AOW A-Z Of Getting Married – M is for Mrs

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M is for Mrs, by Kirsty


Here’s how it works:

If you’re single, you’re a Miss.

If you’re married, you’re a Mrs.

If you’re a big hairy feminist, you may be a Ms, but this is best avoided.

These are The Rules.

The great thing about The Rules is that it lets people know exactly what to expect. It’s very convenient. For example, if you introduce yourself as a Miss, then people can confidently assume that you fall within one of three categories: (A) child; (B) girl-about-town in rabid pursuit of a husband; (C) cobwebby old spinster who lives with her sister (also a Miss) and several cats.

If, on the other hand, you identify yourself as a Mrs, then you are letting it be known that you have attained the status of “wife”, to which all women aspire. Other married women can breathe a sigh of relief that you’re not trying to get your claws into their husband (see category (B) above). Single women will naturally be envious, but you can reassure them that with a bit of luck, and perhaps a bit more attention paid to their personal grooming habits, one day they too might hold that covetable title.


‘Ms’ is where things get tricky. How are people who don’t know you supposed to define you by your marital status if you don’t give them anything to go on? Etiquette dictates that married women who keep their surname should be addressed as Ms, but why would anyone want to keep their name? Divorced women might choose to be a Ms, but they probably shouldn’t go out in public because they might frighten small children, so the point is academic.

I’ve even heard of some women who choose to be referred to as Ms, despite the fact that they’re married and took their husband’s name. Being Ms when Mrs is available? Madness! Everyone knows that only men are allowed to have a maritally ambiguous title!

Of course, some people might argue that society shouldn’t define women by their marital status at all. That women – people in general, even – have a right to use whatever title feels right for them, use different titles in different contexts, or – the horror! – change their mind and their title as often as they change their big feminist Mooncups, all free from judgment.

Well. These people just obviously aren’t familiar with The Rules.






Categories: A-Z of Getting Married, Becoming A Wife, Politics and Feminism
33 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted November 14, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    ‘If you’re a big hairy feminist, you may be a Ms, but this is best avoided.’

    Bah ha ha ha!! Excellent.

  2. Posted November 14, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    This has made my afternoon, hilarious. Well done Kirsty :) x

  3. Posted November 14, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    I e-mailed someone about my upcoming wedding, and they still replied addressing me as “Ms.”
    They are obviously not aware of The Rules and how offended I now am.
    I’d have preferred “Katy”, but whatevs.
    On another note ” but they probably shouldn’t go out in public because they might frighten small children” – hilarious :-)

  4. Yanthé
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Hilarious. Wonderful!

  5. Posted November 14, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Oh man. I go by Ms. & I took my husbands last name & I’m big and hairy because I’m currently too damn pregnant to shave my legs in my extremely tiny shower! How did you know Kirsty? How did you know?

  6. Katy W
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    I liked this a lot!

    Out of interest, who on here is a Ms/Miss/Mrs? (I’m a Mrs – but I would always expect work letters and emails to be addressed to me as Ms if they don’t use my first name, and I always address other women as Ms on correspondence as their (and my!) marital status shouldn’t come into it!).

    I changed my name when I got married and I adjusted much better to having a different surname, than to being a Mrs – it made me feel *much* older, for some reason…

    • Posted November 14, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      I originally changed to Mrs when we were first married, and then changed back to Ms after I just couldn’t get used to it. Hated it, in fact. Oddly, the new name felt really comfortable, it was just the Mrs that I couldn’t stand, which was part of what convinced me to change my title to what felt right for me.

      • Katy W
        Posted November 14, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

        It’s weird isn’t it, I spent a lot of time thinking about the actual name change before the wedding and whether I wanted to do it (I did) and not very much time thinking about the Miss to Mrs change, when that was the one that took much more getting used to.

  7. Posted November 14, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    I love this, Kirsty. That is all.

  8. Posted November 14, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    I’m a Mrs and I like being a Mrs.

    But I don’t judge/treat anyone differently/particularly have any opinion on what anyone else does so I hope that prevents me from being in the ‘rules’ category!

    • Posted November 14, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      Don’t worry, that puts you in the ‘awesome’ category.

  9. Lara Blue
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Hilarious. Thank you. :)

  10. Jessie
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    SO funny!! I love your writing Kirsty.

    I’m a Mrs if I’m getting a delivery from John Lewis and a Miss at all other times. John Lewis makes me feel like I should obey The Rules, or at least play by them!
    I promised the OH I’d sort myself out before Christmas – but luckily that’s an annual event so I’ve got plenty of time!

  11. Lynsey
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    And then there are those blooming awkward woman who will insist on being “Dr”. They (myself included) clearly don’t understand that is a title solely for men – so whenever they get a telephone call, the person at the other end of the line will be mighty surprised to speak to a woman! It’s seriously annoying! x

    • Posted November 14, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      On this subject, fiance’s working for a doctorate and I’m really not looking forward to being “Dr and Mrs P”.

      • Lynsey
        Posted November 14, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

        We both have doctorates, so it’s Dr A and Dr S – my mum says it looks like two men, and will I please just change to Mrs S… Hmm, 9 years of university, but I’ll change it just so I can be more feminine… x

        • Posted November 14, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

          I guess that’s better than “the Drs. (surname)”?
          I think it bothers me because it rubs in the stereotype/makes him seem even more betterer than me than is already implied by me having his surname. A decision which (btw) I am very happy about. It’s just the title bothering me.
          Weird, isn’t it? After all what’s in a name? etc,,, xx

          • Posted November 14, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

            I completely agree with you – people are weird about the title “Dr” and give it far more importance than it really deserves. Ok, you’ve obviously worked hard to achieve it – and if it’s used in a medical sense then you clearly have a worthy vocation, but at the end of the day it’s just an academic title – nothing more, nothing less.

