Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mr. and Mrs. Etiquette

A portion of mail for my husband and me is addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. Michael Jones.” I realize that it is “proper etiquette,” but I don’t like it. I took his last name when I married him - why do I have to take his first name, too? (It’s okay to laugh.)

Seriously – who out there can tell me why I’m Mrs. Michael Jones. My name is Anita.

When I was a girl, I thought I would marry and have children when I became a woman, and I did – a little late, but it happened. Until I was about twenty-three, there was no question about what my last name would be - it would change to my future husband’s last name. But during the rest of my twenties, I considered not changing my name if I got married. Then, around age thirty, I was back to being okay with having my future husband’s last name. By this time, I’m thinking of the children that I’m going to have and that I want us all to have the same name.

If you Google “Mr. and Mrs.” or “origin of Mrs.” or pull out your Emily Post’s Etiquette book, you will find several rules on how to address people based on their marital status or profession. I had forgotten that “Mrs.” came from the word “Mistress.”

Even though men don’t have a title that indicates being married, I’m okay with a title that says I am…because I am…and I’m content. And if someone addresses me or my mail as “Ms.” or “Miss,” that’s okay too – just put Anita after it; not Michael.

There are many women who proudly announce themselves as “Mrs. John Doe.” Others keep their “maiden” name after marrying (oh…I was once a maiden!) and do not take the husband’s last name. There are those that hyphenate the maiden name and the husband’s last name to form a new last name. There are those who have their maiden name as a middle name and have their husband’s last name. And there are those who keep the girly middle name (like me) or the passed down “family” middle name that they are born with, and change the last name to the husband’s last name.

Did I miss anyone?

I believe all the name choices are fine; it’s personal. I’m fine with my choice. But, I prefer that joint mail be addressed to “Anita and Michael Jones” (or “Michael and Anita Jones”); that data entry people would make the change in the computer when I make the request. (It’s always ignored.) And also, maybe the etiquette police will approve “Mr. and Mrs. Michael and Anita Jones” for the wedding invitations. Informally, “Anita and Michael Jones” will do.

Now that you know a little about my feelings on the subject, you may be making assumptions – attaching a label to me.

Well…not necessary.

My dislike of being called “Mrs. Michael Jones” is not solely based on feminism, male chauvinism, religion, liberalism, conservatism, or tradition. It simply means that I prefer being known (by adults) by the name that Lillie and Hilton gave me, which is - Anita.

Are you okay with being called Mrs. (insert your husband’s first and last name)?

Ps. Michael Jones is a pseudonym.


Anonymous said...

Do NOT get me started on this topic! I did not take my husband's name and have had 27 years of grief from various family members for this! My rule- call people what they want to be called! That goes for me too! I am not Mrs. Anyone! I am Ms.T! (or Dr.T!)

Anita said...

JT, I believe you! I've heard people talk about "women like you." :)

This post may even come back to haunt me. :)

READERS AND FOLLOWERS, I'd love to hear from you! We're not all the same, so you don't have to fall in line with me or jt.

Dorraine said...

Well, I agree with you, Anita on the whole sha-bang. Women should be able to take which name they so choose and not be blended in with their husbands name. Although I took my husbands last name, I still like my first name and choose to be addressed that way.

I've always addressed cards, Christmas and otherwise, with the names of both spouses and not the Mr. and Mrs. Jones crap.

And I think it's fine if a woman chooses to keep her maiden name. What's up with the issue there? I'm sure if one has kids, it could cause problems, but really, allow people to be addressed how they like.

Unknown said...

As I get prepared to get married on the 25th of this month, I am excited to take on a new last name. I feel like the last name I have now is my ex's and no longer belongs to me. I loved my maiden name but the significance of being Mrs. to my Mr. is fine with me. It won't bother me that I'll be referred by Mr. and Mrs. G. Allen. I know who I am with or without his name.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

For me it came down to a simplicity issue. I'd been explaining the spelling of "Sucha" my entire life. Anderson seems a time saver. Then the kids and both of us had the same last name. I could care less how the trash mail addresses us. I do prefer the formal address on a wedding invitation. And all my kids friends call me Mrs. Anderson. What was the question? I guess I know who I am . Sometimes it is nice to hide behind the other names. Sometimes I like to reserve my name for when my husband utters - Julie.
Guess I've spent a great deal of time getting to know me. Does any of this make sense?

Anita said...

DORRAINE, thanks for your comment. I'm sure that you represent the feelings of many women.

CHOCOLATE, I think it's wonderful that you will be marrying soon and that you are happy to lose the ex's last name and to have a new last name. Congratulations! I'll be reading your blog as you prepare for wedded bliss!

MIDLIFE JOBHUNTER, Yes, your response made sense. :) You said things that confirm the controversial nature of this subject. It seems that is it not an issue for you, but others are so opposing. Thanks for your comment.

Anita said...

One more thing...I don't have a problem with being addressed as Mrs. Jones. There are certain people that I expect to address me formally. It is my name. It's my husband's "first" name that is NOT my name.

One more thing again...Junk mail with Mr. and Mrs. Michael Jones is not a concern, but recurring mail from places where I have membership or contribute to frequently are the people that ignore the name change request.

My purpose for addressing the subject with mail and for bring up this topic on this blog is get us talking about and questioning something that doesn't get much attention, regardless of our various and specific choices.



Menopausal New Mom said...

Hi Anita, what a great topic! I took on my husband's surname and had 44 years worth of living under my maiden name to update. What a chore that was!

I'm with you though, joint mail should include both of our first names, after all, as much as he may like to think it, he is NOT the head of our home, we have a 50/50 partnership!


Unknown said...

Well said! I find I don't use Mr. or Mrs. anymore. Somehow it seems archaic. Names are just fine and no one calls me by my husband's name, Ric. LOL

Julie Magers Soulen Photography
Blog of Note

Anita said...

MENOMOM-DEB, JULIE, It'll be interesting to be around twenty years from now to see what the status of this topic is.

Thank you for your input. I consider every opinion to be important and interesting.


Abby said...

I took my husband's last name mainly for the reasons you mention - I knew I wanted kids and I wanted us all to have the same last name.

Still, I miss my "real" last name. I was her for 25 years. I don't mind it so much to be "Mrs. Michael Jones" from some impersonal mailings (they usually go straight to the trash). I don't address any woman as Mrs. Husband's Name!

Stephanie said...

I'm OK with it..but really, it does feel like my MILs name!

Anita said...

ABBY, I've been married fifteen years, but at least every two years or so, I make a mistake and say my maiden name instead of my married name. Maybe it's because I was in my thirties when I got married. hmmmmm...

MODERN MOM, I hadn't thought of having the same name as my mother-in-law. She has passed away, but I got to know her ten years.

I guess it helps to like the MIL if you share her name. :)

THANKS to both of you for adding your thoughts.

andrea said...

I took my husband's last name (but actually wish I had kept my maiden name; in many cultures women do) but I am NOT OK with being called by his first name!! It's almost like a married woman (esp. a stay-at-home mom) is expected to lose her identity when she gets married. I am NOT OK with it. P.S. My husband is from a different culture and he thinks addressing a married woman as Mrs. Michael Jones, for example, is totally weird!

Anita said...

ANDREA, you've brought something different to the table. Knowing how marriage effects names (or not) in other countries or cultures would be interesting to know, to be able to make a comparison.

Thanks for adding to the conversation.

MORE OPINIONS OUT THERE? Share them with us - regardless of similarities or differences.