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Prospective father-in-law rejected marriage proposal request. What now?
July 17, 2012 11:40 PM   Subscribe

I asked my girlfriend's father for permission to marry her and got shot down. What now?

After a while of not having the chance I sat my girlfriend's dad down, explained how I feel about her, and asked for her hand. He laughed for a moment, told me that we needed time and were too young -- we're 24 and 23 and have been together for about a year and a half, of which half we've been living together. That was followed up with financial advice, which (giving the benefit of the doubt) was likely intended to help, but came off... badly, to say the least.

While not traditional herself, she comes from a very traditional Greek family. I feel that if I ignore him on this, I'll drive a wedge between us (he and I) that will be difficult to remove, though we don't have a great relationship to begin with; no real problems per se, just two very, very different people.

At the same time, I feel like not continuing with my plans would be betraying how I feel about my girlfriend. There's zero doubt in my mind that this is the right move for us to take, outside of the father issue.

I don't expect answers here, but I'd love to hear from people who have been in this situation or something of that sort. Thanks in advance.
posted by daeken to Human Relations (86 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
He said you needed time, but he didn't say how much time did he? Why not give it 6 months and then you can say see Girlfriend Dad "I took your advice and gave it more time."

Even if the financial advice came off badly, why not have fun with it and play along? Maybe you can win him over when you tell him how helpful the advice was in 6 months?

Disclaimer: I'm not the kind of guy who would ask girlfriend's father for permission to marry her. This seems a little antiquated to me.
posted by Jurbano at 11:52 PM on July 17, 2012 [14 favorites]


It seems like your girlfriend would be the best person to discuss this with. She knows all of the people involved, after all. It also seems..... relevant to her interests.

I don't know. It just seems super-weird not to include her in this discussion.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:56 PM on July 17, 2012 [47 favorites]


No, he didn't say how much time to give it. Giving it six months is an option, but again it'd really be purely for his sake; which is an option, mind you.

As for his financial advice, it was really just "save and invest in real estate". I make a whole lot of money (considerably more than their household) and save/invest a lot of it, though not in real estate. Not sure how I can take his advice without putting myself into a bad place; I've prided myself on a complete lack of debt up to this point, and have been waiting until I was in a situation to buy good property in cash.
posted by daeken at 11:57 PM on July 17, 2012


mr_roboto: Normally I'd agree -- I discuss everything with her, and we've talked about marriage and all that -- but she doesn't know I was planning on proposing in the very near future. At this point I'm leaning towards just talking it over with her, though; not as romantic and all that, but it's definitely... practical.
posted by daeken at 11:58 PM on July 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


The laugh makes me think his reasons were just him trying to cushion the blow and that he doesn't actually want you to marry her at all, but maybe I'm reading too much into it.

Have you looked at past AskMes about asking father-in-laws for permission? They might have some useful perspectives about how the girl in this scenario would feel about it. If she's not traditional and is her own person, not continuing with your plans might feel like a betrayal to her as well.
posted by pahalial at 11:59 PM on July 17, 2012


Just ask her. You're not marrying her father. Kind of a total controlling dick move on his part. You both can discuss the issue of dad afterward.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 12:01 AM on July 18, 2012 [41 favorites]


Not to point out the obvious but it seems like there is already a wedge between you and her dad. It may have little or a lot to do with you. Who knows. Do what's best for you and your girlfriend.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 12:05 AM on July 18, 2012 [12 favorites]


The trick is not to ask for permission but to tell him you're giving him the courtesy of advanced notice. But I realize that advice doesn't help you now.

If you want to allow your father in law to save face then you can wait a few months like mentioned above and then propose to your gf. If he calls you out you can say you followed his advice. It sounds like there is already some issues in your relationship why risk souring it further?

I don't think it's going to hurt you to wait a few months. Why not be generous in this situation? It's important to have a decent working relationship with your FIL. Besides, he has really has very little power over you as you don't need him for any kind of funding (ie wedding costs, downpayment etc.)
posted by lemur at 12:10 AM on July 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


The discussion you have with your girlfriend doesn't have to be the proposal itself. Let yourself have some romantic, sweet proposal sometime in the future... But, for now, this really requires her input.

It's her dad, it's her potential marriage. She should be the one who figures out how the two of you, together, handle this situation. She might say, "Screw him -- he's crazy and opinionated, by he won't hold it against us." Or she might say, "Yowch, this is serious. Let me talk to him." Or she might say, "What a crazy guy! But let's just humor him. We'll wait six months and then you can try asking again." Doing anything other than talking to her about this immediate would be, I think, rather disrespectful.
posted by meese at 12:14 AM on July 18, 2012 [47 favorites]


Wow, that's strange.

I've always thought that the whole asking the father was more of a formality for those who still did it. Agree that it's kind of a controlling jerk move for him to say no. The financial advice is definitely a smokescreen, particularly if he knows you make more than him.

I can't give you first hand advice on the father issue, talking to your girlfriend might help but keep in mind that having her fathers blessing might be extraordinarily important to her so try to keep the negative comments to a minimum.
posted by Beacon Inbound at 12:15 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, my first father-in-law thought my marriage to his daughter was a terrible idea. We eloped. Things warmed up over the next several years, but we were only married for six, and I look back today and admire him for his restraint and dignity throughout the whole marriage. He was always kind to me despite thinking we'd made a terrible mistake. I wouldn't say he was proven correct, exactly, but we lasted six years and it didn't end with each of us keeping a unicorn as a reminder of our time together.

I don't want to be all condescending, but I will say you're both relatively young and you've got plenty of time. If I had a do-over, I'd have waited a bit on my first marriage. Not because all that has come after has been a living hell I've regretted every waking minute of each day, but because yeah, it hurt people in my wife's family that we moved ahead so quickly, and there was no rush.

Your relationship with him is important, because you'll all be family after the wedding. As mr_roboto says, though, your girlfriend's relationship with him is also important and they're already family. Since you've said you hadn't even included your girlfriend in the initial discussion, pressing on with an engagement would be an even bigger disservice to both of them if you asked her without mentioning this conversation. Doing so will place you and your future father-in-law in a state of genuine conflict, not just disagreement. Those are the rules you created when you asked in the first place.

I think meese took the shortest path to the right of this.
posted by mph at 12:20 AM on July 18, 2012 [20 favorites]


Dude seriously? A year and a half? Living together for half of that? That's nothing at this age. You ARE too young.

I know because I'm also this young. I was in this exact situation. I'm 23, my ex is 24 and we just broke up a few months ago. We had been together for 3 years and living together for 2, which is exactly double the time of your situation. At a year and half I was pretty in love with him, at 3 years not so much. If I had married my boyfriend at the year and a half mark I'd really really regret it. I know everyone's different, but I feel like early 20's is a turbulent time. Think about how different you are now at 24 than you were when you were 20. That was only 4 years ago. In 4 years from now at 28 you'll be way different.

