It’s one thing to ask a woman, perhaps a much younger one, to marry you, but quite another when getting around to asking her father for his permission to marry his daughter. Is this even necessary in the case of a foreigner pursuing a Filipina? I asked my wife that when I was beginning to think I was going to propose to her, if it was obligatory that I ask her father for permission. She told me that it wasn’t a requirement, however, considering various realities of our relationship, I decided I should ask him.
For one thing, I had not even met him or any other family member since I hadn’t gone to the Philippines yet, so I hadn’t even been with my now wife in person yet. Although I had brief web cam chatter with a few of her family members, I don’t recall that I had spoken to her father. My wife spoke the best English of the family. I decided that since we would become family, it would be disrespectful to not ask him for his blessing to marry his daughter. He was also my age, which made asking him seem a little surreal.
Another and the biggest implication of being granted his permission, would be that he would know that his oldest daughter, 26 years old, and the family’s main source of income, would be leaving them to go almost ten thousand miles away to be with a man he had not had a conversation with. He would not know if he would ever see her again, at least in my lifetime. I began to have empathy for him. I think her family relied on her to a high degree. So how would I do it? How would I help him to be comfortable with “setting her free”?
I knew that there had to be more substance than simply asking him if I could marry Aiza. I felt that I needed to give him a good reason why. So what I did was write down some statements that I had made to my wife during the time we had been communicating, expressions of how I would treat her as my wife, how I felt about her as a person. I began to realize that these were the type of words her father should hear. This also made me accountable to him to keep my word, which I wanted. As much as possible, in asking him for his permission, I wanted him to be able to trust me. Here is how it went.
So I didn’t stammer over my words, I wrote down things like this
1. Tell him I loved his daughter because she was a high character woman.
2. Tell him I realized we had only known each other several weeks but we spent a lot of time chatting (which he surely knew), and I believed she had the qualities in a wife that I was looking for.
3. Review with him how I met her on line, and that I had learned a lot of good things about her. Tell him that as we continued to chat, I began to fall in love with her and wanted to be her husband.
4. This may be the most important element-I would describe to him that I wanted to protect her, provide for her needs, and put her above myself. The things I told her, I wanted her father to know. This way, I simply needed to restate what she had been hearing from me.
To pop this question, we used Skype. My wife stepped out of the view of the cam and there was papa flanked by what I think was the rest of the family, which would have been her momma, three sisters and two brothers. I thought that was very fair since his agreement to my desire would affect the whole family. I had practiced using my notes a few times, then had them nearby if I needed them, and after greeting her father, just started talking. One of her brothers tried to explain what I was saying to him. He said yes and the rest is history.
You may be thinking “Ha, of course he is going to say yes you can marry his daughter, you are the key to their financial future!”, however the topic of money never came up. I had said that I would provide for her, but didn’t bring up the family in that way (although I have helped them quite a bit). They didn’t ask my how much money I had and my wife never asked me if I had a pension, or retirement money, or even how much I made.
I am always revolted when my wife tells me, even to this day, that her friends are concerned I will hurt (beat) her, because they have heard of a lot of that with foreigners. That had to be going through her family’s minds when I wanted to marry her. When her papa approved of our relationship, he had no idea how I really would treat his daughter, so he was taking a risk. Couple that with maybe not seeing her again and his decision to allow me to marry her was so valuable to me. I don’t intend to let him down.