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On the prospect of becoming a father-in-law

Having five girls in our house has always been something of a cross-cultural experience for my son and I. These days, talk of bridal showers, wedding dresses, and ceremonies (always a favorite topic in a family of five women), has become like some kind of specialized FM station: “All bridal talk,…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
Having five girls in our house has always been something of a cross-cultural experience for my son and I. These days, talk of bridal showers, wedding dresses, and ceremonies (always a favorite topic in a family of five women), has become like some kind of specialized FM station: “All bridal talk, all the time.”
The mountains of north Georgia are beautiful and, though there is no “date” yet, I’m betting a venue near Dahlonega in May/June. I think Talia has already set up a web site.
I couldn’t be happier. Joe is a great guy and a perfect match for Talia. They’re complementary – she’s intense, he’s mellow. Rozy McCormick says, “She’s fire to his water and vice versa.”
The story of their meeting is romantic. Four years ago, he and I met on this blog. He wanted to rendezvous in person, but lived in Santa Barbara. He wrote me while we were launching a World Race team in the Yucatan, “Can I come visit you in Georgia?”
As it turned out, our family was going to vacation in Santa Barbara the following week – perfect!
Talia had already been on the World Race and Joe was considering it. As it turned out, he went last year, realizing somewhere along the way that he liked Talia. In October, he drove all the way across the country, sat me down on the porch, and talked to me about it. “I’d like to get to know her, what do you think?”
It’s gone quickly. In the coffee shop last week Joe asked for her hand. And the subsequent conversation was a sober one. 
Permission granted, Joe pulled the trigger this past weekend. Facebook soon made it official with the masses, and now the  women in our networks are mobilizing. It’s astonishing to see the array of skills and resources already being deployed. I had no idea.
My strategy with my own wedding 30 years ago worked well – living in Indonesia at the time, I showed up two weeks before the wedding. Upon arriving I made one mistake, venturing a suggestion about the music. The response showed me that I was way out of my depth – I retreated and maintained an appropriate distance from there on.
Since then, I know my place at these things. I’ve set a budget and have the checkbook ready, but mostly will be a happy, quiet sponsor of the festivities. That person smiling in the background while the women swirl around the wedding magazines will be me. I’m going to watch Father of the Bride this week to get my head in the game.
I’m still processing it all and welcome the advice of those who can orient me to what propriety may require in the next several months.

Comments (19)

  • Well, I’m not only rejoicing but laughing out loud at your funniest blog yet! We can relate as one of our CDMers got a proposal Saturday (that we all got to witness.) Yeah. Bridal magazines, looking at dresses on the internet, squeals, etc. from the other girls who will be in the wedding… We are relating! And what a happy time! So happy for you all! (And, of course, especially Talia and Joe.)

  • Hey Seth, I’m so happy for you. I’m laughing so hard that tears are flowing freely. Very soon, we’ll call you and Karen, Grandpa and Grandma (lol)

    Congratulations once again.

    We’ll call you and Karen later tonight.

  • Thanks Kathy and Sola. I think we’re ready for grandkids. Asha has already been a good place-holder for them. We’re seeing them with Hebrews 11 faith now..

  • glad you’re getting into the groove of being an in-law. It’s a dicier role than being a parent of an adult child, but you can handle it, no prob.

    fyi – please don’t allow yourself to be cast in a role of a “lower life form” in wedding preps simply because you are a male. Women don’t have a corner on this wedding business – many of them either just think they do, or have been led to believe that through strategic marketing in the wedding industry.

    weddings are a FAMILY affair, not just an experience exclusively conceived & actuated for, & by, women. What you and any of the other men in this maritally linked family may think or feel is just as important as what the women think or feel.