Just wait.
posted by ad4pt at 12:30 AM on July 18, 2012 [93 favorites]


If you want a compromise, you could propose now, tell your girlfriend after, and offer to have a long engagement where you wait however long to announce it. But you really need to discuss this with her. Her father doesn't get a say here, she does. I can understand your wish to keep the peace, but she's an adult and women are no longer chattel. Asking the dad is a quaint formality and he violated the modern social contract, so he's in the wrong, not you. How your girlfriend wants to handle it is her prerogative, but don't deny her the proposal you know she wants because of this.
posted by whoaali at 12:32 AM on July 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


Do you have any idea at all how she might feel about her father?

If I were you, I'd do the romantic proposal. I would personally feel very sad if someone threw away their nice plans for a proposal because of some kind of patriarchal BS going on behind my back. (Not for feminist reasons, but just because something I wanted was taken away from me based on some kind of weird conversation that structurally can't include me.) Is your girlfriend like me, though? I have no idea.

So, in my relationship, were the roles reversed, I'd 1) ask her super vague questions awhile before the proposal to see how she might feel about her father's blessing and how important a proposal is to her (watch corny romcoms or something). 2) If systems were go, I'd do the romantic proposal. 3) Tell her, after the very immediate excitement had died down, that you discussed things with her dad and he was not cool with everything. That way you know whether she wants to get married and you had the private experience you wanted between you and her, but you can also decide when to tell her father, how long to wait to announce things, whether it really matters at all, &c. In my relationship, I would be the one to diplomatically tell my dad that my partner and I had "discussed marriage" and I thought it was the right thing, so as not to make it look like YOU asked his permission then YOU proposed and YOU decided to disregard his thoughts. It's between her and her father, not you and her father.

Anyway, there are a thousand ways she might handle this, but please please please don't let an antiquated, external thing ruin the sanctity of your relationship. At my age (23), I would be insulted if my father tried to tell me what to do with my personal life. (And whether or not you're too young is really immaterial, that's your decision to make, not his, and not Metafilter's, since that's not your question.)
posted by stoneandstar at 12:37 AM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


My steps 1-2-3 are kind of based on a playful relationship, though, if you think she would respond better to direct conversation, do that. I've been proposed to in the past, and it didn't even work out, but I really treasured the proposal itself, tbh. It's important to some people.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:43 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't necessarily think it means he doesn't like you or anything. Just, yeah. You guys are kinda young, and not everybody thinks it's a good idea to get married in the pre-25 range if you're headed towards middle-class-or-above adult life. It can be as much superstition as anything, mind, but if you're already cohabitating, it's not a bad idea to think it over in those terms.

If they're kind of a traditionalist family, the "real estate" thing might be a sign that it's not that he rationally thinks you can't provide for his daughter, but that there's a certain symbolic stability to owning real property and having part of your money in concrete things like that. Debt-free is a great aim, but I've known people who ended up in kind of suboptimal living arrangements because they put the principle over the practicality. It's granted pretty paternalistic to consider it important that your daughter's living situation be comfortable within the limits of what you can afford, but then, you were asking his permission, so. Might be something that could be assuaged with an indication that you have $X saved away in the House Down Payment Fund and you're just waiting for the right house? And if the right house turns out to be something you can buy in cash at the time, great.

But on the whole, I'd talk to her. The Proposal Event itself can be a surprise, the fact that you are agreeing to get married should be established well before that event. It is not weird or unromantic to discuss timeframes for these things beforehand.
posted by gracedissolved at 12:44 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


You are young. Half a year of living together is still honeymoon times for relationships. Humour the guy. He might be right.

Put it this way: if he's wrong and you and your SO go on to stay together for 75 years then six months to a year of delay are not going to make much difference. You have the rest of your life to be married. This guy has to be your father in law for the rest of his/your life, so it is worth keeping him on board if it isn't too much of a compromise.

I suppose it is a bit of a dick move for him to say no, but credit him some balls. It must be a hard thing to do. And he's said it to your face rather than taking his daughter to one side and doing it behind your back.

The financial advice is awkward, but no different from the advice dads give out to their own kids up and down the country every day. He might not be aware of your finances. Or he might, but just not trust job security for "kids" today.

Yes, you will drive a wedge between him and his daughter and for not much gain. We are not in the 1950s, where "marriage" meant that you got to have sex with your beloved whenever you both wanted, to live together. Aside your feelings on this, you don't actually have to sacrifice anything materially to compromise.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:11 AM on July 18, 2012 [21 favorites]


Just a few observations as someone who knows quite a lot of Greek people (and is married to one): I think you are right to approach this a bit delicately not because of any traditional protocol, but because bonds in Greek families are typically very, very strong, which usually means a close relationship with her family for the duration of your life together, and I'd try to avoid a situation where you might be asking your girlfriend to sort of "choose" between you.

I certainly wouldn't give up, but I would tread carefully and try to work through this as a problem to be solved in order to secure the happiest outcome for all of you, but especially your possible wife-to-be. I don't know the disposition of her mother in your situation, but under most circumstances, that would have probably been where I would have started, to get an idea of the sort of reception this might receive, and how best to proceed. If you haven't discussed it with her, and your relationship is pretty good, I'd certainly do that now.

I can't possibly read your girlfriend's father's mind, but just off the top of my head... I'm thinking it's quite possible that this isn't even quite the stone wall that it may at first appear. Again, I have no idea, but him bringing up the idea of real estate might actually be a promising aspect. Owning your own place is a very big deal to most Greeks, and is pretty symbolic of ... well, I don't know, but at least security, seriousness, dependability, solid roots, and, I guess, a family orientation. I don't think you need to read that as "you must own a home before you can marry," but the fact that he brings it up may actually be an indication that he's imagining a future for you two. A total guess on my part. You know him better than I do, I hope, but just from what you've said here... that conversation may not have been quite so discouraging as it might seem.

Also, I'm fairly sure he does think you're too young, and he may be right. I'm probably around his age, and I'm sure I'd be like, "omg, so young! They should wait and see how it goes!" :) Good luck!
posted by taz at 1:15 AM on July 18, 2012 [22 favorites]


Since you went ahead and asked you'll come across as disrespectful and inconsiderate to your future father-in-law if you go ahead and propose anyway.

You can't make assumptions about how she feels about this. You need to talk to her.
posted by mkdirusername at 1:16 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nthing talking to your girlfriend about this.

Also, playing devil's advocate, Mr. Nepenthe and I were both in our late teens when we got married. Thirteen years later, we're still secretly laughing at the people who said we were too young.
posted by ThisKindNepenthe at 1:29 AM on July 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


I realize that you are in NYC and that standards differ there, but basically, in Greek families, "owning a home" is pretty much considered the prerequisite for marriage. For most of my family, the process has been that the married couple moves right into a home that they buy together right after the wedding. You're sending off the signal that you're not ready to be married by your reluctance/disinterest in doing so. I am not going to argue over the logic of this argument, but that's the perspective the father is coming from.
posted by deanc at 3:38 AM on July 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


I feel that if I ignore him on this, I'll drive a wedge between us (he and I) that will be difficult to remove, though we don't have a great relationship to begin with; no real problems per se, just two very, very different people.

