Her Hand in Marriage

Our ideas of what is romantic have certainly changed over the past few decades.

Our ideas about relationships and marriage have changed, too. Yet somehow, even as our world morphs into a place where fewer and fewer couples choose to marry and those who do are facing increased rates of divorce, when it comes to marriage, our culture clings to some things that are tradition.

The man asks the woman.

The white dress.

The bachelor party.

The down-on-one-knee proposal.

And Daddy’s permission.

I was watching an episode of a TV show not too long ago where one of the characters proposed to his girlfriend. She said yes, but when she realized he had not yet asked her father for permission for her hand in marriage, she told him that she could not give him an “official” yes until he did so.

Returning home, the man asked his brother, “Did you know people still did that? The whole, ‘ask the dad thing’?”

The brother replied: “Of course. What society have you been living in?”

And what society do we live in? Most of the time it appears that we, as a society, have moved past the things of tradition to a more contemporary mix of “whatever works.”

For the most part, anything is acceptable. We might call different “eclectic,” but in our P.C. world, who’s to judge, right?

But as I watched the show, I found it odd that a man who had an openly sexual relationship with an independent woman (as expected by the other characters), was suddenly being chastised for not following the “rules” by speaking to the woman’s father about marrying his daughter.

Is that a mix of the modern and the traditional? Can that mix survive in today’s world?

For decades women have fought long and hard to been seen as equal, independent, and fully capable of making their own decisions.

So, does Daddy even have his daughter’s hand to give in marriage? Or is her hand now her own, according to the feminists?

Our society seems to be sending mixed signals– woman is fiercely independent, able to survive without a man, yet still wants love of her life to confer with father over future of her life.

The whole thing left me scratching my head.

Share with Me: What do you think about this? Is Daddy’s permission still required for marriage? Should it be? Is it possible to mix the traditional and the modern and have it work?

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10 Comments

Filed under Romance

10 responses to “Her Hand in Marriage

  1. I'm a sucker for old-fashioned. I like chivalry and I like asking for permission and I like a man who wants to be a leader in his home. I think the feminists would hate me. 🙂

  2. I had a similar discussion with a friend the other day in response to an article that seemed to suggest that feminism and Christianity were mutually exclusive. For me, I'd like to think that it's possible to successfully mix traditional and modern…just not in the ways that some might try to–like living with a boyfriend and then expecting him to ask Dad for permission to marry. Those actions don't belong to the same value system, and I don't think they "mix" well.However, in matters like "Should a man open a door for a woman?", I think it is possible to mix modern/traditional. The feminist in me absolutely claims my ability and right to open a door for myself…but I'm not going to push a chivalrous man out of the way or scream at him for oppressing women if he opens it for me. It's the attitude behind the action, I think…as long as the guy opened the door because he wanted to be respectful, and not because he actually believed I was not capable of doing so myself, then both the traditionalist and feminist in me are happy.

  3. Katie- me too. I'm like an anti-feminist or something. Long live chivalry!Lyndsey- you make some really great points. I love what you said about those two things not being in the same value system. I agree. I think that's why this TV episode left me so confused!

  4. Great question, Jennifer!I'm an odd mix of contemporary/old-fashioned. Do I think it's necessary for a man to ask a father's permission? No. Do I want men to be gentlemanly? Yes. I really am not a fan of women/men having to be equal on everything. We aren't the same! I'm not suggesting women be doormats, but what's wrong with recognizing each genders' strengths? Have a wonderful weekend!

  5. I don't think they needs Daddy's permission but if you want your marriage to work he better get along with mom and dad.

  6. Jill- I'm with you. Getlemanlyness is perfection. And gender roles are absolutely important. I'm no feminist, but I'm no doormat, either! Alica- You're right! He better get along with mom & dad! 😉

  7. I think the asking is a respect thing. Respect the parents. Respect the "bride-to-be-to-be" as a "good girl". Obviously, respect for some women would not include the asking. Safest way is to ask her about asking! My husband asked my dad; dad's answer was it was my choice. At the very least, it makes the guy have a conversation with the future in-laws, which has not necessarily happened with any regularity in the courting. Since we do choose our own spouses, the outdated ritual serves to keep communication open and start the family blending process.

  8. I saw the same TV show. :)My hubs asked after I told him that it would be a problem with my parents if he didn't. I was brought up in a no sex before marriage household, so I never really questioned the tradition. It made sense. My Dad's answer was "Does it matter if I say Yes or not?" (yeah…he didn't make things easy)While I don't think there is anything wrong with the respect of asking for a woman's hand, I can see where a guy wouldn't expect it when the couple already have a sexual relationship.I think it is a nice gesture of respect, but I don't think the permission should actually factor in for adults.

  9. This just happened in our family last week. My daughter's boyfriend traveled three hours to take us to dinner and ask us for our blessing. It meant a lot and showed respect for us and my daughter. It showed that he did not take his decision lightly and it gave us a chance to discuss some things that would have been difficult to bring up otherwise.

  10. I love that so many of you seem in favor of the tradition! I don't have daughters, but I do hope to raise my sons to have the respect to talk to the parents and ask for a blessing. I like that idea a lot. And I like the idea of the bride-to-be's mom being included in the conversation, too. 🙂

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