The Am I the Asshole? (AITA) subreddit is like a series of Philosophy 101 case studies for nosy people who love drama (like me).
Case in point: Almost 1,000 commenters weighed in when u/WatermelonedBison12 (or, OP, for "Original Poster") asked, "AITA for not asking my girlfriend's father for permission to marry her?"
Here are the full details:
"I (30-year-old male) have been dating my girlfriend (29-year-old female) for four years now, and things have been pretty good. We both disagree with her father on many political issues, but we still visit her parents fairly frequently around holidays. He is usually considerate enough to not bring up politics around either of us since we largely disagree."
"I've talked to my girlfriend about proposing, and she mentioned that she wants me to ask her dad for permission to marry her. I was taken aback, because this isn't something I would expect my girlfriend to want. She said her sister's husband asked permission, and some wedding funding from her father would likely be contingent on me doing this."
"I said that I won't ask another person for permission to marry her. It's an extremely outdated tradition. As a 30-year-old man, I can make my own decisions about what to do with someone I love — no permission necessary."
"She got mad and said I just need to do it. It's a small thing to ask for, and she wants some of the money to have a few more things at our wedding that we won't be able to afford without it. I'm continuing to stand my ground about not asking her father for permission. AITA?"
Commenters largely agreed that OP isn't the asshole here, but this is a delicate and nuanced topic that goes beyond who's right and wrong.
One person with the username u/darbystein suggested a script that would appease the father without compromising OP's morals.
"I completely understand your side, and logically, it doesn't make sense to ask for permission. However, not everything about relationships is logical — especially with religious/conservative parents. Her request may be a way for her to feel like you are being fully welcomed into the family. It's a verbal approval from her father that he is okay with you marrying her, and parental approval is always craved (especially in households where it isn't always given).
When my aunt got married, her husband just had a simple conversation with my grandfather — more of like an 'I am planning on asking your daughter to marry me, and I wanted to let you know, man to man' kind of thing. Maybe this would be more of a middle ground for you."
Another redditor who goes by u/beingsydneycarton pointed out that OP is putting his own feelings over what his (hopeful) future wife wants, which isn't a great way to start an engagement.
"OP definitely sucks a little bit, because this is what his future wife wants.
My brother-in-law took the conversation in the direction of 'I’m in love with your daughter, and I’d really like your blessing to become a member of this family.' He even included all of us siblings in the conversation! That angle made for a really sweet moment in which my dad got to tell my BIL that he’s beyond proud to call him his son. It was an incredibly small moment that meant the entire world to all of us.
I think that OP could have a similar moment, but making a stand against the tradition is more important — which is really sad. It would be a small compromise that would make his future wife and father-in-law very happy. So, I just think he kinda sucks for failing to see that."
In response to these suggestions, OP replied, "I offered to have the conversation with both parents. She said that her father will want to speak to me alone, and he won’t include her mother if I try to ask both of them."
"It’s just his personality to be the overprotective father. He told me the typical 'I own a shotgun, so treat her right' thing when I first met him, so it’s always been this way."
At this point, user u/littlebitfunny21 pointed out that this incompatibility might lead to more significant issues down the line if OP and his girlfriend get married.
"Remember, this is what you're marrying into. You may need to have a discussion about what role her parents will have in your life, children, etc. What boundaries will she be comfortable setting? How much will you be expected to put up with?
This can be a real incompatibility that you two should figured out before you walk down the aisle."
And finally, a commenter who goes by u/GalacticCmdr raised a valid point that OP and his girlfriend should really consider before getting engaged.
"You don't need to get married right now — or at all. Since you two don't see eye to eye on how you want this proposal to happen, just pause your engagement plans until you reach either a solution or an impasse. No need to rush down the aisle just yet."
What do you think OP should do? Who's the asshole here? Let me know in the comments! 👇
Some replies have been edited for length and clarity.