Yep, you may just do that. But, here's the thing - you're an adult, you get to decide what's more important to you.
posted by heyjude at 4:00 AM on July 18, 2012


Irrespective of questions about whether or not you are too young, dude: you're adults. You're past the age of majority. Well past. If you both want to get married, do it. It is not up to her father. It is not his decision. It is yours.
posted by Decani at 4:50 AM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


You say you are already investing, but not in real estate. Why not buy shares in a REIT or two? This lets you take her father's advice without tying yourself to something illiquid.
posted by drdanger at 5:22 AM on July 18, 2012


One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that in Greek culture it is very rare nowadays for people younger than 25 to marry. Out of all the people I know only one acquaintance tied the knot when she was 24. It's hard to offer concrete advice based on the fact that he's Greek though. When did he leave Greece? Does he keep up with modern trends or does he still live in the 70s? How did living in NY (presumably) influenced him? What is his own personality?

For what it's worth, while owning a house is the ideal, people who don't own houses get married all the time and asking for father-in-law's permission before asking your gf would seem silly or very (too) traditional in Greece. You would be giving him a nod, not asking for permission in any case. My point is don't exoticise her Greek background.

If you want to marry your gf, talk to her. If you intend to stay with her for the rest of your life waiting a bit won't hurt, but that's between you and her. Not between Mefi and her dad. If she wants to marry you, she'll know how to talk to him.

/Greek
posted by ersatz at 5:33 AM on July 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


My sister and brother-in-law went through this with my folks. They wanted to get married (they were 18!!), but my Mom put the kibosh on that. After about 8 months of very fraught relationships and strained negotiations, it finally came to a head, and my BIL and my Mom both laid their concerns and ambitions for the marriage out on the table, and a compromise was reached. My sister would stay in school and get her degree, while BIL would find a farm to buy/rent and get the business established. Then, they could get married.

They practically stared daggers into one another at first, but now, the relationship is very warm and cordial.

I would at least take the advice your GF's father has for you; like others have said, he may be hung up on you having a house as a signifier that you can look after his daughter financially.

That being said, don't do as my family did - involve the bride to be in the discussion!!
posted by LN at 5:36 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


He drove the wedge, not you, by sending you packing. Total dick move on his part.

But her hand is her own to give, not his. It was an interesting choice to do what you did (is this something she said she wanted?), but it wasn't necessary.

Do what you feel is right. Be true to your feelings and ask her anyway.
posted by inturnaround at 5:41 AM on July 18, 2012


Depending on her family dynamics, your girlfriend may already know-- if this was my family, my mom or my sister would've been on the phone with me before you pulled out of the driveway.
posted by amarynth at 5:47 AM on July 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


First, it doesn't matter what any of us think. It matters what your girlfriend thinks. Stop asking us what you should do, and ask her. She gets to decide if her dad has a say.

Second, you asked a question and got an answer. You shouldn't complain that it's not the one you wanted, and none of us should be criticizing your girlfriends father for telling you the honest answer to a simple question.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 5:50 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


You are very young. And not just in his opinion, or MetaFilter's - the U.S. Census Bureau tells us the average age for first marriage in the US is 28 for men and 26 for women. Put aside the "But, but, but!" reaction and just acknowledge that. Note also that as age at first marriage has risen, the divorce rate has fallen.

Can you articulate the hurry? Are you wanting to have kids in the next year or two? Is there some reason you can't get engaged, work together toward buying a house you move into and give it a year or two?
posted by DarlingBri at 5:56 AM on July 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


Nthing talking to your girlfriend.

She needs to know. Good luck!
posted by commitment at 6:05 AM on July 18, 2012


Taz is right.Period.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:09 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Listed to your potential father-in-law. Waiting another 6-12 months is nothing, if you truly plan to spend your life with this woman; you're also very young and have not been with her for long enough to emerge from the honeymoon phase of your courtship.
posted by ellF at 6:16 AM on July 18, 2012


I'm going against the prevailing advice here.

Per my ethnically Greek coworker, "invest in property" is code for "own a home before marrying my daughter."

Based on your other questions, it looks like you're in NYC, so unless you are already wealthy that's not going to be on the horizon for you for quite some time, especially if you want to buy property in cash. So if you want to impress her father and be the son-in-law he wants, you're going to need to figure out some other way to meet this criteria if you want warm relations with him. You might consider putting some of your investments into real estate generally. Look into firms that yield reasonable dividends, talk to your adviser, and move a little bit there.

Marriage, if done right, is permanent. Asking her to marry you now versus in six months isn't going to (and shouldn't!) diminish the love you have for one another. But it will build a solid relationship between you and your future father-in-law, which is priceless.

If I were in your shoes, I'd move some investments around, sit on my hands, and come back to him in six months. Instead of asking, I'd say to him, "I love {your daughter} very much, and so I took your advice and invested in real estate. Things are going well, and so tomorrow I'm going to ask for her hand in marriage. Thank you so much for your advice and your support." Flatter him into submission!
posted by juniperesque at 6:17 AM on July 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


You've talked it over, you each know you want to get married. You're already living together so it isn't like things are going to be all that different when you ARE married. My wife and I knew pretty early on in our relationship that we wanted to marry each other but we ended up living together for FIVE YEARS before I proposed and then another year before we actually got married. Other than some logistical things (she changed her name, we file our taxes jointly, etc) I don't feel like a whole lot has changed. I felt like we were married for years before the actual ceremony. You don't really lose anything by waiting.

But that isn't really the advice you're after.

Both you and her dad made a mistake in how this went down. You should have said, "I'm going to ask your daughter to marry me and I'd like to ask for you blessing." Framing it as asking for his blessing rather than his permission would have made it clear that you're going to get married anyways and it kind of backs him into a corner where he pretty much has to yes. He should have realized that he doesn't have as much control over this as he thinks and realized that not giving his permission won't really change anything.

I would try start talking with your girlfriend about marriage in casual conversation rather than in a serious way. Then you can ask (if you haven't already), "When I eventually get ready to propose, will you want me to ask you dad?" If she says, "Yes." Then you can present it as a somewhat humorous hypothetical, "What if says, 'No?'"

You should be able to get your answer without cluing her in.

Then you can talk to him again and if he still says, "No"...screw him (assuming your GF is on the same page. If she isn't, you'll have to post another ask.me is a few months), he doesn't have to come to the wedding then. You want to marry your girlfriend more than you want to get along with her dad. He'll get over it unless he wants to drive a wedge between himself and his daughter.
posted by VTX at 6:21 AM on July 18, 2012


I'm just here to say BAH to the people saying you're too young.

I was 25 when I got married and I was 28 when I had my first baby. And my husband and I didn't even really live together for the first nine months of our marriage as I was living in Boston and he was living in Vermont --- short of the summer between my junior and senior year of college, we never really lived together until after we got married.

And it worked out. 'Cause we're going on six years of marriage.

You're not necessarily too young at age 24 and 23.

