Asking a Woman’s Father For Her Hand In Marriage

by Brett & Kate McKay on May 15, 2008 · 170 comments

in Dating, Marriage, Relationships & Family

So you’ve stopped hanging out with women and started dating them. Consequently, you’ve found a woman who has become your best friend, and you know she is the one. Things have been serious for quite some time now and you’re ready to take your relationship to the next level: marriage.

One tradition that has been slowly fading away from Western society is asking a woman’s father for her hand in marriage. Many argue that the whole idea smacks of sexism and chauvinism and harks back to times when women were treated like chattel.

Whatever. I think it’s just respectful to ask your future bride’s father for his blessing as you start down the path towards matrimony. It lets your girlfriend’s father know that you’re sincere in your intentions and a true gentleman. It’s an important tradition, a rite of passage, and a bonding experience between you and your future father-in-law. Plus, most women we asked think it’s a sweet gesture.

But it’s no easy task; the experience can make any man a nervous wreck. I remember when I had the talk with my father-in-law; I was sweating bullets. Hopefully, the guidelines that follow will help ease the stress and make the experience bearable if not enjoyable.

1. Talk to your girlfriend first. Before you go and sit down and talk man-to-man with your potential father-in-law, make sure you and your girlfriend are on the same page as far as the whole marriage thing goes. Is she ready to commit? Does she even want to get married? If so, how soon does she want to get hitched? You don’t want to get your girlfriend’s father’s blessing to marry his daughter, just to have his daughter turn you down when you propose.

2. Try to meet him before you ask. If it’s possible, try to meet your girlfriend’s parents a few times before you decide you want to marry her. While my wife and I were dating, I had the opportunity to visit her parents on several occasions. I got to know them rather well before we got engaged. It made sitting down with her dad and discussing my wish to marry his daughter a bit easier because we had already established a relationship. Again, not all situations will allow this, but if you can, do it.

3. Sit down with him man-to-man. There are several ways you can go about this, and I think it all depends on what kind of man your girlfriend’s father is. Consider taking him out to dinner or going to a bar or coffee shop. Breaking bread with him might make the situation a bit more comfortable. If that’s not a possibility, during a visit just ask if you can speak to him in private. If her dad lives far away, try to time the conversation for a trip home which has already been planned, perhaps during the holidays. If this is not possible, it’s okay to conduct the talk over the phone.

4. Start out expressing your feelings for his daughter. I think the best way to start off the conversation is to express to the father your love and admiration for his daughter. Tell him how much she means to you. Mention some specific qualities that you love about her. He raised her, so you are really complimenting him at the same time.

5. Explain your wish to marry his daughter. Now it’s time to cut to the chase. Explain your wish to marry his daughter. Assure him that you understand the seriousness of the commitment and that being able to spend the rest of your life with his daughter would make you the happiest man in the world.

6. Promise him that you’ll take care of his daughter for the rest of her life. Put yourself in this man’s shoes. He’s been the man in her life since she was baby. He’s taken care of her since she was in diapers and only wants the best for her. He wants to know that he’s handing off his little girl to someone that will take just as good care of her as he has. Make the commitment that you’ll always honor, respect, and cherish his daughter.

7.  Respectfully ask for his blessing. Now, just request his blessing and support in you asking for his daughter’s hand in marriage.

If your girlfriend’s father has died, wasn’t around when she was growing up, or is simply a jerk that his daughter avoids contact with, ask the mother.

{ 170 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Chris January 31, 2009 at 8:53 pm

Full marks on the article.Be warned young man to think beforehand,
“What if he refuses ?” What do you do then,do you elope and marry
her regardless ? If that is your contingency plan then you don’t respect
her father,so why make a big show of things by asking ?
In that case you are being two-faced by pretending
‘I respect you as long as things go my way’

If you ask her father and he refuses,then ask him for his reasons.
Perhaps he has seen a charector flaw in you that you are not aware of,
or perhaps there is some simple thing like you not having a steady job or
some obstacle that can be overcome before the marriage can proceed.
Or continue the relationship with his daughter and hope he changes his mind,
or wait till he dies (of natural causes) the marry her.

Have the backbone to (a) ask his permission and accept his decision.
or (b) be honest with yourself that you are going to ask her regardless.
If it’s (b) then ask her and then inform him later.

102 lord_galathon March 4, 2009 at 9:34 am

When I asked my in-laws for their daughter to marry, they were very surprised that in the 1990s men still did that.

Ironically both of them were against it.

We’ve been married 16 years, mostly great times with the occasional down.

My in-laws seem to adore me now, and I’m also very fond of them both.

103 Paul March 11, 2009 at 10:04 am

Allow me to summarize the discussion so far:

Asking for permission=bad.
Asking for a blessing=good.

A surprisingly large number of woman on here =bitter and/or missing the point.

merci beaucoup

104 Anthony May 13, 2009 at 2:38 pm

At the ripe old age of 21 I asked my father-in-law for his eldest daughter’s hand in marriage. That was back in 2006. We have been married well over a year now. My wife is due with our first in July. I bought our house back in October. We expect to grow old together in our little home on the Jersey Shore. I have married my best friend and would say it has been the happiest time of my life.

105 Ian Johnson May 16, 2009 at 10:44 pm

I honestly have to say I personally believe this is a tradition which should either be retired or greatly modified. On the day in which I propose, if the lady accepts, there will be no power in heaven or earth which will stop me from marrying her. Asking permission, assumes that permission could be denied. If I have already actually proposed (see step 1) I would love to have a man-to man talk with my potential father-in law, but the fact of the matter is, even if this talk goes poorly, I will not change my mind. As such, “asking permission” would be insulting. If I asked my own father for permission to drive his corvette, and he said no, I WOULD NOT DO SO. Not so, in the case of marriage proposal. A man-to man could still be a great idea, and most steps would still apply, but “asking permission” would be an empty insulting gesture.

