The tradition of men asking permission to marry someone’s daughter has been around for awhile. Originally, marriage was considered a contract between two families- makes my daughter’s wry comment about two goats and a bag of coin seem pretty accurate. The families were to become allies of sorts, and were basically business partners. More importantly, the woman was the one who would birth the heir- you had to keep the line going.

If you think about it, this was like a prenuptial agreement- you were sort of stating that you would take care of the young woman in exchange for her having a brood of children. Divorce wasn’t an issue- when you married, you married till death did you part- there was nothing in writing, but it was ironclad-

Man asks Father (or oldest male relative)

Father determines if this was a family worth being in business with- gives a Yea or Nay

Daughter doesn’t get a choice

Couple weds, produces children and lives ever after. Happily doesn’t matter in this scenario. It’s a done deal.

Let’s bring it to 2019: If you ask permission to marry someone, should there be a marriage contract?

Should the Father of the prospective bride say:

OK- I give you permission to marry my daughter, but let’s iron out the terms. You must be married at least five years before you consider divorce. If there are children you may not leave marriage until youngest child is age ten. Every year you must put money in an escrow account to provide for your wife and children if you decide to take a runner. I will hold onto your birth certificate and passport and you need to have a signed letter from an attorney stating the reason why you need them and there will be terms to borrowing them.

As Chelsea stated yesterday, maybe the parents give permission/blessing because they know they may need to pick up the pieces if the guy leaves their daughter with kids and a big mortgage. If they see a flight risk, a bit of immaturity, should they worry what situation their daughter may be left in? Should they be able to say- “I don’t trust you. If you want to marry my daughter you must leave a deposit?”

Earthwalking brought up another good point. He said “So I give my blessing. Marriage is a disaster. Does my daughter have the right to say – ‘Hey Dad- you screwed up. He sucked. Why did you let me marry him?'” Will there be blame to be had if a parent gives the thumbs up to a union which totally turns out to be two thumbs down? Would a contract that states “Do not be a jerk?” help?

My thoughts?

I think a man and a woman mutually decide to get married. Together they approach both sets of parents and speak their intentions. No one asks permission. Hopefully everyone is overjoyed at the union. If there are doubts, you speak to your own child first, and if need be, you talk to the potential spouse.

We all hope our children have wonderful marriages, but the odds are not in our favor. Asking permission/blessing is nice, but really, in a world with divorce rates hovering around 50%, does a blessing matter? Asking for someone’s hand doesn’t guarantee success. We should make sure our kids understand how to treat one another every day, that respect not be doled out sporadically only when something is needed. Don’t ask my permission: treat my daughter with respect every single day. Every. Single. Day.


53 thoughts on “The Marriage Contract

  1. The hairiest issue for me is the divorce rate. I’m LDS, and there’s still a 50s community standard that couples get married to stay married.

    That doesn’t always happen, of course, but the ‘normal’ societal pattern of dating (aka sleeping together), living together, and considering marriage at some point makes me wonder:
    A. Why marriage is still a thing
    B. Why any party would care about conventions and tradition at that point
    C. Why people spend SO MUCH on weddings

    (I also have romantically hoped that marriage still had the daughter’s opinion considered, à la “Fiddler on the Roof.”)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wonder all those things as well. My daughter doesn’t think you should get married unless you’re having kids. She thinks the concept is outdated. And she’s too cheap to spend a lot on a wedding!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Respect is good whether it be directed toward a person or the clauses within a legal document, but they certainly aren’t the same thing. Different expectations?

    [You have “mail” relatives? I have “male” relatives, but then that’s just me. Once a proofreader, always a proofreader.]

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I couldn’t do squat on my iPad when I had one. It took me forever to type a sentence. Autocorrect may be useful, but it can screw you up something awful or make you laugh. Which is what I was doing with that comment

        Liked by 1 person

  3. You’re so right. I think it comes down to individual situations, some people and or families are more comfortable talking period. They may be inclined to do the intention talk.
    An old fashion, ownership type conversation would personally infuriate me. But as a parent if you are approached, it’s a perfect time to offer a bit of advice.
    If of age it is technically the couples decision, so no, the parent should never be responsible for the outcome. Besides no one should be blamed for someone else’s actions.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. This post has me pondering on marriage in the future, as in way down the line in the future, as in will we still have an earth habitable enough (pick your reason why from the many possibilities) to care about marriage rather it be in the traditional sense or not.
    I think that I’ve been reading too many dystopian novels lately perhaps and so I can’t help but wonder what my own future generations will deem necessary or important, and what they will simply let go to the history books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmmm…I just read The Testaments….could that have influenced my post? My daughter doesn’t believe In marriage unless there are kids involved. I don’t see marriage lasting though. I think people want weddings, but don’t care about the rest

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha! My thoughts strayed into that god-awful dystopian future as well for a few moments.
        Well there’s a future topic, the commodification and current commercialism surrounding marriage…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. The divorce rate is worrisome and entrusting my daughter to someone was something I had to adapt to. Turns out my daughter straightened me out on my thinking. She in no certain terms informed me that she takes care of herself! As in not her husband doing so.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a really interesting discussion for me, as I’ve never married and don’t expect I now will. I never made an active decision not to, although an old family friend once told me she believed I never would. For sure I’m prickly about my independence, but I’m also trusting of those I love. I shall watch with interest 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I wonder what would have happened if my first husband had asked my parents. They didn’t like him on several levels (he’d been married twice before for starters). They were right as it only lasted six months. However, the family wasn’t so crazy about my second husband either since I had dated his brother before him who also turned out to be a jerk. This one is 35 years and still going. In neither case did they tell me they weren’t thrilled with my choices until after the fact. I was in my 20’s with the first and 30 with the second.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I should preface my reply with a ‘I am not married!’…………. however I’m ‘closer to the end than the beginning’ and have an opinion…………. or sorts.

    A young family friend couple have just tied the knot, they spent an absolute fortune on the white wedding pantomime, but mum and I can’t help thinking they should have spent the money on building a life together.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. As I commented on Monday’s post from a nonhypothetical place having two daughters who married last year,.
    I think a future son-in-law who comes to you not to ask permission, but to show respect for you as an important person in the life of your daughter, and indicate that he wants to be family to you, is someone who has class and is showing respect. I don’t view it as grounded in the historical context when it is done that way.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think it all depends on individuals involved. Your daughters didn’t have a problem. But because I love a good debate, if your daughter proposed, would she go to her in laws? And if parents are divorced, do you go to each parent?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Now I know it’s semantics, but was it actually saying do I have your blessing, or was it just id like to be part of the family? Was her fiancé there? Because I think there are differences to how it’s approached. But what I think doesn’t matter, because you and you children and their spouses were all happy with the arrangement. What matters is what’s important to the individual.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I think you state the mutual respect and decision of the couple well. This usually happens with time, maturity and awareness of oneself, something that may be lacking in your 20’s but everyone is growing up so quickly now a days, perhaps I speak too quickly for everyone. Choosing to marry later in life or becoming a step parent requires adaptation, compromise and maturity. Oh, and humor doesn’t hurt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My biggest issue is that all is great when you’re in the throes of a relationship, but the first thing to deteriorate is respect. It’s too easy to take someone for granted

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m an old-fashioned traditionalist so I don’t have a problem with someone asking for a woman’s hand in marriage. I know my husband didn’t ask my father, but some of my brothers-in-law did. Either way is fine. No biggie.

    Liked by 1 person

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