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My Husband's Nicknames Make Me Squirm

My husband calls me the same 'pet' names he calls his three adult daughters from a previous marriage. Before the word jealousy is brought in to play...he uses these names during our intimate moments too. It makes me feel a little sick to my stomach. I've mentioned it to him and he still does it. I don't want to over-think this, but I believe that because of his bad first marriage, he made these daughters into pseudo-spouses instead of having a parent/child separation. Do you think there is anything a little odd about this or am I way off base? - Confused Second Wife

I suspect you're reading much too much into this. Let me share something with you. I call my children a silly nickname I first invented for our dog. Years of crooning the name's nonsense syllables in an affectionate tone have made it leap naturally to my tongue when I feel affectionate. To leap from shared pet names to "sister wives" is to leap too far.

Still, your creepiness radar isn't all off. Pet names are about intimacy, and intimacy comes in different kinds. It's disconcerting to find your wifely intimacy associated with your husband's children. To test this, imagine that your husband used the name of his ex-wife instead. It's different, right? You're still not happy, heaven knows, since you naturally want your husband's thoughts to be on you. But at least that scenario doesn't have that faint whiff of the unsavory.

Your husband should listen to you. Though he probably uses these pet names out of simple habit, the fact is that from your perspective, the names create an uncomfortable triangle between your husband, his daughters, and you. You shouldn't have to think about them during intimate moments with your husband. 


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January 30, 2011 10:46 PM
By Lucy (not verified)

lets keep the questions to baby names

January 31, 2011 9:51 AM
By Caitlyn (not verified)

unsavory, no. a problem, yes. if he uses it and it's ruining the moment for you, let it run the moment. Once he's dealing with some natural consequences (if I use that name my wife will suddenly be much less interested than she was and we'll have to work back up again) he'll probably learn much faster.

and yeah, I was expecting her to not like the nicknames her husband was using for her baby. this does feel out of place.

January 31, 2011 10:46 AM
By also creeped out (not verified)

my dad some times calls me the same nickname as his second wife. creepy.

January 31, 2011 11:00 AM
By Allison (not verified)

Lucy - this is name candy, not baby-name candy!

I'm going to agree with Caitlin, tell him he's ruined the moment the second it says it - he'll get the hint quickly if using said name = no intimacy.

January 31, 2011 12:04 PM
By Joni (not verified)

I guess Laura has the right to comment on any name question she receives. If you don't like it, don't read.

January 31, 2011 8:30 PM
By Ellie (not verified)

What is the pet name?!?

That makes a difference.

I get that it could be creepy, but the fact that that she feels her husband saw his daughers as pseudo-wives is the much bigger issue. Not really an issue for this column.

February 1, 2011 2:54 PM
By Alison (not verified)

I am curious as to the pet name too... The use of "pet name" makes me wonder. If it's something SUPER specific, maybe that would be weird. But if it's a general term of endearment (could be considered a "pet name"), like sweetheart, sweetie, etc.? I can't imagine being weirded out by it.

Relevant personal anecdote: My dad calls me and my sisters "darling" and I called my ex-boyfriend "darling" too... I don't think it's weird and the bf didn't mind, because, hello, it's DARLING, a well-known and oft-used term of endearment. I might call my cat "darling" occasionally too, now that I think of it. I heard/hear "darling" a lot, I like the sound of it, etc. Not weird! But does "darling" and the like count as a pet name or just a term of endearment? I really don't know, and we have no idea what Confused meant by "pet name."

February 1, 2011 3:33 PM
By Lane

When I think of "pet name," I think of something like Petunia Pumpkin, a term of endearment that not everyone uses. I wonder if she meant something like that? I doubt if someone would write in over "Sweetie" or "Darling," you know?

February 1, 2011 7:55 PM
By Essy (not verified)

love the variety of the name question recently. sometimes baby name queries get repetitive.

this one is interesting. I have to admit I would be weirded out of this happened to me. but I think the NameLady's answer is good. but if he won't listen what can you really do besides ask him again to stop it - perhaps come up with a specific pet name for yourself and ask him to call you that?

if it makes anyone feel better, I've more than once been called the dog's name by accident.

February 3, 2011 10:17 AM
By Alison (not verified)

@Lane: Sounds reasonable. So a pet name is something creative, original, etc. and clearly something to be careful about reusing, depending on context, what it is, and who you use it for.

Now that I read this post again, this pet name seems to be just a bit of the problem for Confused.

February 5, 2011 4:48 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Can't you just remind him that you don't like it? You don't have to make it about his kids just say that you prefer it when he calls you X.

As an aside my dad transferred my pet name (I was always 'my girl' as a child) after divorce and instead of calling me that now refers to his 2nd wife that way - I was pretty hurt as a child and still miffed. Maybe his daughters don't like it either?

I think implying that he saw his kids as spouses is WAAAAAY over thinking it though.

May 16, 2013 10:53 PM
By (not verified)

I contact my kids a foolish handle I first developed for our dog. Decades of crooning the name's rubbish syllables in an passionate overall tone have created it jump normally to my mouth when I experience passionate.

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