106 Debbi June 14, 2009 at 5:58 pm

Recently my 24 year old daughter’s boyfriend came and asked for both mine and my husband’s blessing to marrying our daughter. We could not give it. We told him clearly it wasnt because we didnt think him suitable but the timing was inappropriate. They have only been dating just over 3 months. Both are keen to get married. Our daughter has been very impulsive in the last 12-24 months. Only 5 months ago wanting to move in with a feller she had only known a couple of months only to break up 2 weeks later. We fear she is more interested in finding someone to marry but not necessarily Mr Right. She just wants someone to marry her! Her younger sister by 4 years is engaged and is to be married in 12 months time. They were engaged six months ago and so have a very decent time to wait and enjoy being fiances. Now our eldest daughter who has only known the guy just over three months wants to jump ahead and quickly marry this year. In total, meet, engage and marry in under 8 months.

We know it has worked for some. He possibly is the right guy but given her track record want them to wait a bit longer and also be considerate of her younger sister and not jump the cue! We dont understand why there is a need to rush things.

It was difficult not to give our blessing and we feel somewhat disappointed that we have been robbed of the opportunity to be happy…if only they would wait…its just too early. Our daughter is missing out on being able to share this what should be happy time. We’re pretty sure that everyone she announces to will also have concerns. Everyone will miss out on being happy for them and naturally, they wont be happy either.

We dont know what to do from here.

107 sliman June 17, 2009 at 5:20 am

just I want to maried but I don t find a good woman for that, I hope to find it in this meeting
sliman

108 Michael July 1, 2009 at 11:36 am

#7 wouldn’t it be the rest of my life?

OK, forgive my snarkiness, wonderful article, and I think it is a wonderful tradition. I am curious though, my gal’s parents live 6 hours away, and he visits here much more frequently then i visit there (never have). Would it be acceptable to wait for a visit and as him then? That and how long after asking her for her hand is acceptable?

109 Beth July 1, 2009 at 4:36 pm

Warning: Female perspective! Another reason to ask her Father’s blessing, and this is not for everyone, obviously, but it was for me, is that before I was married I “belonged” to my Dad. (In a sense.) I was “his girl”. When he walked me down the aisle, he “gave me away”. Gave me TO someone. Now I belong to my husband, in the best sense of the word “belong”. It only made sense for my future groom to ask my Dad if he could have the honor of my hand. I was his girl, after all.

110 Brett July 1, 2009 at 4:44 pm

@Michael-

I would say waiting for him to visit you is fine if you’re not in a hurry.

“That and how long after asking her for her hand is acceptable?”

Could you clarify what you mean here?

111 alexia July 9, 2009 at 10:05 pm

From a woman:

I told my fiancee that if he wanted to marry me, then he would have to ask BOTH my parents for a blessing. I’m not sure why the mother is left out seeing as how she’s the one that had your bride to be in the first place. I personally think it’s sexist to ask the father for permission. Just ask the parents for a blessing and move on. There are women that don’t mind the asking a man for permission to be property to another man, but there are some women that are independent and don’t belong to any man.

112 bodagett August 12, 2009 at 10:03 am

here’s the scoop…

fundamentally, in biologic history man has protected the woman and woman has civilized the man. the asking has to do with the woman moving from the man’s protection to the future husband’s. It has nothing to do with property. (and notice the woman’s power in this arrangement)

can’t wait for the name-calling regarding my opinion :-) … about how misogynist and backward it is, ‘chauvinist, insensitive, and inappropriate’,… respondents reasoning out of their own little experience, and protected by social systems that allow them to delude themselves. but it’s the truth.

oh, and what does ‘sexist’ mean? To me, it means recognizing the differences between the two. Thus only a fool could fail to be sexist.

(tip: if your future father-in-law is not the kind that can be asked, you should consider long and hard whether you should be interlinking with that other family web. not saying it won’t work, just that you are defying the odds).

then finally, why are women who are ‘independent’ and self-sufficient bothering to read this men’s site? why should they care? and commenting to correct the author? mebbe they have a few control issues of their own? :-)

113 Phil September 28, 2009 at 12:18 pm

Our society has lost a sense of “family” with everyone going here, there, everywhere and no anchor or consistency. Asking a potential father-in-law (and mother-in-law as well, very good point) acknowledges his care for his daughter, and you are now assuming the care of his child. After the wedding you also get another father (in-law)–somebody to help you finish that deck, or lend you that fishing pole. Sure, you’re going to clean their swimming pool, but then you can grab the beer in the fridge, without asking, or needing to be offered.

You also demonstrate you are able to go man-to-man with someone older, and, yes, be declined. Take it like a man, and ask why if that happens. Listen to the answer and counter with one of your own. If she is worth fighting for, or waiting for, she is worth marrying.

If he gives the ok, good job, dude. Take care of her, give her as many children as she wants, pray all the time.

114 Filipina Dating October 1, 2009 at 1:41 am

I think it should not only the father’s heart should be win by a guy it should be both because what if the father is okay with his daughter marrying but the mother is not yet ready? So, to have the blessings from both parents are really important to make your marriage life successful and harmonious.

The tips being mentioned on how to win parents’ heart as you want to ask their daughter’s hand for settling down are very good as this will be the start of the foundation you want to build with the bride’s family to be in good terms on both sides.

I really do admire men who knows how to ask for blessings from the bride’s sides because it means sincerity and respects the girl’s family so much.

115 library_goon October 13, 2009 at 11:47 am

What if your girlfriend isn’t that close to her father (i.e. wasn’t/isn’t a part of her life)? That’s my situation. I was thinking about asking her brother because they’re very close, and he would probably be the one to give her away.

116 annaj October 28, 2009 at 3:55 pm

I think there’s a big difference between asking for permission, and asking for a blessing. I specifically told my husband before we were engaged NOT to ask for my father for permission – because he’s marrying me, not my dad, and we would do it regardless of his opinion. But if he had called and asked both my parents for a blessing, that would’ve been totally fine with me. He didn’t, and that was okay with me, too.

117 S November 17, 2009 at 12:00 pm

From a woman’s perspective, and a woman who’s father passed away, I think the idea here is to seek the blessing of the person who had the greatest impact in her life, the one to whom she’s closest. If that person is her brother, ask him, or maybe it’s a grandparent or a friend. The idea is to show that you care enough for her that you want the people who are most important and influential in her life to welcome you to whatever family she has made with them.

