"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." -Dr. Seuss
Question #89478 posted on 04/25/2017 1:58 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board Married Writers and Alums,

When you asked your future father-in-law to marry his daughter, what did he say? We just got a "no" and we're devastated. Should we move on with getting engaged? We are both temple-worthy, hard working people and my dad is completely opposed to us getting married and engaged. We've been dating for a year and a half. We aren't rushing into things (even though he keeps telling us we are). Those of you who got a "no," what did you do? What would you have done differently?

-Frustrated and Sad

A:

Dear reader,

I didn't ask my wife's father, because it's none of his [redacted] business.

-The Man with a Mustache

A:

Dear Susan,

We asked for my father's blessing, but not for permission. It was more "Hey, look. We're going to get married, but we're hoping to do so with your blessing. Will you give it to us?" My dad requested my now husband make some very specific promises, and then gave his blessing. Honestly I think my dad would have given his permission had we asked because he's seen how happy I am since being with Husband, but at the same time I can also see my dad saying no because of Circumstances and also no one is good enough for his daughters. Had this been the case, I still would have married my husband; my dad would have come around eventually. I'm not saying you should just blow off your dad, but maybe ask him what it is that he specifically is objecting to, then take it from there. Assuming you're no longer a minor, you don't actually need your parents' permission to wed. Do what will make you happiest in the long run!

-Az

A:

Dear Frustrated,

Like a lot of the writers, I specifically told my fiance to only ask for my father's blessing before getting engaged, not his permission, because I'm an adult and nobody else has the right to give me permission to do anything with my life. However, I did want to get my father's blessing before getting engaged, because that at least keeps him involved in the process and shows respect for him, with a nod at tradition, which my family is big into.

Now that your father has refused to give you his permission, I would suggest sitting down and talking with him (maybe with your almost fiance there, too). You can explain to him why you want to get married, and why you both feel it's the right decision, and hopefully hearing that from you will help him realize that you're not just a dumb kid rushing into something that you don't understand. You could explain that you do respect him and his opinion is very important to you, and you want him to feel involved in the process. That said, you can also tell him that as adults, whether or not he gives you permission doesn't actually affect whether or not you're going to get married, because he legally has absolutely no sway over what you can do and you have the legal right to make any decision you want regardless of whether he agrees with it. With all that out there (you love and respect him, but you're going to do what's best for you, which is getting married), you could ask for his blessing and tell him how much it would mean to you to have it. He might not be able to give it to you right away, but hopefully with time he'll realize that if this is going to happen anyways, he might as well not ruin your day by withholding his blessing. If he doesn't come to that conclusion, I would say you've still done all you can do, and to go ahead with the wedding anyways.

One of my friends (I'll call her Becky) and her now husband (I'll call him Zach) were in a similar situation to yours. They were de facto engaged (booked the temple, had a dress, making wedding plans) long before they were officially engaged (with a ring and an official proposal). Becky's father is very traditional, and Becky and all her sisters knew that before getting engaged, their suitors would need to ask their dad for his permission. During the de facto engagement Zach hadn't talked with Becky's dad, but he was planning on doing it before the official proposal. Unfortunately, Becky's sister knew what was going on with her and Zach, and accidentally let it slip in a conversation with their dad, before Zach had talked with him. The dad called Becky in a rage, demanding to know why Zach hadn't talked with him and implying that he would have said no if he had, because the dad felt everything was going too fast and they didn't know each other well enough to make this sort of commitment. Understandably, Becky was pretty devastated, because her dad's opinion meant a lot to her, but she had also had several strong spiritual confirmations that she should marry Zach, and she was determined to go forward with it. Zach actually called up her dad to explain what had happened, and while I don't know what exactly they talked about, just the fact that Zach was willing to talk with him about everything meant a lot to her dad, and helped soften his opinion of their marriage. Zach and Becky also sat down with him and explained why they were getting married and why they were sure that this was the right thing to do. Up to the day before their wedding the dad continued to tell Becky, "Now remember, you don't have to do this," which was hard for her to hear, but he didn't do anything to oppose the wedding, and in fact spent weeks of hard labor preparing their gorgeous backyard for the most beautiful reception. When they actually got married, the dad was proud as could be, and happy to see his daughter so happy, and he's been very supportive of their marriage ever since. One thing that was helpful for Becky during this time was the support that she got from her friends and other family members, because it was really nice for her to have other people to fall back on when things with her dad weren't great. She and Zach prayed together a lot, and went to the temple together a lot, and continued to build their relationship with each other and with God, and things ended up working out, despite the rocky start with her dad. So press on, friend, things will work out. And even if your dad continues to oppose your decision, remember that ultimately it's your marriage, not his.

