Tradition Still Hold Today?

Traditions 2It’s not unusual for me to take a somewhat circuitous route to working through my posts. Thinking it through in my head, musing internally before putting the thoughts in print. Earlier, I was cleaning the house in preparation for an extended weekend visit from one of my daughters who was bringing along her new beau. (Aside: Cleaning is great for writing ideas. Manual labor – no concentration needed, just simple physical effort freeing the mind to wonder and wander. Walking is another great idea generating activity). With very little effort, my mind wandered into wondering if this new beau (we’ll call him B for Beau) might want to talk to me about his future with my daughter (we’ll call her D4 for fourth daughter). AND B is planning to accompany D4 on her Thanksgiving trip to see her Dad next month. Was this all coincidental or was B thinking of asking for a lifetime commitment from D4 and hoping to seek her parents’ permission before asking D herself? I like B, he seems a gentleman, is a considerate person, hard-working, intelligent, financially savvy, and most importantly – he adores D4.

It got me thinking, is this something young people still do now-a-days?

I did a bit of internet research just to see what might be out there, and there are plenty of sites that provide the history behind this practice and tell where it is still considered a ‘necessary’ facet of premarital protocol. Most sites say it is a nice thing to do (article link), shows the future in-laws that you are a man of honor, and others say it is quite an antiquated practice. ‘“The custom today is that the two principals make up their minds first, and the bride tells her parents about the engagement afterward,” wrote the exquisite Millicent Fenwick in the 1948 edition of Vogue’s Book of Etiquette’ (see article here).  With the increase in blended families, does the young man in question have to request the blessing from both parents even though they may be in different geographic locations and at different levels of interaction with their intended? What if the parents say NO!?!?

Personally, I like it. I think it does speak well for the young man. I wouldn’t hold it against someone if they didn’t do it, and yet my appreciation for those that honor the family of the bride in such a manner does earn one some bonus points (so maybe technically I do hold it against non-participants).

Societies and cultures change continuously resulting in social traditions getting lost and new ones taking hold. This musing made me wonder about what other traditions are still being honored and those that have fallen by the wayside. Many of us have holiday traditions and some unique family traditions, but what about social traditions that would be familiar outside of the family?

B and D4’s relationship is fairly new so it’s not likely that B is looking to have a conversation with me, but contemplating the prospect took me on an interesting road to this post! Love the process!!!   -M

What traditions do you feel may – or may not  – still be valuable?



  1. When I was to be married, I was engaged first and then we visited my parents to ‘spring’ the news. the same occurred when my daughter was to be married. Maybe it’s a hokey tradition but I LIKE to be treated with a “May I?” Doesn’t it show more forethought and possible a more solid union?
    Great subject for a post. Got me thinking. 🙂

    1. Thanks! I agree on the forethought and ‘more solid union’. I have a son-in-law who made his intentions known to me prior to asking D3 for her hand in marriage and my stepson took his now in-laws to lunch to ask for their blessing before proposing but I wasn’t sure if it was a common practice. My circumstances were a bit different, but I know my first husband did not ask for anyone’s blessing prior to proposing to me (he would not have received a warm welcome). My current husband did not ask either (but I was in my mid 40’s with four children ). We did each talk to the other’s children before making our final commitments to each other to seek their blessing or at the very least allow them time to make other living arrangements should they feel the need to bolt!!! 🙂 -M

  2. This post is filled with thoughts-to-ponder, M. Both my former and current husbands spoke to my parents, but with the former, he spoke to them after we’d already decided to marry. I was in my mid-30s when I met G, and he spoke to my parents before asking me to be sure that my parents – whom he knew I was close to – would be okay with the idea.

