Surname Frustration (rant and question)

My husband and I combined our last names into HisLast-MyLast. We were announced at our wedding by that name, and put it on the programs. We’ve sent out Christmas cards for three years with that name on it, we have stationary and return address labels with that name. Yet we still get mail from both sides of the family with Mr. and Mrs. Him HisLast :mad: We’ve called all four grandmothers, and several other relatives to when they send us mail with the wrong name. After doing that, we might get one piece of mail with the correct name, but then they “forget”. These are not stupid people, yet both sets of parents tell us, “Oh, they’ll never understand, just ignore it.”

We’re both amazed and horrified at the lack of respect continually misaddressed mail shows. It’s our name, how can people who claim to love us get it wrong? If one of his sisters or my sister got married and changed her name to some fifty letter monstrosity, they’d all have it memorized within a week. Yet nobody listens to either of us. I’ve been browing for “Return to Sender, No Such Person” stamps, and looking at nicely worded announcements all morning, but what I really want to do is run off a hundred copies of a rant like this (only in all caps) and send it to everyone. I’m so angry and my husband’s feelings are so hurt by the rudeness and disrespect. Help! What should we do?

Sorry about the spelling mistakes, I can’t find a way to edit.

Go for the return to sender thingy. You can get a stamp made up fairly cheaply, and I bet you’ll get your point across fairly quickly.

When my wife and I got married, she kept her last name. At the reception, my grandmother asked her how she felt being “Mrs. Mylastname”. She said she wasn’t, she was “Ms. Herlastname”. “WHAT!?” my traditional Irish granny cried. I thought it was going to get nasty, but my dad (who was my best man), appeared out of nowhere like a shot and led her away.

All our mail from them is addressed properly.

Well, if you’re dealing with an older generation in an area where this isn’t normal, say the US, you might just have to deal with it. There’s a lot of stuff my grandparents can’t wrap their heads around and don’t even want to try to.

MdashH, I think this is very likely a generational issue, as you’ve probably figured out for yourself. When your grandparents were growing up it was virtually unheard of for a woman not to take her husbands name. There were very strict etiquette guidelines regarding which form of address was proper in which settings. Formal and informal usage for both verbal and written communication were strictly spelled out.

I know it’s your name and you should be able to be called what you choose, but at the same time you need to cut a little slack for the older generation who sometimes have a hard time wrapping their heads around modern customs. Your grandparents aren’t trying to offend you, they’re just confused.

Oh balderdash. They’re just being obstinant.

Back when I was married to my ex, I kept my last name. I had a couple aunts who continually addressed cards and such to Mr. and Mrs. HisLastName. After the divorce, they admitted they were just doing it to be stubborn.

I think your plan of returning all mail sent to the wrong name is a good one. I’d even go so far as to feign ignorance if anyone mentions it to you. “Oh really? It was returned? Did you spell our last name correctly? I know the local post office is getting very strict about such things lately. Why the other day, we didn’t get an invitation we’d been expecting, and it turned out it was only wrong by one letter!”

A small hijack here (slightly justified in that everyone involved in already in here - please don’t consider this hijack an act of disrespect) - but why would you combine your last names? What’s wrong with your husband’s name?

And even today, it’s extremely uncommon for a man to change his name when he gets married (or for any other reason for that matter, other than maybe a career in show biz).

When you break with tradition, or go against the “rules” of a society or subculture, not everyone’s going to like or accept it. The older, more tradition-bound members of your family maybe think it’s rude and disrespectful of you to defy tradition and custom and do things your own way. I’m not saying their hurt feelings are as justified as yours are, but, shrug, what are you gonna do?

Gosh, thank you for all the replies. I’m surprised there’s so much support for the stamp, I was worried that everyone would say I was being rude. Should I go with announcements and then use the stamp after that? My husband says announcements might look to his family like I’m still caught up in being a bride somehow (several of them are spotlight seekers, so they’re all very sensitive to that).

Oh, I should clarify too, the piece of… mail that set this off was sent by his cousin, who’s about thirty. We had called her mother, sister-in-law, grandmother, and aunt at Christmas when they each sent us Christmas cards with the wrong name, so we think this might be a passive-aggressive jab by any or all of them at us. Not sure.

There’s nothing wrong with his original last name, nor with my original last name. That’s why neither of us wanted to drop our own name. Thus we could choose between keeping our own or combining them both. We decided to combine them so we, and the children, would all have the same last name.

Meh. :smack: Nevermind. I googled it and found this. Cleared things up for me, and might help you too, MdashH.

This I’ll-keep-my-name-thank-you-very-much thing is rather new to me, I must admit.

Why should she have felt obligated to change her name at all? What’s wrong with using your original last name, sans hyphenation? Damn patriarchy.

I think it is very much an older generation type of thing. Old people are very much into the whole idea that the woman has to leave her family to join a new one, packing up her dowry and kissing her mother a tearful goodbye as she joins her husband’s family out on the wagon trail. Equal footing in familial relationships as expressed through hyphenated names is a new concept to them. Female submission has been the standard for so long that there’s little chance these geezers will respect your decision. Just write the correct name on all your letters to them (perhaps with the name underlined or in CAPS for emphasis) and let it go.

