Do You Still Need ‘Permission’ to Get Married?

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from the foreshadowing of the last blog and my boyfriend listing me as his emergency contact during his emergency surgery, you can probably guess that he will soon ask for my hand in marriage. you sleuth.


i distinctly remember him telling me he had to go work at a location across town and he would be super busy so i shouldn’t bother stopping by. i thought it was a little weird but not so much that i needed to call a private detective. turns out, he asked my mom and dad to meet him at his favorite classy restaurant (chili’s!) because he wanted to talk to them “about something.”

let’s recall that my parents are divorced so getting together to have dinner with my boyfriend wasn’t a common thing for anyone involved. he drove the 1.5 hours from ft. collins to denver and i wish there was a camera set up because i would have loved to hear the conversation.


apparently they all sat down at what i can only imagine a nice comfy booth with hands on the tiled table and waited for my boyfriend to say “i want to sleep with be in love with your daughter for the rest of my life and treat her real well.” he was actually there to talk with them before he proposed to me.

NEWDo YOU Still Need -Permission- to Get (1)

i spoke to my husband, my dad and my mom about the proceeding conversation.


my mom commented on the fact that we were very young (21 to be exact) and there was no need to rush. both of my parents emphasized how important it was for me to finish my education, which included my master’s degree. my mom said she distinctly remembers drilling this into ravery for at least 45 minutes, especially saying she didn’t want her daughter to end up barefoot in the kitchen only making sandwiches and babies for the rest of her life because her daughter had other goals.


(note-if you’re barefoot in the kitchen with your baby on your hip while reading this, more power to you and i think that is great for women who have made the conscious decision to do this as opposed to an outdated expectation that all women should to do this). 


apparently my boyfriend was also very intense on clarifying that he was indeed not asking for their permission. i interpreted this as “aw that’s so sweet because i’m not an object and therefore no one has permission over me.” both my mom and husband confirmed that indeed he meant “regardless of what you say…i’m going to ask her to marry me. this is just a courtesy.” sounds more like him (though he does not think i’m an object either).


my mom: do you already have a ring?

ravery: yes, do you want to see it?

mom: of course! *puts it on her finger.


mom: it’s beautiful! i approve. when are going to ask her?

ravery: probably in a few months, like november.

mom: i think this will burn a hole in your pocket.


he proposed a week later.


(i know i’m being a jerk and breaking this into two posts just like the jerks who broke the 3rd book from ‘the hunger games’ and ‘twilight’ into 2 movies. it was almost 2,000 words and way too long but i’ll have it go out tomorrow so don’t fret!)


let’s talk for a minute about where this tradition started. according to the book, the history of marriage by elizabeth abbot,


“Brides were also expected to bring property, money or other valuables to the union, usually in the form of dowry. Without it she wouldn’t be married. It also offered some protection that husband would want to treat her better than he might have without the promise of payments.”


she goes on to talk about older women had to have larger dowries because they were less valuable in terms of years they could work in the house and produce children. society greatly valued males over females and endowing a daughter was a drain on family finances so many ‘unattractive’ girls were orphaned or forced to marry undesirable, abusive men.


while thankfully this is no longer the common practice in north america, many men do still go to the woman’s family for permission or a blessing on the marriage but hopefully from a place of respect.


reflecting back on this, i do remember wanting my future spouse to talk with my parents for their ‘blessing.’ now, the other part of me feels like since this is my life, my love and my marriage, the decision and ‘blessing’ should really be coming from me. of course i respect my parents and their opinions, but since i’m the one about to be in a marriage, it seems a little strange from where i sitting now.


what do you think?

what did this look like for your marriage?


  1. Paula Howley

    August 25, 2014 at 11:19 am

    I think it stinks that you broke this up also.

    Coming at this from a mom’s perspective, my ‘plans’ are to make sure I meet and know the parents of any boy my daughter wants to date.
    I also know I can’t give permission for her to marry anyone but I can give my blessing and I know that holds even greater value. I am actually HOPING that she meets someone with respect and class enough to come to Lloyd and I and tell us his plans to ask our daughter for her hand.
    Now as far as permission, I mean, what’s gonna happen, right?

    Mr. and Mrs. Howley, I’d like to marry Meaghan.
    No way.
    Ok, see ya. I’m off to ask Meaghan to marry me.

    What are you gonna do? They’re adults right? You have to trust that they are smart enough to know that marriage takes a lot of work and support.

    Lloyd didn’t ask anyone for my hand since it was already 36 years old.
    But my parents did come out to BC the summer I moved out here to meet him and make sure I hadn’t joined a cult or anything. Which I had, but that’s besides the point.

    • chelsea

      August 29, 2014 at 9:16 pm

      haha i’m sorry i broke it up paula but you know i can raaaamble 🙂

      it’s true with the permission…people are going to do things with or without the answer “yes” but i do think there is tremendous value in know the family of the other person!

      glad also your parents came to check out that you didn’t join a cult and meet lloyd 🙂 so maybe there is an age component with this too?

  2. Alan Balthrop, DTM

    August 25, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    I do remember asking the beloved Sylvia’s father for permission to marry his eldest daughter, but I am traditionalist. Mr. Colston’s exact words as I recall were “You’ll have to get her approval before you get mine.”

    I am told that just before entering the church for the ceremony, Mr. Colston looked at Sylvia and said “if you want out of this, now is the time.” When she declined, he gave her his blessing. 🙂

    • chelsea

      August 29, 2014 at 9:17 pm

      i LOVE that response from your soon-to-be wife’s father…made me smile big time! glad sylvia declined getting out of it and hope you two are doing great, alan!

  3. Marc Gabris

    August 25, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    I think to ask the parents for their blessing is classy and a sign of respect for the significant place they’ve held in her life, and all the generosity and kindness they’ve given to her.

    • chelsea

      August 29, 2014 at 9:18 pm

      that’s great marc! i do think it can be very respectful

  4. Vivien

    August 26, 2014 at 11:43 am

    I would agree with Marc’s post, even if it’s not the end-all, (and she still has to say yes in the end!) As my parents always say (horribly paraphrased), he’ll be marrying me, but my family will have to be part of the package of our lives (and vice versa). In the end I think it’s probably taken as a sign of the guy respecting her parents as much as he respects his.

    You’ve reminded me a bit about the tradition of Chinese Door Games on the day of the wedding. Ever hear of it? Has a good quick explanation; though I doubt the wedding will be called off if the groom fails 😛

    • chelsea

      August 29, 2014 at 9:22 pm

      the family is definitely part of the whole package! it’s good to acknowledge that for sure viven! i’ve never heard of the Chinese Door Games-thanks for sharing the article!!! the seeds in the bucket of ice sound tough and super interesting about how it originated and how it’s used now in fun and games 🙂

      the spicy one sounds INTENSE. daaamn

      • Vivien

        September 3, 2014 at 12:18 pm

        Disclosure about the games: I haven’t heard of any “must-do” ones, and that was the first time I heard about the “top-7” per the website. I will say the dancing ones and the why you love her ones (or some variation thereof) I have seen at weddings I have attended. I saw one where the groom had to do pushups and eat a piece of cake on the ground. (The cake was on a paper plate of course).

        Now I must imagine it’s quite fun to plan these games for the poor groom haha 🙂

        • chelsea

          September 4, 2014 at 3:37 pm

          haha push ups and cake on the ground! good motivation to at least do the push up i suppose 🙂

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