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Why if you are married or cohabiting do all letters come addressed to MR first?

(26 Posts)
Mavend Thu 18-Aug-11 11:34:04

The same for phone calls they always ask for the man of the house.

Its really beginning to piss me off.

The backstory,my partner died last year.I sorted out the paperwork and got stuff transferred into my name (a whole other long story but still).Somehow or other I missed the gas/electric bills.So the other day "Hello can I speak to Mr x please". Me "Well,you might have some trouble with that,he died a year ago!".It was the power company.

But it got me thinking,I had some work done on the house recently and the bloke who did it said "My quote is xx but you may want to check with your husband if thats ok".I was tempted by the above reply again but couldn't be bothered to go through it again.

Is it just me???

DontCallMeFrothyDragon Thu 18-Aug-11 11:46:57

Sorry for your loss, Mavend Would be nice to see it mixed up occassionally, and would love to hear of a man being asked for the "lady of the house" as he can't make a deciscion without her.

LRDTheFeministDragon Thu 18-Aug-11 12:14:30

Oh, how horrible. I'm so sorry for your loss.

I think a curt response is totally in order in these situations.

jennyvarnishessthewoodwork Thu 18-Aug-11 13:02:36

Sorry to hear that Mavend.

I think there's a difference between the traditional address of Mr & Mrs Smith and someone thinking that any decision needs to go through the 'man of the house'. I was about to suggest that maybe we could give some people the benefit of the doubt for (perhaps clumsily) acknowledging that someone might want to check with their partner before making a decision (perfectly understandable) except that I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone say "you'll probably want to check with your wife before you make a decision, so..."

LRDTheFeministDragon Thu 18-Aug-11 13:07:54

Actually, I have occasionally heard 'you'll want to check with your wife', but I think what tends to happen is that people assume husbands are needed to deal with traditional 'man' stuff. If you go to buy a cooker or choose colours in the kitchen, that's 'you might want to ask your wife' territory to some people. hmm

It's insensitive though - it shouldn't be hard to figure out that if your customer needs or wants to discuss things with a partner, she or he can probably work out how to do that without prompting. People said this stuff a lot to my granny and I thought it was almost cruel - she was in her 80s, it surely didn't take a genius to realize there might be a reason why she wasn't able to ask her husband any more!

jennyvarnishessthewoodwork Thu 18-Aug-11 13:13:41

Yes. Actually, I can't understand why anyone in sales would want to give someone an opportunity to delay a decision anyway - so it does seem a bit stupid.

EarthMotherImNot Thu 18-Aug-11 13:20:35

This is a bug bear of mine tooangry

A while ago Dh was working down the other end of the country and all the bills etc were down to me, cheques were signed by me as were letters etc.

Every single time we got a receipt it was in Dh's name, maddening doesn't cover it so what op must feel beggers belief.

Yes, I remember once going to a garage to get a part for my car and the garage man saying "it's quite tricky to replace" fine, "you might want to get your boyfriend to do it" not fine, I never went back to that garage again.

This week I had some work done on the house, I got all the quotes, chose he person, did all the organising, gave my name as firstname surname, got the invoice today addressed to Mr and Mrs Mysurname (DH has his own surname and it's not the same as mine).

iskra Thu 18-Aug-11 16:54:05

WhoKnows - I think I've posted this before, but I rang a plumber to ask him to come plug in my washing machine. He said, "oh, you don't need a plumber to do that!" I said, "oh, so I could do it myself?". He paused & said, "have you got a boyfriend, love?"

I spent half the day on the phone to John Lewis being called Mrs Dh's name, which they kept getting wrong, & which isn't my bloody name in the first place!

BelleCurve Thu 18-Aug-11 16:59:51

I remember, as a child addressing Christmas cards to "Mrs and Mr" and my mum corrected me. But I continued to put the woman first as I liked her most, I thought she was the most important

There is a certain innocent logic.