I think you should give what her father said considerable thought since you sought his permission, and then once you have done that and let some time go by to really reflect on it (maybe a month or two), if you still feel that you want to ask her, then you should ask her. Hands down.
posted by zizzle at 6:22 AM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


If her father is traditional enough that he thinks it's normal to not only be asked for her hand, but to say "no," you've already driven the wedge in by humping his daughter and living with her outside of marriage. It's not something that can't be healed over time, but you're starting from a suboptimal position in this discussion.

At this point I'm leaning towards just talking it over with her, though; not as romantic and all that, but it's definitely... practical.

Yes, you should do this. She understands the family dynamics better than you do. Should you guys elope? Work through the mother to bring the father around? Take a few months? Buy a house/apartment to demonstrate stability?

And talking about practical stuff doesn't preclude the romance -- you can still do the big romantic ask later, this is just talking about what path to take going forward.
posted by Forktine at 6:35 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait wait wait! HE DIDN'T SAY YES BECAUSE HE DIDN'T WANT TO SEEM TOO EASY! He can't just give his daughter's hand away like it's nothing. Then not only is his daughter's hand worthless, he also looks like a total pushover.

My guess is that he probably wants his role as the dad to be affirmed. You're supposed to respect him. If you don't respect him now at the beginning, his whole hand is gone. If you want to be part of the family, you have to accept your role as a son in law. That role, I'm guessing, is one that pays him a great deal of respect and does what he says.
posted by shushufindi at 6:36 AM on July 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


You are really, really young, and most marriages at that age don't survive. Listen to her dad.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:38 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you had enough respect to ask her father in requesting your girlfriend's hand in marriage, you know to have enough respect to take his advice. Did you expect him to just say yes and hug you? When you ask a question of any kind, there is a chance the answer is more difficult than you anticipate.

Just because you make more money than her household doesn't mean you know better than what they feel is best for their daughter. They want her to have a house. So go shopping for a house with her. If that is what her father wants and you have tons of money, it is easy to fulfill the request. You want his daughter as your wife, then do what is necessary to make him comfortable to give you his blessing.

You know how much you love this woman, imagine how much her father loves her.
posted by Yellow at 6:39 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dude seriously? A year and a half? Living together for half of that? That's nothing at this age. You ARE too young.

My ex-husband (Note the EX part) and I married when we were 22 and 23. We had been together for a year and a half and were *madly* in love. We divorced at 25 and 26. I don't regret one second of our relationship but I absolutely do wish we hadn't been *married.*

Things more important than her dad's permission: What do you envision your lives together looking like? What kind of career are you interested in? Is she supportive of that? What about her career? Will either/both of you need to move? Will you be ok with moving for someone's job if need be? What do your financial plans look like? You have savings, do you have debt? Are you planning on buying a house together? Do you want kids or not? "I don't know" and "maybe someday" are not answers when you're talking about marriage. If those are your answers right now, wait to be married until you can decide on "Yes" or "No" and you both agree.

My ex-husband and I were perfect for each other at 22 and by 26, we were absolutely holding each other back in the most fundamental ways. If you're interested in marrying her now, you'll still be interested in marrying her in a year or two. There's no rush.
posted by sonika at 6:40 AM on July 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Do you have a pretty good idea that she even wants to get married now (as opposed to "someday")? At 23 I had been in a relationship for a couple years and living together for over a year, and I would have been horrified if my then-bf had proposed, because I knew we were way too young, but turning down a proposal is a pretty damn awkward situation.

If you talk about it hypothetically you can find out what she thinks without actually proposing. If she isn't even ready to get married, then problem solved (for now).
posted by randomnity at 6:42 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


This happened to me. Well, my boyfriend ask, my dad laughed and took us out for ice cream and said we were nuts and just wait a while. My boyfriend respected his wishes and tried to win him over a bit more. He did. And it was right to wait.

How long have you two been together? (It seems like kind of important info)

Family is very important. You will be marrying her family , too. I am sure people will be like, oh screw him, etc. This man could be the grandfather of your children and there is nothing better than families really getting along and being close. Hang in there and ask advice about finances etc (this seems to be important to him) and be the best almost son-in-law you can be. Ask again in six months.
posted by beccaj at 6:47 AM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't know that the issue here is that you are too young to get married (I know a couple who are 22! and about the tie the knot), I think it's more of an issue of Daddy May Know His Duaghter Best. Here's an anectdote.

I met Mr. L when I was 24 and he was 27. I brought him home to meet my parents about 2 months into our relationship. Unbeknownst to me, my parents, dad and mom, both knew within FIVE MINUTES that we were going to get married. We were clueless. We did get married three years later and are still happily married 9 years later. My dad later explained to me that they could tell by the way that we interacted with each other in that first five minutes that this was it. I'm glad they didn't share this revelation with us at the time, though. It was nice to figure it out on our own. FWIW, Mr. L did ask my dad for permission to marry me. When we did get engaged, my dad was greatly relieved. At that point, he had been waiting 2 years for us to figure it out!

A few years ago, my dad's friend polled his other guy friends with daughters who were married about whether those dads "knew" that the guy was the one for their daughter. When I say, "knew", they could tell that this guy had those qualities, characteristics, etc., that were so compatible with their daughter that the marriage was a good thing - just like my dad did with Mr. L. All of the guys he polled, including my dad, were unanimous that the guys their daughters married had fit that criteria and the dads knew it pretty instantaneously.

He was asking because he did not get this feeling about his future son-in-law.

My point here is that it may not be a Greek heritage thing at all. The dad may just feel that you aren't the one for his daughter.
posted by Leezie at 6:47 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Have you and your girlfriend been talking about marriage? Does she know you went to her father?

You two have to be on the same page.

What I recommend is to discuss how the interview with her father went. "Sweetie, I asked your father for your hand and he suggested that we wait. What do you think about this?"

It's romantic to plan a big proposal, but let's be practical. This is your life we're talking about, and since her Dad isn't on board, that's a huge issue.

If your girlfriend is as excited to marry you as you are to marry her, how about a long engagement?

If you both decide to become engaged, I definately recommend pre-marital counseling. This will help you sort out all the issues regarding family, money, religion, etc. This also demonstrates to her family that you're serious and willing to do whatever it takes to do this the right way.

But let's face it, it's all academic until you know what your girlfriend wants.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:48 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Please ignore the people telling you you are too young. It is absolutely silly for them to make that kind of judgement based on the info you have given us here. My wife and I got married when we were younger than you, and we are about to celebrate our 14th anniversary. We have the best marriage of anyone we know.