118 Kathleen November 20, 2009 at 9:06 pm

Big difference between:
a) asking for permission
b) requesting a blessing.

The original post seems to inexplicably conflate two entirely different things. Asking for a blessing is NOT asking for permission. Any male who asks a woman’s father permission is showing that he is a boy, not a man.

119 kenny December 16, 2009 at 9:36 am

just asked my girlfriends dad, i was a nervous reck when i turned up but at the door but slowly gathered myself together and asked to speak with him for a moment. After i started to ask him it was so easy and he said he has been waiting for the day i came to ask him, he was so happy the first thing he did was shake my hand and wish me all the best. So my advice is if you know your other half well and know she will say yes just go for it as she will have told her closest that you both want to be together and they wont have any problems in saying yes also. good luck…. now its time to get down on one knee and let more good times follow on!

120 Melissa January 25, 2010 at 11:58 pm

I think I’d be a little offended if my boyfriend asked my father for my “hand in marriage” before he proposed to me. The only person he needs to ask for my hand in marriage is me, since I’m the only one with purview over it. It’s one thing to approach my father and maybe seek his *blessing* or declare your intentions, perhaps after discussing intent to marry with me. Personally I’d much rather him ask my mother for a blessing, since she is the closest person in my life and my father will have little to do with it.

It IS a sexist tradition, but that doesn’t mean some people don’t enjoy it and like it. People enjoy and like sexist things every day :) But I think that men should ask their future wives for their input on whether they think this is “sweet” and “gentlemanly” or just plain sexist before they approach their future wives’ fathers. Personally I’m not impressed by a man discussing me with my father like I’m a piece of property they’re brokering a deal on (“He wants to know that he’s handing off his little girl to someone…” Handing off? I’m not a little girl nor is my father “handing me off” to anyone).

121 jubilee January 31, 2010 at 5:03 pm

I believe you should ask the father’s permission–the mother would usually agree anyway–WHY DO YOU THINK the DADS walked tthe bride down the aisle and NOT the MOMS–just pray that you have nice in-laws–there usually a great help with the kids–’who doesnt LOVE grandma’

122 Valerie February 18, 2010 at 3:25 am

One of the problems of the “why doesn’t the woman ask the man’s parent’s permission?” question is that the engagement is usually the guy “surprising” the girl. A good middle ground is either that he 1) speak to his parents, then her parents, then propose with everyone’s blessings or 2) speak with her parents, propose, and then go as a couple to speak with his parents. I really hope one of those things would happen when I get asked!

For me the reasons for asking are these: 1. I want my fiance to be accepted completely into my family so I want to know about any possible hiccups BEFORE I say yes to marrying the guy! 2. I think the person I marry should have the balls to have one hard serious talk with my parents–I mean, if he’s going to be with me for my whole life we might end up taking care of them in their old age! 3. I’m hoping for them to cover part of the costs of the wedding, so it’s very important for me to know whether they support this marriage (although I guess if my half of the family never showed the wedding would be much cheaper :P).

It’s nothing to do with that I’m some chattel. I’m a grown woman who is getting her PhD and am completely financially independent. It’s about my fiance making a seamless transition into my family as a true son and showing that he has the guts and cares about me enough that he wants the important people in my life to support and smile upon our marriage. As I said above, I would definitely have a conversation with his parents after he popped the question to make sure of their blessings before I proceeded with the wedding plans (since I want to be sure that I can be a daughter to them too). This is something that all women can do as a sign of respect to his family.

123 Marriage Proposal Guide March 9, 2010 at 2:51 pm

This is an excellent post. There are those that disagree with the whole idea of asking her father, but I think it’s the right thing to do. It should not be looked at as asking permission, though. I think that concept is outdated. A more modern and respectful method is to request his blessing and approval. Same idea, slightly different angle.

Girls should not be offended by this, though I understand some will. They should be happy their man is showing the respect and decency to consider her father’s feelings in this process. Up to this point he has been the only man in her life and he will feel the loss as great as anyone. Even still, his approval does not mean she has to say yes. That should be entirely up to her.

As far as asking the mother also. I understand the argument for asking her, however, when I spoke with my now father in law, I chose not to discuss it with his wife for one important reason. I couldn’t trust her to keep the surprise. Not because she isn’t trustworthy, but marriage makes women act crazy and she talks to her daughter too often for me to feel confident she’d keep my secret. It wasn’t personal, just business.

Ultimately the issue comes down to the things discussed in the article and by some commentors – developing a relationship with your future father in law, showing that his opinion matters, honoring the relationship he has with his daughter, displaying the values you possess as the man who wants to marry his daughter, etc. If I had to do it over, I’d still ask him. It was well worth it. I highly recommend any guy who is thinking of proposing do the same.

124 Margaret March 10, 2010 at 11:37 am

Hard to believe this thread is still alive!

Actually, a LOT of the traditions that permeate our wedding culture are sexist and somewhat degrading to the woman. This includes the big flashy proposal (always by the man, people would judge a woman proposing in this way as weird and desperate), the engagement ring, the father walking the bride down the aisle, the idea that the wedding should be the bride’s big day more than the groom’s and a host of other customs we take for granted. These all communicate the idea that the woman has been elevated in some way because a man has deigned to choose her. That some women buy into this idea doesn’t somehow make it less sexist. Believe it or not, there are ways to marry in a way that expresses the joy both man and woman take in the occasion, and in ways that express respect for the man and woman’s families, without playing into scripts that play into tired, old gender roles.

I think it is the bride’s responsibility to ease her groom’s entry into the family and to obtain her parent’s blessing. Similarly, the groom is to do the same with his family. When I got engaged, I asked my parents to invite my fiance (now husband) to dinner (“there is someone I really want you to meet”). After we had a nice meal, my fiance left and I stayed behind to tell them that we would be getting married and that I hoped my parents liked him. He did the same with his family. If my husband had spoken to my father separately, my father would have questioned my judgment in marrying him!

