Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hey, That's My Daughter You're Proposing To!

Charlotte is engaged.
I knew this would happen eventually, but I thought we had a little more time. Now, the moment is here.
Mike and I have done some planning for this, and for years have discussed what we would need to do. Most of the planning is not financial, but more along the lines of "How do we find out more about this guy? What makes him think he's good enough to marry our daughter?" and "How can we tactfully let him know that if he ever makes our daughter cry, we know people who know people who can and will, for a loaf of bread and a cheap bottle of wine, make him disappear?"
We have a good friend who has four daughters, all married. Each time someone has come to him asking for permission to marry one of his daughters, he interviews them and asks them a list of questions about a number of aspects of their life, their past and their plans for the future. He sees this as one of the ways he can let his daughter know how much he loves her, that he would do all he can to make sure all cards are laid on the table. Many of the questions are about things that some young people might not think to discuss with each other. But just by bringing it up, things about money, opinions, past mistakes, attitudes about relationships can be talked about. Anyone who has been married for more than a few years knows it is better to adjust direction before you are in the midst of a crisis.
When we heard about this list some years ago, we asked for a copy. We let our kids know about the list, and Mike's intention to interview potential in-laws. The list is available for them to see as well. We figure the less secrecy about what experience has taught us is important, the better.
So a few weeks ago, when Charlotte called us with the news, we reminded her about the need for this interview. Since we live in different states, we had to plan on spending Thanksgiving weekend getting to know future son-in-law up close and personal.
Here is what I did not know would happen so quickly. I love this guy already.
I love him because he loves my daughter.
This is not surprising. Of course he loves Charlotte. She's wonderful and beautiful and amazing. But it is also how he loves her....
....that he would call Mike and ask permission to marry her, promising to love her forever.
....that he would come and spend Thanksgiving evening with parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in-law who are outrageous, fun, loud, and strong, and actually participate in the chaos. Then after the engagement was announced, graciously answer questions asking for personal details about the dating and courtship.
....that he would look for ways he could help make my mom's life easier.
....that he would willingly let Mike interview him for a couple of hours, and carefully consider the questions asked.
....that he would seek spiritual help and guidance about this.
....that he would already have an awareness of being physically near Charlotte, that his hand naturally reaches for hers.
....that he would be someone around whom she can be relaxed, and be herself.
I know that I will learn to love him for who he is. But for now, it is enough that he loves Charlotte. This much. This way.
It is a pretty good beginning to forever.