Now that you have hit a wall with the FIL, you need to bring your girlfriend up to speed. I know it ruins the drama and romance of a surprise proposal, but honestly, it is better to make sure you are both on the same page about engagement and marriage before proposing anyway. She will be able to help you figure out the best way to deal with her Dad, whether it is gradually win him over or damn the torpedoes and ignore him.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:49 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nthing it is a cultural thing. If he is old school Greek he wants to see you established before "giving" his daughter to you. Not a dowry per se, but he probably equates home-ownership ( or business ownership) with stability. You mention you earn and save a lot, He mentioned Real Estate...Ask his advice on investing in a couple of rental units. The idea is to propel the conversation forward and earn his trust that you are the stable guy for his daughter.
posted by Gungho at 6:50 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, my wife and I were a couple of years younger than you when we got married, and it was the right choice for us. We also got a boatload of "you're so young," but just because we were young doesn't mean we didn't have a good relationship. Listen to the advice, consider the advice, but don't be afraid to ignore the advice, because in the end, only the two of you can know if now is the right time to get married. Which isn't to say that you do know right now, but that you're the only ones in the position to find out.

So, hey, talk to her, figure out TOGETHER if you should be married. Seriously, you should probably do it before you propose anyway. Think of it like finding out if she gets seasick before booking the two week long cruise. My wife knew well in advance that I was going to propose at some point soon, but that didn't make my limerick based proposal any less romantic. Lots of people don't want to get married for lots of different reasons, most of them don't even involve their parents approval or disapproval. Once you figure out that marriage is a good idea, then work out when it's a good idea and if it's possible to bring her father on-board in a manner that doesn't overly tax the relationship.
posted by Gygesringtone at 7:01 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Decided to revisit with the benefit of my morning coffee and a nights reflection!

I'd be very cautious about following a lot of the advice regarding just completely disregarding his opinion. Yes, you are completely within your legal and moral rights to disregard his feelings, but that might just invite a lifetime of headaches. I still stand by my previous comment that it was kind of odd and difficult on his part that he denied your request. But, as others have mentioned if this family is very traditional (or even not that traditional, but close knit) you will not be able to marry her and cut them out of your new lives together. I don't get along with any of my inlaws and it adds a significant amount of stress to our marriage, particularly since they are the ones that are geographically close (my folks require an airplane to visit). Given the choice, I'd much rather get along with my inlaws than be constantly bickering. Unless this guy is a monster and she can't wait to get out from under his thumb, I'd really recommend following the advice given that you humour him. Marriage is for life so what's 6 months or so?

As to whether or not you're too young, I won't make a judgement there (especially since you didn't ask for it) but I will share my own experience. My wife and I were a little older than you and your gf (25 and 23) when we got married; engaged a year before. We've made it so far, but it's been excruciatingly difficult at times. I sincerely wish I had waited, our first years were so difficult because we were so young and inexperienced with a lot of things that you learn just by being a grownup over time. Neither of us really travelled independently and she has never lived on her own independently (outside of college). We've both missed out on a lot of experiences that friends and family who've waited got to enjoy, things that helped make them much more independent individuals than I am. I'm not saying I regret getting married; I'm just saying I wish I hadn't been in such a hurry.
posted by Beacon Inbound at 7:07 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


taz has exactly the most helpful answer for your current mindset here, however,

Please consider that these sorts of traditions to have reasons for them. Your girlfriend's father is very likely smarter and wiser than you are, has seen a lot more marriages than you have, has been married before, and almost certainly knows your girlfriend a lot better. The fact that he is baulking should be a big sign to the clueful that maybe your plans arn't the most wise possible. Regardless you should absolutely not encourage your girlfriend to choose between you and her father, if she wants to thats on her, and think very carefully on it even if she does.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:08 AM on July 18, 2012


Hmm, is the family religious? They might be disappointed she is marrying outside the Orthodox church.
posted by melissam at 7:08 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


daeken: "I make a whole lot of money (considerably more than their household)"

Whatever else you have running through your head, this absolutely needs to not be a part of it. At all, period. It will not provide you with valuable perspective of any kind, and it will color your perceptions in ways that will be immediately obvious and destructive in ways you do not want.

In terms of your potential father in law's financial advice, I would encourage you to comunicate respect his root values, which you seem to, and are likely some combination of financial security, investment in your community, seriousness, dependability, solid roots, and a family oriented disposition. Real estate does not necessarily need to be a part of that for him to respect your efforts if you can communicate your financial strategy in terms of his values and the language he uses to describe it.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:18 AM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


My girlfriend was 24 when I asked her dad for permission to ask her to marry me. Not sure why I asked, but it seemed like the right thing and it still in hindsight seems like the right thing. Good on you for asking. My FIL seemed prepared for the conversation. He actually gave me a test. A written test. While the test was bs (it was a test they gave to clerical staff in the interview process at the firm he worked for -- I got a 97!), it served a bigger purpose. It was a test to see how serious I was. He was feeling me out as a person. He was seeing how I reacted to an odd awkward situation.

While I would take your future FIL at his word, I would also view this as a test, by him, of your resolve and serious intentions. He is testing you as the future husband to his precious daughter.

You need to push back in a respectful cooperative way. Talk to future MIL. Talk with FIL again. Tell him you have had time to reflect on what he said and that while your love for his daughter and your intention to make an honest woman out of her remain steadfast and real, you would like to work out a solution to his objection. Explain to him you make beaucoup bucks. Explain your relationship to debt and your intention to buy property for CASH someday soon. Then listen. See if he comes up with a new reason to object.

I bet over the course of several conversations, as he learns more about you he will actually embrace you as his daughter has, and welcome you into the family.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:34 AM on July 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hmm, is the family religious? They might be disappointed she is marrying outside the Orthodox church.

Greeks will generally still get married in the church even if their fiance/e isn't Orthodox and even if they themselves aren't especially religious. The exception will be if the couple (or one member of the couple) really insists on not having a church wedding (and, given the OP's position, I'd tell him not to push his luck with that one. He's clearly already on thin ice). I'm trying to avoid commenting on the religious, social class, and economic tensions that are flying off the page in the OP's question and followup-- I was just trying to address the real estate thing: home ownership is key, and even Greek business and restaurant owners typically own their own space rather than leasing it from a commercial landlord. I realize that your circumstances are quite different living in NYC, but that's the perspective your prospective FIL is coming from.
posted by deanc at 7:47 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Get your girlfriend a promise ring, and have a conversation with her about marriage. For what it's worth, I also think you're too young! But thats just old me talking from experience. So feel free to ignore it, as you kids will do anyway! If you truly want to marry her, you will also be marrying into her family, so be respectful of the dad and get your girlfriend's input.

Also, marriage requires so much communication! So I'll repeat myself and everyone else here and say Talk to her!!! (with a promise ring, if you want to be romantic about it).
posted by katypickle at 7:59 AM on July 18, 2012


Your kind of in a tough spot because of the culture as it stands. Given that you're living together already, the cost to you of delaying marriage is in some ways much lower than if you were not living together. This may enter into your prospective father-in-law's calculus of whether to give you his "permission." The legal ties of marriage are hard to undo and you've already in some ways formed the emotional and practical attachment.
posted by ThisIsNotMe at 8:03 AM on July 18, 2012


I think what he meant was "Holy shit I can't afford a wedding right now! Please for the love of god wait!" Nervousness. Delay. Financial concerns. Sure it was all projected onto you. But what else was he going to do? Come right out and say the above? Hardly.
posted by jph at 8:24 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Some people marry "young and stupid" and are happy for life. Some people marry older when they're surer and divorce after six months. There is also, of course, a huge range of possibilities in-between. If you are really sure that this woman you've spent the last 18 months with (and consider what a short time that really is) is the one you want to live with for the rest of your life, grow old with, maybe raise kids with, and die with... Go for it.

