Is the tradition of asking permission
outdated or a must-do?


Is the tradition of asking permission
outdated or a must-do?

Times have most certainly changed since asking for permission for your partner’s hand in marriage was the one hundred percent done thing. But, there’s a pretty heavy debate around whether you should and it can be downright difficult to navigate. We set out to find the answer you’re all wondering…should I sit down ‘man-to-man’ and ask her father’s permission or is this completely outdated?

Back in the day (or so to speak), there wasn’t really any question about whether you should ask a father for his daughters hand in marriage, because well, you just had to. Daughter’s were sort of treated a bit like property in some sort of exchange and the father would need to determine whether the prospective husband was worthy (think dowry’s and all that jazz).

But, now that times have (thankfully) evolved, we like to view marriage more as a joining of two equal partners than some sort of business transaction. And this sort of makes this conversation a little bit redundant, at least in the traditional way. We also thankfully realise that women don’t in fact need ‘permission’ from their father to get married, because, well they can do whatever they like! But, does this make asking her father for her hand in marriage irrelevant?

There’s many different answers to this question. The old school traditional father type would be horrified if their prospective son-in-law dared not to have the conversation, and then there’s those families who have taken on the more modern view to the extent that they’d be a little confused he did.

Sort of like, “uh, thanks for asking Fred but you should probably ask Sally this question, not me?” with that beautiful expression that leaves you wondering why on earth you thought this was a good idea and wishing you could reverse back about ten seconds before this encounter. You know save yourself the embarrassment and their opinion of you as a cool guy. But, for most of us, whether you should ask or not is going to fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. Luckily, there’s a few ways you can navigate it.

First, there’s a modern take on this whole scenario. And, it’s widely practised and often very strongly appreciated by your partner’s family. Do you sort of feel like you’ve won the lotto here and there’s hope on making this all easy? We sure do…keep reading.

The key is to think of it more as asking for their blessing rather than their permission. Not only does this imply it’s something you’ve decided you’re going to do no matter what their response is (hooray we’ve avoided the awkward encounter if they, god forbid, say no), it also reinforces the modern view that a father doesn’t own his daughter.

You’re merely approaching this conversation as a sign of respect to show her family the type of man that you are and that you appreciate the vital role they’ve played in their daughter’s life. By phrasing it as a blessing you’re also avoiding your fiancé to be hitting you with her handbag if she gets irked by the fact you asked for permission. You know that whole “I’m an independent, grown woman” sort of stuff.

But, moving even more into the current world scenario, it’s also worth thinking about who the most relevant person, or people, to ask really are. Why does it have to be her Dad? Especially if her father has passed away, isn’t part of her life, or they’re just not very close, it can seem a little odd (or impossible) to be approaching this situation.

Consider who the most important people in her life have been and considering you’re doing this as a sign of respect to your new family, think about asking her parents together. Why should Mum miss out?

At the end of the day though, whether you should be sitting down and having a chat to her family before you get on bended knee really comes down to what your partner would want. If you know she thinks asking for her parents blessing is outdated, ridiculous and the general mention of the idea results in an fire-fuelled rage, then it’s maybe not a good idea. But, if she thinks it’s all pretty sweet and respectful, then not having the conversation may put a bit of a downer on the whole “Will You Marry Me?” thing.

If you’re not sure where she sits on this spectrum, ask her or try and subtly throw it into a conversation. Or, consider whether she’s mentioned if she’d like someone to walk her down the aisle and who this person may be. If she’s into tradition here, it’s likely she’ll appreciate the gesture.

We say go for it. No matter how great your relationship it can be pretty nerve-wrecking territory, but think of it as a great sign of respect and a great start to your relationship with your new family, and your lives together.

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