“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”
He did it right, he being my daughter's fiancé. To be honest, it is all a little surreal to be thinking about my daughter getting married. Nevertheless, she will be marrying someone I believe is a good man. He did well not only in asking for my blessing, but in approaching the relationship as a whole. When I realized the question was eminent I began thinking about what I would say and what he would say. I may not have many opportunities moving forward to speak into the life of my future son-in-law so I wanted to be prepared. I did google searches trying to figure out if there was some kind of formula or advice and I found little that I thought was very helpful. So, while I will not share all the details (that's between Paul and I), I wanted to give a sketch of what I did in hopes that you may find it helpful if you are facing a similar situation.
But first, I want to recognize that every situation is different and you may have to adjust what you do according to your situation.
Before this all went down, I made sure that my daughter knew I expected to be asked. Sure, it sounds antiquated, but it is a tradition that is beneficial for all involved. I always made sure that my daughter knew I didn't want her to marry a week man. This tradition plays a role in making sure that the suitor has to have at least enough courage to look their potential father-in-law in the face and ask for his blessing. Courage and boldness is something I value greatly and I have taught both of my kids that this is important. Furthermore, this was for her good. I also made sure that I had built up enough trust with my daughter that she would push her future husband, whoever he turned out to be, to ask for my blessing. There are few circumstances where I would withhold said blessing, but I suppose they do exist. Fortunately she found a guy who has courage and whose dad brought him up to honor this tradition. He also talked to me when he wanted to date Catrina...good man!
When the time came, I didn't bail him out. It takes courage to ask for this blessing, but it is also formational in a man's character. I'm not much for small talk, usually I just jump right into topics, but I needed to give him space to work up to the question even when I was pretty sure that is what was coming. I'll admit, I may not be the easiest person to ask such a question and I may have unintentionally made this a little harder than it had to be; nevertheless, he rose to the occasion and I am thankful for it.
When he popped the blessing question, I gave a short answer and a long answer. While the temptation might be to make him squirm or suffer a little bit, I find that to be a little sadistic. I told him I had a short answer and a long answer. The short answer was "yes, you have my blessing." I must admit, if I was not going to give my blessing I would likely only give a long answer.
The long answer was more involved. I told him what I expected. Some people might find that presumptuous, who am I to tell my daughter's future husband what I expected. He is marrying her, not me...right? I will tell you why I have the right to do such a thing, I have spent the last 20 years loving her, raising her, and preparing her for this next stage of her life. The person she has become is, for better or worse, at least in part the result of how her mother and I raised her. More could be said about this, but that is enough for now. I did tell him what I expected, but I don't expect him to be perfect and I don't expect unreasonable things. I do expect them to struggle, face trials, and have to learn to love each other in new ways. I'm not going to go through exactly what I said, you should work that out for you and your situation, but be reasonable and don't be afraid to give a reasonable challenge.
I read Scripture to him. I am a pastor, but that doesn't really matter, I would have done it anyway. I read him the passage out of Ephesians 5:21ff. I offered some additional thoughts about the text. Becoming a husband is not for the faint of heart and I wanted to make sure he knew that...I think he does and I think he is up for the challenge. I could have read other passages that would certainly be relevant, but that is the one I chose. You can make your own choice.
Last and perhaps most important, I prayed with and for him. The content of my prayer is for me, him, and God. The truth is, that was not the first time I had prayed for him and my daughter and it will not be the last by a long shot, but it was the first time I prayed with him as I prayed for him and my daughter. I won't forget that time of prayer, and I hope he won't either.
If you have ideas of things you think would be good to add or comments on what I did, leave your thoughts in the comments.
I have been praying for my daughter's future husband since long before I met him, but now that "he" has a name, "Paul," my prayers are changing. Paul loves Jesus and I believe he loves my daughter. When I tell people my daughter got engaged, they will often ask, "do you like him?" I will often somewhat jokingly say, "I keep trying to find reasons not to, but I failed in that endeavor." Paul loves Jesus and I am very thankful for that. You might say that prayer has been answered. So what do I pray for now?
I pray for perseverance. The key element for a long term, successful marriage is not communication methods, conflict resolution skills, or enjoying the same activities. The key element to a long term, successful marriage is perseverance. I don't wonder whether or not the marriage between Catrina and Paul will have difficulties. I am certain it will. I am also certain some of those difficulties will be caused by the fallenness of both of those people just as my marriage to my wife for the last 25 years has had difficulties caused by me and my wife. The reason my wife and I remain married and love each other is because we have persevered. We have remained committed to each other when it would have been easier to quit. Forebearance, as the NIV translates it, is one of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. The Greek word that is translated, "μακροθυμία" this word literally means "state of being able to bear up under provocation, forbearance, patience" (BDAG). That's the first thing I pray for.
I pray for a high capacity to forgive. As I stated earlier, both Catrina and Paul are fallen and sinful people even if they are redeemed by the grace of God. An unwillingness to forgive will cause resentment toward one's spouse. I pray they will employ what the apostle Paul says in Col. 3:13, "Bear with each other and forgive one another...Forgive as the Lord forgave you."
