I belong to a Facebook group that’s for working moms. It has over 9,000 members from the US, Canada, Mexico and Europe. While mostly liberal in their thinking, they do have some killer recipes exchanges that happen and I do enjoy reading how moms all over the world hold it together while working full time, sometimes, two and three jobs, all while caring for their little people and their spouses. As with any amount of women there are definitely some drama filled moments that happen but for the most part the conversations are lively and engaging, supportive and kind, and I have learned a lot about how women in general view the world and themselves just by reading the threads. One particular conversation starter had over 900 comments. I couldn’t read all of them in depth, but the question was ” Do you ladies agree or disagree with having your hand asked for in marriage?”
Well. I’m sure you can imagine the gamete of comments that ensued. Everything from “it is completely controlling, old fashioned and patriarchal” to “it’s the polite and respectful thing to do.” Okay. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs on that. Here’s where I, and I know my husband stand for our family and our girls, but really, this is where I stand on the issue. I am after all a woman.
My husband knelt down on one knee 22 years ago this month and asked me in front of family and friends if I would be his wife. When I saw him with the ring, the words “what did my parents say” didn’t even make it out of my mouth. Before I could even say it; he answered my question. “With your parents permission.”
Was I about to ask that because my father was controlling or needed to “allow” me to do anything? No, not really. I was going to ask it because I knew that for any relationship of mine to work I needed my spouse to be able to have a relationship with my parents.
Was my dad intimidating to other people? Heck to the yes. Growing up, there was a rule for myself and my two sisters. If a boy wanted to date us, he had to ask our dad. It was absolutely the most mortifying thing a teenage girl had to endure. Think of all the casual “hey, do you want to get dinner sometime?” Or “Would you be my date to prom?” Or “Can I take you bowling?” Questions that were followed up with “you’ll have to ask my dad”. It was horrible and honestly embarrassing. If I was asked out on a date or to the prom or homecoming, I would just say “Thanks, but no thanks.” Because I didn’t want to tell them they had to talk to my dad. I was certain the man wanted to ruin my social life and cause me to live as an old maid.
One night we got in the biggest fight I can ever remember complete with a threat from me to move out, followed up with my mom pulling out a suitcase and angry words being exchanged with my parents while I stood on the lawn and they stood on the porch. And no fight of that magnitude would be complete if it didn’t happen at 11:00PM and was loud enough to wake the neighbors, creating an audience for our family drama.
I ended up not leaving but my anger at the whole situation just continued to boil. The reason my spout exploded was because a guy I really liked, who I thought really liked me flat out refused to ask my dad if he could date me, much less respect any rules set in place including curfew. His reasoning was “I’m not his child, he will not tell me how to live my life.” When I blamed my parents for the break down of that relationship they responded with “Then he doesn’t care about you.” THAT my friends is When World War 3 started and the neighborhood got a show.
I am now 25 years removed from the incident and it was true. He really didn’t care that much about me. Because if he did, then he would have done what my husband did. The night that Toby asked me out on a date I looked right at him and said “You’ll have to ask my dad.” It had been three years since my 16 year old self had a melt down in the front yard and I honestly had sworn off dating and was absolutely completely content with just going to college and hanging out with my friends. When Toby responded with an “Okay, where is he?” I thought “This is a joke, once he sees how intimidating my dad is, he won’t do it.” But he did. He found my dad, walked right up to him and asked if he could take me out on a date to which my dad responded “yes”. Wait, my dad said yes? So he wasn’t intent on ruining my social life or not wanting me to have fun? He didn’t care if I went out on a date with someone he had never met? What was that about??
Twenty two years later I will tell you what it was about. It was and still is about the PURSUIT. The reasoning behind the rule was that my dad wanted us girls to understand what pursuit at all cost was like. He wanted us to know how it felt to have someone disregard their nerves, fears, insecurities just to be with us. If the boy truly desired the girl, he would show that in the pursuit.
The curfews and rules were followed with out fail. Toby never once complained about having to have me home at a certain time. He respected my parent’s wishes and that proved to them that he was willing to be the helpmeet and protector that God had called him to be. So when I was about to ask him if he had talked to my parents regarding my hand in marriage, I wanted to know that he was pursing me to the fullest. Not becasue I was property or was being controlled but because he was willing to put aside nerves and fear of rejection and maybe perhaps his own ideas, to ask for my hand in marriage. I wanted to know that he would do whatever he needed to do in order to be with me. Even if it seemed old fashioned and out dated.
We are now entering the phase of our lives when our kids will begin (and some already have started) dating. The rules have been set in place that if the relationship is serious and you are our son, then you WILL go to the girls father and ask permission to date his daughter, even if it is not a rule for their house. And if you are our daughter, be prepared to tell the boy that he needs to talk to your dad. Not because we are controlling but becasue we want our daughters and our future daughter -in- loves to know what it feels like to be pursued beyond someone’s comfort level and to have the proof of the desire be evident in the pursuit.
I also know that the pursuit has not stopped. Everyday of my life I feel pursued and sought after and desired by the same man who twenty two years ago put a ring on my finger. He has not stopped chasing me because I was not a prize to be won then put on a shelf like a trophy. I am his rib, he is my heart and we are continuing to pursue one another even in the hard, super hard and dark times. Pursuit is not easy. It can leave you breathless and tired, disheveled and sore, sometimes overwhelmed and every now and then wondering why; but the DESIRE out weighs all of that and pushes us to go the distance.