Western culture has seen a decline in the formal tradition of a man asking his girlfriend’s father for his permission to marry. Many women argue this tradition stinks of sexism and male dominance. While other women find this to be charming and thoughtful.
When my boyfriend (now fiancé) and I were talking about getting married, this topic presented itself a number of times. He wanted to know if I thought it was important that he ask my dad first. In the end I told him not to. For me, it wasn’t a matter of sexism or tradition. It was more about my independence and desire to make my own choices, regardless of my father’s thoughts on the subject. We compromised, though, by having my fiancé call my father first to tell him of our engagement. My dad told me later he thought that was a meaningful gesture.
For those guys who still believe asking the father-in-law for permission shows sincerity and honest intensions, it’s best to have a conversation with his bride-to-be prior to doing so. Tell her why you think it’s important and let her share her thoughts on the subject. One way to go about it is to ask the father for his blessing, rather than his permission. He could also ask both parents instead of only the father. Including her mother in the conversation would be special for both parents and also eliminates the possibility of seeming sexist.
In the end it really depends on what kind of couple you are. If you are more traditional, and especially if her family is traditional, then the man-to-man conversation might be necessary. Whereas, if you are like me, you will decide it’s not a necessary step in the process.