Recently I had a conversation with a friend. I asked him if his daughter were to get engaged, would he expect the future spouse to ask him for his blessing/permission.

His answer was simple- Yes. He would expect it because if you’re going to go the marriage route, you adhere to all the conventions.

That’s one way of looking at it.

Then you have my thought: I actually said that if someone “asked” my permission I would tell my daughter to run fast and run far. I think it’s sort of demeaning to ask permission of anyone other than the intended spouse. My daughter is a mature, responsible grown up woman: to think she needs someone to take care of her is ludicrous. Don’t ask me: just treat her with respect and kindness and love. Tell that to her. Show her that with everything you do.

As I was having a hypothetical situation about my daughter, I decided to ask her what she thought. This past weekend was Parents Weekend, so as we sat down to a delicious brunch, I posed the question:

“If you were dating a guy, would you want him to ask us for permission to marry you?”

Her answer:

“I would never marry someone like that. That’s not respect. That implies ownership. Are we supposed to give him two goats and a bag of coin too?”

So.

Should a person who intends on proposing ask the parents of their beloved permission/blessing? Is it outdated and unnecessary, or is it good manners and a sign of respect?

89 thoughts on “Tradition…or…Outdated

  1. What if his family raised him to be like this, and the question isn’t so much a question but a sign of respect for her family? What if they, his family, are big in traditions?

    It’s a tough question because I’m not sure I can accept a simple black or white answer. In a way I think it’s sweet, but given today’s climate, I would think the question is supplemental rather than ‘ownership-related’. If you know what I mean.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Ha! I love your daughter’s response. Daughters are not chattel. I have observed that this tradition is sometimes gussied up as “not asking for permission, but asking for the parents’ blessing.” Hooey. No young woman goes to ask for a “blessing” from the man’s parents, only the reverse, as if women are property. I do not have a daughter, but would also advise her to run for the hills if a man approached us with this outdated and insulting ritual. I try not to interfere in my son’s life, but hope the influence of his aging feminist mother would give him pause before he thought of doing such a thing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Actually, my daughter did go to her future in laws. It’s not about permission, it’s about showing respect that these people raised a man you want to spend your life with and will now be your family. Looking ahead, they will be your children’s grandparents. I assume good intentions.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think in an age where everyone lives together first, it’s sort of redundant. Does it then mean that you move in with someone you don’t have good intentions?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Not EVERYONE lives together first. One of my daughters did and the other one definitely did not. Also, living together does it necessarily indicate marriage in the future.
        My point of assuming good intentions is to the future spouse of my child coming to me because they want me to think of them as family, not because they think I own my child and am handing over the reins.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. The incident that sparked this question was one where my friends daughters boyfriend asked her husband. These two not only live together, they own the house jointly. My first husband asked my father…and he was worst husband imaginable. I like the intention of becoming a family….but is it realistic with divorce rates as high as they are. I could bless the union, but if you treat my daughter bad after you’re married, what good does it do?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great question. I think I’d handle it in the middle. I would tell the parents of my soon-to-be fiancée that I intended to ask for his or her hand in marriage. It keeps with tradition by declaring your intent but not asking permission in an awkward manner. If they were opposed at least I’d know beforehand. Lol

    Liked by 4 people

    1. True! Though I’d probably be throwing scathing looks at the guy/girl….so they’d know! This started because the guy my friends daughter is dating asked the father…I thought it was strange, because they’ve been living together and own property together. Kind of cart/horse thing

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Welcome back!
    This is interesting to me since I have the experience of being mother-of-the-bride TWICE in 2018.
    My daughters are very different and their husbands are equally different. I’ll only share one story here.
    My daughter who is the most independent, fiercely capable woman you will find, has a husband who wanted me to welcome him and wanted my approval and love. They met as adults, and don’t live near me so he wanted us to get to know each other. He didn’t ask for my permission, but he asked me to come for the weekend and celebrate with them when he was going to propose.
    I believe there is a big difference between asking ‘permission’ which implies the woman doesn’t get to make her own decisions and asking for your ‘blessing’ or other sign of respect that her family is important to her.
    Here’s a question for you: What about someone who asks permission/blessing/love from their future spouse’s children?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Depends on age of kids. I think if the kid is still living with parent you should discuss it with them. Many a remarriage has been screwed up by a bad relationship between new person and stepchildren

