Should You Ask for Her Father’s Permission Before Popping the Question?

Thinking about proposing to the partner of your dreams is daunting enough, so asking her father (or both parents) for permission first can make the idea of popping the question seem even more unnerving, especially if you have a prospective father-in-law like Jim Byrnes (!). But if you’re like 77% of the men polled in The Knot’s Jewelry and Engagement Study, you may believe asking for your beloved’s hand in marriage is an absolute must, and in that case, it’s just one of those times you’ll have to bite the bullet and get the job done. But first, make sure it feels right to you and your future wife.

Before you ask your girlfriend’s father for her hand in marriage, think about how she will perceive the gesture. Even if your significant other considers herself a feminist, she may still believe this particular tradition is something of a sacred trust. In all likelihood, if your beloved has strong feelings on the subject, you’ve probably already heard a lot about it, and in that case, we strongly advise against asking her parents for their blessing.

But don’t assume that just because you’ve fallen in love with a strong, independent woman, that she will necessarily object to this kind of overture. Although it has its roots in a time when the fate of women was in men’s hands, many now believe asking for parents’ blessing is an important, real-time sacrament in this disconnected, mostly digital age. We like to think of it as a show of respect that honors the circle of life (trust?) as one generation passes the torch to another.

Many men take this moment to have a heart-to-heart and get to know their future father-in-law on a deeper level. Be prepared for some tough questions, especially if you haven’t known your future in-laws for long (or if your future father-in-law collects antique polygraph machines). In the days of old, most fathers wanted to know how their daughter’s suitor would provide for her and what kind of life they would have together. These days, parents are more concerned with compatibility, whether their future son-in-law truly loves their daughter, and whether he understands the sacrifices marriage sometimes requires.

If you decide to ask for the blessing of your girlfriend’s parents before popping the question, consider these tips:

  • Try to have the conversation in person. First, call her father/parents and let them know that you would like to set a time to speak privately. If your in-laws live out of town, plan ahead and try to time the conversation with a trip to their home, or when they plan to visit you and your soon-to-be-fiancé. The call-ahead will give them a heads-up as to what’s in store and will allow them to collect their thoughts.
  • This is not the moment to play it cool. The person you want to marry is their little girl. Speak from your heart about how much you love and respect their daughter and tell them a bit about what you envision your future together to look like.
  • Tell them you hope to have their blessing—you’re totally popping the question anyway, but don’t get cocky.
  • Dress for the occasion. Look sharp, like you’re attending a business casual meeting, look her parents in the eye throughout the pow-wow, and don’t forget to wear deodorant, because no matter how thoroughly modern you are, this conversation is going to make you sweat.

Once you have your future in-law’s blessing, give Mark a call at 720-449-4117 or make an appointment online.  When you take someone’s hand in marriage, you’re going to want to put a ring on it!

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One thought on “Should You Ask for Her Father’s Permission Before Popping the Question?

  1. Terry Allison says:

    What a well written article filled with sound advice. I appreciated your thoughts on telling the groom-to-be to dress respectfully when having the conversation with the father. Too many people don’t get it. Thanks for another wonderful article.

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