125 Eric March 14, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Speaking of asking the father for his daughters hand, my brother came across this hilarious comic: http://emptees.com/posts/9677-a-real-artists-strength-lies-with

126 Broklynite March 25, 2010 at 2:49 pm

I’m sorry but I think it at least partly depends on circumstances. For myself, I had met her parents many times. Her father didn’t care- I’m vaguely sure he likes me. But her strong-willed dragon of a mother wanted me to ask her permission. For one thing, I don’t give a damn about their permission- I’m marrying her, not them. For another, I know her mother hates me. What then? What if she says no? Screw her. I went out of my way to be clean, calm, polite, and friendly. If they still don’t like me, they can cram it up their behinds. Maybe when you’ve been made to feel at least somewhat welcome, but even then. It reeks of buying property, and I just don’t feel that way towards the love of my life. And I don’t think I’d feel comfortable with my own daughter’s boyfriend asking me. I would feel it creepy. It’s her life- if I’ve done a good job raising her, she should be happy with the caliber of the man she’s with, and if that’s the case then what does my opinion matter?

When, sorry for that ramble, I’ve been having issues with her parents for the last few years ever since I asked her first instead of them.

127 Isaac March 26, 2010 at 4:30 am

What about suiting the phrasing to your purpose?

Tomorrow at 1pm I’m meeting my girlfriend’s parents. I plan to propose two days later. Interesting thing, I found myself calling the meeting something other than “asking for her hand.” I have told friends I’m “presenting myself to [both of] her parents for their blessing to move forward on the proposal.” This is what I mean and am doing.

If they don’t have peace about us moving forward I expect them to provide good insight, and I will delay the proposal. (I am fortunate that her parents are quite insightful; if that is not your case, I suggest your measure their input on your own evaluation and assess the merit).

In my case delaying the proposal is fine. I love my girlfriend and I am not afraid to go through whatever it takes to move forward. If I wasn’t, I shouldn’t be looking at a life married to her. (Also my religious practice inspires me to be patient and devoted to greater things than just what I think I want.)

I like as conclusion @Olivia’s comment (from December 30, 2008):

“The proposing should obtain the blessing of the proposee’s parents – both of them – only if the proposee is close to their family. Honestly it only takes a few seconds to think about this one and figure out how it can be done in a respectful way that isn’t sexist.”

128 Isaac March 26, 2010 at 4:35 am

Correction:
[…] I love my girlfriend and I am not afraid to go through whatever it takes to move forward. If I *was afraid* [of a delay in proposal], I shouldn’t be looking at a married life to her.

129 Liz March 29, 2010 at 4:36 pm

My dad always told my sister and I, “If a man comes and asks me for your hand in marriage, I’m going to tell him ‘No.’ If he’s the kind of man you ought to be marrying, he’ll know that you don’t belong to me and that you don’t need my permission or my blessing.”

130 Julia April 26, 2010 at 9:04 am

Liz, your dad is absolutely right! While this idea may work for SOME couples, it is absolutely not right for everyone. I just don’t like the idea that many people contributing (even the marriage proposal guide himself) advocate that this should be done, as if the objections posted don’t matter — he’d do it again if he had the chance and recommends the same. IF the woman agrees she would like the man to approach her father/parents, then go for it. But for many of us, the very idea is offensive. I’m actually pretty traditional about marriage, but nobody’s blessing is required for me — not even my parents who I love and respect very much. I loved when we went to them together, hand in hand, to tell them we were getting married. It was a beautiful moment for us, and one I was able to share. My dad probably would have kicked his $#@ if he had gone to him alone — even just for approval. Like my mom said — if you’re not adult enough to make this decision for yourself, you’re not adult enough to handle marriage.

131 Jenny April 28, 2010 at 1:01 pm

I’m afraid that it would be a dealbreaker for me if the guy went to my father for his blessing. Not to sound like some super-feminist, but really, it’s my call. If he went to my dad first, even just for a blessing, it would indicate a very fundamental disconnect between our ways of thinking. (So run it by your bride first!)

132 Patrick May 14, 2010 at 3:48 pm

To the women who find it necessary to post on a man’s site about what a man should or shouldn’t do, you are why men are having difficulty with being men. I especially like the women who say their dad would punch, hit or otherwise kick their future husband’s butt. If this happened in my case, my future wife would have been disappointed to discover that their dad made a serious mistake in judgement. Don’t worry women, I don’t see a rush to require women to ask their prospective mother or parents for permission or blessing to marry their son. It is only a man thing. One more man thing some women want to change and take away. Here is my whole point. Somethings are sexist because no matter how much women would like to be men or men would like to be women, they can’t. To make women more likeable to men, or in this case, men more likeable to women, one must abandon and change their sex. An asexual society would be so like a woman. I’d rather have a man ask me for my daughter because of whatever their reason. It shows me their not afraid or ashamed of taking whatever happens because of their love. Because of their love for my daughter. That’s a man that will make a good husband, father, and man!

133 Julie May 16, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Just not a man that some perfectly normal, feminine, but independent, women would want to marry.

(Sorry to butt in on your “all-male” website, but this really is an issue that offends some (not all) very mainstream, make-up wearing, man-loving women. It’s not about women trying to be men; it’s about women expecting to be treated like your equal.) Please just make sure your bride-to-be loves the idea first — that’s all I’m suggesting.

134 Jason May 31, 2010 at 10:58 pm

I have known for a while that my girl is the one for me. I would like to ask her mom and step-dad for her hand in marriage. However, they live about 7 hours away from my home town. This leaves limited opportunities to ask them in person (especially since when we visit her parents, we are all together the majority of the time). The next time we will be together will be the last time for 6 months and it happens to be for her older sister’s wedding. Is it tacky to try and find a minute to talk to her parents the weekend of her older sister’s wedding? Or should I wait and just ask both parents over the phone?

135 Bryan June 7, 2010 at 12:14 am

Why would I ask her family for their blessings when she could just as easily do it, while communicating to them how much she loves me and how she knows I’m the right man for her?

In a similar way, I’ll tell my own family that I’m in love and have made the decision to get married, and ask for their support of my choice.