  12. Alison
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    I’m a Mrs (because it was more important to my hubby that I take his name than it was to me to upset him and keep mine). And I’ve got my maiden name at work which keeps me in balance. And it’s fine, I like the feeling of being more a part of him by us having the same surname.

    But what REALLY annoys me, is when we get post addressed to ‘Mr and Mrs (husband’s first and second name)’ Ok. I’ve taken his surname, but not his bloomin first name!

    • Becca
      Posted November 14, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

      I addressed all my wedding invitations to Mr and Mrs John Smith where the female had taken her husbands second name. The only exception was where a friend had kept her surname so in that instance it was Mr Joe Bloggs and Ms Josie Smith.

      Debrettes says that is what you should do so I did it. How is that for following rules? **slaps wrist** (FYI….I freaking LOVE that book).

      Funny thing is that I’m a feminist and I don’t think what you call yourself matters at all. You’re a feminist if you believe in equality in a relationship and in life. I’d be perfectly happy to be Mrs Joe Bloggs because I know that inside my relationship I’m an equal (he’d say 51:49% because he takes out the bins EVERY.SINGLE.TIME).

      This has also reminded me I should probably shave my legs so not to be confused for hairy singleton with poor personal grooming habits. Don’t you just LOVE winter?

  13. Posted November 14, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Love this. Then I clicked through and realised its Kirsty. Ha. Brilliant.

    I have no idea what to do about my name change. I have already done it once (now divorced and yes i am proud that i scare children, cats are my favourite). Seriously, I might be Ms H and Mrs B in different circumstances, especially at work where I am not changing my name professionally.

  14. Sandie
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Read this entire article aloud to my gal pal on our way home. We laughed. A lot! Especially as we are teachers and are completely defined by our titles by small children!

    Another teacher-friend once told this story:

    Pupil 1: Are you Miss B…or Mrs B…?
    Miss B: Well I don’t wear a wedding ring and I’m not married, so what do you think?
    Blank looks
    Miss B: Well if you’re married, you’re a Mrs, and I’m not married so that makes me a…
    Pupil 2: Princess?
    So close!

    With love from Mrs L and Miss P! xxx

    • Posted November 14, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      A Princess! Perfection.

      Love this post Kirsty. I don’t have a problem with Miss, Ms or Mrs but I am guilty of thinking other people will feel the same. We should just shorten it to M or call each other Madam. Oh wait, that sounds a bit brothelish. Maybe Ma’am like ham? Like the Queen?

    • Posted November 14, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

      Princess! LOVE THIS!

      • Katielase
        Posted November 14, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

        Several of the children who attended our wedding now permanently refer to me as Princess Katie G. I’m trying to roll it out to everyone.

        K x

  15. Posted November 14, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Great writing Kirsty. Reading this on my way home from work, teaching, has clarified thoughts I’d been mulling on. At the school I’m at we’re all called by our first names. A child, or person, will respect you because of your behaviour & attitudes not your title. Second thought I teach in a predominantly Bengali community where the women keep their own surname, often don’t wear wedding rings & am not sure about prefixes. Relating to Becca’s comment about equality, some of the marriages were love marriages, some arranged & I wouldn’t like to speculate on roles in the family, they are changing. Suddenly our concerns about our titles or surnames seems small in this equation.

    • Posted November 14, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Rachel, and you’re so right.

  16. Mahj
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Oh I’m sad that I’m only just reading this…but I did snort with laughter whilst reading it so there is that!


  17. Katielase
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    Gutted I was out and missed reading this earlier. Amazing. Kirsty, you’re my hero. I have become Mrs G, but I hate the assumption that I did it because it was the done thing. It was an active choice.

    K x

  18. Posted November 15, 2012 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    I love this post so much!

    I’m a Ms, but still get post directly to Mrs Fiona F. despite the fact that this isn’t my last name, as I kept mine. This is post from my Mother in Law though, so I don’t want to annoy her by rubbing in the fact that I didn’t want her name!

    Weirdly enough, at work I’m referred to as Princess by most of my peers. It’s an international crowd, and most of them couldn’t pronounce “Fiona” until put into the appropriate context (which is, clearly, Shrek).

  19. Celestine
    Posted November 15, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Why would anyone keep their name? I did, because it was that important to me, in all aspects of my life.

    My in-laws did have some difficulty with it – “Why bother getting married then?” and even my husband would have preferred me to take his name. But being very much my own woman, I held out and am a very happy Ms. As I have been for the past lots-of-years.

  20. Posted November 15, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant as ever Kirsty. I’m struggling to get my head around Mrs and haven’t yet decided what I’m going to choose.

  21. Posted November 18, 2012 at 12:15 am | Permalink

    ‘Divorced women might choose to be a Ms, but they probably shouldn’t go out in public because they might frighten small children, so the point is academic.’

    Mega love- this is me! I’ll remember this ;)

    The 9 months I spent being ‘Mrs C’ never really felt like me, I’m lucky though as I had always intended to stay Dr R for work purposes so going back to being Dr R full time was easy. I agree with all those who’ve posted above that a woman being ‘Dr’ seems impossible to many people!

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