It’s 2011. It’s time for a new way to address married couples on envelopes and to list their names in programs.
I regularly get messages like the one I received today from Carol, who works in higher education:
I found your website helpful, but I have a question. My boss does not like me to address letters like this: Mr. and Mrs. Robert Jones, mainly because she wants the wife’s first name mentioned too, so would Mr. and Mrs. Robert and Jill Jones be appropriate? Otherwise, I have to take off the Mr. and Mrs. and just put their first names, which is too informal.
Thanks so much!
I searched my Gregg Reference Manual, 11th Edition (copyright 2011), even though I already knew what it said. I also searched EmilyPost.com. Neither one supports Carol’s suggestion of “Mr. and Mrs. Robert and Jill Jones.”
But, Carol, I do support it. It makes perfect sense to use both spouses’ names, and in many situations the courtesy titles Mr. and Mrs. are required to communicate respect and formality.
So carry on, Carol! Although in early 2011 you will not find a reference book that agrees with us, your approach acknowledges both spouses and treats them with respect.
I have been waiting for a reference book to agree with Carol and me. When the new Gregg Reference Manual came out recently, the first thing I checked was addresses with married couples. Unfortunately, Gregg did not update its use of the man’s name only.
Last summer I exchanged emails with a minister who wanted to use both spouses’ first names in his church bulletin. However, some older members of his congregation wanted “Mr. and Mrs. John Doe.” He wrote to me:
Wanting to list also the name of the wife and not just her husband, I suggested listing the couple as Mr. and Mrs. John and Jane Doe. I was told this is incorrect and we should simply print Mr. and Mrs. John Doe. I understand that this may be grammatically correct, but we are a church that prides itself on gender equity in value and leadership. While I understand these rules came to be at a very different social era, is there a way we might retain grammatical and political correctness?
Yes, Reverend, you have found the way. Please use it with my blessing. Write “Mr. and Mrs. John and Jane Doe” so people in your church can know and respect Jane too.
Let’s do it now. Let’s name both Robert and Jill, both John and Jane. Then The Gregg Reference Manual and EmilyPost.com can catch up with us.