I met my husband when I was twenty-one-years-old. We had a whirlwind romance and were married when I was only twenty-three. It wasn’t a very difficult decision for me to change my surname to his as it was more important to me that we present as a family than for me to keep my given surname. I did, however, request that if we ever had a boy baby that we name him “Peter” after my maiden name, “Peterka”. When our son was born in 2014, we did exactly that.
Since marrying in 2010 I have regularly been called, “Mrs. Hungerford”. While I do cringe when family address post to “Mr. and Mrs. Jason Hungerford” (the Mrs. Man phenomenon), I simply try to remember that this is done out of a sense of tradition and I try to just see it for what it is: old fashioned, but not mean spirited.
I didn’t give the “Mrs.” title much of thought until it showed up on one of my credit cards here in the UK. My bank issued me a credit card with the name, “Mrs E A Hungerford” printed on the front. The more I looked at that random assortment of letters meant to reflect my name, the more it annoyed me. I’ve never gone by my initials, and didn’t see why they needed to also throw a title on there as well. There is simply no point. Especially the “Mrs” bit. It was apparently more of a priority for them to make sure that anyone encountering the card knows that I am married over anyone knowing what my actual name is. So why, pray tell, does my credit card need to have my marital status on it? I’ll answer that: it doesn’t. My husband’s marital status isn’t announced on his credit cards, so why does mine have to be? The more I thought about it this way, the more annoyed I became.
The truth is, I honestly wouldn’t mind being labeled a “Mrs” if there were a married equivalent for men. But there isn’t. Only women are publicly identified by whether or not they are married. When it comes down to it, there is absolutely no reason I should be identified by my marital status unless, of course, the situation is directly related to my marriage. With that in mind, here is a list of places it would be appropriate to list me as Mrs. Hungerford as opposed to Miss or Ms. Hungerford:
- on a marriage certificate
- on a divorce certificate
Identifying women by their marital status anywhere else is simply unnecessary. Or at the very least, it shouldn’t be required. With this on my mind, I took my credit card into my bank and asked if I could have the “Mrs” removed from the card. You can read more about the ridiculous interaction I had with the teller here, but what was even more annoying than her continually asking me if I was getting a divorce and wondering what my husband would think (FFS), is that she couldn’t do it. She couldn’t get me a new card that didn’t have my marital status on it. There was apparently no way she could change my title from “Mrs” to “Ms” without a certificate of divorce. I eventually proposed that if it would just easier for her to close my account entirely than to remove the “Mrs” from my card, then she could go ahead and do that. I ended up leaving my card with her so she could continue working on it and I’ve since received a voicemail asking me to come in and sign a form to change my marital status on my account. Apparently it is easier for her to edit my account profile than it is for her to simply remove the unnecessary title from my card.
To be clear, my annoyance at this situation isn’t a matter of being proud or not proud to be married. It isn’t about honour and respect regarding the institution of marriage. This is about me being defined in terms of my relationship to a man, and not being defined in terms of myself. My relationship with a man (or lack there of) should have no bearing on my bank card.
Do you have a title on your bank card? Are you happy with it? If not, have you looked into how easy it would be to change? I always love your feedback, but I would particularly appreciate hearing from those of you who have gone to your banks to have this changed on your own card!