How Can I Get People to Address Me Correctly?

Real Simple's etiquette expert Catherine Newman weighs in.

Photo by Antonis Achilleos

Q. When I got married, I kept my maiden name, and I prefer to be addressed as “Ms.” rather than “Mrs.” However, my husband and I keep getting invitations and cards addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. His-first His-last.” Is there a courteous way to inform our friends and family that my name is “Ms. My-first My-last”?


A. This particular battle may be a generational thing. Some older people are still accustomed to that husband-centric style of address, while some younger folks may be disconcerted by it. (My 10-year-old daughter, reading this letter over my shoulder, was aghast to imagine that she would ever be addressed by a man’s last and first names.) It is irksome to be called by another name, and depending on the sender, this could even feel like a passive-aggressive rebuke.

Ideally, an address should accurately represent your family and what you wish to be called. The next time you see one of the misguided letter-senders, try saying this: “You know, I adore my husband, but I didn’t actually take his name. Would you mind changing it in your address book?” As my father has been known to say: Life is personal. Our job is to respect other people’s choices, whether or not they match our own.

—Catherine Newman

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