Vignette de Patriarcat du Jour

Run, sponsorship, blah blah ad infinitum.

A cheque has arrived from K-man’s mother as an incredibly kind gesture, proffering funds to help a sustainable development project in Tanzania.  Closer examination reveals that it is made out to someone I’ve never heard of.

Despite repeated assertions of incrementally increasing volume and vociferousness, K-man’s parents remain in denial regarding the fact that upon marital union I did not rush immediately to complete copious quantities of tedious paperwork such that I might be swallowed legitimately into the bosom of the patriarchy by changing my surname.  It’s not because I’m lazy, either: I took a stand.  I’m still standing, and I intend to be standing as me until I die.

It’s my name, it’s a distinctive name, I like it, and if you can give me one decent reason to change it which is unconnected to other people’s buy-in to some bizarre woman-ownership paradigm, I will reconsider, I said.

I batted spurious reasons away left and right like a game of baseball on fast-forward.  I offered to permit K-man (and his parents, if they’re so obsessed with us all having the same name) to use MY family name instead of their own.   Hey, I said, we can ALL share the bonding experience of having people consistently misspell our name even after we’ve told them the correct spelling three times, and laugh about the variations on a theme at which they arrive!   So far that’s been something I only enjoy with my own flesh and blood but by all means – welcome to my world.

Years ago I asked K-man to explain that sending me an envelope addressed to Mrs. HisFirstName HisLastName was a guaranteed path to fury, so they stopped that practice.  I’ve been trying to get them to use MyFirstName MyLastName (even going so far as to write ‘return to sender: not known at this address’ on a contrary envelope but K-man caught it in time).  I’ve relented, for an easy life and to (I know this is unbelievable) avoid confrontation.

The cheque was made out to Mrs. MyFirstName HisLastName.  I do not hold a bank account in that name, since it’s not my name.  Which means that I’m going to take the cowardly way out and attempt to pay the cheque into our joint bank account, which has an assortment of mixed names both of which do appear on the cheque but not in the right exclusive combination.

If that doesn’t work, I’m going to have to have The Conversation again, only this time in the context of what was a kind gesture and as a precursor to asking them to pretty please make the cheque out to the correct name.  I may have the tongue-biting power within, I may not.  Let’s hope I don’t have to find out.

Le sigh.

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9 Responses to “Vignette de Patriarcat du Jour”


  1. 1 unmitigated me (m.a.w.) October 16, 2010 at 12:54 am

    How about just, “So sorry, but the bank won’t let me deposit your very generous donation, you dunderheads?”

    Will that work?

  2. 2 Teague October 16, 2010 at 2:24 am

    I have a friend who’s father-in-law does this as well. She goes into the bank in person and has been able to talk them into cashing it for her anyway. As a hilarious extra the father-in-law in question does this in reverse to his ex-wife. She did not change her name back after the divorce. He feels that she should not have his name. So he writes her checks with her maiden name.

  3. 3 Jen on the Edge October 16, 2010 at 3:28 am

    I opted to change names when I got married, but only because my maiden name was one that caused a fair number of jokes over the years and I got tired of it. But, I have always refused to answer to Mrs. Hisfirstname Hislastname.

    Unfortunately, his mother always, always, always sent mail to either Mr. and Mrs. Hisfirstname Hislastname or Mrs. Hisfirstname Hislastname. And every single time, I refused to open the envelopes. He told her many times that I didn’t like and I told her many times that I didn’t like, but she continued nonetheless.

    Given the other issues my sisters-in-law and I had with her over the years, my husband and I are pretty sure that she was doing this intentionally, knowing how much it galled me.

    As for your in-laws, I wouldn’t even try to deposit the check and would instead let them know that since it’s not your name, the bank wouldn’t let you cash it.

  4. 4 Rima October 17, 2010 at 2:48 am

    Uh-oh. Is it possible they forgot? Are they . . er . . . pretty elderly? Or are they just being obstinate and passive-aggressive? In which case, I guess it’s time for the talk again.

    • 5 nic October 18, 2010 at 10:49 am

      Well, the cheque has gone into the bank and I’m waiting for it to be rejected. K-man already made the point during a phone conversation (I was prepared to do this myself and I do still need to say a thank you personally) that they might need to re-write it. I asked him what *precisely* he said, and it was the carefully-chosen “doesn’t have a bank account in that name”. Diplomatic, or enabling? You decide.

      I’m glad to know I’m not the only person with in-laws with name-denial!

  5. 6 kellyg October 18, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Hey, at least it’s your in-laws. My FATHER, to this day, always addresses envelopes and makes out checks with Myfirstname Hislastname and on occasion has addressed envelopes to Mrs. Hisfirstname Hislastname.

    Like many things with my father, it’s just not worth addressing it (pun not intended). So far the banks have cashed the checks. I usually put them in the joint account so that may help.

    • 7 nic October 18, 2010 at 5:20 pm

      @kellyg: your comment caused me to guffaw (sorry, it was the no pun intended part). I think I would lose it entirely if my own father refused to comply!

  6. 8 Liza October 19, 2010 at 12:30 am

    I have the exact same issue with my MIL. I endorse the checks then make my husband take them to the bank.

  7. 9 janet October 19, 2010 at 2:19 am

    My husband share a similar first name, so I never changed my surname. My FIL took almost 15 years to train. I just took the first check he wrote to me to the bank, along with our marriage license, and filled out a form that said I was also occasionally known as MyFirstName HisLastName. Problem solved.


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