Q: Since my divorce, I have continued to use the title "Mrs." with my first name and my married last name, as in "Mrs. Jane Doe." Occasionally, I use my former husband's full name, as in "Mrs. John Doe."
My former husband objects to the use of his name, on the basis that he is now remarried and his wife uses the name Mrs. John Doe. Although I am not overly sympathetic to his objections, the situation is complicated by the impending marriage of our daughter. I want to issue the invitations in the names of Mr. and Mrs. John Doe. He feels this would be confusing, inappropriate and an insult to his current wife. As he is financing the affair, I am forced to take his thoughts into consideration.
I have been told that my use of the title "Mrs." is improper under any circumstances--is that correct? Also, what names would be appropriate to list on my daughter's wedding invitations?
A: By traditional standards, a lady has the right to continue to use her married name (Mrs. John Doe) after a divorce if she was blameless in the divorce, it was entirely her husband's fault, and she plans to continue her life as if she were still bound by marriage. To invoke such a rule today, you would have to be crazy.
Let us try another old-fashioned rule, though, just as venerable but a trifle less provocative. That is to use the title of Mrs. with your maiden name, followed by your married surname: Mrs. Smith Doe. This is impeccably correct. What is not correct, although it is widely practiced, is the use of Mrs. with a woman's first name, as Mrs. Jane Doe.
The joint wedding invitations should be issued from Mrs. Smith Doe and Mr. John Doe, unless you wish to begin a melee that would dominate not only the wedding, but your family life for generations to come.