The Future Father in Law Talk

She's the one and you know it. You've purchased the perfect engagement ring and planned a proposal she'll remember forever. And now, there's just one last thing you need to do: talk to her father.

Deuces, brother. This one is all on you! There's not much else to say other than "best of luck to ya!" Ok, ok. We're joking, obviously. While we realize there is some stress involved with this part of the proposal process, it's really nothing to lose precious sleep over. In fact, it's really more of a tradition and respect (and encouraged) thing than it is completely necessary. And even though requesting her hand in marriage is not required, it's a touching gesture that both your bride and her father will appreciate. Either way, it will be a talk that you and your soon-to-be fiancé's father will remember forever, so it's best not to screw it up (no pressure, ammmmirite?).

These moments will also make amazing excerpts in your fantastic wedding story. When telling your friends and family about the wonderful engagement (the when, the where, the how, etc.), people will also want to know about the "asking-the-father-in-law-for-permission" story. How did you ask? How did you feel? Were you sweating like a sinner in church on your way to meet him? What did he say?

No matter what you do, keep these few things in mind before you sit down with her father mano a mano.

1. Make sure she wants to marry you

This may seem like a no-brainer, but missing the mark on this one spells disaster. Make sure she's ready to get engaged to you. Duh. Generally speaking, it's a good idea to know she's on board - FOR A FACT - before you begin preparing to pop the question. But it's especially important if you're planning to speak with her father.

Have a conversation (or multiple conversations) with your girl about the future. Discussing important things like politics, religion and marriage is highly recommended for couples anyways. Trust us. Having a semi-uncomfortable and serious talk with the girl of your dreams sure beats having a semi-uncomfortable and serious talk with her father. Not to mention, can you imagine the embarrassment?

2. Rehearse, but don't give a speech

Nerve-wracking situations have a way of hamstringing even the best laid plans. Coming off as scatterbrained or tongue-tied in front of your future father in law is the last thing you want out of an already tense situation. You want to describe your love for your girlfriend and your desire to marry her eloquently while not coming off as too cocky or rushed. Preparation is the key.

Rehearse what you're going to say. It sounds cheesy, but practice in front of the mirror, write down your thoughts and organize them, and create a short and easy-to-remember list of key points you want to cover during the talk. Some suggestions:

  • Why you want to marry his daughter - how much you love her, how she makes you feel, etc.
  • Why you and your girlfriend feel like you’re in the right place to tie the knot - stay away from finances, etc., and focus on how the relationship has matured to a critical point.
  • What you promise her and her family through marriage - reliability, support, to be kind and caring.
  • How you bring out the best in each other and fully support each other’s dreams and futures every step of the way.

But don't memorize a full speech. Keep memory cues fresh, and make sure you stay natural and plainly spoken when you initiate the conversation. If you feel like your'e orating, you're probably making things awkward. And, let's be honest, if you tell your serious girlfriend's father that you want to talk...he probably already has an inkling of what it is that you wish to talk about anyways. So breath. It is probably not an unexpected topic.

3. Initiate the conversation and make sure you're asking, not telling

Find a time that's convenient for him, but also let him know that you've got something you want to talk about. Don't make the subject and situation seem ominous, though: maybe invite him out for a round of golf or to coffee. Once you've dispensed with the pleasantries and caught up on small talk, be direct about the subject. Circling around your point doesn't get anyone anywhere, and he'll appreciate that you have your thoughts in order and are precise in what you want to ask him.

Make sure that you are indeed requesting his daughter's hand in marriage after you've said your piece. Hopefully you have the type of relationship with your future father in law where he'd be okay with you telling him you plan to propose; however, the whole point here is to pay homage to a touching tradition. Your closing remark should be something like, "I'm asking you for your permission and approval to marry your daughter." You'll get the answer you were hoping for if you're crystal clear on that.

4. Trust that he will be excited for his daughter...and you, too

A dad knows when his daughter is happy and in love. Seeing her like this will likely make him respect the man responsible. If that weren't enough, chances are, if you're reading this, you are a good guy who really cares about doing things the right way (why else would you be reading a blog with tips about the father-in-law talk??). Chances are also that your father in law respects you and finds you as a suitable husband for his daughter. You're one of the good guys. Have confidence in yourself as you head in. You love his daughter. She completes your world and you complete hers. He can see this.

Are you planning on asking for your girlfriend's father's approval before you formally propose? How are you going to do it? We're looking for the best stories about how this situation played out, so if you have a great idea or already carried out an awesome plan, let us know in the comments or on our Facebook page!

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