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July 10, 2005

Popping the question . . . to Pop

I'm a fairly traditional guy, and my father-in-law is a very traditional guy, but it never occurred to me that it would be appropriate to ask him for permission to marry his daughter. Once my wife and I had decided that she would be my wife, we simply got on the phone and announced it to her parents. (You will not be surprised to hear that, even then, I made a bunch of stupid jokes before I got to the point.)

So it surprises me no end that more than a few of my friends and acquaintances have reported that they asked their prospective fathers-in-law for permission. One actually endured something resembling the third degree on his finances before getting the prospective father-in-law's permission. I'm always amazed when I hear stories like that.

But now I have the perfect retort, courtesy of Miss Manners:

Dear Miss Manners:

I was wondering the proper order of events, pertaining to an engagement. Does the groom ask her father for her hand in marriage, then ask her and give her the diamond? Or does he ask her to marry him and then her father?

He should not ask her father to marry him. Proposing to two members of the same family can only end in strife or bigamy.

If, however, you wish to ask the father's permission to ask the lady to marry you, you must do so first. However, Miss Manners warns you not to attempt this before being reasonably sure of a favorable reply from the lady. "Your father is okay with your marrying me" is not a persuasive argument these days.
I love it. "Proposing to two members of the same family can only end in strife or bigamy" is almost Wilde-ian.