    THEN, because he is G and has the same warped humor as my parents, he set me up. We went together to my parents’ house, and he asked them if they would be good with us getting married, and my father said (wait for it)… NO. Apparently the look on my face was entertaining because the three of them are still laughing about it 22 years later. 😛

  3. Nah! My daughter’s fiance just got her out of jail after I had her bond revoked and I said she’s yours now.

  4. I don’t know of any one her who would even consider asking permission from parents – most don’t get married any more, or wait until there are children. Which in my opinion isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In our small family there is a joke that circulates in a serious manner that goes along the lines of should any man do wrong to one of my girls there will be a very angry sister to ensure they never get to do that again! My ED’s partner once told me he would never ask me if he could marry her because he was too scared I would say no and run him off with a shot-gun. My other daughter chimed in and told him he was right to be scared 🙂 A lot of discussion goes on between mother and daughters about relationships and sometimes between daughter/partner/mother about other daughter [when we have reason to be concerned – which we often do, sigh!] 🙂

    1. Watching out for each other is the first rule siblings learn or should have learned. My girls never worried about bringing home a boy to meet their Dad but boy oh boy did they try to get away with not having them meet their Mom! Seriously though, those girls would put a hurt on anyone who dared hurt their sister and that makes me glad. With four daughters, I can totally relate to the whole scenario you alluded to!

  5. If my husband had asked my parents for “my hand in marriage” BEFORE asking ME . . . I would not have agreed to marry him. I am not a piece of chattel to be handed over from one caretaker to another.

    Moreover, if my parents had objected to the marriage, I would have followed my intuition in the matter. I would never substitute someone else’s judgment for my own in matters of such consequence. I’ll gamble with a movie, book, or restaurant recommendation, but not with WHO I choose to spend MY life with.

    Several people didn’t think that BFF was “right” for me ~ and yet here we are, after 30 years of marriage, still happy with OUR choice.

    1. You know that could be why the practice has gone out of style Nancy. I do think though, that even when a young man seeks the blessing of the family, he and his intended have already discussed their level of committment. Married life has lots of challenges and starting off with an ‘us against them’ makes for an uphill battle. Non-the-less it certainly is the couple’s decision and rightly so. They are the ones that are going to be doing the work of creating a successful union. There are too many books, movies, plays, dramas, etc…for this not to be a recurring theme across all societies.

      Love when a post gets people talking. Congratulations on such a long and happy marriage – you definitely knew who you were and what you wanted and were rewarded by making the right decisions. -M

      1. Hmm . . . maybe “us against them” makes for a stronger union? Maybe marriages fail because too many people are given a vote? My mother and MIL both thought they should have a vote in where we lived, whether we had children, how we spent the holidays, etc.

        When a one-on-one discussion (rather than a family pow wow) is all that is needed to make decisions, it streamlines the process.

        1. Also, why should the focus be on the MAN asking the WOMAN’s family for permission? Why not have the WOMAN ask the MAN’S family? 😛

        2. That’s a great debate topic! I think most often couple makes the decision regardless of input from parents. The rare exception, at least in our culture, is when parents have the final say. I think so many factors come into play when people decide to get married. If you know yourselves well enough and have an appreciation of the commitment, the two of you can face anything and survive. If you are not being true to yourself and contemplating marriage for reasons that may not even be clear to you, then insight from those that know and love you (and are not working through an agenda of their own) is valid.

          I do think once you are in a healthy marriage, there should be an ‘us against them’ strategy in the sense that decisions made regarding children and holidays and living etc.. have to be decisions made between the two ‘CEO’s’ of the marriage. When the CEOs disagree, its up to them to work it out before presenting to interested parties.

  6. I guess these days, a father is lucky if he receives a text from a potential suitor asking for his daughter’s hand in marriage. I do enjoy watching the old shows, Little House on the Prairie or the Walton’s where the young man goes to the father for permission.

    1. Getting a text would certainly not set the right tone with too many Dad’s that I know. That would be an interesting conversation chain to read! 🙂

      Traditions work when they actually honor someone or a way of life. They don’t work if they are used to stymie growth and self-expression and impose one’s will on another. The Waltons and the Ingall’s life style is passe but their values of integrity, honesty and compassion will always be timely. -M

  7. Perfectly put! Families can create a wedge between the CEO’s due to competing alliances, etc. But they also can be a source of support and strength. Balance!

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