I will also tell friends, family members, and others, and want their support too.

136 *Bob* June 29, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Absolutely great article.

I looked up the subject because I do believe in tradition and wanted to hear other people’s thoughts on this. Having read them, I’m a little confused.

I love my girlfriend completely and we’ve seven months living together after we met last year. The problem is that she now lives in a different country- but we have fallen for each other and want to spend the rest of our lives together. If she is not the girl for me, then no-body is.

I have only met her parents once, although we have chatted a few times, and it really seems her mum rules the roost! I think they are fantastic people and respect their opinions seeing as I will be taking their daughter out of the country to live with me. Understandably, I’m sure they will not be wholly supportive of this decision.

I wanted to ask for her father’s blessing before I proposed (my g/f and I have talked about getting married and we both want to) but now I think I will have a chat with both parents face to face, when I go out to visit them. I just want to do things properly, and ensure them of my good intentions. But now having read this article and heard opinions from the women, I will have a chat with my girlfriend first and let her know that if I was in her parents position, I would want a future husband to do the same thing.

It IS our decision ultimately, but like ‘giving the bride away’ and ‘going down on bended knee’, there are some traditions that should be kept. I will ask her them both for their blessing, not their permission, and ensure them that I will do all I can to love and care for their daughter. After-all they have raised superbly her for the last 24 years, I can hardly not expect them to have an opinion now.

Wish me luck

137 Lula July 1, 2010 at 1:57 pm

does anyone have any experiences where they or someone they knew asked for the girl’s parents’ blessing (or permission or approval) knowing that her parents didn’t like him prior to that?
would love to know what happened…

138 Ethan C July 12, 2010 at 12:07 pm

I don’t understand how any of this is difficult for anyone to understand.

If you ask the father for his daughter’s hand in marriage, you are effectively turning the girl into a piece of property. That’s totally fine, if you have a very old-fashioned relationship in that way- different strokes for different folks. Just be aware…thats what’s going on.

If you ask the father (or father and mother) for their blessing, it is less of a property-transaction type deal, but you are still being quite sexist by not expecting her to do the same with your family. That’s still a one-way gender expectation street.

The crux of the issue, as far as I’m concerned, is that if either partner’s family is present enough in their life to be “askable” in the first place, the other partner should have gotten to know that family quite well already, so there shouldn’t be any issue of a “smooth transition” or whatever other excuses were given for the practice. If the partner’s family has disowned them or died or whatever, then it isn’t an issue whatsoever.

I expect my future wife to be a full partner in the relationship, not me running things and her agreeing to them. As a result, I would never marry a woman that expected me to ask her father or parents for anything. I’ve heard people say “you don’t marry a girl, you marry a family,” but that’s a straw man. You marry a GIRL, and hopefully gain some new family as a result

139 Future Mother in Law October 24, 2012 at 11:53 am

Since there are no comments from a “parent” on this post, I thought I might offer one. My daughter was recently engaged. The relationship is complicated, in that they met in another country. He plans to return to his homeland, and they are planning a life together there. We have had little opportunity to get to know him and there is also a language barrier. We trust our daughter’s judgement and know she is intelligent and believe that they are in love, however can’t help feeling that she is being taken away from us, even if that is irrational. A sincere conversation on his part to assure us of his love for her and his plans for a good future would have earned a great deal of respect from his future father in law and may have alleviated some of our conflicted feelings. I don’t think that you can understand the love that you have for your child until you are a parent yourself. There is a crazy desire to take care of them, even when they are grown. Of course, you let them go, but it is difficult. Some “traditions” ease the passage.

140 Kapten Kerr December 1, 2012 at 12:51 am

I like the article. Distasteful to some yet unabashedly honorable. Tip of the hat.
If the father doesn’t approve, deal with it as you see fit (as a man). Life is rough, make it work anyway.

141 Jeeter December 30, 2012 at 2:44 am

I’m trying to find the perfect time to ask my girls father for his blessing. It is very hard because i will never get him alone without someone being around. WE want to wait till after she gets done with college in 2 years, and i get out of the Navy. but the man truly enjoys controlling everyones lives. he is most likely going to say no. but im trying to keep hopes up. i already have the ring and know where to ask. i just dont have any idea how to start the conversation. help?
should i just sit with him and start out “as you know weve been together for so long and…” im so lost on this.

142 lolagirl92 January 4, 2013 at 5:20 pm

Ok this is from a girls perspective, and I know not everyone is the same but to me, I don’t see this as sexist, I see it as a sign of respect to my father, me and my bf of 3yrs have been talking about marriage a lot here lately and I can feel it coming any day now, but I did explain to him that I would like for him to talk to my dad first. Not for permission but to talk about his intentions before it happens. With me, I’ve always been a daddy’s girl and my father is a great man and I know how much respect my bf has for him, so with them its like a talk with a good friend. And my parents aren’t together, so I don’t see mom hardly ever, so I don’t see a point in MY boyfriend asking both parents, but in a different situation I’d rather it be mom and dad..
I’m confident we’ll get his blessing, but its a sign of respect to the parents whether its the mom/dad/grandma or whoever it may be, especially if the two are close!

-soon-to-be , bride-to-be?

143 Topher Endress January 7, 2013 at 3:21 pm

Sorry to resurrect a dead post, but I casually went through the comments and didn’t see a perspective that I feel should be shared.

First, women (or men) should never be treated as property. Equality means more than simply each having voting rights – our society in general as stereotypes and systems in place that treat some groups with a sense that they are either incapable of achieving what other groups are or that they are somehow lesser humans (often, these groups being degraded are women, racial minorities and/or non-heterosexuals).

That being said, the vast majority of men and women in our Western world have some basic, non-biological differences. Maybe they are merely social constructs, maybe they go into our DNA, but regardless they are real and often important. That is no excuse to deny anyone their right to live as an equal, however.

All this being said, because there are legitimate differences between men and women, it does seem logical and fair for a man to ask a father for his blessing (I would also argue a man should ask any important men in the woman’s life). But in the interest of fairness and equality, which is seems many are hung up on here, the woman has a responsibility to ask for or earn the same type of acceptance from the important women (likely the mother or sisters) of her man.

