Recently, I sat my girlfriend’s dad down, explained how I feel about her, and asked for her hand in marriage. 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. Half of that time we’ve been living together.) That was followed up with financial advice, which was likely intended to help, but came off badly, like he was saying I don’t have enough money for us to get married.
While not traditional herself, my girlfriend comes from a very traditional family. I feel that if I ignore her father’s opinion on this issue, I’ll drive a wedge between him and I that will be difficult to remove, and if things go according to plan, I will be dealing with him for a very long time. We don’t have any other real problems; we are 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. How do I proceed from here?
I’m trying to imagine you sitting there, all earnest and freshly shaved, with your shirt tucked in, perched on the edge of a couch in a formal living room that no one’s sat in for about twenty years, and your future father-in-law laughing when you said you wanted to marry his daughter. What a dick.
You should have asked your girlfriend first, and then asked him as a formality. Now you have to go to your girlfriend and say, “I asked your dad for your hand in marriage, but he said no. I want to know what you think.” You two already live together, so I’m guessing you’ve discussed it before, and that you’re pretty confident she’s going to say yes. What you need to do now is come up with a game plan to deal with her dad. Maybe you could stage a big proposal in front of her family, and when she says yes, you can have piles of money rain down from the ceiling. Or you could just come up with a good strategy together, which would go something like this:
1. Lay low for a few months.
2. Work hard, and do a good job at whatever it is that you do.
3. Be kind to her parents: get her mother something cute and funny for her birthday (don’t underestimate the power of the mother to influence the father), get along with her dad, buy their dog some Frosty Paws.
4. Continue to be the good person that you are.
6. Be prepared for likelihood that she’s going to say yes, but the possibility that she’s going to say no. If her father is really the controlling blowhard that he sounds like (Does he have a mustache? I imagine that he has a mustache.), she might be too scared to go against his wishes. And then your heart will break. And then your next girlfriend will have a father who is a hippie, or lives in a different country, or is no longer alive.
I know it’s a little late for you, so I don’t want to make you feel bad, but really, THIS is the problem with the whole asking-the-dad situation. Since her dad isn’t going to have to sleep with you and make babies with you and live in the same house with you and do your laundry and ask you to stay home with your sick kids while you work late and spend all the whole rest of his life under the same roof as you, it doesn’t seem reasonable that he should have any say in whether or not you get married. Like, I thought all the dads said yes, unless the potential proposer was a drug dealer or a Nickelback fan. (Are you a Nickelback fan? Because I’m telling you right now, no one will ever marry you if you are.) If this doesn’t work out, next time, just ask the girl. Her opinion is the only one that matters.