My personal advice would be to wait a little while. Someone said six months, and I think that's a decent time. Wait a while, try to build up your relationship with her family (discussing money as little as possible seems like a good start) and then ask again. If he still says no and you are still intent on being with her forever, propose to her romantically, and when you have her answer discuss her father's disapproval and what to do about it.

Also, the father may be freaking out because he doesn't want to (or can't) bear the financial responsibility for the wedding. I'm not sure of the cultural particulars, but consider the possibility.
posted by Urban Winter at 8:39 AM on July 18, 2012


Wow. Thanks very much for all the insights. After sleeping on it (or at least attempting to), thinking over everything, and reading all of this I think I have a better understanding of the situation.

Once we're established in our new house (renting, not buying -- just not a wise choice to buy in NYC right now) and things have settled down a bit, I'm going to revisit the situation. While I have no doubt in my mind that I want to spend the rest of my life with her, there's no reason to rush into this and burn bridges.

I can't speak to the particulars of their financial situation, but I can imagine that not wanting to spend money on a wedding is at least a factor. Also, certain things that passed over my head during the conversation started to sink in afterwards, e.g. him referring to her as "just a baby"; while she and I may be ready for this, I definitely don't think he is. That's understandable and while the conversation sucked for me, I'm sure it wasn't easy on his end either.

Anyway, thank you all for your help; it means a lot to me.
posted by daeken at 8:58 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


He laughed for a moment, told me that we needed time and were too young -- we're 24 and 23 and have been together for about a year and a half, of which half we've been living together.

I'm from a different culture really - in the UK people tend to marry later and parents paying for the wedding is seen more and more as optional - and I am not someone who would have appreciated my partner asking my father for permission. However, I can't help but think he has a point. It sounds as though he's not saying 'What? Fuck off' but 'make sure you're doing this right'. Whether you agree or not is for you and her to decide together. And there's nothing to stop you having a long engagement if that's what you need.
posted by mippy at 8:59 AM on July 18, 2012


Also, if you make tons of cash, would he even need to pay anything toward the wedding? Or is that a point of pride in Greek culture of which I am not aware?
posted by mippy at 9:00 AM on July 18, 2012


I can imagine that not wanting to spend money on a wedding is at least a factor

I actually disagree with this line of reasoning I've been seeing in the thread. I suspect the father is more or less financially prepared for this (or at least built those expectations into his plans), at least on some level (and in line with his hometown's financial expectations-- I assume he's not from NYC, and you clearly aren't, either).

He thinks you and your daughter are young (Greeks tend to get married older. There were few straight-out-of-college weddings in my social circle), and he probably thinks you're financially naive. He's not giving you a "no"-- his impression of what a "marriage" is that of an established man bringing a wife into his life and ready to raise a family, not "two young kids just starting out." Neither is wrong, exactly, just different perspectives.
posted by deanc at 9:07 AM on July 18, 2012


Well, he's never once let me pay for dinner, even when I've taken them out myself, and after buying him an iPad for his birthday he insisted on paying me back (though it went to the girlfriend rather than myself). So I think that when a wedding does happen, he'll insist on paying at least part of it, no matter how much I push back.
posted by daeken at 9:11 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I realize that you are in NYC and that standards differ there, but basically, in Greek families, "owning a home" is pretty much considered the prerequisite for marriage. For most of my family, the process has been that the married couple moves right into a home that they buy together right after the wedding. You're sending off the signal that you're not ready to be married by your reluctance/disinterest in doing so. I am not going to argue over the logic of this argument, but that's the perspective the father is coming from.

Coming in to nth deanc and others who are saying essentially this. With more traditional cultures, Greek being one of them, you are expected to move into a house that you buy together when you get married. You say that you make a lot more than her family, and think that should be code for "stability" - but it may not be. What do you make your money in? Where do you spend your money? What kind of place are you two living in now?

I understand that in NYC many people don't buy - but many others do, just in the "less desirable" boroughs. What borough are you living in now? If you are making a good bit of money, you could probably afford to buy in Staten Island or Queens, both of which have strong Greek enclaves.

I actually disagree with this line of reasoning I've been seeing in the thread. I suspect the father is more or less financially prepared for this (or at least built those expectations into his plans), at least on some level (and in line with his hometown's financial expectations-- I assume he's not from NYC, and you clearly aren't, either).

Yes, this. Unless he's suffered a severe financial setback recently, he has probably been saving for this from the moment he birthed a daughter, if he's as traditional as you say.
posted by corb at 9:13 AM on July 18, 2012


Well, he's never once let me pay for dinner, even when I've taken them out myself, and after buying him an iPad for his birthday he insisted on paying me back (though it went to the girlfriend rather than myself). So I think that when a wedding does happen, he'll insist on paying at least part of it, no matter how much I push back.

Is it possible that he thinks you spend irresponsibly? That you're not socking away money in a manner that shows you're saving for your wife and future children? The house example is a good one.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:21 AM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is it possible that he thinks you spend irresponsibly? That you're not socking away money in a manner that shows you're saving for your wife and future children? The house example is a good one.


Yes, very much so. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I think that's the case. I spend a lot of money. But I also make well into the six figures just from my day job, let alone everything else. So while I still save and invest a considerable amount, he obviously doesn't see that; he sees me coming to their house in a limo and flying around the world.
posted by daeken at 9:23 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Though I've spent a decent bit of time talking investments and business with him; he knows my rough plan, or at least he's heard it before. Hm.
posted by daeken at 9:25 AM on July 18, 2012


1. He's right, you are too young.

2. See, this is why you don't ask your girlfriend's father for permission. Because you're not really going to not marry her if he refuses to grant it.
posted by Sara C. at 9:25 AM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


OP, out of curiousity: if you're making in the six figures from one job alone, why is buying a house something you haven't considered?
posted by corb at 9:27 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


2. See, this is why you don't ask your girlfriend's father for permission. Because you're not really going to not marry her if he refuses to grant it.

I didn't ask him just to hear a 'yes, good luck', though honestly that was my expectation going in. He clearly has lived a long life and seen quite a bit more than I have, and I will very much take what he's said to heart. That doesn't mean I'm going to change my life plans around what he's said, or that I love his daughter or want to marry her any less, but it wasn't a non-question.
posted by daeken at 9:28 AM on July 18, 2012


OP, out of curiousity: if you're making in the six figures from one job alone, why is buying a house something you haven't considered?

I've considered it, and I plan to in the next year or so (though that will not be a house for us, but a rental property), I plan to keep renting. I've done the math, talked with my financial planner, etc and buying a house where we want to live -- in the condition we want -- is simply not feasible without incurring considerable debt at this point. While debt can be a useful tool and all that, I've decided it's simply not the right move financially at this point.
posted by daeken at 9:32 AM on July 18, 2012


So while I still save and invest a considerable amount, he obviously doesn't see that; he sees me coming to their house in a limo and flying around the world.

