision.”
The future bride made another decision that was hard for the OP to hear.
“This weekend was the bombshell. She told me that her father brought up the importance of their name, that she’s decided to keep it.”
“This stung very badly. I replied that it was her choice, I just wanted to pass my name down.”
“She smiled uncomfortably and informed me that she wanted the first boy to carry her name because it would mean so much to daddy.”
“I told her that is not happening. She suggested that we hyphenate as a compromise. I told her that there was no negotiation.”
“That I had one thing that was important to me, I’d moved heaven and earth to give her what she needed in everything else, but I wouldn’t budge an inch on this.”
The family had mixed reactions to this.
“She told me I was being unreasonable.”
“I responded that I’ve been in her life longer than he has and asked her who it was she was trying to start a life with, me or him?”
“She started crying and accused me of being jealous of her relationship with her father.”
“My parents and her Mom and stepdad agree with me and think she’s allowing Paul to influence her.”
“Her sister thinks I was an a** for asking that question and refusing to compromise.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in;
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some questioned the bride’s readiness to be married.
“Seriously, it is f**king weird and extremely immature. I could see it from a teenager but not a 27 yo woman, I actually had to scroll to the top to make sure you guys weren’t young. You deserve better treatment than this.”
“She can’t be the tiebreaker in every disagreement for the rest of your life. I think it is a major red flag how quickly she changed her mind about MAJOR things. She honestly seems like the type of gal who would run off with a charismatic co-worker or the UPS guy after a week or two of them ‘vibing.'” – GodSmokesWeed
“There’s a lot to unpack here.”
“If she wants to keep her own birth name – that’s her right. Not all cultures and countries have the norm of the woman changing her name at marriage and TBH it’s an archaic relic of times when women were considered property. It’s a pain the a** to do and can create issues down the track proving identity.”
“Decisions on whether any children will get the mother’s or father’s last name is something you need to agree on before marriage and definitely before you get pregnant. In some countries taking the mother’s last name is the norm because it’s obvious who the mother is. In most former British colonies, taking the father’s name is more common.”
“There’s no right answer, just one you both agree on.”
“However – accusing you of being jealous of your fFIL (future father-in-law) – that’s a big red flag. She obviously has issues she needs to work through, and you’re correct that planning a wedding is about planning to start a life together with your partner.”
“She needs to work out where she’s at as far as reconnecting with her dad before you guys get anywhere near a church or other venue for a wedding. At this point, I would be postponing things until she has worked out what she is doing. Because you don’t want to be competing with her dad for her attention going into a marriage.”
“NTA” – Fraerie
“If she was so easily influenced by her dad on this, what else is her dad going to have a say in once the kids arrive? Be careful OP, you may end up playing 3rd fiddle in your own children’s lives if this is any inclination of what the future holds.” – Animalime
“OP should definitely not marry this woman until she has spent time in therapy. In fact, I would go so far as to make it a condition of continuing their relationship at all.”
“She has been completely entranced by her father coming back – a childhood dream made reality – which has swept away all the anger at his original rejection of her. Maybe once she has spent enough time with him, she will start to remember the pain he caused for so many years, start noticing he’s not perfect, and reduce her obsession with him.”
“But OP shouldn’t have to put his life and relationship on hold while she stops thinking like the small child who has found her daddy again and starts viewing her bio dad through adult eyes. She definitely needs the neutral third party of a good therapist to help her process her feelings in a mature way.” – Far_Administration41
Others said the OP was NTA for wanting his children to carry his name.
“After everything OP has done for his fiancée, moving, changing jobs, CONVERTING, not keeping alcohol in his house, he is allowed to have one line in the sand. And his fiancée is stomping all over it so she IS TA.” – everyonemustlovecats
“He is certainly allowed to have his one line in the sand. Unfortunately, it’s possible that by OP giving in on everything else, his fiancée has learned that she can get her own way on things in general instead of the give-and-take on things of importance to each of them that OP intended.”
“So now that her surname has become the symbol of her “belonging” to her reappeared father’s family, she figures she can insist on that too, because OP hasn’t denied her anything else that she wanted.”
“Previously she also wanted to ditch her surname so OP wanting that wasn’t meaningful to her. Yes her biodad is doing a number on her, but her attitude to OP about their life together smacks of someone who is spoiled and used to getting their way.” – calling_water
“And what better time to reappear back into her life just as she is getting married. That also tells me he has kept tabs on her all these years so he can do some sort of big dramatic return. He had every other opportunity to reconnect.”
“OP…. your fiance is going to defer to whatever her dad wants now until the end of time. You have already changed so much of your life.”
“You have to decide if this is one more compromise you are willing to make because this person will be influencing her decisions for years. Perhaps consider the wedding. NTA” – shopgirl2
Though the family’s feelings were slightly divided, the subReddit sided with the OP on wanting to have this one thing for his children after everything he had already done for his bride.
After all, it might feel important to her right now to have this name, how will she feel if her father disappears again?