“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.
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.