Q. My husband likes simple names, such as Sarah, while I'm leaning toward something more inventive, like Sahara. How can we resolve our differences?
A. First of all, remember that picking a name for your baby can be a lot of fun. You'll both have to compromise in the end, most likely, but whichever name you decide on, your child will ultimately inhabit it. Not only will the name you choose come to define your child in your mind, but your child will come to define the name as well.
A good way to look for a compromise is for each of you to make two lists: one with both of your very favorite choices and the other with those that are totally out of the question. Agree beforehand that both of you will respect the other's out-of-the-question list. You'll find that you eliminate names from consideration for reasons both frivolous (this name recalls the boy in your kindergarten class who picked his nose) and meaningful (an ex-boyfriend answered to it or religious tradition forbids it).
By comparing your lists, you might come upon a specific name you both like and you can start to discover the types of names that fall into your mutual comfort zone. As you listen to each other explain which ones you like, you'll see—perhaps for the first time—an image of the kind of person you envision your child to be. Such issues as gender identity may arise: Many moms prefer girls' names that are strong and somewhat androgynous and softer, gentler boys' names. Dads, on the other hand, often prefer the opposite approach: frillier names for girls and classic ones for boys.
Some couples use more straightforward methods of resolving name disputes. You could have one partner pick the firstborn's name and the other pick that of the next child, for instance. Or throw caution to the wind and flip a coin to see who gets to choose the first and who the middle name.