Two weeks ago I hadn't given what I would be called when I am married any thought beyond whether to bother creating a double-barrelled name from M and my own. I had always assumed that I would become Mrs M's Surname and had never considered any other option.
I suppose I am quite a traditional sort of girl, both in values, expectations and activities that I pursue. I am an active member of my local Women's Institute group, I enjoy baking & sewing & making things. I value family life and my friends above a career, although interestingly because I have to have a job I have ended up/chosen to enter a male dominated profession. I believe in marriage for eternity. I also believe in equal rights for everyone to marry/enter civil partnerships. Yet I also believe men and women are different. I have no issues being female rather than male. I celebrate being female, yet do not feel threatened by men. I do not believe we are judged by our gender rather valued for our differences. I am not a feminist and I do not believe we are judged by our honorifics, which is why I had not given my title a second thought before now.
I am also driven by etiquette. I like to know the correct ways to address people and I still send hand-written thank you letters to anyone who invites us to stay with them, addressed as per correct form, unless I know specifically they choose another form of address (although thinking about it, I don't think I do know anyone that doesn't). I send e-mail thank you messages after suppers, parties etc but those never involve titles, so don't count. On a form I always tick Miss, as I do not consider myself to Mrs (yet) or Ms. To me, Ms is used by divorced women and single women hiding their marital status and I am neither. I stress that is to *me* because it is a personal viewpoint of an arbitrary word, not a slight on divorced or single women.
I then read this post by A Practical Wedding and then Cate's post on Project Subrosa and realised that to some women my age, whether they are known by Mrs or Ms is something they have given a great deal of thought. I understand that there are women to whom it is important that they are not recognised for their marital status, that they believe as Mr does not identify anything particular about a man, other than he is a man, so therefore women should have a suitable title to identify them as female but say nothing further. They choose to use Ms in this instance.
Reading all these viewpoints didn't change my mind rather actually clarified for me that I will choose to use the title Mrs when we are married. I do not see Mrs as indicating that I belong to my husband, as if I am chattel. He knows and I know that we belong to each other and our collective family name of Mr and Mrs HisSurname will indicate that to each other and everyone else. If anything I look forward to being a family unit with a shared surname rather than two individuals who happen to live in the same building. In the same light, I look forward to being Mrs HisFirstName HisSurname as I am confident being my own person yet proud of being his wife. It is also traditional and I enjoy following tradition.
Indeed, that is how we shall be addressing our wedding invitations, to Mr and Mrs John Smith. Unless I know that a female friend has a preference for Ms, I shall be addressing couples who are not married on separate lines as Miss Jane Brown and Mr John Smith or the other way round if we know the man better (I think that is the only deviation from traditional etiquette we shall use). The invitations will also come from Mr and Mrs MyFather'sFirstName TheirSurname despite the fact that my father is a Dr as this is a social occasion and therefore academic titles are not appropriate. Apart from the Chaplain. We shall address him as The Reverend FirstName Surname.