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Miss Manners: Ladies select how they are addressed

Mon., April 15, 2013

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’m going to be 52 by the time my wedding comes up next month. After my last divorce, No. 2, I went back to my maiden name. Now that I’m getting remarried, I’ve been thinking of keeping my maiden name and adding it to my new husband’s.

He says it doesn’t matter either way to him, but I’m curious what’s the right thing to do. I know the hassles there are to changing everything I have to change, and of course, even hyphenating is going to create this same issue.

I’m not sure if I would have to use the hyphenated name on everything, or if I can pick and choose which name to use at a particular time. I’ve tried to research online about it, but came up with nothing. Can you help me, please?

GENTLE READER: Well, somewhat – just not to the extent of making a definitive declaration of what your name should be. Any hope of maintaining a standard naming system was long ago superseded by individuals (let’s face it, ladies) asserting their claim to be addressed as they wish.

So now everyone is happy, yes?

No. Everyone is angry that others may be unaware of her choice, and actively disapproving of others’ choices.

You see why etiquette stepped back from the fray. Maiden name, married name, hyphenated name – etiquette does not object to any of them. Miss Manners also recognizes the convenience of using more than one name, for example, using your maiden name professionally, especially if you have established a reputation under it, and using your married name socially, so as to keep your private life apart from your professional life. That would not even require all those official changes.

But she will warn that you will not be able to get on an airplane unless you remember which name matches your documents.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email, dearmissmanners@; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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