This was obviously the first time I’ve ever gone through with something like this; and must confess one of the toughest conversations I’ve ever thought of having. So in typical male fashion I googled it.
Google- “Steps to getting engaged” mmm to broad, didn’t help unless Vegas and strippers where acceptable.
First things first- the parents
Google- “How to ask parents for their hand in marriage”
Thousands of searches/opinions later some more practical advice popped up, that I thought would help steer me in the right direction.
So after officially conquering the first step (of many) in getting married, I thought I’d look back on this advice and see how it really helped.
I found this website and article through my hours of exploration and thought it was the most direct and easiest way of approaching the conversation. Here is their advice unedited and my comments post historic moment.
“1. Talk to your girlfriend first. Before you go and sit down and talk man-to-man with your potential father-in-law, make sure you and your girlfriend are on the same page as far as the whole marriage thing goes. Is she ready to commit? Does she even want to get married? If so, how soon does she want to get hitched? You don’t want to get your girlfriend’s father’s blessing to marry his daughter, just to have his daughter turn you down when you propose.”*
Reality: Well no shit, I’m so glad they pointed this out. I might have been caught in a horrible situation. But really, this is a no brainer if you haven’t had “the conversation” with your girlfriend I say ignore the rest of this post. I recommend this article for you http://artofmanliness.com/2008/05/08/how-do-you-know-when-shes-the-one/
“2. Try to meet him before you ask. If it’s possible, try to meet your girlfriend’s parents a few times before you decide you want to marry her. While my wife and I were dating, I had the opportunity to visit her parents on several occasions. I got to know them rather well before we got engaged. It made sitting down with her dad and discussing my wish to marry his daughter a bit easier because we had already established a relationship. Again, not all situations will allow this, but if you can, do it.”*
Reality: Check mark James- I can move on to advice #3. But hold on, sure you’ve met them a few times but do they really know you? And more importantly has your girlfriend told her parents much about you? that she sees herself with you Forever, forever, ever, forever, ever? You can know and meet her parents for years but unless their daughter expressed how you are together they may never know for sure.
“3. Sit down with him man-to-man. There are several ways you can go about this, and I think it all depends on what kind of man your girlfriend’s father is. Consider taking him out to dinner or going to a bar or coffee shop. Breaking bread with him might make the situation a bit more comfortable. If that’s not a possibility, during a visit just ask if you can speak to him in private. If her dad lives far away, try to time the conversation for a trip home which has already been planned, perhaps during the holidays. If this is not possible, it’s okay to conduct the talk over the phone.”
Reality– Almost impossible to plan this perfectly, my advice is just ask to meet for a drink at their place. When your girlfriend thinks you are doing something different. This way the parents understand your possible intent prior to seeing you (they can stew it over) and can make the experience less stressful for you and them. Also, if all goes wrong you can escape and say you have a meeting to run off too. (That never happened but I can’t say I wasn’t prepared) *Over the phone is never an option, plane rides are worth the cost to limit lifelong issues between you and the parents.
“4. Start out expressing your feelings for his daughter. I think the best way to start off the conversation is to express to the father your love and admiration for his daughter. Tell him how much she means to you. Mention some specific qualities that you love about her. He raised her, so you are really complimenting him at the same time.”*
Reality– Easier said than done. This can be really difficult if you’ve never expressed those feeling to your friends let alone her parents. Go in with a game plan; know what you’re going to say and how you’ll say it. Make a speech. To be honest… in the moment you won’t say anything you planned and totally mess it up (like I did) but that will make it genuine and you’ll say how you feel it.
“5. Explain your wish to marry his daughter. Now it’s time to cut to the chase. Explain your wish to marry his daughter. Assure him that you understand the seriousness of the commitment and that being able to spend the rest of your life with his daughter would make you the happiest man in the world.”*
Reality– If you passed step 4 without passing out or getting hit in the face this will be a breeze. By then you’ll be calm and feel relieved they have listen to you so far. Just keep it going.
“6. Promise him that you’ll take care of his daughter for the rest of her life. Put yourself in this man’s shoes. He’s been the man in her life since she was baby. He’s taken care of her since she was in diapers and only wants the best for her. He wants to know that he’s handing off his little girl to someone that will take just as good care of her as he has. Make the commitment that you’ll always honor, respect, and cherish his daughter.”*
Reality- Just be yourself- if you haven’t shown honor, respect, love and cherished your future wife in your relationship so far you might be screwed. But make sure you reaffirm you are committed and you take this seriously (which you obviously do)
“7. Respectfully ask for his blessing. Now, just request his blessing and support in you asking for his daughter’s hand in marriage.”*
Reality– Today is a new age, if you have the opportunity ask both parents; you must. Remember it wasn’t just her Dad that made her who she is today. It was a team effort much like the one you will be embarking on after this day.
Closing: Go for it. Don’t take the advice and comments too seriously, traditions are continually evolving, do what works for you/future fiancé and her parents. Just make sure you don’t F&$% it up, they will remember it… (kidding…. Sort of..)