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Readers respond to hand in marriage question

Dr.  Gail Saltz shares some letters written about the Mom who asked if her daughter's boyfriend should have asked for her permission.
/ Source: TODAY

My column, “Is asking for her hand in marriage outdated?” drew so many interesting letters that I would like to share some here. Traditions are fine if they work for you. If following a tradition, however, causes pain or hurt — which was the case for the mother-of-the-bride who posed the question — there is no reason to blindly do so. Here are some of the responses I received.From Lois in Florida:When our future son-in-law called my husband to ask for our daughter’s hand in marriage, he was honored. When the young man asked him not to tell me, so I could share the excitement AFTER he gave her the ring, my husband told him that in our 33 years of marriage he hasn't kept secrets from me, good or bad. From Susan in Pennsylvania:
I think it’s wonderful that the son-in-law and the father-of-the-bride have this new bond. This was a wonderfully romantic gesture. Sorry, Mom — you can't always be the center of attention.From Jane in Illinois:I disagree that nobody believes that a future husband must ask the bride's father for her hand in marriage. Some of us still believe in tradition, and the fact that my husband asked my father without my prompting made me even more sure he was the right guy for me. You may be speaking for some when you say nobody believes in asking for a hand in marriage, but you don't speak for all!From Nicole in Colorado:
I didn’t care for your response implying that asking permission for a woman’s hand in marriage is “outdated.” While some people do have modern ways of living, this should in no way degrade those who live with traditional values. It is rare in this day and age for a man to ask his future father-in-law for his daughter’s hand in marriage. He should be applauded for the respect he showed. Traditionally, the male asks the father, not both parents, for permission. That’s not to say that he cannot ask both parents, but it may not have occurred to him. This mother should be proud to have such an upstanding young man as a son-in-law.From Lisa in Texas:All of these childish people acted with questionable intentions. The groom didn't ask his intended first? And, he thinks his future mother-in-law is a blabbermouth? How much respect for women does he have? The husband didn't “trust” his wife? In 2007, we should be over this tradition. If anyone ever asks my husband for one of our daughters’ hands in marriage, the answer will be, “Ask her.” But then again, 10 years ago my husband proposed to me, not my father.From Kristin in New York:
I strongly disagree with your response. There are some fathers who see this tradition as their one contribution as a father, and therefore treasure the chance to honor their daughters’ union by keeping this secret. I think you did this mother a disservice by not offering alternative viewpoints such as this one. It’s possible that her husband was so honored to be a part of the upcoming engagement that he took this traditional role very seriously. Also, sitting her son-in-law down to discuss how she NEEDS to be a part of discussions from now on? What a great way to embarrass her own daughter and make her future son-in-law run for the hills, scared that his new mother-in-law will dominate their lives and make them crazy! From James in Nebraska:
I did the same thing when I got engaged. I asked her Dad out of respect to him. He told his wife in confidence that night, and the next day she bought her daughter a wedding magazine.From Steve in Rhode Island:
Like it or not, there are still some things that men must do because they are men. Even today, you still have to ask a girl’s father for her hand in marriage. Maybe mom being left out is not what you want to happen, but men still must maintain the dignity of a promise by not telling anyone else, wives included. No one wants to hurt their wife. However, honorable men do not break their word, short of being court-ordered to do so.
Dr. Gail Saltz is a psychiatrist with New York with New York Presbyterian Hospital and a regular contributor to “Today.” Her latest book is “Anatomy of a Secret Life: The Psychology of Living a Lie,” by Dr. Gail Saltz. She is also the author of "Amazing You! Getting Smart About Your Private Parts," which helps parents deal with preschoolers' questions about sex and reproduction. Her first book, “Becoming Real: Overcoming the Stories We Tell Ourselves That Hold Us Back,” was published in 2004 by Riverhead Books. It is now available in a paperback version. For more information, you can visit her Web site,