Of all the choices you have to make while planning for the arrival of a new kid in your life, picking a baby name is by far one of the hardest decisions you will ever make (seriously, it seems second only to deciding to create the baby in the first place). It will follow both you and your child for the rest of your lives. If you’ve been endlessly searching for the perfect classic baby name, unique names for boys, or strong names for girls, then you very likely understand the struggle.
Unless you’re the type of person who had your wedding planned before you hit puberty and your kids’ names picked out before you even started dating; and unless you conceived this baby with someone extremely like-minded to you (or who's a giant, beautiful pushover who has no problem letting you unilaterally give your child whatever name you've had hiding out in your Hope Chest since you were 13), naming a baby is massive pain in the ass.
Negotiating names with your partner will test your relationship in ways you never thought possible: It will push you to the brink of insanity and bring you back just long enough to bitch slap your relationship in the soul while pointing and laughing at you hysterically.
Much like grief, negotiating names with your partner is a profound, challenging emotional process that comes in five frustrating stages.
Stage One: Denial
Denial of your partner’s radical name suggestions might leave you in a fragile state of shock and confusion. It can cause you to question your once rock-solid relationship and everything that it was built upon. Really, this phase is characterized mostly by repeated attempts to force yourself into believing that your partner's name suggestions are actual jokes, thereby releasing you from having to seriously question who they are as human beings. You might both love Harry Potter, but that doesn’t make it OK to name your offspring after fictional wizards. Or does it? Wait, seriously, they want to name your baby what? Hagrid? NOPE. That's a hard nope. They don't actually believe that name will be a contender, right? Right?
Stage Two: Anger
Once the denial passes, anger and rage sometimes emerge to take its place. You know that you are your unborn baby’s only hope, but your opinions might feel irrelevant; you may feel that you’re being patronized and that your partner secretly hates you (and honestly, based on some of their name picks, might also hate your unborn child). I mean, some of their name choices make it blatantly obvious that they want to inflict pain upon your hopes and dreams of naming your baby after your favorite O.C. character. That's just not something a person does to a person they love.
Stage Three: Bargaining
By the time the steam stops shooting out of your ears and your blood pressure has stabilized, you might be ready to get real with your partner. Like, this kid needs a name and you guys are going to have to start getting serious about negotiating your way into one you can both live with.
Maybe you offer to split the name; have one person picks the first name and the other picks the middle name. Maybe you propose trading naming rights in exchange for more space in your shared closet, or maybe you even distract them with sex long enough to renegotiate naming terms (hey, a stubborn opponent can be a lot more agreeable after 20 minutes in the bedroom).
It sounds easy enough to pick a name with another person, in theory, but it’s certainly more simply said than done. After all, most people suffer from some form of severe stubbornness and are often overly opinionated. (How we coexist peacefully long enough to procreate is kind of a miracle.)
Stage Four: Depression
If your attempts to threaten and barter fall short, you might understandably slip into a fog of self-deprecating depression. Feeling like you’ve got no choice but to wave the white flag (thus setting the stage of letting your partner have all the parenting control, condemning you to being little more than a spectator in your child’s life, obviously), you indulge in your self-pity and mope about like the lost cause you feel like you are.
Suddenly, it's like your entire worth as a human hinges on your ability to successfully name this baby, and to work with your partner on naming this baby, and you are a failure, at this and at life. Sigh. Fueled by a relentless surge of hormones and exhaustion, you immerse yourself in Netflix and ice cream while trying to accept that your partner wants to name your child after a character from Die Hard.
Stage Five: Acceptance
Once you’ve finished off that tub of Ben & Jerry’s and removed your ego from the baby-naming picture, you begin to come to terms with reality and accept that yes, your partner actually does want to name your son "Billy Madison." But it's fine. You will get through this. Because you literally have to pick a name, so there's no quitting. Chin up!
The reality is that the clock is ticking and your baby won’t wait to evacuate your womb while you’re still arguing over its name. Realizing this is when you finally accept that, although your opinions of the perfect name may differ, you’re still on the same loving team. You embrace your differences and try to be flexible. You realize that you'll figure it out soon enough if you just accept one another for the flawed people that you are, and agree that you’d like your child to grow up a little less flawed than yourselves. You meet in the middle and agree that, in the end, you both do have the same priorities when it comes to naming this new person: You just want to pick something that won’t get the kid’s lunch money stolen.
And if all else fails, wait until you give birth, and fill out the birth certificate while your spouse is out of the room. See? This will all work out.