That's nice BelleCurve - do you still do it or have you caved in to convention? I must admit, I always go with tradition on addressing envelopes for fear of causing offence.

MavEnd - sorry for your loss, my irritation at these things must be magnified many times for you.

I bet not many men get told to check if it's OK with your wife, grrrr. Unless they are buying a vacuum cleaner.

kickassangel Fri 19-Aug-11 00:43:08

i really hate that men always come first. as a result of this, dh has a load of shares with barclays from a joint account we had. why? because they only issued them to the first named person on the joint account, you can't hold share between 2 people, and they cba to give us each 50%

TotallyUnheardOf Fri 19-Aug-11 02:31:03

Mavend: I am so sorry to hear about your dh, and I think you should feel fully within your rights to make anyone who asks for the 'man of the house' feel guilty as hell...

Interesting question, though.

I agree that using the form 'Mr and Mrs' is quite different from asking for 'the man of the house' or expecting you to run decisions past your boyfriend.

'Mr and Mrs' is the form that 'feels' natural because it's what we've all been taught to write, but in fact there's no reason why it should be that way around. I may take to writing 'Mrs and Mr' after this thread! (The form 'Mr and Mrs George TotallyUnheardOf' - i.e. only giving the man's first name - gives me the shudders, however. My evil SIL insists on addressing cards and things like that.) We get around the issue chez Totally by both being 'Dr' but doing a PhD is a slightly extreme way of avoiding the convention! I can't honestly remember whether he still tends to be mentioned first - possibly, as his surname is first in alphabetical order. Certainly our cheque book has my name first, however, as when we opened the account we were Dr Totally and plain old Mr Totally'sDH!

Not quite the same, but I've just corrected 'the person him/herself' in a document to 'her/himself'. I know it means the same thing in the end, but I just feel it kind of evens things up a bit!

TillyIpswitch Fri 19-Aug-11 02:50:21

My bugbear is movie posters. Specifically movie posters where there's a female and male lead. The male actor is pretty much always listed first.

This is still the default - and probably as much to do with the fact that the male lead is being paid considerably more....... [rolls eyes emoticon]

All the anti-fems who abound here will think this is such an insignificant thing to be bothered about grin but it's just yet another symptom of inequality, IMO.

CRIKRI Fri 19-Aug-11 12:15:57

It's interesting when it comes to the post. Most of the bills, etc. are in my name at the moment, so I think when our address ends up on junk mail lists, by default, we get things sent to Mr and Mrs Wifes-Surname. There is still the assumption, however that a.) the couple share the same surname (we don't) and b.) the person paying the bills will be male (not always!)

Not entirely related, but there are two examples where total strangers have made assumptions about me and a partner/husband based on gender.

I drink black coffee or espresso. My XH drank the milkiest coffee on the menu. when drinks came, he inevitably was presented with the "strong" coffee and I was presented with the "weak" coffee.

Car hire - I remember getting right up in the face of a couple of car hire staff to make sure they were talking to me because although the reservation was in my name, I was clearly the named driver and I was paying with my car, they often seemed determined to speak to whichever man was with me. This hasn't happened so much lately, primarily because my DH tends to loiter at a distance and he doesn't drive.

Something else kind of funny. My FIL is the most adorable and wonderful 70 something bloke. On more than one occasion, he's been mistaken for a woman. I'm not entirely sure why, but he does have a full head of curly, sometimes longish hair and generally dresses quite casually in what could be I suppose a "unisex" way. He also often carries a shoulder bag, so perhaps from behind, it's possible to make a mistake. He's not the least bit bothered and us generally amused by the "mistaken identity," but finds the person who's made the mistake tends to turn seven shades of puce and look like they've never felt so embarrassed in all their life.

kickassangel Fri 19-Aug-11 13:00:13

Mac my mil is suffering from this as well. She is completely non fem and loves having a big strong man to protect her. But now that she's widowed she finds the same problem you do and it upsets her. It must be very hard when a random letter reminds you that you're by yourself.
Anyway, she's started getting angry with people and is telling them v e r y c l e a r l y that there is no mister. If they don't listen first time she puts in a complaint.

