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The Art of Asking Permission

Last night I met up with a work colleague at the W Hotel for drinks.  We hadn’t seen each other in quite awhile and a lot has happened in both our lives since our last get together.  We caught up over beers and pinapple martinis and had a great conversation on a variety of topics ranging from work to our personal lives.  Coincidentally, we both were married on the same day this year so we exchanged wedding stories, details on our honeymoon adventures and all the great things that led up to our respective ‘big’ days.  We had many laughs swapping stories, including the tradition of asking the woman’s father for her hand in marriage.  A tradition that Darren hadn’t been clued into until two days before he was going to ask me to marry him. 

Our story went like this…..I was away in Budapest doing the corporate thing while Darren was home in NY buying an engagement ring (I was completely clueless).  He went to lunch with some work friends and one of them asks Darren if he asked my dad if he could marry me.  Seems Darren didn’t know he was suppossed to do that so he calls my parent’s house and speaks to my mom but my dad isn’t home.  They finally connect later that day and they have a nice conversation about the new house we had just signed the contract for letting my dad know that his intentions are sincere and that he is in the relationship for the long haul.  And then he hangs up.  Darren never actually came out and said, “I am getting on a plane and in 24 hours I am going to ask your daughter to marry me.   Do I have your permission?”.   So my dad hangs up the phone, thinking nothing other than Darren wanted my folks to know that he was very serious about our relationship and that his intentions are to build a future together.  What he didn’t say was that he was about to propose.   Fast forward about 24 hours, Darren has just finished an amazingly romantic proposal along the Danube and I call home to tell my folks our incredible news.  I start off by saying I know you know why I am calling since Darren said he had spoken to them.  What I got on the other end was not the reaction I expected.. The conversation went something like this…..Me, “hi, it’s me.  I bet you know why I’m calling”  My mom “……no,”.  Sherri “Yes, you do.”  Mom, “no, I really don’t”.   Sherri “Darren told me he called you”.  Mom, “Yes, and?”  At that point I thought either my mother deserved an academy award or that something was lost in translation in Darren’s conversation with my Dad.  It was the latter,  Darren never actually asked me Dad for ‘permission’ to marry me so they were truly surprised (and unbelievably excited and thrilled)!  

In telling this story to Tim, he confided the same nervousness that I’m sure Darren had when having that conversation.  Both of them have both said that no one teaches you what to say or how to prepare for the ‘permission’ conversation and it is scarier than the actual proposal.   Being the woman in the relationship, I honestly can’t say I know what they went through, but I’m sure it is not an easy thing to do.  So to all you guys out there that are getting ready to propose, remember when you are speaking to your future father-in-law, be direct and come right out and say exactly what you are planning to do.   

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