Post # 1
Hello lovelies! New here, and not yet technically engaged – here’s the boring background before I get to my point:
My other half and I are an international couple (I’m English, he’s American) and although he’s really, really eager to get engaged/married, I’m just not quite there yet. Obviously, as an international couple, some major sacrifices are going to have to be made for us to be together. Although I am sure he’s the man I’m going to marry, I’m just not quite ready to take the plunge yet and uproot my life. He spontaneously asked me to marry him early this year, and I asked him to wait – so we’re sort of in a weird engagement vacuum at the moment. He’s being very patient with me and not pressuring me to make any decision, which is in part why I know he’s the one for me.
Anyway, now that we’re waiting, he keeps hinting about some elaborate proposal do-over that he’s planning for when I’m ready. There have been a few cultural differences that we’ve experienced in our four years together, and I think I’ve come up against another: he most recently mentioned about wanting to ask my dad for his blessing to marry me, as when he first proposed, it was so on a whim that he didn’t get a chance to.
I thought he was kidding and being cutesy when he first said it (we were cuddling in bed), but it turns out he was completely sincere. He says that it’s very normal practice in the States and most of his married friends did it. We’re both in our late twenties, and none of my friends who are married have had this experience here in the UK.
So, the point of this long meandering post: is this the normal practice in the States? If I’m being totally honest, I’m really quite uncomfortable with the idea. Would it be insulting for me to tell him I don’t want him to do that? Is this an important thing for Americans? Or am I overthinking it?
Post # 3
@Newt: Not an American bee, but some Brits want their partner to ask their dad before proposing. Personally, I told my husband (when he was my boyfriend) that if he asked my dad for his permission before he proposed I would say “no”.
Post # 4
it’s very normal for me… my Darling Husband asked my dad and i probably would not have said yes until he did!
Post # 5
It’s quite a common practice in the US but usually it’s more important for the woman than the man. If you would rather he not do it, it’s totally fine to tell him so. Or, he could simply let your parents know that he’s proposing before he does it – it’s sort of like asking them but implies less posession.
Post # 6
That tradition used to be the norm, but due to women’s rights, it has changed a lot. There are a lot of American girls (myself included) who want nothing to do with tradition. It’s totally okay for you to tell him that you’d prefer he didn’t ask your parents. They are your parents after all! Maybe as a compromise you can both go together to tell them about the engagement and he can talk to them then.
Post # 7
@SpecialSundae: I’ve NEVER heard of this here, that’s crazy! Maybe I just haven’t had enough experience in the delicate and dangerous world of engagements – or maybe it’s a regional thing? How did your husband react when you told him that? Is he British?
@emileekay Could I ask where in the States you’re from?
Post # 8
- Wedding: May 2013 - Walt Disney World
I think it is a common tradition in the US for a man to ask his GF’s father for a blessing before proposing, but it’s not as strong as it used to be. Some women find it to be a very romantic gesture when they find out that their Boyfriend or Best Friend asked their dad first. Some women require it prior to a proposal because they come from a family that really values that sentiment. I had never really thought of it before I became engaged (well, I guess I let go of that tradition as kind of a silly sentiment that wouldn’t happen to me), but Fiance asked me if that was important to me when he started bringing up marriage. I told him that it wasn’t really for me, but would be a sweet thing to do for my mom (I don’t really have a great relationship with my dad)…he ended up asking her and my dad (he couldn’t get a hold of my dad before he proposed but finally did after the fact).
May I ask why you are uncomfortable with your Boyfriend or Best Friend asking your dad for your hand? Are you really insulted by the thought of him doing so?
It’s really important to some guys to ask the girl’s parents first…out of respect and also because they really do want to know if the girl’s parents are supportive of a marriage.
Post # 9
@Newt: I am an American, and I do think it is fairly common. Many of my friends went through this [horribly sexist!] ritual.
My husband didn’t ask for anyone’s blessing when he proposed to me, though… neither of us is into that. At all. If you’re not comfortable with it, I would definitely say something to your guy. It’s a very weird tradition that definitely doesn’t need to be upheld, IMO. Plus, it sounds like your dad might be surprised by it. I think your SO will understand your point of view.