I'm sorry you're in such an awful situation, but just know that things will get better eventually.

-Alta

P.S. Professor Kirke makes a really important point about also finding out why specifically your dad said no. Make sure that when you talk with him it's a real conversation, and you listen to his side of the story, too, and pay attention if he has actual legitimate concerns about you marrying this guy. Also pray a lot through this whole situation--that you can know the right thing to do, that you can have additional confirmation to marry your almost fiance if that's right for you, that your dad's heart can be softened, that you can all understand each other better and have productive communication, that everything works out in the way the Lord wants it to, etc.

A:

Dear sad,

You're both adults, and the marriage contract is no longer de facto chattel slavery where the man is purchasing a bride from her father. (You know, traditional marriage.) It's certainly in his power to object, but if you want to get married he's powerless to stop you.

Your beloved should wait until you're at home with your family, perhaps on a cold windy night when you're all gathered around the fire. He'll kick down the front door and storm in with a sharp gust of wind at his back. You and your family turn to him all at once, your eyes alight with happiness, your father's with simmering hostility. He holds out his hand to you.

"My darling, take my hand, and I shall share every day I have with you, from now until our last."

You spring to your feet in a single, graceful leap and dive into his arms. You reach up and embrace him, and he kisses you passionately, yet tenderly.

"NO," booms your father, nostrils flaring, veins twitching. "I FORBID THIS!"

You spin back on your heels, cool fire in your eyes. "You cannot stop us, Father!" Your voice cracks with emotion. "Our love is too beautiful, too real! I shall always love you, but if you will not accept our marriage, neither do you accept me in your life!"

Your newly betrothed suddenly puts finger and thumb to lips and lets out a piercing whistle; a whinney responds from the courtyard. It's his trusted steed, Ajax, whom he cared for from a foal. You and your love dash outside, where he effortlessly hoists you onto Ajax's back and leaps up behind you. Your parents follow you outside, Father bellowing, Mother clutching his arm and crying. The steed rears up on his powerful haunches, whinnying loudly, the wind in his mane and your dress and hair, and you hear your love cry, "Away, Ajax! Away to freedom and eternal love! Suck it, old man!" And you gallop away, middle fingers raised on both hands, on to your happily ever after.

Boom. Easy.

-Cognoscente

A:

Dear Doctor,

Spectre talked to my dad. Who not only asked me if the missed call he got was Spectre, but also proceeded to tell me all the details of their conversation the next day.

-Tally M.

A:

Hello frad (frustrated and sad),

My spouse and I didn't do that because it's antiquated and unnecessary, but whatever, you do you. Anyway, if the two of you are good kids and like each other and think you're a good pair, tell that crusty old guy to respectfully suck it, because you're getting married anyway. 

My spouse's dad actually didn't approve of our marriage either. He warned my then-fiancé that he had had a "vision" in the temple that I was the wrong person to marry, and that we should break up. We ignored that old fart's advice and got married, and we've been together since. We even adopted a beautiful... dog together. Awww.

Anyway, don't worry about that old bump on a log. Do what's right for you.