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Your daughter’s response is perfect! I don’t care for the implications of asking permission from a parent at all. I do think that someone planning to propose (male or female) does need to make the effort to become well-aquatinted with the future in-laws. It’s even possible that the experience will be quite enlightening regarding your intended spouse!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I side with your daughter on the “ownership” viewpoint, and would presuppose that this custom, no matter what culture embraces it, comes from the days of dowries and such. I am also quite aware of the point Claudette is making, centered around tradition of families/cultures. While $/goods may not be exchanged anymore, the verbal aspect, -that contract if you will- when one man hands over his families possession to another man still exists and I think the asking of permission is a significant key for those who follow traditional customs.
    Would I want a future SIL to ask permission to marry my daughter- no. Would I wonder about their relationship and his position within it if he did attempt to ask- yes… especially in light of how my daughters were raised and what their beliefs are today.
    Many, many others would likely disagree with my viewpoint.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think there are going to be a lot of varied viewpoints on this subject. The friend I initially talked to about this is not traditional at all, so I was shocked when he said he would like to be asked. My thought is, so many couples live together now….does this mean when they move in together they don’t have good intentions?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. How are you defining good intentions? Being faithful as a couple, ie: not wanting to date anyone else yet not necessarily making a permanent commitment? Staying together and planning for a permanent future even if that may not mean getting married?
        I think for many moving in together can have different meanings. We may be assuming, because of our age and what we learned growing up that everyone thinks in long term details about living together. Perhaps not… and perhaps intentions don’t play into any of it either way??
        This question may lean more to generational ideals and not so much cultural tradition and custom as I viewed it originally. All in all I agree that you are going to get a lot of interesting comments 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  7. As with many traditions, it is outdated, and based upon the time when women were viewed as being property. I find the concept totally silly. My daughter can make her own choices. If she wants an opinion from me, she can ask, and then still disregard it if she sees fit. If a man came to me asking for my permission to marry her, I’m not sure what I’d think. Is he insecure, or is he just trying to be respectful? Does he regard my daughter as being owned by me and that I need to give her away? Should I bargain or ask for payment somehow? Does this guy view my daughter as being property? I would hope that whomever my daughter chooses to be with that the relationship is based upon love and mutual respect.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s the thing….what does it mean if a guy asks you? And should the guy ask both parents, or just the father? I mean….I just want my daughter to be lived and respected. My blessing doesn’t really matter. I could give my blessing, but if the guy ends up being an ass, does it matter?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I could see how this could backfire too. If I give my blessing, will my daughter be mad at me later if the guy turns out to be an ass? Will she say, why didn’t you stop me? Now that she’s an adult, she can make all her own choices. When she was a teenager, I did have a bit of fun harassing her boyfriends 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Yup, totally with you & your daughter on that one. Asking a parent for their good wishes/blessing is one thing, but permission – nope. If there was some form of cultural difference which accounted for the question, I’d be concerned to check whether it was a nod to culture or a foretaste of future behaviour. My son-in-law did neither, I’m happy to say. But then I’ve known him since he was 13 years old and he’s a smart guy who I’m confident knows where I stand.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s interesting reading through all these varied opinions.
    I think it’s courteous to have her parents be aware of your intentions early in in the relationship and to also try and form a bond with them as well. I have observed both scenarios and I would rather have my parents involved from the onset. Very unpopular opinion I know😊😊
    The word ‘permission’ here is very controversial, clearly 😃 It makes it look like we’re propertising a lady, like she is subject to her parents’ and partners consent, which is not the case. A lady has the right to be independent minded and choose their partner.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. If I was a father and I had a daughter, I personally don’t think it’s necessary for my future son in law to ask me for permission to marry my daughter, but at the same time, I don’t find it disrespectful and would appreciate it if he did.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. My daughter is very confident and independent but before they got engaged (they have been married 6 years) he did ask our blessing or approval. I think it was largely due to respect but if we didn’t like him we would have spoken up. Since he is family once they marry and his family is also connected why would you not consider parental support on both sides before marriage.
    Blah blah property response, marriage are often wrecked by families who disapprove and other support as well over the years ahead.
    My daughter is smart, capable and independent but she also knows we love her and wants our opinion even if she disagrees.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I understand tradition, but this particular one needs to go away. Most young couples are living on their own and possibly with each other, they really don’t need permission from you to get married. You ask permission to borrow someone’s car not marry your most beloved child. I think they should if at all possible tell both sets of parents their intentions. Usually if a parent doesn’t like one of the people involved they already know that. I trusted my daughter to make good decisions and to stand up for herself and I expect the same for my son.