Uh.

As someone who comes from a working class family, I would find this obnoxious and ostentatious. Please cut that out immediately, because the limo and such probably makes everyone extremely uncomfortable.

Dad also probably finds it somewhat emasculating. My father-in-law is a bit like him, in that he doesn't make a ton of money. But he likes taking us out to eat and on occasional vacations (which he saves very carefully for!) as a show of love and his own financial comfort. My brother-in-law weirdly doesn't get that my f-i-l gets a lot out of these gifts emotionally--that they make him happy. He always tries to steal the check from him to pay and it makes everyone uncomfortable. When the patriarch (or matriarch!) wants something a certain way in this kind of power dynamic, it's best to go along with it. Paying because you make more money and can is kind of disempowering and dick-move-ish.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:32 AM on July 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


I've done the math, talked with my financial planner, etc and buying a house where we want to live -- in the condition we want -- is simply not feasible without incurring considerable debt at this point.

I think, coming from a traditional family background, that this would be a red flag for him. It would nearly be a red flag for me, and I've struggled very hard to lay a lot of that baggage aside.

What it may imply to more traditional types is: "I only want my ideal, perfect, situation. I am not willing to start off small in order to give stability to my wife. I am not willing to go through the hard work of building."

Have you thought about a possible compromise? Look into a property you can buy right now in another area - maybe upstate, without taking on a ton of debt. It doesn't have to be a great house. It could be a tiny one-bedroom house in Poughkeepsie that you have no intention of ever living in. Broach the idea of this with your future FIL to see what he thinks of this.

I suspect that his perception of you if you owned one home free (especially free and clear, no matter how tiny) and rented and lived in another would be very, very different. Owning any kind of home, even somewhere you don't want to live, would say to him, "Even if my son-in-law loses his fancy job, my daughter will still have somewhere to live, and she won't be out in the streets."
posted by corb at 9:49 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was going to avoid this line of discussion, but I can't help myself: you don't make huge amounts of money for NYC, and dreams of saving tons of money and buying a house with cash are probably infeasible if you have any plan to stay within the greater northeast metropolitan area. You'll figure this out as time goes on, and you'll be fine, but definitely your prospective FIL is picking up on your financial naivete.

Greeks like to see the following: someone who very carefully and methodically saves his money wisely with the intention of building a family and/or business. The well-off Greeks in your girlfriend's neighborhood are the people you don't even realize are well off: because they own restaurants and have real estate investments whose income they drive back into the business and might, at most, buy a mid-range Mercedes, if that, and not have a lot of flashy indulgencies that you can see (though check out the house they built in their home village back in Greece, and you'll see something different, but only once they have firmly and clearly "made it"). I know a Greek guy who easily makes 4-5 times what you make, and I've never known him to pay for a limo or pay more than $200 for a suit.

All of these tensions are totally leaping off the screen at me the instant you wrote your question and your update.

Now none of what you're doing or how you're living is wrong, I want to emphasize that (it's ok to indulge now and then if you're making good money). It's just that Greeks have a certain model for what "responsible adult" looks like, and you're not giving off that vibe. The worry is that the trappings of your success are just a flash in the pan and that you still need time to ωριμάσεις (literally: "ripen").
posted by deanc at 9:52 AM on July 18, 2012 [13 favorites]


that will not be a house for us, but a rental property

If I were a parent, and my child's partner came to me, said he/she wanted to marry him/her, and then said that they had no plans to buy a home but instead wanted to invest in rental property, what I would hear is this:

I have no desire to settle down and make a home yet, despite the fact that I easily could if I wanted to.

This might give me pause in giving my "blessing", because I don't want my baby to go marrying someone who clearly isn't ready for all this.

My reservations along these lines would multiply a millionfold if said partner lived a lavish lifestyle, threw money around on frivolous stuff like arriving at our home in a limo, etc. You clearly have other priorities besides settling down and having a family.

So, ummmm, no duh your girlfriend's dad isn't champing at the bit for you guys to get married. If you were ready for this, you would be willing to hear "buy a house." The fact that you're not, and you wanna do what you wanna do with your money (which from what you've said here sounds mostly like playing and not like settling down), implies that you're also not ready to get married.
posted by Sara C. at 10:00 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Another thing, just thinking about it, is to ask the question:

What does marriage look like to you?
What do you think it looks like to your FIL?

When you think of marriage, do you think of settling down, having kids, and living a quiet but happy lifestyle? Or do you think about you two knocking around the world together, living exciting lives in one of the most bustling cities in the world?

Your FIL most likely wants one of those for his daughter, and it may not be the one that you want for his daughter.

When you say you think she's old enough to get married, do you mean, "old enough to get married and have kids, and be done living the nightlife?" Or, "Old enough to keep doing what you're already doing, with the additional benefit of a ring?"

Again, I don't mean to knock this if it is your preferred lifestyle, but it may be something of a mismatch.
posted by corb at 10:05 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


This shouldn't be about her father. It's about you and her.

If you've got a romantic proposal planned, and you're ready to pop the question, just do it! Ask her!
She may say YES!!!! or she may say "yes, but not now" or "let me think for a bit".

No matter what she says, your followup is "I talked with your father - I thought it was important to me to have his blessing. As it turns out, he thinks we're too young, and I found it wasn't as important to have his blessing as I thought it was - I [love you and want to get married]. But I don't want to make any of your family angry. Do you want to tell everyone about this right now, or wait for a while? Do you want to start planning a wedding right now, or wait for a while? You know your family better than I do. I [love you and would love to broadcast this happy news to the hills] but if you think it would be better to keep quiet for a bit we can do that."
posted by aimedwander at 10:27 AM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Owning your own place is a very big deal to most Greeks, and is pretty symbolic of ... well, I don't know, but at least security, seriousness, dependability, solid roots, and, I guess, a family orientation.

This seems to be true of a lot of people of a certain generation, actually, Greek or not. We moved around a bit for a few years after my husband finished grad school while he did the standard two postdocs, and I remember a conversation with some older members of his family that got...not heated, exactly, but kind of tense because it really bothered them that we were almost thirty and not buying a house yet and therefore were somehow shirking adulthood. We had actually planned to put off buying a house until Dr. Tully Monster had a permanent job. It just didn't make sense. The ironic thing is that daeken's reasons for not getting into the NYC market are quite sensible: not only does he risk getting in over his head in a ridiculous market, but if it goes south again he could wind up in real trouble. Lots of real grown-ups rent instead of owning--all their lives--especially in big cities like New York and Chicago, and for them it may be the wisest thing to do.

I just want to add, regarding the marriage age thing: there seems to be an awful lot of fixation on numbers here. Regardless of what the statistics say, there's no magic age you have to be before your marriage has a good chance of succeeding. You could be mature and have your head on straight at 24, or be a complete mess personally at 28 and never actually be grown up enough to settle into a stable, committed relationship.

