We knew it was coming. Our 22-year-old daughter Jennifer had already told us they were planning to get married. So the priority mail letter I received from her boyfriend Tim, inviting me to breakfast, was a tip-off the size of Mt. Rushmore. Here's how this important conversation went down.They were both coming to town for Thanksgiving, and he wanted to meet with me the day after. Our Thanksgiving went well, then the next morning we headed off to a restaurant for breakfast. Our son Michael, friends with Tim in college, asked if could come too. Tim said that was fine with him. And so that’s how the beginning of this most memorable of family events began.
I’d like to tell you about it, and what I learned. It might help you when you face what I faced.
It happened on Friday, November 27, 1992, and started at 8:09am at the restaurant. I know that for a fact because the other day I found the cassette tape recording of our meeting buried in a box in our basement. Tim was fine with me recording our session together that day. I can’t remember why I wanted to record it. I know it wasn’t for training purposes or quality improvement like they say every time you’re put on hold o a phone call.
I didn’t think I would ever need it for a court proceeding, or that some reality TV show would be interested. Reality TV hadn’t been invented yet. Maybe I had a hunch I could use it for a podcast episode 26 years later. Oh yeah, podcasts had been invented then either.
After hunting around for a cassette tape recorder, I listened to the 40-minute tape. Complete with restaurant background noise and the waitress asking if I wanted more coffee. From the recording I learned that I ordered a bacon and cheese omelet that morning. Maybe I should post this on Facebook. Carol is rolling her eyes right now.
I am so glad I had that tape, because I couldn’t find my written copy of the questions I asked. I know I saved it on my computer, but that was about 3-4 computers ago. Anyway, here are the questions I asked. You’ll see then in the show notes. You can also grab a copy by going to johncertalic.com/resources. Click on the resources button and you’ll see a page that drops down. Click on that and you’ll find the list you can download.
Questions to Ask the Man Who Asks to Marry My Daughter
1. Why do you want to get married?
2. Why do you want to get married now?
3. Why marry our daughter? There are millions of other women you could marry, why our daughter?
4. How do you think our daughter will benefit from marrying you? How will you complement her?
5. How do you think you will benefit from spending the rest of your life with our daughter?
6. How do you plan to be a leader for our daughter? How will you lead?
7. Picture our daughter weighing 50 pounds more than she does now. How will you deal with that?
8. What are the specific things you like about our daughter?
9. What would you like to change about her?
10. What are the things you and and our daughter pretty much agree on?
11. What are the things you and our daughter disagree about?
12.When you and our daughter disagree about something, how will you solve that disagreement?
13. How do you think a wife should be submissive to her husband? What does that mean to you?
14. When it comes to decision making in your marriage, how much input do you think our daughter should have in that process?
15. There’s a passage in the Book of Ephesians that says husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. What does that mean to you?
16. What about kids? How will you raise your children?
17. What kind of relationship do you want to have with your in-laws?
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If you happen to have a daughter, or a son, you could benefit from what I learned when Tim asked for permission and my blessing to marry our daughter. Here’s what I learned.
1. I learned about the strength of character of my future son-in-law. I learned how he felt about traditions. I learned to what extent he wanted to have a relationship with us, and what he desired in that relationship. I learned he was willing to put up with what must have been this most awkward of meetings for him, all because he loved my daughter and was willing to do this for her.
2. I learned that my daughter, in her choice of a mate, still hung unto the values by which she was raised. I never took this for granted, for I know it’s not unusual for people her age to reject the values they grew up with. That wasn’t the case with Jennifer. This was very encouraging.
3. I learned, only after I experienced it, what a great honor and privilege it is to a be a father of a 22-year old woman. I learned I still had a role to play in my daughter’s life, no matter how old she is.
4. I learned that Jennifer’s brother, our son, Michael, wanted to be involved -to be part of this important family event in the life of his sister. That he had some skin in the game, too. Either that, or he wanted a free breakfast.
5. I learned that by asking difficult, but important questions, it gives a father hope for his daughter’s future when those questions are answered well. It gave me confidence that their marriage had a really good chance of succeeding.
6. I learned that more than permission to get married, your children on the verge of marriage want your blessing too. So look for ways to do that. Look for ways to be encouraged by your child’s choice of a spouse. It will help get both of them off to a good start.
They’ve been married 25 and ½ years now. When I listened to the tape of our 1992 breakfast conversation the other night, I appreciated that Tim is the same person today in character he was 26 years ago. Janet and I are so grateful for that fact, especially having friends who have had the opposite experience. Daughters marrying men who turn out to be not what they seemed to be before the wedding.
Before I close, here’s the he main take-away from today’s episode, our show in a sentence
Look for reasons to bless the choice your daughter makes in the man she will spend the rest of her life with in marriage.
Here’s a way you can respond to today’s show
You never know if your kids will marry or not. Most will. To prepare for your kids who do marry, it’s never too early to start praying for their spouse and how they are being raised. When we marry, all of us bring some baggage into the marriage. Pray for your child’s future spouse that their baggage will be a small carry-on you can store under the seat in front of you, rather than a steamer trunk that takes up half the space in the cargo hold.
You can help your children now, even if they just started school, by helping them evaluate their choice of friends. Help them to see what you see. Help them to see what they can’t see. Help them, over time, decide what’s important to them in their relationships. Help them to know how to break off a friendship when it’s appropriate, and how to start a new one. Help them to see who brings out the best in them, and who brings out the worst.
These kind of relationship skills are never too early to learn, and it will pay big dividends if and when they see in someone the potential for a life-long commitment in marriage.
Relationship Quote of the Week
A prudent question is one-half of wisdom. ~Sir Francis Bacon
I’m glad you listened in to today’s episode. I had mentioned briefly in passing in an earlier episode about the list of questions I asked our daughter’s husband -to-be. One of listeners, Teri, asked if I would do an episode on this topic. So thank you, Teri for that suggestion. I’ve gotten ideas on other relationships topics from other listeners, as well. I’ll be getting to them in future episodes. So Randy, please be patient with me. Your suggestion will be coming up soon. I’d like to hear from the rest of you with relationships topics you’d like to see addressed in the show.
Finally, remember in the days ahead what you were made for. You were made for life-giving, fulling relationships. We’re here together to learn how. See you next week. Good bye for now.