When did married women stop being addressed as Mrs. Husband'sFirstName Husband'sLastName?

I think he’s more worried about annoying the husband, by not using a “Mrs” than he is about getting the woman’s name right.

Unless I’m confusing posters, which is possible. But i thought he said that the husbands often corrected him if he didn’t use “Mrs”.

And in his defence, he seems to be mostly interacting with extremely old people (silent generation, not baby boomers) who often prefer the form of address that was considered correct in their youth.

But he’s talking at that point specifically about women who he knows have not taken their husbands’ names.

Insisting on calling them by their husbands’ names when he knows that’s not the name they use seems to me very likely to annoy both the women and their husbands. In any case, if I had to annoy one of them, I’d choose not to annoy the one whose name I’d be using.

I would only use that when addressing the couple. I would not use it when addressing her as an individual. And if she told me not to address her & husband as a couple, or to address the couple with two last names, I can accommodate.

This particular thing is slightly different than the Mr./Ms./Mrs. issue. I would use the husband’s last name to address any couple by default (eg: “the Joneses called”, even if wife still goes by Jones-Smith). If the couple indicate that they wish to be referred to with a hyphen or some other arrangement, that’s fine. If the wife but not the husband/kids use a hyphen, I assume the whole family as a unit goes by the husband’s last name.


Uh… why on earth would you assume that? She DID ask you to address the couple with two last names, whenever she told you her last name was different from her husband’s.

I decided to take my husband’s last name specifically so it would be easy to connect me, my husband, and future children via our last names. And that’s a very common choice. But I made that choice by CHANGING MY NAME when I was married. Women who chose not to change their names are also making a choice.

Now… I have known some women who use their maiden name professionally and their husband’s name socially. But honestly, that’s a much rarer choice than either taking her husband’s name or keeping her own (or hyphenting.) And when that’s the case, they usually tell you.

Honestly, you are being really rude. I gather you don’t intend to be rude, but intentionally using the name a woman didn’t choose is rude – a name she had to actively choose against, since it’s kind of the default. You are implying that her marriage is more important than her, as a person. That her identity is submerged in her husband’s identity. That you don’t even care that she has her own name. No, you shouldn’t make her ask you to use her name. You should just use it.

I only use my name - I never use my husband’s name to introduce myself or on any intake forms or other paperwork. If someone calls me Mrs. Husband’s name in a context where they really only know my husband/children* , I’m fine with it. Also fine with getting cards and such addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Hisname. But that’s very different from someone who knows my name ( such as staff at my doctor’s appointment) calling me Mrs. anything and especially not Mrs. Husband’s last name. If I wanted people at the doctor’s office to call me by his last name , I would have changed my name and it would be the name on the intake form, the insurance card and everything else.

If married women who have not changed their name have specifically told Max that they want to be called Mrs. Herlast name, then of course he should do it. But in my experience, the number of women who have both 1) changed their last name and 2) want to be called Mrs. is zero. There are probably a lot who are resigned to it or who will accept it and don’t bother correcting people - but I’ve never known one who actively wanted it.

And while I’m not old enough to be part of the silent generation, I am old enough to have a 31 year old daughter, who objected vociferously when staff at her wedding venue put up a sign saying " Mr.& Mrs. Husband’s Name". Although I am a few years away from Medicare, I am old enough to retire to Florida- and if I ended up at one of Max’s offices, I’d be complaining ( not just correcting him) the first time he called me Mrs. Husband’s name. Calling Mrs. Myname instead of Ms. is only worth a correction - calling me by his choice of name rather than mine is worth a complaint.

  • I’ve accompanied one to the doctor, or my children’s teachers/friend/friend’s parents when they were young, coworkers etc. People who have no reason to know my actual name, at least not without looking it up.

I assume you mean women who have not changed their last name.

Yep - don’t know how I missed that.

Yeah, that’s completely different. At school events people sometimes called me “kid’s first name’s mom”, and honestly, that was why i was there, and i was fine with that.

But if i went to the doctor, where they have my name on file, and my husband accompanied me, and the receptionist called me “Mrs hisname” I’d be livid. I don’t know if i would complain or just shop for a new doctor. If i complained, I’d probably complain to the doctor, not the receptionist, and I’d be trying to get the person fired.

I REALLY want my doctor to care about me, as my own human being, and not just my role in society and how I matter to my family members.

I haven’t seen or heard Mrs. used in so long, I was under the impression that it’s on the way to being an anachronism. And I was also under the impression that if the woman retained her maiden name, that Mrs. is just flat out wrong, in a factual sense. Because although I’m married, my husband is not Mr. Hedonia, therefore Mrs. Hedonia is wrong. The exception would be if I were married to a man who changed his name to mine, but that’s exceedingly rare.