I've known people who did indeed marry later, and for a variety of reasons they crashed and burned years later. We got engaged at 19 and married at 21 and moved in together for the first time three days after the wedding. And I'd never even had any other long-term relationship. I have no regrets, absolutely none. 20 years later, there have been a few speedbumps, sure, but things are better than ever. (Oh, God, now I feel irrationally like I'm tempting fate.) Anyway, it depends more on how your personalities, goals, and life circumstances mesh than on how many years you've been alive, not to mention the whole love and respect thing.

So my suggestion: explain what happened, ask her privately to marry you, and give her a diamond solitaire pendant or something like that in lieu of an engagement ring. Take some of the excellent advice above (especially the bit about flattery and saving face) and ask for her father's blessing again in six months or so. Then you can become publicly and officially engaged and give her a proper ring at a big party and there will be singing and rejoicing and lots of yummy Greek party dishes (sorry, it's lunch time, I'm hungry) and everything will be A-OK.

All the best to both of you!
posted by tully_monster at 10:56 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised no one has mentioned this aspect: if he's as traditional as is being implied here, he might expect you and your new bride to start having children immediately after the wedding. So... where are those children going to live? And go to school? And how far away from your intended wife's family will you settle, when you *finally* settle? Certainly he will want you all close. Have you discussed any of your intentions around those issues with him?

Also, all of the advice to just ignore his feelings and proceed with your own plans feels really icky to me. Please do not blow off his (or her mother's) feelings. You aren't asking for his daughter's "hand" - you are asking to become a part of their family. Don't alienate them right off the bat. When the kiddos do come, you will spending A LOT of time with them (or rather, hopefully you will, for the kids' sake).

If your intentions are start a family and a life with your lovely girlfriend, his advice to wait a bit and get more firmly established is sound. If you just want a partner to jet-set around the world with, well, proceed as you have been I guess.

Now go back upthread and re-read Yellow's advice.
posted by vignettist at 11:00 AM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


As someone who asked a similar question on Ask MeFi a few weeks ago, I affirm what others say: you must talk to your girlfriend.

I came here first, rather than to my girlfriend, because I did not want to "ruin the surprise" and because I wanted a range of opinions. Well, a range of opinions does not matter in the end--only your woman's opinion matters. As for the surprise--well, we have talked about marriage so much in the past that there was very little surprise left to drain :) so I will do what I can to pull a minor stunt and make it at least as much of a surprise as can be expected, considering I have already asked her whether I should talk to her mom first.

Talking to her was easy and gave me the 100% slam dunk correct answer. You must talk to her about this. My bit of supplemental advice is to just drop the whole idea of marriage proposals being a surprise or being romantic. It's just too serious for it to be shrouded in secrecy. To add romance, throw in some sort of proposal stunt or something. But talking about it ahead of time has got to be part of the deal, and that means talking about snags like the one you have encountered with her father.
posted by massysett at 2:51 PM on July 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Okay, please, please, please talk to your girlfriend. Getting married doesn't need to mean owning a house or having children right away, and you need to know how your girlfriend feels. It might be hugely important to her to keep that sense of peace and stability with her family, but she also might find all of that oppressive and wish to escape it. I don't doubt that a lot of advice in this thread is wise advice for adulthood, but it has nothing to do with your actual relationship in the real world, which you need to hash out one-on-one. Try to strike a balance between discussing your future and still giving her a proposal if that's what you both want.
posted by stoneandstar at 3:32 PM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


You are young, yes. But my wife and I married at 24 too, and are hitting our 14th anniversary in a few weeks.

On the other hand, we had dated/been engaged for a combined total of 8 years prior to the wedding, so we pretty much had a stable understanding of our relationship prior to tying the knot. A year and a half isn't that long, and it does make a difference.
posted by caution live frogs at 8:20 AM on July 19, 2012


I'm surprised no one has mentioned this aspect: if he's as traditional as is being implied here, he might expect you and your new bride to start having children immediately after the wedding. So... where are those children going to live? And go to school? And how far away from your intended wife's family will you settle, when you *finally* settle? Certainly he will want you all close. Have you discussed any of your intentions around those issues with him?

Also, all of the advice to just ignore his feelings and proceed with your own plans feels really icky to me. Please do not blow off his (or her mother's) feelings. You aren't asking for his daughter's "hand" - you are asking to become a part of their family.
This is very good food for thought, for both the OP and his girlfriend. Lots of excellent questions that they will need to address satisfactorily.

However, I've seen such a situation play out within my own family, in which one member married into a large, suffocating close-knit, ethnically Eastern European family headed by a patriarch who has always been extremely controlling and bullying very concerned with and involved in his adult children's lives, and that as a result their own emotional maturity has been severely and obviously stunted. Consequently, I'm not at all convinced that the father's feelings should be any more than a minor consideration, if even that, in any decision a couple makes, "tradition" be damned.

American women, whatever their cultural backgrounds, have the right to make independent choices about their lives, especially at the age of 23. It's entirely up to them to figure out how much weight they should give their parents' demands wishes. After their children grow up and leave home, parents can no longer be considered to "know what's best" for them.

Personally, I am against the idea of asking parents for their daughter's hand in marriage, because at best it's a meaningless, outdated bit of sexist chivalry, and at worst it provides a certain kind of difficult parent with yet another way to exercise control over their adult children's futures. The OP is NOT marrying his girlfriend's family. He is marrying her. And maybe she, not being "traditional" herself, wants to escape the family prison. This is something that they will need to work out together before making their intentions known to her parents.

And if his girlfriend really does want to continue to live under Papa's thumb long after she has children of her own, the OP needs to decide whether that's something he can live with.
posted by tully_monster at 7:02 PM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tully_monster, my own son is going to be marrying into a Greek family. This has nothing to do with patriarchalism, or not much-my future daughter in law's father is deceased. Greek family culture is traditionally extremely tightknit- although there way more intermarriage than there used to be, from my vantage point not a lot of that has changed. (My own Greek grandfather was KICKED OUT OF HIS FAMILY for marrying a nonGreek fwiw.)

I don't think it is fair in the least to ask someone to change who they are and how they relate to their own family UNLESS they themselves are eager to make that change. This is way more complicated than thinking you are marrying a person and not the family. If you marry Greek, this is definitely NOT the case.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:33 PM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


At the same time, I feel like not continuing with my plans would be betraying how I feel about my girlfriend. There's zero doubt in my mind that this is the right move for us to take, outside of the father issue.

Have some doubts. They are vital to a healthy relationship.
posted by srboisvert at 3:08 PM on July 22, 2012


I don't think it is fair in the least to ask someone to change who they are and how they relate to their own family UNLESS they themselves are eager to make that change. This is way more complicated than thinking you are marrying a person and not the family. If you marry Greek, this is definitely NOT the case.

Of course not. But the success of the marriage depends on whether the other person can live with that. I couldn't. I would run away screaming.
posted by tully_monster at 7:11 PM on July 31, 2012


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