I have recently been shocked by stories of how people are dealt with when sorting out a bereavement. I am sure that a good part of this is that society and institutions just cannot deal with a woman being alone and acting for themselves

TillyIpswitch Fri 19-Aug-11 19:13:50

Following on from CRIKRI's examples - wine. Waiters always present DH with the wine list, and he duly passes it to me. And 50:50 even when I've ordered it, they'll present it to him to taste.

LRDTheFeministDragon Sat 20-Aug-11 01:33:50

kickass - that's awful! Both the shares and your MIL - in totally different ways of course. I get so angry about the callousness of people who just don't bother to think about these things.

Tilly - Wine and bills, I think. DH and I (yes, we have too much time on our hands) always use my card to pay the bill and see which one of us it gets returned to (it has Ms Womansname Surname on it). It's usually to him. hmm

tawrag Sat 20-Aug-11 08:31:55

In answer to the original question— they don't, if you kick up a fuss. I did about joint bank account, which I run. DH might do one transaction in ten years. I pointed this out and asked them to put my name first. They did.

LRDTheFeministDragon Sat 20-Aug-11 08:42:42

Depends on the bank (she says sourly).

Actually no, it's quite possible you're right and all banks will, eventually, do this. All I know is it took three tries to get mine to put Ms not Mrs/Miss on my cards and they refused to let me be first named account holder (who comes first on our statements, but maybe that bit they would have changed if we argued hard enough) because they wouldn't believe I was earninig more than DH.

Not to mention the fact that we shouldn't have to kick up a fuss!

skrumle Sat 20-Aug-11 08:51:35

i'm first named on our RBS accounts but the nationwide have put my H first, and even more annoyingly (considering that he has virtually nothing to do with managing our finances) when they send out the letter about voting in the AGM it is addressed ONLY to him. i actually keep meaning to complain about it but then can't work up the energy blush

i had the tax office change my name once - the original version of CTC was a tax code against the highest earner's wages and that switched from being my H to me, so I wrote a letter explaining this and as a result got the tax code amended and at the same time they changed me from Ms Myname to Mrs Hisname!

sunshineandbooks Sat 20-Aug-11 09:08:01

I've managed to avoid this as I've never had separate finances from my partners and household bills were always in my mine. I would be absolutely shock if someone suggested I might need my partner's approval or asked to speak to the 'man of the house'. I think perhaps I've been rather lucky, so good for you Mavend for challenging it and please accept my sincere sympathy on your loss. sad

THink these days the banks are mostly just concerned with who is the primary earner and any bank that sticks to MR first purely because they are stuck with the mindset that men are more important should be very publicly named and shamed.

sunshineandbooks Sat 20-Aug-11 09:18:01

always had not never had blush

supergreenuk Sat 20-Aug-11 09:28:12

You will probably find the energy company was set up in his name therefore that's who they will ask for. Also addressing letters the companies will have programmer it that way so it will never be random.

As for having to check with your husband. That's a bit Wrong on many levels.

Anniegetyourgun Sat 20-Aug-11 09:47:28

XH and I used to have separate Barclaycards and we both used to get loan offers from them. Typically they would invite him to take out a loan of up to £15,000 whilst the ones to me offered half as much. This was ironic, given that at the time I was the sole earner and paid off his card as well as my own. I also used my card a lot more, for shopping and any large expenditure such as holidays and new kitchens. Go figure.

We had an offer for a different telephone plan addressed to XH a couple of months ago. I have lived here for three years and he never has. For some peculiar reason they'd got him down as the second contact on my account. I got them to change that sharpish, of course, but still took them to task for addressing it to him. The bills are in my name, the phone is in my name, but the offer was addressed to someone they had down as second contact. Nice fellow on phone could only apologise. I should jolly well think so too.

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