Now my doctor’s office is aware of the both importance of addressing someone in accordance with their preferences and the difficulty of guessing those preferences. When you fill out your intake form, this is one of the questions and I can let them know whether I prefer to be called Ann or Ms. Hedonia. They also ask for your preferred pronoun.

I used to get a similar question on a form I got when I attended sales conferences, and I would usually put down that I preferred to be called Her Excellency The Supreme Queen of the Salemanship Universe, (then my manager would glare at me, cross it out and write Ann) - but I never pulled that at the doctor’s office.

With my wealthy clients, I usually defaulted to Ms. HusbandsLastName or MsMaidenName, assuming I had prior knowledge of what names they used. If I didn’t, I resorted to the time-honored trick of introducing myself “Good Morning, I’m Ann Hedonia”, and taking my cue from the response. If the response was “Nice to meet you.”, I would take the more direct route of asking “and your name is?” or, if I knew the last name “Do you go by Ms. Richlady?” Usually I ended up calling them Ms. Richlady, but every now and then one of these women would want to play at being BFF’s while we were working and I was happy to slide into first name mode.

Amen. We can only hope.

Got to thinking that the reason I haven’t heard Mister or Missus (or Miss or Ms.) in a long time is that society is changing and almost everyone goes by their first name.

Every one of the teachers in my school does. Though once in a while we’ll have a sub or part-timer who has a doctorate and wants everyone to know it. I wonder if they know that the students mock them for it…

My high school French teacher (who we of course called Mme X) both kept her maiden name and went by Mrs. in the school directory. She said it was just easier than correcting people.

Is that a K-12 school in the United States? Because in my experience, schools are the one place where Mr/Ms have really persisted. I don’t even call my colleagues by their first name unless we are friends.

As I mentioned above, my students (and sometimes collogues) often use “Mrs.” to address me or to refer to me in writing. Students use “Mrs” probably 80% of the time. I think they think it’s fancier/more respectful than “Ms”. Adults probably call me Mrs. 50% of the time–less, once I’ve been somewhere a while. The default for a LOT of people is still “Mrs.”

I rarely correct anyone. It’s hard not to sound like an asshole about it, and it’s often taken as a political statement. My own preference, from everyone that isn’t family or a very old friend, is my plain last name, no honorific. It’s hard to convince people to call a woman that, however.

Exactly, I would make the same default assumption (mistake) as the staff at the wedding. Assuming they were putting up a sign for you and your husband, not the bride and groom… it’s a bit incompetent to make the sign before asking if the bride is taking the last name.

Switching to a work (medical office) context, let me give you a more detailed example. From my point of view the last name problem is distinct from the title problem. The last name is never an issue in my work context (pronounciation excepted). Pretend your maiden name is “Dorothy Nee”, and you kept it after marriage. You fill out the intake form like this:
_____ / Dorothy / ____ / Nee / ______ / … / Married
Title / First / M.I. / Last / Suffix/…/Marital Status
Then you show up in the lobby accompanied by a man. If I’m working the desk or otherwise need to call you, I will address you as “Missus Dorothy Nee”. The title might not be what you want, but the last name is taken straight from the intake form and it should match your insurance.

The last name becomes an issue more often when the patient is someone else. All Medicaid kids come to us by referral, which means I am cold-calling a phone number from a fax and asking to speak with (or leaving a message for) “the parent of X Y”. It’s anybody’s guess as to the parent/guardian’s last name or marital status, so the entire pretence of formality is dropped until I can get the parent’s name. If it’s a woman, once I have her last name I write it down and she becomes “Miss Mom’sLastName”. One pediatrician sends us the parent’s name with the referral, which is nice. All of the doctors refer to the guardians as “parents”, “Mom/Mother/Foster mom”, “Dad/Father/foster dad”, “Grandmother”, etc.

Until corrected I would address you by your husband’s last name when using the form “Mr. & Mrs. Y”, but in practice - at work - I hardly ever need to address both husband and wife as a couple. In the rare case that a husband and wife need to come in at the same time, we book them two rooms. Usually they want two rooms for the exam portion, then meet with the doctor in one room to discuss both of them together.


