Considering the strong spotlight on feminist issues and sexism recently, this topic definitely requires some careful thought. We weigh up the different sides of the debate so you can make the best decision for her, for you, and for both of your families.
Why You Should Ask
Asking for the father’s blessing is long-standing, very traditional aspect of a marriage proposal. It may seem old fashioned, unnecessary and even a little bit misogynistic (more on that later), but it’s not all about gender inequality and sexism. There are plenty of reasons why asking for permission is a good thing:
- It’s respectful: visiting her father before the proposal shows that you care about both your fiancee’s wishes (assuming she would want you to ask for his blessing) and her father’s wishes, too. It demonstrates that you’re serious about joining their family and about the marriage itself.
- It’ll ease his mind: Like it or not, every father worries about his little girl – no matter how independent and capable she is (or you for that matter). Having a private chat, one-to-one, will give him an opportunity to air his concerns and give you the opportunity to reassure him.
- It gives you a chance to bond: Marrying the love of your life means you become a permanent part of her family. That means you’ll need to form positive, or at the very least functional, relationships with them – especially her father. This is the perfect chance to start, or if you already get on well, it’s the perfect time to cement your bond.
- It gets the family involved: again, marriage doesn’t just mean teaming up with someone you love for the rest of your life – you’re teaming up with her family too. Asking for their blessing is a great way to get everyone she loves involved in the proposal. It’s guaranteed to make the moment even more special and memorable for everyone involved.
Why You Shouldn’t Ask
The primary argument for this is obvious: you shouldn’t ask for her father’s permission to propose because a) he doesn’t own his daughter and b) when you marry her, it doesn’t mean you own her either! Marriage is an equal partnership between you and her where you both love and support one another. Or at least, it should be! But leaving aside that argument, here are a few other reasons why you should reconsider asking for a blessing:
- It could ruin the surprise: Proposing to your loved one is a super exciting time for you, but it’s also a big deal for her family. If her father is not the type who can keep a secret, maybe leave him out of the loop. Similarly if she’s notoriously difficult to surprise, telling absolutely nobody, father included, is the best way to reduce the risk of her finding out.
- It goes against her wishes: Even if her father would really appreciate your asking for his blessing (probably for all of the reasons listed above), it may not be what she wants. Plenty of women have troubled or complicated relationships with their fathers, and if your other half is one of them, it’s best to respect her wishes. If in doubt, just ask her.
- It’s unnecessary: Couples are now marrying at a much older age than centuries past. Nowadays, both guy and girl are fully functioning grown ups with a handle on their lives and their futures – so there’s absolutely no need to ask anyone for permission to get married. It’s an outdated tradition that doesn’t really have any meaning anymore, so why do it?
- It’s an extra step: Getting engaged is a big deal. For the guy, that moment when you get down on one knee – and everything leading up to it – will probably be the most nerve-wracking time of your life. Why prolong the stress by adding extra steps into the equation? If nobody particularly cares about you asking for her father’s blessing, there’s no need to put yourself under even more pressure.
The Happy Medium
So, let’s assume you have a forward-thinking, non-traditional fiancee, who is not in favour of anyone except herself giving permission for someone to marry her. And let’s say she has a slightly old-fashioned, traditional father who, if he’s being honest, wants to give his blessing and honor that age-old tradition. What’s a guy to do? Here are a few solutions…
- Ask the whole family: Like we said, marrying someone you love isn’t just committing to them alone – you’re also ‘officially’ joining each other’s families. So instead of asking the father for permission to marry his daughter, why not ask her whole family for their blessing… for YOU to join them, forever? This way you still keep the traditional aspect, but you respect her modern way of thinking, too.
- Ask together: If you’re not planning a surprise proposal, why not take a more equality-based approach and ask for her parents’ blessing together? Again it maintains the tradition, but takes away the ‘permission’ aspect she’s probably not too keen on. Plus it means you both get to see their reaction when you tell them the happy news!
- Tell him first: If you do forego asking for her father’s blessing before proposing, then a happy compromise is to let him be the first to know when you do get engaged. Preferably tell him in person, and preferably in private. Explain that you wanted a more modern approach, but didn’t want him to miss out on the moment. Either way, he should be content.
Whatever you decide, we’re sure Papa Bear will be delighted at your happy news. Now what are you waiting for??