Men (though not all) do tend to be more direct. Asking face to face is something that, though it can be intimidating, many men relish because of the sense of self-satisfaction that comes from dealing directly with someone. Women (again, not all) tend to be more relational and less directly confrontational. I would want any potential fiancee of mine to be able to show to my mother that she would make me a great wife, just as I want to one day show a potential father-in-law that I can be a great husband to his daughter. It is not about women being property, it is about connecting to the important people in someone’s life, dealing with them in the ways we typically do, illustrating a maturity that will be necessary in marriage and giving the respect that is due to your future (legal) family members.

Sure, there are situations that this can’t or shouldn’t happen in, but in most cases I think that both the man and woman have an inherent responsibility to connect to the families that raised their eventual spouses before proposing.

144 Gabe January 8, 2013 at 9:07 am

Before marriage, the young lady is under the authority, direction, and care of her father. He is to provide physical, emotional, and financial protection for her. If a young man wants that responsibility transferred to him, he must seek out the father, and, yes, ask his permission.
Great post here.

145 Pam(blue and gold wildcat) February 18, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Gabe,
That is so untrue and unfair what you just wrote abour women. Daughters and sons are under both parent’s authority.

146 Impatient April 15, 2013 at 5:03 pm

I would add one more step to the above instructions:

8. Listen to your future father-in-law’s response.

When I did this, 90% of the talking was done by my father-in-law. They probably would like to take this opportunity to offer some advice.

147 Daniel April 27, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Recently I confronted my future in laws about a marriage to their daughter. I had already bought her engagement ring so they could fully see I was in no way joking. Then when I met with them instead of asking for their permission, I asked for their support as I was going to ask my fiancée to marry me regardless. It may very well have made the situation very awkward, but I think you have to prioritize what’s most important to you, and how others may feel about it. Lucky for me her parents were fairly accepting of me and the situation. Bottom line. I always recommend to others about to ask their potential in-laws is rather than ask for permission, ask for their support.

148 Jeffrey Shoemaker June 4, 2013 at 1:40 am

I am currently thinking about asking my girlfriend’s father for her hand in marriage, the ideas from this article are spot on in my opinion. A few of them I had not considered yet, but will be using when the time comes.

149 DDS June 15, 2013 at 10:31 am

Great article, and it (along with the comments) offers worthwhile perspectives to consider.

Seems to me that the answer to many questions, including this one, is “it depends.” So a big first step is to understand the woman and her relationships with her family.

If the dad is an abusive jerk, then his blessing is not needed, and certainly not his permission. If dad or daughter gives reason to not specifically ask for a blessing, it may be appropriately respectful (and manly) to state your intentions, or at least to show up and participate in a respectful, manly way with your bride-to-be in announcing the engagement.

In my case, dad was somewhat traditional and husband-to-be was respectful of that, which I found reassuring and delightful — my husband-to-be was willing to endure discomfort out of respect for my dad, and my dad responded with respect, which was indeed a blessing to both our marriage and my husband-to-be. Mom wasn’t part of the conversation, which was appropriate in THIS situation because it fits her somewhat traditional perspectives, too, and because she trusts my dad and loves that the two of them had a man-to-man talk.

Mom asked me later what I would have done if dad hadn’t given his blessing — would we still have gotten married? It was a good question, and here’s my response — he wasn’t asking permission, but was asking for my dad’s blessing. I know my dad, and know he would not withhold that blessing lightly, so if he’d not given it, then I would have wanted to know why, and we would have pursued that question respectfully. I might still get married, but certainly wouldn’t do it without first being quite certain that I understood my dad’s concerns.

But again, it depends a lot on the relationships and perspectives of the various people involved.

150 Windy Ridge Giant 44 July 1, 2013 at 6:18 am

Believe it or not, even having grown up in a very religious setting, both in home and community, I was absolutely unaware of this tradition.

In my case, it may have been just as well. My father-in-law never was in his daughter’s life. He’d be around for a just a few weeks at a time, mostly getting annoyed at the noise kids make, maybe making another one, then off for months at a time.

My future wife was the only one who religiously wrote him letters, sent him cards on the major occasions and so forth, and yet he was never there, even when her Mom abandoned her to raise herself at the age of 14.

Still, she wanted him to be the one to walk her down the aisle. And so on the day of our wedding rehearsal, I met him for the first time.

He found out that my last name is of German descent (he is a full-blooded Scot). Even though my Mom is of Scandinavian descent and my family has been in America since the late 1800′s, he took great offense simply because of the sounding of my nationality.

On the day of my wedding, he threatened me more than once in terms of “taking care of his daughter” (something, ironically, he had never done). He also pulled his daughter aside one hour before the wedding, trying hard to talk her out of marrying me.

Thankfully, he did walk her down the aisle and made no trouble. And in the twenty-eight years since, I am still in love with my wife, and now more than ever, even though she recently had an affair on me.

And yet, every time we hear from Dad, his first question is always, “Are you two doing OK?” which apparently assumes the answer “NO.”

After this recent event (which has troubled my soul to its very core), her Dad found out that something was wrong and drove out to our house unannounced and ready to make big trouble with me. Even when his daughter informed him of what happened and what she did, I got nothing from him – no apology, no show of support, no thanks for being faithful to her, even though …

At least maybe now, since he has learned I gave up my job, my home and all my friends (to get either me or us away from the affair mess) for his daughter, at the very least he will now just leave me alone.

If this is what your father-in-law is going to be like, gentlemen, don’t even bother with him. Just be faithful and loving to the person whose hand you asked for in marriage.

151 Rob July 1, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Hello men. I just wanted to reaffirm with all of you that this tradition is not completely dead. I am proposing to my girlfriend later this year and I am planning a dinner with both her father and mother. I decided to include her mother because both of her parents play a vital role in her life. So much so that I think her mother would be offended if I didn’t include her as well. Also, her mother is much more open about how much she likes me as her daughter’s boyfriend. Her dad likes me but he shows it less than her mother does. So I think her mother would help soften the surprise of the conversation. Wish me luck fellas!

