Dear Miss A,
So…I’m not too far off from proposing to my long time GF. We’ve been dating for over four years, live together, etc. Do I need to ask the father’s permission to propose? It strikes me as old fashioned and not necessary, but then again I don’t want the old coot mad at me for the rest of his life. Whats the protocol here?
Dear “The Bachelor”,
Thank you so much for your question. Asking the father for permission to marry his daughter is a tradition that dates back to the time when women had no rights, and when the father could choose whom she would marry. Traditionally, the father also escorts his daughter down the aisle, lifts her veil, and “gives her away” at the wedding. These are customs which you won’t fully appreciate until you have a daughter of your own. Today, most men ask the father’s permission as a gesture of respect only. Although, some feminists might disagree, I think that these are all wonderful traditions. This is not only a special time for the couple, but also for the a father and daughter’s relationship.
I recommend that you ask permission, especially if she comes from a traditional family. You mention that you’ve been living with your girlfriend for four years. I am sure that her father will be very excited to hear that you plan to make an honest woman out of his little girl. I highly recommend that you make time, and plan a trip to ask for your girlfriends hand in person.My ex-husband and ex-fiance both asked my father for permission to marry me, and I think it meant a lot to my father to be asked. I haven’t yet made up my mind as to whether there is a point when asking for the father’s permission becomes a bit silly. I’m not sure it would make sense for my next fiance to ask my father for permission.
Some fathers are better at keeping a secret than others. I have a friend whose boyfriend asked her father for permission, but then never proposed to her, because she broke up with him before he had a chance. Years later, the now ex-boyfriend finally admitted that he had bought a ring and had planned to propose to her. She mentioned this to her parents, and was stunned to learn that they already knew. They had kept it a secret all those years. Another friend of mine had a completely different experience. Once her boyfriend asked her father for permission, her mother phoned her with the good news, and immediately started planning the big Southern wedding, the details of which had been in the works for a decade.
I think it’s important to note that even in this day and age, in this great country of ours, some women have no rights, and may not choose whom they marry. According to Fox News, The United Nations estimates that as many as 5,000 women are murdered in such honor killings each year for offenses like immodesty or refusing an arranged marriage. These stories just break my heart, and I feel more needs to be done to help these women.
– Miss A
Andrea Rodgers is a Dating & Relationship Expert for HealthCentral’s Sexual Health Connection. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.