    Having provided instrumental or vocal music for countless weddings over the last 45 years (400+?), I’ve become more & more uncomfortable with the all too frequent attitude that seemed to have come from many of the brides, mothers of the bride, & bridesmaids, as well as many in the wedding industry – men involved in weddings should shut up, pay up, &/or show up. It’s as if men have never given a single thought as to what they’d dreamed their wedding day to be. And oft times those dreams are viewed as “silly”, impractical, or impossible.

    The interesting thing I’ve thought over the years is that if men treated women in the same way during wedding preps, the men would be looked upon as autocratic & insensitive. Is there a double standard here?

    I didn’t mean this to become a rant, and it’s not. Trust me, I’m not even mildly miffed. 😉 I’ve just seen so many men in SO many of the weddings I’ve done who were relegated to a peripheral, ancillary role in an amazing & wonderful family celebration. Don’t let that happen to you.

  • Congrats Seth and Karen! You’ll be great in-laws and grandparents. I’m lucky, I have great in-laws and grandparents for my kids, too. Although you made me think about the day I took Heidi’s dad to lunch to ask him for her hand in marriage….he had me come to a high-security military facility (a little intimidating), and come to think of it, never actually said “yes” to my request to marry his daughter, but he did make a bunch of funny dowry jokes (like, well it’s gonna cost ya two pigs). He’s a great father-in-law, grandparent, and you will be too.

  • Thanks to those of you congratulating me.

    And Dan, I’ll bear your wise counsel in mind. I’ve never been much of shrinking violet, but I also don’t have strong opinions about most ceremonies.

  • Seth, we had the privilege of hosting Joe for a few days in his cross country tour. He and Lizzy are like siblings after being on the same world race team together for eight months. He is the brother she never had but always wanted. You’re right, he is calm and mellow. A very fine young man that any parent of a daughter would be thrilled to have as the intended for their precious one. And his parents are awesome and what a cool place to get to visit! Santa Barbara! Talia chose well.

    The advice I’ve heard from others for fathers of the bride is “show up, shut up and have your check book ready.”

    You must have been praying for Talia’s intended for a long time for this great guy to be the one.

  • ” I’m going to watch Father of the Bride this week to get my head in the game.” THAT made me laugh out loud… ha!

  • Congrats Seth… really hilarious blog. Loved the part about the FM station, “all bridal talk, all the time!” Plus, I’m with Matt… watching Father of the Bride does seem necessary. Love that one!

  • Seth:
    Greetings! I am an avid blog reader of yours. I have 1 wife of 39 1/2 years, 3 daughters, 9 granddaughters (one wo is a college age African granddaughter) 2 grandsons and one unknown coming in June, as well as 3 sisters. I have been to a few weddings and given away my 3 daughters.
    You have the great opportunity to support, love and give valuable counsel to your new son-in-love. He will become a part of your family and you have the privilege to give to him what he needs as a new family member…your love, acceptance and encouagement.
    As far as the ceremony is concerned, leave the planning to the ladies and give advice as requested. But as the father of the bride, you have the delightful privilege and honor on behalf of your wife and your family, to give your daughter to her new man. No one else can do that! I remember thinking as I gave my first and oldest daughter away, that I was giving her husband a beautiful and precious diamond that I had treasured for over 20 years.
    Her husband never can replace you, but you will function in a new place as counsel and support for her. I have 3 sons-in-love and am blessed to see them care for our daughters and grandchildren.
    I pray that you will enjoy the preparations as well as the wedding and future with the new family. God is good to help us dads in this challeging, emotional and joyful time. Bless you!!!

  • Just reading this, way behind on my blogs.
    Congrats to all of you!
    BTW, you are a wise man! Just smile and do as told! 🙂 🙂

  • On the wedding day – be sure to tell your daughter how beautiful she is. Sounds like a “given” but there are many dads who don’t do this (what a disappointing moment for the daughter hoping to hear it). Be sure to give your “little girl” that special moment with you before you give her away! Look into her eyes, and tell her how beautiful and special she is – and whatever else you are thinking or feeling. She will treasure it for years to come.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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