152 Al July 1, 2013 at 10:59 pm

The thing I find so silly about this, other than the whole “why does any adult woman have to answer to her father anyway?” question, is the pointlessness of it. What if the dad says “no,” like on Everybody Loves Raymond? Well, you get married anyway. Hence, if the answer doesn’t really matter, the idea of asking the question…don’t get it.

As with most traditions, this is just done because it used to be, back in the days of a dowry, arranged marriages, and the like. Thankfully, we’ve moved past those days. We should have moved past this eons ago.

153 Tom July 2, 2013 at 9:53 am

I’ve been married for 10 years. I did not ask my wife’s father or mother for their blessing. I’ve always regretted it.

Now that we have kids, I see that this conversation is really the only time that the bride’s parents have to weigh in on what they think of their new son-in-law. If I ask for their blessing, it’s on them to tell me what I need to change for them to be happy. If they don’t, that’s on them. If a couple marries without the parents having the chance to weigh in, resentment can kick in.

154 Erika July 5, 2013 at 2:15 am

I read this below:

Any male who asks a woman’s father permission is showing that he is a boy, not a man

What a complete and utter RUBBISH. Asking the fathers permission is a wonderful tradition and it takes a real man to stand up and say those words, both to the woman, and to the father. My fiancee and I got engaged last Saturday, and today is the day he will be asking my father. They have a good relationship already and there is zero doubt in anyone’s mind that my father would be delighted and say a thousand times yes, partly because he thinks very highly of my fiancee, but also because (and this is the key) no sensible parent should ever say no to a man their daughter has already said yes to, and that is really the bottom line there. If the father sees a guy makes his daughter happy, he has to say yes. So please, no “asking him means the fiance is just a boy” because this is the stupidest, most ignorant, and bitter comment i read in a very long time.

155 Archie July 8, 2013 at 4:16 am

Asking for blessing rather than permission makes more sense. Every situation is unique, but no woman is ‘owned’ by her father to ‘give’ to someone else, no matter what religion or belief system they participate in. It’s an old tradition that shows respect and allows two men to bond over the one thing (at least) which you both love completely. In most cases I would assume a positive answer, in which case it’s a respectful and happy moment which both men will remember with fond memories. If he says no but you still want to, then go ahead in any case unless the father has raised good reason for concern which should be considered.

156 Archie July 8, 2013 at 4:20 am

@windy ridge giant 44

so sorry to hear of this recent event. You sound like a good man, and i’m saddened and surprised to hear of such narrow-mindedness from a fellow Scot. I thought as a people we were better than that. Best of luck to you and your wife in sorting out this mess. I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.

157 Marianne July 26, 2013 at 11:11 am

My husband spoke to my father privately to ask for my hand before he took me to meet his mother. We had already decided to get married, (he had even given me a ring at that point) but my husband felt it was important to ask my Dad. We both lived in Ohio but Mom and Dad were in New Hampshire, so we went up for a visit before we went out to San Francisco to visit his mother. My Dad was very flattered, and very impressed that my husband would be so chivalrous. They have had a good friendship since then – it has been 27 years.

158 Ben G August 13, 2013 at 3:43 pm

I’ve known my wife since we were both 6. Our families were close for several years before she and I became romantically inclined. That, combined with her dad being a man of VERY few words, made the whole asking for his daughter’s hand easier. But still, talk about a nervous guy!! It was over the phone, but still.

Asking the father BEFORE asking the girl is important. If you ask her and she accepts before the dad has a clue, you’re really just informing him, not asking him. You’re taking away his “choice” as it were. Of course, he can always do like the guy from “Fiddler on the Roof” did: “I give my blessing AND my permission.” (for those of you who have no clue what I’m referring to, the very traditional Jewish man was just informed by his daughter that she was marrying a non-Jew, which was taboo in that era. At first he refuses permission, but is then told that they’re not asking for his permission, as they are getting married anyway, but would like his blessing.)

Asking the father shows him that you are serious about the relationship and really sets the groundwork for a good relationship in the future. As a guy who’s seen the good, bad, and ugly when it comes to relationships with your inlaws (and her inlaws too, btw), you want to start out on as good a foot as possible.

159 David September 25, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Hello everybody,

I am in a long distance relationship for near two years, and the relationship with my girlfriend is super good. The problem is that she is living in Europe and Im living in America. The next winter she’s coming to my country and I have planned to ask to her to marry me. Recently my girlfriend revealed to me that she would appreciate if I could ask to her mother for her hand in Marriage. My problem is that if I will do which my girlfriend wants, then I will wait for 8 months before I could travel to Europe … In first instance my goal is to give her a ring in order to stablish a formal relationship and take time to prepare a wedding with enough time. What do you think? should I wait to travel to her country in order to ask her mother for her daugher in marriage? or should I ask to my girlfriend to marry me in my country in a special evening on the sea and then asking her mother by skype video conference?

160 Betty September 27, 2013 at 7:13 am

I loved my boyfriend, but if he or any man asked for my father’s hand in marriage, I would turn him down. Not only do I find this a little condescending (Why would my parent’s make this life-changing decision? We’re both adults, right?), but my father is a racist. He might say no to my fiance simply because he is of another race.
Second of all, I don’t like my father. There are bountiful sordid reasons for this which I won’t detail, but the point of this comment is: KNOW YOUR FUTURE FIANCE! If she is very independent and/or has a complicated background it’s a bad idea to ask her father. Just bad all around.

161 ellie November 7, 2013 at 11:23 pm

As a woman, from my perspective, I adore and respect my parents. BUT, if my future husband were to ask my father for my “hand” or his blessing, that would be it for us.
I am not property to be given away, I was raised to make my own decisions and support myself, when I am ready to be married, which won’t be for another 10-15 years, And FYI for all of those fathers worried about getting “pegged” with a bill.
I will be paying. And eloping. To a deserted island. My mother, for all of her many fantastic qualities, likes to take over EVERYTHING, what can I say, the woman is a perfectionist, she can turn out parties that seem like they cost millions with $20 and the contents of her china cupboard, and while I appreciate this, it’s not the backpacking fanatic, cropped-haired, future translator daughter she raised . That would be my sister.
I could philosophize for hours about this, and offend thousands, but here’s the thing, my parents raised me to be my own, autonomous individual being, unless he’s an abusive scumbag, they understand, I’m a big girl, and can handle myself. Anyways, they raised me to be that way.

