(NNPA)—Dear Gwendolyn: I recently got a divorce after being married for 22 years. Two years ago, I went back to school. Most of my classes are at night. I didn’t have to give up my job to return to school. I got my B.S. 12 years ago and have taught school since that time. In less than 24 months, I will be awarded my law degree.


My husband is serving a 40-year sentence for robbery. When married, he was cruel to me and every Saturday night we would argue and fight. I had wanted to leave him after the birth of our first child. People told me to stay.

Since getting a divorce, I continue to use my married name. My maiden name was Smith. Six months ago I was approached by my ex-husband’s lawyer that he wants me to stop the use of his name. I have children. Therefore, I do not intend to drop the use of my married name. Women with children do not stop using their married name. If you do so, people will think you were never married—Beth

Dear Beth: Who cares what people think? I am amazed at the number of women who remain in a bad marriage for fear of what they think people will say. In a marriage, as well as single life, the horrible thing is to live in misery trying to make it work.

Beth, take appropriate legal action and give your ex-husband his request. Stop using his name. Think about it. You will soon be awarded your Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D. degree). Girl, buy yourself a new car and put on the license tag your name or an abbreviation of your name. If your married name had been Buffett, Gates, Kennedy, or Rockefeller then I would say let it stay. Instead of having to answer to his name, you will have the joy of answering to Attorney Beth Smith. His name will not add value to your life. It will only result to being baggage.

(Got a problem, email Gwen at: gwenbaines@hotmail.com or write to her at P.O. Box 10066, Raleigh, N.C. 27605-0066. To receive a reply, send a self-addressed stamped envelope. Visit her website at: http://www.gwenbaines.com.)

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