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  13. Oh man, I love your daughter’s response! Great read that really got me thinking, as I have two teenage daughters. When I started reading this my initial thought was, “of course I’d like the future husband to ask permission”. Not at all wanting to give the implication of possession I guess asking for my blessing would be more accurate. But even then, what if I said no… I don’t see either of my daughters saying, “okay dad, if I don’t have your blessing I’ll just break up with him and find someone that you like.” Which is good, as I wouldn’t want that response. My wife and I are trying to raise two independent, self sufficient ladies. But I have to say, now I’m having some anxiety about all of this… maybe they just won’t ever get married?!?!?

    Liked by 4 people

  14. This is a very interesting situation once again, LA. On the one hand I do see it more as a sign of respect, not so much asking for permission. On the other hand, we do not consider our girls property and therefore we can’t “give them away.” We went to a wedding recently where the bride did not let her father walk her down the aisle for that very reason. She said she was not his property to “give away.” The dad, being an old fashioned Italian Catholic I think was a little hurt by it.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I think it is respectful to ask for permission of the parents when the daughter is young: under the age of 25. Over the age of 25, it becomes demeaning as if the young woman is not responsible for making a good choice.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. perhaps it is a tradition best viewed and thought of as a courtesy which in today’s world doesn’t seem to always exist. It is unfortunate as small gestures speak of respect for tradition, age, and niceties. Maybe we will throw away the phones, stop texting and start communicating in person with family. We can hope.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. I think it really depends on the person you are asking. If they are traditional and you know this would be important to them, then yes. Otherwise, I really don’t think it matters anymore for most people. Definitely do NOT do this if you know the person is extremely independent and would be put off by this, though. It really is all about the people involved.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I think asking a woman’s parents for permission to marry her is weird. I cannot fathom who’d do that and would wonder about any man who did so. What other out-of-date ideas does he have about this marriage? Women? How life works in this century?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There were be very few religious people if you only counted the ones who followed all the rules… isn’t religion about love anyhow? If no harm is done, I have always had trouble seeing the problem. But I’m always curious how other people think, would love to hear your opinion

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Nice to hear from you. I am not a “religious” person, I am a born-again Catholic Christian. As such, I live my life following God’s rules, as they are are outlined in the Bible. The Bible has a strong restriction against fornication. It clearly states that intimate relations are sanctioned only within marriage. Many people today pay no attention to God’s rules whatsoever, but they do this at their own peril. God, of course, is Love – that is his very essence, and He loves everyone, and everything that He has created. Those of us who love Him in return, will willingly choose to follow his commands, and one of those, is that people are not to cohabit ( unless it is a platonic relationship ) before marriage. Everyone has their own opinion, but I choose, by God’s grace, to obey God’s commands. He is the Potter, I am only the clay. 🤗

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Before I asked my girlfriend to marry me- way back in the day- I went to her parents house and told them I was going to ask her. It wasn’t about permission, but I wanted to show them the ring and let them know how much they meant to me.

        Even after the divorce, I remain on good terms with my ex as well as her family.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. The goat would only be useful if they settled somewhere rural. I mean, you haven’t room in YOUR apartment!

    I think the people intending to marry should decide, themselves, and that the guy should tell the parents he intends to propose. Honestly, everyone is usually aware of where it’s all heading at that point.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I’m mostly with you and your daughter on this. However, I think that as daughters get older, it can be hard for fathers to feel involved in their lives. As a compromise, a daughter can arrange her engagement herself, tell her parents, and then let the fiance and dad have some quality time together as a placeholder for the “asking permission.” You can keep the good things about it (the fiance and dad bonding) and get rid of the bad things (closing the sale on the daughter).

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I get that. There will be more on this topic this week. I didn’t realize how many angles there were to this concept. I’m having fun thinking about the different perspectives

        Liked by 1 person

  20. Interesting question. It’s definitely a cultural thing. Some fathers expect it and others don’t really care, but the future groom won’t know how his future father-in-law feels until he asks. I think it’s more damaging to not ask and the father expect it than to ask and the father doesn’t care either way. For many, It’s an expected courtesy if you will.