162 CatAttack November 13, 2013 at 4:31 pm

From my perspective, I’d be offended if a man asked me–a woman–if he could ask my father or grandfather permission to marry me. I have been independent my whole life–as much as my age and circumstance allowed. I’ve been employed since age 14 and put myself through school and college. In fact, I left home the summer after 10th grade at age 17.

Legal marriage harkens back to when women were considered property. Literally, a “girl” belonged to her father and when she was of age she could marry. Her father would “give her away” legally through marriage and she would change her last name to her husband’s last name.

This tradition is totally situational. I can see how it could make traditional girls feel special but it would make me–an independent woman–pissed off. But any man who’d consider wanting a long term relationship with me would already know that about me.

163 Charles November 21, 2013 at 4:49 pm

I would like to say, that asking the father for his daughters hand in marriage is very important to me, I like to think of myself as an Old Fashion man, I’m only 35 and within a few days will be having the talk with my gf’s father while we are at dinner.

For me, asking the father’s blessing for his daughters hand is not sexist it’s tradition, after all it’s the thought that should count. we as men don’t have to ask. sometime people put to much thought into the past. Women dream about their wedding day, some men think about how they will propose, and asking the father is one of those things. Let’s not take a positive thing and blow it out of proportion here. this is about love and a simple asking the father for his blessing. everyone has an opinion on how things should be done and their way they would do things. but for those of us who like this idea, don’t try to make us out to be sexist. there is nothing wrong with sticking with tradition.

164 tori November 27, 2013 at 4:44 am

I speak as an independent woman. As a woman that needs no man to show me how to load the dishwasher, pluck a chicken, skim fresh cream and whip up some butter (right before I turn out a hot meal that’ll blow your socks off) I have to say that I have no interest in a man that cannot or will not honor my father by asking for his permission to marry his daughter. There is nothing degrading about the practice. It’s a respectful gesture. I got married at 19. My husband asked for my dad’s permission. BECAUSE he is a respectful man. He already knew my feelings for him and wanted to honor my father by showing consideration for his feelings, as well. The family structure in this country is breaking down and it’s sad. “Independent woman” is worn like a badge of honor, when in reality it most often means “angry woman with a chip on her shoulder and daddy issues.” I hope our children (we have both sons and daughters) find spouses that care enough for our input. I know my husband would never give his blessing to a young man that I wouldn’t, so asking us both is redundant. Great article.

165 Darius November 28, 2013 at 5:18 pm

I am going to ask my Girlfriend’s parents for their daughter’s hand in marriage on Sunday. I’m real nervous but think it’s important not only to be respectful but to include her parents in on our marriage.

I don’t understand how asking for the hand in marriage is anytihng but treating her parents like family and letting them know that their opinion matters. I don’t think many parents wouldn’t want this type of relationship and communication with someone their daughter or son was going to marry. Furthermore, anyone who would dump someone for being considerate and reaching out to their parents to discuss something so important is probably not someone worth dating no less marrying to be honest.

Anyway, thanks for the article – it helped!

166 Cliff December 13, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Men have an incredibly strong instinct to be protective and this tradition is an incredibly respectful way of transferring that instinctive responsibility. It’s a significant compliment to the woman.

167 Chip February 11, 2014 at 9:02 am

Funny thing about this article I did this almost the exact same way. Asked my Father in law over breakfast at a diner. Sometimes things like this have less to do your soon to be fiancé or yourself but everything to do with respect for your Father in Law. It went a long long way. I am glad I did it. He respected me for it more for doing it. My sisters husband never did ask my Dad, He always was a little miffed about it. Some people think its old fashioned and some woman find it insulting. Its not about you or her. Its about The Father in Law and respect and tradition. Those things go a long way in life.

168 Nathan February 12, 2014 at 8:40 am

I asked my father and mother in law both at the same time, the day after we met for the first time.
We were out sailing on their boat in Northern Sweden. At the sunset we were eating diner on the deck.
They were blown away by the fact that I asked so respectfully and with eloquence.
After I was done asking and making my point, the father made a pause looked me in the eyes and said ” I would like to hear my sons say that…” then he raised his glass and said ” Welcome to the family.” That was one of the greatest achievements of my life. I now hopefully have set the bar for my son if I m blessed with one. I will tell him that story and encourage him to do the same when the time comes. Respect is EVERYTHING.

169 Beryl March 9, 2014 at 11:03 pm

Interesting topic.

170 LucanWin March 17, 2014 at 7:44 am

I asked my father-in-law for his blessing, even though he didn’t like me. Maybe it was actually because he didn’t like me. I gave myself a 50-50 chance of getting his blessing. I would still have proposed, but it would mean a lot more trouble.

Thankfully he gave it. And I’m sure part of the reason is that he thought me asking him man to man how he felt about marrying his only daughter was a sign of respect for him and his role in raising his daughter.

The point I can see here with other comments is that a lot of women don’t see it as important, where a lot of men do. Why ask? Its not for her benefit, it is purely for her father, to make sure that he thinks that the way you go about life is generally ok. Just make sure your asking for his blessing, and not permission.

Don’t forget, even if you hate him or he hates you, he will still be her father, and somewhat yours. It’s all good to say ‘I don’t care what they think of me they don’t run my life’ however, unlike what some posts suggest, that sounds much more ‘childish’ than, ‘if there is a problem we need to talk about it, because we’re about to get a whole lot closer’.

It’s a guy thing. Just because some women don’t understand it, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Don’t get suckered by women who tell you it’s offensive. They see it as their dad controlling it because it THEIR dad. Think about how you might sometimes act when your parents give you advice.

If you want to be treated as an equal, don’t rebel like a naughty teenager, ask like a man what he thinks of you.

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