I don’t plan to change my name at all if I get married, and I’m expecting these little jabs of disrespect. It won’t bother me too badly if someone puts down the wrong last name, I’ll just figure they’re being old fashioned or are too lazy to figure out my real name. However, there’s nothing I hate worse than when someone addresses an envelope to both parties and only uses the husband’s first name (as in Mr. and Mrs. John Smith). What, I’m not even allowed to have my own first name? I’m just “the missus”? Bleh.

The Post Office might not take kindly to redelivering your mail just because you don’t like the way it’s addressed. (I agree with your annoyance at this; but the PO doesn’t care.) If you keep returning mail because it’s addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Smith and the postman knows perfectly well that Mr. Smith lives there, he might just keep redelivering it back to you. This is what happened at our office when we tried to do something similar. Then the Postmaster called me and said that just because we don’t “like” the way the name is spelled, the Post Office considers this type of difference to be typographical and not their responsibility to resolve (by redelivering the mail back to the sender).

If I were you I’d just grin and bear it. Or every time you get a letter like this, return the envelope only along with a note in BIG letters saying, “Just wanted to remind you again that our new last name is Smith-Jones. It would really be best if you could address future correspondence to that name; otherwise the postman gets confused.” And the keep sending the same exact every single time they write to you with the wrong name. Over and over and over.

Why not send them a framed copy of your marriage certificate, (with your signatures of your new, legal names) as a keepsake, with photos of you also in the frame? It might get the point across, if they can see the way your name is on the official form. It’s something I’d be tempted to do. I agree with the poster who said that old age isn’t all that is in play. True, sometimes people get stuck in a rut, and aren’t able to get out. However, these people were likely brought up with stricter manner codes than we were, one of them being to make certain you respected the way another person wished to be addressed. They aren’t doing so. You might bring this point up to them as well, that you feel hurt that they are ignoring the requests both of you have made to address you as <name>, which is your proper, legal name now.

I kept my maiden name.

My parents addressed my mail to Dangerosa Hislastname. You’d think they’d remember how to spell THERE OWN NAME.

So I just made fun of them. Relentlessly. “What, did you forget how to spell it!” “You’d think you’d remember, its only been my name for 32 years!” They get it right now.

I get lots of mail for Mrs. Hislastname. I don’t care. I have a bunch of girlfriends - most who kept their maiden names - and I sometimes have a hard time remembering who kept and who changed.

Yes, its rude, yes, its disrespectful. But unless you are willing to come across as rude yourself, there isn’t a lot you can do. Certainly a stamp is rude. However, calling them every time and “gently reminding” them of your names isn’t.

Right up until the day she died, my mother in law (whom I dearly loved and who gave every indication of dearly loving me) sent mail to my wife addressed to her pre-married name.

I decided it was just one of those quirks you get when you marry into someone’s family.

Probably nothing. She feels that it’s important to her to have her name, and apparently her husband feels that it’s important to have his name too. That’s a good enough explanation for me.

My mother kept her name. Also, I have a friend who’s going to take his mother’s name once he marries because he’s the last one in that side of the family and wants the name to carry on.

BTW, having two different surnames in a married household makes snail-mail spam very entertaining! We’ve gotten all kinds of interesting combinations of names.

What a fantastic idea!

I don’t think the problem with hyphenating last names is attributable solely to being of an older generation. Wealthy and/or prominant people have been hyphenating their last names for ages. Politeness is the most important rule of ettiquette anyway. If you want to call yourselves the Barfberries a polite person does as you request.

My mother’s mother could never seem to remember how to spell my father’s last name, for years. Then she really got to know and like him when she stayed with my parents right after I was born. After that grandma always spelled our last name correctly. We’re not sure she even realized she’d done either the passive agressive misspelling or correction.

Mom dealt with it by teasing her, good naturedly of course, but it didn’t make much of a difference until she got to liking my dad and seeing him as a good man for her daughter.

If you REALLY want to watch their heads explode, do what we did: marry, she keeps her last name, and the kids have her last name as well.

People look at me like I’m totally whipped: “She kept her name AND the kids are named after her?!? Man, she OWNS you!”

Um, no; using her last name for the kids was my idea, not hers. They came out of her, so shouldn’t they be named after her?

“But if they have a different last name, how will they know that you’re their dad?”

:rolleyes: x 100.

Um, because I’m there taking care of them and loving them?

Jeez, people, get over it. It’s just a name.

My mom took my dad’s name and was never too fussy about addresses. Probably the most common was Dr. Mom and Mr. Dad _mcl. Occasionally older relatives would use Mr. and Mrs. Dad _mcl, which torqued her a bit initially, but she ended up not caring about it that much.

They drew the line at the church that sent them stuff addressed to Dr. and Mrs. Dad _mcl, though. (He had a B.A.)