That should read, “In the medical record, all of the doctors refer to the guardians as…”


No, it was referring to the bride and groom. It was a chalkboard sign so there wasn’t a lot of work involved in making it but it pissed her off. (although I can’t imagine why you would think a sign would be put up for the bride’s parents rather than the bride and groom)

But again, you’re making assumptions. Which might be acceptable if you are dealing with a 85 year old woman - but if you have children on Medicaid as patients, your patients are not exclusively the elderly. Let’s start with you don’t know if Nee is my husband’s name or not - if Nee is my birth name, I will never properly be Mrs. Nee. That might have been my mother but never me, because “Mrs” in English doesn’t simply indicate “married”.* But you’re going to call me Mrs. Nee either because you are assuming Nee is my husband’s name or because you are assuming married women want to be called Mrs. or both. You then are apparently assuming that the man walking in with me is my husband- not my son, not my brother, not a friend. And you apparently will call me Mrs. based on his presence (since you mention me showing up with a man). I guess because you are afraid of offending him.

And I really wonder why the “Medicaid kids” mothers get “Miss Mom’sLastName”. I can only guess that you assume these women are unmarried although it is indeed possible for married or previously married women to have children on Medicaid . The whole purpose of “Ms.” is to avoid making assumptions about women’s names and marital status, in exactly the way “Mr.” avoids making assumptions about men, but it seems you are so opposed to using “Ms” that you prefer to make all sorts of assumptions and risk offending people when you get them wrong. You justify it by saying that married women ( or their husbands ) are offended when you don’t call them Mrs. - but the reality is, you risk offending people either way.

*If you want to go back in history, “Mrs” was not appropriate with a woman’s first name. A married or widowed woman was Mrs. John Doe and a divorced woman was Mrs. Smith Doe. If a woman was being referred to in print in a context where her first name was needed, it would be listed either as “Mrs. John Doe (Jane)” or “Jane Doe ( Mrs. John )” but never “Mrs. Jane Doe”

Yes, you are being really offensive in referring to those Medicare moms as “Miss”, and they may not feel empowered to put up a fight. And you are also offending a decent fraction of the women you call “Mrs.” And as best as it can tell, it’s because you are more afraid of offending the man with them, who isn’t even your patient, than you are of offending the women.

Stop and think about that for a minute.

You are obviously a man, and i am really getting the impression that men are just more important to you than women are, except inasmuch as they matter to some man. And your patients are getting the same impression.

I can believe that some of your 85 year old women prefer to be called Mrs. I find it unlikely that any of your Medicare moms appreciate you assuming they are unmarried, even if you are right.

How about a compromise. Unless they filled out the intake form with a preference (in which case, use that, of course) address all women over 75 as “Mrs” and all other women as “Ms”. That’s probably going to be minimally offensive.

(Really, I’d say the real cut off is likely all women born before ~1945, with some regional variation in that date.)

While everything your say is true, it’s also true that customs have changed, and it’s been common to use “Mrs” with a woman’s first name for most of my adult life. It’s been common for someone to point out that it’s wrong, too, be especially before the turn of the century. But that rule has pretty much died out.

Right, I am making assumptions. I wrote it out in my first post, I assume a married woman prefers to be called Mrs (“missus”), a single woman Miss (“miss”), and if I don’t know the marital status, I use Ms. (which I also pronounce “miss”).

This is the assumption I make.

You have it backwards. I make the above assumption that married women want to be called Mrs./missus because I’ve had it explained to me multiple times that it is doubly rude to address a married woman as “Miss” in front of her husband. I could get the title wrong either way.

Some people pronounce Ms. with a ‘z’, but that’s very rare in my experience and I’ve never done so. I don’t assume the marital status of Medicaid Moms, I refer to them as Ms. (“Miss” over the telephone). On the envelope I send out, it will be either “Ms. Y” or “Parent/Guardian of X Y”.

I do so fully aware of that fact. I approach the whole thing as zero-sum. I’ve had significantly more people correct me for using “miss” or Ms. than I have had for using Mrs./“missus”.


Absolutely customs change - I was just using that to point out that "Mrs. doesn’t simply mean married and never has.

Right - and you are assuming that any man walking in with me must be my husband - because otherwise it being "doubly rude " to address a married woman as "Miss in front of her husband wouldn’t matter.

Maybe that’s where your problem lies. Because really, I could see a elderly married woman getting annoyed about being called " Miss" way more easily than I can see her being annoyed by " Ms", I have always pronounced Ms. with a Z and always heard it that way. There are some accents I have heard where Mrs. and Ms. share the pronunciation “miz” but none that I know of where Ms. and Miss share a pronunciation.

A number of married women in this thread have told you this is not a sound assumption. And you mentioned husbands complaining. Screw that, it should be about the patient.

Also, I now see your problem. Ms is properly pronounced “mizz”, not “miss”. Yes, of course an elderly married woman who shows up with her husband is annoyed to be addressed “miss”. If you correct your pronunciation i bet you will have fewer annoyed patients.