I pray they will sanctify each other. That's a religious word, more specifically a Christian churchy word. Nevertheless, it is the right word. I understand that it is only through the work of the Holy Spirit in their life that through the blood of Jesus Christ that they will be sanctified, but if their marriage is a godly one (I believe it will be) they will spur one another on toward love and good deeds and each one will make the other better (Heb. 10:24; Eph. 5:22ff).
I pray for for ministry. I don't know if they will ever go into full time, vocational ministry or not. I don't necessarily pray for that to happen although I would welcome it if the Lord wills. I don't even pray that they will volunteer at a church, although I hope they do. What I pray for is ministry that flows from their love for Jesus and their desire to see the world make peace with God so that none would perish. This reflects God's heart for the world (John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9). I pray their home will be a place where the presence of God is evident and their lives together will reflect the love and grace God has shown them.
I pray for many more things as well, but whatever happens in their lives together, whatever struggles they face, whatever hurts they experience if they are able to do these four things I will be ecstatic.
William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 612.
Yes, you read the title of this post correctly. You are probably thinking it is ridiculous to think in those terms. You're wrong. I began thinking and praying about my daughter's future husband when she was very young. Several weeks ago, Paul Songer IV asked me for my blessing to ask my daughter for her hand in marriage. Yesterday he asked her to marry him...she said yes.
I have been preparing her for this day for years. When she was a baby I would occasionally think about how some day some guy was going to come along and her heart was going to turn away from her daddy and toward some guy who would marry her. It's hard not to think in terms of him taring her away from me, but that is not really what is happening. I am stepping away from the role I once had and, in some sense, giving that to him. However, her mother and I have been preparing her for this her entire life.
When she was little, her mother and I just did our best to teach her how to be a Godly woman. Our hope was that Godly woman would attract a Godly man. I believe that has happened. She witnessed two imperfect married people work through the pain life brings and live joyous lives focused on serving God. This was instrumental to her preparation as she witnessed us have disagreements, work through anger, and so on. It's more than just modeling a loving relationship between her parents, we taught her about marriage both by modeling and by having certain important conversations along the way.
The first dating conversationI remember took place when she was 11 years old, 6 years before she would go on her first date. She was in 5th grade. The conversation went something like this:
Catrina: Daddy, some of my friends have boyfriends, do you think I could have a boyfriend too?
Daddy: Catrina, what do you think the point of having a boyfriend is?
Catrina: I don't know.
Daddy: The reason people date or have boyfriends is to figure out who they are going to marry. How old do you think you should be before you get married?
Catrina: You told me I couldn't get married until I was 30!
Daddy: Well, I was joking...I think...you could probably get married sooner than that, how about 25, does that sound okay?
Catrina: I suppose.
Daddy: Well, how long do you think you should date someone before you get engaged?
Catrina: I don't know.
Daddy: Well, a year would probably be a good minimum, but let's say 2 years.
Daddy: How long do you think you should be engaged for?
Catrina: A year?
Daddy: A year is okay, but I think shorter engagements are better, let's say 6 months.
Daddy: So if you are going to date for two years and have a 6 month engagement and get married at the age of 25 what age would that make you when you start dating that person?
Catrina: I don't know daddy
Daddy: That would make you around 22 years old.
Catrina: So I can start dating when I'm 22?
Daddy: Well, you might not find the guy you are going to marry with the first guy you start dating. You might date a few or several guys before you find one you want to marry. So, let's say this, you probably don't need to really think about dating until college, or at least high school.
Catrina: Okay, thanks daddy.
You might find that conversation humorous, I did. Nevertheless, we always taught our daughter that the reason you date isn't to have fun or mess around, it is to find out whether a person is worthy of being your spouse.
We had numerous other conversations along the way. We talked about the most important things about a person who wants be your husband. We talked about what appropriate physical boundaries were. We talked about why it is important for a boy to show respect to our family and to have the courage to come talk to me in order to date her. We talked about finding someone who you are willing to have lead you. We talked about all kinds of things. We did the occasional daddy daughter date, even when she didn't want to.
we spoke truth to her about her boyfriends and never hid what we saw in them, but always did so with love, respect, and gentleness (to the extent that I am able to be gentle).
I worked hard to lead her well so that she would expect her future husband to lead her well. I wanted her to know good leadership when she saw it. I also wanted her to know what bad leadership looked like so she could reject it quickly. I am sure I was far from perfect, but I'd like to think that I contributed something in the process.
The results? Well, I don't know with absolute certainty, but I'm very optimistic. She is now engaged to a man who was her second boyfriend. They will get married and then they will have to work hard to make it a healthy and loving marriage. That said, she was able to recognize the fakers, the wanna bees, and those that were not marriage material from a mile away. She found a man who had the guts to sit across from me and have some very candid conversations about dating my daughter, his intention to marry her, his history with dating, and so on. Well done Paul!
It all started when she was very young. We raise our children to be Godly adults not intemperate children.
John Byrne is a pastor who has been spouting off his opinions his entire life (just ask his mom). This little blog is his venue for continuing in this tradition.