Dear Dr. and Dr. V,

I was thinking about the etiquette surrounding official letters of address.  This constantly comes up when we do development mailings at my job.  We know that some people wish to be referred to as Mr. S. and Mrs. S-H, and would be personally offended if we called them Mr. and Mrs. S. 

The parents of one of my friends are both doctors, and when she was little she asked why letters and Christmas cards always came to their house addressed as Dr. and Mrs. V.  “Shouldn’t it say Dr. and Dr. V?” she asked her mother?  Mom told her “no, that just isn’t how it’s done.”  

I don’t mind – and in fact really enjoy – “Mr. and Mrs. H”, even though I’m still in the name-changing process (looong story, not for the blog, sorry).  It reminds me that we’re TeamH and I love it; we share a name, we are now our own family.  I know the whole history of “transference of property” but I suppose in this case that’s in the eye of the beholder.  The thing that does offend, however, is “Mr. and Mrs. [his first name] H”.  That makes me feel like people think that I have “fully subsumed my old identity into that of my new husband.”  (That quote is from this lovely site.)

My point here is that different people ascribe different meanings to the name-changing game, and that different people want to be addressed differently.  This is often an easy factor to judge others on, and yet in the end, we should all be addressed the way we want to.  If my friend’s mom wishes to be “Mrs.” rather than “Dr.”, why would that be wrong?  On the other hand, if she prefers “Dr.”, then let’s call her Dr.  While there’s a lot in a name, it’s still just a name, and doesn’t actually change who you are inside.  Even as you become a team, you still remain individuals as well. 

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