‘Mrs.’ is the formal way to address women who are married, or who were married at one time and are now widowed or divorced. ‘Miss’ is used when addressing girls and young, unmarried women. You should use ‘Ms.’ when unsure of a woman’s marital status or if she is unmarried and prefers to be addressed with a marital-status neutral title. But why should we bother with formalities these days?
I do not mind nor do I grow tired of correcting others when they address me incorrectly. Just the other day, a friend who knows I am married addressed me as Ms. Luikens. I kindly corrected him by saying, “You know that I am very married and therefore am Mrs. Luikens, not Ms.” He addressed me again, this time in the correct way and with an apologetic smile.
Later in a meeting, one of the attendees addressed me as Ms. Luikens. I smiled and pointed to my wedding ring and kindly replied, “I’m not Ms. I am Mrs.” She gave me a sheepish grin and said, “I just don’t know how to address anyone these days. I don’t want to assume anything.”
Yes, I understand the confusion these days. I have a fellow teacher who is married, but did not take her husband’s name, choosing instead to keep her maiden name. I am not sure how her students address her. Perhaps with Ms. in front of her maiden name even though technically she is a Mrs.?
Years ago, when my husband proposed to me, I too wrestled a bit with the thought of keeping my maiden name. I also considered the hyphenated version, my name and his. But the issue was not so much in which name to take or keep. Instead, deep down inside, I was afraid of losing my identity. If I took his name would I still be me? Finally, I settled for the traditional way and I have had no regrets.
Consequently, I’ve discovered that taking my husband’s name did not in any way make me less of the person I was already. Instead, in more ways than one, marriage has actually been a fertile environment for me. I’ve matured into being exactly who I am, a happily married woman with a unique and lively personality.
I’m proud of my title, Mrs. Luikens. I’ve earned it, so to speak, by sticking beside the man who calls me his wife.
Why bother with formalities? Addressing each other correctly reminds us unabashedly of who we really are.