Marzipan

A:

Dear Frustrated and Sad-

I (and several others) weighed in on this question way back when. As I said then: I asked my wife-to-be if she would prefer I talk to her parents. She said yes. I then called both of them (why leave the mom out?), and informed them that I would be proposing. They were okay with that, which meant I didn't have to tell them to cram it because it wasn't their decision anyway. You're still smart to take his reasons under consideration, and you're also welcome to dismiss them if you think he's wrong.

Most everyone else has conveyed this basic sentiment already, so I'm really just piling on at this point. Do what you want, and he can get over himself.

-Foreman

A:

Dear Frustrated,

Yours is obviously a tough situation; I'll jump in because it seems I have a somewhat different perspective than the majority.

I asked my father-in-law's permission, and he gave it happily. (I did ask specifically permission, not just blessing. By asking to marry his daughter, I'm basically asking to be sealed into a relationship with his family, where he holds eternal patriarchal authority. I think out of respect for that role asking permission is appropriate, even if you might be willing to proceed without permission. For similar reasons, I asked him specifically, not my mother-in-law, and to let us speak freely my wife was not present for the conversation.)

In the case of a "no," I'd second Alta's recommendation to make sure there's clear communication about why. Ignoring your father's wishes might be justifiable (unrighteous dominion is a thing) and it might work out fine. You might also do lasting damage your relationship with your dad, particularly if there isn't good communication. You do want to keep your eye on the eternal perspective, i.e. you need to live with both your dad and your husband for forever.

Your dad saying no does create a red flag. I don't know whether he is seeing something you don't? Are there any other issues in the relationship? Do other experienced people you trust, e.g. the other parents, church leaders who know both of you, family friends, etc., think this is a good idea? Obviously I have no idea what the particulars of your particular case are, but that's the type of thing I would think about. Obviously after answering these questions, you would want to pray about whatever you tentatively decide.

I know of a case where in my understanding the guy asked the girl's father for permission, and father said it was too soon but, when given the "we're getting married anyways" ultimatum, ended up going with it. Anyways, they got married in the temple, and it worked out great (cute kids, good jobs, etc.), until there was an affair and an apostasy and they got divorced. Don't know all the backstory here, but just making the point that not all forbidden romances work out as well as those in them imagine they will and sometimes parents are right to raise a red flag.  

Best of luck as you work through a challenging situation.

~Professor Kirke

A:

Dear Frustrated,

When Andy asked my dad, Dad just said, "Well, it's not like I can stop you, can I?"

Thanks, Dad.

-April Ludgate

A:

Dear Frustrated,

Remember the inexplicably popular pop-reggae song "Rude" from 2014? The only love song that is entirely a man singing a pouty song to his girlfriend's father when said father says no to such a request? If it's a terrible song (and it is) I can only imagine the actual situation being worse.

Not much different from what other writers are posting, but I hadn't met my now father-in-law, so before proposing I called more to, shall we say, inform him that I was going to be proposing. I might have an unreliably false memory of how confident I sounded over the phone but it was something along the lines of "I wanted to introduce myself because I'm going to propose and do you have anything you'd like to ask me about?" His response was, and this is almost verbatim, "Huh, are people still calling the father before proposing these days? I trust [his daughter]." 

Seconding the advice about trying to nail down a specific "why" from your father. Is it only that he feels like you're rushing things? What does "no" even mean to him? He won't attend? He won't offer any financial support for the ceremony/reception? You aren't welcome home anymore? Without knowing, I'd bet the most common aftermath of a "no" is a reluctant acceptance. I think the difficult but mature thing would be to come to a decision as a couple first and then do a sit down with your dad. Then have a family movie night, the three of you, and depending on how the conversation goes, either put in The Little Mermaid or Romeo + Juliet.

- Rating Pending (whose mother-in-law has one of those names that could be male or female and, during that call, he couldn't remember his now father-in-law's name. "Is this [now wife's] dad?" he said on the phone.)