Savvy Tokyo's resident "Love in Japan" columnist, Hilary Keyes, answers anonymous questions from readers on everything from dating in Japan to women’s health issues. Got a question you’d like to ask Hilary? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Ask Hilary."
My partner and I have been in a serious relationship for the past 3 years, so much that it looks like a proposal may happen in the next few months (not that I mind if it doesn’t happen so soon anyway!). He is a divorcee with a child that he sadly doesn’t have access to because his ex-wife is mentally unstable and refuses to let them meet. She has also harassed me through several social media platforms numerous times to the point that I have reported her to the police.
Although she no longer bothers me anymore, I wonder if I am being too neurotic (not sure if this is the right word for it) that I am uncomfortable that she still uses my partner’s surname, despite the fact they have been separated for 7+ years.
As you can understand, she is not easy to reason with and I wonder if she refuses to change her name as a controlling method to have that last ‘grip’ on my partner. The woman in particular also had a child from a previous marriage before meeting my partner, so I am not sure if it’s because she’s keeping it for the sake of their child. What are your thoughts? – Shinpaisho
I want to commend you for being so understanding of your partner’s circumstances. I don’t think you’re being “neurotic” as you said—divorce is a complicated situation in general, and his ex seems to be a little bit off-center herself given the online stalking.
I get the feeling that, as his ex has another child from a previous relationship as well, this keeping-the-last-name might be what she is used to. That being said, there’s also a good chance that she had changed her first child’s name to match as well, and it would be a case of changing all three to her maiden name. This can impact their school registration, potentially cause bullying at school (divorced mothers are still treated as taboo by less socially aware people), and might also affect any single mother’s benefits that she and her children could be receiving from their local government. It would be a huge stressor on his ex-wife and she might not react in a rational manner if you were to suggest it.
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