The tradition of men asking permission to marry someone’s daughter has been around for awhile. Originally, marriage was considered a contract between two families- makes my daughter’s wry comment about two goats and a bag of coin seem pretty accurate. The families were to become allies of sorts, and were basically business partners. More importantly, the woman was the one who would birth the heir- you had to keep the line going.
If you think about it, this was like a prenuptial agreement- you were sort of stating that you would take care of the young woman in exchange for her having a brood of children. Divorce wasn’t an issue- when you married, you married till death did you part- there was nothing in writing, but it was ironclad-
Man asks Father (or oldest male relative)
Father determines if this was a family worth being in business with- gives a Yea or Nay
Daughter doesn’t get a choice
Couple weds, produces children and lives ever after. Happily doesn’t matter in this scenario. It’s a done deal.
Let’s bring it to 2019: If you ask permission to marry someone, should there be a marriage contract?
Should the Father of the prospective bride say:
OK- I give you permission to marry my daughter, but let’s iron out the terms. You must be married at least five years before you consider divorce. If there are children you may not leave marriage until youngest child is age ten. Every year you must put money in an escrow account to provide for your wife and children if you decide to take a runner. I will hold onto your birth certificate and passport and you need to have a signed letter from an attorney stating the reason why you need them and there will be terms to borrowing them.
As Chelsea stated yesterday, maybe the parents give permission/blessing because they know they may need to pick up the pieces if the guy leaves their daughter with kids and a big mortgage. If they see a flight risk, a bit of immaturity, should they worry what situation their daughter may be left in? Should they be able to say- “I don’t trust you. If you want to marry my daughter you must leave a deposit?”
Earthwalking brought up another good point. He said “So I give my blessing. Marriage is a disaster. Does my daughter have the right to say – ‘Hey Dad- you screwed up. He sucked. Why did you let me marry him?'” Will there be blame to be had if a parent gives the thumbs up to a union which totally turns out to be two thumbs down? Would a contract that states “Do not be a jerk?” help?
I think a man and a woman mutually decide to get married. Together they approach both sets of parents and speak their intentions. No one asks permission. Hopefully everyone is overjoyed at the union. If there are doubts, you speak to your own child first, and if need be, you talk to the potential spouse.
We all hope our children have wonderful marriages, but the odds are not in our favor. Asking permission/blessing is nice, but really, in a world with divorce rates hovering around 50%, does a blessing matter? Asking for someone’s hand doesn’t guarantee success. We should make sure our kids understand how to treat one another every day, that respect not be doled out sporadically only when something is needed. Don’t ask my permission: treat my daughter with respect every single day. Every. Single. Day.