October 15, 2007, - 3:55 pm

Popping the Question & Asking for Dad’s . . . Er, Whoever’s Permission

By Debbie Schlussel
In this day of the United States of Snoop Doggia, old traditions may die easily. But some don’t actually die. It’s just that the recipient of those traditions is dying out easily, or rather, kicked out.
The Boston Globe ran an extensive piece claiming that asking a woman’s father for permission to ask for her hand in marriage is out of style. Or is it?
What I got from the story is that now, since there are so few Dads allowed to be around, a guy must ask “More Masculine Mommy #2” for permission. Or Universal Parent a/k/a Single Mother/Donated Sperm Receptacle #1. Or Baby Momma “Fantasia.” It’s confusing, and a guy doesn’t know where to turn:

“No decent respectable guy would marry someone whose father disapproved,” says [Rev. Atu] White, 27 [of Bethel AME Church in Jamaica Plain]. “If she didn’t grow up with a dad, then speak to her mother or the closest guardian.”

You know what that means. If there’s no dad, which unfortunately, there often isn’t today, it’s the options above. For example,

Um, Uh, Large Marge, can I have your permission to marry your lover Susan’s daughter, whom she conceived with the sperm from Vial #ZX985791?

And here’s the other thing I learned: As far back as 1967, 95% of women were already gold diggers. According to author Stephanie Coontz, asking a father for permission to marry his daughter is “cherry picking” of tradition because:

“It has none of the old meaning,” she says. As late as 1967, she notes, two-thirds of college women surveyed, compared with 5% of college men, would consider marrying someone they didn’t love if other factors, such as financial stability . . . were in place.

Translation: By 1967, 2/3 of college women admitted they were gold-diggers.
Don’t attack me for noting this. I don’t make these sad statistics up. Just sayin’.

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9 Responses

First of all, I could give a crap about whether the dad approves of me marrying who I decide to marry. That tradition dated from a time when marriage was between teenagers and the man (er boy) would literally be asking a young girl under the father’s complete dominion for marriage. It is out of style today because most marriages occur between grown men and women who have been independent of their parents for some time.

JasonBourne81 on October 15, 2007 at 5:30 pm

Debbie, I would’ve asked your dad (z”l) for his permission. Anyway, a lot of people are geting married now because they have had enough of being single. In the good old days they got married to do what people do now an hour after their first internet IM.

Anonymous1 on October 15, 2007 at 7:29 pm

Small wonder the divorce rate is through the roof. A young couple could build a sound financial future. Those that go looking for the money deserve what they usually end up with, an unhappy marriage. Honeymoons were orginally to hide the bride from searching relatives. So much for many traditions like hanging the sheets and asking the father for his permission. If you ask anyone these days whether it is ok to marry a women it should be your accountant, private investigator, and lawyer.

code7 on October 15, 2007 at 8:13 pm

Twenty-two years ago my husband asked my dad if he could marry me. It was more out of respect and to aid their future relationship. If my dad had said no I’m sure I would have exploded & gotten married to my husband anyway. We were 21 & 22 yrs old and didn’t need anyone permission but we both just felt it was the nice thing to do. Relations are still good between my husband & dad & I think that small gesture of respect had alot to do with it. My .02cents!

piratelady on October 15, 2007 at 8:18 pm

With my father in-law, I was the only boyfriend my wife had brought home that could carry out a conversation with the man. I respected the their advice and as always looked for their opinion on things that matter.
I wanted a wife that was brought up in traditional manner that could be the best mothering a child could hope for. I just don’t understand what goes through these people’s heads er wait I know exactly what their looking for and that’s why they get married for the wrong reasons. Aesthetics, sexual performance you know the things that take minutes amounts of time during marriage.
Enough bloviating.

warpmine on October 15, 2007 at 10:45 pm

I have been married twice (my first wife died), and in neither case did I ask permission to marry the lady. In the first case, I knew the answer would be “No,” so I just did not see any point in that. I asked, she said “yes” and we began to make plans. My first in-laws never did accept me because they were always sure that their daughter could have done so much better.
When it came to the second proposal, the future in-laws were in another city, and it just was not handy. She was 25 years old and completely independent, so I did not think it was really necessary in that case. I got along well with my second in-laws and there was never any problem with them. They were just very pleased that their daughter found someone.

Dr. D on October 15, 2007 at 11:00 pm

I for one respect the tradition and asked my in-laws for permission to marry my wife, even though she hadn’t lived at home for years and we were both in our late 30’s at the time.
I’m in my mid 40’s now and there is nothing wrong with most traditions. I still open doors for women, walk on the street side of the sidewalk with my wife and tip my hat/cap if I have one on. I hope to pass these on to my son as he grows up.

hockeykevin on October 16, 2007 at 11:57 am

As for the gold digger thing – I am well aware it is out there. I am 25, in law school, and see plenty of the gold digger types. Real sluts. Thankfully, I have a gf who I am sure loves me for me. We’ve been together a year, things are still going great, and I probably will end up marrying her when I get on my feet financially. You can always tell when a woman is a gold digger – it’s not hard.
Some guys genuinely don’t care, though. They might not be good looking or be confident in themselves, and just want to marry someone hot. I guess it serves them right in a sense – you can’t love someone else when you don’t love yourself.

JasonBourne81 on October 16, 2007 at 12:19 pm

I didn’t have to ask my wife’s father for permission; as he pretty much handed her over to me after the 4th date. We got married 5 years to the day of our first date.
I went through college the whole time we were dating so I could take good care of her and the kids. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out with the first career path. Now, I’m back in university for a higher degree in a different field, and a field where I’m much happier and can earn far more income – all while ensuring my family’s welfare.
The husband should be the breadwinner, and should have to prove to the bride-to-be’s father that he can keep her in the manner to which she is accustomed.
On another side of this the marriage vows include ‘for better or for worse, through sickness and in health, through trial and peace, etc.’ If this rule of the man must prove he is able to support her at that time, then what happens when they hit hard times? The wife returns to her parents as a recall? No.
The girl’s father in my point of view should see to it that the suitor has the capability and drive to support her and the children regardless of trial in any form. After the bride is given away the father’s work is mostly done, and the husband is fully responsible for his family’s welfare.
However, a year after our marriage my wife’s father divorced her mother for his mistress. That was back in early 2001, and she is still upset about it. I wonder if he asked his mistresses father for permission?
As for the gold digger idea; it still exists. I’m in university right now, and the majority of the feminine intelligence there is looking for a husband who’ll take care of them and not leave them. It’s not so much for the money, but for the maintenence and commitment. And to them – no one is off limits.
As a married man of 7 years (plus 5 years of dating, making it a total 12 years and beyond commitment), I am constantly flirted with. I don’t flirt back or acknowlegde their interest. I’m there for the BA degree. A 19 year old last month tried to tempt me to certify that she’s “as pretty as my wife.” – her words. I said no, she isn’t. My wife has virtue and the best looks of any woman (no offense Debbie).
A 19 year old did that. That is sick and wrong on every level; and she’s of my faith!

bhparkman on October 17, 2007 at 2:02 am

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