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    1. I think the guy should have some sort of sense if it’s expected. My daughter would not be happy if the guy asked her father. If he asked, it means he doesn’t really understand or know my daughter. That’s a bigger issue

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  21. I believe that if you are going to marry someone this is one of the things that should be discussed. Either an outright conversation or something that you learn about over the course of your relationship. Sounds as if your friend would like to have the gentlemen ask . . . and I’m thinking perhaps his daughter is of that same mindset and so hopefully this would be something a boyfriend would know and then act accordingly. And it sounds as if asking for “permission” is not something your family would expect/respect. So, I would assume that your daughter wouldn’t be dating someone that would be inclined to do that OR if he would be she would let him know that something like that is not acceptable to her. It really is a personal thing, just like each wedding is personal to the couple. I, personally, would have never thought of it, but my boyfriend did – and I could not have cared less either way – but it made my parents happy – as he asked BOTH of them, not just my father.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wonder how many couples think about things like this any more. One would hope you know your partner well enough to “know” what’s expected, but who knows. Great comment!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, I imagine that if – as a couple – you don’t think about it, then it is not that important. Although that MAGIC! song, Rude, might at least have some young people knowing that at least it was a thing. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  22. LA,
    I’m not against asking for permission–if you still want to call it that. There’s a wonderful commercial on right now where the man is asking for permission to marry and the camera pans in on who he is asking, and it’s the young son of his potential fiancee. It was sweet. Also, it directly impacts the kid. Respect. (I know…it was just a commercial. I bet someone’s done this before, though.) However, if you think that asking for permission implies ownership (I choose not to look at it that way in this day and age), then I suppose it would be important that the father or anyone else not give away the bride when she walks down the aisle because if you’re thinking in terms of “ownership” then that implies that the father owns his daughter until he marries her off. I just went to a wedding and the young man talked to her dad and he gave his blessing and the dad walked his daughter down the aisle. It was traditional because they are a couple who embrace those traditions even though they live in a modern world. They did not use “obey” in their vows, thank God. However, if they had, who am I to judge? Personally, I think it should be up to the two people potentially getting married and what’s important to them. What works for one couple, might not work for another. Whatever they choose to do in terms of keeping with tradition, breaking with tradition, starting new tradition or foregoing tradition altogether, it’s their lives and it’s theirs to figure out. Of course, whatever they do, they’ll be judged…because that’s what humans do. We judge fairly and unfairly. Hopefully, we keep most of those negative judgments to ourselves, though. Otherwise, what’s the point? Mona

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This post ended up making me think about things I hadn’t thought about so I ended up writing a few follow ups. The husband of one of my blog friends hates that commercial because he feels that all those things should be discussed prior to actually getting engaged. I think a lot has to do with what respect is and how it’s viewed. Of course, each person has their own attitudes towards this question, and everyone should do what works for them. My biggest peeve I’d guess you’d call it is couples that have lived together for awhile, or own a home already, and then the guy asks? I don’t know…it seems odd.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think that marriage implies commitment and that’s why many don’t actually make it “legal” because they either “don’t need a piece of paper to tell them they’re committed” or because they don’t want to feel “tied down.” The thing is, the divorce rate is still around 50 percent (high); but, presumably, most people marry with the intention of it lasting “’til death do us part,” which is an extremely big deal. Divorce is a big deal as well because of the end of a lifetime intended commitment. That means that no matter what you tried, the marriage failed. Sometimes people divorce for very good reasons, though. My abusive marriage ended in divorce. As much as I grieved over the loss of the person I intended to spend my life with, the reality is that divorce and moving on saved my life. Many people marry when they’re ready to start a family (have children in a traditional home setting.) Some people believe that living together is the same as being married. For some that may be true, for most, though, I don’t think it is. Having done both, I prefer the psychological/emotional security of marriage…with the right guy. He’s wonderful…but when he’s not or I’m not, neither of us has to worry that he’ll leave or that I’ll leave or other kinds of nonsense because we aren’t married. We have trust and we have commitment. But that’s just me…and him. Anyway, for someone to propose, I think, is a huge deal; especially when they’re living together and there’s no hurry to get married. It means that they are (usually) forsaking all others to be with just one person from here on in. If you see what I mean. Mona

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      2. I get it, but with divorce rates hovering at 50%, it’s sort of hypocritical to ask for someone’s blessing or permission, but then bail on the marriage because things gets tough. I thunk too many people worry more about the engagement and the ring than the actual marriage….where’s the respect after you’re fighting about leaving the toilet seat up?

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  23. My ex-husband actually had to chase after my father. Pretty sure Dad knew what he was doing. Dad was conservative but unconventional. Besides, I learned later (after the divorce) how little Dad thought of the guy in the first place. I do think it is demeaning. Quaint simply doesn’t make it ok.

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