Post # 10
I do not think this is “normal” practice, but I know of some men who have done this, but I also know of a lot more men who never even thought about asking the girl’s father. My fiance’ asked my mother for my hand (since I do not know my father), and I thought that was very sweet, we’re all so close anyways, I appreciated this gesture.
I would ask your boyfriend how serious he is about asking your father, find out where he is coming from. Then maybe you could explain to him why it makes you feel uncomfortable, and from there you two could find some common ground and find a compromise.
Post # 11
@Newt: i’m from western ny… and i know many people who have gotten/are getting married and they all asked. i didn’t say anything to my Darling Husband about it… he was raised with the belief that it is something he should do, and i’m glad he did. my dad was very touched by it aswell.
Post # 12
@Newt: I think it might be more common in the States than it is here now, but it was traditional here. He’s Scottish, like me, and wasn’t very surprised at all. I’m quite vociferous about my feminist leanings so a patriarchal tradition would have gone against a lot that I stand for.
Just tell him that you’d rather he didn’t ask your dad and why. He really ought to respect that.
Post # 13
@Newt: a lot of guys here do it, but he should respect that you don’t want him to. I absolutely forbid it. It’s the one place in this process I would not compromise. And after I promised SO that my dad wouldn’t hate him, he agreed. He was uncomfortable with the tradition, too, but there is a lot of pressure on guys here to ask the dad first. Guys are afraid that if they dont ask, the dad will think they’re being disrespectful and hate them forever. But not asking the dad for his blessing ahead of time is not at all unheard of. He should be able to adjust.
ETA: reading through these responses is making my head explode. I just cannot comprehend how a gesture so disrespectful to a woman’s agency and equal place in society (in my view) is considered sweet or cute. OP, you can see there are a REALLY wide range of perspectives within the USA! For what it’s worth, I’m from the mid-Atlantic/northeast of the US. I did talk to my parents beforehand to ask if they would support us (in large part because I am still financially dependent on them due to disability/illness.) He talked to his parents beforehand as well. And he does plan on talking to my dad at some point to ask for advice as my dad is his only close role model for a truly equal marriage bc he is from an immigrant family with more traditional gender roles.
Post # 14
My fiance asked my dad and I thought it was so cute! We are both very traditional so it made sense for us. He told me after how he was so nervous even though he knew my dad would approve (we’d been together 7 years at that point and my family already considered him to be part of our family). It’s not as common practice as it used to be but I still like the idea.
Post # 15
Thanks everyone! I can’t keep up with all of the responses so I’m going to try and respond quickly to all here:
I don’t feel comfortable with it as I don’t really have a relationship with my dad where I share much about my personal life. When we spend time together, we’re mostly making fun of each other and telling jokes. Plus, my dad has a sense of humour that my other half doesn’t always get – and I can just imagine a horrible situation where my dad, thinking he’s being funny, says no – and my Mr. not knowing what to say. The correct response here would be to tell my dad to sod off, but again, my boyfriend is far too respectful to do that. Which is another thing I love about him.
And stillme – you’re TOTALLY right! My dad would be knocked off his feet if this happened, and do something like the above. Jerk.
I like the idea of going to tell my folks after I’m engaged – to me, that’s part of the excitement. I don’t want people to know before I do.
As long as I’m not trampling over some much cherished tradition, I’m happy to tell my boyfriend that I’d rather he avoided doing this. I just didn’t want him to miss out on something that I was being ignorant about.
Thank you again!
Post # 16
I was 35 when I got engaged, and in the months before when talking about getting engaged then-future-FI informed me that he would need to “talk” to my father before proposing.
At which point I told him that was not necessary, as I am a grown woman, and it really would not be a deal-breaker to my father.
But there was no negotiating on this point, he insisted, as he considered it the proper thing to do.
Note, to be clear, he did not ask for permission, or a blessing, or for “my hand”. From what he told me, the conversation (which happened by phone as my parents live 1000 miles away) was more like “I respect you and want you to know what my intentions are, and that I plan on proposing to your daughter soon”. And also, he had the same conversation with HIS parents without my knowledge.
In the end, it was nice, although it was unnecessary, my dad appreciated it and I did not feel that my feminist ideals were compromised in any way.